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A photograph of Rubye Finger- a black and white mid shot of a woman with thick cirular rimmed glasses and a sweater vest sitting and looking to the camera

Rubye Finger Papers

Rubye Haffer Finger (1924-2012) was a compassionate woman of Jewish faith who was active in her community. She was one of the founders of the New Bedford Jewish Convalescent Home and served as its director from 1971 to 1983. Beyond the Jewish community, Rubye was president of the New Bedford League of Women Voters and a trustee at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Rubye Haffer Finger (1924-2012) was a compassionate woman of Jewish faith who was an active member in her community. Rubye was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 24, 1924 to parents Mildred (Shrier) and Louis R. Haffer. Rubye’s mother Mildred emigrated from Russia and became a political activist in the Boston area; Rubye’s father Louis was a clothing merchant. 

The Haffers raised their family, including younger brother Miles, in Boston. Rubye went to Boston Latin School and went on to Roxbury Memorial High School. In high school, Rubye was a member of the Drama Club, where she performed in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Tap dancing was another hobby of hers, and she performed “Stepping Out” in the Boston Arena. After high school, Rubye earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Framingham State Teachers College during World War II. With her degree in education, Rubye became a substitute teacher in Newton, MA. After her marriage to Louis D. Finger, Rubye moved to New Bedford and worked at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School as a substitute teacher. Rubye was an advocate for her students. She was one of the original organizers of the Greater New Bedford Regional Science Fair in the early 1960s. Rubye and Louis had two children, Ellen and David, and the family eventually moved to nearby Dartmouth.

Rubye Finger, second from left, at the groundbreaking for the Jewish Convalescent Home, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1964
Rubye Finger, second from left, at the groundbreaking for the Jewish Convalescent Home, New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1964

Rubye was inspired by her own mother Mildred and her mother-in-law Sylvia Finger, who were both very active in the Jewish community. In her younger years, at age 13, Rubye was an officer of the Daughters Division of the Jewish War Veterans. Once Rubye moved to New Bedford, she immediately began following in Sylvia’s footsteps and continued to be active in the Jewish community. At age 25, Rubye became president of the Tifereth Israel Sisterhood. She was also a chairperson of the Woman’s Division of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New Bedford and a member of the National Jewish Welfare Board. Rubye, along with her husband and in-laws, was one of the founders of the New Bedford Jewish Convalescent Home. Incorporated in 1961 with a 1964 groundbreaking and 1966 opening, this home for the aged continues to be one of the most highly regarded skilled nursing facilities in southeastern Massachusetts. Rubye served as its director from 1971 to 1983.

Beyond the Jewish community, Rubye became president of the New Bedford League of Women Voters and president of the Greater New Bedford Community Council. She was a trustee at St. Luke’s Hospital and a chairperson of New Bedford Sub Region for the Office of Elder Affairs.

Later in life, Rubye became an avid tennis player, where she “used to go play tennis across the street there [from her house] and I’m still playing tennis. My husband teases me and he teases me and says I’m the only 80-year-old who wanted a tennis racket for her birthday oh, her 80th birthday.” 

Rubye was a woman of compassion, drive, and desire to help and give back to others in her roles in the community. After a long, fulfilled life of serving, Rubye died on April 16, 2012 at the age of 88.

Lindsay Chubbuck, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Class of 2022 (Elisabeth Arruda, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Faculty Sponsor) with Ann O’Leary, Emily Bourne Research Fellow

Information from

  • Rubye Finger Interviewed by Cindy Yoken (VHS), 2004 October 21, Box: 6, Recording: MC 23.233. Center for Jewish Culture Oral History Project interviews, MC-023. Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

  • Rubye Finger Papers, MC 119. Archives of the Center for Jewish Culture, Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. https://archivesspace.lib.umassd.edu/repositories/3/resources/115. Accessed September 13, 2022.

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