Epstein first grader is honored for saving family

BY VICTORIA SIEGEL, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Moshe Rubin, a first-grade student at Epstein Hebrew Academy, is a hero. And last week on KMOV-TV his heroism was rewarded, and broadcast, with the station’s “Do the Right Thing” award.

It all began this last March on the day of the big snow.

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“My mother had passed away on Feb. 24. It was a week after the funeral and we had just gotten up from shiva that Monday,” Jody Rubin, Moshe’s mother said. “Tuesday was the snow day. When I heard Epstein was closed I went back to sleep.”

Moshe’s father Jon had taken off to drive carpool to take his oldest son to yeshiva but Moshe’s mother and his three other brothers and sisters went back to sleep. But Moshe, being the early riser, decided to go downstairs to his grandparents’ side of the duplex home to watch cartoons.

“I watched TV and then went to get something to eat and came back and saw fire on the wall,” Moshe said. “I called my dad and he said to give the phone to mom.”

Jody was catching up on some much-needed sleep when Moshe came to her at 7:30 a.m. with the receiver and said his dad was on the phone.

“Jon said ‘Moshe called me and said there’s a fire in your parents’ house.’ I jumped out of bed, with the phone still to my ear, ran downstairs, and sure enough the computer desk was on fire,” Jody said. “I shrieked ‘It really is a fire’ and hung up.” Jody said she started quickly running through her head all the information she learned from training about handling fires.

“Is it a chemical fire? Is it electrical? What do I need to do?”

She rapidly determined it was an electrical fire so she began unplugging devices. Then she decided she should smother the fire and started looking around for something to use.

“The computer is next to the den and there are afghans all over the place. I had just buried my mother the week before and every one of these afghans is sentimental.”

But she grabbed one to put out the fire. However, the fire wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

“I noticed something was still smoldering or smoking so I started running back and forth from the kitchen with cups of water.”

Jody called 9-1-1 and then realized that the house was full of smoke. Moshe woke up the other children and she told them to go wake up zayde. The fire trucks and ambulance arrived and got everyone safely out of the house and the fire was extinguished. Since Jody was covered in soot and her father has emphysema, they were dispatched to the hospital in the ambulance for minor smoke inhalation.

Moshe thought riding in the ambulance was exciting. In fact he wasn’t even scared when the fire broke out and thought the whole adventure was exciting. He’s too modest to accept that he saved his whole family.

“He’s very sweet, very quiet and has many friends in the class,” Roz Hirschhorn, his teacher at Epstein, said. “He’s a shy little boy; you wouldn’t expect this from him.”

Hirschhorn mentioned the incident to the school’s principal, Dr. Phyllis Fredericksen, who was aware of KMOV’s “Do the Right Thing” awards from a previous school.

“He saved his family and I thought that was quite unique,” Fredericksen said. “He is a hero and we thought we should honor him.”

So she completed the application and out of over 200 nominations he was one of 10 heroes selected to be profiled by the television station.

Jody said the ceremony took place at the County Government Center in Clayton and was attended by a lot of police officers and fire fighters. The little hero received a goodie bag, a T-shirt and a $50 savings bond.

“Even though he’s a very humble hero, he stands a little taller,” Jody said about Moshe since the ceremony. Hirschhorn said that he seems to have come out of his shell a little bit and that his schoolmates are very proud of him.

Fire safety is covered at school so Moshe said he knows the “stop, drop, and roll” drill that kids are taught. But why did he call his dad when he saw the fire?

“Because he knows all the stuff to do,” Moshe said. Jody likes to think it’s because he was respecting his mom’s need for sleep. However, when asked what his advice is for other kids who see a fire Moshe responded: “Call their dad.”