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Out of the Melting Pot: Into the Fire

By Robert Greenblatt


In his article, “Out of the Melting Pot: Into the Fire” (The New Jews, Vintage Books, 1971, edited by Jim Sleeper & Alan L. Mintz) Robert Greenblatt eloquently stakes out his position as a Jew, an American and a revolutionary. No doubt, in his life time, he was all three.


Born in 1938, in Debrecen, in pre-war Hungary, he survived Hitler’s camps, and came to America, where he studied in Yeshivat Chaim Berlin. Some time after, he abandoned the Yeshiva for the secular world, and became a professor of mathematics at Cornell. Later, he gave up his academic post, and became one of the foremost leaders of the anti-war movement protesting the war in Vietnam. In his latter years, he returned to a more traditional Jewish life, becoming the President of the Hillel chapter in Brooklyn. Robert Greenblatt died on Oct. 21, 2009.


Note: Robert Greenblatt was my mother’s first cousin, so that makes him my first cousin once removed. Robert Greenblatt’s parents were Julius and Pessie Greenblatt (d. Nov 20, 2000 age 97.) My mother, Esther Rubenstein nee Greenblatt, who was born in Szatmarcseke, Hungary, was the niece of Julius Greenblatt. Julius was the brother of my mother’s father, Joseph Greenblatt, who was married to Chaya Greenblatt nee Pearlstein. My mother had 7 siblings all of whom fled Hungary by the end of 1941. In birth order, Sol (1921-1977 ), Clara (1923-1997), Bernie (1924-2018), Judy (b. 1926), Mendie (b. 1929), Heshy (1930), Esther (b. 1932) & Moishe (1936-2017). My mother’s father, Joseph left Hungary in 1939, Sol, Bernie and Clara fled in 1940, and the rest of the family fled in May of 1941, shortly before the borders were closed, and a few months before Pearl Harbour. After arriving in the U.S. from Hungary, Sol (at age 20) & Bernie (at age 17) were drafted in the US army - Sol served in Europe and Bernie in the Pacific theatre.

Eli Rubenstein

Thu, June 13 2024 7 Sivan 5784