Cecil and David Rosenthal, ‘the boys,’ remembered as fixtures of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community

Mourners gather outside Rodef Shalom Congregation before the funeral services for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The brothers were killed in the mass shooting Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Mourners gather outside Rodef Shalom Congregation before the funeral services for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, in Pittsburgh. The brothers were killed in the mass shooting Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Hundreds of mourners dressed mostly in black ringed the perimeter of Pittsburgh’s city’s oldest and largest synagogue, Rodef Shalom, to pay respect for two intellectually disabled brothers who were killed in Saturday’s shooting.

Those saying goodbye quickly filled the inside of the vaulted synagogue, which is lined with stained glass walls and gold trim.

Many people at the service were Jewish, and many were not. Those who spoke about Cecil and David Rosenthal, both in their 50s, all expressed the same affection, though. One man, describing their place in the community, referred to the pair fondly as “the boys.”

Many people say the brothers were fixtures, inextricable from Squirrel Hill’s — and Pittsburgh’s — Jewish circles.

Among the faces at the service Tuesday was Dan Frankel, a Democratic state representative who lives in Squirrel Hill. He’s Jewish and said he’s been to a lot of weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs at Tree of Life over the years.

Many others at the funeral exchanged somber greetings, some even saying, “saw you on the TV the other day.”

Also paying his respects was Dr. Abe Friedman, who typically sat in the back row of Tree of Life with the Rosenthal brothers but was late to the service on Saturday and was not there when the gunman opened fire. As he stood in line at the funeral with his wife, he wondered why he had been spared.

“Why did things fall into place for me?” he asked. “I usually sit in the back row. In the last row, everyone got killed.”

Services for Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz were also held earlier Tuesday. A funeral was also set Tuesday for Daniel Stein, a man seen as part of the core of his congregation.

All but one of the other funerals are scheduled through the rest of the week, ending on Friday.

Gunman Robert Bowers is due back in federal court for a hearing Thursday.

The Associated Press and 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Kovash contributed to this story. 

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