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25 January 2011

Peter Rubinstein and Family of Romania and England

The histories of our ancestors are filled with the stories of tragedy and suffering. So many had given up so much of their lives in order to find new homes where they could live without fear of being killed for being Jewish. As I have been looking at a few of the families in the Knowles Collection- Jews of The British Isles database, one family in particular has caused me to think a lot about what their lives must have been like.

What little we know about Peter and Rosie Rubinstein and their family comes from the 1911 Census of England. At the time of that census they were living with 5 children at 140 Great Clowes Street in the parish of Broughton, Lancashire, England. Married for 31 years, they were both born in Romania as were the five children living with them. Those children were Joseph (b.1886), Nathan (b.1887), Sarah (b.1889), Harry (b. 1892) and Jane (b.1903). The census (shown below) is taken from

We can assume from this census that the family arrived in England sometime after 1903 when the youngest Jane was born in Romania. A double check of the 1901 Census does not find any mention of the family. The part of this story that has me thinking so much about this family is the information provided on total children in the family. In those columns we find that Peter and Rosie had 13 children born alive of whom 7 were still living and 6 had died by the time of the census. I can't help but wonder at how hard it must have been to leave their home in Romania after having suffered so much there. I of course don't know the circumstances behind their move, but it does make me grateful for all those who did sacrifice for us all.

The Jewish history of Romania may even go back as far as 101 C.E. when Jews may have arrived as merchants with the Roman legions. We do know that Jewish immigrants arrived in 1367 after being expelled from Hungary and again in the 16th Century after being expelled from the Balkan Peninsula. The modern history of Romania begins in the early 19th Century when Romania was really just starting to seek its own Independence.

From 1821 through the 1848 revolt against Russia, and up till 1878 the Jews of Romania were constantly trying to obtain basic rights. It wasn't until The Congress of Berlin in 1878, which finally gave Romania its own independence, that Jews began to hope that they would receive those rights. These hopes turned out to be fruitless as the treatment of Jews only got worse. For many the only hope was to leave Romania for a new life elsewhere. Between 1900 and the beginning of World War 1, almost 70,000 Jews left Romania, leaving about 240,000 Jews residing there at the beginning of the war. I wonder if this is what led to the Rubinstein's making their way to England.

The stories of the Rubinstein's may never be fully known, but the records of this family can be found in the Knowles Collection-Jews of the British Isles database.

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