A new book is telling old stories with the intent to spawn fresh work. “Her Deeds Sing Her Praises: Profiles of Pittsburgh Jewish Women” relates 21 brief biographies of local Jewish women spanning nearly 150 years.
“We made a huge list of women and established some criteria,” said Lois Michaels, one of the book’s three editors. “They could no longer be living, had to have made a significant contribution in some field, and there had to be archival material so we could base what we were writing on facts.”
The project began roughly two years ago, when Michaels, a longtime donor to community causes, and Eileen Lane had proposed writing a book on Jewish women’s organizations that the two had been involved in. After beginning their research, the pair encountered a problem.
“There were big gaps in archival material about [the organizations], so we thought maybe we should write about women, which is what we wanted to write about anyways,” said Lane, daughter of a Holocaust survivor and a longtime member of the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.
They again hit the books, and computers, in search of material for their project.
They turned to the Jewish Women’s Archive, a national organization self-described as “dedicated to collecting and promoting the extraordinary stories of Jewish women.”
Unfortunately, or fortunately for readers of their new book, Michaels and Lane found little regarding Pittsburgh’s Jewish women.
“I thought that was a terrible injustice and told Eileen, and she agreed, and we decided that was terrible,” said Michaels.
“There’s such interesting stories about women here and the accomplishments that they had,” echoed Lane.
The duo consulted the National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section’s Oral History Project. The trove of more than 500 oral history interviews, taken between 1968 and 2001, focus on the Pittsburgh Jewish community, its growth and specific contributions from its members.
But while reviewing the interviews, which are available online at the University of Pittsburgh’s Digital Research Library, Lane and Michaels encountered a difficulty.
“Many more of the stories that they recorded were about men than women, which is surprising for a women’s organization. We wanted to rectify that as well,” Lane explained.
So along with Eric Lidji, a researcher at the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Heinz History Center, Lane and Michaels convened a group dedicated to promoting the history of Pittsburgh Jewish women.
Writers, researchers and educators identified 21 deceased Pittsburgh Jewish women and began working.
Lidji assisted each writer with finding and digitizing relevant documents related to the subjects. Rachel Kranson, an assistant professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Religious Studies, advised the group and authored the book’s introduction.
The resulting book, which was published only recently, takes on a unique place within Pittsburgh Jewish history, said Lidji.
“I feel like maybe in Pittsburgh we are getting to a point where maybe a lot of the big topics have been covered well and maybe the next step would be to look at the smaller topics,” he said. “This takes one particular portion of the story, Jewish women, and goes much deeper than you could go in a [broader work].”
“This is an area that probably hasn’t had as much attention to it, but so much of our history and community owes a great deal to the women that were a part of it and we need to celebrate that,” added Lane.
Although she and Michaels are satisfied that the book is now in print, they hope that it generates future efforts.
“One of the things we would love to see happen is wouldn’t it be great if people did other profiles,” said Lane. “We’d really like to get more people involved in doing oral histories of women, Jewish women, contemporary Jewish women. Some of these people really made significant contributions.”
Because of an emergency,
rescheduled from original June 10 date.
JULY 8, 2017 (Saturday)
Tour of "Schenley Park" held in conjunction with the
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
TOUR TIME: 9:45 am to 12:30 pm
$ 5 for Members, $8 for Member Couples,
$10 for Non-Members
Maximum group size limited to 30
STARTING LOCATION: 101 Panther Hollow Road,
Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center
Situated in the heart of Oakland, Schenley Park has come to be Pittsburgh’s civic park. Created in 1889 with land donated by heiress Mary Schenley, the park now contains 456 acres of trails, woods, and attractions.
Schenley Park features a grand entrance, Schenley Plaza, and several miles of hiking trails and a large lake in Panther Hollow. Across from the Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is Flagstaff Hill, a popular place to watch outdoor movies in the summer.
In the early days of Schenley Park, the area known as "The Oval" was used for horse racing. Today, it has 13 tennis courts, an all weather running track, and a soccer field. There is also an ice skating rink, public swimming pool, and an 18-hole disc golf course nearby.
Schenley Park also contains the Schenley Park Golf Course. The golf course includes an indoor practice facility where golfers can play a "virtual" round on Pebble Beach and other famous courses.
June 13, 2017 (Tuesday)
Note: Original June 13 meeting canceled due to power outages in Sq.Hill. and rescheduled for August 1, 2017.
“History of Giant Eagle”
Speaker: Josh Shapira,
Member of One of the Giant Eagle Founding Families
Manager, City of Pittsburgh Stores
May 9, 2017 (Tuesday)
"Community Day School: Preserving Tradition, Securing the Future"
Speaker: AVI BARAN MUNRO, Head of the School
Jewish Community Day School website Community Day School is a nurturing, academically excellent Jewish day school for the 21st century. From Early Childhood through Middle School, we inspire our students to love learning through innovative teaching methods and hands-on discovery. CDS is a welcoming community where Pittsburgh families who span the spectrum of Jewish belief and practice can learn and connect along with their children. As our students grow in knowledge from preschool through 8th Grade, they grow as people — finding their passions, embracing their Jewish identities, and preparing for successful and meaningful lives.
About the speaker -- Prior to becoming CDS Head of School in 2004, Avi Baran Munro spent six years as Curriculum Coordinator and Head of Lower School at Community Day School and 10 years teaching and supervising student-teachers at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education. At Pittsburgh’s Jewish Education Institute, she coordinated and offered professional development for Pittsburgh’s Jewish educators.
Avi Munro is a graduate of Brown University, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the University of California, San Diego. She also holds Pennsylvania state certification in Secondary English.
As a graduate of the very first Solomon Schechter Day School and parent of four Community Day School graduates, she is deeply committed to high quality, Jewish day school education.
May 6, 2017 (Saturday)
Tour of "Carnegie Mellon University"
TOUR GUIDES: DON COFFELT, Associate Vice Pres. for Facilities Management Services
BOB REPPE, Director of Design for Campus Design and Facility Development
TOUR TIME: 9:45 am to Noon
$ 5 for Members, $8 for Member Couples
$10 for Non-Members
"Walking to the Sky" statue easily visible from Forbes Avenue
Founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie as the Carnegie Technical Schools, the university became the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1912 and began granting four-year degrees. In 1967, the Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to form Carnegie Mellon University.......
Carnegie Mellon consistently ranks in the top 25 in the national U.S. News & World Report rankings. It is home to the world’s first degree-granting Robotics and Drama programs, as well as one of the first Computer Science departments. The university spent over $703 million on research in 2015.
In 2015, Lauren Apter Bairnsfather was appointed director of the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, an affiliate organization of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
Bairnsfather oversees a staff of five. The center, established in 1981, relocated to new space at Squirrel Hill Plaza, 826 Hazelwood Ave., in Pittsburgh’s East End where it will offer exhibits and education programs. The grand opening occurred on Oct. 18, 2015.
A McKeesport native, Bairnsfather’s career spans working at the photo archives office of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Spertus Museum in Chicago and Morton H. Meyerson Family Foundation in Dallas. She most recently worked in the dean’s office at the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, where she had earned her undergraduate degree and as well as her Ph.D. in history. She also earned a master’s degree in social sciences at the University of Chicago.
April 4, 2017 (Tuesday)
Date has been changed -- April 11 is the observance of Passover, therefore, we will hold our meeting on April 4.
Honey Forman has twenty three years of in-classroom experience teaching grades K through 8, notably grades 3, 4 and 5 literacy for nineteen years including being Instructional Teacher Leader and Reading Specialist for her Pittsburgh Public School building. For eleven additional years, Ms. Forman was a District Literacy Coach, Reading First Coach, and Literacy Coach for K-8 in multiple buildings.
Ms. Forman worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Education for nine summers as the Evaluator of the Governors Institute for Early Childhood. She has been a National Trainer for the American Federation of Teachers (as well as a local trainer for the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers) for the Reading Comprehension Instruction course for over fifteen years and the Accessible Literacy Framework course for over six years.
Ms. Forman received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Sociology. She completed her graduate course work at the University of Pittsburgh receiving a Masters of Arts in Teaching and a Reading Specialist Certificate. Ms. Forman was the first teacher to receive a Professional Development Certificate from the Pittsburgh Board of Education.
Ms. Forman has worked in Jewish education for over forty years having taught both Judaic studies and Hebrew in a number of synagogues and temples in the Pittsburgh area. She was the principal of two Religious Schools including Congregation Beth Shalom. Ms. Forman served as the Rabbi’s Assistant for six years, as office coordinator and is now the Centennial Coordinator for Congregation Beth Shalom.
March 14, 2017 (Tuesday)
"The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh"
Speaker: JO ELLEN PARKER, President of the Carnegie Museums
Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1895, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are a collection of four distinctive museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The museums reach more than 1.28 million people annually through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.
About the Speaker:
In August 2014, Jo Ellen Parker arrived in Pittsburgh and became the 10th president of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the first woman to lead the museums.
She came to Carnegie Museums from Sweet Briar College, where she served as president from 2009-2014. Before that she was Executive Director of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) and President of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), a consortium of 12 selective liberal arts colleges. Dr. Parker served her alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, as a faculty member and an academic affairs and student life administrator. There, she taught Victorian literature, women's literature and English composition while serving in the dean’s office. She earned her A.B. in English from Bryn Mawr, her M.A. in English from the University of Kansas, and her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, writing her dissertation on George Eliot.
February 14, 2017 (Tuesday)
"Examining the History of Squirrel Hill through its Buildings: How to Research the History of Your Own Building"
Speaker: KELLEY STROUP, Founder of House History
Using maps and other historical documents to track the history of development in Squirrel Hill lends both historical and local context to the vibrant community we all appreciate today. Development patterns, building materials and historical records of residency provide an insight into Squirrel Hill's history that is not only intriguing but also deeply personal. Gain insight into your community while learning how to get get started with your own architectural research.
About the speaker: Kelly Stroup holds a BA in historic preservation from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA., as well as an MFA in architectural history and MA in historic preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design. As founder of "House/Story", she parlays her love of historical research and synthesis into the creation of house histories focused on telling the inseparable stories of buildings and their builders, owners, and inhabitants.
January 10, 2017 (Tuesday)
"The Map in the Image -- A 50 Year Effort to Combine Pictures and Maps"
Speaker: DOUG COOPER, Andrew Mellon Professor at Carnegie Mellon University
Combining story, history and memory into panoramic murals has become the theme of Doug Cooper's work. He typically works with local residents and incorporates their lives into the works. He developed his first mural, now at Pittsburgh's Heinz History Center, with a Pittsburgh senior center (1992). In 1994 he completed another with elderly for the Philadelphia Courthouse. The 200 ft-long mural for Carnegie Mellon Center (1996) shows the campus and Pittsburgh in three time periods. The mural series for Seattle's King County Courthouse (2005) depicts the geography, history and land-use patterns of that region. On two occasions, Cooper has used mural projects as vehicles for foreign language instruction. In 1996, assisted by CMU students, a German professor and Frankfurt elderly, he created a 9m x 6m mural for Frankfurt's central market. A similar process was used for the University of Rome mural (2005).
Cooper's recent murals have used the constraints and opportunities of the architectural setting as a source of content. The height, sight lines and circulation in lobbies at corporate headquarters Mascaro (1999) and Michael Baker (2003) and the University of California San Francisco were used as opportunities to depict the histories and aspirations of each institution. The 200 foot-long University of Rome mural in Esquilino (2005) uses ventilator grates as an element to transform a lecture hall into a piazza filled with people enacting the history of the district.
Cooper has authored two books on drawing: Steel Shadows (University of Pittsburgh) and Drawing and Perceiving (Wiley).
Douglas Cooper has taught drawing in Carnegie Mellon's School of Architecture since 1976 (where he is Andrew Mellon Professor) and is the author of a well-known text on the subject, Drawing and Perceiving (John Wiley & Sons). For the last 25 years, he has worked collaboratively to produce large panoramic murals (up to 200 feet-long and 15 feet-high) in various cities, worldwide. These murals present a highly personal record of the urban life of each city, including: Frankfurt, Qatar, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rome, San Francisco and Seattle.