Ruth F. Brin, an extraordinary member of the Minnesota Jewish community has passed away. Her writing — poetry, liturgies, essays, a memoir and a novel — spans six decades.
Here is an excerpt from the Jewish Women’s Archive:
Ruth F. Brin is one of the liturgical pioneers of the post-World War II era. In the 1950s, when most Jewish women still seemed content with their traditional subordinate role in public worship, Ruth Brin was already at work modernizing traditional Jewish prayers and texts, and offering new interpretive readings and original poetry reflecting her own religious experience. Her liturgical innovation bore fruit.Â Today it is difficult to find a Reform, Conservative, or Reconstructionist prayer book or anthology that does not include one or more of her writings, and many individual synagogue services throughout the United States and Canada make use of her work. She is the first woman, and one of the few American-born writers, of whom this can be said.
I was privileged to know Ruth over the past 14 years, through my work at the American Jewish World. She was our book critic; and she was a dear friend. She died yesterday morning, Sept. 30, after suffering a mild heart attack last Friday and ensuing complications. She was 88.
A recent highlight in Ruth’s long and full life took place May 6 atÂ St. Paul JCC, when aÂ capacity crowd celebrated her life and work.
- At the conclusion of the program, Jeffrey Richman (left), the JCC’s Jewish cultural arts director, wheeled in a birthday cake with candles signifying Ruth Brin’s 88th birthday. Brin read from her memoir Bittersweet Berries: Growing Up Jewish in Minnesota (Holy Cow! Press), and selections from her poetry and writings were read by her daughter Judith Brin Ingber (right); daughter Rabbi Deborah J. Brin, of Congregation Nahalat Shalom in Albuquerque, N.M.; and brother-in-law Charles Brin. (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)
A funeral for Ruth F. Brin will take place 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2 at Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minnetonka.
The American Jewish World mourns the loss of an esteemed colleague and an exemplary member of the Jewish community. We extend our condolences to Ruth Brin’s family. — Mordecai Specktor
Update (Friday, Oct. 2)
Here is the obituary in the Star Tribune, with shiva information:
Ruth Firestone Brin
Age 88, died Sept. 30, 2009. She was the beloved wife of the late Howard Brin, mother of Judith Brin Ingber (Jerome), Aaron (Harriet), David (David), Rabbi Deborah Brin (Yael), grandmother of Noah and Shai Ingber (Melissa), and great-grandmother of Sasha Juliana, brother-in-law, Charles Brin (Beryl), and many nieces, nephews and friends across many generations. Ruth was a well known author of 13 published books including, poetry, non-fiction, a memoir, children’s books and a novel, published when she was 85. For 35 years she reviewed books for the Star Tribune, and recently for the American Jewish World. Ruth’s poetic interpretation of Biblical texts and ancient prayers made them relevant and accessible for our lives today. A ground breaking poet whose woman’s voice was crucial to creating space for women in the traditional Jewish contexts, she led the way in liberal Jewish movements. A nationally known liturgist in the Jewish world, it is difficult to find a Reform, Conservative, or Reconstructionist prayer book or anthology that does not include her writings. She was a founding editor of “Identity Magazine.” Ruth, the daughter of the late Milton and Irma Firestone, grew up in St. Paul, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College and received a master’s degree from the U of M. In 2007, she was recognized with the Outstanding Alumnae Award from the College of Liberal Arts, U of M. In 1985, she received the Keter Shem Tov Award, from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She and her husband Howard were leaders in the Mpls Jewish Community. A nature lover and world traveler, Ruth was involved in the civil affairs of the Twin Cities. During World War II she worked for the War Production Board in Washington, DC, and later taught at Macalester College and the U of M Extension. She lectured and taught in many venues, continuing to write book reviews and teaching classes on Biblical studies until her death. In lieu of flowers gifts can be given to The Howard B. Brin Endowment for the Arts at the Mpls Jewish Fed. 13100 Wayzata Blvd., Mtka. 55305; the Ruth and Howard Brin Scholarship Fund at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College 1299 Church Rd., Wyncote, PA, 19095 or the American Indian College Fund 833 Greenwood Blvd., Denver, CO 80221-4448. Funeral service FRIDAY (TODAY) 1 PM at ADATH JESHURUN CONGREGATION, 10500 W. Hillside Ln., Mtka. Family will receive friends at 7:30 PM Sun. through Wed. at 4209 Basswood Rd and Thursday, 7:30 PM at The Kenwood, 825 Summit Ave, Mpls. Hodroff-Epstein 612-871-1234Â www.hodroffepstein.com