Bound in the Bond of Life

By :  The Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary Posted On Dec 1, 2020 | Author Conversations: Between the Lines

A discussion with Dr. Beth Kissileff

On October 27, 2018, three congregations were holding their morning Shabbat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood when a lone gunman entered the building and opened fire. He killed 11 people and injured six more in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. The story made international headlines for weeks following the shooting, but Pittsburgh and the local Jewish community could not simply move on when the news cycle did.

The essays in this anthology, edited by Dr. Beth Kissileff and Eric Lidji and written by local journalists, academics, spiritual leaders, and other community members, reveal a city’s attempts to come to terms with an unfathomable horror. In this online conversation, Dr. Kissileff discusses how members from each of the three impacted congregations were able to reflect on their experiences in a raw, profound way.

This event was sponsored by The JTS Library. Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS, served as moderator.

About Dr. Beth Kissileff

Beth Kissileff earned a PhD in comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania. As a newly minted PhD, she taught at the historically black college Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, and then moved north to teach at Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges in Massachusetts. She moved next to Minneapolis where she taught at the University of Minnesota, Carleton College, and St. Catherine. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her family. She works as a journalist and writes regularly in Tablet, the Forward, the New York Jewish Week, the New York Times, Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Report and others. She has had writer’s residencies at the Corporation of Yaddo, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.