Ruth’s CV




Award-winning author, journalist, researcher, photographer. Expert on Jewish heritage and contemporary Jewish issues in Europe, as well as on European country music and the imaginary Wild West; participant in international conferences; public speaker; consultant on Jewish heritage and travel issues. Coordinator & co-developer of the web site Decorated by Poland with the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit.



1985-present: Freelance writer, photographer, public speaker, consultant.

  • Coordinator & co-developer,, a project of the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe; an online resource on Jewish heritage issues in 48 countries. In this role, lead or co-organizer of the international conferences Managing Jewish Immovable Heritage, Krakow, April 2013; Jewish Cemeteries, Vilnius, October 2015, Jewish Heritage Travel in the Digital Age, Venice October 2017
  • Consultant on the European Routes of Jewish Heritage
  • Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies, College of Charleston, Spring semester, 2015
  • Longtime Senior European Correspondent, Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
  • Public speaker/scholar in residence at many international conferences, universities & other venues (see selected list below)
  • Consultant to the Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation (Vienna)
  • Blogger at;,
  • Advisor/Consultant/Onscreen protagonist: Banjo Romantika – American Bluegrass Music & the Czech Imagination (documentary film completed 2013); Cowboys & Europeans (documentary film currently in development)
  • Member of International Editorial Board, Jewish Cultural Studies; Member of Scholarly Board, Rassegna Mensile di Israel (Rome, Italy); Member of International Jury, International Competition for the Preservation of Jewish Sites in L’viv, Ukraine (2010); Member of the Advisory Board, The Vienna Project
  • Past or Present Contributor to, among many others: The New York Times, Tablet Magazine, Hadassah Magazine, Moment Magazine, CBC Radio, Ha’aretz, The International Herald Tribune, Business Week, The Jewish Chronicle (London, England), The Forward, The San Francisco Chronicle,  Newsday, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune Magazine, The Independent on Sunday (London), The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Italy, Italy magazine, Ulysse (Alitalia Inflight Magazine) The Washington Journalism Review, Radio Deutsche Welle English Language service, The Toronto Star, The San Diego Union, The St. Petersburg Times, The Houston Post, U.S. News and World Report, The Montreal Gazette, The Oberlin College Alumni Magazine, AVOTAYNU (the International Review of Jewish Genealogy), Reform Judaism magazine, East European Jewish Affairs, Midrasz (Warsaw), Fodor’s Travel Guides

1974-1984United Press International  correspondent and editor based successively in Rome, Brussels, London,  Belgrade (Bureau Manager), Warsaw (Chief Correspondent) and Vienna (Chief Correspondent for Eastern Europe).

  • In Warsaw, covering the genesis and evolution of Solidarnosc and imposition of Martial Law, Ruth was arrested and jailed by Polish secret police in January 1983 on trumped-up charges purporting to link her with espionage. In what became a front-page news story and international incident, she was held nearly 24 hours in prison, interrogated for seven hours, and expelled from the country. Following her expulsion from Poland, she was interviewed on CNN, CBS-TV, PBS and NBC (the Today Show), as well as on numerous radio programs.

1972-1973. Editorial Assistant, Fulcrum Press, London (a poetry publisher); reporter Association Press, Rome. Also  freelance writing, editing and research work.


Ruth’s photographs are in the collections of the Jewish Heritage Program/World Monuments Fund; the International Survey of Jewish Monuments; and the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. They have been exhibited in Italy,  Hungary, and the United States, as well as on the World Wide Web and have been published by, among others: The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Tablet Magazine, Hadassah Magazine, The Encyclopaedia Judaica, The Independent on Sunday Magazine, JTA,  Italy, Italy magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, The San Francisco Examiner, The San Diego Union, The St. Petersburg Times, The Toronto Star, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune Magazine, The Oberlin College Alumni Magazine, AVOTAYNU, the Jewish Chronicle (London)


  • Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies, College of Charleston, Spring semester, 2015
  • Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit, awarded by Poland, September 2011
  • Hadassah Brandeis Institute Scholar in Residence Award, 2011 
  • Michael Hammer Tribute Research Award, Hadassah Brandeis Institute, 2009
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 2006 (taken in 2007)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend 2006 (taken in 2007)
  • Writing/Research grant, Jewish Federation of Los Angeles  (2005)
  • Visiting Scholar Fellowship, Autry National Center, Institute for the Study of the American West, Los Angeles (December 2004)
  • Lucius N. Littauer Foundation research grant (1998/9)
  • Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture research grant (1998/9)
  • The Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism: First Place, Special Sections or Supplements, for a Hadassah Magazine report “Europe Through the Lens of Anti-Semitism” with articles by me, Abraham H. Foxman, Miriam Shaviv, Natasha Lehrer, Nathalie Rothschild, and Toby Axelrod. Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism: Third Place, personality profiles. Presented in 2007 for profile of Kinky Friedman published in February 2006 on JTA. The Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism: Honorable Mention,  comprehensive coverage or investigative reporting category. (Presented in 2000 for articles written in 1999 for Jewish Telegraphic Agency). The Simon Rockower Award for Excellence in Jewish Journalism; Boris Smolar Award for Excellence in International News or Feature Reporting, Honorable Mention (presented in 1997 for article published in 1996 in B’nai B’rith International Jewish Monthly)
  • Distinguished Graduate Award, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, Plymouth Meeting, PA



  • Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere) (Krakow/Budapest: Austeria Press, 2008)
  • National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe (Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2007) Hungarian edition published 2010.
  • Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002) Polish language edition published 2004.
  • Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1994)
  • Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to East-Central Europe (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1992/94; New Jersey: Jason Aronson 1999)


  • To Begin Again: Jewish Life in Central and Eastern Europe Since the Fall of Communism in 1989. (Vienna: Centropa, 2009).
  • 1990-2000: Ebrei Europei Dieci Anni Dopo la Fine del Socialismo Reale (1990-2000: European Jews Ten Years After the Fall of Communism). (Rome: UCEI, 2002) Co-edited with Laura Quercioli Mincer; the book is illustrated with my photographs.


  • Live at the Fillmore East, a Photographic Memoir, by Amalie R. Rothschild with Ruth Ellen Gruber (New York: Thunders Mouth Press, 1999)


  • Foreword. Reiten Wir: Phantastikautoren für Karl May (ed. Alex Jahnke). Roter Drache, 2017.
  • “Real Imaginary Spaces and Places: Virtual, Actual, and Otherwise” in Space and Spatiality in Modern German-Jewish History (ed. Simone Lässig and Miriam Rürup) Berghahn Books, 2017
  • “Beyond Virtually Jewish: Monuments to the Jewish Experience in Eastern Europe.” Main Forum essay (and response) – Chapters 13 & 17. In Simon Bronner, ed. Jewish Cultural Studies 4: Framing Jewish Culture: Boundaries and Representations. (Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2014)
  • “Post-trauma “Precious Legacies”: Jewish Museums in Eastern Europe after the Holocaust and before the Fall of Communism.” In Richard I. Cohen, ed. Visualizing and Exhibiting Jewish Space and History. (Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • “George Oppen and Ted Berrigan, with the Novelist Marvin Cohen, Interviewed by Ruth Ellen Gruber, London, June 11, 1973.” in Richard Swigg, ed. Speaking with George Oppen: Interviews with the Poet and Mary Oppen, 1968-1987. (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012)
  • “Shalom Times 20: Change and Change Again.” Preface to Dodziuk, Anna. Second Soul: Twenty Jewish Culture Festivals in Krakow. (Krakow: 2010)
  • “Non-Jewish, Non Kosher, Yet Also Recommended.” In Philo-Semitism in History, Adam Sutcliffe and Jonathan Karp, eds. (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
  • Foreword to Jewish Cemeteries of Bucovina, by Simon Geissbuehler. (Bucharest: Noi, 2009)
  • “Juedische und ‘juedische’ Cafés.” In Michal Friedlander and Cilly Kugelmann (eds), Koscher & Co. Ueber Essen und Religion. (Berlin: Nicolai, 2009)
  • Photographs — illustrations and cover — for The Verse Within: Conversing with the Hasidic Tales, poems by Lois Roisman. (Enfield, 2008
  • Sacred Places of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Peaceful and Powerful Destinations. (National Geographic, 2008) I contributed entries on more than a dozen destinations, as well as photos.
  • “Beyond Virtually Jewish…Balancing the real, the surreal and real imaginary places.” In Monika Murzyn-Kupisz and Jacek Puchla, (eds.) Reclaiming Memory: Urban regeneration in the historic Jewish quarters of Central European cities. (Krakow: International Cultural Center, 2009)
  • “Kitschy Jews,” in Hanno Loewy (ed.), Gerüchte über die Juden. Antisemitismus, Philosemitismus und aktuelle Verschwörungstheorien. (Essen: Klartext Verlag, 2005)
  • “The Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow,” in Polin (Oxford: Littman Library, 2003)
  • “Tradicia, renesancia alebo nieco medzi tym? Europske zidovstvo sa snovu definuje,” in Zidia dnes (Bratislava: 2003)
  • “A Virtual Jewish World,” in Jewish Studies Program Yearbook (Budapest: Central European University, 2002)
  • “From An Interview With George Oppen And Ted Berrigan,” in Anne Waldman, ed., Nice to See You: Homage to Ted Berrigan. (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1991)
  • The American Jewish Yearbook (Annual chapters from the early 1990s on Jewish Developments in East-Central European countries and in Italy.)


        English translations of songs by Czech singer-songwriter Robert Krestan, featured on the 2011 CD Shuttle to Bethlehem by the Czech bluegrass/country/rock/fusion band Druha Trava.


  • “Reportage: Beyond Prague’s “Precious Legacy”: post-communist Jewish exhibits and synagogue restorations in the Czech Republic.” In East European Jewish Affairs, vol. 45; 2-3. 2015
  • Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross. Jewish Quarterly (London). June 22, 2015
  • (Candle)sticks on Stone: the Representation of Women in Jewish Tombstone Art. Working paper; Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, 2011
  • “Scenes from a Krakow Café.” Moment, January-February 2010
  • “Beyond Virtually Jewish: New Authenticities and Real Imaginary Spaces in Europe.”The Jewish Quarterly Review vol. 99 no. 4 (Fall 2009) Virtually Jewish meets the Imaginary Wild West!
  • “Virtual Judaism.” Jewish Quarterly (London), no. 214 (Winter 2009)
  • “Sturm, Twang and Sauerkraut Cowboys.” Western Way magazine, Summer 2009
  • “Sturm, Twang and Sauerkraut Cowboys: Country Music and Wild Western Spaces in Europe.” Text of paper I’ve given multi-media versions of at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles in October 2007 (Western History  Workshop),  The Pop Conference at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, WA, in April 2008, the International Country Music Conference (Nashville, may 2008) and elsewhere.
  • “The West in the World.” Convergence (magazine of the Autry National Center) Summer 2005 issue.
  • “Un Mondo Ebraico Virtuale,” Lettera Internazionale 68, June 2001
  • “European Jewry Is Redefining Itself,” in Das Jüdische Echo: Europäisches Forum für Kultur und Politik, vol. 49, October 2000
  • “The Renaissance Of Jewish Media,” in Media Studies Journal, vol. 13, No. 3, Fall 1999
  • “In the Labyrinth of Polish-Jewish Relations,” in East European Jewish Affairs, vol. 28. No. 1, Summer 1998
  • The Encyclopaedia Judaica (written and photographic contributions to the 1990-1991 Yearbook, the 1993 Decade volume, and the CD-Rom version)



  • The Jewish Heritage of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Report to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, Washington DC, 2002
  • The Jewish Heritage of Croatia, Report to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, Washington DC, 2002
  • The Jewish Heritage of Yugoslavia, Report to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, Washington DC, 2002
  • Jewish Monuments of Slovenia (with Samuel D. Gruber), Report, including photographs, to the U. S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, Washington DC, 1996/2002.
  • Filling The Jewish Space In Europe, monograph, International Perspectives series (New York: American Jewish Committee, 1996)
  • The Struggle Of Memory: The Rehabilitation Of Fascist Heroes In Europe, monograph, International Perspectives series (New York: American Jewish Committee, 1995)
  • Rightwing Extremism In Western Europe, monograph, International Perspectives series (New York: American Jewish Committee, 1994)


  • Jewish Heritage in the Digital Age: Impact on Communities. International Workshop, Heritage & Its Communities. Parkes Institute, University of Southampton, England. July 12, 2016
  • Whose heritage? Jewish heritage and social engagement. Keynote presentation. Jewish Cultural Heritage Conference: Projects, Methods, Inspirations, Warsaw. June 9, 2016
  • Krakow, city of heritage. Krakow and the World; 25th anniversary conference, International Culture Center, Krakow, Poland. May 31, 2016
  • Post-Communist Jewish Museums and Jewish Heritage Restoration in the Czech Republic. Jewish Museums in the 21st Century; symposium. Center for Jewish History, New York, January 10, 2016
  • November 9-10, 2015 — Guest lectures at Duke University and University of North Carolina
  • November 2-5, 2015 — Scholar in Residence, Penn State University
  • Two talks on Jewish heritage in Europe. International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies annual conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 28 & 30, 2014
  • 10 Anniversary Lecture. Galicia Jewish Museum, Krakow, Poland. June 30, 2014
  • Klatch Jewish Arts Series lecture. Purdue University, march 31, 2014
  • Three lectures at three synagogues. Scholar in Residence of the Jewish Federation, Ft. Worth, Texas. March 20-23, 2014
  • Workshop on the Future of the Israel National Library, Jerusalem. February 23-26, 2014
  • Invented Jewish Traditions. Jüdisches Erbe in Europa zwischen Erinnerung und Inszenierung  conference,  Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden, Hamburg, Germany. November 16-20
  • Beyond Virtually Jewish. Public lecture, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. October 2013.
  • Jewish Heritage and Civil Society. Paper at conference on Jewish Life and Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Europe, held at the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. October 2013.
  • Cafe Balagan, Florence, Italy. I took part in a public interview/conversation about Jewish culture and heritage issues in Europe. August 2013.
  • Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow, Poland 2013: I was part of a panel discussion on How to Speak and Write about Jewish Places in Europe and I engage in a public interview/conversation discussing new authenticities in Jewish Krakow. July 2013.
  • Jewish. Jewish? “Jewish” Jewish! Paper presented at the conference The Jewish Revival in Europe and North America: Between Lifestyle Judaism and Institutional Renaissance, at the European University Institute, Florence. June 2013.
  • Managing Jewish Immovable Heritage. I was the coordinator and lead organizer of this major international conference, held in Krakow, Poland April 23-25, 2013. The nearly 100 participants included experts and activists from more than 20 countries. Click here to see information and view videos of conference sessions.
  • Jews, Jewish Life, and Memory. Talks to middle school pupils, Nocera Umbra, Italy; March 2013; Amendolara and Oriolo, Italy; January 2012.
  • Musing on Jewish Music in Poland. Opening address, Jewish Music Festival, Berkeley, California. March 2013.
  • Jewish Heritage Europe on the Web. Biennale on Cultural and Environmental Heritage, Florence, Italy, November 2012.
  • An American (and by the way Jewish) Writer Reflects on Covering Poland Since the Birth of Solidarity. Polish Embassy, DC; Polish Consulate, NY, March 2011. Yale University, Feb. 2011
  • Holocaust Legacy: Empty Spaces, Fading First-hand Memory, New Jewish Realities. Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley; American Jewish Committee, Los Angeles; Temple Beth Shalom, Santa Fe NM (as scholar in residence) October 2010; UMass Amherst, Feb. 2011; Syracuse U., Penn State, Ithaca NY, March 2011
  • Sauerkraut Cowboy and Klezmer Cafes: Europe’s Real Imaginary Spaces.  University of California, Santa Cruz; October 2010 
  • Sturm, Twang & Sauerkraut Cowboys: The Imaginary Wild West in Europe. UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies; also, Autry National Center; Los Angeles, 2010
  • New Life in Old Spaces: Budapest’s Seventh District. Culture Ministry Seminar, Vilnius, Lithuania, December 2009
  • Jewish Heritage, Sacred Heritage in Bucovina. Talks in Radauti, Romania and Chernivtsi, Ukraine, September 2009
  • Jewish Heritage in Europe: What’s There. International Workshop of Jewish Historic Property Management and Preservation, Bratislava, March 2009.
  • Touching and Retouching: Balancing Real, Surreal and Real Imaginary Jewish Spaces. Keynote speech, Conference on Urban Jewish History and Culture, L’viv, Ukraine, November 2008
  • Progress and Prospects for Jews in Post-Communist Europe. Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund, The Hague. September 2008
  • Prejudices and Cliches in Yiddish Culture. The Other Europeans Symposium, Weimar, Germany, July 2008
  • Beyond Virtually Jewish: New Authenticities, Real Imaginary Spaces and the Commodification of Jewish Culture. Fifth Wroclaw International Conference on Jewish Studies — Modern Jewish Culture: Diversities and Unities. Wroclaw, Poland, June 2008
  • Sturm, Twang and Sauerkraut Cowboys: Country Music and Wild Western Spaces in Europe. International Country Music Conference, Nashville, TN, May 2008; The Pop Conference, Experience Music Project, Seattle, WA. April 2008
  • From Shtetl to City. Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, January 2008; American Jewish Committee chapter, Annual Meeting, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 2008
  • Sauerkraut Cowboys and Klezmer Cafes: Europe’s Real Imaginary Spaces. Sixth and I Synagogue, Washington DC, January 2008
  • Three lecture presentations and one panel appearance at Limmud NY, Ellenville, NY, January 2008
  • New Authenticities and Real Imaginary Spaces in Europe. Strategy conference for the EU-supported project The Other Europeans. Krakow, Poland, November 2007
  • Beyond Virtually Jewish: New Authenticities and Real Imaginary Spaces in Europe — Virtually Jewish Meets the Imaginary Wild West. UCLA, October 2007
  • Sturm and Twang: Country Western Music and Bluegrass in Europe. Western History Workshop, Autry National Center/Institute for the Study of the American West, Los Angeles, October 2007
  • Jewish Heritage Travel in East-Central Europe. Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, October 2007
  • Sturm und Twang: Country Music and Bluegrass in Europe, “Music of the Other” Symposium, Weimar, Germany, July 2007
  • Beyond Virtually Jewish. Conference on Polish-Jewish and Polish-Israeli relations, Georgetown University, February 2007
  • The Experience of Travel Writing. New York University, Prague. November 2006
  • Scholar in Residence. Jewish Federation, Ft. Worth, Texas, January 2006
  • Spaghetti Cowboys, Indian Dreams: The Wild West in Italy. Co-organizer and co-moderator, one-day conference, Centro Studi Americani, Rome, Italy, Dec. 2005
  • Jews in Europe Today: It’s Not Just Anti-Semitism. Anti-Defamation League, Chicago, Illinois, November 2005
  • Jewish Virtualities, Virtual Jews. Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland, Nov. 2005
  • Sauerkraut Cowboys, Indian Dreams: Country Music and Wild Western Spaces in Europe. American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Washington DC, and Connecticut College, New London, CT, November 2005



EDUCATION: Oberlin College, BA  (Fine Arts) 1971