PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Mourners gathered in Pittsburgh on Friday for the funeral of the last and oldest of 11 victims gunned down in a massacre at a synagogue, capping a week of grieving for the city.
Rose Mallinger, 97, affectionately known to her family as “Bubbie”, Yiddish for “grandma,” was among the worshipers killed last Saturday when a gunman burst into the Tree of Life synagogue with a semi-automatic rifle and three pistols and opening fire in the midst of Sabbath prayers as he shouted “All Jews must die.”
Mallinger’s daughter was injured in the attack and remained hospitalized in stable condition.
Robert Bowers, 46, an avowed anti-Semite, pleaded not guilty on Thursday in federal court to all 44 counts against him in the attack.
The massacre, following a wave of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats, has heightened national tensions ahead of U.S. congressional elections on Tuesday that will decide whether President Donald Trump loses the Republican majority he now enjoys in both chambers.
A long line of mourners waited to pay their respects ahead of Mallinger’s funeral at the Rodef Shalom Temple.
“She was a grandmother to all of us,” said Bruce Ive, who saw Mallinger regularly at the synagogue. “We all called her Bubbie.”
Kevin McCafferty, a contractor who did home improvement projects for Mallinger, was among those in line.
“I was amazed at how alert and engaged she was for a lady of her age,” McCafferty said. “We would sit and talk for hours. She was such a lovely lady.”
In a statement issued earlier this week, Mallinger’s family said that for the nonagenarian, Tree of Life was the “center of her very active life.”
“Her involvement with the synagogue went beyond the Jewish religion,” the statement read. “It was her place to be social, to be active and to meet family and friends.”
Writing by Nick Carey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe