My Favorite Episodes in Helena Rubinstein’s Biography

It’s difficult to choose only one—she led such an amazing life! The first that springs to mind, though, is the way in which she played the Lehman brothers—all-powerful businessmen at the time—who had purchased her company for an astronomical amount in 1928, selling it back to her for next to nothing in 1930. The crash had been and gone, and Helena Rubinstein had understood how to profit from it…

I also love her exile in Australia, sent away on a boat at the age of 24. Leaving Europe alone, without a chaperone, was extremely brave for any woman, let alone one so young.

And then there’s her purchase of the entire apartment block on Park Avenue in 1941, because the landlords refused to house a Jewish tenant.

And simply that way of rolling up her sleeves after the war, when she was more than 70 years old, in order to re-build her beauty salon and laboratory in France, both of which had been heavily bombed by the Germans. She was a millionaire, she could have delegated the work, instead she preferred to deal with it herself.

And, of course, her great intelligence and long-term vision, this woman lacked neither courage nor panache, which is why I liked her straightaway.

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

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