November 12, 2018

Strength Amidst the Grief in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh PA…Saul Markovic was only 16 when he began working at Murray Avenue Kosher in Squirrel Hill, the well-known Jewish enclave in the city of Pittsburgh. Back then, says Murray, the neighborhood had more than a half dozen kosher butcher stores, as was the case in many Jewish neighborhoods throughout America. Mr. Markovic, who now owns the store, never believed that he would live through the week of horror that he experienced in the aftermath of the horrific slaughter of 11 congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Although Conservative, many of the congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue keep kosher and frequent the store. The synagogue’s Rabbi Jeffrey Myers and his wife shop in the store. The eve of Passover is the busiest time of the year for Murray Avenue Kosher as a majority of the local Jews participate in a Seder. “As opposed to years ago when many of my customers drove long distances to come to the store, today they are mostly local residents,” Saul points out.

For the kosher shopper, Murray Avenue Kosher is a one-stop supermarket with a broad variety of kosher products he buys from distributors like Kayco and Quality. He offers a full line of meats, deli and wines in addition to hundreds of grocery items. To keep his shelves well stocked, he arranges for the regular transportation from New York of the kosher fare, which includes Cholov Yisrael products. Despite an aging population, the community has a growing number of young people, mostly from the Chabad community and the local Kollel. But in his store, you can see the diversity of the community: “Look around my store and you will see all kinds of Jews,” he points out.

There are many kosher options in Squirrel Hill. In addition to Murray Avenue Kosher, a nearby Giant Eagle Supermarket carries an impressive array of kosher products, including bakery.  The Vaad of Pittsburgh provides hashgacha for most of the local establishments including caterers, several restaurants and stores like Murray Avenue Kosher and Giant Eagle.