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Loved ones remember legacies of synagogue shooting victims

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This undated photograph offered by Barry Werber exhibits Melvin Wax. Wax was killed when a gunman opened hearth at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (Courtesy of Barry Werber by way of AP)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — They have been professors and accountants, dentists and beloved docs serving their area people.

A day after the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 lifeless, officers launched the names of the victims. The oldest of them was 97. The youngest was 54. They included a pair of brothers and a husband and spouse.

Stated Stephen Cohen, co-president of New Mild Congregation: “The loss is incalculable.”


Cecil and David Rosenthal went by way of life along with assist from a disability-services group. And an necessary half of the brothers’ lives was the Tree of Life Synagogue, the place they by no means missed a Saturday service, individuals who knew them say.

“If they were here, they would tell you that is where they were supposed to be,” Chris Schopf, a vice chairman of the group ACHIEVA, stated in a press release.

Achieva supplies assist with every day dwelling, employment and different wants, and the group had labored for years with Cecil, 59, and David, 54, who have been among the many 11 killed in Saturday’s lethal shooting. They lived semi-independently.

Cecil was an individual who was up for all types of actions: a live performance, lunch at Eat ‘n Park — a regional restaurant chain recognized for its smiley-face cookies — even a visit to the Duquesne College eating corridor, recollects David DeFelice, a Duquesne senior who was paired with him in a buddies program three years in the past. The 2 turned associates, DeFelice stated.

“He was a very gregarious person — loved being social, loved people. … You could put him any situation, and he’d make it work,” chatting concerning the climate or asking college students about their mother and father and speaking about his personal, stated DeFelice.

And when DeFelice acknowledged Hebrew letters on Cecil’s calendar, the elder man was delighted to study that his buddy was additionally Jewish and shortly invited him to Tree of Life. DeFelice joined him on a pair of events and will see that Cecil cherished his religion and the sense of group he discovered at temple.

“He was such a strong practitioner of his faith,” DeFelice stated.

Emeritus Rabbi Alvin Berkun noticed that, too, in Cecil, who in response to his obituary was referred to as “the honorary mayor of Squirrel Hill,” and David, who labored at Goodwill Industries.

“They really found a home at the synagogue, and people reciprocated,” he stated.

Cecil carried a photograph in his pockets of David, whom Schopf remembers as a person with “such a gentle spirit.”

“Together, they looked out for each other,” she stated. “Most of all, they were kind, good people with a strong faith and respect for everyone around.”

The 2 left an impression on state Rep. Dan Frankel, who typically attends providers at Tree of Life and whose chief of employees is the Rosenthals’ sister.

“They were very sweet, gentle, caring men,” Frankel stated. “… I know that this community will really mourn their loss because they were such special people.”


Bernice and Sylvan Simon have been all the time prepared to assist different individuals, longtime pal and neighbor Jo Stepaniak says, and “they always did it with a smile and always did it with graciousness.”

“Anything that they could do, and they did it as a team,” she stated.

The Simons, who have been amongst these massacred Saturday, have been fixtures in within the townhome group on the outskirts of Pittsburgh the place that they had lived for many years. She’d served on the board, and he was a well-known face from his walks across the neighborhood, with the couple’s canine in years previous.

Sylvan, 86, was a retired accountant with an excellent sense of humor — the type of individual his former rabbi felt snug joking with after Sylvan broke his arm a pair of weeks in the past. (The rabbi emeritus, Alvin Berkun, quipped that Sylvan needed to get higher so he might as soon as once more carry the Torah, the Jewish holy scripture.)

Bernice, 84, a former nurse, liked classical music and devoted time to charitable work, based on Stepaniak and neighbor Inez Miller.

And each Simons cared deeply about Tree of Life Synagogue.

“(They) were very devoted, an active, steady presence,” Berkun stated. The Simons had married there in a candlelight ceremony almost 62 years earlier, in line with the Tribune-Evaluation.

Tragedy has struck their household earlier than: One of the couple’s sons died in a 2010 motorbike accident in California. And now the Simons’ deaths are reverberating by way of their household and group.

“Bernice and Sylvan were very good, good-hearted, upstanding, honest, gracious, generous people. They were very dignified and compassionate,” Stepaniak stated, her voice breaking. “Best neighbors that you could ask for.”


Melvin Wax was all the time the primary to reach at New Mild Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood — and the final to go away.

Wax, who was in his late 80s, was amongst these killed when a gunman entered the synagogue Saturday and opened hearth a couple of minutes after Sabbath providers started. Fellow members of the congregation, which rented area within the decrease degree of the Tree of Life Synagogue, stated Wax was a sort man and a pillar of the congregation, filling nearly each position besides cantor.

“He was a gem. He was a gentleman,” recalled fellow congregant Barry Werber on Sunday. “There was always a smile on his face.”

Myron Snider spoke late Saturday about his good friend who would keep late to inform jokes with him. He stated “Mel,” a retired accountant, was unfailingly beneficiant and a pillar of the congregation.

“If somebody didn’t come that was supposed to lead services, he could lead the services and do everything. He knew how to do everything at the synagogue. He was really a very learned person,” stated Snider, a retired pharmacist and chairman of the congregation’s cemetery committee.

“He and I used to, at the end of services, try to tell a joke or two to each other. Most of the time they were clean jokes. Most of the time. I won’t say all the time. But most of the time.”

New Mild moved to the Tree of Life constructing a few yr in the past, when the congregation of about 100 principally older members might not afford its personal area, stated administrative assistant Marilyn Honigsberg. She stated Wax, who misplaced his spouse Sandra in 2016, was all the time there when providers started at 9:45 a.m.

“I know a few of the people who are always there that early, and he is one of them,” she stated.

Snider had simply been launched from a six-week hospital keep for pneumonia and was not at Saturday’s providers.

“He called my wife to get my phone number in the hospital so he could talk to me,” Snider stated. “Just a sweet, sweet guy.”


Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz and his associate in his medical follow have been seemingly destined to spend their skilled lives collectively.

He and Dr. Kenneth Ciesielka had been buddies for greater than 30 years, since they lived on the identical flooring on the College of Pennsylvania. Ciesielka was a couple of years behind Rabinowitz, however whether or not by destiny or design, the 2 all the time ended up collectively. They went to the identical school, the identical medical faculty and even had the identical residency at UPMC a couple of years aside.

“He is one of the finest people I’ve ever met. We’ve been in practice together for 30 years and friends longer than that,” Ciesielka stated. “His patients are going to miss him terribly. His family is going to miss him terribly and I am going to miss him. He was just one of the kindest, finest people.”

Former Allegheny County Deputy District Lawyer Regulation Claus remembered Rabinowitz, a 66-year-old private doctor and sufferer in Saturday’s shooting, as greater than a doctor for him and his household for the final three many years.

“He was truly a trusted confidant and healer,” he wrote in an e mail to his former co-workers on Sunday. “Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz … could always be counted upon to provide sage advice whenever he was consulted on medical matters, usually providing that advice with a touch of genuine humor. He had a truly uplifting demeanor, and as a practicing physician he was among the very best.”

Rabinowitz, a household practitioner at UPMC Shadyside, was remembered by UPMC as one of its “kindest physicians.” The hospital stated in a press release that “the UPMC family, in particular UPMC Shadyside, cannot even begin to express the sadness and grief we feel over the loss.”

“Those of us who worked with him respected and admired his devotion to his work and faith. His loss is devastating,” Tami Minnier, UPMC chief high quality officer, wrote in a press release on Twitter.

Olivia Tucker’s grandmother was handled for most cancers by Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz. Tucker, who’s transgender, additionally visited Rabinowitz for a checkup.

“He’s the only doctor who ever has made a misstep about my trans-ness, and followed it up with really insightful questions with the purpose of learning and growth,” Tucker stated. “I felt blessed to have had him.”


Joyce Fienberg and her late husband, Stephen, have been mental powerhouses, however those that knew them say they have been the type of individuals who used that mind to assist others.

Joyce Fienberg, 75, who was among the many victims in Saturday’s shooting, spent most of her profession on the College of Pittsburgh’s Studying Analysis and Improvement Middle, retiring in 2008 from her job as a researcher taking a look at studying within the classroom and in museums. She labored on a number of tasks together with learning the practices of extremely efficient academics.

Dr. Gaea Leinhardt, who was Fienberg’s analysis associate for many years, stated she is devastated by the demise of her colleague and good friend.

“Joyce was a magnificent, generous, caring, and profoundly thoughtful human being,” she stated.

The analysis middle’s present director, Charles Perfetti, stated Fienberg earned her bachelor’s diploma in social psychology from the College of Toronto, in her native Canada.

She introduced a eager thoughts, partaking character and “a certain elegance and dignity” to the middle, Perfetti stated.

“One could have elevated conversations with her that were very interesting,” even when they have been temporary, he stated. “I was always impressed with her.”

Stephen, who died in 2016 after a battle with most cancers, was a famend professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon College. His work was utilized in shaping nationwide insurance policies in forensic science, schooling and felony justice.

The couple married in 1965 and had moved to Pittsburgh within the early 1980s. Joyce started her work on the middle in 1983. The couple had two sons and a number of other grandchildren.


Daniel Stein was a visual member of Pittsburgh’s Jewish group, the place he was a pacesetter within the New Mild Congregation and his spouse, Sharyn, is the membership vice chairman of the world’s Hadassah chapter.

“Their Judaism is very important to them, and to him,” stated chapter co-president Nancy Shuman. “Both of them were very passionate about the community and Israel.”

Stein, 71, was president of the Males’s Membership at Tree of Life. He additionally was amongst a corps of the New Mild members who, together with Wax and Richard Gottfried, 65, made up “the religious heart” of the congregation, stated Cohen, the congregation co-president.

Stein’s nephew Steven Halle informed the Tribune-Evaluation that his uncle “was always willing to help anybody.”

Together with his beneficiant spirit and dry sense of humor, “he was somebody that everybody liked,” Halle stated.


Former Tree of Life Rabbi Chuck Diamond stated he fearful about Rose Mallinger as quickly as he heard concerning the lethal shooting on the synagogue.

The 97-year-old had virtually unfailingly attended providers for many years, he informed The Washington Publish, and was among the many first to stroll in.

“I feel a part of me died in that building,” Diamond stated.

The oldest of these killed in Saturday’s shooting at Tree of Life, Brian Schreiber informed the Pittsburgh Publish-Gazette that he commonly noticed her at providers.

“Rose was really a fixture of the congregation,” Schreiber, president and CEO of the Jewish Group Middle of Pittsburgh, informed the Submit-Gazette.

Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, 61, was among the many wounded, a member of the family stated. She stays hospitalized.


Richard Gottfried was getting ready for a brand new chapter in his life.

Gottfried ran a dental workplace together with his spouse and follow associate Margaret “Peg” Durachko Gottfried. He and his spouse met on the College of Pittsburgh as dental college students, in response to the Washington Submit, and opened their apply collectively in 1984.

Gottfried, who typically did charity work seeing sufferers who couldn’t in any other case afford dental care, was getting ready to retire within the subsequent few months.

He, together with Wax and Stein, “led the service, they maintained the Torah, they did what needed to be done with the rabbi to make services happen,” Cohen stated.

“He died doing what he liked to do most,” stated Don Salvin, Gottfried’s brother-in-law, advised the Washington Publish.


A neighbor in Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington neighborhood on Sunday remembered sufferer Irving Youthful as “a really nice guy.”

Jonathan Voye informed the Pittsburgh Publish-Gazette that Youthful, 69, was personable and infrequently spoke with him about household or the climate.

“I’m scared for my kids’ future,” Mr. Voye advised the Publish-Gazette. “How can you have that much hate for your fellow neighbor?”

Tina Prizner, who advised the Tribune-Assessment she’s lived subsequent door to Youthful for a number of years, stated he was a “wonderful” father and grandfather.

The one-time actual property firm proprietor “talked about his daughter and his grandson, all the time, and he by no means had an unkind phrase to say about anyone,’ Prizner informed the Tribune-Evaluate.

Beth Markovic, proprietor of Murray Avenue Kosher grocery and deli, stated Youthful was a devoted buyer who was particularly fond of her meatloaf and hen salad and requested her to alert him when she was making it.

“So every time I make those things, I will certainly be thinking of him,” Markovic stated. “I have his phone number right in front of me where I do my work. . So, we feel it. We feel it very much.”


Lauer reported from Philadelphia, Peltz reported from New York and Dale reported from Pittsburgh. Related Press journalists Allen G. Breed and Robert Bumsted in Pittsburgh and researcher Monika Mather in Washington contributed to this report.

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