He added: “That was Uncle Jerry, that’s just what he did.”
Rabinowitz, 66, was one of 11 people killed in the mass shooting at the synagogue when authorities say Robert Bowers opened fire during services Saturday. A married couple, two brothers and a 97-year-old woman were also among those who died.
A geriatrician and family physician from Edgewood Borough, Rabinowitz was remembered for his laughter and warmth. He is survived by his wife, Miri; mother, Sally; and brother, Bill.
“You know how they say there are people who just lighten up a room? You know that cliché about people whose laugh is infectious? That was Uncle Jerry,” Ostrin said. “It wasn’t a cliché. It was just his personality. His laughter, with his chest heaving up and down, with a huge smile on his face — that was Uncle Jerry.”
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A former patient poured out his grief as well as his appreciation for the doctor who held his hand — literally — during the worst days of his life.
“How I wish I had reached out last year and told him I was ‘making it’ finally, and sent him a picture as proof,” Michael Kerr told NBC News. “You see, I went through many, many dark times.”
Kerr got to know Rabinowitz in the “old days” for those with HIV, before there was an effective treatment for the poorly understood disease that devastated a generation.
“He was the one to go to,” said Kerr, who was Rabinowitz’s patient until he left Pittsburgh for New York in 2004. “He was known in the community for keeping us alive the longest. He often held our hands (without rubber gloves) and always, always hugged us as we left his office.”
Colleagues shared similar memories of the doctor.
Dr. Ken Ciesielka, who went to college and medical school at the University of Pennsylvania with Rabinowitz, said he was “one of the finest people I’ve ever met.”