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Remembering 11 Lives Lost

Today the funerals started for the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting victims. According to Jewish tradition, the dead are buried as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours of passing. Today saw three of the victims laid to rest – brothers David and Cecil Rosenthal, whose lives were mourned and celebrated in a joint ceremony, and physician Jerry Rabinowitz.

As the 11 Tree of Life congregants who were gunned down are buried one by one, let us remember the individual lives, each God-breathed and precious, and pray for their families by name.

The Washington Post recently ran a lovely write-up of each of the victims, including the Rosenthal brothers.

Cecil Rosenthal and David Rosenthal, 59 and 54

When people showed up for services at Tree of Life, it was often Cecil Rosenthal who would greet them, offering a warm hello, a smile and sometimes a joke. “Cecil was this big man, that just loved to give bear hugs. He was the friendliest person you've ever met,” said Gladys Margolis, who taught Sunday school at Tree of Life for 16 years.

Cecil and his brother David were fixtures at the synagogue, attending services nearly every Saturday for much of their lives. They had been going to Tree of Life since they were young boys, said Chuck Diamond, a former rabbi.

Diamond, 63, said the brothers’ grandfather took them to the synagogue when they were children.

“They would be there every week, every service, every program,” Diamond said.

The brothers had an intellectual disability and lived together in an adult group home. . . .

ACHIEVA, a social services agency that worked with the two men, said the brothers were a beloved pair.

“Cecil’s laugh was infectious. David was so kind and had such a gentle spirit,” said Chris Schopf of ACHIEVA.

“Together, they looked out for one another,” Schopf added. “They were inseparable.”

Join Rabbi Eckstein on October 30 for a Town Hall discussion about the attack in Pittsburgh, the threat of anti-Semitism, and how all of us, Christians and Jews alike, must unite in prayer during these divisive times. Find more information here

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