Mark Oppenheimer in Discussion | Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore

As we reopen the Gordon Center’s indoor venue, we are continuing to adapt to local and federal regulations for Covid-19 safety. Please review before your visit –>

As we reopen the Gordon Center’s indoor venue, we are continuing to adapt to local and federal regulations for Covid-19 safety. Please review before your visit –>

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Mark Oppenheimer in Discussion

Tuesday, November 2, 2021 at 7:00 pm

Join author Mark Oppenheimer, in conversation with writer and educator Saima Sitwat, on his new book, Squirrel Hill: The Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting and the Soul of a Neighborhood, a piercing portrait of the struggles and triumphs of one of America’s renowned Jewish neighborhoods in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, that highlights the hopes, fears, and tensions all Americans must confront on the road to healing.

About the Book
Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, is one of the oldest Jewish neighborhoods in the country, known for its tight-knit community and the profusion of multigenerational families. On October 27, 2018, a gunman killed eleven Jews who were worshipping at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill--the most deadly anti-Semitic attack in American history. Many neighborhoods would be understandably subsumed by despair and recrimination after such an event, but not this one. Mark Oppenheimer poignantly shifts the focus away from the criminal and his crime, and instead presents the historic, spirited community at the center of this heartbreak. He speaks with residents and nonresidents, Jews and gentiles, survivors and witnesses, teenagers and seniors, activists and historians.
Together, these stories provide a kaleidoscopic and nuanced account of collective grief, love, support, and revival. But Oppenheimer also details the difficult dialogue and messy confrontations that Squirrel Hill had to face in the process of healing, and that are a necessary part of true growth and understanding in any community. He has reverently captured the vibrancy and caring that still characterize Squirrel Hill, and it is this phenomenal resilience that can provide inspiration to any place burdened with discrimination and hate.

About the Speakers
Director of the Yale Journalism Initiative and a lecturer in Yale's English department, political science department, and Divinity Schools, Mark Oppenheimer received his B.A. and his Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale. He was the religion columnist for The New York Times from 2010 to 2016 and has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The Washington Post, Slate, Mother Jones, The Nation, and The Believer, among others. He has been a commentator on NPR and is also the host of Tablet magazine's podcast, Unorthodox. He is the author of four books, including The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut. Find more at

Originally from Pakistan, Saima Adil Sitwat moved to Baltimore in 2020, from Pittsburgh, where she reported stories at the intersection of religion, identity politics and gun violence. Saima is an instructor at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Towson University and University of Pittsburgh, and at the Renaissance Institute at Notre Dame of Maryland. She is the author of her memoir, American Muslim: An Immigrant’s Journey which recently received an ‘Honorable Mention’ at the San Francisco Book Festival Awards. She is a recipient of grants through Maryland State Arts Council and serves on the Board of Directors for Maryland Humanities. Saima lives in Baltimore with her husband and their two daughters.

Event tickets include one copy of the book and access to the in-person discussion event. Your book purchase not only supports the arts at the Baltimore JCC and local independent booksellers, but it also ensures that we can continue to bring you these engaging events. Books will be available for pickup at the event and shipped after the event; please allow 7-10 business days for delivery due to Covid-related USPS delays!

Part of the Baltimore Festival of Jewish Literature, a showcase of literary events reflecting important issues facing the Jewish community, featuring conversations with authors to inspire work towards justice and peace. This event is presented in In Partnership with The JCC of Greater Baltimore/ The Gordon Center, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Towson University, Jewish Volunteer Connection, and Har Sinai Oheb Shalom.

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