Ḥevra Tehillim of Machsikei Hadas

Machsikei Hadas was founded in the late 1890s by Galician immigrants to the Hill District of Pittsburgh. The Orthodox congregation supported various groups and societies among its membership, including a Ḥevra Kadisha, a Ḥevra Tehillim, and the First Hebrew Austrian Beneficial Society. Unusually for Pittsburgh, the congregation worshipped according to Sephardic nusach, despite its Ashkenazic origins. As with most Jewish congregations in Pittsburgh, Machsikei Hadas relocated to the eastern neighborhoods of the city after World War II. It disbanded in 1989.

A former Machsikei Hadas building, c. 1990. Although the building is now demolished, its bima and other religious artifacts are on display at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. (Source: Gerald Sapir Papers and Photographs, 1985-2005, Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives, Detre Library and Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center.)

This pinkas, for the congregation’s Ḥevra Tehillim, probably dates to the 1910s (the few dates on individual pages range from 5673-5678). The pages list the names of the group’s members and their wives, calling special attention to the gabbaim.

As the pictures show, all the pages feature calligraphy, but only the title page is illuminated as well.

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