Respondent
Shapiro, Belle
Interview Date
1987
Abstract
Belle Shapiro, a writer and volunteer who served as president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of Hadassah, worked in public relations and became the first female representative for El Al Airlines in Pittsburgh;
[T1S1] her birth in Pittsburgh in 1912; grandfather, a Russian rabbi; recollections of her grandfather and his butcher shop in Pittsburgh; her father's early life in Russia; his emigration from Russia; settles in Pittsburgh; his employment in the steel mills; anecdotes about her grandmother's brother, David Schwartz; parents' marriage; birth of four daughters; father changes his name from Romanov to Roman at Ellis Island; her father's employment; discussion of her relationship with her grandfather and her sisters; education, Forbes School, Holmes School, Peabody High School, and the University of Pittsburgh; religious upbringing; early interest in the theater, playwriting;
[T1S2] recollection of writing and producing school play; friends and involvement in the theater; social activities; courtship and marriage to Leonard Shapiro; her employment at Rosa Goldman's Linen House; early married life, residences; description of her mother; anecdote of entertainer Johnny Ray; her service as Hadassah Donor chairman; becomes a writer for a radio program; interviewed David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, and Judith Epstein; incident of anti-Semitism; interviewing Harold Silver; meeting Jim Schwab; an incident with writer Leon Uris;
[T2S3] description of her grandfather; affiliation with B'nai Israel; effects of the depression on her family; her play- and story-writing; performances of her works at Irene Kaufmann Center; her service as president of Hadassah and Hadassah Radio Program; Golda Meir's visit to Pittsburgh; discussion of Hadassah 50th birthday and her role as chairman for the National Birthday Convention; her piece written for the convention called "Prologue to Pittsburgh"; discussion of contents of the piece, which was historical in nature; recollections of the 1936 flood; changes in the city of Pittsburgh; political involvement; her children, their careers and families;
[T2S4] recollection of the Hadassah convention, 1962; a delegate to the Jewish Welfare Conference in Los Angeles; discussion of points made by converts at the conference; incidences of anti-Semitism; involvement with refugees; discussion of Ira Hershman and his father-in-law Mordecai Kaplan; her three years as president of Hadassah; discussion of a book entitled, <i>Reunion</i> by Fred Uhlman; a performance of "A Prologue to Pittsburgh" at Duquesne University; her service as local director for the American Jewish Committee (AJC); discussion of AJC; meeting Rabbi Mark Tannenbaum, National director of AJC; employment with Bill Mazefsky Agency; her involvement with American Friends of Hebrew University; incident around the death of John F. Kennedy; another incident involving Kennedy;
[T3S5] continuation of activities with American Friends of Hebrew University; incident of flying to Israel in 1967, during the war; discussion of her public relations work with Civic Light Opera; interviewing Phil Silvers; problems with Ginger Rogers; publicity for "The Sound of Music";
[T3S6] a review of her work with AJC and a chronology of her professional career;
[T4S7] becomes representative for El Al, the first female to represent an airline in Pittsburgh; discussion of the success of El Al; anecdotes about passengers on the airline; she institutes family trips to Israel through the Young Men's Hebrew Association and Irene Kaufmann Center; Holy Land tours for Christians; an incident during the Six Day War; other stories surrounding trips with El Al; views about her successes and failures; Jewish life in Pittsburgh; continuation of accomplishments;
[T4S8] adolescent recreation; recollections of Irene Kaufmann Center Playhouse; people who acted there; involvement with Junior Council; her granddaughter, Tracy.
Subjects
American Friends of the Hebrew University; American Jewish Committee; Ben-Gurion, David, 1886-1973; Economic Depression; El 'al, netive avir le-Yisrae'el; Epstein, Judith; Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America; Meir, Golda, 1898-1978; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Russia; Synagogues; Congregation B'nai Israel (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Theater; Civic Light Opera (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Uris, Leon, 1924-2003
Length (hours)
4
Interviewer1
Menlowe, Mildred
Interviewer2
Winer, Ruth
Indexer
Winer
Collateral Materials
Box 106 FF 14
Identifier
ais196440.418
Rights
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh