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Thousands Attended The First Funerals For The Victims Of The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

Friends, family, and strangers lined up around the block for the funerals of a beloved doctor and two inseparable brothers.

Posted on October 30, 2018, at 4:43 p.m. ET

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Thousands of people on Tuesday attended the first two funerals for those who were killed in the Pittsburgh mass shooting, and just hours ahead of President Trump’s controversial visit to the city.

Friends, family, community members, and strangers lined up around the block early Tuesday to attend the funeral of Jerry Rabinowitz, a 66-year-old physician who was beloved in his community and a hero to Pittsburgh’s LGBT community at the height of the AIDS crisis.

A line of mourners makes their way along Darlington Rd. towards the Katz Theatre of the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill, for the funeral of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, who was killed on Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill. Via @TribLIVE #pittsburgstrong https://t.co/fYOxpLGkJR

Rabinowitz’s funeral at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill was the first of 11 funerals that will take place throughout the week for members of the Tree of Life synagogue who were killed during Saturday’s massacre.

Some of the mourners included Rabinowitz’s longtime patients who had come to pay their final respects. One of his patients, Gail Hunter, told KDKA-TV that she was there to “honor his kindness, his loving, his goodness, his generosity, his spirit — he was all of that.”

The line outside Jerry Rabinowitz’ service has extended half a block. David Sogg, one of his patients, arrived by bicycle, said his doctor of nearly 20 years would have been glad. https://t.co/v82seja4JC

The center was filled to capacity with hundreds of mourners even as others were lined up outside for Rabinowitz’s service.

The Rabinowitz funeral is completely full, standing room only, with a line still down the block

The doctor, known for his compassionate care, loved the Torah and was a permanent fixture at the Tree of Life synagogue every Saturday, according to a reporter for the New York Jewish Week who was present at the funeral. Rabinowitz sat in the same seat by the window every week and set up the kiddish spread every Shabbat morning.

Every Shabbat morning, he set up the kiddish spread. “I’ve never seen someone look so happy while pouring Dixie cups,” said Dor Hadas President Ellen Surloff. She wore a bow tie in tribute to his signature look.

Hundreds of mourners then followed Rabinowitz’s funeral procession on foot as his hearse made its way to the cemetery.

Mourners on foot behind casket of Dr Jerry Rabinowitz. Funeral over at JCC in Squirrel Hill. More @KDKARadio #SynagogueShooter https://t.co/jbrVPn4jvG

A staff sergeant who was driving by the funeral procession also stopped his car and stood to pay his respects to Rabinowitz.

Kendall Lubay told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he stopped to show respect to not just those who died but those who were feeling the “torment and pain” of their loss.

“It was proper to show those respects rather than just drive past and not acknowledge it,” Lubay said.

As the procession arrives at Homewood Cemetery, this man appears to have parked and is paying respects. His car is running. He’s not moving an inch. https://t.co/pWqReGDPj6

As Rabinowitz’s funeral procession passed the Yeshiva School in Squirrel Hill, some students cried while paying their respects.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

After Rabinowitz was buried, his friend and patient shared a touching tribute.

My neighborhood, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. We just buried my friend and doctor, Jerry Rabinowitz and I saw this marquee. This would be Jerry’s message for all of us. @brianstelter @Thom_Hartmann @cnnbrk @CityPGH @billpeduto https://t.co/7qbVfD7G15

Thousands of people also lined up for hours for the funeral of Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and his brother David Rosenthal, 54, at the Rodef Shalom Congregation.

Many had come from afar to pay their respects to the two brothers who had never missed a Saturday service at Tree of Life synagogue.

This is community. ❤️ People are lining up outside the Rodef Shalom Temple in Oakland to pay their respects to Cecil and David Rosenthal, two brothers killed in the #PittsburghSynagogueShooting Saturday morning. #kdka @kdka https://t.co/xYnbRRqXD2

The two brothers, who had intellectual disabilities, were “inseparable,” and lived together in Squirrel Hill, according to Chris Schopf of Achieva, an organization that helps people with disabilities in Pittsburgh.

Nearly 2,000 mourners across the country were there to pay their respects to the brothers, Reuters reported. At 54, David Rosenthal was the youngest victim of the shooting.

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers players, including Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Shazier, and team executives also attended the Rosenthal brothers’ funeral Tuesday.

Matt Rourke / AP

Dr. Abe Friedman, who usually sat in the back row at Tree of Life with the two brothers, was not present when the shooter opened fire Saturday because he was running late, he told the Associated Press.

Standing in line among the thousands of mourners, Friedman wondered, “Why did things fall into place for me? I usually sit in the back row. In the last row, everyone got killed.”

Long, long line outside of Rodef Shalom synagogue in Pittsburgh ahead of the week's first funeral, for brothers David and Cecil Rosenthal. Members of the Tree of Life congregation I met this weekend all became very emotional when speaking about these two brothers. יהי זכרם ברוך https://t.co/PnoGDH982B

Kate Lederman, who grew up in the Tree of Life, was also there to mourn the brothers.

“I was named there, bat mitzvahed there, married there,” Lederman told the AP. “And my whole life was in that synagogue. Same with my father. And we knew Cecil and David. We knew all of them.”

Pallbearers carry a casket after the funeral of Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Pallbearers carry a casket after the funeral of Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal.

A private family service for Daniel Stein, a 71-year-old grandfather who loved the Tree of Life, will also be held Tuesday. Stein’s family rejected Trump’s offer to meet them during his visit to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, which was met with protest from residents who say he isn’t welcome.

Stein’s nephew, Stephen Halle, told the Washington Post that his family declined the offer because of Trump’s comments in which he appeared to blame the synagogue for a lack of security.

“Everybody feels that they were inappropriate,” Halle said. “He was blaming the community.”


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