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Sylvan And Bernice Simon Remembered As 'Wonderful, Steady People'

Margaret J. Krauss
90.5 WESA
Police help organize a procession of cars leaving funeral services for Sylvan and Bernice Simon, two of the eleven people killed at the Tree of Life shooting on Saturday.

Sylvan Simon, 86, and Bernice Simon, 84, were married for 62 years, and wed at Tree of Life synagogue.

Sheldon Miller said he remembered the couple from before the congregation moved to Squirrel Hill from its old building in Oakland, where he grew up.

“They were very nice, sweet people,” he said as he left services at Ralph Schugar Funeral Home on Thursday. “I just felt that I had to pay my respects to them.”

In the evenings, decades ago, people would sit in folding chairs outside the synagogue and watch the little boys play baseball, said Miller.

“They seemed very much in love,” he said. “They were always very affectionate. They would sit close on folding chairs and hold hands and wave to the neighborhood kids.”

During the service, the couple’s children talked about how Bernice was a wonderful cook and Sylvan loved sports, said Marlene Haus, who knew the couple for many years. She described them as wonderful, steady people who were always ready to help.

Haus often joined the Simons at daily morning prayer and Shabbat services, and they were all a part of the L’Chaim Club, too, she said.

“L’Chaim means to life, which is something we say when we toast someone,” she said. “After services on Saturday Shabbat, which Sylvan and Bernice always attended, we all had a drink together and said ‘L’Chaim.’ So we’ll miss all that.”

Though a regular at Tree of Life, Haus wasn’t at last Saturday’s service.

“I was ten minutes late. I would have been sitting right behind, near Sylvan and Bernice and Joyce Fienberg,” she said. “I missed it, I don’t know why but I think I know why. I think have to carry on the tradition in their name.”

The last funeral for Tree of Life victims is scheduled for Friday.