Samuel Goldstein immigrated to Pittsburgh from Lithuania and peddled dry goods in the Hill District from a horse-drawn wagon. His son, Joseph, went to live with his grandmother as a young boy after his mother died in childbirth and Samuel remarried.
After graduating from Fifth Avenue High School, Joseph Goldstein (1888-1976) got a job as a billing clerk for Laufe and Company, a grocery wholesaler on Penn Avenue. Six months later he became a salesman and began traveling throughout the small towns of Western Pennsylvania. By the end of World War I, Goldstein was a successful salesman, and two customers, Joseph Porter and Ben Chait, convinced him to expand. Together they started the Eagle Grocery Company, the forerunner of the Giant Eagle Inc. supermarket chain.
In addition to his business interests, Joseph Goldstein was active in community work. He was a president of the Hebrew Free Loan Association, a life trustee of the United Jewish Federation, and a board member of Montefiore Hospital and of the Jewish Community Center. He was also a charter member of B’nai Israel Congregation in East Liberty.
Joseph Goldstein married Dora Bernstein (1888-1978), who had immigrated to Pittsburgh from Russia in 1903. She attended night classes at the Council House and later earned $3 a week as a bookkeeper for Singer Sewing Machines on Penn Avenue in downtown.
Joseph and Dora Goldstein had three children, Frieda, Morris and Leah. The family lived for a time on Cliff Street, in the Hill District, before moving to a rented house in Point Breeze in 1917. The family later moved to a house near Schenley Park on Hobart Street in Squirrel Hill.
Frieda Goldstein (1914-2003) attended Taylor Allderdice High School and earned a degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh before marrying fellow student Saul Shapira (1913-1981). After graduating from Pitt, they spent three years in New York, where she earned degrees from the Columbia University Teachers’ College and the New York School of Social Work and he studied law at Columbia University.
They returned to Pittsburgh in 1937. Frieda Shapira was a caseworker for the Children’s Service Bureau, now the county Office of Children, Youth and Families, until 1941, when she had her first child. They had four children, David, Daniel, Ralph and Edith.
Beginning in the 1960s, Frieda Shapira increasingly devoted time to social causes and became a greatly admired volunteer. Her work involved education, health care, race relations, women’s issues and poverty. She sat on the board of dozens of agencies, including the Pittsburgh Foundation, the United Way of Allegheny County, the United Jewish Federation and the University of Pittsburgh. She was behind efforts to establish free lunch programs and preschool initiatives in the public schools. As director of Women in Community Service, she helped establish one of the first nonresidential Job Corps centers for women in the country. She was a life member of the National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section, and was president of the organization from 1966 to 1968. Working with Marcia Frumerman, she was involved in a pioneering NCJW oral history project.
Her philanthropic efforts brought her numerous awards and distinctions, including the Emanuel Spector Award and the Florence Reizenstein Award for Advancement of Human Rights and Dignity from the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, as well as honors from the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Pittsburgh Magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential Pittsburghers of the Century.
Upon his return to Pittsburgh in 1937, Saul Shapira worked for the newly formed Pittsburgh Housing Authority, becoming manager of the Glen Hazel Housing Project and later the associate director of the authority. He left in 1945 to join Giant Eagle where he was president from 1968 until he retired in 1980. During his 35 years with the company, Giant Eagle expanded widely, opening stores across the Pittsburgh suburbs and into neighboring West Virginia and Ohio.
Their son David Shapira took over the company after his father retired. David Shapira married Karen Adler, who was born in Ohio and raised in Florida. After raising their three children, Karen Shapira (c.1945-2005) became a highly regarded Jewish community leader locally and internationally. She was the second female president in the history of United Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. She traveled the world to assess the needs of Jewish communities in Europe, South America and Israel and promoted numerous interfaith and education programs in Pittsburgh. Their daughter Laura Karet succeeded her father as Giant Eagle chief executive officer in 2012.
Daniel Shapira was a Deputy Attorney General and head of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission from 1972 to 1974 and assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1974 to 1979. He is currently a partner at Marcus & Shapira LLP.
Edith Shapira, a psychiatrist, opened a private practice in 1991. She followed her mother into volunteering, and, in 2013, became the first female chair of the Pittsburgh Foundation.
Ralph Shapira, an attorney, lives in Los Angeles.