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.
As one of the few independent bagel stores in Pittsburgh, and the only one that is certified strictly kosher, Pigeon Bagels is a unique contribution to Squirrel Hill.
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.
Pinsker’s Books and Judaica
When considering Judaism in Pittsburgh, the automatic place one associates with it is Squirrel Hill. A welcoming and fascinating neighborhood, Squirrel Hill is home to all types of Jews from Reform to Orthodox, old to young, and immigrants to natives. Pinsker’s Books and Judaica, which includes a Judaica bookstore and a restaurant called Café Eighteen, is truly a gem of Squirrel Hill and the wider Pittsburgh Jewish community.
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.
Like the Kollel movement itself, the Squirrel Hill Kollel Center for Jewish Learning’s Torah scroll originates from Lithuania. The history of this Torah scroll, like the history of the Kollel movement, showcases the way that Jewish communities and ideas have migrated throughout the world.
Kehillat Sfarad Torah
As the only Sephardic congregation in Pittsburgh, Kehillat Sfarad was founded by Abraham Anouchi about 30 years ago and only recently acquired a Torah. This Torah came from another synagogue, Beth Israel in Latrobe, as it was shutting down
Youlus Counterfeit Torah
In 2002, a Torah scroll was bought by Congregation Beth El of the South Hills because it was thought to have been a Holocaust-era Torah that had been discovered in Ukraine. This story, however, was fabricated by a man named Menachem Youlus.
After the Beth Shalom fire, firemen collected the remaining pieces of the two gravely damaged Torah Scrolls. Members then gathered those pieces into an unadorned wooden box, held a funeral service in its honor, and lowered its modest remains into the ground.