Gift demonstrates Rubin family’s commitment to Jewish education

Joel and Sara Jo Rubin have long been dedicated to promoting Jewish education. “It began at home and participating in synagogue and Jewish events for our young family,” says Sara Jo. “We were adamant that our children (Molly and Danny) would be raised to practice and honor our Jewish faith and heritage.” 

They recently solidified this commitment by dedicating money from an inheritance left by Joel’s parents to establish a fund to support Jewish education for Strelitz International Academy through its Foundation, which is held at Tidewater Jewish Foundation. 

The Rubins’ motivation stems from a deep belief in the importance of young Jews being immersed in Jewish culture and values during their formative years. “It was a way to honor my mother’s legacy. She taught Hebrew for 25 years at Temple Beth El in Richmond where I grew up,” Joel says. 

Niv and Shai Rubin, children of Danny and his wife Shikma, are students at SIA where they receive both secular and Jewish education. “Seeing Niv and Shai lead the Kiddush and Motzi fills me with pride,” Joel says. “It’s a beautiful continuation of our family’s commitment to our faith and community.” 

Jewish education provides more than just religious knowledge, according to the Rubins; it instills crucial values and practices. “I see the importance of that education,” Joel says. “Whether you’re observant or not, it teaches you a new skill, helps you make friends, and learn about your faith and history.” 

Lucy Nizhnikovo
Niv Rubin

Molly’s daughter, Lucy, also embraces the family’s commitment. Last year, in preparation for Joel’s 70th birthday celebration, Lucy, encouraged by Molly and her husband Joe Nizhnikov (who came to Virginia from Russia with his family at age five), learned to read from the Torah. “She performed beautifully,” Joel recalls proudly. “Seeing her willingness to embrace our culture makes me hopeful about the future.” Joel says Lucy’s siblings, Nora and Harris, will follow her lead. 

“Naomi Sedek, TJF’s president and CEO, is a wonderful partner, guiding us through the process and helping us make a meaningful impact,” Sara Jo says. “We are happy that SIA, an IB-certified school, offers a comprehensive combination of secular and Jewish education.” 

The Rubins say they are not finished giving to SIA and encourage others to also set aside funds. “To us, it’s an ideal way to perpetuate our faith for generations to come.”

Not sure what to do with inherited funds? Contact Naomi Limor Sedek, TJF president and CEO, at 757-965-6109 or