Three More Pittsburgh Funerals Held as Trump Calls Protests 'Fake News'

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Caskets are carried out of Rodef Shalom Temple following the funeral of brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, in Pittsburgh, October 30, 2018.
Caskets are carried out of Rodef Shalom Temple following the funeral of brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, in Pittsburgh, October 30, 2018. Credit: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP

Pittsburgh held three more funerals on Wednesday for Jewish victims of a shooting rampage at a synagogue that has become the focus of a fierce political debate about white nationalism and anti-Semitism ahead of hotly contested U.S. congressional elections next week. 

Eleven worshippers were gunned down on Saturday morning by a man who stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue and opened fire, yelling anti-Semitic statements including: "All Jews must die." It was deadliest attack on Jews in the United States. 

>>While Trump is president, violence against Jews will keep rising. We must prepare accordingly | Opinion ■ Trump, the Jews and anti-Semitism: A dangerous double game | Explained ■ Why I call the Pittsburgh massacre a pogrom, and Trump a czar | Opinion 

Funerals for Melvin Wax, 88, the man who was leading Sabbath services when the attack began, retired real estate agent Irving Younger, 69, and retired university researcher Joyce Fienberg, 75 were held as part of a week-long series of services. 

"It can't be fixed," Robert Libman said at the funeral of Fienberg, his sister, clutching his chest as he described the pain of losing her. "My sister is dead. My sister was murdered. There was no one I know like her. Pure goodness. ... She was the most tolerant and gentle person that I've ever known."

Her sons, Anthony, of Paris, and Howard, of Vienna, Virginia, said she spent five years caring for their father as he battled cancer, then after his death a few years ago, devoted more of her time and energy to Tree of Life.

"My mom would be very angry that her funeral wasn't able to be at Tree of Life, and that her friends lost Saturday couldn't be here," Howard Fienberg said.

The funerals for Wax and Younger were to be held later Tuesday.

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Six people were wounded in the attack, including four police officers, two of whom remained hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Two congregants were still in the hospital, one in critical condition

Amid the first funerals for victims on Tuesday, Trump visited Tree of Life

Thousands protested his presence in the city, accusing him of using rhetoric that has fueled anti-Semitism in America. 

Several thousand protesters, an ethnically mixed crowd of all ages, held an anti-Trump rally about a block away from the synagogue just as his visit began on Tuesday, singing Old Testament psalms and carrying signs with such slogans as: "We build bridges not walls." 

Trump made no public comments during his visit, but wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning that his office had been "shown great respect on a very sad and solemn day" in Pittsburgh. 

"Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away," he tweeted. "The Fake News stories were just the opposite-Disgraceful!" 

More than 1,800 people came to pay their respects on Tuesday at Rodef Shalom, another synagogue in the Squirrel Hill district at the heart of the city's Jewish community. 

Trump's visit to Pennsylvania's second-largest city came seven days before elections that will determine whether his Republican Party maintains control of both houses of Congress or whether the Democrats seize a majority in one chamber or both. 

On Wednesday, it was announced that the charges against suspect Robert Bowers, had been increased from 29 to 44 counts according to a federal indictment filed. Some of the charges include religious hate crimes, firearms charges and causing injury to police officers. Bowers is due to appear at a second hearing in federal court in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

In a social media post on Saturday morning, Bowers referred to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a nonprofit refugee resettlement agency, as helping to "bring invaders in that kill our people," declaring: "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in." 

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