At 97, Rose Mallinger was the eldest of the 11 victims murdered in the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Squirrel Hills, Pennsylvania allegedly perpetrated by avowed anti-Semite Robert Bowers, now charged federally and facing life in prison. The youngest victim was age 54. Seven of the 11 killed were alive during the Second World War and the Holocaust.
Mallinger was not a Holocaust survivor as was incorrectly reported Sunday by a number of news outlets. But she was in many ways a survivor having lived through it and on this earth for nearly a century before being shot with what was likely a semi-automatic rifle by the 46-year-old Pennsylvania man who confessed to police, which can be heard on the police scanner, that he set out to kill Jewish people. That was his mission. And that he would take the lives of very elderly Jews for some makes the horror all the more unfathomable.
It’s the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent U.S. history. Bowers yelled ‘All Jews must die’ as he allegedly fired on unarmed elders including Mallinger during Sabbath services on Saturday.
Here’s what you need to know about Rose Mallinger:
Rose Mallinger Worked as a Synagogue School Secretary Decades Ago & Regularly Attended Sabbath Services
Mallinger was a secretary at the synagogue’s school office many years ago, a congregation member told CNN. She and her daughter regularly attended Sabbath services at Tree of Life, it was reported.
Synagogue congregant Robin Friedman told CNN Mallinger was “spry” and “vibrant” at 97.
“She was just the sweetest. A lovely lady. She had to know everybody there, (whether) old, young. Always a hello, always a hug, always a smile.”
In a statement, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum said it “strongly condemns the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and sends its deepest sympathies to the victims and families of those who were callously murdered.”
“Before opening fire, the alleged perpetrator reportedly yelled, ‘All Jews must die!’ The Museum reminds all Americans of the dangers of unchecked hatred and antisemitism which must be confronted wherever they appear and calls on all Americans to actively work to promote social solidarity and respect the dignity of all individuals.”
Scott Brady, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania said “This was an attack upon our neighbors and upon our friends and one we felt very deeply. A place of worship is a sacred place. It’s a place of peace, and it’s a place of grace. This is our first freedom as a people. Today we stand together.”
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that Mallinger’s 61-year-old daughter Andrea Wedner was with her mother at the synagogue and was among those wounded.
Mallinger was described as a “such a presence” in Squirrel Hill and her death a “tremendous loss.”
Mallinger Was Initially Reported to be a Holocaust Survivor by Some Media. She Was Not But Her Experience of Living During World War II & Perhaps Knowing Survivors & Victims is as Poignant & Important, Many Say
“One of the victims of the Pittsburgh massacre was 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, who survived the Second World War and Hitler’s aim to kill all Jews, only to die because America allows ordinary citizens to buy guns, even those filled with murderous hate. When will they ever learn?”
Initially it was mistakenly reported Mallinger was a survivor of the Holocaust. A reporter who admitted the error was devastated.
But this sentiment was shared and liked by many:
“Rose Mallinger represents all Holocaust victims that were killed by Hate Period.”
A GoFundMe Was Set up by a 29-Year-Old Iranian Immigrant Graduate Student in Washington, DC
“An anti-Semite attacked and killed several attendees to a baby’s bris at a Pittsburgh synagogue. This fundraiser is meant to help the congregation with the physical damages to the building, as well as the survivors and the victims’ families. Respond to this hateful act with your act of love today,” the GoFundMe page for the victims reads. Iranian immigrant Shay Khatiri started the drive.
All funds raised will directly go to the Tree of Life Congregation from GoFundMe, and there is no third party intermediary.
The goal is $1 million. As of Monday morning, 10,000 people raised close to $600,000 in a little more than 24 hours.
Many people have left comments with their donations. Like this one from John Kraft: “I am not a Jew, but Jews are my brothers and sisters, who, like all human beings, are created in the image of God. Please pray for the victims and their families.”
Donations in general to Tree of Life congregation can be made here.
Bowers Shared His Antisemitism on Social Media Site Gab, a So-Called ‘Free Speech’ Platform That is Home to Many Members Who Post Atrocious Antisemitic Commentary & Repugnant Racist Vitriol
In this post, a tribute to Mallinger, images he posted will not be shared but can be seen here. Suffice to say Bowers’ deep-seated hatred of Jews is hard to understand for many. Yet he was permitted to share his ideas, which were tantamount to criminal in their threats and menace but were permitted to have a home on the social media site Gab, where bigotry and antisemitism thrives.
Gab was shut down by its host provider for a while Saturday night. On Gab, Bowers was welcome, or at least his ideas were not enough to throw him off the site since it’s supposed to be a place for free speech. Or at least that’s its claim.
But when it was revealed that Gab member Bowers was the alleged gunman responsible for the slaughter of 11 people and the injuring of many more, including law enforcement officers, Gab banned him and issued a statement. And it said it reported Bowers to the FBI, albeit after the incident. It did not report Bowers before. And it found his speech, filled with venom and hate, his right and gave him a home.
“Our hearts break for the victims & for the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. It is simply unconscionable for Jews to be targeted during worship on a Sabbath morning,” said Ant-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.