Eliyahu Rubin


Eliahu Rubin was born in Koryma, Slovakia, on the 24th of Sivan 5657 – 24.6.1897. He studied at the “Cheder, parallel to secular studies at the Jewish General School, continued at the Yeshiva High School in Nitra, and was ordinated as a rabbi in Grossvardin, at the Honsdorf Yeshiva in Slovakia.

He served in the Austro-Hungarian army from 1915-1918, and later completed his matriculation exams at the Real School in Budapest.

At the Technical University in Prague, he received a civil-engineer degree, parallel to pursuing an additional degree in mathematics and physics education for high schools at the Charles University in Prague. In Prague he was also the secretary of the Hebrew Language Academy, where his friend, Dr. Chaim Kugel, was the principal. He was the one to suggest that as a citizen of Czechoslovakia, he could help him obtain a teaching license.

He taught in Munkács between 1925 and 1944.

In 1932 he married Rachel Balcani (Basch) of Soliver, Slovakia (1906-2002), and in 1933 their son, Amos-Yair, was born in Munkács. Who from the moment of his birth he heard the Hebrew language, which was the language spoken in the family.

He was a deputy chairman of the Mizrachi movement in Munkács and of the Federation of Hebrew Schools in Carpatho-Rus. During the 12th and 13th Zionist Congresses in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia in 1921-1923, he was the secretary of Rabbi Y.L. Hacohen Maimon-Fischman. He also participated in the 17th Zionist Congress and was a delegate at the Second Council of the Jewish Agency and at the Mizrachi World Conference, all of which took place in Basel in 1931. He was a delegate at the World Congress of the Mizrachi movement in Krakow in 1933. In the same year, Rabbi Meir Bar-Ilan – head of the Mizrachi movement – visited Munkács. The rabbi said, “If you go to Israel, you will take the place of work of an engineer who came from Germany. As a single religious teacher in the secular Hebrew Gymnasium, your job is to stay. “

Eliahu Rubin reached the peak of his educational activity during the period when he served as director of the Hebrew Gymnasium in Munkács. This task was imposed on him in November 1938, by the first director, Dr. Chaim Kugel. After the transfer of sovereignty between Czechoslovakia and Hungary, the Hebrew Gymnasium was closed by order of the Hungarian authorities and it was forbidden to teach in Hebrew. Rubin traveled to Budapest and gathered, with great effort, the permits to reopen the Gymnasium on January 9, 1939. His reasoning was that the Gymnasium was educating its students to immigrate to Palestine, and not to remain in Hungary. Until then, all subjects of study were taught in Hebrew. With the increasing desire of the authorities to Hungarize the Hebrew Gymnasium (renamed the Zsido Gimnazium – Jewish Gymnasium), which was opposed to his views, he was forced to resign on April 1, 1940, and continued to teach mathematics and physics, as well as Hebrew, Bible, Mishnah and Jewish philosophy. Until the German occupation of Munkács in March 1944, the Hebrew Gymnasium in Munkács was the only Hebrew high school that operated under a government permit, in all the German-controlled territory in Europe.

In the years 1940-1943 he was recruited twice for a cumulative period of 11 months, for forced labor in the Hungarian army, and as an engineer he planned, among other things, the construction of bridges.

His family, his two sisters, and his three brothers, along with the mother Rysha Kreindel, aged 82 – thirty persons in total – perished in Auschwitz. He and his brother David, who immigrated to the United States, were the only ones who survived. On May 18, 1944, were sent to Auschwitz with his wife Rachel.

He was a coal miner in Jybiecowiec until September 1944, and luckily, when he was already a “Muselmann”, he was appointed as an engineer to set up a new camp – Althammer – where he worked in an office until January 1945, when all the camp dwellers were forced on a death march to Germany. On the border between Slovakia and Austria, sensing a threat to his life, he jumped off the train and was taken to the prison in Vienna, where he was liberated on April 5, 1945 by the Russian army. There is no doubt that the fact that they hid their son safely with the Christian couple Jozef and Margit Strauss (whose son Jozef – on Rubin’s recommendation – was the only non-Jew who studied at the Hebrew Gymnasium) – contributed greatly to my parents’ ability to overcome the great physical suffering in the various concentration camps. Yad Vashem recognized the Strauss family as Righteous Among the Nations.

After his return from Auschwitz, he organized the establishment of the “Tarbut” Hebrew Gymnasium in Budapest, in the summer of 1945.

We immigrated to Israel in 1946. In Israel he worked for a year as a teacher at the Moriah high school in Tel Aviv. He worked as a design engineer at the Jewish Agency’s irrigation department in Tel Aviv from 1948 to 1965. He taught Hebrew for several years at a school for adults in the Yad Eliyahu neighbourhood in Tel Aviv.

He was chairman of the Association of Immigrants from Carpatho-Rus, deputy chairman of the Association of Hungarian Immigrants, and a member of the Hapoel Hamizrachi movement.

In Israel, he founded the “Idor HaTalmud” Society and edited two tractates: “Beitza” (222 pages) and “Rosh Hashanah” (245 pages) of the Babylonian Talmud, which included Hebrew translation and illustrations and explanations by experts on archeology, nature and geography, and were published in 1968 and 1973.

While studying in Prague, he wrote a scientific paper on the Kepler equation and its solutions and on the theory of the railway car. In 1942 he published two Hebrew textbooks in physics (211 pages).

In Israel, he also published 83 articles on the history of the Jews of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, rain, and his memoirs from a meeting with Albert Einstein. On his own works, 25 critical articles were published. In 1980 he published his book “From Munkács to Auschwitz – chapters of the Holocaust” (80 pages). After his death, a manuscript of his diary (107 pages) was found, together with dozens of poems he had written.

The educator and the devoted family man, engineer Eliyahu Rubin, died on 2 Elul 5702 (August 22, 1990).

Amos Rubin