Jacob and Lena Shriber immigrated to Pittsburgh from Russia in the early 1900s and started Shriber Wall Paper & Paint Company, a wholesale, retail and service business at 1822 Centre Avenue, in the Hill District. As their business grew, they opened retail stores on Beaver Avenue in the North Side and on Butler Street in Lawrenceville.
They had six children, George, Harry, Rose, Max, Sophie and Louis. George Shriber (1907-1930) attended Fifth Avenue High School before joining the family business as a salesman. He died in his early 20s. “You had just come to the threshold of life when Death knocked at your door and called you to the Great Beyond,” his family wrote in the Jewish Criterion, “but you must have been needed, for God does not take in vain.”
Like his older brother, Harry Shriber (1909-1978) worked as a salesman for the family company from an early age. While on vacation in Atlantic City in 1932, Shriber met Rose Levine, who also lived in the Hill District. They married soon after and honeymooned in Bermuda. They had three children, George, Joan Lynn and Susan Kay.
As a member of the B’nai Israel Men’s Club, Harry Shriber collected money for cigarettes, beer and kosher salami to send to Jewish servicemen during World War II. He also published the B’nai Israel Men’s Club Service Bulletin, a monthly newsletter that kept Pittsburgh soldiers informed of the goings-on at home. The Men’s Club sold war bonds to help pay for P. T. Boat 589, a ship that was later dedicated by the congregation.
During the war, Time magazine published two of Harry Shriber’s letters to the editor, including one in the January 18, 1943 issue in which he advocated against the idea of forming an explicitly Jewish army. “This is my country,” he wrote. “I am part of the melting pot. I was born here, and I want to die here, and every drop of my blood will be spilt to protect those I cherish on this American soil. I am an American first, last and always, and the American freedom shall be ours forever. God alone will avenge our Jewish people, and history will write the curse that will befall our persecutors.”