Shannie Goldstein was raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, the oldest of five children.
Her activities with Refuseniks began in the early 1970's when she assisted fresh émigrés to relocate in Baltimore from the Soviet Union. She moved to New Orleans in 1978, and as her passion for the struggle grew, she and her husband, Rabbi David Goldstein, took three trips to the Soviet Union. It was a dangerous journey at the time, and Shannie found daring ways to outwit the KGB on several occasions—smuggling Hebrew music into the country in her guitar case, and bringing out vital contact information wrapped in gift boxes. A resourceful woman of deep compassion, Shannie connected with a large community of persecuted Jews through music, and brought media attention to their struggle in the U.S.
Shannie has also been an adjunct professor of Hebrew language in the Jewish studies department at Tulane University for the past twenty-three years, as well as a licensed clinical social worker in private practice since 1986. Shannie considers being wife to Rabbi David Goldstein, mother to her two children, one of whom is also a Rabbi, and grandmother to three, to be at the core of her life. She says, "Being married to a Rabbi for forty years does connect to having a purpose in life, by its very definition. I've been blessed because of what he does and the roads he's taken which have enabled me to have tremendous fulfillment in life."