Back-to-Back Funerals. Mourners 50 Deep. Pittsburgh Grieves, 11 Times Over.


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Back-to-Back Funerals. Mourners 50 Deep. Pittsburgh Grieves, 11 Times Over.

A memorial for the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. “It is a week of mourning for the whole community,” Rabbi Jonathan Perlman said.

PITTSBURGH — The public rituals of grief in Pittsburgh kept accumulating on Wednesday with more funerals, more burials and more communal gatherings for the 11 killed in the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue.

At Beth Shalom Synagogue, people gathered early Wednesday to mourn Joyce Fienberg, 75, a well-loved researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. A little over an hour later, visitation had begun for Irving Younger, 69, at Rodef Shalom Temple, the second service there in two days.

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“He wasnt the tallest guy, but he had the biggest heart,” said Marsha Mintz, 74, a longtime friend who was waiting in the visitation line. She was a guest at the wedding of Mr. Younger and his late wife, Sherry, and remembered how he had doted on her. “She was ill for a very long time and he took care of her with such devotion,” Ms. Mintz said, choking back tears.

Emily Harris, 69, was in Mr. Youngers graduating class in high school when they were growing up in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood. “He was a good guy, a solid guy: what we call a mensch,” she said. “He was a friend you could always count on.”

Most of the mourners tried to keep the focus on the people being remembered, but sometimes the horrific circumstances behind it all crept into mind.

“You see all thats going on in the world,” Ms. Harris said, “and every time Im out in a crowd, I get visions of something like this happening.”

[Read more about the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting.]

At the same time, friends and family gathered in a funeral home chapel not a mile away, for the service for Melvin Wax, 87, who was killed on Saturday as he came out of a dark storage room into the chapel where the New Light congregation met on the Sabbath.

“It is a week of mourning for the whole community; there are funerals that are scheduled every day,” said Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, who leads the New Light congregation and was preparing to lead services for Mr. Wax. “Its very all-consuming, everybody is talking about whose funeral they have gone to and when the next funeral is going to be and where will it be held.”

The deaths have been on front pages globally; it is not just the family and friends who mourn them, said Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life, at the funeral for the Rosenthal brothers, Cecil and David, which took place the day before. But, “the entire world is sharing this grief.”

That has presented the families with another burden in an already taxing week: how to balance the intimate rituals of grief with the worldwide attention. Many of the funerals are private and closed to people outside of friends and family. The shivas, the seven-day periods in which mourners and community members come together to comfort the bereaved, began on Tuesday with the first burials; by the end of the week, there will be several proceeding around the city. Families have tried to keep most of these closed, as well.

Given the outpouring of support, they are big enough as it is.

By: The New York Times

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