Amalek Comes To Pittsburgh

From WSJ, Op-Ed, by Lou Weiss

For a couple of years, I was the head of a congregation that merged with Tree of Life; for many years I was a late-arriving regular at the Shabbat morning service that was attacked. I knew five of the people who were murdered. They were more than good and lovely people. They were the stalwarts who would show up on time and help out.

Rose Mallinger, 97, would always be there, sitting next to her sister. Saturday she was next to her daughter Andrea who, like the whole family, is possessed of a permanent smile. Andrea was shot. Rose was murdered.

Cecil Rosenthal, 59, knew my wife from childhood. He had special needs and a youthful exuberance. His younger, thinner brother, David, had a more serious mien and spoke less. He too had special needs. Like his older brother, he was murdered.

Irv Younger, 69, was a sweet man with a shock of white hair who would do anything that needed to be done at the shul. Murdered.

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, was a member of Dor Hadash, a synagogue that rented space in the social hall. A family doctor, he escaped the initial assault and returned to help the survivors. He was murdered.

Because we are so few, we feel pain when a Jew is in trouble anywhere. When someone is killed by a terrorist in Israel or held captive in the former Soviet Union, it is very much our business. We are used to making calls to see if our friends or relatives throughout the world were hurt in an attack. Now it is our turn to receive those calls.

What happened to our wonderful, close community Saturday has now become the business not only of Jews but of all civilized human beings. The heartbreak will never go away. The best way to honor the people who were murdered would be to emulate their decency and goodness.

In last week’s Torah portion, we read about how Abraham bargained with God to preserve the occupants of Sodom. Beyond their signature activity, the Sodomites committed real crimes related to their treatment of strangers. Abraham asks for God’s forbearance if he can find 10 good men in the city. He couldn’t, and subsequently 10 became the minimum number for a Jewish prayer service. The number of Jews murdered at the Tree of Life Saturday was 11.

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