By Talia Levi
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 knitted hearts were the idea of two women from New York who wanted a creative, noticeable, and beautiful way to show support for the Pittsburgh community. They began a simple Facebook group titled “Jewish Hearts for Pittsburgh” and provided guidelines for how the knitted pieces should look: the piece should be either a star with a heart inside or a heart with a star inside, and the star should always be blue. And with those simple instructions, the hearts poured in from all across the world. No matter religion, race, background, or beliefs, people united together to show support for a community in need. Then, just three short weeks later, volunteers set out to hang about 2,000 knitted stars and hearts all throughout Pittsburgh.
These knitted hearts are an example of Craftivism (craft-activism). Craftivism is using creativity to raise awareness for controversial social issues, to make a statement, and to inspire open minds and healthy dialogue. These hearts and stars are an example of a successful craftivist project, perhaps raising awareness to issues such as gun control and anti-Semitism. In addition, it was a novel way to show support and show others that the Jewish people of Pittsburgh are proud and are here to stay.
Continue your walk past the corner of Murray Avenue and Darlington Street, and you’ll see shop after shop donning a colorful knitted Jewish star, along with signs with the words “No place for hate” or “stronger than hate.” Perhaps the most striking thing about this whole movement is that the two women who started this project were not from Pittsburgh, the majority of contributors were not Jewish, and the businesses who proudly hung the hearts on their windows may not have been Jewish-owned. The Jewish Hearts for Pittsburgh movement truly exemplifies the Jewish values of Kehillah (community) and Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World). In this case, communities from all around the world came together to help one community in particular; a community who was hurting, a community who needed all the love and support that one could offer. These knitted hearts were a way to make a statement, to show the world that we will not accept what happened and we will find a way to combat these issues using love, respect, and creativity.
“Craft Activism = Craftivism.” Craftivism, 2020, craftivism.com/.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “More Than 2,000 Handmade Jewish Stars Hung Throughout Pittsburgh.” The Forward, 19 November 2018, forward.com/fast-forward/414430/more-than-2-000-handmade-jewish-stars-hung-throughout-pittsburgh/.
Pitz, Marylynne. “Crafters Create Jewish Hearts for Pittsburgh and More than 40 Volunteers Hang Them in the City.” Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 17 November 2018, www.post-gazette.com/news/faith-religion/2018/11/17/Jewish-Stars-of-David-Tree-of-Life-Pittsburgh-volunteers-knit-crochet-twelve-countries-crafts-facebook/stories/201811170055.
How to Cite
MLA: Levi, Talia. “Jewish Hearts for Pittsburgh.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 5 May 2020, religyinz.pitt.edu/jewish-hearts-for-pittsburgh/.
APA: Levi, T. (2020, 5 May). Jewish hearts for pittsburgh. ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/jewish-hearts-for-pittsburgh/.
Chicago: Levi, Talia. “Jewish Hearts for Pittsburgh.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 5 May 2020. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/jewish-hearts-for-pittsburgh/.