Rubin Surname Genealogy

is some confusion about its origins. The
name appears to derive from the given
name of biblical times Reuven,
meaning “behold my son;” but it may equally share roots with the German
word rubin meaning “ruby” and a derivative of
the Latin rubeus or red.
Rubin in America, like the ornamental name Rubinstein
(derived from
ruby), tends to be a Jewish surname. However, there are some
non-Jewish origins of the Rubin name.

Rubin Resources on

Rubin Ancestry

The early Rubin surname in Europe was not Jewish in origin. Names
such as Richter Rubynus in 1240 and Nicolas Rubein in 1377 can be found
in medieval German charters. Ruby appeared in Reichenbach parish
records in Switzerland in 1559; and Rubin cropped up in Markdorf
in southern Baden and, more noticably, in Lauterbrunnen
in the Swiss Berne canton. The numbers there are not that large,
about 1,000 in all of Switzerland today.

Rubin also appeared in northern Spain – Rubin de Celis from the village
of Celis
near Santander – and in Norrbottens Lan in northern Sweden.
The Spanish Rubins
crossed the Atlantic; but the Swedish Rubins did not.

The Rubin
arrivals in America
reflect mainly Jewish and Yiddish
origins – from the Jewish enclaves in Russia and Poland to Germany
itself. The peak years of immigration were from 1890 to 1910.

Dolhinov near Minsk in present-day Belarus are said to have been there
the early 1700’s. Barry Rubin’s 2012 book Children of Dolhinov
an account of the Rubins from Dolhinov in Poland who made it to America
in 1909. Dolhinov was later the site of
atrocities against the Jews in 1942
. The Rubins of Paszto in Hungary were also
up by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. Most
of them died there. But Ted
survived, made it to America, and later fought for
America in the
Korean War.

. Rubin – and sometimes Rubinchik,
Rubinsohn, Rubinovsky, and other names as well – came to
America as Rubin. Rubin was one of the most
commonly registered names for Russian Jews arriving at Ellis
Island. The first Rubin might well have
been Avram Chaim Rubin from Rzeszow in Poland who came in 1858 and
settled after the Civil War in
San Francisco.

Many Rubins came to New York and they or their offspring made
their mark there. Among these Rubins have been:

  • Samuel Rubin from Bialystok in Russia who arrived with his
    parents in the early 1900’s. They opened a small
    dry goods store in Brooklyn. He as a young man was a committed
    Communist, but later earned a large fortune from his cosmetics firm
    Faberge Perfumes.
  • another Sam
    who started working in the movie
    concession business selling candy in the 1920’s at
    the age of twelve. He became known as Sam the Popcorn Man for
    introducing popcorn into New York theaters.
  • Roberrt
    a whizz-kid at Goldman Sachs and later US Secretary of the Treasury,
    who was
    born and raised in New York. His
    grandfather had arrived penniless from Minsk in Russia, but grew
    speculating in Florida real estate during the 1920’s.
    He lost it all in the Crash of 1929. Robert’s
    daughter-in-law Gretchen Rubin is the author of the best-selling The Happiness Project.
  • Donald
    Rubin who grew up in New York during
    the Depression of trade union parents. His
    interest in Himalayan art was sparked by a painting he
    saw in a
    Madison Avenue art gallery in the early 1970’s. He
    became a passionate collector and later founded the Rubin Museum of
    Art in New York.
  • Harvey
    Rubin who was born in Brooklyn and also grew up during
    the Depression years. He moved to
    Larchmont and became an independent book publisher.
    His son Jamie Rubin, married to the CNN
    reporter Christiane Amanpour, is a former diplomat and current editor
    of Bloomberg News.
  • and
    Rebecca Rubin, the
    replica doll which was created in 2009 by American Girl
    portray the early 1900’s
    Russian-Jewish immigrant girl.

Canada. Montreal was a
destination for many Jewish
immigrants and, for some Rubins, also a way station on their way to New
York. Montreal’s Jewish quarter recorded
54 Rubins in the 1911 census. Ruth Rubin
was born there in 1906, the daughter of Russian immigrants. She became an exponent of Yiddish folk songs.

Rubin Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Rubin Names

Sam Rubin was best known
for introducing
popcorn into movie thraters in New York in the 1930’s.
was a social activist in the 1960’s and co-founder of the
Yippie movement.
Robert Rubin was US Secretary
of the Treasury during the Clinton administration in the 1990’s.

Select Rubins Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 10,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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