David and Cecil Rosenthal, both of Squirrel Hill, never missed a Saturday service at the Tree of Life synagogue and had a “a love for life and for those around them,” according to those that knew the two brothers.
The two sweet and faithful brothers were tragically gunned down at the hands of an anti-Semitic gunman on October 27, 2018. They were among the 11 victims of the mass shooting at the synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
Here’s what you need to know about David and Cecil Rosenthal:
The Rosenthal Brothers Never Missed a Saturday at Tree of Life & Cecil Loved to Greet Parishioners & Carry The Torah
Cecil and David were fixtures in the synagogue, and Cecil, the more vocal of the two, enjoyed greeting parishioners as they came in. Cecil was always eager to help carry the Torahs during services, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“When it came time to take the Torahs out, Cecil always stepped forward to carry it, and David was right behind him. The rabbis knew: You’ve got to give them a Torah to carry,” said Barton Schachter, a past president for Tree of Life.
Both brothers had intellectual disabilities and loved attending synagogue. Both of the Rosenthal brothers received services from ACHIEVA, which operates a community home where the two men lived.
“Cecil and David had a love for life and for those around them. They loved their community. They spent a lot of time at the Tree of Life, never missing a Saturday,” Chris Schopf, vice president of residential supports for ACHIEVA, told the Post-Gazette.
Cecil Had an “Infectious Laugh” & Loved Socializing, Going to Synagogue & Smiley-Face Cookies & He Carried a Photo of His Brother in His Wallet
Cecil, 59, the more outgoing of the pair, was known as “the honorary mayor of Squirrel Hill,” according to an obituary shared with AP.
“Cecil became a true staple of our chapter over his 8+ years, and, recently, would always welcome me with open arms and meaningful conversation each and every time we would get together. Our chapter suffered a loss of a family member yesterday. Cecil was a wonderful man and an even better friend,” Jason Bertocchi, former chapter president and local Best Buddies board member, shared in a statement. Best Buddies is a program that matched students with adults in the community with intellectual disabilities.
Cecil loved social activities, especially concerts and lunch outings at a local restaurant chain that was known for its smiley-face cookies. He especially enjoyed trips to the Duquesne University dining hall, according to David DeFelice, a senior who was paired with Cecil in the Best Buddies program three years ago. The two became friends, DeFelice said.
“He was a very gregarious person — loved being social, loved people. … You could put him any situation, and he’d make it work – chatting about the weather or asking students about their parents and talking about his own,” DeFelice said, according to AP.
David is Remembered as a “Gentle Spirit” & a Hard Worker; The Two Brothers Were Inseparable
David, 54, was also an active member of his community and worked at Goodwill Industries. He used to work work through ACHIIEVA’s cleaning and janitorial service before starting at Goodwill. He was known as an incredibly hard worker.
“Cecil’s laugh was infectious. David was so kind and had such a gentle spirit. Together, they looked out for one another,” Schopf told TribLIVE. “They were inseparable. Most of all, they were kind, good people with a strong faith and respect for everyone around.”
Tributes poured in for the Rosenthal brothers, with many who knew them remembering how sweet, innocent, and just plain “good” the two brothers were. “I’ve said this many times, having nothing to do with this tragedy: You can feel what is good in the world when you talk to them, because they only talk to you about good things,” Jeffrey Solomon, the chief executive of Cowen Inc., a New York-based financial services company, and a lifelong member of the Tree of Life congregation said. “To say that everyone in the Pittsburgh Jewish community knows them is not even a remote exaggeration. They were both active participants in so much of life.”
“The people who were there are the ones who kept this community going, who made things happen,” Diane Rosenthal, a sister of the Rosenthal brothers, told the New York Times. “I imagine they probably greeted this guy. This place was so part of their lives, a place where they could go and be welcomed at any time and where they were part of the fabric.”
Other Victims Include a Retired Secretary, a Volunteer Dentist & a Doctor After The Gunman Stormed the Synagogue Shouting “All Jews Must Die”
As the victim’s named were released, more information about the deceased emerged. A husband and wife, a doctor, a 97-year-old retired secretary, and a volunteer dentist were among those that were slain during the rampage. You can read more about the victims here.
The names of the victims are as follows:
Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, City of Pittsburgh
Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township
Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough
Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill
His brother, David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill
Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg
Her husband, Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkinsburg
Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington, City of Pittsburgh
Each of the above named were shot dead when Robert Bowers, the man accused of carrying out the attack, opened fire during a service at the Tree of Life synagogue. Bowers allegedly yelled “all Jews must die” before firing upon the unsuspecting parishioners. Bowers, a 46-year-old resident of Pittsburgh, was arrested at the scene.
A GoFundMe page has raised more than $734,000 to help the families of victims.