Jewish Doctor Asked Synagogue Gunman: How Are You Feeling? by the Forward

Jewish Doctor Asked Synagogue Gunman: How Are You Feeling?

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The doctor who runs the hospital that treated the alleged perpetrator of the Sabbath-morning massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue is also a member of that synagogue — and he introduced himself to the shooter.

Dr. Jeff Cohen lives in Tree of Life synagogue’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, and is the president of Allegheny General Hospital, which treated Robert Bowers.

Cohen told CNN about wanting to see if he could understand what motivated Bowers, and walking up to his hospital bed to introduce himself by name and ask the question every doctor asks every patient: How are you feeling?

Bowers was a bit groggy, and said he was feeling okay, and Cohen learned from the encounter that Bowers was not particularly bright, and felt that he had to rise up and defend “his people,” who were being slaughtered.

“The gentleman didn’t appear to be a member of the Mensa society,” Cohen said. “He listens to the noise, he hears the noise … He’s completely confused, and the words mean things. The words are leading to people doing things like this.”

Contact Helen Chernikoff at or on Twitter @thesimplechild


Helen Chernikoff

Helen Chernikoff

Helen Chernikoff is the Forward’s News Editor. She came to the Forward from The Jewish Week, where she served as the first web director and created both a blog dedicated to disability issues and a food and wine website. Before that, she covered the housing, lodging and logistics industries for Reuters, where she could sit at her desk and watch her stories move the stock market. Helen has a Master’s of Public Administration from Columbia University and a BA in History and French from Amherst College. She is also a rabbinical school dropout. Contact her at and follow her on Twitter at @thesimplechild.

Jewish Doctor Asked Synagogue Gunman: How Are You Feeling?

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