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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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.


These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.


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