(PITTSBURGH) — President Donald Trump and the first lady, joined by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, visited Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue Tuesday afternoon in the wake of the massacre at the house of worship this weekend.
As Rabbi Jeffrey Myers — who escaped the gunfire that killed 11 on Saturday morning — was outside the Tree of Life to greet the president, protesters gathered near the synagogue awaiting Trump’s arrival.
Thousands of people from all faiths, united in their anger, marched toward the synagogue.
Rev. Susan Rothenberg, a Presbyterian minister who lives down the street from the synagogue, was among those shouting and holding banners — and she encouraged other neighbors, including children, to join her.
“Words have meaning,” neighbors shouted.
“I’m just going to pay my respects,” Trump told Fox News on Monday. “I’m also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people that were so badly hurt. So — and I really look forward to going — I would have done it even sooner, but I didn’t want to disrupt anymore.”
The President and First Lady lit a candle with the rabbis and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer in honor of the 11 victims.
They also placed stones, as part of Jewish tradition, and white roses on the Stars of David set up in a makeshift memorial for those killed.
After visiting the synagogue, the president and first lady arrived at a hospital where they were expected to meet with survivors.
The first two of the funerals for the 11 slain worshippers were held Tuesday.
Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz and brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal were among those gunned down by a shooter inside the Tree of Life synagogue. Rabinowitz’s friends and family gathered at his funeral Tuesday morning, while the Rosenthal brothers were honored at a joint service Tuesday afternoon.
Rabinowitz, 66, was killed when he ran toward gunfire in the synagogue to try to help victims, according to his nephew, Avishai Ostrin.
“In addition to being the president of the congregation, he was a doctor, a healer … when he heard shots he ran outside to try and see if anyone was hurt and needed a doctor. That was Uncle Jerry, that’s just what he did,” Ostrin wrote on Facebook.
“Jerry was above all one of the kindest physicians and human beings in our community,” University of Pittsburgh Medical Center officials said in a statement. The hospital network said it “cannot even begin to express the sadness and grief we feel over the loss of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz.”
The line outside Jerry Rabinowitz’ service has extended half a block. David Sogg, one of his patients, arrived by bicycle, said his doctor of nearly 20 years would have been glad. pic.twitter.com/v82seja4JC
— Max Londberg (@MaxLondberg) October 30, 2018
Slain brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, never missed a service and were always at the synagogue because it was a place they felt the most safe, fellow congregant Scott Levin told ABC News.
The two brothers were developmentally disabled.
“Cecil and David had a love for life and for those around them,” according to a statement from ACHIEVA, a local organization which provides support for people with disabilities.
“Cecil’s laugh was infectious. David was so kind and had such a gentle spirit,” Chris Schopf, Vice President of ACHIEVA Residential Supports, said in the statement. “Together, they looked out for one another. They were inseparable. Most of all, they were kind, good people with a strong faith and respect for everyone.”
“All of Pennsylvania stands with the victims and their families,” Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tweeted Monday as the state capitol building was lit in tribute. “We join the Pittsburgh Jewish community and Jewish Americans across our nation in mourning.”
Tonight, the State Capitol is lit in tribute to the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. All of Pennsylvania stands with the victims and their families. We join the Pittsburgh Jewish community and Jewish Americans across our nation in mourning. pic.twitter.com/0jpqDZpewj
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) October 29, 2018
Trump and first lady Melania Trump are set to arrive in Pittsburgh later in the afternoon.
“I’m just going to pay my respects,” Trump told Fox News on Monday. “I’m also going to the hospital to see the officers and some of the people that were so badly hurt. So — and I really look forward to going — I would have done it even sooner, but I didn’t want to disrupt anymore than they already had disruption.”
The president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump will travel with the president and first lady, a senior administration official told ABC News.
President Trump on Saturday strongly condemned the shooting in Pittsburgh as “evil.”
Early on Saturday, just a few hours after the shooting, the president said, “It’s presumed that this is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately … Maybe nobody would have been killed except for him. So it’s a very, very difficult situation.”
When a reporter asked if all synagogues and churches should have armed guards, Trump said, “I hate to think of it that way … It’s certainly an option.”
Charges against suspected gunman Robert Bowers include 11 counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death and 11 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder.
Bowers, 46, faces 22 charges that make him eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors said.
He is being held in the Butler County Prison.
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