Sarah Ruth Brenner Rubin

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Obituaries

RICHMOND – Sarah Ruth Brenner Rubin, born November 12, 1927, passed away on July 30 while in residence at Beth Sholom Gardens in Henrico County, Virginia.

She was predeceased by her parents, Hyman and Dorothy Brenner, her brothers and sister Benjamin, David and Miriam (Schtampf), as well as her husband of 69 years, Milton Rubin.

She is survived by her children, Mark (Debbie Oswalt) and also daughter-in-law Susan Rubin, Joel (Sara Jo) and Deborah Pollack (Alan) as well as seven grandchildren – Rabbi Jake Rubin (Lindsay), Zachary Rubin, Danny Rubin (Shikma), Molly Nizhnikov (Joe), Joseph Pollack (Rachael), Ben Pollack, and Rabbi Michael Pollack (Sofie) – and 10 great grandchildren – Sophie, Jonah and Caleb Rubin; Lucy, Nora and Harris Nizhnikov; Niv and Shai Rubin; and Solomon and Milo Pollack. For a host of nieces and nephews, from Virginia and Florida to Delaware and Colorado, Sarah was their last surviving aunt. All their uncles died years ago.

Sarah grew up in Newport News, Va., above the family bakery, a formative institution for the entire Brenner clan, as was Adath Jeshurun Synagogue where Sarah, Milton and their children attended holiday and Sabbath services while visiting her hometown. The Rubins spent many days and nights collectively in the Christopher Shores neighborhood for memorable Passover seders and other meals that occasionally featured spirited competitions over who had baked the best dessert, “Richmond or Newport News.”

Yet it was in Richmond where Sarah, a graduate of Newport News High School, made her mark. She met Milton, an engineer with Allied Chemical and seven years her senior, while a student at Westhampton College of the University of Richmond where she was Phi Beta Kappa. Trained to be an educator, Sarah taught civics for two years in Hampton and then spent more than two decades instructing students at Richmond’s Beth El synagogue in Judaic studies and the Hebrew language.

At Beth El, Sarah and Milton were dependable “shul” goers, setting a sterling example for their children who have maintained their devotion to Judaism and passed it down to the next generations. While Milton was a “gabbai” at the temple, Sarah was a dedicated member of numerous committees and Sisterhood along with Hadassah and the Jewish Woman’s Club at the Jewish Community Center.

Sarah and Milton traveled widely, including to the Far East and Europe and most unusually, in their 80’s, to a Sandals resort where young couples celebrated the oldest husband and wife. Their principal focus was always their family, whether it was preparing lively seders and other meals at their home or taking the kids to state parks and other vacation destinations including New York for the World’s Fair. There was also an unforgettable journey in 2000 when Milton and Sarah took the family to Israel, where Ben and Molly had bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, and everyone floated on the Jordan River.

Outside home, Sarah was outgoing, enjoying movies, chamber music concerts, local theater, bridge, and mah-jongg. She had a legion of longtime friends and was a prolific needle pointer, creating customized tallit bags for her husband, children, and grandchildren (which inspired other women to do the same), as well as framed Jewish scenes that hang proudly in their homes.

A graveside ceremony took place at Richmond Beth El Cemetery Chapel. Sarah was a faithful longtime member of the Beth El Cemetery Corporation, which makes her internment there even more poignant. Donations in her memory can be made to Beth El or a synagogue of your choice. Livestream was available at