Joan Brest Friedberg
March 13, 2022

Visitation Information

March 16 2022 - 12:00 pm
Rodef Shalom Temple, 4905 Fifth Avenue (at Morewood), (Oakland) Pittsburgh, 15213

Funeral Information

March 16 2022 - 1:00 pm
Rodef Shalom Temple, 4905 Fifth Avenue (at Morewood), (Oakland) Pittsburgh, 15213

JOAN BREST FRIEDBERG: On Sunday, March 13, 2022, age 94. Beloved wife of the late Simeon A. Friedberg. Beloved mother of Betsy Friedberg (Drew McCoy) of Melrose, MA, Aaron Friedberg (Nadège Rolland Friedberg) of Princeton, NJ and Susan Friedberg Kalson (David Kalson) of Pittsburgh. Daughter of the late Aaron P. and Lillian Markell Brest. Sister of the late Ellen Riedel. Grandmother of Laura McCoy (Tim Barrett), Ethan McCoy, Eli Friedberg, Gideon Friedberg, Will Kalson (Liz Belczyk), Hannah Kalson and Rachel Kalson. Step-grandmother of Alexandre, Claire and Hadrien Rolland. Great-grandmother of Ezra Kalson. Dear aunt, cousin, and devoted friend. Born in Boston, Joan grew up on a chicken farm in Norfolk, MA, where she attended a two-room school. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1948 and received a PhD in English from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972. After teaching English at Pitt, she returned to a focus on early childhood education as a preschool teacher at the Carriage House in Squirrel Hill. In 1984, she and her friend and colleague Elizabeth Segel founded Beginning with Books, a literacy program focused on low-income families that promoted reading aloud to babies and children. Her loving and generous nature shaped a beautiful life and touched all who knew her. Services at Rodef Shalom Temple, 4905 Fifth Avenue (at Morewood), on Wednesday, March 16 at 1 PM. Visitation at Temple, one hour prior to service (12 Noon - 1 PM). At the family’s request, masks and vaccinations are required. Interment West View Cemetery of Rodef Shalom Congregation. The service will be live streamed through Rodef Shalom Congregation. Please contact Rodef Shalom for a link to the service. Virtual shiva will be held on Wednesday and Thursday. Contributions in her memory may be made to Bryn Mawr College, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Children’s Collection, or Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated.


Send Condolence

My condolences to all family and friends. This is a beautiful memorial tribute posted. May Joan\'s memory be a blessing. She was a wonderful person.

By Molly Youngling - March 21, 2022

I am so sorry to hear about Joan’s passing. Joan is one of the reasons why I became a teacher. I met Joan as a teenager in the mid 1980s when I volunteered with her program “Beginning with Books.” I read picture books to children at the Carnegie Library whose parents were learning how to read with the Pittsburgh Literacy Council program. It brought me such joy reading aloud to the children and seeing the young readers’ faces light up with books. Joan taught me about the impact of reading aloud on future literacy, especially to children who didn’t have a lot of privileges. I attribute Joan Friedberg and her colleague as the reason I fell in love with teaching. I have shared my love of of books with hundreds of children through the years. May her memory always be a blessing. Sincerely, Jane Alu Valinsky

By Jane Alu Valinsky - March 16, 2022

I never knew your Mother, but benefited and loved the "Beginning with Books" program she founded. Working with children in the Head Start program in the city, those books were one of the most valuable contributions to their learning. And it was so much fun! True gratitude

By Jessica Barry - March 15, 2022

To Joan's family: I have a lump the size of a baseball in my throat right now--a Pittsburgh Pirate baseball, I'm sure, in honor of Sim and Aaron. Oh how sad I am to hear this news, and how I'm kicking myself. For months I've wanted to try you, Susan, to learn of my dear friend, my mentor in so many ways. When I'd decided to write a biography of Louis Braille, then found that 2 new bios of the man had just been published for children, 1997, I complained to Joan. "Write about Laura Bridgman," Joan said, and I did for nearly seven years. That was Joan, I think, gentle in her advice, bountiful in her knowledge, lovely in her manner, and funny and appreciative of humor. She was so open to all generations. Once, several of the writers in the Tuesday night writing group that she and Betty blessed, came to a talk I was giving at the U. of Pitt, Greensburg. "Sally, we had five decades represented in one car," Joan announced, "and we laughed every mile of our way." I think, too, that Joan had to be one of the more self-realized people I knew. She married a beautiful guy, meeting him, as I recall at some party, then going for a walk with him. That walk seemed to seal the deal, if I'm remembering correctly. She pursued a love of literature that filled 9 decades. She and Betty looked at their most pressing concerns, literacy, racism, children's education, diversity and step by step formed one of the most impactful nonprofits in Pittsburgh.How many of us can live a life of such purpose, such fulfillment, filled with such love of family, down to little Ezra. Oh, I mourn today, and yet I just know Joan was ready, probably even fed up with aging and continuing. But I'm just so sad not to have made a phone call last summer, last fall, last week. What a blessing she's been to me, to the children's literature world of Pittsburgh, to so many who entered Beginning with Books as the kids of minimally literate moms, who then went on to volunteer in the program and grow and strengthen from the beautiful organization Joan and Betty created. I think of Joan and Betty every time I find the new listing of the Carnegie Library's 10 best baby books of the year. I remember her always reading "10 little fingers, ten little toes." I especially remember hearing her lovely, spare, perfect prose. And I will remember Joan, every time I postpone a vital phone call to a beloved friend. Let it always prompt me to make that call immediately. Bob's and my warmest wishes go to all of you, Sally

By Sally Alexander - March 15, 2022