‘In my life forever’: Families of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims keep legacies alive

PITTSBURGH — For Amy Mallinger, who lost her grandmother, Rose Mallinger, inside the Tree of Life synagogue, her engagement ring holds much more than a diamond.

“It made me break down in tears because I know this ring sat on her finger, so getting it as my engagement ring it’s keeping a part of her with me, but it’s also starting a new life with her so she’s still in my life forever,” Amy said.

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The piece of her grandmother gave her comfort as she sat through court leading up to the final verdict: death to her Bubbie’s killer.

“I don’t even know the emotions because I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this,” Amy explained. “Listening to my aunt’s 911 call was so hard for me because you hear everything in her voice. Those were the last moments of my grandma’s life and people are seeing it on screens, but we lived that.”

Her family is filled with relief as they look towards the future and Amy’s goal of bringing happy memories back to the Tree of Life synagogue, where she hopes to get married when it reopens.

She’s not alone, as the families of the victims have grown stronger as one, sharing the ups and downs of this chapter.

“I’ve spent a lot of time crying about it because you veer from crying in horror, in disgust and then you are crying about all the great and goodness, but that great and goodness is gone,” said Howard Fienberg, son of Joyce Fienberg. “It’s not a climax, it’s not a done we go on to everything else there is a hole that can’t be fixed. Our mom is still dead and her place is still empty.”

“That’s what got me through it and for better or for worse, we are all members of a club we never chose to be members of, but we are all bonded for the rest of our lives,” said Jodi Kart, Mel Wax’s daughter.

The Fienberg brothers won’t let you forget their mom Joyce, who was the center of their world and many others as she held many roles throughout the community.

As for the end of this chapter, a verdict of death is not happiness or closure to them, but relief that this part is done.

“There is a certain point when crimes are beyond, way beyond forgiveness even if such things are possible and this is what the ultimate penalty is for,” said Howard Fienberg.

Up to this point, the victim’s families were limited on what they could say in court and on the witness stand, but that will change on Thursday. Each will have the chance to speak directly to Robert Bowers in their impact statements before the judge formally sentences him to death.

Court resumes Thursday at 9 a.m.

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