Scroll Top

Ari Rubinstein: Presence, Faith & Service

Ari Rubinstein working

Written By Jonah Krell

Ari Rubinstein takes pride in showing up for his friends, even when he’s not obligated. It is deeply rooted in his nature, but it has also been a crucial part of his job as a paramedic for 18 years and as the Senior Director of Healthcare Operations for New York City’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response.

This winter, Rubinstein, 40, will show up once again for the 15th Pan American Maccabi Games where he will work as an Accommodations Manager, arranging hotel and travel for the American athletes. Last summer, the New York native also worked with the gold-medal winning Open Men’s Ice Hockey Team at the 21st Maccabiah in Israel. (He has also been a team paramedic in the NHL, for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders.)  In addition, he has staffed Birthright Israel 20 times and spent a year teaching high school students in Israel. 

But this year’s Games will be deeply personal. Rubinstein, an American-born son of Cuban Jews, will be making his first trip to Latin America. He grew up speaking English and Spanish at home where, he said, his family’s Shabbat dinners often included black beans, rice and matzah ball soup. 

Asked what the experience will mean to him, Rubinstein said, “It’s going to be a really great platform for teaching people about another Jewish community.”

In fact, Rubinstein said his Jewish identity has been “the driving factor” that fuels his impact in nearly all his adventures – perhaps not in his roles as a former bartender and corporate mixologist, but certainly while leading multiple non-profit organizations and being deployed by the federal government to assist in crises including the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Maria.

Rubinstein’s faith was instilled in him by his devoted parents, who urged him and his siblings to be Zionists. As a result, Judaism’s central tenets are at the forefront of everything he does, including “tikkun olam” (repairing the world), not standing idly by the blood of your neighbor, and never separating yourself from the community.

“It’s my obligation and my personal responsibility,” Rubinstein said, “even if I’m wearing a patch of the United States Government or the Emergency Medical Services of New York…I’m there as a representative of my family, of my community, of our people.” 

In Argentina, rather than being called upon in dire times to help repair communities, Rubinstein – with his Jewish roots once again shining through – hopes to see Maccabi USA build a new one.

He said his greatest hope is that the athletes this winter can get “that same sense of connection and camaraderie with their team and also with the Jewish people” and if they do,  “That will make me feel like I’ve accomplished my goal.”

Jonah Krell is a Phoenix native and current masters student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Follow him on Twitter (
@JonahKrell), and at

Join us at the European Maccabi Youth Games in London (July 28-August 6, 2024)
This is default text for notification bar