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October 30, 2018 2:08 pm

Pittsburgh Bids Farewell to Rosenthal Brothers Murdered in Synagogue Massacre – ‘The Sweetest Human Beings You Could Ever Meet’

avatar by Shiri Moshe and Ben Cohen

A casket is carried from Rodef Shalom Temple after funeral services for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Oct. 30, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Cathal McNaughton.

The first of the funerals of the 11 victims of Saturday’s antisemitic massacre in Pittsburgh took place on Tuesday afternoon, as almost 2,000 mourners bade farewell to David and Cecil Rosenthal — the two brothers murdered during gunman Robert Bowers’ shooting spree at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

The Rosenthals’ funeral took place at the historic Rodef Shalom Temple — a congregation whose roots go back to 1847, the decade when the first groups of Jews began arriving in this city. Local dignitaries and uniformed representatives of the emergency services joined the Jewish community in paying tribute to two individuals described by Rabbi Jeffrey Myers — who knew the brothers well from the Tree of Life synagogue — as “the sweetest human beings you could ever meet.”

In his eulogy, Rabbi Myers — who courageously evacuated several congregants from the sanctuary as Bowers opened fire with an assault rifle — remembered the devotion with which David and Cecil, both of whom were intellectually disabled, served the congregation.

“No matter how early we arrived at the synagogue, Cecil and David would be there already,” Rabbi Myers said. Having only been appointed as Tree of Life’s rabbi last year, Myers said he had been struck by “the beauty with which the congregants treated” the brothers.

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“If you could open up a picture dictionary and look up the definition of ‘beautiful souls,’ you would see a picture of Cecil and David,” Rabbi Myers said. He reflected that “there was not an ounce of hate” in the brothers. “That’s something we are missing terribly in our society today,” Myers added.

Mourners also heard from David and Cecil’s sister Diane and her husband Michael. Fighting back tears, they painted a moving picture of two boys with very different personalities, but a common love of helping other people.

“Had Cecil not been handicapped, he would have been the mayor of Squirrel Hill,” his brother-in-law commented, drawing appreciative laughter from the crowd. “The last thing he said to me is in his thunderous voice was, ‘We’ll be seeing you in Florida for Thanksgiving.’ Thanksgiving will never be the same.”

Both David and Cecil “were kind, thoughtful, innocent — they were pure souls who carried no ill will towards anyone,” their brother-in-law said.

As Rabbi Myers chanted the traditional mourning prayer “El Maleh Rachamim,” pall bearers wheeled the two caskets carrying the brothers out of the synagogue, and on to their final resting place at Pittsburgh’s Jewish cemetery.


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