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What to Know About the Victims of Pittsburgh’s Synagogue Shooting

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

Authorities have released the names of the 11 victims killed after a gunman armed with an assault rifle and at least three handguns opened fire during a service at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday morning.

Police said the shooting was a hate crime targeting the city’s Jewish community and have arrested the gunman, 46-year-old Robert Bowers, and charged him with 29 counts related to federal hate crimes legislation, including 11 counts of obstruction of religious beliefs resulting in death. A U.S. Attorney said Sunday that prosecutors would seek the death penalty.

The victims killed in Saturday’s shooting ranged from 54 to 97-years-old, and included a pair of “inseparable” brothers, an elderly couple who had once been married in the synagogue and a dentist on the cusp of retirement.

On Sunday, thousands of members of the community and numerous religious officials gathered for a vigil at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall to mourn the victims from all three congregations housed in the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Here is what we know about the victims of Saturday’s shooting:

Richard Gottfried, 65

Richard Gottfried
Richard Gottfried, killed when a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018, is seen in an undated photo.Barry Werber—AP

Richard Gottfried was gunned down Saturday as he was preparing to embark on a new stage of life: retirement.

Gottfried, 65, ran a dental practice for 34 years with his wife Margaret “Peg” Durachko Gottfried. The couple met as dental students at the University of Pittsburgh, married in 1980 and opened their practice in 1984, according to the Washington Post.

Despite being divided by religion — Peg is Catholic — the couple performed charity work with organizations from both faiths together. They also volunteered at free dental clinics for patients who couldn’t afford to pay for care.

Rose Mallinger, 97

Rose Mallinger, 97, was a Squirrel Hill native and a dependable presence at services for decades, Tree of Life members said. She was the oldest victim of Saturday’s shooting.

“Rose was really a fixture of the congregation,” Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh president and CEO Brian Schreiber told the Post-Gazette.

“You’ve never met a more vivacious 97-year-old,” he added. “She was just so full of life.

Mallinger’s daughter, Andrea Wedner, 61, was also among those wounded in Saturday’s attack. She remains hospitalized, according to AP.

Joyce Fienberg, 75

Joyce Fienberg, 75 lived in Oakland, a suburb of Pittsburgh. She spent her career at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center before she retired in 2008, the Associated Press reports.

Dr. Gaea Leinhardt, Fienberg’s longtime research partner, described her as “a magnificent, generous, caring and profoundly thoughtful human being.”

Fienberg, a Canadian native, married her husband Stephen in 1965 and moved to Pittsburgh in the early 1980s. The couple had two sons, Howard and Anthony, and several grandchildren.

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66

Jerry Rabinowitz, was a primary care physician from Edgewood Borough, Pennsylvania.

Patients say they will remember the physician as “a trusted confidant and healer” who “could always be counted upon to provide sage advice,” according to AP.

Rabinowitz is survived by his wife, Miri. The couple did not have any children, according to the Washington Post. But they poured their love and energy into nurturing the Dor Hadash congregation — as well as their five cats.

“Jerry and Miri just did everything for this synagogue. They were essential, they were core, to this community,” said friend and rabbi Anna Boswell-Levy.

Cecil and David Rosenthal, 59 and 54

Cecil Rosenthal, 59, lived in Squirrel Hill, where he and his brother David Rosenthal, 54, were regulars at synagogue services.

Cecil and David, who was also killed in Saturday’s shooting, received help from disability-services organization ACHIEVA.

The brothers never missed a Saturday service. “If they were here, they would tell you that is where they were supposed to be,” Chris Schopf, a vice president of the organization ACHIEVA, said in a statement.

Cecil Rosenthal
Cecil Rosenthal, seen in an undated photo.David DeFelice—AP

The “inseparable brothers” had attended also Tree of Life synagogue since their childhood, according to former Rabbi Chuck Diamond. David and Cecil were active participants in synagogue life, according to members.

“When it came time to take the Torahs out, Cecil always stepped forward to carry it, and David was right behind him. The rabbis knew: You’ve got to give them a Torah to carry,” Barton Schachter, a former Tree of Life president told the Post-Gazette.

Bernice and Sylvan Simon, 84 and 86

Bernice and Sylvan Simon were longtime residents of Wilkinsburg, a suburb outside Pittsburgh. Friends and neighbors described them as a “loving couple” devoted to each other and to their community.

“They held hands and they always smiled, and he would open the door for her, all those things that you want from another person,” said neighbor Heather Graham.

The couple announced their engagement in April 1965, according to the Tribune-Review. They married in a candlelit ceremony in December that year in the Tree of Life synagogue.

“Anything that they could do, and they did it as a team,” friend and neighbor Jo Stepaniak said, according to AP.

Bernice, a former nurse, had served on the board of the tight-knit Wilkinsburg.

Daniel Stein, 71

Danny Stein
Daniel Stein seen in an undated photo.Barry Werber—AP

Daniel Stein lived in Squirrel Hill and was a prominent member of New Light, another congregation that shared the space.

Stein, 71, hailed from Pittsburgh and was retired. He was a generous spirit and devoted grandfather who was “always willing to help anybody,” said his nephew, Steven Halle, according to the Tribune-Review.

Stein and his wife Sharyn, who served the area’s Hadassah chapter, practiced that spirit of generosity in their community. Stein had served as the synagogue’s president and on its board of directors, and was president of the Tree of Life Men’s Club. Along with Gottfried and Melvin Wax, Stein helped make up “the religious heart” of the congregation, according to co-president Stephen Cohen.

Melvin Wax, 88

Melvin Wax was another stalwart member of the New Light congregation: always among the first to arrive for services and the last to leave, according to fellow members.

Melvin Wax
Melvin Wax, who was killed when a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018, seen in an undated photo.Barry Werber—AP

Wax, a retired accountant and Squirrel Hill resident, frequently stepped in to fill vacant roles or even lead the service at New Light.

“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,” Myron Snider, a friend and retired pharmacist who also attended the synagogue, told AP.

Wax’s wife Sandra died in 2016.

Irving Younger, 69

Irving Younger, who lived in Mt. Washington, was a warm and welcoming figure who “never had an unkind word to say about anybody,” according to neighbors. He was a frequent volunteer at Tree of Life synagogue, where he often greeted visitors.

“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?’” former Tree of Life president Barton Schachter told the Post-Gazette. “That’s the kind of thought that he would have.”

Younger was a Realtor and had been president of a local business association, the Washington Post reports. He is survived by a son and two grandchildren in California.

Correction, Oct. 28

The original version of this story misstated the relationship between Cecil and David Rosenthal. They were brothers, they were not married.


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