A mother of two and grandmother of six, Joyce Feinberg threw herself into volunteer work after her husband, Carnegie Mellon University statistics professor Stephen E. Fienberg, died two years ago. She volunteered with needy children and often picked up Rabbi Jeffrey Myers and a 99-year-old member of the congregation on the way to Tree of Life from her Oakland condominium. “She frequently opened the building, prepared food and just volunteered to help,” Rabbi Myers said. “No one asked her to do it. She just did it. She was a pure soul.”
Born in Canada, the 75-year-old Ms. Fienberg retired 10 years ago from a 25-year career at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center. Graduate students knew her as a surrogate mother, welcoming them into her home and sending them holiday cards for years afterward.
A dentist from Ross, Richard Gottfried rediscovered Judaism in 1992 after his father died, starting by reciting the kaddish mourning prayer every day and eventually becoming a full-fledged member — and president — of the New Light Congregation.
The 65-year-old gave his time freely not just at New Light and as a pre-marriage counselor with his wife at St. Athanasius Church in West View but also in the dental world, volunteering at Catholic Charities and working part time at the Squirrel Hill Health Center, where he treated refugees and other recent immigrants.
A Uniontown native, Mr. Gottfried got his undergraduate and dental degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He and his wife, dentist Peg Durachko, ran the Gottfried & Durachko dental practice in West View for more than two decades.
Mr. Gottfried’s sister, Carol Gottfried Black, joined the New Light Congregation as well and survived the attack at Tree of Life by hiding in a supply closet.
Known as “Bubbie” — Yiddish for grandmother — 97-year-old Rose Mallinger was a 60-year member of the Tree of Life synagogue and a fixture in the Squirrel Hill community where she lived. “You’ve never met a more vivacious 97-year-old,” said Brian Schreiber, a member of Tree of Life. “She was just so full of life. She had so much energy.”
Ms. Mallinger “retained her sharp wit, humor and intelligence until the very last day,” her family said in a statement. She was one of six siblings and had three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her daughter, Andrea Wedner, 61, was wounded in the attack at Tree of Life.
Put simply, Jerry Rabinowitz was “one of the finest people I’ve ever met in my life,” said his longtime medical partner, Ken Ciesielka.
Dr. Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood was a member of the Dor Hadash congregation that met inside Tree of Life. Often seen wearing a bow tie, he was a devoted family practice doctor who took extraordinary measures to treat his patients, whether it was making house calls, calling them daily or doing pioneering work with AIDS patients in Pittsburgh.
Dr. Rabinowitz was “the sort of doctor who sent you on your way feeling better in all respects,” said longtime patient Jan Grice of Shadyside, adding, “I’m one of hundreds who would say the same thing.”
Cecil and David Rosenthal
Brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, who both had developmental disabilities, were roommates at a communal living facility in Squirrel Hill. Outgoing and boisterous, Cecil, 59, was known as the unofficial mayor of Squirrel Hill for his propensity to walk through the business district, chatting up everyone around him. David, 54 and much quieter, was obsessed with policemen and firefighters and carried around his prized possession, a police scanner.
The brothers were two of the most devoted members at Tree of Life, where Cecil often served as a greeter and David used his fastidious cleaning skills to keep things neat and tidy. “They were just part of the fabric that every group wants to have,” said Barton Schachter, a past president for Tree of Life. “They’re there all the time, and they’re just two wonderful kids.”
Bernice and Sylvan Simon
Sixty-two years ago, Bernice and Sylvan Simon married at the Tree of Life synagogue, their Saturday-night ceremony performed by candlelight.
The dedicated members of Tree of Life died there on Shabbat, together in a pew, Mr. Simon, age 86, and and Ms. Simon, age 84.
Residents of Wilkinsburg, Mr. Simon was a military veteran and retired accountant while Ms. Simon had worked as a nurse. The two enjoyed going to the Pittsburgh Symphony together and often joked with one another.
“Our parents did everything together as a married couple,” said the Simons’ children in a statement released earlier this week. “They were deeply in love with each other and persevered in the tragic loss of a son in 2010. As longtime and deeply rooted Pittsburgh residents, their life together began 62 years ago and forever ended last Saturday in the same chapel where they were wed.”
Father of two and new grandfather Daniel Stein was known as someone always willing to pitch in for a tough task, especially for one of several leadership roles he held at the New Light Congregation over the years. “My dad was a simple man and did not require much,” wrote his son, Joe Stein, in a Facebook post, noting that two of his father’s great loves were his synagogue and his 7-month-old grandson, Henri.
The 71-year-old from Squirrel Hill was one of the pillars of the congregation, said Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, greeting Rabbi Perlman’s daughter with a friendly fist-bump. Barton Schachter, a past president of Tree of Life, described him as engaging and unpretentious, noting that he had “this phenomenal ability to smile.”
Even at age 87, Melvin Wax regularly parked several streets away from the Tree of Life synagogue to leave closer spaces for those who needed them more. A father, grandfather and retired accountant for Calig Steel Drum, Mr. Wax was known for telling corny jokes that were “so bad you had to laugh at them,” said his childhood friend, Hugh Casper.
Mr. Wax, of Squirrel Hill, was a past president of the New Light Congregation. “It didn’t matter if it was snowing, hailing, raining — he was always there Friday night, Saturday morning and Sunday morning,” said Ada Perlman, daughter of Rabbi Jonathan Perlman. “No one was ever there before Mel.”
Irving Younger lived in Mount Washington but was well known in Squirrel Hill. “He was always a gentleman,” said friend Rachel Marcus. “He loved to sit and talk.”
Mr. Younger, 69, ran a real estate company and coached baseball — both Little League and as an assistant at his alma mater, Taylor Allderdice High School. For a time, he coached Little League with city Councilman Corey O’Connor, and volunteered to knock on doors for him when he first ran for office. “He was a joy,” said Mr. O’Connor. He also volunteered for whatever needed to be done at Tree of Life, arriving early, staying late and guiding congregants to their seat.
Known as “Irv,” Mr. Younger also made regular trips to Southern California to visit both of his children, who have lived there for a decade, and his 2-year-old grandson.
• • •
Six police officers and two synagogue members were injured in the Tree of Life shootings. Officers Daniel Mead, Michael Smidga, Anthony Burke and Timothy Matson were shot as they attempted to stop the shooter. Officer John Persin suffered a hearing injury and Officer Tyler Pashel injured his knee during the incident.
Andrea Wedner, 61, whose mother, Rose Mallinger, was killed, and Daniel Leger, 70, were injured.