Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz was known as a kind and gentle man and a well-known doctor in Pittsburgh before he was tragically gunned down at the hands of an anti-Semitic gunman on October 27, 2018. He is remembered fondly by his patients for his warm and welcoming spirit.
Dr. Rabinowitz was one of 11 victims to perish in the shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday. You can read more about the others here. The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97.
Tributes to Dr. Rabinowitz flooded social media, with several users remembering him as a “doctor, a cat lover, and the kindest person you could dream of meeting.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Dr. Rabinowitz Was a Pittsburgh Doctor & Incredibly Loved By His Patients, Who Described Him as a Friend Before a Doctor
Dr. Rabinowitz was a primary care doctor who practiced in Pittsburgh. He had 41 years of experience before his life was cut short by the gunman. Friends, loved ones and patients described Dr. Rabinowitz as a kind and gentle man who cared deeply for his patients.
“I’ve known him for maybe 20 years,” said Daniel Berczik of Highland Park, according to TribLIVE. “It started out as a doctor, but he became someone I could just talk to.”
Berczik said he spoke to his friend and doctor just two weeks ago and was devastated when he heard that Rabinowitz was one of the victims. “I can’t imagine what his last moments must of been like,” he said. “He was one of the kindest, most loving people I ever met.”
Dr. Rabinowitz was “the sort of doctor who sent you on your way feeling better in all respects,” said Jan Grice, a Lupus patient from Shadyside, told MSN.
“He was one of the finest people I’ve ever met in my life. He had a moral compass stronger than anyone I have every known,” Dr. Ciesielka, who attended both college and medical school at the University of Pennsylvania with Dr. Rabinowitz, told MSN. The two had been in practice together since 1986, MSN reports.
His colleagues spoke very highly of Dr. Rabinowitz, often mentioning how trustworthy, respected and devoted he was to his work and his patients. Tami Minnier, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Chief Quality Officer, wrote a statement to MSN: “Jerry was above all one of the kindest physicians and human beings in our community. Those of us who worked with him respected and admired his devotion to his work and faith. His loss is devastating, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and fellow UPMC colleagues who loved him.”
Another mourner who once worked with the doctor, recalled how Dr. Rabinowitz took the time to make sure gay patients with aids were well-taken care of and treated with respect during a time when very little was known about aids, and being gay wasn’t “socially accepted.” She remembered how the patients raved about the wonderful care they received from Dr. Rabinowitz.
Tributes Circulated on Social Media in Remembrance of Dr. Rabinowitz, Who Is Remembered For His Love of Cats, His Welcoming Demeanor & His Colorful Bowties
Tributes circulated on social media in remembrance of Dr. Rabinowitz. Anna Boswell-Levy wrote on Facebook, “I just want to share with you all that my friend Jerry Rabinowitz was killed in the shooting. He was a doctor, a cat lover, and the kindest person you could dream of meeting. He and his wife Miri signed our tenaim (conditions of engagement) at our engagement party, and they coordinated all the silliness and shtick at our wedding. They took in my cat Pele when Josh’s allergies couldn’t tolerate him anymore, and we cried together on the phone just last month when Pele passed away. Jerry and Miri’s home was an oasis of welcome, relaxation, good food and drink, and kitties everwhere. I do not know yet about funeral arrangements, but they probably will not be on Monday. I may leave Monday to be with community. So much is up in the air. Yehi zichro baruch. May his memory be a blessing.
One man posted a picture of a smiling Rabinowitz in a brown suit jacket and a colorful bowtie with an accompanying tribute that emphasized how infectious his laugh was and how he had a way of always brightening up a room.
“He always wore a bowtie. There is just something about guys who wear bowties,” Avishai Ostrin wrote. “Something youthful, something fun. And that is a word that definitely embodied my Uncle Jerry – fun. You know how they say there are people who just lighten up a room? You know that cliché about people whose laugh is infectious? That was Uncle Jerry.”
Another man wrote on Facebook, “My dear friend Jerry Rabinowitz was killed in the shooting. He was a doctor, and cat lover, and the kindest person you could dream of meeting. He and his wife Miri signed our tenaim (conditions of engagement), and they coordinated all the silliness and shtick at our wedding. They took in my cat Pele when Josh’ s allergies couldn’t tolerate him anymore, and we cried together on the phone just last month when Pele passed away. Jerry and Miri’s home was an oasis of welcome, relaxation, good food and drink, and kitties everywhere.”
Charlie Batista shared a photo of three Penn dorm-mates together, taken one year before the mass shooting. He was devastated by the news that Dr. Rabinowitz was killed during the attack.
“Here’s a face to a tragedy. Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz Penn C’73 and Penn Med ’77 (far right) with three Penn dorm mates taken last summer at a mini reunion with his medical partner Dr. Ken Ciesielka and Rob Wood at his medical office in Pittsburgh. Binowitz was a victim of yesterday’s massacre. RIP Jerry. I’m numb. Do not send condolences. Please fight for gun regulation and the ban of assault weapons.”
He Leaves Behind His Wife Mari, His Mother Sally, Several Siblings & Many Heartbroken Patients
Rev. John Gibbons wrote in a letter to the editor to The Bedford Citizen, “Our thoughts are with Jerry’s wife Mari, with Jerry’s mother Sally, and with Bill, Chris, Jacob, and Eliot Rabinowitz and all their families. Jerry was a beloved family physician.”
According to Vitals.com, Dr. Rabinowitz was recognized for his consistent high ratings for timeliness of appointments, how compassionate he was toward everyone he came in contact with and the powerful impact he has made on the lives of his patients. “Patients’ Choice recognition reflects the difference a particular physician has made in the lives of his/her patients. The honor is bestowed to physicians who have received near perfect scores, as voted by patients,” Vitals.com states.
Rabinowitz also was the personal physician to former Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Lawrence Claus, who released a statement on Sunday remembering him.
“Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz … was truly a trusted confidant and healer who could always be counted upon to provide sage advice whenever he was consulted on medical matters, usually providing that advice with a touch of genuine humor,” said Claus, according to CBS affiliate KDKA. “He had a truly uplifting demeanor, and as a practicing physician he was among the very best.”
TribLIVE reporter Ben Schmitt wrote in a personal remembrance that he practiced in a “small, cozy office in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood.” Dr. Rabinowitz was his father’s doctor, as well as his own. Schmitt reminisced how his father became ill on a trip to India and called back to Rabinowitz in Pittsburgh for advice. Dr. Rabinowitz called his father every day for the rest of his trip to check in on his health.
“I felt like I was in such competent, caring hands,” Schmitt’s father said. “Such a kind and gentle man.”
Jerry Rabinowitz was described by Jewish Breaking News as “BDE Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz. A beloved family doctor in the Pittsburgh community who was murdered in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.”
Other Victims Include a Retired Secretary, a Volunteer Dentist & Two Brothers 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, two brothers, 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 nearly $500,000 to help the families of victims.