Publisher: Cleveland Jewish News
For Julie and Bryan Rubenstein of Beachwood, triplets Hannah, Emma and Jonah were â€śbaruchahâ€ť (blessed) babies. After years of infertility, the couple received a blessing from an Orthodox rabbi, started lighting Shabbat candles and used the mikvah. The couple underwent in vitro fertilization one time, and became parents seven months later.
â€śWe had a 20 percent chance to get pregnant, and a 10 percent chance for triplets,â€ť Julie Rubenstein reflected. â€śWe knew that we were chosen for a reason to have these children.â€ť
Together with their three children, the Rubensteins said they have been blessed with growing spirituality. They began their Jewish education at Aish HaTorah and Chabad, and for the last 10 years, have developed a close relationship with the Jewish Learning Connection, an outreach organization based in University Heights offering educational and social programming.
Last week, the triplets turned 18 â€“ â€śtriple chai, triple life,â€ť say their parents. On their Hebrew birthday, Sunday, Nov. 4, the family will celebrate once again, at JLCâ€™s anniversary reception at Beechmont Country Club in Orange, where Bryan has been the tennis director for 26 years. The couple will receive JLCâ€™s Guardian of the Torah Award, along with Jerry Aizen of Solon, for many years of involvement.
The Rubensteins are â€śclassic examplesâ€ť of Jewish people who became much more interested and involved in Judaism, according to Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum, who founded JLC 24 years ago and serves as director. â€śThey became very close to us. Their entire family has been involved in a journey toward observance.â€ť
Their years at JLC have been filled with special memories, said Julie Rubenstein, a pet therapist. â€śJLC kashered our entire kitchen when the kids were in eighth grade. Rabbi (Moshe) Stoll (JLC associate director) and members of their shul took all our kitchen belongings and dropped them in boiling water to kasher them. It was a remarkable undertaking.
â€śJonah was the first bar mitzvah at JLCâ€™s new building,â€ť she said, referring to JLCâ€™s Waxman Torah Center on South Green Road in University Heights, which opened in spring 2007. He became a bar mitzvah on his 13th Hebrew birthday that fall.
Bryan Rubenstein recalled their first visit to JLC. â€śJulie made a cold call to the JLC office. The next thing I knew, we were invited over for Shabbos and to experience the whole Sabbath in its entirety. It was a wonderful experience. Our relationships with the rabbis at JLC have grown from mentor-adviser to good family friends. Our kids enjoy their kids, and they always look forward to our coming over.
â€śJLC is an interesting group that really functions on two different levels,â€ť he said. â€śThey have their education track and offer classes at various locations. Since they moved to their new location and have a shul, they have become congregational. Youâ€™re missed when youâ€™re not there. Itâ€™s a good feeling to go someplace where it makes a difference.â€ť
Commenting on their Jewish roots, Bryan Rubenstein said he grew up at Bâ€™nai Jeshurun Congregation, while his wifeâ€™s upbringing was more secular. He now davens at the JLC minyan every morning, attends services at Green Road Synagogue or Chabad, and observes the Sabbath. He takes Saturdays off â€“ a practice he started one summer several years ago. â€śBy the end of the summer, I couldnâ€™t imagine I had ever done otherwise,â€ť he said.
â€śSome people jump in with both feet. For us the metamorphosis was slow,â€ť he said. When the children were in eighth grade, they had an opportunity to become involved in the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, an Orthodox youth movement. â€śIt catapulted them to being onboard.â€ť Hannah is on NCSYâ€™s regional and national board. In addition to being on NCSY chapter board, Emma is president of the Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, which meets at Green Road Synagogue. The triplets celebrated their 18th birthday at a Yachad program with their family. Jonah and the girls have also been active participants at Friendship Circle, which brings together teenage volunteers and children with special needs for fun and friendship.
â€śOur whole family journey â€¦ of taking on and learning and embracing a more Jewish way of life has been a very, very slow process,â€ť said Julie Rubenstein. â€śI led the family and I did it in a dog-training way: little, little, relax, stretching us a little more and more and then relax or taking a few steps back, for 10 years.
â€śEach member of our family has carried our family forward,â€ť she said. She added that they have enjoyed sharing their involvement with her mother, Carol Brown, of Shaker Heights, who also maintains a kosher kitchen. â€śWe do Shabbos at her house and walk to Beachwood and University Heights every week.â€ť
The girls dress modestly and wear skirts to Beachwood High School, and Jonah wears a kipah and tzitzit (ritual fringes), she said. â€śThe girls decided they are shomer negiah,â€ť which means that boys are not permitted to touch them. Thatâ€™s â€śvery hard to do in a public school setting,â€ť she said. At the same time, the triplets have served as role models for their peers, she said. In fact, many have sought the tripletsâ€™ approval by reporting to them their own religious observance.
â€śYou have to find a way for your kids to own it themselves and take it into their hearts,â€ť Bryan Rubenstein said. â€śOnce they do, there are not so many conflicts.â€ť