Among the eleven Jewish congregants of the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh was a family doctor who served as an erstwhile HIV specialist and treated his patients with respect.
His name was Jerry Rabinowitz.
Act Up member Michael Kerr posted this moving remembrance on Facebook:
"My doctor Jerry Rabinowitz was among those killed in the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. He took care of me up until I left Pittsburgh for NYC in 2004.
In the old days for HIV patients in Pittsburgh he was to one to go to. Basically before there was effective treatment for fighting HIV itself, he was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest. He often held our hands (without rubber gloves) and always always hugged us as we left his office.
We made a deal about my T-cells in that I didn’t want to know the numbers visit to visit because I knew I would fret with every little fluctuation and I also knew that AZT was not working for my friends. The deal was that he would just let me know at some point when the T-cell numbers meant I needed to start on medications. The numbers were his job and my job was to finish my masters thesis and get a job with insurance and try to not go crazy.
I got lucky beyond words — because when he gently told me around November 1995 that it was time to begin taking medications — there was an ACTG trial for two HIV medications that saved my life. One of which I still take today.
Thank you ACT UP for getting these drugs into a safe but effect expedited research protocol. You saved my life.
And thank you Dr. Rabinowitiz for having always been there during the most terrifying and frightening time of my life. You will be remembered by me always. You are one of my heroes just like the early ACT UP warriors — some of which I now call friend."
Rabinowitz and ten others were murdered when suspected gunman Robert Bowers, 46, burst into the Synagogue, yelling "All Jews must die," before himself being wounded and taken into custody.
According to USA Today the list of those killed Saturday included middle-aged brothers, an elderly husband and wife and a grandmother nearing 100. All were cherished members of a tight-knit Jewish community with deep roots in Pittsburgh history.