JUDAH RUBINSTEIN (July 23, 1921-February 9, 2003) was an archivist, historian, author, and research associate for the JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION of Cleveland (JCF), but he was best known as an authority on Cleveland Jewish history. His parents, Israel (died 1966) and Sonia (1900-1982) were born in Poland and came to the United States early in the twentieth century. They married in 1920. Judah Rubinstein was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended public schools in the Kinsman and GLENVILLE neighborhoods, which at that time were population centers for the Jewish community. He graduated from Western Reserve University (now CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY) in 1942, received a Master of Arts from that school in 1947, and attended Harvard University from 1948-1951. In 1955 he worked as an historian for the Jewish Theological Seminary of America's American Jewish History Center. One of his projects was to provide the Seminary with basic research for a projected monograph on Cleveland Jewish history. This research, based on early newspapers, organizational records, and personal papers, was utilized by Lloyd P. Gartner when he was contracted by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland to write a community history, The History of the Jews of Cleveland. In 1978 it was published jointly by the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Rubinstein joined the staff of the JCF in 1958 as its research associate. He assembled local Jewish population studies, wrote community reports, and mounted exhibits, among other projects assigned by the JCF. He was the author of the entry on Cleveland in the 1972 edition of Encyclopedia Judaica. In 1976 Rubinstein helped establish the Cleveland Jewish Archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society. With Sidney Vincent he was the co-author of a book of historic photographs, Merging Traditions: Jewish Life in Cleveland, published jointly by the JCF and the Western Reserve Historical Society in 1978. In 1980 he was appointed JCF archivist with major responsibilities in the area of records management, Jewish community history, and publications. In that capacity he was editorially active in the publication of The Camp Wise Story, by Albert Brown, What I Remember: Clevelanders Recall the Shtetl, compiled by Goldie Lake, and Personal and Professional, by Sidney Vincent. He lectured extensively about Cleveland Jewish history, particularly on its old neighborhoods, its newspapers, and several individuals, including physician Marcus Rosenwasser (see ROSENWASSER, MARCUS) and author Ezra Brudno (see BRUDNO, EZRA). Rubinstein officially retired from his position in 1986, but continued on a part-time basis as a consultant in history and archives. At the time of his death in 2003, he had nearly completed a revised edition of Merging Traditions, published posthumously in 2004 by the Kent State University Press. Rubinstein died in Cleveland and was cremated.
Jane A. Avner, Ph.D.
Finding aid for the Judah Rubinstein Papers, WRHS.
Finding aid for the Judah Rubinstein Photographs, WRHS.
See also JEWS & JUDAISM.