Monday, March 18, 2013

Ruth Gruber: In Honor of Jewish Women History Month

The post is written in honor of  Purim,( a bit late), and Jewish Women History Month, which also includes the founding of Hadassah over 100 years ago. 

Here are a few links you may be interested to finding out more info about this awesome lady. Here
Jewish Women Archive
Have you heard of Ruth Gruber?? if not, you should read this post. This is one awesome lady!!
She has written several books about her life history in pictures, and these different places, and cultures she has been. 

In honor of Jewish Women History Month, this post is written for one special lady, Ruth Gruber.
 She is one awesome lady. She has seen history in the making, witnessed it and photographed history, from the Artic, Russia, to Palestine, where ever oppressed and unfair treatment took her.

Ruth Gruber is now, 100+ years old.  She was born in 1911 in Brooklyn, NY. She went to college and graduated, and fell in love with everything German. She won a scholarship in Cologne, Germany. She earned her PH.D. on her thesis of Virginia Woolf. She was the youngest person to receive the degree.

She knew she wanted to become a writer, what kind of writer she did not know.  She toured on to the Gulags, in Russia, the Artic, and visited Alaska to see how the Eskimos lived, and learned about their culture.

During the war, 1944. President Roosevelt allowed 1000 holocaust survivors to come to the United States from Italy. The only stipulation, they had to return to their country of origin, after the war was over. They were guests in this country.  Ruth Gruber accompanied the refugees and stayed with them. After the war, she helped them to stay and become American citizens. Some of them become important American citizens.

After the war, she worked with a committee to help the Holocaust survivors enter Palestine.  The British were only allowing a limited amount of Jews in Palestine, before and after Israel became a state. Many Jews were dying in Europe, and Britain was stopping Jews from coming in to their "Homeland". She photographed pictures from the displaced persons camp in Cyprus, Athlit.  Pictures were seen all over the world, she is most known for her pictures of the Exodus, and inCyprus.

                 Ruth Gruber did not only see history, she was history in the making!

In 1948, the ship Exodus, was taking holocaust survivors to Palestine. During the time they were in international waters, the British started firing at these inoccent Jews. They were not welcome anywhere in Europe. They went back to their homes, either shot at, killed, or threatened. They had no where to go where they were welcome. The only place left was Palestine.  Everyone had a home, but the Jews.

So a private Jewish Agency bought a ship to transport the Jews to Palestine. But, the ship was intercepted.
When they got to Haifa, they were not allowed to get off the ship unless they were sick or wounded.  Instead the British ships transported them back to Europe, in France, and then to Germany.

She photographed with emotion when she took the pictures. She did not hold back. She had guts.  She was the only few foreign correspondents to be allowed in to the DP camps. These people trusted her, and told them her stories. Which are documented in her books.  You can get her book, Witness which has 190 pictures of her travels up to 1985.

Our book club read her book, Raquela, the story of Raquela Prywes. She was a nurse before and after Palestine's independence. If you have never read the book and interested in the history before and after, Israel's Independence, and curious to learn about the history of Hadassah and Hadassah Hospital, The medical conditions, for the doctors and nurses in the middle east, then you may want to pick up this book. Even though the book was written it the 70's the book still is a good book to read if you are interested in the life and history of Palestine in the 1940's.

There are several books that Ruth Gruber has written. Several Jewish websites, and there is a documentary called, Ahead of Time about her life. You can find her books listed on wikpedia.

 Our book club saw the movie and highly recommend it.  This was a good book club meeting, everyone enjoyed the film and the book.

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