The Death of an Artist Gail Rubin, 39, Killed by Terrorists

Gail Rubin had an irrepressible and inexhaustible zest for life. At 39 she was at the height of her artistry and at the top of her profession as a nature photographer. Her talents soared as high as the birds in flight and her love of life was as expansive and multiform as the species of animals she photographed all over Israel.

She was a warm, responsive, sensitive exuberant, vibrant yet intrinsically shy person. She could embrace people with her infectious, spontaneous laughter, her bright warm smile, her almost child-like curiosity and interest in everything and everyone. For the past seven years she lived and worked in Israel photographing wildlife and returned occasionally to New York to visit her family, friends, to get another free-lance assignment or to exhibit her photographs as she did last in February, 1977, at the Jewish Museum.

Several months later she decided to return to Israel for what she told some of her friends was an irrepressible urge to photograph more aspects of wildlife there, especially wildlife mentioned in the Bible, and to fill an assignment for Time-Life magazine. She was planning to return to the United States later this year.

Last Saturday she was dead–the first victim of terrorist vipers who wantonly and brutally murdered her and 36 other people in a rampage that began at Maagen Michael, south of Haifa, and ended just outside Tel Aviv.

ATTRACTED TO LIFE IN ISRAEL

Ms. Rubin was photographing birds on the beach at Maagan Michael when several men approached her and asked for directions. She had no idea, could not have suspected that they were terrorists. Several minutes later she was dead, shot by the killers who took her rented car and then abandoned it when they found that it was too small to hold them and their weapons of death.

Ms. Rubin, who grew up in New York on the upper East Side and was a graduate of the Dalton School and Finch College, was attracted to Israel because of its beauty and its lure of Biblical wildlife, she used to tell her friends. Each time she came to New York she was impatient to return to wander through the vast reaches of wildlife habitats and to record them in motion or at rest. Her photographic exhibit summed up, in her own title of the assemblage, “The Birds of the Heavens, the Beasts of the Field–The Bible as Source.”

Her photographs were alive with form and motion–graceful gazelles leaping through the Galilee, ibex climbing up the cliffs of Ein Gedi, flurry conies finding refuge under large rocks, pelicans skimming water and herons in flight. Each photograph was accompanied by her own poetic narrative. She was totally absorbed in her work, some of which appeared in recent months in the spring issue of U.S. Camera magazine and in the January issue of Natural History.

Before embarking on her career as a nature photographer she was a press and war photographer in Israel during the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War. Her career as a nature photographer zoomed after producing promotional photographs for Israel’s Nature Reserves Authority. She won international acclaim for her work in that field.

Ms. Rubin was the only child of Jonathan and Estelle Rubin of 1016 Fifth Avenue. Her father is vice-president and treasurer of Krasdale Foods. Her mother is a psychotherapist and co-author of “Part Time Father,” a study of divorced parents. She was also a relative of Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D.Conn.). Last night the Senator denounced the terrorist carnage and termed the death of Ms. Rubin and the other victims “an indefensible act of terrorism that deserves universal condemnation.”

According to friends of the family, the U.S. Embassy in Israel called the family yesterday and asked if they wanted Ms. Rubin to be buried in Israel. The family asked that her body be returned to the United States.

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