Yosef Rubinstein was born near Bialystok and was taught Russian by his father who was a Maskil, part of the Enlightenment Movement. His early education was in a non- traditional school (kheder Metukn). He worked during the day, and at night went to a Polish business school, then to an art school. His first book of poems, Modeln, “(Models) was published in Warsaw by the Yiddish Pen Club in 1939.
He spent six months in Moscow as a guest of Soviet writer Bergelson. Then in 1941, he went back to Bialsytock which was then occupied by the Soviets, and soon had to flee further east to Alma Ata, Kazakstan. There he spent the war with other Jewish refugees whose moto was “We Shall Endure”.
The oppressed and silenced Soviet Yiddish writers implored him to express their pain and devotion to their historic and religious heritage. He did this in Megillot Russland, (“Scroll of Russia”) in 1963. In a second poetic epic, Khurban Poiln, (“Polish Holocaust”) – a lament, he described his return to Poland in 1946. This was published in 1964. Through Sweden he went on to New York, where he was published widely and won major Yiddish poetry prizes and where he published Yetsiot Europa, (“Exodus from Europe”), 1970