SAMUEL RUBIN (1901-1978)

17 November 2005
TNI

 

SAMUEL RUBIN (1901-1978)

Samuel Rubin was born in 1901 in Bialystok, then in Czarist Russia, now in Poland. As a very young boy, he migrated with his parents to the United States of America, where his parents started a small 'dry goods' store in a poor Jewish neighbourhood in Brooklyn. The quintessential 'self-made' man, Rubin was a dedicated socialist who decided to play the capitalist game, and played it very well indeed, in order to further his ideals. In 1930, he founded the Spanish Trading Corporation, closing it when Franco took power in Spain, and in 1937, he founded Faberge Perfumes.

Rubin never forgot where he came from, however, and throughout his life carried memories of poverty, discrimination and the abrogation of human rights. He had a proud record of civil and minority rights work, highlighted by courageous struggle against McCarthyism in the 1950s and opposition against the Vietnam War in the 1960s. He was appalled by the 'plunder, hunger and devastation' which he saw as the consequences of western capitalism. In 1963, he sold Faberge Pefumes for a fortune, thereafter setting up the Samuel Rubin Foundation in New York decidated to fighting what he called 'the immorality and inequity of the disparity between rich and poor'. Rubin was also a great lover of music, having trained as a violinist himself, he was instrumental in setting up the American Symphony Orchestra. He was deeply concerned about Jewish-Arab peace, and served as the President of the American-Israeli Cultural Foundation, during which time he established music and dance academies and cultural centres in Israel.

According to Marcus Raskin of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and a close friend, Rubin had four beliefs, which we should take to heart. The first was that humankind does not have to remain in a wretched condition. Secondly, that education, scientific and artistic endeavours are a central means to help the mass of humanity, and an end in which all of humanity can share. Thirdly, that great plans fail because little details go unattended and unnoticed, thereby damaging the entire project. Finally, that no vision is too out of reach that collective energy cannot bring it into reality. For Samuel Rubin, the only question was to be sure that the vision was indeed the right one.

In 1973, Rubin was a moving force behind the creation of the Transnational Institute as a tool to address the critical problems of poverty and exploitation, especially in the Third World.

Samuel Rubin died 5 years later, on 21 December 1978.


Samuel Rubin Foundation