Book Talk: Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul
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Join author Mark Oppenheimer for a conversation around the Squirrel Hill Tree of Life Synagogue shooting and its aftermath.
In his new book Squirrel Hill, Mark Oppenheimer paints a piercing portrait of the struggles and triumphs of a singular community in the wake of unspeakable tragedy that highlights the hopes, fears, and tensions all Americans must confront on the road to healing.
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 deadliest 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.
Join him to discuss the tragedy and the resilience found in Squirrel Hill, a resilience that is inspirational to any place burdened by discrimination and hate.
Mark Oppenheimer directs the Yale Journalism Initiative and has been a lecturer in Yale’s English department, political science department, and divinity school. He received his B.A. in history and his Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale. He was the religion columnist for The New York Times from 2010 to 2016 and has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The Washington Post, Slate, Mother Jones, The Nation, and The Believer, among others. He has been a commentator on NPR and is also the host of Tablet magazine’s podcast, Unorthodox. He is the author of five books, including The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
Rabbi Sherre Hirsch is the Chief Innovation Officer at American Jewish University. She made headlines as the first female rabbi at Sinai Temple, the largest Conservative congregation on the west coast. She served as Senior Rabbinic Scholar at Hillel International, where she created and developed Hillelwell, an initiative for Hillels worldwide to become the recognized address for preventative mental health. A thought leader and author on spirituality and religion, Rabbi Hirsch has appeared on the Today Show, ABC News, Extra, and PBS, among other outlets, and has been a contributor to Time.com, Oprah Magazine, the Jewish Journal, the Hollywood Journal, and more.