WASHINGTON – Funerals for 11 Sabbath worshipers massacred on Saturday at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation began on Tuesday, as US President Donald Trump arrived to pay his respects.
Hearses were parked along Fifth Avenue in front of the Steel City’s beaux-arts Congregation Rodef Shalom, a National Register of Historic Places landmark where the tenets of Reform Judaism were shaped. More than 2,000 mourners from across the United States came to support the families of the murdered.
David Rosenthal, 54, and Cecil Rosenthal, 59, were the first victims to be eulogized.
The memorial service for the two brothers barely mentioned the horror of their deaths, instead celebrating their lives and their love for the community.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto attended the ceremony, alongside Jews of all denominations and non-Jews of all stripes. The funeral service began with a procession of firefighters.
Funerals were also held for Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, and Daniel Stein, 71.
“Words can’t describe it. It’s so tragic. The world we live in leaves individuals who are so deranged to take actions like this,” Bob Farrow, who knows members of the Rosenthal family, said outside Rodef Shalom.
“Everyone wants to show their support of the Jewish community,” said Farrow, who is not Jewish.
Robert Bowers, 46, stormed into the Tree of Life synagogue yelling “all Jews must die” and opened fire on members of three congregations.
A federal judge on Monday ordered Bowers held without bail.
Vigils were held honoring the dead in Washington, New York, Toronto, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and elsewhere across the US.
Tree of Life’s Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said he would be too busy with funerals to host Trump. The President told reporters he delayed his trip to Pittsburgh in order not to interfere in the work of local leaders.
His brief visit with the first lady, Melania Trump, and his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, was protested by locals who accused him of stoking political violence that led to Saturday’s attack.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders rejected that criticism on Monday.
“The president has denounced racism, hatred and bigotry in all forms, on a number of occasions.
We’ll continue to do that,” she said. “And I would also say, at the same time, that some individuals – they’re grieving, they’re hurting.
The president wants to be there to show the support of this administration for the Jewish community.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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