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Pittsburgh: Funeral services to be held for two victims of synagogue killing


Pittsburgh: Funeral services to be held for two victims of synagogue killing
Melvin Wax, 88, and retired university researcher Joyce Fienberg, 75, will be remembered in separate services, local media said, four days after they were killed in the deadliest ever attack America's Jewish community. (Twitter)

Funerals will be held on Wednesday for two victims of a mass shooting at their Pittsburgh synagogue, including the man who was leading shabbat services when the attack - in which 11 worshipers died - took place.

Melvin Wax, 88, and retired university researcher Joyce Fienberg, 75, will be remembered in separate services, local media said, four days after they were killed in the deadliest ever attack America's Jewish community.

The first funerals for victims took place on Tuesday when President Donald Trump visited the Tree of Life synagogue while thousands protested his presence in the city.

The attack has heightened a national debate over Trump's rhetoric, which critics say has contributed to a surge in white nationalist and neo-Nazi activity. His administration denies he has encouraged far-right extremism.

The accused gunman, Robert Bowers, was charged on Monday with 29 federal felony counts including hate crimes. He is accused of storming into the synagogue on Saturday and opening fire, yelling: "All Jews must die."

Wax, a retired accountant who had just become a grandfather, was leading shabbat services in the basement when he was shot and killed, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said.

"He was a gentleman. Easygoing, simple, quiet," his friend Bill Cartiff told the newspaper.

Fienberg spent 25 years as a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center until she retired in 2008.

"She was an engaging, elegant, and warm person," the centre said on Facebook.

The funerals for the first two victims of the attack were held on Tuesday. More than 1,800 people came to pay their respects at Rodef Shalom, another synagogue in the Squirrel Hill district at the heart of the city's Jewish community.

Trump made no public comments during his 30-minute visit on Tuesday.

"He wanted today to be about showing respect for the families and the friends of the victims as well as for Jewish Americans," his press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

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, singing Old Testament psalms and carrying signs with slogans including: "We build bridges, not walls."

(With inputs from agencies.)


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