Ruth in the Media

Unfinished Business: Restoring Eastern Europe’s Desecrated Jewish Cemeteries.

January 2021

B’nai B’rith magazine quotes me (and many friends and colleagues) in a lengthy and unusually comprehensive article  by Linda Topping Streitfeld that summarizes initiatives to preserve, protect, and restore Jewish cemeteries in Europe.

Author and scholar Ruth Ellen Gruber runs the website Jewish Heritage Europe, with deep resources on Jewish monuments and heritage sites. She has documented the resurgence of interest in Jewish culture and history over three decades. After the fall of the Soviet Union and communism in Eastern Europe, she said, “People wanted to fill in the blank spaces, and Jewish heritage was one of them.”

A Pilgrimage through Ancestral Lands

November 2020

Hilary Danailova has written an article in Hadassah Magazine about Jewish genealogy — and travel, in which I’m quoted, about the impact of digital resources.

“The revolution in genealogy travel is Facebook,” observed Ruth Ellen Gruber, a veteran journalist and Jewish travel authority […]. “There are a million Facebook groups, with subgroups for individual cemeteries, synagogues, shtetls and so forth. People can ask questions and get immediate answers from across the world.” Gruber oversees what is arguably the most comprehensive resource for Jewish heritage tourists: the web portal Jewish Heritage Europe, with daily updates on Jewish heritage-related sights, events and people across the continent, along with genealogy and travel insights.


Can’t Travel Due to COVID Restrictions? Take a Virtual Tour of Jewish History

I’m quoted in an article by Sophie Panzer in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent:

“Museums and other operations have been creating virtual tours and digital recreations and online exhibits for a long time. Since no one can travel, there’s been an explosion of digital experiences of all sorts,” Gruber said. “JHE is an online operation, so I just wanted to bring more useful and expansive content to people who were stuck at home. People want to be entertained, to see beautiful things.”

She started in early March with a series of virtual tours of 11 European towns that included digital recreations of buildings where people could learn local history. After getting a positive response from visitors, she continued to post more virtual experiences in Italy, Hungary, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and other countries.

In addition to cemeteries and art exhibitions, site visitors can explore “Atlas of Memory Maps.” Mounted by Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre in Lublin, Poland, the online exhibit features maps of pre-war cities, towns and shtetls drawn from former inhabitants’ memories after World War II.

The JHE website also hosts an exhibit of papercut art by the Polish artist Monika Krajewska commemorating Jewish sites that were destroyed during the Holocaust.

“They’re really fabulous, we got a good response,” Gruber said of the artwork.

She said the challenge for tour guides and organizations is monetizing those experiences to help sustain workers in the tourism industry during coronavirus shutdowns.”


Ukrainian Jewish Heritage: The Dark Side of Jewish Heritage Travel

August 15, 2017

A podcast and article on Nash Holos radio, about my “dark tourism” work, based on lectures I gave in Lviv and Glasgow and posts on Jewish Heritage Europe from my road trips in western Ukraine in July 2017


Ruth Ellen Gruber Reflects on Five Years of Jewish Heritage Europe

Liam Hoare interviews me for eJewish Philanthropy, February 19, 2017

Since its launch five years ago, Jewish Heritage Europe has become an essential one-stop shop for news, information, and resources concerning, as the name indeed suggests, matters of Jewish culture and built heritage in Europe: museums; synagogues; cemeteries, and so on. Ruth Ellen Gruber, the author of Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe who has chronicled Jewish life in Europe for over twenty-five years for the JTA among other places, edits the site, which is supported by the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe. Here, I talk with Gruber about the site’s development and how European attitudes towards Jewish heritage have changed in the time she has been reporting on these issues.


10 great Places to Experience Jewish History

An interview with me in USA Today, April 16, 2016

When the Jewish holiday of Passover starts at sundown on April 22, celebrants will recount the Biblical story of Exodus, chronicling the Israelites’ escape from Egypt to the Holy Land. But important Jewish heritage sites are scattered around the globe, says Ruth Ellen Gruber, who runs the website www.jewish-heritage-europe.euMany are threatened, she says, but “all of them are special.” She shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.


Read a profile of me and my Jewish heritage work by Hilary Danailova in the New York Jewish Week

Me in front of the abandoned synagogue in Hostice, CZ

October 13, 2015

[…] The thrill of discovery is something Gruber shares with a growing number of enthusiasts through the website she oversees, Jewish Heritage Europe. A project of the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe, JHE is a comprehensive web portal for all things Jewish overseas: festivals, institutions, scholarship, synagogues and cemeteries.

Under Gruber’s direction, JHE has evolved into an essential travel resource. With an engaging redesign and the recent launch of “Have Your Say,” a feature that invites interactive commentary, JHE makes Jewish Europe more accessible — and more communal — than ever […].


IMG_3707 Italy’s “Little Jerusalem” Opens the Doors to Jewish History

Listen to an NPR story by Sylvia Poggioli in which I am interviewed about Jewish heritage in Europe and the European Day of Jewish Culture. Sept 14, 2014


Europe Tunes In to Its Own Country Music Scene, Wall St. Journal, August 11, 2014

I’m quoted in this article by Ginanne Brownell about European country music.

[…] Country music has been a niche genre in Europe since the 1950s, when American GIs stationed in Europe brought it with them. (It didn’t hurt that Elvis Presley was stationed in Germany from 1958-1960). During the Cold War, in countries such as Czechoslovakia, a bluegrass scene developed as a form of rebellion against communism. The subculture is still thriving today, thanks to bands such as Druhá Travá, who have released over 20 albums internationally and have been touring the U.S. nearly every year since 1993.

“Bluegrass festivals in the Czech Republic are among the best in the world,” says Ruth Ellen Gruber, an American journalist and writer based in Italy who runs the European blog “Sauerkraut Cowboys.” The Czech town of Kopidlno has been hosting an annual bluegrass festival since 1973. […]


Article by Ginanne Brownell about Druha Trava, including my role in the CD Shuttle to Bethlehem, March 8, 2013


Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber

Interview with Lubos Malina and me on Czech Radio (in English) about Druha Trava’s new double live CD

The half hour interview can be streamed or downloaded as an mp3 — and it includes lots of tracks from the new double CD

A Jewish Cultural Revival — Minus the Jews

I am interviewed in an article in Ha’aretz, October 26, 2012

28 Years after Expelling U.S. Reporter, Poland Awards Her Order of Merit, Sept. 2011

USA Today story about Poland awarding me the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit

I’m Interviewed on Czech Radio (in English…) March 16, 2009

I speaks about both Jewish heritage and European country music

Touring the Old World: Ruth Ellen Gruber Explores Eastern Europe

Interview in The Forward, February 6, 2008

Article about me in Karl May Magazine (in German) August 31, 2006


Whose Culture Is It?

“Tommywood” column about me by Tom Teicholz, January 21, 2005




Whose heritage? Jewish heritage and social engagement

My Keynote talk at the conference on Jewish Cultural Heritage, held in June 2017 at the  POLIN Museum in Warsaw — it was three days after I had an eye operation so I wasn’t 100 percent, but here is the full talk.




Italian media report including my talks in Calabria for Holocaust Memorial Day, Jan. 27, 2012


I Speak about Jewish Heritage in Romania, Radauti, Romania, Sept. 2009


Two-part Interview with me on a Genealogy TV show, Tracing Your Family Roots (2008)

I speak about researching and writing my book National Geographic Jewish Heritage Europe: A Guide to Eastern Europe