Jewish Pittsburgh in Pictures

We mourn for the tragic murder of eleven Jews at prayer at the Tree of Life congregation in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. There is more to discuss in the coming weeks and months, but today instead of words we offer images. This brief collection of photos, curated from the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives, highlights the deep history of this vibrant community.

Photographed here with three of her five children, Pauline Wormser Frank and her husband William Frank were one of the first Jewish families to settle in Pittsburgh. She volunteered with relief efforts during the Civil War and helped found the Hebrew Ladies’ Aid Society.
Frank Family Photographs, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center

Composed of members too traditional for the Reform turn its parent congregation, Rodef Shalom, had taken, Tree of Life congregation formed in 1865. Tree of Life didn’t lay the cornerstone for its first home (Jerusalem stone) on Craft Avenue until 1906. This is a picture of that building when it was newly complete in 1907. Today, this building is home to the Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Jewish Chronicle Photographs, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center

Tree of Life confirmation class of 1900.  Back row: Etta Markovitz Berman, Harry Alter, Rachel Reinwasser Cosky, Mark Kaskell Solomon. Front row: unidentified.
Corinne Azen Krause Photographs, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
Ambulance donated to Pittsburgh’s only Jewish hospital, Montefiore Hospital, by members of the Young Ladies’ Sick and Relief Society in 1910.
Montefiore Hospital Photographs, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
Women residents of the Jewish Home for the Aged lighting Shabbat candles, c.1920. More than a century old, the facility has expanded and changed names several times. Today it is the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Corinne Azen Krause Photographs, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
Members of the Tree of Life congregation celebrating a Passover seder at the synagogue on Craft Avenue (pictured above) in 1926.
Corinne Azen Krause Photographs, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
Established in the late 19th century, the Columbian Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh’s local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, sought to improve the lot of Jewish immigrants in Pittsburgh. Their first program, advertised above, was the Sisterhood of Personal Service. Volunteers from the Columbian Council visited the homes of immigrant families and helped them, by various means, to rise out of poverty.  The program continued as one of the many services provided by the Irene Kaufmann Settlement House, constructed with funds raised by the same group. Today the Columbian Council is known as the National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section. 
Irene Kaufmann Settlement Papers, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
Jacob Radbord baking matza at Caplan’s Bakery in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, c.1930.
Elbling Family Photographs, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
Flag dedication ceremony for the Jewish War Veterans Post 49, May 13, 1948.
Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
Rabbi Herman Hailperin (left) and Cantor Joseph Levin of the Tree of Life Congregation, c.1950. 
Joseph Levin Photographs, Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center
In 2010, Tree of Life merged with the Conservative congregation Or L’Simcha and the Reconstructionist congregation Dor Hadash also began to hold its services in the same building. Here, members of Dor Hadash, including Jerry Rabinowitz who was murdered in the recent attack, bring their Torah scrolls into the Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha Synagogue. Left to right: Ellen Leger, Charles Hirsh, Dan Leger, Libba Spiegel, Deane Root, Jerry Rabinowitz (z”l), Rachel Hovne, and Sally Kalson.
Courtesy of Ruth Drescher

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