Steel City Jews - Set of 3 Books

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A History of Pittsburgh and its Jewish Community, 1840-1950

Steel City Jews - A History of Pittsburgh and its Jewish Community, 1840-1915

Pittsburgh was called by various observers “Hell with the Lid On” and “Hell with the Lid Off”. It was a city rich in contrasts and rich in its history. And amid the swirling currents that made up the vibrant flow of the city’s life, navigated the Jews, an immigrant group that began settling in the region in the 1840s. They might not have rivaled the likes of Carnegie and Frick, but they had their own movers and shakers. Come meet A. Leo Weil who battled municipal corruption and graft, the Kaufmann brothers of department store fame, Barney Dreyfuss who launched the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bertha Rauh, community service volunteer extraordinaire, and a whole host of others who made their contribution to the development of the town. For Burstin, a transplant to the region, Pittsburgh is a city that fascinates and intrigues. Ten years in the making, she scoured attics and cellars, explored a whole variety of archival collections and books, and drew on personal interviews to weave her account of the city and its Jewish community. She recounts the tale in an entertaining and informative way that all Pittsburgh and those who care about Pittsburgh can relish and enjoy. The author teaches on the American Jewish Experience at both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. She is a much sought after speaker and has created and directed a film on the history of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh entitled: A Jewish Legacy: Pittsburgh which was nominated for a regional Emmy Award. Drawing on various Pittsburgh personalities and archival material the film focuses on the founding fathers, the wave of Eastern Europeans who settled on the Hill, war and depression, the Soviet Jewish migration to Pittsburgh in the 1980s up to the present.

Steel City Jews - In Prosperity, Depression and War, 1915 - 1950

Steel City Jews in Prosperity, Depression and War focuses on the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The decade of the 1920s was one of prosperity and progress, but it also was a decade of darkening shadows and growing concerns.  The stock market crash of 1929 followed by the depression of the 1930s sent shock waves through the community and sorely tested all Americans including Jews.  In the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust, Pittsburgh Jewish leadership determined to more diligently attack discrimination and intolerance on the home front.  The Arab-Israeli War at the end of the decade which involved various Pittsburghers established the State of Israel, fulfilling the Zionist dream.   The tale told here is one of grit and determination, triumph and tragedy.  It is a story that all readers interested in Pittsburgh and its Jewish community will find fascinating.

Images of American – Jewish Pittsburgh

By the mid-19th century, Jews from German lands began settling in Pittsburgh, later to be followed by Jews from the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires and Romania. They founded businesses and organizations such as Giant Eagle, Kaufmann’s Department Store, Montefiore Hospital, the Pittsburgh Playhouse, the Civic Light Opera, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sophie Masloff became the first women and the first Jew to serve as mayor, and civic reformer and lawyer A. Leo Weil, philanthropist Leon Falk Jr., and social justice crusader Florence Reizenstein all had schools named after them. From Allegheny City and “the Hill” to Squirrel Hill and the East End, the Jewish population preserved its distinct core community and contributed to its adopted city in multiple ways. Today, it numbers more than 40,000 and their story is one of grit, determination, risk taking, hard knocks, and no small measure of success. The images for this book are primarily from the Rauh Jewish Archives of the Heinz History Center and the University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center.

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