Ruth Ellen Gruber is a writer, photographer and lecturer concentrating on Jewish and East-Central European affairs. She is the author of the books Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide To East-Central Europe (John Wiley & Sons, 1992/1994) and Upon The Doorposts Of Thy House: Jewish Life In East-Central Europe, Yesterday And Today (John Wiley & Sons, 1994), and co-founder and Associate Director of the Jewish Heritage Research Center of Syracuse, NY.
Her newest book is called Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe, published by University of California Press.
More than half a century after the Holocaust, in countries where Jews make up just a tiny fraction of the population, products of Jewish culture (or what is perceived as Jewish culture) have become very viable components of the popular public domain. But how can there be a visible and growing Jewish presence in Europe, without the significant presence of Jews? Ruth Ellen Gruber explores this phenomenon, traveling through Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, and elsewhere to observe firsthand the many facets of a remarkable trend.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she has spent her adult life in Europe. She moved to Europe after graduating from Oberlin College and during a career with United Press International was a foreign correspondent based in Rome, Brussels, London, Belgrade, Warsaw, and Vienna.
She covered events in Eastern Europe for six years for UPI. In January 1983, when based in Warsaw as UPI Chief Correspondent, she was arrested by Poland's Martial Law authorities on a trumped up espionage charge, jailed for nearly 24 hours (during which she was interrogated for seven hours), and expelled from the country.
Today Ms. Gruber writes for a number of publications on a freelance basis. She divides her time between East-Central Europe and a century-old farmhouse in the hills of Umbria, 80 miles north of Rome.
Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, the International Herald Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, Italy Italy magazine, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Jewish Chronicle (London), the Toronto Star, the San Francisco Examiner, Reform Judaism magazine, Avotaynu and many other publications.
Her photographs and articles appear in Yearbooks of the Encyclopaedia Judaica; she has contributed to Fodor's Travel Guides to Rome and Italy; she writes the chapters on Developments in East-Central Europe and Italy for the American Jewish Yearbook. She is the author of booklets on Rightwing Extremism in Western Europe, The Rehabilitation of Fascist Heroes in Europe, and Filling the Jewish Space in Europe, all published by the American Jewish Committee, and co-author of a Survey of Jewish Monuments in Slovenia.
Her photographs illustrate her books. They also have been published in newspapers and magazines and exhibited at the Centro I Pitigliani in Rome and the Biblioteca Civica in Merano, Italy. They are in the collections of the World Monuments Fund and the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad.