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Matzah, Made in Pittsburgh

  A photograph from the April 24, 1929 edition of the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, showing Radbord and a team of baker packing matzah for Passover deliveries throughout Western Pennsylvania. If you bought a box of matzah for Passover this year, it probably came from the grocery store. And the grocery store probably got it from a…

Moishe Oysher: A Legend Comes to Pittsburgh

Like many cities in the Western Hemisphere, the Jewish population of Pittsburgh enjoyed the Yiddish theatre tradition. Theaters throughout the city were hosting Yiddish productions by the late 1800s, and Pittsburgh was one of the few American cities outside New York with a theater dedicated entirely to Yiddish productions. The popularity of the art form…

The Story of a Box of Candles: “A Beautiful Gift of Memory”

In the Chanukah display of the A Very Merry Pittsburgh experience at the Heinz History Center is a box of candles with 120 years of history. The box itself is unremarkable, but a sticker pasted on its backside offers this intriguing note: “These Chanuko Candles are Presented in Loving Memory of Abraham Lippman, President of…

Why Tell Your Story? A Reflection on October 27

  The following was first published in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. While browsing the website of a local bookstore this summer, I found a horrifying and frustrating book published in 1987 by Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. It’s called “Every Day Remembrance Day,” and it takes the form of a calendar. For each…

A Life, in Art: Shelly Blumenfeld

  “Mother’s Day on Logan Street,” by Rochelle Blumenfeld. Courtesy of Rochelle Blumenfeld. “Mother’s Day on Logan Street” tells three Pittsburgh stories. The first is the story of a childhood in the Lower Hill District. The second is the story of an artistic apprenticeship in a distinctly Jewish setting. The third is the story of…

The Nine Jobs of Barney May

Barney May married Pauline Fleischman in 1872, after his sister introduced them. He was living in Williamsport, Pa. She was living in Pittsburgh, where they eventually settled about 1890. From “The Story of Barney May, Pioneer,” by George M. P. Baird. Baruch May was the son of a Bavarian farmer and cattle dealer. His first…

Annie Jacobs Davis: “The Mother of Montefiore Hospital”

Portrait of Annie Jacobs Davis. Gift of Barnett Davis, Incorporated. The name Annie Jacobs Davis is synonymous with Montefiore Hospital. Montefiore was the first Jewish hospital in Western Pennsylvania. It came out of a need for a medical facility that could provide care for Jewish patients and career opportunities for Jewish doctors. Annie was widely…

Help, Heartbreak, and Hope from a Century Ago

For the past three weeks, the Rauh Jewish Archives has been collecting documentation of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on Jewish organizations in the region—emails, press releases, announcements, and stories. Thanks to these efforts, future historians should have a much richer picture of our moment than we have about the community response to a global health crisis from a century ago: the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. …

Inspiring Women in Pittsburgh History

Western Pennsylvania’s rich history is full of women who broke down barriers and made a lasting impact on the region and the world. Journalist Nellie Bly, conservationist Rachel Carson, jazz legend Mary Lou Williams, and the ever-inspiring character of Rosie the Riveter are just some of the powerful names whose influence extends far beyond the…

A Few of our Curators’ Favorite Things

In 1961, two years after “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway and four years before the movie was released, Julie Andrews sang the song “My Favorite Things” on a Garry Moore TV holiday special. Couple that with the song’s release on The Jack Jones Christmas Album in 1964, and it became a holiday classic.…