(PITTSBURGH) — Eleven worshipers, including a 97-year-old woman, were gunned down inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood Saturday morning.
“Words escape me of what you can say,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who was officiating the service when a gunman started shooting. “They were all beautiful, wonderful, good decent people. Hate was not in their vocabulary.”
Here is what we know about the victims:
Rose Mallinger, 97, was the oldest of the victims but she seemed much younger than her age, Brian Schreiber, who is a Tree of Life synagogue member and president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“You’ve never met a more vivacious 97-year-old,” Schreiber told the newspaper. “She was just so full of life. … She had so much energy.”
Mallinger is survived by her children and grandchildren. Her 61-year-old daughter, Andrea Wedner, was wounded in the Saturday morning attack.
Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, was killed when he ran outside to try to help the wounded, according to his nephew, Avishai Ostrin.
“In addition to being the president of the congregation, he was a doctor, a healer … when he heard shots he ran outside to try and see if anyone was hurt and needed a doctor. That was Uncle Jerry, that’s just what he did,” Ostrin wrote on Facebook.
“He always wore a bowtie,” Ostrin added. “There is just something about guys who wear bowties. Something youthful, something fun. And that is a word that definitely embodied my Uncle Jerry – fun. You know how they say there are people who just lighten up a room? You know that cliché about people whose laugh is infectious? That was Uncle Jerry. It wasn’t a cliché. It was just his personality. His laughter, with his chest heaving up and down, with a huge smile on his face – that was uncle Jerry. And that bowtie. That bowtie that you know made people smile, you know made his patients more at ease.”
A former patient said the slain doctor was one of his heroes.
“In the old days for HIV patients in Pittsburgh he was to one to go to,” former patient Michael Kerr wrote on Facebook. “He often held our hands (without rubber gloves) and always always hugged us as we left his office.”
“I got lucky beyond words – because when he gently told me around November 1995 that it was time to begin taking medications – there was an ACTG trial for two HIV medications that saved my life,” he wrote. “Thank you Dr. Rabinowitiz for having always been there during the most terrifying and frightening time of my life. You will be remembered by me always. You are one of my heroes.”
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center “cannot even begin to express the sadness and grief we feel over the loss of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz,” the medical center said in a statement. “Jerry was above all one of the kindest physicians and human beings in our community.”
Tami Minnier, chief quality officer of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, added, “Those of us who worked with him respected and admired his devotion to his work and faith. His loss is devastating, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and fellow UPMC colleagues who loved him.”
Cecil and David Rosenthal
Brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, who were always together, were both killed in the attack.
The brothers never missed a service and were always at the synagogue because it was a place they felt the most safe, fellow congregant Scott Levin told ABC News.
The brothers would greet everyone by the front door as they entered the synagogue, added Ronna Levin.
The brothers were always together, congregant Katy Levin told ABC News, so she said it brings her some comfort that they died together because she doesn’t know how one could live without the other.
Daniel Stein, 71, was a “simple man” who loved going to synagogue and playing with his grandson, his son, Joe Stein, wrote on Facebook.
“Yesterday was the worst day of my life,” Joe Stein wrote on Facebook. “My mom, sister and I are absolutely devastated and crushed! Our lives now are going to have to take a different path, one that we thought would not happen for a long time. … We love you dad more than you’ll ever know!”
Daniel Stein was an “engaging” and “unpretentious” man who was actively involved in the community, from the synagogue to little league baseball, Barton Schachter, a former Tree of Life president, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“He has this phenomenal ability to smile,” Schachter told the newspaper. “He could make the situation light and happy.”
Richard Gottfried, 65, a successful dentist, had reconnected with his faith following his father’s death and at one point became the president of the 70-member congregation in Pittsburgh, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret A. “Peg” Durachko, who is also a dentist.
The couple had worked together at the Squirrel Hill Medical Center’s dental clinic, where they treated refugees and immigrants, many of whom had never been to a dentist, the newspaper reported.
“Do not let his death be in vain. Drive out evil from your own life and help another to drive it out of their life. The only way to combat evil is with love,” his wife said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Victim Joyce Fienberg, 75, a former research specialist, is survived by her two sons and grandchildren. Her husband, “internationally acclaimed statistician” Stephen Fienberg, died in 2016.
Joyce Fienberg was a research specialist at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) from 1983 until she retired in 2008.
“Joyce was a cherished friend for many in LRDC. For those who knew her in LRDC she was an engaging, elegant, and warm person,” the center said in a statement.
“She and her husband were tremendous supporters” the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, the center said.
Melvin Wax, 88, a retired accountant, was a fixture of the congregation.
Wax’s wife, Sandra, had died in 2016.
Bernice and Sylvan Simon
Sylvan Simon, 86, and his wife, Bernice Simon, 84, were killed in the same synagogue where they married in December 1956, The Tribune-Review reported.
“A loving couple, and they’ve been together forever,” longtime friend Michael Stepaniak told the newspaper. “I hope they didn’t suffer much, and I miss them terribly.”
“They held hands and they always smiled, and he would open the door for her,” neighbor Heather Graham told the newspaper. “They were really generous and nice to everybody.”
The couple’s front door has three stickers, according to The Tribune-Review: “Support Our Troops,” “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”
Irving Younger, 65, a father and grandfather, was a regular volunteer and worshiper at the synagogue, where he would come early and stay late, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he saw this gunman walk into the room where the services were and his first thought was, ‘Can I help this stranger get settled?’ Until he saw what the stranger was doing — because that’s the kind of thought that he would have,” said Schachter, the former congregation president.
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Source: ABC National News