This is the Mikveh Israel History blog. The goal of the blog is to post articles relating to the history of congregation Kahal Kadosh Mikveh Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in the City of Philadelphia. Most of the articles will be biographical pieces on members, officers, adjuntos and ministers of Mikveh Israel’s past, though I expect to cover other topics of interest as well. Most of the articles will be around 700-800 words in length. Note that this blog is not associated or affliated with the synagogue.
Over the past year, I have written about 35 articles, usually about people whose memory we remember on the anniversary of their passing (nahala). I will post the historical articles over the next year. In the more recent articles, I have added a bibliography at the end, though I didn’t do that in the earlier entries. I will add bibliographies to the previous articles as I post them.
I first came to Mikveh Israel — KKMI — in 1997. Since then I have been very active in the congregation, leading Friday night, Shabbat morning, and weekday services, serving on the Board of Managers, serving several years as Vice-President (Segan), and one year as President (Parnas), in 2012.
While serving as President, I started to write articles in our newsletter, The Record, which was sent out to the congregation weekly by email, as well as a printed version that was distributed at the synagogue on Shabbat. It occurred to me that even though we have a rich history which dates back before the American Revolution, very few members know much about their historical counterparts — the historical members of the congregation who were deeply involved in shaping the Jewish community of Philadelphia, and helped shape and establish the very foundations of the United States. Members of Mikveh Israel set a shining example for educating its young people, for serving the community at large, and in showing compassion and providing aid to the poor and aged of all races, creeds, and ethnic backgrounds.
Even though it is a historic congregation dating back to before the American Revolution, Mikveh Israel is today a vibrant community with a full schedule of services, educational lectures, classes and social activities. I encourage all to visit the community and experience the history and importance of this great living Jewish Synagogue and American Institution.
Your comments and feedback would be very much appreciated.
Greetings Mr. Wolfson,
I work in the office of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. In 2016 Pittsburgh will be celebrating the 200th Anniversary of its incorporation as a city. The Mayor is planning a celebratory gathering for the people of Pittsburgh.
A meaningful component of this event will be having past Mayors’ descendants participating in the festivities. Since October 2014 I have been tracking down family members and to date have found relatives / descendants of 51 of our 56 Mayors! All have welcomed the plans for our anniversary celebration. As far as I can tell, Pittsburgh is the first City to attempt a ‘reunion’ like this one!
Which brings me to one that remains elusive, our 7th Mayor, Samuel Pettigrew, who was also our first Mayor of Jewish heritage. I came across your blog while researching Mayor Pettigrew’s mother, Judith Hart. Judith’s parents were Myer Hart (Texeira) and Rachel de Lyon Hart. Myer was a founder of Easton, PA, later in life he moved to Philadelphia and became a member of Mikveh Israel.
Mayor Pettigrew’s father was Lt. James Pettigrew a Christian who emigrated to America from Scotland. Lt. Pettigrew fought with the revolutionaries and was wounded at Bunker Hill. James and Judith met in 1792 at a party for George Washington. Pittsburgh’s Mayor, Samuel, was one of their children.
Were you already aware of their story? Also do you know if any descendants are still members of Mikveh Israel? To have descendants of our past Mayors attending our 200th anniversary would be a tangible and extraordinary link to Pittsburgh’s first two centuries.
I look forward to hearing from you. My contact information:
firstname.lastname@example.org / 412.255.2632
Thank you for your time.
Hi Ms. Forouzan,
Thanks for your comment, which I have posted just in case anyone reading it might have more information. I have linked a couple of pages from Malcolm Stern’s book which will have very good information that might be what you are looking for (it was noted on the tree below that Samuel was Mayor of Pittsburgh, but doesn’t list any of his descendents.
Myer and Rachel Hart
Judith Hart and James Pettigrew