Re­mem­ber­ing 11 lives lost to vi­o­lence

The Progress-Index - - OPINION -

She lived 97 years, only to be gunned down in her syn­a­gogue.

That was the un­fair end to the life that Rose Mallinger lived with en­ergy, love and joy.

While the enor­mity of the mass shoot­ing at Tree of Life is most eas­ily com­pre­hended in num­bers and turns of phrase — 11 dead in what has been de­scribed as the most hor­rific at­tack on the Amer­i­can Jewish com­mu­nity in U.S. his­tory — that doesn’t be­gin to ar­tic­u­late the loss rip­pling across the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, pro­fes­sions and com­mu­ni­ties.

The vic­tims had gifts to give, like Ms. Mallinger’s love and wis­dom for her fam­ily, and they en­riched the world in ways that should be cel­e­brated and re­mem­bered.

Con­sider the sharp mind, heal­ing hand and com­pas­sion­ate heart of Jerry Rabi­nowitz, a fam­ily physi­cian who could make ev­ery­thing bet­ter. The field of medicine, so of­ten crit­i­cized for bu­reau­cracy these days, will be poorer with­out his hu­man touch.

Think of Joyce Fien­berg, a re­search spe­cial­ist at the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh’s Learn­ing Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter from 1983 to 2008. Who knows how many schools, teach­ers and stu­dents ben­e­fited from her in­sights or how her work may in­flu­ence the field of ed­u­ca­tion for years to come?

Pon­der the re­silience mod­eled by David and Ce­cil Rosen­thal, two broth­ers with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties who lived full lives in a world of­ten un­kind to peo­ple who are dif­fer­ent.

Con­sider the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of the many kind­nesses of Daniel Stein and Irv­ing Younger, who served as youth base­ball coaches and held var­i­ous roles at the syn­a­gogue. Mr. Younger of­ten greeted con­gre­gants and bid them wel­come. Vi­brant com­mu­ni­ties and well-run or­ga­ni­za­tions rely on vol­un­teers like these.

How pre­cious the ex­am­ple of Ber­nice and Syl­van Si­mon, a mar­ried cou­ple whose love spanned more than six decades; of Richard Got­tfried, a den­tist who mar­ried a Catholic woman and vol­un­teered his ser­vices to a free clinic run by Catholic Char­i­ties; and of Melvin Wax, whose spir­i­tu­al­ity de­fied an ever-more-sec­u­lar world. Bill Car­tiff, a friend of Mr. Wax, said that go­ing to syn­a­gogue “was as im­por­tant to him as break­fast to most peo­ple.”

Only by know­ing a lit­tle about the vic­tims is it pos­si­ble to fathom all that was stolen by one man with crazy ideas about Jews and refugees. If peo­ple filled with hate got to know the peo­ple they’ve come to hate, there might be more peace in the world. Who could hate Ms. Mallinger or the Rosen­thals? Mr. Car­tiff asked, “How do we move from here?”

The lives the 11 lived — filled with joy, civic-mind­ed­ness and com­pas­sion for oth­ers — are point­ing the way.

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