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Dorothy Rubin, 99, a social activist who was a founder of the Philadelphia Women's Division of American Jewish Congress, died on Dec. 17.
Born in Vitebsk, Russia, she came to Philadelphia with her family when she was 5.
After graduating from William Penn High School, Rubin entered the world of vaudeville as part of a dance act with two partners. She gave it up to marry Richard I. Rubin, who established the real estate firm, Richard I. Rubin, Inc., which later merged with the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust. (Her husband died in 1993.)
The company is chaired by the Rubins' son, Ronald Rubin.
Married for 64 years, the couple met at a resort in Blackwood, N.J. They raised three children in West Philadelphia before moving to Merion, then Center City.
Her daughter, Judith Garfinkel, said that her mother was a sweet woman who touched many lives: "People were always telling me how much they loved her." But Garfinkel also pointed out that she didn't have a typical sort of mother: "Life with her was not so much about baking cookies after school as it was encouraging me to write an eighth-grade essay on a candidate she supported. Sometimes, she even took my younger brother to American Jewish Congress meetings."
In 1941, Rubin heard AJCongress founder Rabbi Stephen Wise talk about what was happening to the Jews of Germany.
In a 1981 Jewish Exponent profile of her, she said: "Rabbi Wise inspired me and my friends to take part in the destiny of the Jews the world over."
Shocked by what she heard and using global anti-Semitism as a rallying point, she helped found the Women's Division of American Jewish Congress, according to her daughter, and involved herself in projects to combat discrimination.
Rubin participated in the 1963 March on Washington, D.C., with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and was an outspoken proponent of pro-choice issues. "She corresponded with Eleanor Roosevelt and spoke out for her. My mother was always writing letters to editors, which were full of feeling and were published in The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Philadelphia Inquirer and national magazines."
In London once with her husband, Rubin - 4 foot 10 inches - got up on a soapbox in Hyde Park to espouse her political views.
"She was very smart, very interested in politics and the world situation," said her daughter. "She loved children and enjoyed playing with them. A necklace she wore said: 'War is dangerous for children and other living things.' According to her, if you raised a child, you were better able to deal with people because you had sensitivity and understanding."
Rubin is also survived by her son, George; six grandchildren; eight great grandchildren; and a sister.