Rubinstein was the astonishing, funny and heart-rending fool of the Warsaw Ghetto, bracingly witty, and perhaps as mad as he was brilliant, or just superb at feigning insanity. Here he comes up with a perfect equation to predict that 40 would survive the ghetto.
‘Nobody wanted to hear those gloomy voices that predicted the nearing end of the ghetto. But Rubinstein had his own saying on this to which all could listen and quote. Only 40 will survive the war, he declared: Grzybowska 26 – which was the Judenrat address, Leszno 13 – which was the address of the Gestapo’s Jewish collaborators bureau in the ghetto, and he Rubinstein himself. So 26+13+1=40 – a mystical number in Jewish tradition but here relating to two very criticized entities in the ghetto.’
See also the bewildering circumstances surrounding an announcement of his death. If death it was.
Source: Amos Goldberg, ‘A Fool or a Prophet: Rubinstein the Warsaw Ghetto Jester’, The 2019 J. B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Annual Lecture at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 13 March 2019, p. 19.
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