Three Congregations

a history of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, New Light and Dor Hadash

On view in the Detre Library & Archives beginning Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. You will be able to view this installation even on days when the Library & Archives is closed.

Three congregations were worshiping in the Tree of Life synagogue on the morning of Saturday, October 27, 2018, when a gunman entered the building, killing eleven and wounding six others. Tree of Life *Or L’Simcha Congregation owned the building and rented space to New Light Congregation and Congregation Dor Hadash. In the months since the attack, many public accounts have used the shorthand “three congregations” to explain the shared living arrangements within a single large Squirrel Hill synagogue.

Grouping these congregations together based solely on their mutual suffering ignores each congregation’s individual characteristics. Each was created to fill specific religious and spiritual needs. Each developed along a particular path, reflecting different eras, ethnicities, practices, and ideas within American Judaism.

Through their distinct histories, each of these congregations illuminates a different corner of the larger Jewish history of our region.

Using rarely seen materials from the archive, the exhibit focuses on the essential qualities of each of these three congregations, celebrating the individuality and identity of each.

The installation is located in Detre Library & Archives, on the sixth floor of the Heinz History Center, and can be viewed daily through Dec. 27.

Admission to see this exhibit is free but does not include admission to the rest of the History Center.

This exhibit is made possible through generous support from:

Carolyn Slayton and Seth Glick

Corrine Azen Krause Photographs
Confirmation class of Tree of Life Congregation, 1900. (Back row, left to right) Etta Markovitz Berman, Harry Alter, Rachel Reinwasser Cosky, Mark Kaskell Solomon. (Front row) unidentified. From the Corinne Azen Krause Photographs, MSP 113, Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the History Center.
New Light Photographs
The members of New Light Congregation celebrating the 25th anniversary of the congregation, 1928. From the New Light Photographs, PFF 37, Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the History Center.
Dor Hadash Photographs
Stan Angrist, Audrey Schoenwalt and Richard Schoenwalt at the 15th anniversary celebration of Dor Hadash Congregation, 1978. From the Dor Hadash Photographs, MSP 410, Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the History Center.