Calling it the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history,” Mayor Bill Peduto vowed that hatred would be eradicated from the city and the nation at a news conference where the names of the victims of a synagogue shooting on Saturday were released.
Eight men and three women were killed. They ranged in age from 54 to 97. Some were members of the same family.
The victims were: Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Cecil Rosenthal, 59; David Rosenthal, 54; Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.
The Rosenthals were brothers. Bernice and Sylvan Simon were husband and wife.
It was likely the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, the Anti-Defamation League stated.
Armed with a rifle and three handguns, Robert Bowers, the gunman, fatally shot the 11 Jewish congregants at the Eitz Chaim synagogue in the largely Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. Six others were wounded, some critically.
During the week, anyone who wanted to get inside Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue had to ring the doorbell and be granted entry by staff because the front door was kept locked. Not so on Saturday — the Jewish Sabbath — when the building was open for worship.
The building is normally locked during the week, and there are security cameras, said a former rabbi at the synagogue, Chuck Diamond. “But on Sabbath it’s an open door,” he said.
A gunman who had expressed hatred of Jews exploited that vulnerability, so common in so many houses of worship across the country, in a singularly horrific way.
It was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, according to the leader of the Anti-Defamation League.
The shooting happened during a bris milah.
Tree of Life’s past president Michael Eisenberg told Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV that the synagogue had started working to improve security.
He said three congregations were meeting at the same time, totaling about 100 people, during the shooting. They were in the main part of the building, the basement and the rabbi’s study room. Eisenberg was on his way to service when he saw police pouring into the area.
As light rain fell on Saturday night, hundreds gathered for a candle-light vigil outside the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.
“We’ll be dealing with this for months and years,” said State Rep. Dan Frankel, who has represented the area that includes Squirrel Hill for some 20 years and was near the synagogue at the time of the shooting. “It leaves an indelible mark.”
“It’s tragic. It’s surreal,” said Rabbi Amy Bardack, who was attending services at nearby Beth Shalom synagogue, at the time of the shooting.
In Israel, hundreds of people gathered in Jerusalem’s Zion Square Sunday evening for a vigil in memory of the 11 people gunned down.
Participants lit candles in memory of the 11 shooting victims and sang during the vigil, which was held ahead of a larger gathering planned at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Also on Sunday, Israeli Education and Diaspora Minister Naftali Bennett visited the Tree of Life synagogue. The Minister met with the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Paduto, and the Governor of the State of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, and heard from them about the last 24 hours since the incident took place.
On Sunday, it was also reported that Scott Brady, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, confirmed claims made shortly after news of the attack broke that Robert Bowers had explicitly expressed a desire to kill Jews before and during the 20-minute shooting attack on the Tree of Life synagogue.
According to the federal complaint against Bowers which was publicized Sunday, Bowers told the arresting officer at the scene of the mass-shooting Saturday that Jews were “committing genocide” against whites, and that he felt motivated to target Jews.
“They’re committing genocide to my people,” Bowers said. “I just want to kill Jews.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said earlier that the Justice Department was treating the case as a hate-crime.
After police arrived on the scene, Bowers shot and wounded four officers, before he was shot and wounded by police, and surrendered to authorities. (WIN & INN)
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