Centenarian Plants Family Tree At Beit Hatfutsot
On the day of Ms. Ruth Reuven’s 100th birthday, 17th June 2012, her family tree of six generations, was registered at the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Centre - a culmination of a three month intensive effort of translating Ruth's phenomenal memory and documented narrative of her family's details and history into an organized framework that will preserve precious information and add another branch to the family tree of the Jewish People.
The youngest of eight siblings, Ruth Reuven nee Feldman was born in Leeds, England, in 1912 to traditional and strongly Zionist parents of Lithuanian origin. At the age of 18 Ruth was accepted to study at the University of Leeds and insisted on learning Hebrew and Jewish Studies. However, after a year of study, her family's financial situation obliged her to leave university and go to work at the local Hebrew school (cheder). She eventually got her degree at age of 37.
In 1933 she married Solly Reuven, the second of four siblings, also of Lithuanian origin. WW2 broke out and Solly enlisted to the British Army. At first he fought in North Africa, but shortly after the Japanese joined the war he was sent to the Far East, was captured and became a prisoner of war in Java for three and half years. Conditions were so difficult that most POWs did not survive. Solly was in such poor physical and emotional condition on his release that he was hospitalized in a military hospital for another two years. During all this time Ruth, who was left to look after their five year old daughter and her mother, had no idea what had happened to her husband. Despite this challenge, when England accepted some 10,000 children in the 'Kindertransport', Ruth, aged 28, took into her home three of those children; a 17 year old girl and her two brothers, 14 and 7 years respectively, whom she brought up along with her daughter. Years later, the middle brother joined the British "Machal" and came to fight in the Independence War of Israel. He was killed in action near Latrun. His siblings made aliya, married and built families in Israel.
The Reuvens came to live in Israel in 1969 when they were both 57 years old and made Netanya their home. Their biological daughter and husband remained in England. In 1981, Solly Reuven passed away suddenly, leaving Ruth to rebuild her life on her own – which she did in accordance with her belief that to have meaning one "has to live not only for oneself but also for others". In 2001 she was awarded "Honorary Citizen of Netanya".
On the 2nd July, 2012 Mrs Ruth Reuven, accompanied by her granddaughter came on a very symbolic visit to Bet Hatfutsot. She came to pay homage to the New Exhibition on Volunteers from Abroad in Israel's War of Independence, the and to view her family tree and the contributions she made to the Visual Documentation Centre.
Ruth Reuven with her grand daughter Dorit Ziv. Beit Hatfutsot, July 2012. Photo: Yaacov Brill