Chofetz Chaim Congregation was the second Jewish congregation in Squirrel Hill. It began meeting as early as 1923 and obtained a charter in 1925. Regular daily and weekly services were initially held at a rented hall at 2200 Murray Avenue with larger services held at the Orpheum Theater at 5808 Forbes Ave., on the second floor of Forbes Garden at 5843 Forbes Ave., and at the former U.S. Post Office at 5850 Forbes Ave. For its entire existence, Chofetz Chaim was an Orthodox congregation with separated seating.
Chofetz Chaim Congregation remodeled a house at 5807 Beacon St. into a synagogue in 1930 and remained in the building until dissolving in the early 1970s. The congregation burned the mortgage on the building in 1943. A major remodeling project in the 1950s included the addition of the Holy Ark from the former Congregation Ahavas Zedeck in Hazelwood, as well as a new floor, new roof, upgraded restrooms, new electrical work, repainted interiors and exteriors, and the addition of a new menorah and new ner tamid.
Chofetz Chaim Congregation acquired cemetery property in Churchill Township in 1934.
Spiritual leaders associated with Chofetz Chaim Congregation include Rabbi Aaron Mordechai Ashinsky, Rabbi S. Kronzek, and Rev. Joseph L. Alpert. The Beth Aaron Sisterhood maintained the cemetery and organized the weekly oneg (Sabbath meal). The congregation also maintained the Tarbut Hebrew School as early as 1931.
Chofetz Chaim Congregation often provided meeting space for Jewish organizations without permanent accommodations, including Yeshiva Achei T’mimim, the B’nai Akiva youth group, the Suwalker Organization, and the Bikkur Cholim Society. Kether Torah Congregation held High Holiday services at Chofetz Chaim in the years between selling its Hill District synagogue and dedicated its new synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
By 1972, Chofetz Chaim Congregation had less than 15 members. The congregation approached Young People’s Synagogue about a potential merger but the proposal never came to fruition.“YPS-Chofetz Chaim” merger proposal, 1972, Young People’s Synagogue Records [MSS 180]. Chofetz Chaim Congregation closed a few years later and moved its memorial plaques to the daily sanctuary of B’nai Emunoh Congregation in Greenfield.
|↑1||“YPS-Chofetz Chaim” merger proposal, 1972, Young People’s Synagogue Records [MSS 180].|