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Rubin, Rivke

(1906–1987), prose writer, critic, and translator. Rivke Rubin was born into a family of artisans in Minsk. In 1930, she received a degree from the literature faculty of the Minsk Pedagogical Institute and took graduate studies at the Belorussian Academy of Sciences. She later taught Yiddish literature and literary theory at the Minsk Pedagogical Institute. In 1934, Rubin moved to Moscow and began teaching in that city’s Pedagogical Institute’s Yiddish department.

Rubin wrote a number of books on Y. L. Peretz, Mendele Moykher-Sforim, and Sholem Aleichem. Her work contributed substantially to the study and popularization of the works of these Yiddish writers in the USSR and to the development of Soviet Yiddish literature. As late as 1982–1983, she delivered lectures about classical Yiddish authors, at the Higher Education Literary Courses in Moscow.

Rubin published a collection of essays, Yidishe froyen (Jewish Women), in 1943. In the New York collection Af naye vegn (On New Paths; 1949), she published stories of the war years by Soviet Yiddish writers. She also published numerous essays, stories, and articles in Sovetish heymland (Soviet Homeland), whose editorial board she joined in 1961. When the periodical began publishing anti-Israeli materials, however, she resigned in protest.

Rubin developed a genre of literary portraiture new to Yiddish literature, in which she integrated writers’ personalities and their creations. The subjects of her essays included Shmuel Halkin, Zelik Akselrod, Leyb Kvitko, Zalmen Vendrof, Ezra Fininberg, Itsik Kipnis, and Dovid Bergelson. Her work as a literary critic culminated in the book Shrayber un verk (Writers and Works; 1968), and she also translated works by Belorussian and Romanian authors into Russian. As Hersh Remenik noted, “We have only to read any essay written by Rubin, or any literary portrait, or even any historical-literary work, in order to be convinced that an artist of the word is before us. . . . For her there are no canons hallowed by tradition. . . . The analysis is always concrete. Her works on Soviet literature display the same independence of judgment as her works on the classics, the same unity of feeling and thought.”

In the last decades of her life, Rubin wrote prose. Es shpint zikh a fodem (A Thread Is Spun; 1975) and Aza min tog (Such a Day; 1982) were published both in Yiddish and in Russian translation. In the former work, Rubin described the difficult lives of people living in a shtetl before the revolution. She also wrote about people from the art world, a new theme for Yiddish literature.

Suggested Reading

Arn Raskin, “A vikhtike dershaynung,” Sovetish heymland 2 (1969): 139–143; Hirsh Remenik, “Likhtike bagabung,” Sovetish heymland 5 (1966); Hirsh Remenik, “Gorizonty khudozhnika,” in V’etsia nit’, by Rivke Rubin (Moscow, 1982); Rivke Rubin (Riva Ruvimovna Rubina), “Bol’shoi mir detstva,” in Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo L’va Kvitko (Moscow, 1976); Rivke Rubin, Aza min tog (Moscow, 1982), also in Russian as Strannyi den’ (Moscow, 1986); Rivke Rubin, “Piatno,” in Rasskazy o tete Malke (Moscow, 2001).



Translated from Russian by I. Michael Aronson