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Reuben, Henry Robert (1811–1897)

Death, the unrelenting, has once more entered among us and called from the lines one of our best and noblest, a loving spirit under whose guidance and direction so many have found peace and contentment. He has severed one more link that bound a creature to his Creator, by freeing a soul from his earthly fetters, carried so honorably, to enjoy the ever lasting peace and rest of the life eternal. From the good name of the late Mr. Reuben, his religion, and the receipt of a good old age, we contemplate that —

'This life of mortal breath is but the entrance to the life Elysian, Whose potrals we call death.'

Henry Robert Reuben was born in London on the 8th August, 1811, and came to the colonies in 1829. In 1838 he married Emma Solomon who still survives him. His family consisted of three daughters and seven sons. Of his daughters Deborah married the late Mr. Morris Cohen, of West Maitland. Mrs. Morris Cohen now resides in London. Esther is the wife of Mr. Edward Phillips, of Woollahra, and Lizzie is unmarried. His sons are named Robert, Charles, Louis, Henry Samuel, Edward and Albert. Edward died about seven years ago, and Henry in October, 1895. He had 18 grand-children and 13 great-grand-children. For the last 30 years Mr. Reuben had resided in Sydney, although he had previously lived at Tamworth and Narrabri.

On Monday, 23rd, he was seized with an attack of bronchitis. A doctor was called in. At 10.15, and later at one o'clock, he said his prayers. About 3 o'clock a change occurred, and the nurse sent for Dr. A. A O'Hara, who came immediately and did everything in his power, but Mr. Reuben sank rapidly and passed away on the morning of the 28th without pain.

The funeral was largely attended, some hundred persons being present at the grave. Mr. Albert Reuben being ill in bed was unable to be present. Among those present were: Mr. H. Morris Cohen and Harry Reuben (son of Mr. Charles Reuben), grand-children of the deceased; Rev. A. B. Davis, Rev. P. Phillippstein, His Honor Mr. Justice Cohen, Messrs. M. Gotthelf, George J. Cohen, Norman Cohen, Neville D. Cohen, Burnett D. Cohen, Harry D. Cohen, Harry Levy, Montague Marks, Woolfred Marks, Eliott Meyer, J. Hollander, Abraham Cohen, B. F. Marks, Samuel Cohen, David Moses, M. Asher, Philip Benjamin, Henry Myers, J. J. Cohen, N. M. Cohen, P. J. Marks, D. S. Marks, Coleman P. Hyman, S. H. Solomon, Harry Hart, Ernest Davis, D. Nathan. R. B. Asher, A. A. Hollander, L. L. Hollander, Lawrence Moss, Edward Phillips, John Moss, Saul Myers, Arthur Davis, Dr. A. A. O'Hara, Saul Cohen, Lewis Cohen, Chas. Schmith — Rich, Hubert Isaacs, Philip Cohen, J. Mandelson, Hugo Hermann and J. A. Moss.

The Rev. J. H. Landau officiated and delivered the following oration at the grave: —

Funeral Oration
Henry Robert Reuben. Sunday, August 29, 1887.
The reaper Death has been among us again. And this time a hoary head has fallen to his sickle. He has borne from us with scarcely any notice a father in Israel, with whom many who stand around me were linked by the ties of dear kinship. He has been called hence in a ripe old age. A man of singularly sweet disposition, who passed through life beloved by everyone. No one ever heard an unkind word from the lips of this sweetly-charactered man; no one ever had aught but good to say of him. We all loved him and venerated him; we are all sincere mourners at his graveside.

Henry Robert Reuben was not one of the strong ones of the earth who make their mark in those channels of life where conspicuous intellectual powers are needed; but he could live a pure life— he could fear God and do righteousness. With the Psalmist he could say — 'Surely I have behavod and quieted myself as a child is weaned of his mother; my sou! is even as a weaned child.' Simple in his habits, unassuming in his demeanour, faithful to the region of his father. God's presence hovered over his life like the cloud over Israel's encampment of old.

From the days when, as a child, he found delight in worshipping at the Great Synagogue in London, to the day when three weeks since he entered for the last time the portals of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, and publicly blessed the Lord on the attainment of his 86th birthday, it was always his desire to serve God with his body and his spirit, which were God's. His aim was above all things the renewal of his soul after God's image in righteousness and holiness. O, it is a great and pre-eminently blessed thing when the peace of God takes early hold upon any soul, and reason and religion run together like warp and woof, to frame the web of an exemplary life. In too many lives there is a dreadful break, a grievous discontinuity. Their first volume has too often been a jest book, and the second a carnival, before the third becomes a remorse and a repentance. But how much happier are they who can give, as Henry Robert Reuben gave, a single heart to God? He lifted up his hands and his heart, morning, afternoon, and night, in supplication and thanksgiving in supplication for the blessings he received, in thanks giving for the blessings he had. Even at the last he remembered God upon his bed, and meditated on Him in the night watches. Even on that early Sabbath morn, when the end drew near, out of the extremity of bodily weakness, out of the darkness of death, he gathered himself up, and with prayers on his lips ' he gave up the ghost and died.' Surely the Lord will recompense him, and a full reward will be given him of the God of Israel, under whose wings he has come to dwell. Surely goodness and grace shall follow him all the days of Eternity, and he shall dwell in the house of the Lord.

The man is gone. The kind old face shall be seen of us never more on earth. We shall enjoy no more his gentle manners, his child like innocence, his holy influence.

Life's race well run,
Life's battle well won,
Peace has come.

But his voice still speaks to his children, his grand-children, his great grand-children, bidding them to live that they too may await the day of the body's dissolution without His also who are not of his kin his voice speaks. And to us — that the new members of the Great Synagogue may learn to love it as he did.

And lastly, I beseech your prayers for an aged and afflicted widow in the days of her distress. May the religious feeling which so eminently characterises her come to her aid in this season of trial, and instil peace and hope with her sorrowing heart. And as she has been bereft these many years of her natural sight, now, in God's light, may she see light. Amen.

On Sunday evening at Minyan the Rev. J. H. Landau made a further very touching reference to the virtues and uprightness of the late Mr. Reuben, and his widow appeared greatly solaced to know that his virtues were so universally recognised.

Original publication

  • Hebrew Standard of Australasia (Sydney), 3 September 1897, p 7 (view original)

Citation details

'Reuben, Henry Robert (1811–1897)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/reuben-henry-robert-19701/text31004, accessed 24 January 2018.

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