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A Publication of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition

Squirrel Hill Magazine

Vol 18 | Issue 3


Winter 2020




A lot of expertise goes into our therapies. A lot of laughter, too. It isn’t just world-class medical treatment that makes the difference. It’s our approach to caring. It’s finding joy in the journey. It’s combining elements of play with innovative physician and therapy services, including behavioral health, in an outpatient setting. At The Children’s Institute, every child’s care is family-centered and individualized to be as enjoyable as possible. The results we see are truly amazing. To learn more, call 412.420.2362 or visit amazingkids.org.





Brian Sergi-Curfman


412.521.5500 (office) • 412.901.6900 (cell) briansergicurfman@thepreferredrealty.com www.BrianSergiCurfman.com

A member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates, LLC

Squirrel Hill Magazine

Our Mission The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition gives voice to the hopes and concerns of our residents, institutions, businesses and visitors and works to preserve, improve, and celebrate the quality of life in our vibrant urban Squirrel Hill neighborhood.


Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Photo credit: Paul G. Wiegman. FOR ADVERTISING

The holidays are upon us, and we all deserve kudos for making it to the end of what has been a very atypical year. We still have hope for the holidays when, even if we can’t be physically together, we can celebrate with our loved ones in new ways from afar.


Contact marketing@shuc.org. All other communications can be directed to editor@shuc.org or (412) 422-7666.

We here at SHUC encourage our neighbors to continue to physically distance where possible and wear a mask. And we encourage you to continue to patronize our main street businesses who have been and still are the hardest hit by this pandemic. With them, we are staying in the hope for a better year in 2021. Cheers to that! Natalie Kovacic Editor, Squirrel Hill Magazine

Vol 18 | Issue 3


Winter 2020

SQUIRREL HILL URBAN COALITION OFFICERS PRESIDENT Mardi Isler VICE PRESIDENT Marshall Hershberg VICE PRESIDENT Dalia Belinkoff SECRETARY Raymond Baum TREASURER Paul Katz ASST. TREASURER Lisa Steindel IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Richard Feder BOARD OF DIRECTORS Anna Batista, Raymond N. Baum, Jill Beck, Dalia Belinkoff, Guy Costa, Vivian Didomenico, Lori Fitzgerald, Sarika Goulatia, Heather Graham, Barbara Grover, Michael Henderson, Marshall Hershberg, Martha Isler, Paul Katz, Joseph Ott, Mary Shaw, Lisa Steindel, Erik Wagner, Ceci Sommers* Emeritus The Squirrel Hill Magazine is a publication produced by the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition (SHUC), a nonprofit organization. As a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, donations to SHUC are tax-exempt, and SHUC complies with all 501(c)(3) rules and regulations.

CONTRIBUTORS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Joe Bendel, Maria Cohen, Lawrence Gerson, Renny Hartono, Mardi Isler, Natalie Kovacic, Helen Wilson EDITOR Natalie Kovacic DESIGNER Lynn Kawaratani EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Maria H. Cohen

Squirrel Hill Magazine, Vol. 18, Issue 3, is provided by the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition as a free service to the residents and businesses in the 15217 zip code. Subscriptions are available for $25/year. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without permission. Printed by Knepper Press.

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by Mardi Isler

by Helen Wilson
















onsistently ranked as a best college by U.S. News & World Report, Chatham

University offers a blend of professional preparation and liberal arts skill-building in our areas of excellence: health and sustainability, business and communication, and the arts and sciences. We offer approximately 40 undergraduate majors, on-ground and online, SHADYSIDE CAMPUS that lead our students to building a brighter, healthier tomorrow for themselves and their communities. We help students streamline their investment without shortchanging their education, with scholarships and integrated degree programs that let qualified students earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in as few as five years. And with over 50 student clubs, students are guaranteed as stimulating an experience

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By Mardi Isler, SHUC Board President

IN SO MANY WAYS, the 2020 holidays will be unlike any other we have experienced. COVID-19 is still changing the way we live our lives and shows no signs of loosening its grip until well into 2021. So many of the ways we mark life’s everyday joys—weddings, religious events, baby showers, anniversaries, birthdays and even routine visits—have had to be modified or canceled. We miss hugs with friends, visits with grandchildren, and shopping without worry. These are serious times, with businesses struggling, neighbors without jobs, schools closed, and no clear end in sight. But I am a cockeyed optimist. I am repeatedly buoyed by what I see all around our neighborhood—cheerful flower pots on Forbes, volunteers picking up litter and saving our trees during the summer drought, a team of workers making sure our welcome sign at the Parkway looks inviting. The garden across the way never looked more beautiful than it did this year. Such efforts may seem small in the scheme of things, but together they make a big difference. They convey pride, beauty, and hope. So do all the small ways that people in our community have thrown themselves into new activities and old hobbies—from cooking to gardening, from learning a new language to woodworking. This community is full of people who refuse to see themselves as trapped by the virus. Instead, they are using this time to grow, learn, or simply do. I was influenced by a grandmother who always had me verbalize to her all the things I had to be thankful for. From the time I could talk, this was our “thing” whenever I saw her. More than anything else, it is probably what led to my optimism, because I often think of my treasured family, wonderful caring friends,

colleagues, amazing experiences, good food, books, and even my springer spaniels. In this thankful spirit, I recently wrote to my favorite mentor, telling him that over 25 years or so he was a noteworthy and positive influence on my professional life. I received a note in response that made my day, because it was poignant, meaningful, and written with his familiar humor. Now I realize there are others I would like to write and maybe visit when it is safe.

The holidays are upon us. Even in challenging times, maybe especially so, it is a good season for gratitude—and for reaching out to others however we still can. The holidays are upon us. Even in challenging times, maybe especially so, it is a good season for gratitude— and for reaching out to others however we still can. We are learning new skills and developing new habits, like social distancing and grabbing a mask on our way out the door. We are figuring out how to support our businesses, restaurants, and local services. We are discovering new methods to communicate. We are learning new ways to care for ourselves and each other. We are all in this together, which is a beautiful thing to remember this holiday season. We may not all become cockeyed optimists, but we will for sure get through this.

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Greetings from the SHUC President

Dear Neighbor:

Are you a SHUC member? Despite these difficult times, as we head in to 2021 we remain true to our mission which is “to give voice to the hopes and concerns of our residents, businesses and visitors and work to preserve, improve, and celebrate the quality of life in our vibrant urban Squirrel Hill neighborhood.”

If you’d like to support the magazine, which we intend to continue publishing at least twice a year, or to support SHUC in general, please go to shuc.org/donate or call Maria Cohen, SHUC Executive Director, to donate by credit card at 412-656-6902.

We hope that one aspect of celebrating Squirrel Hill is reading this magazine, that you find it interesting and informative, and that you feel more connected to Squirrel Hill after reading the content.

We wish for all, and especially health care providers, first responders and the essential workers who help us every day—a healthy and happy 2021.


If you’d like to donate, you can mail a check to: SHUC, 5604 Solway Street, Pittsburgh, 15217 or go to our website at shuc.org and click Donate. 8 | shuc.org

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offers teen mental wellness services through UpStreet

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS often have many barriers before a youth can receive support. This can lead to small problems escalating into a big crisis. This was the impetus for Jewish Family and Community Services’ [JFCS] recent launch of UpStreet, a teen mental wellness program that offers dropin consultations with therapists, scheduled therapy appointments, text-based peer support, and support groups for teens. UpStreet’s services, currently all virtual, are available for anyone ages 12 to 22 years old. UpStreet Clinical Coordinator Erin Barr says, “UpStreet aims to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health support, to avoid escalation of symptoms to a crisis stage, and enhance teens’ quality of life. These services provide critical support to teens in a way that’s accessible and familiar to them.” UpStreet’s supportive chat conversations can help youth get through a tough moment, make a hard decision, or avoid risky behavior. While they encourage parent involvement when appropriate, UpStreet does not require parents’ consent or involvement for teens over 14 years of age to begin receiving services. They also do not require insurance or a scheduled appointment to serve clients.

UpStreet was originally envisioned as a teen walk-in center in Squirrel Hill, and plans are still in place to open a brick and mortar location on Murray Avenue when it is deemed safe to provide in-person services. JFCS is partnering with The Friendship Circle to renovate a building on Murray Avenue; however, COVID-19 required UpStreet to begin implementing direct services much sooner than expected. In Spring 2020, UpStreet was quickly able to assess and respond to the needs in the community by offering virtual services. “We recognized that teens were struggling with the lack of social interaction and needed mental health support. We wanted to be able to offer these services immediately to address these challenges,” Barr explained. UpStreet’s website and programming were designed with input from UpStreet’s Youth Advisory board, a group of local teens that meets every other week to provide staff with insights about the needs and interests of teens in our community. The advisory board is also helping with the design of the in-person space in Squirrel Hill. In addition to therapy, UpStreet plans to provide a variety of services to enhance mental health, CONTINUED on page 11

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including creative group workshops, expressive arts, and opportunities to learn about vocations/careers. UpStreet also plans to implement text-based peer mentoring so that youth can support one another through daily challenges like homework, family dynamics, and other stresses. Through its partnership with The Friendship Circle, UpStreet staff also offer a regular teen mental wellness group with 10-15 participants, both neurotypical and neurodiverse, covering a variety of topics impacting teens, our community, and our world. UpStreet staff will continue to adapt programs in response to emerging best practices and the evolving needs of community teens. Teens can now visit upstreetpgh.org to chat with a therapist, schedule an appointment, or just check out what UpStreet has to offer.

Your neighborhood is your home, and that’s where you’ll find us. With locations throughout Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, offering a variety of floor plans, many pricing options, and all levels of care, you’ll find just what you need. At UPMC Senior Communities, you’re part of a world-class health care system. Find the right community for you. Call 1-800-324-5523 or visit UPMCSeniorCommunities.com.

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COMMUNITY Supporting the people and places that make our communities great places to live. fnb-online.com | 1-800-555-5455 MEMBER FDIC

Winter 2020 | 11




EACH YEAR, THE SQUIRREL HILL URBAN COALITION HONORS FOUR “SQUIRREL HILL TREASURES” — the people and places who make Squirrel Hill a great neighborhood to live, work, or play. Though we were not able to gather in-person at our annual Treasure Dinner this year, we were thrilled to do so at our virtual awards event on November 18th with a film graciously created by the talented Charlie Humphrey. SHUC is grateful to Charlie for making this event possible!

Jasmine Cho, a long-time Squirrel Hill resident, artist, author, and cookie activist, is best known for her online bake shop Yummyholic and her portrait cookies which she creates to elevate representation for Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders. Her portrait cookies of various Pittsburgh cultural leaders are currently on display in the Heinz History Center’s current exhibition, Smithsonian’s Portraits of Pittsburgh. Jasmine and her creations have been featured internationally on various media outlets. In 2019, Jasmine gave a TEDx talk on her work that immediately went viral and has received numerous accolades including CREATOR of the Year by the Pittsburgh Technology Council, the Small Business Community Champion Award by Citizens Bank, and was also awarded a Mayor’s Proclamation declaring Jan. 28th, 2020 as “Jasmine Cho Day” by the City of Pittsburgh. CONTINUED on page 13

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Expanding to traditional fine art while pursuing art therapy studies, Jasmine wrote, illustrated, and published her first children’s book, Role Models Who Look Like Me: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Who Made History. And most recently, she is exploring the frontiers of research-based bake therapy with hopes to make the kitchen a more accessible and empowering space for creativity and healing for all people.


BRANDYWINE COMMUNITIES Brandywine Communities has been building, bridging and binding communities since 1958 as a leader in the field of affordable housing and commercial properties. Based in North Versailles, our apartments offer renters the lifestyle they desire; peaceful wooded settings in the eastern suburbs or a lifestyle close to the bustling city of Pittsburgh. Our goal is to continue to be a property management company of choice, consistently providing quality apartment homes delivered by a team of people who care about the needs of our tenants. Over the last 60+ years, Brandywine has demonstrated a commitment to helping our clients succeed and giving residents a comforting, stable home so they can forge a stronger future. Brandywine Communities are where residents become family, neighbors become friends, and where forever homes are made.

RBARBARA BURSTIN Barbara Burstin, PhD, is an author, teacher, community leader, and longtime member of the Squirrel Hill Historical Society.

A talented and prolific writer, Dr. Burstin has made great contributions to documenting the history of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. She’s written several books, including Jewish Pittsburgh, where she chronicles the development of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community from the 1840s to the present. In one of her latest essays, “Fall Semester 2018,” in the new book Bound in the Bond

of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy she recalls her experience of teaching her first class Tuesday morning following the October 27th shooting the previous Shabbat morning. She has taught courses on the Pittsburgh Jewish experience and the Holocaust for many years at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Burstin has also served on the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission and chaired several organizations, including the Holocaust Commission, the Hillel-Jewish University Center, and the United Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.


PITTSBURGH’S ARNOLD PALMER LEARNING CENTER First Tee Pittsburgh is a non-profit youth development program that delivers life skills and character education to young people ages 5-18 through the game of golf. Participants can join for lessons in putting, chipping, pitching, full swing and on course play, while they also learn healthy habits, goal setting, respect, courtesy, confidence, and more. First Tee began construction in July to build a new clubhouse at the Mayor Bob O’Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park, which will be known as CONTINUED on page 14

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the Arnold Palmer Learning Center. This 15,000 square foot project provides a new hub for golf education, welcoming the community into the Bob O’Connor green to learn about the sport at an early age. The complete rebuild of this Schenley Park staple will bring improved amenities and access to golf for children, teens, and adults in Squirrel Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods.


HIGHMARK/AHN Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and Allegheny Health Network are a national blended health organization and our leading businesses support millions of

RNORRASET “NOR” NAREEDOKMAI Nor Nareedokmai is the Chef and Owner of two Southeast Asian restaurant concepts: the Silk Elephant, a Thai Tapas and Wine Bar, and the KIIN Lao & Thai Eatery, a street food concept offering both Lao and Thai fare.

Silk Elephant is the first Thai restaurant in Pittsburgh to receive the Thai Select designation from the Royal Thai Government for the authenticity of Thai food abroad, while KIIN is the first Pittsburgh restaurant to feature authentic Lao cuisine.

customers with products, services and solutions closely aligned to their mission of creating remarkable health experiences. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield employs approximately 4,000 people in western, north central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Their companies cover a diversified spectrum of essential health-related needs. AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff, and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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He curated the Loa recipes for his newest concept while he and his wife, Rujira, were traveling extensively in Loa in 2018. The couple collaborated with D.C. based chef, Chef Seng, the founder of the Lao food movement in the U.S. They loved the rustic street food flavors just across the border from their native Thailand. Both of these contemporary concepts are located in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh, where Nor has had a long and vibrant commitment to this east-end neighborhood. Nor was awarded the Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 award in 2007 and is an active and engaged member of Uncover Squirrel Hill, where he currently sits on the chamber board. A long-time member of the JCC, Nor can be seen there almost every morning enjoying the fitness programs available. His children have attended and do attend St. Edmund’s Academy, as Nor is a big believer in investing in the civic and economic life of his community. Nor has one older son Nolen (21) attending Pratt Institute in NYC, and three younger children: Norina (8), Nellie (4) and Seth (3), who all attend St. Edmund’s Academy.

MANY THANKS TO OUR 2020 SQUIRREL HILL T R E A S U R E AWA R D S E V E N T S P O N S O R S Brandywine Agency Carnegie Mellon University Chatham University Clark Hill PLC Cohen Chiropractic Trigger Point Center David Burstin Debbie Demchak Ed Beachler First National Bank Friends of Mellon Park Games Unlimited Giant Eagle GKG Attorneys Ray & Harriett Baum Josh Sayles

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield & Allegheny Health Network Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh Jim & Louisa Rudolph Family Foundation Bill & Mardi Isler Maxon Towers/Forbes Denniston Land Company McKnight Realty Partners Paul Peffer & Leslie Miller Robert Levin & Dr. Kerry Bron Silk & Stewart Development Co. Solevo Wellness The Rubinoff Company UPMC Senior Communities and Heritage Place Dalia Belinkoff

Saltwater Loyalty Program

Launches in Squirrel Hill Business District JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, Uncover Squirrel Hill and the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition have partnered with Los Angeles-based Saltwater Loyalty to bring you Squirrel Hill Rewards! See the back cover of the magazine for how you can sign up. When the market faced massive disruption due to the pandemic, founders of Saltwater Jason Gilbert and Vincent Drake worked tirelessly to create a safe, secure, easy-to-use loyalty program with low barriers to entry for businesses. Saltwater Loyalty is a platform designed for destinations to unify their merchants under a branded best-in-class, loyalty rewards program. The program is the first of its kind whereby a destination (like Squirrel Hill) can create a coalition of merchants that provide consumer rewards. Most exciting, Squirrel Hill is the first shopping district in the country to launch its own Saltwater program.

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Here is how it works: Saltwater Loyalty provides a turnkey program for merchants while offering mobile-friendly loyalty rewards for shoppers. Saltwater engages with globally trusted financial institutions like Visa, MasterCard and American Express to keep transactions fluid and safe with bestin-class security. Saltwater Loyalty is the only web app of its kind to offer shoppers the convenience of registering any and as many of their credit or debit cards as they would like to immediately start earning rewards at local Squirrel Hill merchants. The credit card information is not stored; instead, it is kept as a token in the system making it secure for customers and merchants. Steve Jaffe, Vice President Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, shares, “One of the things I love is that there has been a lot of talk about buying local— this program provides the platform to keep dollars CONTINUED on page 17

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local.” Squirrel Hill Rewards delivers “local love” to the community by encouraging local foot traffic and rewarding its customer base for shopping in our Squirrel Hill business district. Heather Graham, President of Uncover Squirrel Hill (the Squirrel Hill Business District Association) and Owner of European Wax Centers, said, “I’m excited for the upcoming launch and the opportunity to provide our merchants a loyalty program that gives various reward options. Using this platform, our community will be rewarded for their loyalty to Squirrel Hill in new and creative ways.”

Coordinated Care Helping Seniors Stay Healthy at Home

The UPMC Living-at-Home Program is a geriatric care management program that provides peace of mind for seniors and their loved ones. • Comprehensive in-home assessment • Free to eligible seniors 70 or older who live in one of 23 surrounding Pittsburgh neighborhoods For more information, call 412-723-6200 or visit UPMC.com/livingathome.


What are the rewards? Customers are given points to PROGRAM use for future purchases at participating merchants, and can be entered to earn or win gifts and rewards for shopping in Squirrel Hill. For example, a shopper might earn points purchasing a coffee at Coffee Tree Roaster, then a book at Classic Lines, then for eating lunch at Kiin, and purchasing UGGs at Littles. They might earn rewards toward a free cup of coffee, a gift card, or money off their next purchase at the 2262_CPS516669_squirrel_hill_magazine_3.635x4.875.indd 1 local merchant. Then, if they spend a certain amount during the week or month, the customer could still be entered to win a gift basket, gift card or another prize for being loyal to the Squirrel Hill Business


District. There are multiple ways that customers will be recognized and appreciated!

We encourage everyone, even if they don’t live in Squirrel Hill, to sign up for this exciting new program! Please visit SquirrelHillRewards.com to register. Interested merchants can email us hello@uncoversquirrelhill.com to participate.


You can find more information about Saltwater Loyalty at #boxedout

saltwaterloyalty.com. Winter 2020 | 17

We proudly support the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition as you strengthen our community. You believe. You get involved. You give back.

HIGHMARKHEALTH.ORG Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Has your income been impacted by the pandemic? If your business or family’s income has been impacted AT ALL by the pandemic, you are eligible for an interest-free loan up to $8,000. Flexible repayment terms.

Apply at www.HFLAPgh.org

Loans are available on a nonsectarian basis to residents of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties.

Choose UPMC Senior Communities as Your Workplace Heritage Place, part of UPMC Senior Communities, is a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility now hiring Full Time and Casual nursing positions. UPMC Senior Communities offers: • Competitive pay • Sign-on bonus to those who qualify • Extensive benefits package Please visit our careers website (careers.upmc.com) and use Job ID 04339607 to view and apply for available LPN roles and Job ID 06133262 to view and apply for available RN roles. Please contact Daniel Spittel at 412-407-6176 with any questions.

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EACH YEAR, THE SQUIRREL HILL MAGAZINE FEATURES OUR FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD SHOPS AND BOUTIQUES TO INSPIRE GIFT-GIVING FOR EVERY TRADITION. While we’ve always encouraged our readers to shop locally, there is truly no more critical time than this year, with many businesses still making up for losses they incurred during the early months of COVID-19. Where applicable, we’ve included the websites of our local businesses so you can order online, and phone numbers so you can order by phone. Please continue to support our great neighborhood businesses so we can continue to enjoy them next year and beyond!


(2136 Murray Avenue) is still open for business! Squirrel Hill is still home to the largest record collection in the city, with thousands of records in dozens of genres to fit your tastes. Just across the hall is GALAXIE ELECTRONICS, which can help you repair old electronics you’ve been sitting on, and is also home of the Turntable Doctor, with lots of refurbished record players for sale to accompany your new records from Jerry’s. Refurbished

record players, starting at $55. Jerrysrecords.com (412.421.4533) and galaxieelectronics.com (412.521.0431).

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Having artwork or photos framed at Framesmith (2111 Murray Avenue) makes a wonderful gift that can be enjoyed for years to come. Custom framing can take only 7-10 days if you choose one of the dozens of frames they have in stock. The retail side of the store also offers a variety of frames to choose from for the do-it-yourself framer. Call 412.521.0300 for a customized quote. framesmith.com


Supporting indie bookstores is more important than ever, and a great place to start is at Amazing Books & Records (2030 Murray Ave). With hundreds of books in store and thousands more online, they are now offering a free book or record for every three that you buy. Kosher Style: Over 100 Jewish Recipes For the

Modern Cook, $30. 412.421.7000 or amazingbooksandrecords.com.


Squirrel Hill is lucky to have a lot of great bakeries but Pink Box Bakery (Murray Avenue) is one place you can find individually wrapped breads and buns to give as small gifts to kids and coworkers alike. And their Taro Bread Toast is excellent for making stuffings, or for French Toast to serve at a holiday brunch or breakfast.

Taro Bread Toast, $4.95/loaf. 412.422.2138 or pinkboxpgh.com.


If COVID Spring cleaning uncovered old family photos or home videos, Rewind Memories (2002 Murray Avenue) is the perfect way to digitize them so they can be enjoyed for years to come. They can convert old film, tapes, and DVDs to digital files or even create a slideshow of your photos set to music to share with family near and far. 800.504.4782 or rewindmemories.com.

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We could all use a little pampering this year and Philip Pelusi (1814 Murray Avenue) salon has some wonderful gift baskets to add to your list and products for every hair type. If supplies aren’t what you need, a gift card for an appointment is always a welcome surprise to be enjoyed after the holidays are over. 412.521.1200 or philippelusi.com.


Speaking of pampering, European Wax Center (5854 Forbes Avenue) has a variety of skincare products that make great stocking stuffers for men and women alike, including this Glow It Bundle to keep the winter pasty look at bay. Or snag a Pre-Paid Wax Pass for yourself, which never expires, so you can save on services and enjoy at your own pace throughout the new year. Glow It

Bundle, $48. bookings.waxcenter.com/reservations or 412.586.4571.


Even the pickiest gift recipient can appreciate quality chocolate. The Chocolate Moose (5830 Forbes Avenue), offers a wide variety of candies and novelties, as well as sugar-free options, including customized holiday truffles made by local company Moonstruck. Create your own box of chocolates and have it decoratively wrapped for a presentation to remember. Custom chocolates

box, $29 and up. 412.422.2208 or thechocolatemoosepgh.com.

TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES Ten Thousand Villages (5820 Forbes Avenue) has the best selection in Pittsburgh to find ornaments for your Christmas or holiday tree! There are over a hundred in their store, and you can feel good buying them, knowing your purchase supports independent artists from around the world.

This one-of-a-kind boutique also sells hundreds of small gifts, perfect for Hanukkah celebrations, including this beautiful iron menorah to commemorate the Festival of Lights. Engraved Iron Menorah, made

in India, $39. 412-421-2160 or tenthousandvillages.com/pittsburgh. 24 | shuc.org


Gaby Et Jules (5837 Forbes Avenue) has gorgeous gift boxes available filled with its delicate macarons, in addition to their French pastries and cakes. Each custom box can be shipped nationwide, so even if you can’t be together in person this year, you can still share dessert with the ones you love. Macaron

gift boxes, starting at $29. 412.682.1966 or gabyetjules.com.


S.W. Randall Toyes and Giftes is celebrating their 50th anniversary and still offers the most unique gifts for children in tahn. This year’s Holiday Barbie, a classic Santa gift for generations, comes in a variety of options with whom children (and collectors) everywhere can identify. 2020 Holiday Barbie, $65.50. 412.422.7009 or swrandalltoys.com.


The Exchange (5862 Forbes Avenue) is known for its selection of used video games, but did you know that they carry a variety of brand-new accessories for gamers? If you’re lucky enough to get a new video game console this year, you can stock up on your accessories upstreet for less. Xbox Afterglow Wired Headset, $36. (412) 422-2123 or theexchange.com


The new iPhone 12 is a hot item this year, but why get it from a big box store when you can find it in Squirrel Hill? The AT&T Store (5851 Forbes Avenue) has that and a lot more, including a Buy 2 Get 1 on all accessories throughout the holidays. You don’t even have to be an AT&T customer to win on that deal. JBL Charge4 Bluetooth Speaker, $179. 412.450.1040.

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Did you see Games Unlimited (5876 Forbes Avenue) new location? In addition to plenty of space to shop safely, they now have an even bigger selection of games, puzzles, and toys for kids big and small and the kid-at-heart. They also have unique games you can’t find at the big box stores, like this Pittsburgh version of Monopoly that features all of our favorite Pittsburgh jaunts.

Pittsburgh-opoly Game, $29.99. 412.421.8807 or gamesunl.com


A neighborhood favorite, Classic Lines (5825 Forbes Avenue), has a large collection of books in every genre, including President Obama’s new book A Promised Land and Vice President-Elect Harris’s memoir. Take advantage of their free gift wrapping with a variety of other gifts in store, including Christmas cards, Hanukkah gifts, and children’s books. The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris, $15.95.


Ehua Fashion (5865 Forbes Avenue) has a lovely selection of winter hats, as well as these faux neck warmers to wear when spending time outside this winter. They have dozens of beautiful coats and sweaters to choose from, many at a very affordable price. Faux fur scarf/neck warmer, $18.99.


As always, you can find a lot more than shoes at Littles Shoes (5850 Forbes Avenue) this holiday. This gorgeous Ugg sweater is perfect to pair with a favorite pair of boots, or one of the many hats and accessories Littles has on display. They’ve recently opened a new online store as well, and are offering free shipping on all orders; you can also pick up curbside.

Ugg Print Sweater, $180. Littlesshoes.com or 412.521.3530. 26 | shuc.org

CHEEKS AND GLASSWORKS Across the street at Cheeks and Glassworks (5873 Forbes Avenue), you can find uncommon gifts to stay cozy through the holidays and throughout the winter. These slipper socks from Eberjey are the perfect stocking stuffer and great for days at home through quarantine or cold. The store also has a great variety of robes, pajamas, and throws to add to the warmth.

Eberjey slipper socks, $44. 412.521.0600 or cheekslingerie.com


Tea Pittsburgh/Blue Monkey Tea (5872 Forbes Avenue) is a holiday favorite for teas, sweets, and foods from countries around the world. This ToasTea mug has a basket at the top to make tea on the go; just add hot water! Made of double-walled stainless steel to keep your drink hot for hours. pittsburghcuppa.com or 412.422.1606.


Wightman Park Reopens on Solway Street

The Wightman Park features a hillside slide, pavilion for gathering, and several play structures for kids of all ages.

THE NEWLY RENOVATED WIGHTMAN PARK reopened on October 28 after years of planning across several organizations, including the Mayor’s office, the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works, former Councilman Gilman’s and Councilman O’Connor’s and Councilwoman Strassburger’s offices, PWSA, ALCOSAN, and other partners. Andrea Ketzel, a Senior Project Landscape Architect for the City of Pittsburgh, led the design of the new park and playground, which is located at 5612 Solway Street. “After four years of hard work, we are thrilled to welcome everyone back into a brand new Wightman Park. I offer my sincere thanks to everyone who helped to fundraise, plan, and revitalize this space that means so much to so many. This park is for everyone, regardless of age, interest, or ability,” said Pittsburgh City Councilmember Erika Strassburger. “I look forward to the second phase of this project, in partnership with PWSA, ALCOSAN, and others, to use the park to help solve our rainwater overflow and flooding challenges.”

Councilwoman Erika Strassburger welcomes the community to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Wightman Park on October 28.

The playground features a special play area designed for kids ages 2-5.

The renovations of the park include significant green infrastructure components funded through ALCOSAN’s GROW program and carried out through PWSA and their partners, including retention tanks beneath the park space, rain gardens, plantings, and additional stormwater storage capacity under sidewalks adjacent to the park. Together, these green infrastructure components will capture over two million gallons of stormwater annually and provide 50,000 cubic feet of storage. Both children and tweens can enjoy two distinct play areas in the park. The renovations include play equipment for children of all abilities and specific equipment for children on the autism spectrum. Nearby is a new family restroom facility with an CONTINUED on page 29

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adult changing table, the first in a public space in Pittsburgh. Other features include an embankment slide leading down the hillside off of Solway Street, a walking track, an educational boardwalk feature, picnic pavilion available to the community, and a halfcourt basketball area. A multi-purpose green space suitable for coach-pitch baseball and softball, soccer, and passive activities will be available where the old baseball field used to be. In collaboration with the City’s Department of Public Works and the Department of City Planning’s Division of Public Art and Civic Design, 1% of the project’s budget was dedicated to the installation of artwork completed by local Pittsburgh artists Oreen Cohen and Alison Zapata, who comprise OOA Designs, LLC. “From the Master Plan process through Design and Construction, there are so many people that came together to make these park improvements a reality,” said Andrea Ketzel, Senior Project Landscape Architect with the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works. “We can’t wait to see the community enjoy this space for years to come!”

WHEN THE SQUIRREL HILL URBAN COALITION BOUGHT WIGHTMAN SCHOOL FOR $1 In the early 1980s, Stan Lederman was the President of Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition (SHUC) and meetings were held in the storefronts of various businesses along Forbes and Murray Avenues. At the time, enrollment in the Pittsburgh Public Schools was down and the decision was made to close Wightman School. Stan approached Mayor Caliguiri and the City of Pittsburgh about acquiring the Wightman school building for a reasonable price. The Pittsburgh School Board ultimately approved the sale of the building to the City of Pittsburgh for $1, which in turn sold it to SHUC for $1. The purchase gave SHUC the ability to host proper meetings, expand its services, and provide space for tenants who complemented the community work that SHUC was doing. The rest, as they say, is history!

The swing set has options for children of all abilities. Swinging here are the great-great-great grandchildren of Thomas Wightman, owner of the Wightman Glass Company, after whom the school and park were named!

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HOW WE DELIVER Our reopening plan ensures every child can safely participate in classes every day. Whether students are learning in the classroom or remotely from home via Zoom and the Meeting Owl Pro camera, we hold ourselves to the same high educational standards. How will you deliver an unmatched education for your child?

BECAUSE “HOW” MATTERS PK-12 • Four Campuses






HOLIDAYS By Dr. Lawrence Gerson, V.M.D. PETS ENHANCE OUR LIVES in so many ways and give the entire family unconditional love. Animals encourage us to exercise and eliminate loneliness. In times of trouble, we can receive both comfort and joy from our pets. As we begin the holiday season, many people may desire to bring a new pet into the home. Lots of planning, however, must go into the decision, and the desire for a pet should not be taken lightly. A new pet is usually a 15-year commitment. And are the holidays the time, with all the excitement they bring, a good time to welcome a new addition? Sometimes the best holiday gifts are pet supplies like bowls and leashes, with a new addition to follow in the weeks or months following once the household settles down. The activities surrounding the end of the year can make for a difficult adjustment time for both pets and family This year brings a whole new set of issues when looking for a pet. Cats make wonderful additions to a family and many are waiting for new homes in shelters and rescues. Dogs on the other hand are in short supply. The health crisis of 2020 has encouraged many families to seek new canine companions. I have heard from rescues who can place dogs the minute they are available. Breeders are overwhelmed with requests. Not all sources of dogs are reliable and responsible. Mass produced puppies should be avoided and research must be conducted before making a selection. Knowing where a puppy came from is very important. Good breeders look to produce healthy

puppies with good behavior. Making a profit should not be part of the equation. Breeding and purchasing of a dog must be done with careful planning. Veterinary medicine is facing an extraordinary phenomena of increased demand and a shortage of doctor availability. Many clinics are not even able to schedule new patients and arrangements for care must be made well in advance. For months during the pandemic shutdown, we were restricted in providing routine pet care and were only able to see urgent cases. We are just now trying to catch up with appointments and have a backlog of many weeks just to perform yearly exams. This new normal takes more time. Veterinary clinic staff are trying to keep everyone safe with new protocols. Even emergency facilities are overwhelmed. With a nationwide shortage of emergency veterinarians and increased demand for 24 hour care, wait times have become very long as critical cases are seen before urgent care. While we encourage everyone to experience the love of a pet, take time to plan properly to make this holiday season a wonderful one for both you and your new pet.

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EVENT GUIDE Though COVID has affected many of our holiday plans this year, there are still several ways to enjoy the traditional cheer of this season! Though most of the holiday events we found require registration online or calling ahead, keep in mind they are subject to change.


The Ice Rink at PPG Place is celebrating its 20th Anniversary and though you can’t buy tickets on-site this year, you can still purchase tickets online. Admission will be limited to the local guidelines for outdoor gatherings and capacity will be monitored to ensure a safe experience for skaters. Be sure to visit the annual display of life-size Santas and original paintings from around the world in the exterior windows of Two PPG Place along 4th Avenue.


WINTER FLOWER SHOW: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS Phipps Conservatory is bringing its elegant and festive displays back to their glowing glasshouse. Now a Pittsburgh holiday tradition, the Winter Flow Show includes a canopy of twinkling lights, fragrant decorated trees and thousands of their signature poinsettias in a wide variety of hues and patterns. Tickets must be purchased online ahead of time as Phipps has significantly reduced capacity to ensure a safe experience.


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The Peoples Gas Holiday Market, open November 27 through December 23 has redesigned its old layout for safe, socially-distant outdoor shopping this year. Though children aren’t permitted to visit Santa in person, they can still meet with him at the Santa Zoom: Live from the North Pole experience and get a downloadable photo with a $5 donation to the Community Food Bank.



This year, the Cultural District will be lit up with Holiday Wonderland Projections being projected on many buildings along Penn Avenue. In EQT Plaza, visit the World’s Largest Pickle Ornament (formerly the 35-foot Heinz Pickle balloon) which is decorated with hundreds of lights. Continue your walk to the U.S. Steel Tower Plaza to see the Pittsburgh Crèche, only authorized replica of the nativity scene in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

HOLIDAY SHOW AT NORTH PARK Something new this year: Allegheny County Parks is hosting a one-of-a-kind drive-in laser show at North Park this year. Enjoy a 45-minute light show synchronized with holiday music all from the safety of your own vehicle. The cost is only $15 per car for Allegheny County residents. Space is limited and tickets must be purchased in advance online. alleghenycounty.us/special-events


Drive through the Zoo at night while guided by a themed audio tour as thousands of environmentallyfriendly LED lights transform the park into an unforgettable winter wonderland. You may also spot an animal or two! Download the audio tour on their website prior to making your trip so you can enjoy the full experience from your car.

ELFBURGH CHRISTMAS See Santa without getting out of your car! The design team behind Hundred Acres Manor Haunted Attraction has created a first-ever drivethru Christmas event featuring over half a million lights. Your car will be guided along Elf Lane, interacting with elves singing their favorite carols, leading you to Santa’s Castle and Garage, where every child can meet and greet Santa, give him their list, and receive a special treat.



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Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition Update

the old Rosenbloom’s Bakery, and Temple Beth Shalom. Order online at shuc.org/ shop or purchase at Ten Thousand Villages, Littles, Classic Lines, Amazing Books & Records, and more.

By Maria Cohen, SHUC Executive Director AS THE HOLIDAYS APPROACH, we look to the hope and magic that the season offers to get us through these trying times. This has been a strange and challenging year to say the least. We’re excited to feature some of our community and faith-based leaders as they share how we celebrate. The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition and our community have persevered with resilience and love creating new ways of doing things and seeing each other. Zoom became a new verb for most of us as we navigate a world where we see each other virtually more than in person. Although the summer Night Markets were not possible, we got creative with our SHOP (Squirrel Hill Open Air Pop Up) events in the fall to support our businesses while allowing for distancing. Uncover Squirrel Hill will also be partnering with Saltwater Loyalty to launch a neighborhood loyalty program for our Merchants and devoted shoppers in time for the holiday season. The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition and the Squirrel Hill Historical Society have also partnered to bring you our 2021 Squirrel Hill Historic Calendar. It includes several of our favorite landmarks including the Blue Slide

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We reached out to our bordering East End Neighbors to partner with the JCC Center for Loving Kindness on a class series called White Supremacy, Racism and Anti-Semitism in which we tackled the sometimes uncomfortable and challenging discussion about race and ethic identity. Partnering neighborhoods included Garfield-Bloomfield, Point Breeze, Shadyside and Oakland. We have been reminded that all our voices matter. We were all asked to share our values and beliefs with action by getting out to vote and making sure to fill out the census. Lastly, our annual Treasure Award Event still took place—though in a virtual format—on November 18th. A well-deserved congratulations to our 2020 Treasures Jasmine Cho, Nor Nareedokmai, Barbara Burstin and First Tee, Pittsburgh/Arnold Palmer Learning Center. We appreciate all they do for our neighborhood and beyond! This continues to be a strange and challenging time for all of us and our community. With resilience, strength, love, and perseverance, we will continue to get through this together. Please reach out to share with me what you would like the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition to continue, feedback about changes that you would like to see in our Squirrel Hill community and your thoughts and ideas to help support us in preserving, improving and celebrating the quality of life in our vibrant Squirrel Hill community.

You can connect with me at mcohen@shuc.org.

The following board members are stepping down from the SHUC Board of Directors this year. We are incredibly grateful for their donation of both time and talent to serve the Squirrel HIll community. After six years of service, CYNTHIA MORELOCK will be missed for her contributions as an officer and a volunteer who participated in many of SHUC’a community events. Cindy also retired from the Children’s Institute after 32 years and will be considering new challenges. We wish her all the best. LOIS LIBERMAN is retiring from the Board after a long time of service. A dedicated volunteer, Lois organized many of SHUC’s outreach activities and helped with fundraising efforts. We look forward to Lois continuing her support of SHUC’s mission and volunteering at future events.

Please join us in warmly welcoming our newest SHUC Board Members: GUY COSTA, who has helped SHUC with various projects over the years, recently retired as Mayor Peduto’s COO. Guy brings his love for our Squirrel Hill neighborhood and knowledge of all things “City of Pittsburgh” to the SHUC Board, and we are delighted that he has joined us. SARIKA GOULATIA, who has been very active on our mural committee and is very involved with our local Squirrel Hill community, recently joined the SHUC board. As a distinguished, award-winning artist and Art Commission Board Member, Sarika brings considerable and helpful expertise to our organization. We are thrilled to welcome Sarika!

SHUC Board Meetings occur on the third week of every month, and are free and open to the public. To find out where this month’s meeting is held or to be on the agenda, please contact us at 412-422-7666 or info@shuc.org.

RICH FEDER’s teaching schedule at Pitt conflicted with SHUC Board Meetings and he therefore resigned from the Board. But Rich remains active as ever as Past President, a member of the Bike-Ped Committee, and continues his contributions to many of the interest areas of SHUC’s mission. JOSH SAYLES is moving to Florida to accept a position with the Greater Miami Jewish Federation and resigned from the Board. We thank Josh for his years of service and wish him well in his new venture. EVELINE YOUNG also resigned after many years of service on the board and as an active member on a number of committees including the Treasure Awards Committee which will continue to benefit from her membership. Eveline made significant contributions to the updates and revisions of the SHUC Bylaws, as well as to this magazine. She will no doubt stay close to SHUC to continue her contributions as a volunteer.

Detail of mural proposal by artist Alison Zapata

Phase 1 of Squirrel Hill Mural Project LOCAL ARTIST ALISON ZAPATA was selected to create Phase 1 of the Squirrel Hill Mural Project. The mural will be located perpendicular to the O’Connor’s Corner Parklet on the Mineo’s building to honor the diversity in our Squirrel Hill Community. The project is expected to be completed Spring 2021.

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Changes to the Squirrel Hill Board of Directors


SHUC Litter Patrol Update HAPPY HOLIDAYS! The Litter Patrol is pleased to be slowly returning to its mission—to help enhance the physical appearance of our neighborhood as well as prevent all the trash from ending up in our watershed, where it can pollute wildlife habitats. During the first months of the pandemic, Litter Patrol group activities came to a halt and we were unable to hold our annual community clean up, post-Night Market clean up on Murray, nor provide university organizations support with litter clean ups. Fortunately, individual and family activities did continue. Our Adopt-A-Block members picked up litter in their respective locations (though probably less frequently than usual). Ann Rose, one of our volunteers, did empty our cigarette butt receptacles in the business district as needed. Individuals participated in the Nine Mile Run Stream Sweep on October 3, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s clean up in the Prospect Drive Shelter area of Schenley Park on October 10.

Alex Greenberg and her family clean up their Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 10. From Left to right: Sammy, Karin, Alex (far back) and Adam (little one).

thank the owner/general manager/clerk for being a Good Neighbor and caring about our neighborhood. As with most of you, we are uncertain about COVID-19 restrictions in 2021. We would love to hold our community clean up in April and participate in our wonderful Night Markets through the summer and fall. It remains to be seen if those large group gatherings may have to wait another year.

We continue to work with Uncover Squirrel Hill and the merchants in our neighborhood to be Good Neighbors. You may see Good Neighbor decals at some of the stores. These decals are in recognition of the merchant committing to:

In the meantime, you can still do your part to keep our neighborhood litter-free. If you or a group are interested in joining our Adopt-A-Block effort, please contact Dona Luedde at luedde@verizon.net or 412362-1668. If you are interested in joining us for any of the other activities, please contact Barb Grover at 412-521-9526 or barbgrover1@gmail.com.

1. Keeping their sidewalk free of litter on a daily basis including cigarette butts; 2. Clearing their sidewalk of ice and snow; and 3. Keeping their sidewalk in good repair.

More SHUC Snapshots

The merchants are also encouraged to purchase a Cigarette Butt Receptacle through the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition to reduce the number of cigarette butts littering our sidewalks. Litter Patrol volunteers periodically clean out those receptacles. When you see a decal or a cigarette butt receptacle outside a shop, please stop in and

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MICHAEL ROSENBAUM continues his work to maintain the “Remembered” status of the garden at the Parkway. He has done an amazing job especially given the difficult summer, but all agree, the garden never looked better! A team from SOLEVO WELLNESS has adopted our Welcome Sign at the Parkway entrance and did a wonderful job of weeding and mulching the grasses

GARY CROUTH, our Tree Care Coordinator, worked to weed and mulch our business district trees made more difficult with restrictions because of Covid. Gary also participated along with a number of volunteers to water trees at the Action Housing site and Allderdice. TREE PITTSBURGH helped SHUC and a number of volunteers keep the Allderdice trees alive after they were showing signs of drought-related stress such as branches dying and leaves wilting and turning brown. All trees are doing well but one which lost its leader and therefore it has been replaced by Tree Pittsburgh. If you would like to help fund this tree, you can donate to treepittsburgh.org. Kudos and congratulations to outgoing SHUC Board Member RICH FEDER and his wife Helen who have been recognized by Beth Shalom with the 2020 Lester A. Hamburg member of the year distinguished award. Thank you both for doing so much for our community!

Update on O’Connor’s Corner O’CONNOR’S CORNER, CORNER, at the corner of Phillips and Murray Avenues, is nearing completion. Baiano, the contractor selected for the project, installed new concrete, an outdoor seating platform in front of Dumpling House, and ramps and railings have been installed to make three retail entrances handicapped accessible. The bus shelter has been rehabbed by Gateway. Trees for the site were recommended by the City Forester and are being donated and planted by TreeVitalize through the Western PA Conservancy. Soil and shrubs were selected and placed in the planters by Sestili Nursery. Because of COVID, the trees and the benches will be delivered after Thanksgiving. In a future issue, SHUC will more fully acknowledge all those who contributed to seeing this concept of a parklet come to fruition. It’s a long list that goes back more than ten years, but SHUC believes the effort was well worth the tenacity required.


and shrubs that surround the sign. SHUC especially appreciates this effort because this is the first view of Squirrel Hill for those coming from the Parkway.

Happy Holidays! Wishing you peace, joy, and love.


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PROSPEROUS LUNAR NEW YEAR! We plan to resume our festivities in 2022.

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DÉJÀ VU THE INFLUENZA PANDEMIC OF 1918 began as World War I was in its last year and spread rapidly in military camps and troop movements. Fifty percent of the war’s casualties were likely caused by influenza. In the United States in 1918 and 1919, 25.8 million people were infected, and 670,000 died. Articles in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from that time give a picture of what was going on in the city in 1918 that is strikingly similar in some ways to what is happening with COVID-19 today. On October 5, 1918, the Post-Gazette reported that the “Board of Health is directed to close all public places of entertainment, including theaters, moving picture establishments, saloons and dance halls, and to prohibit all meetings of every description until further notice.” (Saloons weren’t happy about that.) The article said the closure of public schools, Sunday schools, and churches would depend on the judgment of local health authorities and church authorities. Even church funerals were “an impossibility at this time.” People were encouraged not to ride on streetcars or go shopping. The police were directed to arrest people “expertorating” on sidewalks and on public transportation. On November 1, 1918, the Post-Gazette reported that the flu was temporarily on the wane and advised

By Helen Wilson, Vice-President, Squirrel Hill Historical Society

people to try to avoid getting it by staying home. The Vincentian Sisters in Perrysville opened a temporary home for children who were orphaned by “the scourge,” as did St. Mary’s Lyceum on 45th Street in Lawrenceville.

The pandemic was worsened by the silence of government officials who did not inform people about the severity of the outbreak and take steps to contain it... until it was too late. In “Journal of the Plague Year,” an article in the November 2017 Smithsonian, John M. Barry said the pandemic was worsened by the silence of government officials, who did not inform people about the severity of the outbreak and take steps to contain it, such as ban parades, close theaters, and cancel sports events, until it was too late. The silence cost the government the trust of the people, who could not believe in the validity of what they were CONTINUED on page 41

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being told. Barry relates that at a recent conference simulating a severe flu outbreak, he witnessed a public health official still not willing to disclose the truth about the spread of the disease when given the task of speaking at a press conference. Barry said, “You don’t manage the truth. You tell the truth.” Pittsburgh was especially hard hit in 1918. In an article in the November 13, 2005, TribLive online edition of the Tribune-Review, Allison M. Heinrichs wrote, “No other big city in the nation had a higher death rate from the 1918 flu than Pittsburgh. More than one in every 100 people—twice the national mortality rate—died that year. During the worst days here, a new person caught the flu every 70 seconds and someone died of it every 10 minutes. However, the flu itself was not as lethal as one might think. The problem was that whole families were sick at the same time and could not care for one other.” To get an idea of what was happening in Squirrel Hill and the East End, an October 23, 1918, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, “Children Best in Schools, Says Burns,” is instructive. It lists influenza statistics for all Pittsburgh public schools on October 22 as the pandemic was raging. The article relates that the Board of Education had discussed whether to close schools because of “Grip” and decided against it. School superintendent William M. Davidson and Director of Hygiene Burns were quoted as saying, “With proper precautions, such as “air-flushing” classrooms by opening windows and doors for five minutes, keeping the temperature in schools around 70 degrees, mandating that sick students stay home, forbidding visits to homes where people were sick, and asking everyone to use handkerchiefs when obliged to cough, sneeze or expectorate, schools are the best possible place for students in the course of this epidemic.” Superintendent Davidson advised, “With proper vigilance, students are better off for those five hours they are there each day.” He pointed out that “school attendance since the epidemic started is 40 per cent below the total enrollment, or 27,357 out of 77,467 pupils. As 10 percent of the

whole number enrolled is out of school all the time on the average, the falling off due to the influenza is probably 30 per cent, or about 20,000 pupils. Of these, only eight percent have influenza, and there have been only 53 deaths.” Only 53 deaths! Some of the schools in the East End and Squirrel Hill are now gone, but you can see in the chart a fuller picture of flu data in this area. An interesting pattern emerges. Except for Roosevelt in Greenfield (69%) in the 15th Ward, the schools in the southern half of the East End area had a lower absentee rate than those in the northern half. For example, Swisshelm’s is 38% compared to Wightman’s 73%. No reason is given in the Post-Gazette article for the varying percentages in different schools. In Squirrel Hill’s case, perhaps it had to do with the fact that the southern half of the neighborhood was still somewhat rural compared to the more developed northern half, and germs spread more quickly among people who might travel more often on public transportation and thereby be exposed to and spread more germs. Looking back a hundred years ago shows just how difficult it is to stop the community spread of diseases—though we’ve made great strides in doing so, as well as treating them. And many of the public debates that existed then still, of course, exist today! History & Landmarks Foundation.

The Squirrel Hill Historical Society’s live programs at Church of the Redeemer, usually held on the second Tuesday of the month, have been temporarily suspended. The Society has replaced them with monthly interactive projects and Zoom programs. For more information, visit the SHHS website, squirrelhillhistory.org. Winter 2020 | 41

HOPE By Natalie Kovacic, Editor



Hope (noun): a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen FROM WIDESPREAD CLOSURES to a contentious presidential election, we’ve experienced plenty to keep us worried this year. Many of our hopes—for graduations, weddings, celebrations, and gatherings— have had to be put on hold as we continue to navigate an uncertain time together. Even the holidays will look different this year, but as we each celebrate the end of 2020, we believe the new year is still something to hope for. We spoke with three local spiritual leaders about what they’ve seen in their own communities this year, how they are helping our community weather this time, and how they will continue to celebrate the holidays— and have hope—despite the things happening in the world.

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Can you tell me more about you and your spiritual tradition? This month I’ll be celebrating my fifthteenth year as the pastor of New Life Baptist Church. Our congregation is small but active. I was raised not far from Squirrel Hill in Hazelwood; I raised my children there and still live there.

How have you seen your community respond to COVID? In 2019, it was really on my heart to take prayer more seriously so, together with some others, we CONTINUED on page 43

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started the Greater Hazelwood Community Prayer Line. We hosted the first Prayer Line in January 2020, completely unbeknownst to us what was coming. And every month since, on the third Tuesday of month, we host this conference call—and it’s for everybody. Maybe you need a job or you have a loved one who’s sick. We pray for our neighborhoods, our marriages, our jobs, and each other. Everyone is invited no matter their belief. Because prayer is really a place of community, to be together. We don’t ask if you go to church or what congregation you belong to. The prayer line is a place full of love and support and fellowship.

How do you think your traditions will change this year? How will you and your community adapt for the holidays? Well, nobody saw COVID coming, and when it came, nobody knew what to do with it. But though most of us consider 2020 to be an “unprecedented” year, throughout history there have been events that were detrimental, even catastrophic. We don’t have a monopoly on hardship. The list is endless of the things men and women in history believed they could not handle. But we have figured out new ways to do ministry. The celebrations haven’t stopped; it just needs to be channeled through new venues. We have to remember: we’re not in service to serve holidays. The early believers didn’t have holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving or Easter. People had a relationship with Yahweh. And what COVID has given us all is an opportunity to come back to where we came from—as neighbors, as families, living in community. We’re not worried about the holidays. The celebration will still be there. In fact, we may gain more as we seek community inside our homes and families, as opposed to the other traditions of our religious experience. Shutting the door of a building doesn’t close the church. Church is in us—if we are alive, then so is the

church. We have to be active in discouraging people from losing faith or falling into despair.

Can you tell me more about the Prayer Line? Is it open to the public? It is open to all and we absolutely embrace anybody to come. Even if you want to call in and not say a word. Sometimes you just need to be in a place of community with others. You don’t have to pray out loud or participate. We welcome you to just be a passenger on the ride. What I think the pandemic has caused us to ask ourselves, in collaboration with the political unrest and the racial unrest: am I still my brother’s keeper? Do I still care about my neighbor? Can I still smile and greet a person without asking them who they voted for? Or treating them differently because of the color of their skin? Are we as good at loving our neighbor as we are at saying we do? Many of us are learning how much family still matters. And after family, community. And after community, our nation. CONTINUED on page 44

Greater Hazelwood Prayer Initiative Join the Greater Hazelwood monthly prayer line which is open to all, regardless of tradition. Mark your calendar and join them on December 15, 2020 at 7:00pm, and every third Tuesday of the month. The number to call in and participate is 425-4366395 (passcode: 257175#). This is a toll-free call. Pray for family, friends, the country, sick and shut in, youth, jobs, addictions, military, churches, community business, seniors, COVID-19, first responders, and all other requests. For questions, please email jjeffries339@aol.com or juan-ita52@ comcast.net.

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Can you tell me more about you and your spiritual tradition? I came to the United States in 2008 to serve at the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center in Natrona Heights, where I’m the chief abbot. I help lead programming at the Center and provide spiritual counseling to help people to deal with challenging issues of life.

How have you seen your community respond to COVID? It has been a challenging time but it’s a time for adjustment. We used to have weekly and monthly gatherings at the Center, ceremonies, and children’s classes. We had to reflect on what was possible because we can’t meet each other like we used to. So we’ve experimented with different things. When schools were closed, children were having a difficult time to get their kids to engage in something. So we started a children’s program teaching them how to meditate. It’s become so popular, so we still do it, even after some children went back to school. Every Sunday we host this program, we show them yoga movements, we practice together, we let children share their thoughts. It’s become something new and children have really enjoyed it and like to learn. We also utilized our outdoor shrine and statue and put up a tent there. We allow one family at a time to come to do meditation and receive blessings. We also host weekly meditations on Tuesdays and Wednesdays via our YouTube channel, PBC Live.

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How do you think your traditions will change this year? How will you and your community at Buddhist Center adapt? We are planning similar online programs for Christmas, Thanksgiving and the New Year also. And we invite those who wish to join us to participate. Every challenge, every obstacle, enlightens us to be creative. Every obstacle is an invitation for us to think outside of the box. We are used to doing things one way. But we can realize that there are many ways to do things. Holidays are for community and for bonding with one another and think beyond our worldly concerns. What are the other ways that we can achieve the same goal even if we can’t be together? CONTINUED on page 45

Children’s Classes at the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center Children’s Buddhism Classes are held on Saturdays from 2-3 p.m. The classes are held for four age groups, ages 4-16 years old. Meditation Classes for Children are held on Sundays from 7-8 p.m. The classes include basic instructions, yoga movement, guided meditation, and a discussion. You can find more information by clicking on Kids in the top menu at pittsburghbuddhistcenter.org.

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Can you tell me more about you and your spiritual tradition? I’m the Director of the Center for LovingKindess at the JCC, where we promote long-held values of love your neighbor as yourself and do not stand idle while your neighbor bleeds. We host an assortment of opportunities for people to learn—with and about—people of perceived and real differences. We do a lot of interracial and interreligious work; and we work with the City of Pittsburgh and nonprofits to build frameworks through which that can be sustained. We know that the only way to actually build a vibrant community is if we’re all actually at the table together. We’re working to build a network of clergy-police councils throughout Pittsburgh, for example. We run a national program to allow people to learn about their spirituality and those of others to recognize our shared humanity.

How have you seen your community respond to COVID? We’ve been through a lot in our community. All of us. Not just residents of Squirrel Hill and not just the Jewish community. We have economic and health pandemics. We have a pandemic of not being able to speak with someone who is different than you. But I know that most of us, most people want the world to be better. We see hope in the gratitude a senior expresses when we drop off a meal for them; we see it when a parent expresses gratitude when they bring their child for a safe day of learning while not at

school. We know that those expressions of gratitude serve as fertilizer for more hope. And if we can give that to more people, if we can keep on providing that kind of hope through acts of kindness, nothing can stop us. We must keep on going with those things.

How do you think your traditions will change this year? It’s the darkest time of year, so we light lights because we need to be inspired in the darkness of the winter. As Jews, we light the menorah not only as a reminder of a great miracle that happened; we light the menorah to remember how a group of a few people overcame a great force in the Assyrian Greeks. Our Christian neighbors light up their trees and their houses as a reminder of the gift of redemption, the birth of Jesus. I don’t believe in the redemptive power of Jesus, but I know when my Christian neighbors talk about it, it speaks to a piece of me that is seeking redemption as well. That’s our shared humanity. That’s the hope that we’re looking for. We have a magnificent menorah on Forbes Avenue that we were able to light in 2019 for the first time in many years, alongside our Christian and Muslim neighbors. We will do that again and gather outside, and we will live stream it for others who aren’t comfortable attending. And on December 17, the last night of Hanukkah, we are working on a program called Lights Across Pittsburgh featuring spiritual leaders showing us how they light lights for their holidays. And those leaders will meet with participants on a live Zoom call to discuss what was learned. But it’s hard because we are communal beings. We want to be together. But what we’ve come to realize is that although we are physical distancing, we do not need to distance socially. What we’ve learned through porch visits, Zoom gatherings, and outdoor events is that we can still be socially connected. All of this has taught us that we are bigger than the separation we face.

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St. Edmund’s Academy Welcomes Virtual Chapel Speakers THE ST. EDMUND’S ACADEMY CHAPEL PROGRAM is a comprehensive, student-centered program focused on exploring the school’s Core Values, personal and social identity, and meaning. Each week, they welcome a speaker to offer a Chapel Talk, focused on one of the school’s Core Values.

St. Edmund’s Academy 3rd Grade Squirrel Hill Storefront Project For their Signature Experience for Global Goals, a curriculum thread inspired by the 17 sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations, the 3rd Grade focuses on learning all about our community of Squirrel Hill. Throughout the year, the students learn about the history of the neighborhood, visit special landmarks, and find ways to serve our neighbors. The Storefront Project is one of the first of the year and gives students a chance to recreate one of their favorite local businesses.

In October, St. Edmund’s welcomed Pennsylvania’s Second Lady Gisele Barreto Fetterman, who spoke about the SEA Core Value of Understanding and Appreciating the Differences Among People. She shared some of her experiences and the experiences of her family members as immigrants to a new country, and the importance of friends who supported them as they learned about their new home. St. Edmund’s also welcomed Reverend Charles Fischer, the vice president for seminary advancement at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, who shared that “Differences among us allow us to see the greatness in each of us,” and ended his talk with a challenge to look for the greatness in each person we encounter.

Say Hi to


Murray the Squirrel is available for events and visits to local organizations and schools. Call SHUC at (412) 422-7666 or email info@shuc.org to request a visit.

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Community Day School Reopens, Reimagines Community Events AFTER A SUMMER OF INTENSE PLANNING, PLANNING, Community Day School reopened this fall with the opportunity for all of our students to return to inperson learning or to choose their virtual learning program. A majority of families elected to send their children back to campus, operating with the COVID-19 health and safety protocols outlined in our Kadimah CDS plan. “Kadimah” means “forward” or “let’s go!” in Hebrew. While the campus is closed to visitors, CDS is reimagining many of their events to keep our community connected virtually. Families with children ages 3-5 are invited to join CDS and PJ Library Pittsburgh on Zoom in a series of PJ Invention Time sessions on Sunday mornings. Together you can explore Jewish concepts with favorite PJ Library stories while building inventions using recycled materials, and toolkits delivered to your home. Those who are interested in participating can visit www. comday.org/pj.

THE SOUNDS THAT EMANATE from a tennis court are unmistakable: Rackets whipping; balls zipping; sneakers screeching. In Pittsburgh, there is one additional sound: The distinctive voice of Coach Mark Haffner teaching players — young and old — the sport he has devoted the past quarter-century to. “I love working with people,” said Haffner. The ubiquitous Haffner is a true Everywhere Man when it comes to teaching. He can be found at senior centers, and grade schools, and The Jewish Community Center, and The Boys and Girls Club, and at private lessons, and (OK, you get the point). Known as Coach Mark, Haffner was recently selected as the 2020 Ziggy Kahn Award recipient by the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. The award is given annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to children of the community. For anyone who has seen him coach, they know Haffner’s energy is contagious around young people. CONTINUED on page 48

Neighbors are also invited to join CDS the evening of Saturday, January 30, 2021 for their virtual annual event fundraiser. Appropriately, this year’s theme is CDS House Party, and honorees include CDS alumnae and sisters Bari Weiss, Suzy Weiss, Casey Weiss, and Molly Richter. Help CDS put the “social” back into social distancing and honor these extraordinary individuals and their high-impact work in support of their school and community! Tickets are available at www.comday.org/houseparty.

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Lifelong Squirrel Hill Resident Mark Haffner Receives Ziggy Kahn Award


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“I’m humbled and honored,” Haffner said of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame selection. This is not the first honor for Haffner, who won the United States Tennis Association Professional of the Year award in 2011 for his motivational story. A picture of resiliency, Haffner has overcome challenges such as meningitis as an infant; a learning disability; a severe car accident; bladder cancer. He shares his story -- and his ability to rise above -- as a both a motivational speaker and in his book, “Overcoming the Odds.” Mark and wife Shelly are the proud parents of daughter Lauren, a freshman at dad’s alma mater, the University of Maryland. In 2018, Lauren created a program called, “Keeping Up With Kindness,” in response to the mass killings at the Tree of Life synagogue. A junior at Allderdice High at the time, Lauren spoke to and read to elementary students about the power of kindness. The initiative was a success -- which should come as no surprise. After all, she was mentored by a Hall of Fame coach.

Renny Hartono: Senior Year in the Time of COVID RENNY HARTONO, A SENIOR AT ALLDERDICE, shared her perspective on what it was like to finish high school during COVID earlier this year. We love to hear from our neighborhood students! If you have a story to share, please reach out to the Editor at editor@shuc.org. When we at the high school had to begin quarantine in March, school actually became much easier for me. I was able to focus on my work at home; I didn’t feel rushed. I took better notes than I typically did at school. Our teachers were very helpful and supported each and every student. I did miss being in some classes, especially art and financial algebra—those classes are where I made

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the most memories. The art room, where I was also a teacher’s assistant, was my favorite place to be. In financial algebra we learned about banking, doing taxes, and how to pay bills; not many schools teach students how to do such things! I was also a host and editor for Allderdice’s morning announcements, and recording and editing them at home proved difficult to do without the same resources. But my classmates and I still worked hard together as a team while in quarantine. I bought my prom dress at the beginning of the year, so I was a bit upset about spending $300 on a dress and not being able to go. I couldn’t wait to go to prom because I didn’t make many memories this year, so I am saving my dress for another important event (let’s just hope it still fits!). Though we couldn’t have a normal graduation, I was grateful to participate in a physically distanced car parade to celebrate. We all had fun. I truly appreciate the Allderdice staff and teachers who tried to make our senior year still very special. In my opinion, they all did a wonderful job. I wish I was able to say a proper goodbye to many of them, but hope to visit the high school sometime in the future. In the meantime, I’m taking a gap year for myself to prepare for what lies ahead in the future. I wish my fellow graduates many congrats for making it through a difficult year!

Three Shady Side Academy Seniors Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists Three Squirrel Hill residents of the Shady Side Academy Class of 2021 were named semifinalists in the 66th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Ishika Arora, Tyler Hart, and Gabriela Jegasothy will continue in the competition for 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be offered next spring. The nationwide pool of 16,000 semifinalists represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state on the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). More than 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to attend finalist standing, and about half will win National Merit Scholarships. To become a finalist, the semifinalist must submit a detailed scholarship application, have an outstanding academic record, be recommended by a school official and write an essay.

Murray the Squirrel Visits Rodef Shalom and Beth Shalom Rodef Shalom and Beth Shalom Sunday School invited Murray the Squirrel to a socially distanced celebration of the first day of in-person learning. Rabbi Larry Freedman, the director of a joint religious school between Rodef Shalom and Beth Shalom, requested Murray the Squirrel for a fun surprise for everyone at dismissal on Sunday, October 25th. It was a great way to kick-off in-person learning!

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Profile for Squirrel Hill Magazine

Squirrel Hill Magazine Winter 2020 Issue  

Squirrel Hill Magazine Winter 2020 Issue