Remembering the Victims, Not the Shooter

Remembering The Victims, Not The Shooter

In Pittsburgh, 11 innocent people lost their lives at the hand of one man. The worshipper's lives must be remembered as more than just how they ended.


On October 27th, a man ran into a Pittsburgh synagogue shouting anti-Semitic slurs and opened fire. The assailant fired for several minutes and killed 11 worshippers.

When tragedies like this strike, we as a nation tend to focus on the shooter. We know the names; Stephen Paddock, Adam Lanza, Nikolas Cruz, etc. When the media focuses their reporting so heavily on the shooter, we only remember the guilty, not the innocent. Not only does this make people more easily forget the victims, but it also glamorizes the idea of being a shooter, and it has influenced some criminals to want to out-kill another well-known shooter.

In Pittsburgh, 11 innocent people lost their lives at the hand of one man. The worshippers' lives must be remembered as more than just how they ended.

Here are their stories:

Irving Younger

Younger is remembered by his friends as a man who would always greet visitors at the synagogue with a big smile, a handshake, and he would offer to help you find your seat and where you should be in the prayer book. Younger was a charismatic, 69-year-old, former real estate agent. He had always enjoyed spending time at a local coffee shop and greeting anyone that came by.

Melvin Wax

Wax was an 88-year-old accountant, know to usually be among the first to arrive at Shabbat Services. He loved his grandson, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Judaism. His family released a statement saying, "We recently found out that even though he was 88, he parked several streets away from the synagogue to leave the closer spaces to 'those who need them more.'"

Rose Mellinger

Mallinger was a vibrant 97-year-old who regularly attended the Tree of Life Synagogue. Family was everything to her. Mellinger's friend said that, despite Mallinger's age, "she had a lot of years left." Her sharp wit and her endless love for her family never waned.

Bernice and Sylvan Simon

The Simons died together in Tree of Life, where they had gotten married over 60 years ago. Sylvan was 86, and Bernice was 84, and their neighbor described them as the "sweetest people you could imagine." They regularly gave back to the community, and always were nothing but kind to everyone.

Jerry Rabinowitz

Rabinowitz was a primary care physician in Edgewood Borough and was known for holding patients' hands without gloves even in the early days of HIV treatment when stigma was high surrounding the disease. He was known for wearing bow ties that made people smile and was a light in every room he stepped into. His nephew said Rabinowitz would want this tragedy to be "a message of love, unity, and of the strength and resilience of the Jewish people."

Joyce Fienberg

Fienberg was 75 and had a long career at the University of Pittsburgh. She was loved by her Ph.D. students and by her husband Stephen who had passed away two years ago. Though small in size, she lit up every room with her huge personality, and always treated her students like family.

Richard Gottfried

Richard and his wife Peg opened a dental practice in 1984 and helped prepare couples like themselves, who were interfaith, for marriage. Gottfried was 65 and well known in the community as the districts dentist who also offered educational lectures and workshops in dentistry.

Daniel Stein

Stein was a simple, 71-year-old man. He went to the synagogue every Saturday, and his death has greatly affected his family including his wife and nephew. He was known as a great, fun man, whom everyone loved.

Brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal

These brothers were inseparable. They had disabilities and a local organization worked with them who described Cecil as having an infectious laugh, and David being so kind and such a gentle spirit. They always looked out for each other, and were always so open, warm, and happy.

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