Monthly Archives: December 2005

Chayeh Chaim


My grandfather, Chaim Rubin, the son of Shmuel and Gittele, my hero, lived for eighty two years and left behind a son and daughters. He passed away early Friday morning, December 2, 2005, the first day of Kislev, 5766.
My grandfather, who was born on Rosh HaShana B, 1924, and lost his father as a child; who raised spirit in Sokolov in Hashomer Hatzair; who saw his mother and baby sister being led away; who conquered the horrors of Treblinka; who ran with his comrades for his life while his Ukrainian guards ate lunch; who lived in a pit and arose in the night to scrounge for potatoes; who fought in knee deep snow; who found my grandmother on a Polish farm and rescued her from her captor’s barn; who came to Israel; who built Kibbutz Negba and then Meggido and then Mishmar Ha’Emek and the Reshafim; who walked with his Arab neighbors in peace; who fought the Mufti with a rifle too long for his hands; who marched on the First of May waving a red flag; who went door-to-door for Mapam; who built a factory with his hands; who had abstract forms invade his dream and sculpted witnesses of concrete; who rescued my mother from a religious court, grenade in hand, when the judge said he would rather my mother live in a convent than on a kibbutz of Hashomer Hatzair; who would argue for ours with his communist friend from Hertzeliya; who was kibbutz chess champion; who read Buber and loved Brahms and Mahler; who would sit with my mother as she played piano; who raised a family when eggs were a delicacy; who would prepare for us sandwiches of white bread and margarine; who planted trees and taught me to jump high over a rope he tied between them; who would lay with us on the grass and point out satellites in the night sky; who yearned for peace; who I would visit once every two weeks with my Uncle while I lived in Israel; who would sit up late worrying when we would not call as the bombings grew regular; who fought Parkinson’s disease; whose wife would travel hours a day to the hospital to take care of him; who had a family who loved him along with his obstinacies; my grandfather has returned to the earth, as human is no more than dust and ashes.
When someone dies after years of illness their parting is bittersweet. How much can one person suffer! But how much can their mere presence on earth still inspire and warm! The mind accepts, the soul makes peace, but the body convulses in agony.
My grandfather, my hero, was a socialist to the end, a Zionist to the end—an ideologue who saw the world around him crumbling but retained his conviction. One who believed that a Jewish State is one worth fighting and dying for, yet worth living for more; one who believed that Jews and Arabs would live together in peace once each side recognized the other’s humanity and right to a state of their own; one who believed in the rights of workers and the importance of social welfare for all; one who believed that the ultimate responsibility of the Left was to be constantly vigilant, and not to sell out one side’s right to life and liberty for the sake of the other. His body will return to the earth, but his soul beckons me to follow his dreams. As it is written, there is “A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted.” May we make the most of our time here in this life and plant much before we too are uprooted.


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