Rabbi remembered as modern Orthodox voice

NY rabbi and his wife killed in fire likely caused by lightening
April 13, 2008 3:57:36 PM PDT
A rabbi who died with his wife in a house fire was remembered as a leading voice for modern Orthodox Judaism. Rabbi Jacob Rubenstein, 58, and his wife, Deborah Rubenstein, were buried Sunday following services at the Young Israel of Scarsdale synagogue, which he founded in their home nearly three decades ago.

From 1997 to 1999, Rubenstein was president of the Rabbinical Council of America, the nation's largest group of Orthodox rabbis. He also was a president of the Westchester Board of Rabbis.

The synagogue issued a statement Sunday saying the Rubensteins had "practiced a joyous, inclusive and embracing traditional Judaism that will now serve as their lasting legacy."

Rubenstein founded the congregation with five families in the late 1960s and over time saw it grow to about 400 families. "Their home was open to all, and they were renowned for their hospitality, compassion and acts of kindness," the statement said.

Rabbi Richard Jacobs, of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, said Rubenstein built close relationships and was trusted by his congregation.

"People loved him. People can be respected, but people loved Jake Rubenstein," Jacobs said.

Rubenstein was a graduate of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, with a master's degree from Harvard University. He and his wife are survived by four adult children and four grandchildren.

The fire at the couple's New Rochelle home remained under investigation. Authorities said a lightning strike early Saturday might have started the fire on the roof and burned unnoticed for about two hours.