By MARYCLAIRE DALE
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — The three congregations attacked at a Pittsburgh synagogue will gather for a joint service today, while a prayer vigil is planned outside their desecrated worship space to mark the time the massacre began one week earlier.
Meanwhile, Friday brought the end of a wrenching series of funerals as the oldest victim, 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, was laid to rest.
“We will reopen, but it will not be for quite a while,” Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said Friday morning, as he prepared for the last funeral service. Myers himself survived the attack that began just as Shabbat services got underway. In the end, 11 people were gunned down in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
Mallinger’s daughter attended her mother’s funeral, accompanied by a nurse, Rabbi Aaron Bisno said. The 61-year-old daughter had been hospitalized since the massacre Saturday at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Bisno didn’t know if she returned to the hospital after the funeral.
The suspect, Robert Bowers, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges that could result in a death sentence. Bowers, 46, was arraigned on a 44-count indictment charging him with murder, hate crimes, obstructing the practice of religion and other crimes.
It was his second brief appearance in a federal courtroom since authorities say he opened fire at the synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
“Yes!” Bowers said in a loud voice when asked if he understood the charges.
Authorities say Bowers raged against Jews during and after the massacre. He remains jailed without bail.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said Friday that the two most seriously injured victims have been moved out of the intensive care unit. Hospital officials said a 70-year-old man was upgraded from critical to stable condition, while a 40-year-old police officer remains in stable condition.
The officer was previously identified as Timothy Matson, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The wounded congregant is Daniel Leger, a nurse and hospital chaplain.
The city’s Jewish community began burying its dead Tuesday as thousands of mourners attended services for a beloved family doctor and two brothers. The funerals have continued each day since.
Mallinger, whose funeral was Friday, had attended Tree of Life for more than 60 years.
It was the “center of her very active life,” her family said in a statement distributed by University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Her involvement with the synagogue went beyond the Jewish religion. … It was her place to be social, to be active and to meet family and friends.”
Though advanced in years, Mallinger always stood during services. She faithfully attended, accompanied by her whole family on major holidays.
“She retained her sharp wit, humor and intelligence until the very last day,” the family statement said. “She did everything she wanted to do in her life.”