Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy (Paperback)

Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy By Beth Kissileff (Editor), Eric S. Lidji (Editor) Cover Image

Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy (Paperback)

By Beth Kissileff (Editor), Eric S. Lidji (Editor)


On Our Shelves Now: We will email when ready for pick up
5 on hand, as of May 20 11:07pm

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 eleven 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, written by local journalists, academics, spiritual leaders, and other community members, reveal a city’s attempts to come to terms with an unfathomable horror. Here, members from each of the three impacted congregations are able to reflect on their experiences in a raw, profound way. Local journalists who covered the story as it unfolded explore the personal and public aspects of reporting the news. Activists consider their work at a calm distance from the chaotic intensity of their daily efforts. Academics mesh their professional expertise with their personal experiences of this shattering event in their hometown. A local rabbi shares his process for crafting messages of comfort even as he attempts to reckon with his own feelings.

Bringing these local voices together into a chorus raises them over the din of international chroniclers who offer important contributions but cannot feel the intensity of this tragedy in the same way as Pittsburghers. The essays in this anthology tell a collective story of city shaken to its very core, but determined that love will ultimately win.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Jewish Family and Community Service of Pittsburgh (, which serves individuals and families of all faiths throughout the Greater Pittsburgh community.

Beth Kissileff is the author of the novel Questioning Return and editor of the essay collections Reading Genesis: Beginnings and Reading Exodus: Journeys. She has taught at the universities of Pittsburgh and Minnesota and Carleton, Smith, and Mount Holyoke colleges. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, the New York Times, Tablet, and Religion News Service, among others. She is the spouse of Rabbi Jonathan Perlman of New Light Congregation, who survived the October 27 attack by hiding himself and others.

Eric Lidji is the director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center. He is the author of John Riegert and The Seventeenth Generation: The Lifework of Rabbi Walter Jacob and a co-editor of Her Deeds Sing Her Praises: Profiles of Pittsburgh Jewish Women. He writes extensively about the Jewish history of Western Pennsylvania and hosts the local Jewish history podcast The Cornerstone. He has been overseeing the effort to preserve documentation of the October 27 attack.
Product Details ISBN: 9780822966944
ISBN-10: 0822966948
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Publication Date: October 11th, 2022
Pages: 256
Language: English

"Raw and profound." Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle

"The voices that animate this collection are varied and stunning." —​Pittsburgh Current

"Bound in the Bond of Life is a document to be read and contemplated, not summarized—a close-to-the-event memorial that expresses grief, the search for understanding and the effort to find a way forward." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"What does it take to mend the world? Parts prayer, howl, remembrance and meditation, the essays in Bound in the Bond of Life go beyond the initial shock and grief of October 27th to examine the meaning of community and the power of faith under attack. Rather than make sense of hate, the Pittsburghers here wisely try to find perspective on a moment evil struck too close to home." —Stewart O’Nan

"Gathering accounts from local journalists, academics, rabbis and community members, Eric Lidji and Beth Kissileff reveal efforts to make sense of the shooting, from raw, first-person descriptions to pieces by those who translated the horror into activism." —​Hadassah Magazine

"Despite the challenges in reading a book like this, I couldn’t put it down. The writing itself is phenomenal, and the grief is meant to be shared." —Tradition

" Bound in the Bond of Life challenges the many dry, usually emotionless, and very monotone media and encyclopedic descriptions of what has become known as the ‘Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting.’ or these concluding words, " As antisemitic attacks have continued across America since the attack on the Jewish congregations of Pittsburgh, there will, unfortunately, be continued spiritual, psychological, and even political needs for other hurt communities to commemorate their own lost loved ones. A thoughtful and insightful publication as Bound to the Bond of Life may set the template. Let us pray that there will be no more need for such anthologies."
--Religious Studies Review 

"Due to length constraints, and out of a genuine desire for the readers to experience the anthology firsthand, it would not suffice to detail every individual essay in the volume. Yet it must be explained that although each essay conveys authentic emotions and even practical advice, the combined strength of the contributors’ words is to be found in their linked context."--Religious Studies Review