A doctor rushed toward synagogue gunfire to help the wounded. He was killed.

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Oct. 29, 2018 / 10:03 AM GMT / Updated 11:16 AM GMT

By F. Brinley Bruton and Caitlin Fichtel

The gunman didn’t ambush Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz during prayers.

As the shooter stalked his victims in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Rabinowitz rushed to help the wounded, according to his nephew Avishai Ostrin.

The price Rabinowitz paid for his compassion was his life.

“He was a doctor, a healer,” Ostrin said in a Facebook post Sunday. “When he heard shots he ran outside to try and see if anyone was hurt and needed a doctor.”

He added: “That was Uncle Jerry, that’s just what he did.”

Image: Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz
Dr. Jerry RabinowitzAvishai Ostrin

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, who is survived by his wife Miri, mother Sally and brother Bill, Rabinowitz was remembered for his laughter and warmth.

“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.”

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 HIV sufferers, 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.”

Oct. 28, 201801:55

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.”

“He had a moral compass stronger than anyone I have ever known,” Ciesielka told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

F. Brinley Bruton reported from London, and Caitlin Fichtel from New York.