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Synagogue shooting victim Melvin Wax was ‘perpetually happy’

November 23, 2018

Melvin Wax had three photos in his wallet when investigators recovered it from his synagogue Saturday.

One was from his daughter’s wedding day.

And two were photographs of his beloved grandson, Matthew Kart.

Wax, 87, was devoted to Matthew and New Light Congregation, Rabbi Jonathan Perlman said during Wax’s funeral service Wednesday. Perlman described Wax as “perpetually happy” and “always charitable.”

About 300 people gathered Wednesday at a Shadyside funeral home to remember the kind, cheerful man who was killed when a gunman tore through his synagogue on Saturday.

Mourners filled the pews sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at Ralph Schugar Chapel and others stood in the aisles. Many wiped away tears or cried out as details of Wax’s final days were shared while his flag-draped coffin sat at the front of the room.

He was among 11 people who were killed at Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill just before 10 a.m. Six others, including four police officers, were injured. Perlman is rabbi of New Life Congregation which rented space in the Tree of Life building.

Wax was described as a punctual and cheerful jokester who was passionate about his faith and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He started working early after his father died when Wax was a young boy, Perlman said. He eventually graduated with honors from Allderdice High School and later served in the military during the Korean War. It was unclear in which branch of the military he served.

He became an accountant and a fixture in his congregation, a past president who was able to fill in various roles during the services. He wore a jacket and tie to synagogue every Friday night and Saturday morning, Perlman said.

But above all else, he was selfless.

In fact, in recent weeks, he had set up a voter registration drive at his Squirrel Hill apartment building. Perlman said Wax wanted to help others around his age navigate the process of exercising their right to vote.

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