Toby Tabachnick

Toby Tabachnick is an award-winning journalist and the editor of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. Her work includes investigative news pieces, features, personality profiles, arts reviews and editorials. Since October 2018, she has written more than 50 stories covering the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and its aftermath. Her work has been recognized by the American Jewish Press Association and the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, and has been featured by several media outlets, including the Washington Jewish Week, the Philadelphia Exponent, the Cleveland Jewish News and eJewish Philanthropy. Speaking engagements include those at college campuses and for community organizations where Toby has addressed audiences on Jewish topics, including the current rise of anti-Semitism.


Toby is also a recovering lawyer, having practiced as a commercial litigator in both Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. A mother of four grown and happy children, she lives in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania with her husband and several houseplants.


You can read some of Toby's work below, and more at www.pittsburghjewishchronicle....


Work samples

‘Poor or nearly poor’: Financial hardships affect a quarter of Jewish Pittsburgh

Alan* and his partner Bonnie* wish they did not have to rely on government assistance to survive, but the last couple of years have been rough and they have no choice. “I have a lot of shame and guilt,” admitted Alan, 34, who previously ran his own business in Pittsburgh. “We are currently receiving medical assistance, food assistance, utility assistance and WIC assistance — our daughter was born this past June. I had to close my company down around the same time.” A creative side business run

Anti-Semitism conference attracts hundreds of college students to Pittsburgh

Israel-related anti-Semitic harassment increased 70% on college campuses in 2018, and anti-Semitic acts singling out Jewish and pro-Israel groups for “personal vilification” more than doubled. So did anti-Semitic acts involving the unfair treatment of Jewish or pro-Israel students, including attempts to exclude them from campus activities. The harrowing statistics, recently reported by the nonpartisan AMCHA Initiative — which documents anti-Semitic activity at universities and colleges — includ

A year of challenges, a year of hope

On Oct. 27, 2018, unimaginable horror descended on the city of Pittsburgh as an anti-Semite extinguished the lives of 11 innocent Jews and forever changed the lives of countless others. It was just before 10 a.m. that Shabbat morning when the killer, armed with an assault rifle, stormed the synagogue at the corner of Wilkins and Shady avenues where worshippers had just begun morning prayers at three separate congregations: Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha. He had posted anti-S

Studying community: Pittsburghers finding ways to worship beyond bounds of shul

Keshira haLev Fife breezes through the Squirrel Hill coffee shop, her signature waist-length dreadlocks swinging behind her. It is easy to see how her friendly, dark eyes and gentle, earnest smile could put just about anyone at ease. She is 40, but appears years younger: hip and new-agey, wearing her spirituality on her sleeve, punctuated by a distinct aura of the mystical. Fife, the spiritual leader of the worship community Kesher Pittsburgh, stands in stark contrast to most other area Jewish

Sorting through mounds of mail is daunting task in wake of shooting

When Alan Hausman began going through the volume of mail addressed to “Tree of Life” in the aftermath of the Oct. 27 anti-Semitic attack, among the envelopes was one small package containing a child’s toy in a blister pack. “It was to make us feel better,” said Hausman, vice president of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation and a public safety officer for more than three decades. “I cried for half an hour.” That toy was among the thousands of packages and letters that began to arrive for the

Old Models of Jewish Legacy Institutions No Longer Working, Experts Say

The research and statistics are in, and the message to Jewish legacy organizations – those longstanding community institutions that historically have held fast to the status quo – is loud and clear: To be viable into the 21st century, the template must change. Synagogues, Jewish federations and other organizations are already facing a perfect storm of societal shifts as the sheer number of non-Orthodox Jews continues to plummet and millennials trend toward a new paradigm of customization and pe

Israeli Cachibol for Moms Gaining Momentum in U.S.

Ofra Abramovich was caught up in the routine of her life as a stay-at-home mom in Kfar Saba near Tel Aviv when an invitation from a friend not only changed her world, but may be leading to changes worldwide. “I was in my circle of life, with my husband, my daughters — taking them to courses, doing the laundry and everything — and one day my friend asked me to join her to play cachibol,” said Ambramovich, speaking by phone from Israel. “I said, ‘Leave me alone. I don’t have time. I’m very busy w

A ‘Rose tattoo,’ local Jewish landlords all part of holiday miracle

Rose Meeks, a Christian single mother of four children, has had chesed — spelled out in Hebrew — tattooed on her left wrist since 2011. The word, which translates to “loving kindness,” is not only a personal call to action for Meeks, but also something she has sought most of her life. Meeks, who moved from Alabama to Mt. Lebanon last summer, has come to the right place. Thanks to a compassionate and generous extended Pittsburgh community, including local Jewish property developers Daniel Berko

Neglected Jewish cemetery in White Oak restored by non-Jewish volunteers

For months, Mark Pudlowski could not get the bleak image out of his mind: a tiny cemetery in shambles, overgrown with tall weeds. Several of its tombstones, inscribed in Hebrew, were toppled or askew. Pudlowski, 60, a Christian and the founder of the Family of God Biblical Reasoning and Counseling Prayer Center in White Oak, Pennsylvania, came upon the cemetery about a year ago, as he was driving up Rippel Road off Route 48 toward Center Street. From his car window, he could see what looked lik

Day school teacher suspected of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh

After a lengthy investigation, a former teacher at Yeshiva Boys School of Pittsburgh, an important institution in the Chabad-Lubavitch educational system, is a suspect in several alleged incidents of child sexual abuse. According to police, Rabbi Nisson Friedman, 26, who is well connected in the local Jewish community and is the son of an influential Minnesota-based rabbi, is suspected of sexually assaulting at least three boys while employed by the school. Det. Bryan Sellers of the city’s Bure

Tree of Life to hold High Holiday services at Calvary Episcopal

The Calvary Episcopal Church, a paragon of good neighborliness, will serve as host to Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation for all of its 5780 High Holiday services. Calvary is located on Shady Avenue, less than a mile from the Tree of Life synagogue building, in the heart of Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. On Saturday, Oct. 27, the church happened to be filled with parishioners attending its annual fundraiser to help the underserved. The news of the mass shooting targeting people down the street hi

Families of nationwide mass shooting victims form community, learn coping skills

It’s a community no one chose to be a part of, but the support members find from within it has been invaluable. Earlier this month, families of victims and survivors of the Oct. 27 massacre at the Tree of Life building joined with those from nine other cities that have been terrorized by gun violence at the Healing Through Love Meditation Retreat in Barre, Massachusetts. The three-day mindfulness and meditation retreat, held at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, was the first gathering of i

A message to Poway, from Pittsburgh, six months later

I ran into an old friend about three weeks after the Tree of Life massacre, a former Pittsburgher, who wanted to talk about the events of Oct. 27. In particular, she wanted to know about one of the survivors, someone with whom she had grown up. “Is she doing OK?” my friend asked. I snapped back: “None of us is doing OK.” Get The Jewish Chronicle Weekly Edition by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up Then I silently thought, or maybe said out loud, “That’s not even the right ques

Comedian Reiser still ‘mad’ about the girl from Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh in the early 1980s had about as much in common with Hollywood as Kansas had with Oz, but the Steel City nonetheless had a profound effect on the life of Paul Reiser, a budding young comedian who would go on to star in movies and on television. It was here that two brothers operating an unassuming comedy club on Route 51 decided to play shadchan and make Reiser a shidduch with a nice Jewish girl from Pittsburgh. Get The Jewish Chronicle Weekly Edition by email and never miss our top

Native Pittsburgher wins Tony Award

The native Pittsburgher, and longtime Broadway stalwart, just took home her seventh Tony Award as “The Ferryman” won for Best Play on Sunday, June 9, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. DeRoy was nominated for five additional Tony Awards this season. “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus” was also nominated for best play; the “Waverly Gallery” got a nod for best play revival; and “Tootsie,” “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations” and “Beetlejuice” were all in the running
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