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“Building Memories” Encourages Young People to Value Buildings and Themselves

Pictured above is a collage of student’s work exploring the buildings of Rodef Shalom and Beth Shalom congregations, as well as plants from Rodef Shalom’s Biblical Botanical Garden.

“Bravery is an act of courage.”
“Bravery is doing something even though you are scared.”
                                        —“Building Memories” students

“Every day, we build memories. The places we use, the people we meet, and our experiences combine to create these memories. This concept formed the basis for a group of students to explore how the places of Jewish life in Pittsburgh reflect values (like bravery and spirituality), and help us create beautiful memories using both these values and the buildings in our communities,” said Sarah Greenwald, PHLF’s co-director of education and the class instructor. This spring rotation elective was taught as a part of Congregation Beth Shalom and Congregation Rodef Shalom’s Joint Jewish Education Program.

“Building Memories” used art-based activities, talks with community leaders and virtual visits to important buildings in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community to give students the chance to develop a sense of belonging, strengthen their values, and build new memories.

Due to the COVID-19 precautionary public health measures, this class met once at Rodef Shalom and twice remotely. Students learned about architectural landmarks in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, thanks to Martha Berg, Archivist at Rodef Shalom, and Eric Lidji, Director of the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center.

The students worked diligently from home to complete an art-based activity. After watching a video about the history and design of Beth Shalom and Rodef Shalom congregations, they wrote a poetic sentence about the building. Rabbi Jeremy Markiz of Beth Shalom congregation was featured in the video. PHLF’s education staff created the video, thanks to support from the McSwigan Family Foundation Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

“I’m so sad this elective is over and hope we do something like this in the years to come at our synagogue,” wrote one student.

“I am proud of these students for working so hard to balance their education remotely during a time of great uncertainty, and I look forward to a time when we can learn more about important buildings in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, in person,” said Sarah Greenwald.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633