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Rose Mallinger, killed in Pittsburgh synagogue attack, called a superhero, martyr

November 26, 2018

Rose Mallinger, even at 97, wasn’t going to be stopped.

She did what she wanted, never refusing a good dessert and shooing away squirrels with her cane, her grandchildren and rabbi said during her funeral ceremony Friday.

Mallinger -- known affectionately to relatives as “Bubbie” -- was among the 11 people killed Oct. 27 inside the Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill.

She was the last of the 11 to be laid to rest.

“My ‘Bubbie’ was an amazing woman. She was selfless and caring,” said Steven Wedner, Mallinger’s grandson. “She was our superhero. She was the toughest person I know. I truly thought she was invincible.”

Wedner’s mother and Mallinger’s daughter, 61-year-old Andrea Wedner, was shot during the attack and remains in stable condition at the hospital.

Hundreds of mourners attended Mallinger’s funeral at the Rodef Shalom Temple in Oakland, including Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, the pastor of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., which was the scene of a 2015 mass shooting by a white supremacist.

“You are not alone,” Manning told the crowd. “Charleston stands with you. We mourn with you. We’re here for you and that will never change.”

Jeffrey Myers, rabbi at Tree of Life, led the ceremony. Myers said Mallinger couldn’t refuse a good dessert and used her cane to do everything from chasing away squirrels to cleaning her porch.

“We will survive this horror,” Myers said. “We will rebuild -- our souls and our beloved Tree of Life. Those who die while worshiping God are martyrs. Rose is a martyr of our people.”

Myers said he had received a call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- who sent his condolences -- earlier in the day. The rabbi offered Andrea Wedner an opportunity to read her mother’s prayer for peace at Tree of Life whenever she is ready.

Alvin Berkun, the Tree of Life’s rabbi emeritus, said that “death was snatched in a holy and sacred place” during the shooting.

“How poignant that [Rose] was to die in a place she loved thoroughly that held meaning in her life,” Berkun said.

Andrew Mallinger urged the audience to come together and be proud to be Jewish.

“We are all stronger than hate,” Andrew Mallinger said. “Rose Mallinger, my ‘Bubbie,’ will always be stronger than hate.”

Her grandson spoke of Mallinger’s dedication to the Tree of Life and her local hair salon, despite her being in her late 90s.

“The Tree of Life was her second home,” he said. “It’s where she felt most like herself. It was a piece of ‘Bubbie.’ Nothing could shake her or stop her from doing what she wanted -- even at 97.”

After speaking, Andrew Mallinger and his two siblings -- Amy and Eric -- shared an emotional hug in front of the congregation.

Rose Mallinger was married to the late Morris Mallinger and is the mother of Stanley Mallinger, Alan Mallinger and Andrea Wedner. She is the sister of Ben Goldberg and has numerous grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews and cousins.

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