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They were professors and accountants, dentists and beloved 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.

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

Here is a brief description of some of the victims:


Bernice and Sylvan Simon were always ready to help other people, longtime friend and neighbour 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 said.

The Simons were fixtures in in the townhome community on the outskirts of Pittsburgh where they had lived for decades. She’d served on the board, and he was a familiar face from his walks around the neighbourhood, with the couple’s dog in years past.

Sylvan, 86, was a retired accountant with a good sense of humour — the kind of person his former rabbi felt comfortable joking with after Sylvan broke his arm a couple of weeks ago. (The rabbi, Alvin Berkun, quipped that Sylvan had to get better so he could once again lift the Torah, the Jewish holy scripture.)

Bernice, 84, a former nurse, loved classical music and devoted time to charitable work, according to Stepaniak and neighbour Inez Miller.

And both Simons cared deeply about Tree of Life synagogue.

“(They) were very devoted, an active, steady presence,” said Berkun, the rabbi emeritus at the temple, where the couple was among those massacred Saturday. The Simons had married there in a candlelight ceremony nearly 62 years earlier, according to the Tribune-Review.

Tragedy has struck their family before: One of the couple’s sons died in a 2010 motorcycle accident in California. And now the Simons’ death is reverberating through their family and community.

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


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This undated photo provided by Barry Werber shows Melvin Wax.The Associated Press

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

Wax, who was in his late 80s, was among those killed when a gunman entered the synagogue Saturday and opened fire at Sabbath services. Fellow members of the congregation, which rented space in the lower level of the Tree of Life Synagogue, says Wax was a kind man and a pillar of the congregation, filling just about every role except cantor.

Myron Snider spoke late Saturday about his friend who would stay late to tell jokes with him. He said “Mel,” a retired accountant, was unfailingly generous.

“He was such a kind, kind person,” said 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.”

New Light moved to the Tree of Life building about a year ago, when the congregation of about 100 mostly older members could no longer afford its own space, said administrative assistant Marilyn Honigsberg. She said Wax, who lost his wife Sandra in 2016, was always there when services began 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 said.

Snider said Wax, who was slightly hard of hearing, was a pillar of the congregation, filling just about every role except cantor.

“He went Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, when there were Sunday services,” said Snider, a retired pharmacist. “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.”

Snider had just been released from a six-week hospital stay for pneumonia and was not at Saturday’s services.

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


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 physician 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 on Sunday.

He said 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,” Claus said. “He had a truly uplifting demeanour, and as a practicing physician he was among the very best.”

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.”

“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 quality officer, wrote in a statement on Twitter.


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Joyce Fienberg is shown in this undated family handout photo.HO - Howard Fienberg/The Canadian Press

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

Fienberg was among the 11 victims of a gunman who entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday and opened fire.

The 75-year-old spent most of her career at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center, 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 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.

A statement from Rabbi Yael Splansky shared on Facebook says Fienberg grew up in the Holy Blossom Temple community in Toronto.

Splansky says Fienberg was married at the temple, and her confirmation photo is on its wall of honour.


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This undated photo provided by Barry Werber shows Danny Stein.The Associated Press

Daniel Stein was a visible member of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, where he was a leader in the New Light Congregation and 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.”

Daniel Stein, 71, was among a corps of the New Light members who, along with 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, Cohen, the congregation co-president, said.

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

With his generous spirit and dry sense of humour, “he was somebody that everybody liked,” Halle said.


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This undated photo provided by David DeFelice shows Cecil Rosenthal.The Associated Press

Every week, David and Cecil Rosenthal stood at the back of the Tree of Life synagogue. The brothers greeted anyone who walked in with a “Good Shabbos” before offering them a prayer book opened to the correct page.

“They’ve been fixtures of there for as long as anyone can remember,” Jeffrey Solomon, chief executive of Cowen, a financial services company in New York, and a lifelong member of the Tree of Life congregation, said of David, 54, and Cecil, 59. “They were what we call ‘shomerim,’ people who guard the religion even for the rest of us who don’t go all the time,” said Solomon, who is related to the brothers by marriage.

The Rosenthal brothers had developmental disabilities but lived independently. They often spent their days at the nearby Jewish Community Center, where they spoke warmly to anyone they met.

“I’ve said this many time, having nothing to do with this tragedy: You can feel what is good in the world when you talk to them, because they only talk to you about good things,” Solomon said. “To say that everyone in the Pittsburgh Jewish community knows them is not even a remote exaggeration. They were both active participants in so much of life.”

Solomon said he grew up in the community with the brothers, who were together constantly and often spoke joyfully about their extended family.

“Today we talk about inclusion, but they were just part of the community, and I didn’t think anything about it,” Solomon said. “It was my introduction to the fact that there are people like that and they are just like the rest of us.”

“I just can’t even imagine why anyone would want to hurt them,” Solomon added. “It doesn’t make any sense to me — they didn’t deserve this.”


Former Tree of Life Rabbi Chuck Diamond said he worried about Rose Mallinger as soon as he heard about the deadly shooting at the synagogue.

The 97-year-old had almost unfailingly attended services for decades, he told The Washington Post, and was among the first to walk in.

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

The oldest of those killed in Saturday’s shooting at Tree of Life, Brian Schreiber told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that her regularly saw her at services.

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

Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, 61, was among the wounded, a family member said. She remains hospitalized.


Another victim, Richard Gottfried, 65, was remembered as a devoted congregant and a dentist who would serve patients who did not have insurance or were underinsured, performing root canals, installing crowns on teeth, and doing other preventive and restorative work.

“He was very devoted to community and to service,” said Susan Kalson, 59, the chief executive of the Squirrel Hill Health Center. “He loved working with our patients, underserved patients, including a lot of refugees and immigrants.”

Gottfried, described as a quiet, kind and unassuming man, was a dentist in the Pittsburgh area for decades after starting a private practice with his wife, also a dentist, in 1984. Seven years ago, he was looking for a way to give back to the community, and started volunteering about once a week at the Squirrel Hill center, where he found a way to “do for others,” Kalson said.

She said Gottfried was deeply devoted to Judaism. He graduated from University of Pittsburgh in 1974, according to his biography on his dental practice’s website. Gottfried and his wife, who was not Jewish, both volunteered at the center and were very close. They had no children, Kalson said, adding, “They were just one of those couples that is just so interwoven.”

A 2013 article in a local community magazine described Gottfried’s love for wine, developed after a 1981 trip to Australia, according to the magazine. Gottfried ran wine tastings at a local community center.

Kalson said her daughter, who is active in the Jewish community there, notified her about the shooting, which occurred close to where Kalson lives. Once they heard that a gunman was inside the Tree of Life, Kalson started calling and texting to learn whether people she knew were safe. A text from a friend later in the day told her that nobody had heard from Gottfried.

“We will get through this, but this is really devastating,” Kalson said.


A neighbour in Pittburgh’s Mount Washington neighbourhood on Sunday remembered victim Irving Younger as “a really nice guy.”

Jonathan Voye told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Younger, 69, was personable and occasionally spoke with him about family or the weather.

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

Tina Prizner, who told the Tribune-Review she’s lived next door to Younger for several years, said he was a “wonderful” father and grandfather.

The one-time real estate company owner “talked about his daughter and his grandson, always, and he never had an unkind word to say about anybody,’ Prizner told the Tribune-Review.

With files from The New York Times

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