Thursday 24 January 2019

Who were the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre?

Sadness: A boy brings a flower to the memorial at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Photo: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Sadness: A boy brings a flower to the memorial at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Photo: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
Mourners hold a vigil for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Pennsylvania, U.S. Photo: REUTERS/John Altdorfer

Suspect Robert Bowers. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
A person wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jacket brings flowers to a makeshift memorial (AP)
A mourner is comforted outside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh (AP)
Mourners at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue (AP)
People light candles as they gather for a vigil in the aftermath of a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A crowd gathers during a memorial vigil for the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue (Gene J Puskar/AP)
A crowd holds candles in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh (Gene J Puskar/AP)
A group holds a sign at the intersection of Murray Ave. and Forbes Ave. in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, during a memorial vigil for the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue where a shooter opened fire, killing multiple people and wounding others, including several police officers, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) Newsdesk Newsdesk

They were professors and accountants, dentists and doctors serving their local community.

A day after the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 dead, officials released 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 wife.

Melvin Wax

Melvin Wax was the first to arrive at New Light Congregation in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighbourhood - and the last to leave.

Fellow members of the congregation said Mr Wax, who was in his late 80s, was a kind man and a pillar of the congregation, filling just about every role except cantor.

Myron Snider said his friend, known as Mel, was a retired accountant, and unfailingly generous.

"He was such a kind, kind person," said Mr Snider, chairman of the congregation's cemetery committee.

"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."

Jerry Rabinowitz

Former Allegheny County deputy district attorney Law Claus remembered Jerry Rabinowitz, a 66-year-old personal physician and victim in Saturday's shooting, as more than a doctor for him and his family for the last three decades.

"He was truly a trusted confidant and healer," he wrote in an email to his former co-workers.

He said Dr Rabinowitz had an uplifting demeanour and would provide sage advice.

"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 humour," Mr Claus said. "He had a truly uplifting demeanour, and as a practising physician he was among the very best."

Dr Rabinowitz, a family practitioner at UPMC Shadyside, was remembered by his UPMC as one of its "kindest physicians". The hospital said in a statement that "the UPMC family, in particular UPMC Shadyside, cannot even begin to express the sadness and grief we feel over the loss".

Joyce Fienberg

Joyce Fienberg and her late husband, Stephen, were intellectual powerhouses, but those who knew them say they were the kind of people who used that intellect to help others.

The 74-year-old spent most of her career at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Centre, retiring in 2008 from her job as a researcher looking at learning in the classroom and in museums. She worked on several projects including studying the practices of highly effective teachers.

Dr Gaea Leinhardt, who was Mrs Fienberg's research partner for decades, said she is devastated by the murder of her colleague and friend.

"Joyce was a magnificent, generous, caring, and profoundly thoughtful human being," she said.

Daniel Stein

Seventy-one-year-old Daniel Stein was a visible member of Pittsburgh's Jewish community, where he was a leader in the New Light Congregation. His wife, Sharyn, is the membership vice president of the area's Hadassah chapter.

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

Mr Stein was among a corps of the New Light members who, along with Mr Wax and Richard Gottfried, 65, made up "the religious heart" of the congregation, helping the rabbi with anything and everything that needed to be done to hold services, congregation officials said.

Mr Stein's nephew Steven Halle told the Tribune-Review that his uncle "was always willing to help anybody".

Cecil and David Rosenthal

Two brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal killed in the synagogue shooting have been described as an inseparable, warm-hearted pair who never missed Saturday services.

Chris Schopf, from disability support group ACHIEVA who worked with the brothers, recalled 59-year-old Cecil's infectious laugh and 54-year-old David's gentle spirit.

Mr Schopf said the two "looked out for one another" and were "kind, good people with a strong faith and respect for everyone around".

Their sister is chief of staff to state Representative Dan Frankel, who recalls seeing the brothers at Tree of Life whenever he went there.

He called them "very sweet, gentle, caring men".

Richard Gottfried

Richard Gottfried was a devoted member of the New Light Congregation, going to the synagogue every Saturday morning without fail.

Stephen Cohen, the co-president of New Light, said Mr Gottfried and another member who was also killed on Saturday were the "religious heart of our congregation".

"They led the service, they maintained the Torah, they did what needed to be done with the rabbi to make services happen," Mr Cohen said.

Mr Gottfried, 65, was also preparing for a new chapter in his life. The dentist, who often did charity work seeing patients who could not afford dental care normally, was preparing to retire in the next few months. He ran a dental office with his wife, Peg Durachko.

Press Association

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