Two buses of Steelers players and staff attended the joint funeral on Tuesday for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, who were killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting on Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Michele Rosenthal, the sister of the two victims, used to be the Steelers’ community relations manager. Several players mentioned Rosenthal by name after the Steelers’ 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
“It was tough, it was crazy tough, especially with Michele and the closeness we have with her,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We’re thankful for the victory but we all understand, there are bigger things, there’s life. I’m glad we could gift people three hours with a break.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Sunday said he was “a member of the Squirrel Hill community” and that “words cannot express how we feel.”
More than 1,000 people poured into Rodef Shalom — one of Pittsburgh’s largest synagogues — to mourn the two intellectually disabled brothers who were killed in the massacre that left 11 dead in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Members of the team took two buses to the funeral, and the Steelers moved Tomlin’s weekly news conference from noon to 1 p.m. so that he could attend.
The Rosenthal family had asked media and the public to respect their privacy at the Rodef Shalom Temple as they mourned the passing of their loved ones.
The Steelers held a moment of silence before Sunday’s game, and Tomlin addressed the tragedy during a Saturday night meeting with his team. In pregame warm-ups, defensive end Cam Heyward wore a T-shirt featuring a heart around the word “Pittsburgh.” “Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community,” said team president Art Rooney II in a statement issued Sunday morning.
Prior to Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Islanders, the Penguins observed 11 seconds of silence for the 11 killed in the shooting. Three members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh stood with Jeff Jimerson as he sang the national anthem and the puck drop featured Pittsburgh’s police chief, its public safety director and two first responders, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
11 seconds of silence for 11 lives lost.
Irving Younger pic.twitter.com/H3BkI9CvBC
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 30, 2018
Prior to the game, the Penguins collected money at all three gates and the team’s foundation donated $25,000 apiece to the Jewish Federation and to a fund established to benefit police officers injured in the shooting. On Monday, the team held a blood drive.
Penguins players wore “Stronger Than Hate” patches and their sweaters will be auctioned after the game. The team is also donating its share of the 50/50 raffle.
Sidney Crosby, who scored late in the first period to forge a 2-2 tie after the Panthers fell behind 2-0, said the victims were on his mind.
“We wanted to go out there and play for them,” Crosby said. “You try to recognize that and play as hard as you can to show your appreciation. Words are one thing, but you try to go out there and follow it up the same.”
Crosby had hoped for a better result.
“We had a lot of different emotions going through our minds to start, but the bottom line is that we wanted to find a way to get a win for a lot of reasons,” Crosby said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
Information from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and The Associated was used in this report.