That connection ran deep, milestone after milestone, family after family.
“As a rabbinical family, we were so privileged to be part of people’s lives,” says Miriam Brunn Ruberg. “When a baby was born, we got the call. When that child grew up, Arthur was the rabbi for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah. He wrote letters of recommendation for colleges, and later, he often performed their weddings. We were, and still are, deeply connected to many families in this community.”
Rabbi Arthur Ruberg didn’t grow up with the yearning to be a rabbi. In fact, he wasn’t raised in a very religious family. He experienced an awakening when he was a senior in college, studying political science and international relations. The realization that his most meaningful experiences to that point had been in his religious life at Jewish summer camp put him on the path to becoming a rabbi.
As a young single rabbi in Philadelphia, Ruberg made another major life decision when he met a new teacher who had just received her master’s degree in Jewish Education at Brandeis University.
“We wanted to keep it quiet when we first started seeing each other,” says Miriam Brunn Ruberg. “Our plan was foiled when we were spotted out on a date right away.”
From their first date, and throughout almost 42 years of marriage, the Rubergs have shared a love for Jewish education, life, and culture.
“We felt that our job was to help Jews stay Jewish. And not just to stay Jewish, but to feel good about being Jewish—and to experience it more fully,” says Rabbi Ruberg. “We counseled supportive spouses of Jews, and worked with those who were in the process of becoming Jewish, to help integrate Judaism into their lives.”
Being a rabbi’s wife was a natural role for the Jewish educator. As a mother of young children, Brunn Ruberg worked at United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and later served as principal of United Hebrew School. She then became a professional educator at the Jewish Community Center, where she initiated, directed, and taught the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning.
At milestone events and services at the synagogue, Miriam Brunn Ruberg often saw “really intelligent wonderful people who were lost. If they could at least follow the Hebrew, it could make the time in synagogue more meaningful, and they would feel a part of the service, and the community,” she says. In her quest to fill that void, she taught adult Hebrew.
The Ruberg family also led congregational trips to Israel. “We wanted other people to have an opportunity to feel the connection we felt to Israel,” says Brunn Ruberg. “Experiencing Israel with our congregational family allowed us to deepen our connection to Israel and pass on that powerful experience to others.”
The Ruberg’s children, Jeremy and Adina, now have children of their own and Jeremy is a rabbi in northern New Jersey. The Rubergs say that their grandparent status complements their lifelong commitment to Jewish values and education.
Today, the ‘technically’ retired couple continues to serve Congregation Beth El, with Rabbi Ruberg filling in as needed during its leadership transition.
By committing to Tidewater Jewish Foundation’s Life & Legacy® program, the Rubergs enjoys a new source of personal fulfillment.
“What we love about this program is that it’s community-wide. Together, we can make a difference for future generations,” says Brunn Ruberg. “We are also quite excited to work with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. That organization awarded scholarship money to Jeremy and supported his rabbinical studies some years go. He was a Grinspoon Fellow at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.”
The Rubergs say they also appreciate that Life & Legacy® embraces all donors, and treats them with equal regard and respect. “It’s about building and sustaining a community of people who think about the next generation, and the one after that,” says Rabbi Ruberg. “It’s important for philanthropy to be inter-generational.
“Tell your kids where you give and why you give!”