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by Miss Elaine Eeyos (try saying this name quickly !), November 16, 2011

[Editor's note: This is the first article written by roving WJR correspondent Miss Elaine Eeyos, whose younger sister , by the way, is Miss Tear Eeyos]

On Monday November 14, 2011 the movie “Ahead of Time” was screened at the 2nd Annual  Rady JCC Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture. This film is a look at Dr. Ruth Gruber’s early years (her late teens to late thirties) and is a tale of an extraordinary woman who was remarkably ahead of her time. She was a Feminist prior to Feminism and a pioneering female Journalist.

The movie is mostly narrated by Dr. Gruber herself, and she is shown on camera intermingled with movies and pictures of the times that are represented in this portrait of her life. (Many of the movie clips and pictures were taken by Ruth herself.) She looks quite beautiful for a woman in her late nineties and is tastefully made-up and wears flattering clothing and jewellery. She speaks clearly and slowly with what one audience member described as a “melodic” voice.

To briefly describe Ruth Gruber will not do her amazingness justice, but perhaps you can glean a bit from this capsulated summary.

She was born in Brooklyn and states that when she was young, she thought everyone was Jewish since her entire “world” consisted of fellow Jews. Jews who were Butchers, Bakers, Tailors etc… This bright young woman went to NYU when she was fifteen years old. There she had a German teacher whose love of music and poetry she shared. He would often invite her for lunch and they would talk about Germany and the arts. This instilled in her a fascination with Germany and so when she had completed her undergraduate studies, she felt she had to get away from Brooklyn. She then opted to attend the University of Cologne.

This was 1931, and her mother was very concerned about her safety in Germany. So she told her mother, “Mother, I will wear an American Flag pin on my lapel and I will keep my U.S. Passport in my bra.” Her mother was no fool and she said, “What? A Passport will stop Hitler’s bullet?” And of course, like most strong-willed young women, Ruth went to study in Cologne regardless of her mother‘s worries.

At the University of Cologne, Ruth again met another instructor who believed in her and saw her great talent. This professor urged her to complete a Ph.D. However Ruth only had one year in Germany and did not think that was possible. She was encouraged to try and succeeded ably. At 20 years old, Ruth Gruber earned her Doctorate and was the youngest person in the world to have done so.

She went back to the U.S. and began submitting articles to newspapers. Many were declined but with perseverance, eventually one was published and then more and more. She visited and reported on the Soviet Arctic (which no other American Journalist was able to do), the British attack on the ship Exodus (which had a 23 year old captain who we meet in the film at 86 years old), the Nuremberg Trials and the formation of the State of Israel among her historical coverage.

Most of the 60 or so who attended this movie were quite taken with the woman and her story. As people were exiting the theatre, (including the man who wore a black belt, not a brown one, and the woman whose mother is leaving for her snowbird destination on Wednesday) the comments were extremely positive. One woman stated the story was “amazing” and another, that Ruth Gruber was “quite a woman.” Indeed, it is and indeed she is.


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Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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