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The violinist who quit New York to run a communist chicken farm

Beryl Rubens is the least prominent member of one of Britain’s most prolific artistic families.

Her sister Bernice was a novelist who won the Booker Prize for The Elected Member and made a splash with a movie about a piano teacher, Madame Sousatzka. Like the rest of the family, she played an instrument.

Brother Harold was a brilliant pianist who lost his career to nerves.

Brother Cyril was a violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra, a man who went to the opera on his nights off.

Beryl played the violin in Welsh National Opera before moving to America, where her egalitarian ideals led her to a very different lifestyle. We have been sent Louis Proyect’s new documentary about the leftist, Jewish chicken farmers of New York’s Borscht Belt. Fascinating stuff.

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  1. john humphreys says:

    …dear Beryl, an old friend (and sister of my beloved piano teacher Harold Rubens)….a wonderful person. I’ll drink to you tonight (and every night!)

  2. Dear Mr. Lebrecht: I grew up on a chicken farm in Howell Townshiip, New Jersey, near Lakewood. Alot of Holocaust survivors became chicken farmers once they immigrated to the US. In fact the Rosenberg’s sons went to summer camp in the Borscht Belt, where the Jews were left leaning. The Rosenberg’s lived in Toms River, New Jersey, where the chicken farmers were also leftist. I lived in neutral territory where most of the “Greene” so marked because they were all trying to get Green Cards which eventually became their American Passports. My neighbors in and around the surrounding area were all survivors from Poland or Germany who gave their children good Jewish educations and proceded to regroup after the concentration camps. I hope to see Mr.Poyect’s documentary on PBS and might have a connection or two in that area. Gertrude Dubrovsky, a lady from Freehold, NJ did a similar documentary and it was aired on PBS. Thank you for sharing this story, which might just be a book I’d like to do. Cheers!

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