WEST HARTFORD – Congregation Beth Israel will honor Lea and Richard Rubenstein on Sunday, Sept. 25, 5 p.m., at the synagogue in West Hartford.
“In every generation there have been those in our community whose dedication and support we have depended and relied on,” says the Congregation’s Senior Rabbi Michael Pincus. “For many years, Richard and Lea have been pillars of Congregation Beth Israel and beyond. Their involvement and guidance of the congregation, and in the greater Hartford Jewish community has been a blessing. They have devoted their lives to the Jewish people, and we look forward to honoring and thanking them in deep appreciation.”
In 1966, Richard Rubenstein was invited to join a group of college students on a 10-week study mission to the Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) Jewish rescue and relief operations in Europe and Israel. The group of seven college students visited Switzerland, Morocco, France, Italy, Israel and Austria observing not only the operations of JDC but the Jewish Agency, HIAS and ORT as well as other organizations working in affiliation with JDC. At the HIAS office in Vienna, Richard’s group interviewed Eastern European refugees waiting for visas to the United States and met (for less than one minute) Lea Elias – whom he would marry two years later. He credits that summer with changing his life. As he observed the humanitarian relief provided by the JDC, he made a pledge to somehow help the Jewish people.
Anne Danaher, executive director of Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford (JFS), expressed how fortunate JFS has been to have Lea Rubenstein as a longtime board member.
“Lea was very involved in our efforts to resettle refugees from the former Soviet Union and did a lot of direct work with refugees to help them set up their first apartments in the Hartford area,” says Danaher. “As a resettled person herself, Lea understood the resettlement experience and what was needed to make refugees feel more at home. Lea led JFS as its board president from 1992-1994 and represented JFS with great integrity and professionalism on the National HIAS Board. She set an example of dedicated leadership for all of us.”
Lea Rubenstein also served as President of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford from 2001-2003.
The Rubensteins have been on 25 trips to Israel, most of which have been missions that they led or participated in as part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford’s annual campaign. They have also visited many corners of the world where Jews are in need.
A member of the Hartford Federation’s board, Richard Rubenstein has previously served as chairman of the annual campaign (2001-2003) and as board president (2003-2005).
“Richard and Lea have continued to be strong supporters of the Jewish community locally, in Israel and throughout the world. We are so grateful for their generosity, their dedication and support,” says Howard Sovronsky, Federation president and CEO.
The Rubensteins joined Beth Israel in 1970 and raised their children, Anne and Peter, there. Richard served as president of the congregation from 1997 through 1999. He also served as board chairman of Hebrew Health Care (2011-2013). He currently serves on a number of other boards, including the Maurice Greenberg Center at the University of Hartford and the Ben Bronz Academy of West Hartford. The couple manages Plymouth Spring Company in Bristol.
“The Rubensteins have given generously of their time, energy and support not just to Congregation Beth Israel, but to so many organizations throughout Greater Hartford and beyond,” says Beth Israel President Gail Mangs. “Few people have been as dedicated as Lea and Richard. Whether directly or indirectly, their work has touched and enriched the lives of each of us. So, it is fitting that Congregation Beth Israel, with the support of the community, will now be honoring their contributions with a formal recognition that is long overdue.”
For more information on the tribute dinner honoring the Rubensteins: firstname.lastname@example.org, (860) 233-8215, or cbict.org.