Two brothers who were well-known volunteers in the neighborhood. A doctor famous for his patience and wit. A 97-year-old woman who was about 12 when the Holocaust began. These are just a few of the victims in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a anti-semitic domestic terrorist opened fire on Saturday while congregants gathered to worship.
#AM: A memorial grows outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
— Meghan Schiller (@MeghanKDKA) October 29, 2018
Details will continue to pour in over the coming days from those who knew and loved the men and women who were slain in their house of worship, but here are a few details.
She was 97 years old, but “she was one of the younger ones among us, I have to tell you, in terms of her spirit,” former Tree of Life rabbi Chuck Diamond told NPR.
Stein was himself the former president of another synagogue that held services at Tree of Life. He was 71 years old and had recently taken to his new role: being a grandfather. “He was always willing to help anybody,” his nephew, Steven Halle, told TribLIVE, formerly The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He was somebody that everybody liked, very dry sense of humor…”
At 88 years old, Wax’s hearing was starting to fail him, but he was nevertheless a constant presence at services, volunteering wherever he was needed. “He was such a kind, kind person,” his friend Myron Snider, told the AP. “When my daughters were younger, they would go to him, and he would help them with their federal income tax every year. Never charged them.”
“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.”
Rabinowitz was a 66-year-old family doctor, well loved in the community for his thoughtfulness and expertise. A number of patients remembered Rabinowitz as a hero during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. “It was the mid-’80s and we had to figure out where we could go,” Michael Kerr told Buzzfeed News. “We looked at people who were living and who they were going to and it was Jerry. He kept people alive.”
Cecil and David Rosenthal
Cecil and David were in their 50s, and shared an apartment near Tree of Life, where they were regular fixtures. The brothers were developmentally disabled, and could often be found volunteering with ACHIEVA, a local organization for people with disabilities. “Cecil’s laugh was infectious. David was so kind and had such a gentle spirit,” said Chris Schopf, who runs ACHIEVA’s residential program. “Together, they looked out for one another. They were inseparable. Most of all, they were kind, good people with a strong faith and respect for everyone around.”
Bernice and Sylvan Simon
Bernice and Sylvan were 84 and 86, respectively. They were married in 1956. “They held hands and they always smiled, and he would open the door for her, all those things that you want from another person,” their neighbor Heather Graham told local reporters. “They were really generous and nice to everybody. It’s just horrific.”
A researcher at University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center for a quarter of a century, the 75 year old Fienberg had a daunting intellect, but was remembered for her warmth and caring. “I just can’t say how terribly sad I am that this person isn’t in the world anymore,” Gaea Leinhardt, professor emerita at Pitt and Fienberg’s best friend, told the Washington Post.
The 65-year-old Gottfried had a dentistry practice he shared with his wife, and was known as an avid runner. According to NPR, he’d only recently started attending Tree of Life frequently.
The 69-year-old Irving Younger was a youth football and baseball coach who also ran a real estate agency when he wasn’t playing with his grandkids or volunteering at the synagogue. “He went every day. He was an usher at his synagogue, and he never missed a day,” his neighbor Tina Prizner told TribLIVE. “He was a beautiful person, a beautiful soul.”