Ahead of Time: The Extraordinary Journey of Ruth Gruber (film & discussion)

Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, with a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York, presents the film Ahead of Time: The Extraordinary Journey of Ruth Gruber, directed by Bob Richman in his directorial debut.

Born in Brooklyn in 1911, Ruth Gruber became the youngest PhD in the world before going on to become an international foreign correspondent and photojournalist at age 24.  With her fearlessness and powerful intellect, Gruber defied tradition in an extraordinary career that spanned more than seven decades, and in the process, emerged as the eyes and conscience of the world.  “This plucky, indomitable woman didn’t just report the news, she made it,” said Phyllis Wang, Coordinator of the Community Arts series

The first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic and visit a gulag in 1935, Gruber also traveled to Alaska as a member of the Roosevelt administration in 1942, escorted Holocaust refugees to America in a 1944 secret mission during a momentary relaxation of America’s restrictive immigration policy, covered the Nuremberg trials in 1946, documented the Haganah ship, Exodus, in 1947, and went to aid in the rescue of Ethiopian Jews in 1985. Her relationships with world leaders, including Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, and David Ben Gurion, gave her unique access and insight into the modern history of the Jewish people. Through her own words and images, the film follows Gruber’s incredible journey as a student, a reporter, an activist leader, and a prolific author. The film captures the drama of her life as she lent her camera lens – and her heart – to refugees of war.

“The defining Jewish moment” of her life, according to Gruber, was her mission to escort refugees to NY and having them be given sanctuary on an old army base in Oswego, New York. While Roosevelt intended to have the refugees return to their homeland after the war, Gruber, with the help of Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant clergy, convinced the President and Congress to let the refugees stay. A long story in and of itself.

Gruber was the recipient of many awards, including the Na’amat USA’s Golda Meir Human Rights Award for her life’s work. In 1997, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from her peers in the American Society of Journalists and Authors as “a pioneering journalist and author whose books chronicle the most important events of the twentieth century.” Gruber died in 2016 at the age of 105.Ahead of Time:  The Extraordinary Journey of Ruth Gruber will be screened Sunday, November 3, at 7pm, at Temple Sinai in Saratoga Springs. $5 donation is suggested. A panel discussion and dessert reception to follow. For information and reservations, call 518-584-8730 option 2.