Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, Known For His Kindness, Remembered At First Of Funerals Following Shooting

Oct 30, 2018

Pittsburgh's Jewish community began burying its dead Tuesday, holding the first in a weeklong series of funerals for the 11 people gunned down in a synagogue in the bloodiest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.

*This post was updated at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

The casket of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, a family physician known for his caring and kindness, was brought to the Jewish Community Center in the city's Squirrel Hill neighborhood for the first funeral. Two police vehicles were posted at a side door and two at the main entrance.

Rabinowitz, 66, had a family medicine practice and was affiliated with UPMC Shadyside hospital. He was a go-to doctor for HIV patients in the epidemic's early and desperate days, a physician who "always hugged us as we left his office," said Michael Kerr, who credits Rabinowitz with helping him survive.

"Thank you," Kerr wrote on Facebook, "for having always been there during the most terrifying and frightening time of my life. ... You are one of my heroes."

A line stretched around the block as mourners — some in white medical coats, some wearing yarmulkes, black hats or head scarves — passed beneath the blue Romanesque arches into the brick building, an American flag nearby fluttering at half-staff.

"A lot of people are feeling really angry about this. A lot of rage built up inside about this, because of it being a hate crime. Don't get me wrong; I do. But I'm so overwhelmed with sadness right now that I can't even be angry right now," said Robin Faulkner, whose family had seen Rabinowitz for 30 years and counted him as a dear friend. "It's just such a loss. Just tragic."

Fran Fall, of Squirrel Hill, attended Tree of Life with Rabinowitz. Both were a part of the Dor Hadash congregation.

"He was just there all the time for whatever was needed," she said. "I got to know him there. I found him funny and soulful and always prepared."

She said Rabinowitz was at the service early Saturday to help.

"He always does," she said. 

Fall said Rabinowitz also always wore a bowtie. It was why the president of the synagogue wore a bow tie at the service Tuesday. 

Less than 2 miles away, hundreds of mourners dressed mostly in black converged on the city's oldest and largest synagogue, Rodef Shalom, for the funeral of Cecil and David Rosenthal, intellectually disabled brothers in their 50s.

A funeral was also set Tuesday for Daniel Stein, a man seen as part of the core of his congregation.

Stein's nephew Steven Halle told the Tribune-Review that his uncle had a dry sense of humor and a willingness to help anybody.

"He was somebody that everybody liked," Halle said.