Last year, Matt Abramson, recently recognized by Pittsburgh Business Times as one of its 30 Under 30 award recipients, did “the unthinkable,” he said: He moved across the river.
Abramson, now a resident of Mt. Lebanon, cited the pandemic as precipitating his move from downtown Pittsburgh. He and his wife, Anastasia, had been living in Chatham Tower Condominiums, but when the couple welcomed a daughter in March 2020, and the shutdown began, their space became less comfortable.
“We came home and our world was completely changed, and there was also COVID,” said Abramson, 28, who was raised in Point Breeze.
With both parents working from home and newborn daughter, Sofia, in tow, the young family headed south. Abramson now lives closer to a synagogue than ever before — Temple Emanuel of South Hills is just a short walk away from his new home — but Abramson nonetheless remains a member of Tree of Life in Squirrel Hill.
He and Anastasia were among those who joined Rothschild Doyno Collaborative for a series of conversations about the future of the Tree of Life building following the attack of Oct. 27, 2018.
“Especially right now, when we’re not using it for daily worship, we have to pause and say what do we want to do with that space,” said Abramson.
He credited those conversations with providing him and others the chance to imagine and articulate what they want the space to represent for the next generation.
And if anyone should know the value of planning for the future, it’s Abramson. After all, he does it for a living. As a senior consultant at Aspirant’s Strategy & Transformation Practice, Abramson helps healthcare clients, mostly pharmaceutical companies and hospitals, improve their business — not by helping them create more effective drugs, but by finding ways for clients to better execute organizational strategies and allow employees to achieve work-related goals, he said.
He was recognized by the Pittsburgh Business Times for his work for both paid and pro bono clients.
Abramson has a lot of history at Tree Life. He celebrated his 2005 bar mitzvah there and he currently serves as an ambassador of the congregation. Prior to the pandemic, he traveled on behalf of Tree of Life to North Shore Hebrew Academy, a modern Orthodox Yeshiva in Great Neck, Long Island, to speak to students and parents at an eighth-grade graduation. The experience helped him realize that although the attack occurred in Pittsburgh, the larger Jewish world felt victimized as well — a fact that had previously eluded him.
Abramson attended Community Day School. But after graduating from CDS, Pittsburgh Allderdice and the University of Pittsburgh, living in Oakland, Shadyside and then downtown Pittsburgh, he found himself “in and out of involvement with Jewish organizations,” he said.
Volunteering with Tree of Life reinforced his connection to Judaism.
“I think after Oct. 27 you have to do that reset of yourself,” he said. “And I love that Tree of Life gave me a place to do that.”
Abramson is eager to continue his professional climb, but said it’s also important for him to appreciate the present. Growing up, he never expected Pittsburgh would become the center of his life, or that he’d be excited about the area’s Jewish community, but adulthood can change one’s perspective, he said.
And he’s had a lot of changes recently — place of residence, family size, professional opportunities — but he is acutely aware of his life’s greatest asset.
“Being at home every day with my daughter,” he said. “There’s not a dollar value for that.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.