Mourners filled the seats and crowded into the back room of Sholom Memorial Park on Sunday, Nov. 17, to lay to rest Jewish Defense League (JDL) leader Irving David Rubin, but the funeral did not lay to rest the questions surrounding the controversial activist's death or the 11 months he spent in federal prison awaiting trial.
The more than 150 mourners at Rubin's funeral could not put the legal troubles of the JDL leader's final year behind them. Talk among friends and admirers of Rubin turned again and again to what they called the unfairness of his incarceration and investigations of his death.
Among the mourners gathered at Sholom Memorial Park in Sylmar were well-known friends of Rubin, including conservative pundit "Melrose" Larry Green, talk show host Larry Elder and Gary Copeland, former Libertarian candidate for governor. Copeland has previously called Rubin "my libertarian brother" and "a token Jew in this war against terrorism." The funeral drew believers in a wide range of political and religious ideologies, from religious Zionists to Rubin's self-described "Northern California liberal" older sister.
Rabbi Tzvi Block of North Hollywood's congregation Toras Hashem officiated at the memorial service. He told mourners that Rubin would be celebrated in "the most important courtroom, the heavenly tribunal," and urged attendees "do not stand idly by your brother's blood."
Block recalled when he officiated at the wedding of Irv and Shelley Rubin, and said Rubin's legacy would live on with his two sons. Of Rubin's death while awaiting trial on charges of plotting terrorist attacks, Block said, "The Almighty declared that he should skip that trial."
The Rubin family is not standing idly by. The family has demanded an investigation into Rubin's death and threatened to sue the government if videotapes in the prison showing Rubin's fall are not released. Rubin died Nov. 13, nine days after reportedly slashing his throat and jumping over a prison railing.
FBI officials have said that no evidence exists that Rubin's death was anything other than a suicide. However, the family and Rubin's attorneys have questioned the impartiality of the FBI, which has investigated Rubin in the past.
JDL spokesman Brett Stone distributed a statement from the family that read, in part, "We still want to know the truth about what happened to Irv. We want an independent investigation into the events surrounding Irv's injuries and death. No person deserves to die while in the custody of the U.S. Government."
Rubin's death will not end the criminal case that put him in prison. Alleged co-conspirator and JDL "lieutenant" Earl Krugel remains in custody, awaiting a trial now set for Jan. 21. He faces at least 35 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
Rubin, 57, and Krugel, 60, were arrested on Dec. 11, 2001. They have been held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, without bail, since their arrest.
Attorney Mark Werksman read a statement from Krugel at the funeral, calling Rubin "a giant amongst fearful, myopic dwarves" of the Jewish mainstream, "an establishment that gave new meaning to the words weak and timid."
Regarding the criminal case against Krugel, Werksman later told The Journal, "The case against Earl remains the same." Werksman said that while Rubin's death will change the dynamics of the trial, the case against Krugel will continue.
At the time of the injuries that led to Rubin's death, his attorneys were preparing to ask a judge to sever the cases of the two men. While both claimed innocence, Rubin planned to argue that he was not involved in the alleged plan to bomb a Culver City mosque and a congressman's office.
Krugel, who appears more frequently than Rubin in the audiotapes recorded by FBI informant Danny Gillis, is expected to argue entrapment, claiming that the bombings were the plan of Gillis.
Neither Gillis nor Krugel's brother, Barry, returned phone calls from The Journal.