Congregation mourns president murdered in Atlanta massacre

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He'd enjoy a relaxed Friday night Shabbat dinner at home, and on Saturday morning would attend services at Congregation Or VeShalom, where he was president. On Sunday, they'd head to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to escape the heat.

His plans never materialized. The 48-year-old Tenenbaum was slain Thursday of last week at All-Tech Investment Group, a day-trading firm in the city's fashionable Buckhead district. Tenenbaum was one of 12 victims who died when Mark Barton slaughtered his own family at home and later opened fire in two Atlanta brokerages before taking his own life. The Atlanta region reeled in horror at its third mass shooting in three months. Closer to home, Tenenbaum's family and Atlanta's Jewish community plunged into grief.

More than 500 — from teens in sandals to bearded Orthodox men — attended Tenenbaum's graveside funeral last Friday. An unusually large crowd of worshippers sought comfort at Shabbat morning services at Sephardic synagogue Or VeShalom, where, for the first time in nearly two years, Tenenbaum did not rise from his pulpit seat with a smile to wish the congregation "Shabbat shalom" and announce births and deaths. Sunday morning, about 600 people returned to the North Druid Hills Road synagogue to mourn the loss of a man who adored his family, and who was adored by many friends. He is survived by wife Debra Fox Tenenbaum and three children, Brittany, 13, Megan, 11 and Scott, 3.

Tenenbaum had found his life's work in unlikely places. He was a Jewish grocery-store owner in a down-at-the-heels black neighborhood, an Ashkenazi Jew who led a Sephardic synagogue. Stunned customers stopped at the Great Savings Grocery in the aftermath of the shooting to post condolence messages outside the store. Tenenbaum was a man, say friends and employees, who would extend credit to customers or fix a sandwich for someone who was hungry.

Though family and friends had encouraged Tenenbaum to consider selling the business started by his father, Sol, because they feared he might become a victim of crime, Tenenbaum remained committed to his business and the neighborhood. How ironic, friends mused later, that he died in Buckhead's upscale financial center.

Tenenbaum and his wife joined Or VeShalom more than 16 years ago. He had worked for Neil Galanti's family grocery store, doing the accounting, and had become close to Galanti's family and others at Or VeShalom. Though Tenenbaum's family belonged to Congregation Shearith Israel, a Conservative Ashkenazic synagogue in the city's Morningside neighborhood, he was attracted to Or VeShalom. The couple felt "at home" there, said Galanti.

Tenenbaum served on Or VeShalom's board for about 10 years and was a vice president for several years. His wife, a former sisterhood president, has been active in the congregation's chevra kadisha, which prepares corpses for burial.

Tenenbaum had opened an account at All-Tech in June 1998, said Franklin Ogele, All-Tech's associate general counsel.

"He had lots of business interests," said Dr. Jeff Baumrind, a dentist who golfed with Tenenbaum and considered him his best friend. "It was just a little thing to try to make some money." Tenenbaum had stopped at All-Tech that morning to make some trades, and Baumrind said he was surprised that Tenenbaum had returned later in the day.

At the funeral, Or VeShalom Rabbi S. Robert Ichay told mourners that it was his job to comfort the grieving. But, he said, his voice catching, he wished someone could comfort him.