Victims of Pittsburgh synagogue attack are laid to rest

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The rabbi of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh said Thursday he was "surprised by a warm and personal side" to President Donald Trump during their meeting earlier this week.

In this October 29, 2018, file photo, a makeshift memorial stands outside the Tree of Life synagogue in the aftermath of a deadly shooting at the in Pittsburgh.

The attack, following a wave of pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats, heightened national tensions days ahead of elections on Tuesday that will decide whether US President Donald Trump loses the Republican majority he now enjoys in both houses of Congress.

Also joining Trump on his trip to Pennsylvania's second-largest city were Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his daughter and son-in-law who are Jewish and serve as White House advisers.

They also include 10 counts of obstructing the free exercise of religion through attempted homicide.

The protest announcement echoed an open letter from a group of local Jewish leaders who told Trump: "You are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism".

Congressional leaders of both parties, the state's two US senators, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D) and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), all did not join Trump during his visit.

Dvir, 52, the owner of Murray Avenue Locksmith in Squirrel Hill, said of Trump, "I think he made some mistakes, but he is a great president".

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About 2,000 people, many of them members of Pittsburgh's tight-knit Jewish community, held a protest march against Trump as his visit began, chanting, "Words have meaning", and carrying signs with slogans calling for unity, including: "We build bridges not walls". A team of rabbis and volunteers has gone into the Tree of Life synagogue to gather up blood and other remains from the victims of the shooting rampage, in keeping with Jewish law that says the entire body must be buried. The president said an armed guard might have prevented the attack had one been deployed at the synagogue. He had appeared in court on Monday shackled to a wheelchair.

Six other people, including four police officers, were injured before Bowers was shot by police and surrendered.

Upon conviction, Bowers would face a maximum punishment of either the death penalty or life without parole, plus a consecutive sentence of 535 years in prison. The case is set for a jury trial and could result in the death penalty.

The Anti-Defamation League has kept records on hatred and violence against Jews since the 1970s.

Hundreds of mourners turned out for the funeral, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

They buried the Rosenthal brothers, David and Cecil, who were "innocent, pure souls" and "gentle giants" with no ill will, their kin said. "(He) always helped out", said Jean Clickner, who knew Rabinowitz for decades.

"They were just wonderful, graceful people", Siriano said. Ashley Thompson was the editor.