Victims identified in Tree of Life shooting


Christian Snyder | Editor-in-Chief

A woman stands shocked at the corner of Murray and Northumberland less than an hour after the suspect began firing in Tree of Life Synagogue.

By Emily Wolfe, Staff Writer

The names of the 11 people killed by a gunman who opened fire Saturday in the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill were released Sunday morning.

Among the victims, who ranged in age from 54 to 97, were a married couple from Wilkinsburg and a pair of brothers who lived in Squirrel Hill.

[Read: 11 dead, 6 injured in shooting at Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill]

Dr. Karl Williams, the chief medical examiner for Allegheny County, read the names of the 11 killed in the attack at a press briefing Sunday morning. Autopsies have begun, he said, and the medical examiner’s office will release the causes and manners of the deaths as they are determined.

“We are doing everything in our power to complete the process in a way that honors both civil and religious law,” Williams said.

Here, from the medical examiner’s office, is the complete list of the dead:

Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland

Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township

Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough

Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill

David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill

(The Rosenthals are brothers.)

Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg

Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkinsburg

(The Simons are husband and wife.)

Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill

Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill

Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington

The victims belonged to three different congregations, which all met Saturday morning in the Tree of Life synagogue. Seven of the dead were members of the conservative Tree of Life congregation, three were members of the Reconstructionist Dor Hadash congregation and one, Jerry Rabinowitz, belonged to New Light, another conservative congregation.

Rabinowitz, a doctor, was remembered Sunday morning by one of his patients, Law Claus. He described Rabinowitz in an email as being “more than just a physician” for Claus and his family.

“For over three decades he was truly a trusted confidant and healer who 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,” Claus said. “He had a truly uplifting demeanor, and as a practicing physician he was among the very best.”

Max Bernstein lives in Squirrel Hill with his brother, just down the street from the synagogue. He knew Cecil Rosenthal — he saw him almost every day, as the older man passed him on his way to the synagogue.

“He was there every day,” Bernstein said.

Susan Kalson, the chief executive of the Squirrel Hill Health Center, told The New York Times that dentist Richard Gottfried, another of the victims, loved working with underserved patients, including refugees and immigrants.

“He was very devoted to community and to service,” Kalson said.

Another victim, Daniel Stein, had recently become a first-time grandfather, his nephew Steven Halle told the Times. He loved his family and his faith and attended services every Saturday.

“He didn’t miss it for anything,” Halle said. “The synagogue was his life.”

Five of the victims — Joyce Fienberg, Rose Mallinger, Melvin Wax and Bernice and Sylvan Simon —  lived through or were born during the time of the Holocaust. Mallinger was 24 years old in 1945, at the end of World War II. Fienberg was 2.

A GoFundMe page set up to aid the victims’ families and the synagogue congregation raised more than $300,000 in less than a day. Saturday night, a vigil organized by students at Taylor Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill drew hundreds of mourners, who filled an ordinarily busy Squirrel Hill intersection to sing and pray for the dead and for the community. Another vigil, organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, drew thousands to Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland Sunday evening.

Six people, including four police officers, were injured during the attack and sent to UPMC centers for treatment. UPMC has not released the names of the injured, but they include a 61-year-old woman and a 70-year-old man, in addition to three male police officers, ages 55, 40 and 27.

[Read: Robert Bowers, Pittsburgh synagogue massacre suspect: What we know]

A fourth male police officer whose age remains unknown and who was also injured in the attack was released from UPMC Saturday, and another officer was expected to be released later Sunday. Two of the injured, one officer and one civilian, are in critical condition as of Sunday morning, UPMC told The Incline.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich called the scene on Saturday “one of the worst that I’ve seen.”

“This is a very difficult time for the families and I expect you to give them some distance,” he told media at Sunday’s press briefing.

According to WXPI, weekly Shabbat services as well as a ceremonial circumcision service for infant boys, called a bris, were taking place when the shooting occurred Saturday morning. About three dozen worshippers were present at the Tree of Life at the time.  

At Sunday evening’s vigil for the victims, Mayor Bill Peduto commented on the “quadruple evil” of the shooting. It was the evil of a mass murder, he said, but also the evil of a mass murder whose victims are the innocent, the evil of targeting a group of people for their faith and the evil of committing such a crime in a sacred, peaceful place.

“We are dealing with that quadruple evil, the darkest hour of our city’s history,” Peduto said. “But here’s another thing about Pittsburgh. We’re a resilient people. We will be a city of compassion, welcoming to all people, no matter what your religion or where your family came from. And we will recognize this moment as a moment when this nation needs to heal.”