How Many People Died in the Tree of Life Synagogue Attack?

Tree of Life Synagogue Attack

Getty Mourners leave stones and flowers at a memorial near the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh.

Eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life synagogue attack in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. Robert Gregory Bowers is awaiting trial in the shooting.

Bowers also injured several people in the congregation and injured three police officers, according to court documents filed in his case. He had a self-described hatred for the Jewish people, and claimed they were engaging in “genocide” on “his people,” Pittsburgh Police Detectives wrote in the affidavit of probable cause filed in his case.

Bowers is 47. He is from Baldwin, a suburb of Pittsburgh. He is awaiting trial in his case in a county prison. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and recently rejected a requested for life in prison. Read more about the updates on his case here.

Here’s what you need to know:


11 People Were Killed While They Were Celebrating the Sabbath at Tree of Life Synagogue. Here are Their Stories

Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland

Fienberg was a longtime researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, a board member at Tree of Life, a mother and a grandmother, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Sometimes I feel I can’t bear it to think of this beautiful soul gone from this world,” the newspaper quoted her brother, Robert Libman, as saying in a eulogy. “Evil tried to shut out a light, but the light refuses to be dimmed. The light shines in our hearts, even in our broken hearts.”


Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township

Dr. Richard Gottfried was a dentist known as “Dr. Rich” by his patients. He often treated refugees and immigrants who could not afford dental care. He was originally from Uniontown, a town about one hour south of Pittsburgh, according to the Herald-Standard. Wendy Miller was close friends with his sister, Carol Black, who was also in the synagogue at the time of the shooting and survived by hiding in a closet. Miller remembered Gottfried as a little boy.

“I can just see him running in the back yard, and he’s just a skinny, scrawny little thing with such a happy, pleasurable personality,” Miller told the newspaper.


Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough

Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz was a family physician who was loved by his patients and known for his bow ties, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“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. Ken Ciesielka told the newspaper. Ciesielka attended both college and medical school at Penn State with Dr. Rabinowitz, and the two started a practice together in 1986.


Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and his brother, David Rosenthal, 54, both of Squirrel Hill

Cecil and David Rosenthal were brothers. They both had the same genetic condition, Fragile X syndrome, which causes a range of developmental disabilities, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“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 told the newspaper. He is vice president of residential supports for ACHIEVA, which manages the home where the two brothers lived.


Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg and her husband, Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkinsburg

Bernice and Sylvan Simon were married at the Tree of Life synagogue, and 62 years later, they died together there, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sylvan Simon was a military veteran and a retired accountant. Bernice Simon worked as a nurse. They often went to the Pittsburgh Symphony together.

“Our parents did everything together as a married couple,” said the Simons’ children in a statement. “As long-time and deeply-rooted Pittsburgh residents, their life together began 62 years ago and forever ended last Saturday in the exact same chapel where they were wed.”


Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill

Daniel Stein was a former salesman and substitute teacher for Pittsburgh public schools, known for his volunteerism, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“You call on him for a tough task, and he’ll do it without looking for any kind of pat on the back or plaque or anything,” Barton Schachter, a past president of Tree of Life, told the newspaper.


Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill

Melvin Wax was a retired salesmen known for his corny, G-rated jokes, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Despite his age, he often parked far from the synagogue to give others a closer spot.

“He walked several blocks to let those who really needed it park closer,” Leslie Kart Gross, the sister of Mr. Wax’s son-in-law, Todd Kart, told the newspaper. “That says everything about him.”


Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington

Irving Younger was the son of two Holocaust survivors who left a legacy with his generosity. At his funeral, a man told his daughter he once had no money and Younger created a job for him, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“He was always trying to help people,” his daughter, Jordanna, told the newspaper.

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