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B'nai - Spotlight - Rebecca Dobbs

B'nai Spotlight will highlight a range of members of the B'nai Israel family who have a long and deep history with the shul. A new profile will be published at least monthly. Every person has incredible stories. Here you will find a few.  Each profile tells the reader something about the member who heads up the profile and offers interesting stories of their family connection to B'nai Israel or shul history.  The profile also provides their insights on "belonging" to a community - in short, their "My B'nai Story".  We hope you enjoy B'nai Spotlight.

Rebecca recently started volunteering with B’nai Israel conducting genealogical research in December of 2019. She has developed an interest in family history at a young age, and most recently, worked as a Summer Intern (2018) at AncestryProGenealogists in Salt Lake City, UT. Though Becca does not have deep roots with the congregation, through her research she recently made a remarkable discovery. 

Ever since I was a little girl, my parents always made sure I was educated about my background and cultural heritage. From the earliest I can remember, I always knew that I was adopted from Moscow, Russia, and came to United States when I was almost two years old. My parents told me it was something to be proud of, embraced, and shared. When I was a child and throughout my teenage years, I instantly developed a strong interest in other cultures, wondered about my background, and asked my parents many questions about their upbringing. I was brought up in a Jewish- Irish Catholic family which provided with me a strong sense of identity and also set the foundation for my genealogical interest. Besides a slight interest, it was not until I was16 I decided to start researching. When I first approached my mother about her family history, one of the few things she told me was that her paternal great-grandparents were Rebecca Rubin and Harry Colton. Fast forward a couple of years, I had my mother take a DNA test, and the next thing I knew, I found several cousins descending from Rebecca’s siblings. It was during what turned into a yearlong research project I found out that my family and I have long lost ties with B’nai Israel. 




Rebecca Rubin Colton (c. 1873-1931) and Tobie Kupersmith Rabinowitz (1845- 1929)

 Rebecca (image at left, exact year and location unknown, copyright Tommi Myers)   was born approximately in   1873 and immigrated to the United States from the   Tarascha-Berdichev region of   modern-day Zhytomyr, Ukraine at the turn of the 20th   century. On board with her,  arriving directly into the port of Baltimore in December of   1906 were her three children:  Nachume (Frances), Esther, Selig (Maurice), her mother   Tobie, as well as her brother  Simon, and his family. According to their ship manifest,   they were all traveling to Max  Rubin (another one of Rebecca’s siblings) residing at 261   N. Exeter Street in downtown  Baltimore. Just one-month prior in November, Rebecca’s   husband, Aron Koltun (aka  Harry Colton) arrived. By the time 1910 rolled around, the   entire family was living at 40 S. Eden Street, across the street from the Chasman family.   Harry was a bricklayer,  Rebecca  was a housewife, and their 14-year-old daughter,   Frances was employed at a   paint shop as a finisher. Max was a traveling salesman   selling spectacles and Abraham, one of the other brothers was a lithographer. Around   1913 the Colton’s moved to 1742 E.  Lombard Street according to a City Directory and   further confirmed by the 1920 Census  record.   Mother Tobie stayed with her daughter   Rebecca up until 1929, when the Colton  family moved for a final time to 1617 N.   Bentalou Street When they moved for the final time, Tobie went to live with her other   daughter Mollie and her family on N. Collington Way. In  1929, Tobie passed away at   the age of 84 years from diabetes and arterial  thrombosis. A couple of years later in   1931, Rebecca passed which was followed by her husband’s death  in 1936.

Throughout the past year as I researched Rebecca and her family, I quickly realized and confirmed Tobie was her mother, and that she (Tobie) had 10 children. Unfortunately, it is suspected that two of her children passed early on during childhood or in infancy, and seven out of eight (remaining) children, I can account for, all immigrated to Baltimore in the early 1900s. As for Abraham, he lived with his mother and sibling for a short duration and by 1920 he was residing in Ohio, married, and had started a family. His marriage license had his mother’s maiden name as Kupersmith, and a birth certificate of Rebecca’s youngest son, Joseph, had her full maiden name listed as Rabinowitz. In the Summer of 2019, I made my first trip to B’nai Israel’s Cemetery where Tobie and some of my other cousins are buried, and I noticed she (Tobie) was buried alongside her neighbor (at the 40 S. Eden Street address), Bessie Chasman. I did not know this until a month prior to the first Descendants’ Day Weekend that Bessie was the spouse of Rabbi Joseph Chasman, who was an early congregant officiant. 

(The image to the right is Toiva “Tobie” Kupersmith Rubin and her grandson, Irving, at his Bar Mitzvah in 1917 in Baltimore.  copyright Tommi Myers)

Gerson “Max” Rubin (1879-1947)

Gerson, or more commonly known as Max, was one of the first of seven (known) siblings who immigrated to America. According to his Declaration of Intention, Max arrived in 1899 via the Central and Vermont Railway, and the Fall River Line. This was a combination of railway from Boston, MA to New London, CT, and then steamship into the port of Manhattan, New York. Up until 1906 his whereabouts are unknown possibly due to the fact he was a traveling salesman. In 1906, Max was living in Baltimore, and in May of 1910, he married Cecelia Rievman. Not long after, they moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma and started a family. Max became a prominent figure in the Oil industry and was affiliated with multiple corporations. One corporation was the Rabinovitz & Beren oil Supply Co, also known as Rubin & Beren which he founded with his brother-in-law, Jacob Beren. In 1915, Max and six other men founded B’nai Emunah Congregation in Tulsa (located on S. Cheyenne Ave) which is still in operation today. In January of 1919, according to a news article, Max was a board member for The Jewish Consumptive Relief Society which was established in Denver, Colorado. This organization had the intention of constructing an Orthodox Jewish Hospital that was open to anyone regardless of wealth and/or denomination. Through pledges, Max and the other board members raised approximately $500 for the hospital. Around 1932, Max and Cecelia moved to Tyler, Texas where he continued to be a successful oil producer and a salesman up until his death in 1947. Cecelia passed in 1970 and is buried alongside her husband at Shearith Israel Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. Below is an image of Max and his buggy. The exact year and location are unknown.

(photo copyright Joanie Rubin)

Thu, May 28 2020 5 Sivan 5780