History Highlight: Allegheny City & the Jewish Community

The North Side is a mix of many faces, nationalities, and religious groups.  At times, we have the tendency to over emphasize the German or Scotch-Irish heritage of Old Allegheny, which provides only a slice of the ethnic diversity of the city.  The same can be said of the religious diversity.  Most Northsiders today are little aware of the deep roots of the Jewish Communities that were in Allegheny City.  For example, some of the early families that created Rodef Shalom Temple lived in Allegheny – predominantly in East Allegheny, Allegheny West, and Manchester. Still later, other congregations were formed in Allegheny City and the Northside, including Beth Jehuda (founded 1889) in Manchester and Beth Israel (founded 1907) on East Street.  Yet other congregations, social clubs, and businesses were organized by the Jewish families that called the Northside home.  The earliest Jewish society that was formed in Pittsburgh was the Bes Almon Society, which was a Jewish burial society that purchased land for a cemetery just beyond Allegheny City’s border in Reserve Township.  Today, this cemetery is known at the Troy Hill Cemetery.  Anyone strolling along the street along the front side of the Sue Murray Pool can catch a glimpse of the State Historical Marker, which commemorates the signing of the “Pittsburgh Platform” at a Rabbinical conference held at the old Concordia Club that once stood on Stockton Avenue.  This document helped to define Reform Judaism in America.  What a heritage!

On July 30th the Allegheny City Society will be hosting a bus tour entitled, “Our Jewish Roots:  Allegheny City”.  Full details will be forthcoming, so we ask that you check out our website (www.alleghenycity.org) or our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AlleghenyCitySociety) for updates.

Attached image: The Beth Israel Synagogue c1910, which was located on East Street at Foreland.  Building was originally as a Presbyterian Church and later used as the German Baptist Church, this building was home to the Beth Israel Congregation from 1907 to about 1940.  Today, this is the site of the parking lot for Javor