Synagogue Shooting Trial

Legacy of doctor killed in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting lives on through memorial scholarship

PHILADELPHIA — Everyone in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania knows about Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, according to the chair of the department.

Dr. Rabinowitz got his education in medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in the 70s.

A page on the school’s website dedicated to the Squirrel Hill doctor says he went on to complete his residency in Pittsburgh, where he established a family practice.

“He had earned such a unique reputation as an extraordinary family physician,” said Dr. Richard Wender, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

And he was doing what he loved, helping the wounded, when the Penn website says he was killed in the synagogue shooting in 2018. He was a member of the Dor Hadash Congregation and was worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. Wender said the Rabinowitz family went to the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn with an idea:

“They just lived through a terrible tragedy, but they were able to come together and say, ‘What would have been meaningful to Jerry?’ as a way to honor him,” said Dr. Wender.

The family created the Jerry Rabinowitz Memorial Residency Scholarship. The award is given annually to a family medicine resident. Their peers elect the person who is most representative of the value of community, connection, and caring, which Dr. Wender says is “really the spirit of Jerry Rabinowitz.”

Four family medicine residents at Penn have earned the scholarship, including Dr. Shelley Henderson.

“An absolute honor. I definitely respect him and all he was able to do at a time when I know people were ostracized for it,” Dr. Shelley Henderson said, referring to the work Dr. Rabinowitz did at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

“I know that one of the reasons the family directed the gift here is to help make the point that we need to keep encouraging young people to choose careers in primary care and how important that is to the public,” said Dr. Wender.

The scholarship program carries on Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz’s legacy as a doctor with a heart for the community.

“He really dedicated his life to service and thinking about the needs of others,” said Dr. Wender. “But what he taught us is how that creates so much joy in your own life.”

For more information about the Dr. Jerry P. Rabinowitz, C’73, M’77 Memorial Residency Scholarship Fund, click here.

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