This morning we gave Asher Reuben his name. The following explains who he is named for.
Asher’s first name recalls my dad’s father, Arthur Bisman. Art was an artist, a musician, and a man of strong opinions. We hope that Asher will grow up free to express himself and explore his opinions and identity, and unafraid to speak his mind. Not that he needed any help in that last department given who his parents are.
My mother’s parents had a theme song:
Be a Rubenstein, be a Rubenstein, all the world loves a Rubenstein
There is real pride in being a Rubenstein and we carry on that lineage with Asher’s middle name Reuben.
My Grampy, Sam, was, like his wife, born in Minnesota. He was an entrepreneur. After serving in the US Army Air Corp in WWII in Shreveport and Charlotte, and working on the railroads, he established Rubinstein Logistics, a transportation consulting company that exists to this day. Such was his pride in who he was that Sam resisted advice that he not name his business with such a Jewish name. Sam was proud of his family, his history, and of what he was able to build for himself. This extended to a pride in paying taxes – in that he had such business success that he had taxes to pay. He believed in gov’t and was proud to contribute his fair share.
Sam was committed to justice and acting upon that commitment. In some cases that meant fighting for his clients when he found they were overcharged for shipping their goods. In others it meant writing letters to newspaper editors and airline company presidents demanding corrections, apologies, and free airline tickets. And in his children this manifest in a City Attorney, a City Manager, and an entrepreneur in his father’s image.
Finally Sam was a fighter. He didn’t have the greatest health even as a young man, but he never let it stop him. He loved life and fought not only to keep his, but to do his part to make it better for those around him as well.
My bubbe, Jeanette, was our nurturer and supporter. Often, but not exclusively, through food. She baked for us, she cooked for us, and she shared her skills and secrets with us. She understood how powerful presence could be and what it meant to empower others. This was manifest in a trip to the USY convention I chaired in high school, in visiting Sarah and I in our first year in New York, and in asking me to cook with her and carve the Thanksgiving turkey. When my Israeli cousin Imri, first got sick, she promised him that she’d come visit for his bar mitzvah and made the journey to Kfar Vitkin to represent the American family.
Jeanette also had a sense of adventure – traveling to Israel alone for a month to visit her brother and his family soon after they made aliyah in the ‘50s and traveling with her kids by train from Minneapolis to California to visit her parents.
My grandparents met as kids in the Minneapolis Talmud Torah, and their involvement with Jewish life never waned. They were members of their synagogue’s Mr & Mrs Club, a study group that met monthly for 50 years. They were regular chaperones and volunteers for USY events long after their own kids had graduated, and they helped support the resettling of Russian immigrants in the Twin Cities.
Together, they were deeply committed to family and their community. Jeanette and her two sisters lived within two blocks of one another and Sam’s sister was close by. Visits to Bubbe and Grampy always included activities at Aunt Roz’s, snacks at Aunt Helen’s and bowling or bedazzling with Aunt Lil. For many years, Bubbe and Grampy spent parts of the winter with us in Arizona, and today we continue a decade and a half tradition of gathering with
my aunt and uncle for Thanksgiving, rotating between our various homes and locales.
Sam and Jeanette had a tight knit circle of friends, which socialized weekly, wrote plays together, celebrated smachot together, and generally never seemed to NOT be having a great time. I always understood these friends to be part of our Minneapolis family, much as we consider so many of our friends who are here today as part of ours.
For all of these reasons, for all of the values and traits they embodied, we knew very early on that we would name our son not only for Sam or Jeanette, but for them together as a unit.
They lived fulfilling lives of meaning, much as we hope he will.
Loved by his family and friends and challenged to be his best self
Safe in our home and confident to explore the world
Engaged with his past and excited about his future
Empowered to be himself and aware of his responsibility for those around him and of his ability to impact his community
Proud of who he is and where he comes from and humble, knowing how blessed and fortunate he is in so many ways”