Cover photo for Edith R. Shapiro's Obituary
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1925 Edith 2019

Edith R. Shapiro

December 15, 1925 — February 2, 2019

Edith Renate Shapiro, 93, of Wayne, Nebraska, formerly New York and Germany, passed away Saturday, February 2, 2019 (Hebrew Shevat 27 5779) at Brookdale Independent Living in Wayne, Nebraska. Memorial services will be held on Monday, February 11, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at Brookdale Independent Living in Wayne, NE.  Bressler – Munderloh – Smith Funeral Home of Wakefield is in charge of the arrangements.  Donations in memory of Edith Shapiro can be made to The International Rescue Committee

In the Jewish tradition, one of the most important ritual practices is the custom of sitting shiva which is in lieu of a visitation.

Sitting shiva is a term used to describe the action of Jewish mourners participating in the traditional rituals of observing a shiva. During the period of shiva, mourners sometimes sit on low stools or boxes while they receive condolence calls. This is where the phrase sitting shiva comes from, and it is a practice that symbolizes the mourner being “brought low” following the loss of a loved one. For seven (shiva in Hebrew) days, the family members of the deceased gather in one location – typically their own home or the home of the deceased – and mourns the loss in a variety of ways.

While Joan and Charles will not be observing all the shiva practices, but intend to be at Edith’s apartment (305):

Brookdale Senior Living 1500 Vintage Hill Drive, Wayne, NE with the following schedule:

Wednesday, February 6, 5:00 until 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 7, 10:00 until 1:00 p.m.

Friday, February 8, 2:00 until 5:00 p.m.

Friends and family are invited to visit and comfort the mourners. Upon her arrival, Edith’s daughter, Cindy Shapiro, will be in Wayne for the Friday afternoon shiva.


Edith was born on December 19, 1925, the daughter of Karl and Margaret (Kunstler) Rosenbaum  in Munich, Germany. Her mother, devoted stepfather Nathan Ullman and sister arrived in the United States fleeing Nazi Germany on July 18, 1938. Edith attended Hunter College in New York City earning a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Chemistry.  She worked as a biochemistry technician in cancer and photosynthesis research at Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and IBM, respectively. While working full-time and raising a family she also founded and joined community organizations that paved the way for affordable housing where racial discrimination was not tolerated. As Edith aged she became hard of hearing which became a barrier to socializing and social activism. Edith then led a chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America where she worked to develop awareness of the needs of people who are hard of hearing or deaf. In her later years, she developed her artistic side and wrote a memoir and created many pieces of pottery and jewelry.

Edith moved to Wayne to be near family in 2017. When people asked about her experiences as a girl in Nazi Germany, she articulately described her life to local audiences and helped people see how she transformed her experience as a Jewish child who experienced hatred and persecution, into advocating for justice for those who are discriminated against.

Edith married Bernard Shapiro on May 9, 1948 in New York, NY. To this union, two children were born; Charles and Cindy. In 1986 she married Lenny Harris who died in the fall of 2016.  Edith moved to Wayne, Nebraska in 2017.

She is survived by her loving children, Charles Shapiro and daughter-in-law Joan Sudmann Shapiro of Wayne, Nebraska and Cindy Shapiro (Doug Gibson) of Thompsonville, Michigan; stepsons, Jeff Harris (Flora) of Brooklyn, New York and Mark Harris of Rocky Hill, Connecticut; grandchildren Eric Shapiro, Nate (Carly) Shapiro; step grandchildren Michael Harris, Cody Harris and Trevor Harris, nieces and nephews Andy, Rick, Susan, Jill, Barry, Debbie and Lisa, as well as brother -and sister-in-laws, Marvin and Charlotte and Arnold and Arlene.

Edith was preceded in death by husbands, Bernard L. Shapiro and Lenny Harris; sister, Margaret Ganz and brother-in-law, Ernie Ganz; nephew Leonard Ganz; and dear sisters of her heart, Jean Saz, Sylvia Sharpe, and Sylvia Zeitlin.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Edith R. Shapiro, please visit our flower store.


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