Homestead Hebrews

 Standing on the Homestead street where my great-grandfather lived after immigrating (c) 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Standing on what’s left of the Homestead’s first Jewish neighborhood. (c) 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

I am the great-granddaughter of Bernhardt Hepps (1895-1949), a Hungarian immigrant who helped found Homestead, Pennsylvania’s synagogue and Jewish cemetery.  Growing up in far-away New Jersey, I was captivated by my father’s stories about Bernhardt and his shul.  In 2014 I moved to Pittsburgh to research his community full-time for a year.  What I discovered was that in the dozens of books and articles about Homestead—world-famous because of its 1892 labor dispute—you’d never known that Homestead once had a thriving Jewish community.  Instead of returning to my former life as a technology executive in New York City, I resolved to stay in Pittsburgh to tell the story of this community and its significant contributions.

From the start, I have been sharing my findings online with descendants of Homestead’s Jewish community and other interested readers via HomesteadHebrews.com.  Please use the links below to learn more about this project.

  • Statement of Purpose for the project
  • Chronology of the community’s history
  • Exhibits of documents and artifacts related to particular aspects of the community’s history
  • Essays about individuals, families, and organizations of note

In order to manage the volume of data I am collecting for this project, my research spawned two technology sub-projects, Homestead Hebrew Data and Homestead Hebrew Maps.

My ultimate goal is to write a history of the community’s first four decades, not only to demonstrate the role that technology can play in the production of otherwise unmanageable histories, but also to ensure that the Jewish story in Homestead’s history will be properly incorporated after a century of being overlooked.

 

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