Pittsburgh community remembers lives lost in synagogue massacre

One of the slain reportedly saved another's life during the shooting.

Justin Udo
October 29, 2018 - 5:54 pm
A vigil for victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.

Cara Owsley/The Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK

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PITTSBURGH (KYW Newsradio) — When Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz was gunned down at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh Saturday, his congregation lost someone who was a staple of their community.

"He would do sermons, he would be passing out the books coming into the synagogue. He was a big part of the synagogue and how it ran," said Faith Siskind, a Pittsburgh native who knew Rabinowitz. And his goodwill, she added, did not stop when he left the synagogue. 

The 66-year-old Rabinowitz, a geriatrician and family physician, was said to have helped the wounded during the massacre, including Siskind's cousin.

"He figured out his medical issues, basically saved his life," she said.

For Siskind, one word comes to mind as she remembers Rabinowitz: "He's a mensch, which is a good person."

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Siskind also knew the two brothers killed in the shooting, Cecil and David Rosenthal. The pair lived with Fragile X syndrome, and a result had to deal with a lot of mental challenges, but they did not let that define them.

"They were just good people greeting people every Saturday, and that's how they were raised," she recalled.

She even attended Hebrew school with 59-year-old Cecil when they were kids, and they remained friends ever since.

"Everybody knows Cecil was the sweetest, kindest soul known. He was just there trying to be helpful, that's how he was," she added. David, 54, was the more reserved of the two, but was still a kind soul. "A very sweet person. They were an icon of Squirrel Hill, Cecil and David."