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.

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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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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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