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Pittsburgh mourns victims of synagogue attack as Trump visits

By Nicholas Sakelaris and Danielle Haynes
Pittsburgh mourns victims of synagogue attack as Trump visits
Mourners embrace outside the Congregation Rodef Shalom following the funeral services for brothers Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Mourners in Pittsburgh attended funerals for three of the 11 people shot dead at a synagogue over the weekend as the city prepared for the arrival of President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

A line of people snaked around the Pittsburgh Jewish Community Center as funeral services for Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, a family physician, were held. He was among those killed at Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday in the city's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Six others, including four police officers, sustained injuries.

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Rabinowitz, 66, started his career in the 1980s working with HIV patients at a time when the disease was feared and little understood.

"He would give 'em a hug and shake their hand without gloves," a former colleague, Saul Silver, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as he waited to attend the funeral. "That was Jerry."

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Also laid to rest Tuesday were brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54. Rabbi-Emeritus Alvin Berkun said they attended weekly services for 35 years at Tree of Life.

The Rosenthals lived together at a home for adults with developmental disabilities. Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who survived the shooting, spoke at their service at Congregation Rodef Shalom. He described them as "pure souls."

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They had "not an ounce of hate in them, something we're terribly missing in society today," he said.

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Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI

Later Tuesday, Trump, first lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, traveled to Pittsburgh to visit the Tree of Life synagogue and meet with survivors and victims' families.

The Trumps stopped outside the synagogue to observe Star of David markers bearing the names of each of the 11 killed in the shooting. They left stones and small, white flowers on top of each before going inside and lighting a candle in the vestibule of the building. They did not enter the crime scene.

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The presidential family then traveled to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian to visit with doctors who treated the injured and the four officers wounded in the shooting.

Multiple congressional leaders declined invitations to accompany Trump to the west Pennsylvania city.

Among those who refused the trip were Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

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Some victims' families had urged Trump not to come to Pittsburgh. Squirrel Hill residents gathered down the street from the synagogue and could be heard shouting as the president arrived.

"President Trump's words, actions and policies have espoused and emboldened the type of violence and hatred our community so tragically endured with the massacre of 11 Jews in their place of worship," demonstrators posted on Facebook.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he wanted to consult with the victims' families before Trump visits, and urged the president not to visit "while we are burying the dead."

Robert G. Bowers has been charged with the killings. He appeared in court Monday and will return for a preliminary hearing Thursday.

On Monday night, Pittsburgh honored the victims by turning part of the city skyline blue.

One of the towers on the skyline, the Gulf Tower, wrote on Twitter, "May all who see these blue lights find a way to show love to all in our community, tonight and forever."

In accordance with Jewish tradition, burials began Tuesday. Here are their names:

Joyce Fienberg, 75, retired University of Pittsburgh researcher

Robert Gottfried, 65, dentist and president of New Light Congregation

Rose Mallinger, 97, Squirrel Hill resident

Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, family physician

David Rosenthal, 54, and Cecil Rosenthal, 59, brothers and weekly synagogue visitors

Bernice Simon, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86, married at Tree of Life synagogue in 1956

Daniel Stein, 71, held various synagogue leadership positions

Melvin Wax, 88, retired accountant

Irving Younger, 69, volunteer at Tree of Life synagogue

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