Hundreds Tuesday accompanied the six members of the Shaer family on their final journey after they died in a house fire Monday night.

The father and his five children were buried at Rehovot's Marmorek Cemetery: Guy Shaer, 38, Itamar, 2, Shira, 3, Amitai, 7, Evyatar, 8, and Eliav, 12. The children are survived by their mother, Avivit.

"God has picked five tender beautiful roses and one large tree," Mayor Rahamim Malul said in his eulogy.

The Rehovot municipality set up a large mourners' tent outside the house on Najara Street to hold the dozens of people who came to console the family. More than 300 people crowded outside the home of Avivit's parents to hear the eulogies and pray before the funeral.

Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, spoke about the family and wept. "How is it possible to explain such a tragedy? How is it possible to understand God's thoughts and leave a mother all alone?" he said.

Metzger said that the week before he had eulogized a father and his children from Toulouse, and this week a father and his children from Rehovot. Avivit's brother died only two and a half weeks ago after a long, rare illness. Guy's father, Yair Shaer, collapsed after hearing about Monday's tragedy and was hospitalized, but he was released yesterday for the funeral.

Rehovot's chief rabbi, Simcha Hacohen Kook, also wept as he spoke. "I am praying for the souls of the dear babies," he said. "This is a public sacrifice, not a private one; we feel this pain as if we were one soul." People in the crowd sobbed throughout the eulogies and prayers.

Many neighbors stayed home from work yesterday to support the family. Avivit grew up in the neighborhood, and even though the Shaers owned a house in Be'er Yaakov where Guy grew up, they remained in Rehovot to educate their children at the city's independent Torani religious schools.

"There is nothing to say to her in such a case, it's simply a national tragedy," said David Akva, a relative of Avivit. "Only yesterday evening I was in Guy's shop in Be'er Yaakov; he fixed my glasses. After a few hours the bad news arrived, and I cried like a small child."

The neighbors spoke of a wonderful family, pleasant and active in the neighborhood. "It was a respectable and quiet family, good people that you don't find so much anymore," said one neighbor. "Avivit was born and grew up here, and we all knew her since she was born, and also her family. Everyone here knows everyone else and supports everyone. We're all in shock."

In 2004, just two streets away from the where the Shaer family lived, two children died in a fire when they were playing in a storeroom.