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Jewish Families of Pittsburgh, PA

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This project seeks to collect representatives from all of the early Jewish families who settled in Pittsburgh, PA.

Jewish History

Early History Among the early settlers were Joseph Simon and Levy Andrew Levy. After the Revolutionary War, the prosperous Philadelphia merchant David Franks sent agents, among them Michael Gratz, with pack trains to Pittsburgh so often that their route was labeled Frankstown road.  They and several other Jews bought plots of land, apparently for speculation, and the map indicates a cluster of lots to the east marked ‘Jewstown,” with another area near Sewickley marked “Gratztown.” 

Most of the Jews, like other traders, came and went as itinerant peddlers, but a few remained, striking roots.  The first known permanent resident of Pittsburgh to have Jewish Ancestry was Samuel Pettigrew, son of Judith Hart, who settled in the town in 1814 and later served as mayor.

The Rauh Jewish Archives

The Rauh Jewish Archives was founded in 1989 to collect, preserve, and make accessible the documentary history of Jews and Jewish communities of western Pennsylvania.
  The history of the Rauh family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania began in 1870 when Solomon Rauh, a dry-goods merchant, moved to the city. Since that time, four generations of Rauhs have been involved in the Jewish community, in civic affairs, in music and theater arts, and in philanthropy.

Early Jewish Families

  • Nobel Laureate Otto Stern Appointed Research Professor of Physics at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh in 1933 - 1945 when he became professor emeritus. Source
  • Jonas Salk Discoverer of the Polio vaccine. In 1947, Salk accepted an appointment to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
  • Rabbi Solomon Bennett Freehof A prominent Reform rabbi, posek, and scholar. He served as the pulpit rabbi at Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh, PA for more than 35 years.
  • Edgar J. Kaufmann (November 1, 1885 – April 15, 1955) was a prominent Jewish German-American businessman and philanthropist. He owned and directed Kaufmann's Department Store, the most prominent one in 20th-century Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Edgar Kaufmann was the owner of two architectural masterpieces; the eastern mountain "Fallingwater" and western desert "Kaufmann House".
  • Cantor Moshe Taube (Schindler's List survivor) (1927 -) Considered by some as the "last of the great cantors"Source
  • • Alexander Silverman, glass chemist;
  • • Joseph Slepian, electrical engineer;
  • • George S. Kaufman, dramatist;
  • • Samuel Rosenberg, artist;
  • • William Steinberg, conductor;
  • • Immanuel Estermann, physicist;
  • • Herb Simon, Economist, Nobel Laureate;
  • • Mark Perlman, Economist,
  • Gertrude Stein, Author;
  • Jeff Goldblum, actor;
  • Rabbi Baruch Poupko