The Jewish community service organization Repair the World Pittsburgh will host a virtual panel discussion called Black and Jewish Histories of the Hill District.
Program organizers hope that by understanding the historic “collaborations and tensions” between Black and Jewish communities in the Hill District, Pittsburghers today can gain insight into the city’s current social and political dynamics.
Although most Pittsburghers probably know the Hill District as a grouping of historically Black neighborhoods in the city, the neighborhood has a racially and ethnically diverse history and has been, at various points in the 20th century, home to many different immigrant groups. According to materials from the Heinz Center archives, “by 1929 the Hill District was populated by a diverse number of ethnic groups … Some of these areas were called Little Italy, Polish Hill, Athens, Little Syria, Jewish ‘Ghetto,’ and the Black Belt.” The Hill District is an especially significant place in both Black and Jewish histories of Pittsburgh.
Mutli-media producer Njaimeh Njie plans to speak during the panel on her research into the history of the neighborhood’s Black communities, the role of the Irene Kaufmann Settlement House, and the history of development in the Lower and Upper Hill.
The panel will also include Pittsburgh artist Shelly Blumenfeld, whose art reflects her memories of growing up Jewish in the Hill District in the 1930s and 1940s.
The event, described as “a conversation about the distinct and overlapping histories of Black and Jewish communities in Pittsburgh's historic Hill District neighborhood,” will feature panelists ACH Clear Pathways Director Tyian Battle, Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives Director Eric Lidji, Hill District community leader Terri Baltimore, and local artist Rochelle Blumenfeld. The panel will be moderated by BOOM Concepts co-founder D.S. Kinsel.
According to Repair the World Pittsburgh’s Program Manager Jess Gold, this virtual panel is part of a years-long partnership between Repair the World, historian Eric Lidji, and Terri Baltimore, who has been doing community work in the Hill District for more than 20 years, to take Repair the World staff and fellows on historical tours of the Hill District.
Repair the World is a Jewish community service organization with a presence in many North American cities. In Pittsburgh, the organization works out of an office in East Liberty and runs a fellowship program for young people of any background to undertake a year of service.
You can RSVP for the virtual panel at rpr.world/hilldistrictpanel.