Take a quick stroll down Murray Avenue, one of the main roads in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, and you will see many beautiful knitted Jewish stars hanging all around you. They’re easy to miss at first, but if you really look, you’re sure to find one everywhere you turn. This project was a response to the horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill in 2018. Communities around the world found creative and impactful ways to provide support and solidarity to Pittsburgh and the Jewish community as a whole.
The Syria Mosque and its members played a powerful role in shaping Oakland as a neighborhood and Pittsburgh as a city. Though fraught with cultural exploitation, its presence had a lasting impact.
Hillel Jewish University Torah
In February 2018, a 300-year-old Torah scroll that is said to have survived the Holocaust began its new chapter at the Hillel Jewish University Center in Oakland, Pittsburgh. This Torah scroll could date back to the early 1700s and served generations in the town of Suwalki, Poland.
#HeartsTogether Tree of Life Exhibit
The #HeartsTogether display is a digital catalog of all the art submissions sent to Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA in the wake of the October, 2018 mass shooting that took place there. This exhibit is part of the outpouring of support sent to Pittsburgh and the Jewish community affected by the attack.
Jewish Community Center Holocaust Torah
The Jewish Community Center (JCC) Holocaust Torah Scroll, which originated from Forst-Lausitz, Germany, made a strenuous journey alongside a Jewish refugee named Jakob Weinblum as he searched for a safe haven during World War II. Jakob rescued the Torah as he fled for his life, showing how much he valued his religion and culture. T
Beth El Holocaust Torah
Memorial Scroll Torah #658 originated from Vlašim, Bohemia, and was stolen from this town by the Nazis during World War II. At the end of the war, it was found in the Prague State Museum with severe water damage, which rendered it unusable for synagogue ritual but still significant for commemorative purposes.
Kelso Museum Torah
On the ground floor of Long Hall at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary sits the Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology. Despite its small size, the museum contains a large variety of artifacts from the Near East, including a 300-year-old Yemenite Torah scroll.
Adat Shalom/B’Nai Israel Torah Scrolls
The story of the B’nai Israel Torah scrolls which have been adopted by Adat Shalom is representative of a larger narrative about Pittsburgh Jews. In the years after World War II, the suburbs offered middle-class Americans the opportunity to start a new life outside of the nation’s urban centers. Upwardly-mobile American Jews flocked to the suburbs in the middle of the twentieth century and faced the challenge of rebuilding their faith community outside of the urban core. The preservation of the B’nai Israel scrolls (as well as other Judaica) indicates the determination of the community to rebuild, and the dedication to their faith, tradition, and roots.