“Sensitive and beautifully written . . . A stunning book that offers an eloquent portrait of an antisemitic attack and its effect on a neighborhood. . . . This book abounds with insights for cities facing the aftermath of any mass-casualty event”
In conversation with Eric Ackland, Owner of Amazing Books and Records
Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in the country, known for its tight-knit community and the profusion of multigenerational families. On October 27, 2018, a gunman killed eleven Jews who were worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill–the most deadly anti-Semitic attack in American history.
Many neighborhoods would be understandably subsumed by despair and recrimination after such an event, but not this one. Mark Oppenheimer poignantly shifts the focus away from the criminal and his crime, and instead presents the historic, spirited community at the center of this heartbreak. He speaks with residents and nonresidents, Jews and gentiles, survivors and witnesses, teenagers and seniors, activists and historians.
Together, these stories provide a kaleidoscopic and nuanced account of collective grief, love, support, and revival. But Oppenheimer also details the difficult dialogue and messy confrontations that Squirrel Hill had to face in the process of healing, and that are a necessary part of true growth and understanding in any community. He has reverently captured the vibrancy and caring that still characterize Squirrel Hill, and it is this phenomenal resilience that can provide inspiration to any place burdened with discrimination and hate.
Mark Oppenheimer is the author of five books, including Knocking on Heaven’s Door: American Religion in the Age of Counterculture and The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia. He was the religion columnist for The New York Times from 2010 to 2016 and has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Mother Jones, The Nation, and The Believer, among other publications. He lives with his family in New Haven, Connecticut.
Mark Oppenheimer will sign copies of Squirrel Hill in person at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill (the location of the former Classic Lines book store) on October 26, 2021 at 7:30 p.m.
Copies of Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood (October 5, 2021) are available for pre-order from Riverstone Books.