Melba Levin-Rubin

December 5, 1906–1944

by Tamar Kaplan Appel

In Brief

Unusual for her time, Melba Levin–Rubin juggled a high–profile career as assistant attorney general of Michigan with raising four children. Melba Levin immigrated to the United States with her family in 1914 and earned an LLB from the Detroit College of Law in 1925 and an LLM from the Detroit Law School in 1932. She began practicing law in 1926. Unusual for the era, she hyphenated her last name, taking her husband’s name while keeping her own. Levin was active in both the National Council of Jewish Women and the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan.


Melba Levin-Rubin, an accomplished lawyer, was born to Max and Kunia Levin on December 5, 1906, in Slonim, Russia. When her family arrived in the United States in 1914, they settled in Detroit, where she grew up and attended school. She received an LL.B. degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1925 and an LL.M. degree from the Detroit Law School in 1932. In 1933, she earned a B.S. from Wayne State University.

Levin-Rubin began practicing law in 1926. She became the public administrator of Wayne County, Michigan, in 1930, and was made a member of the Welfare and Relief Study Commission for the state in 1936. In that same year, she became the assistant attorney general of Michigan. Active in both professional and Jewish communal organizations, Levin-Rubin was a member of the Women’s Lawyers Association of Michigan and the Women’s League for Character Building in the National Council of Jewish Women.

On September 26, 1926, she married Samuel H. Rubin of Detroit, who already had a son, Harris Rubin. Levin-Rubin had three children with Samuel Rubin: Gloria, Richard, and Robert.

In her professional career, Levin-Rubin distinguished herself both as a Jew and as a woman. Women in the first half of the twentieth century—and Jewish women in particular—rarely studied or practiced law. An indication of Levin-Rubin’s forward-thinking views is her last name, in which she retained her maiden name while adding on her married one.


WWIAJ (1938).

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How to cite this page

Appel, Tamar Kaplan. "Melba Levin-Rubin." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 13, 2024) <>.