Recent Appearances, Documentary Films


Ruth has appeared as an expert in several documentary films.

Banjo Romantika: American Bluegrass Music & the Czech Imagination. (2015)

I was the main talking head in this documentary film by Lee Bidgood and Shara Lange. You can rent it and watch online on vimeo. Or use an American public library card or a university login to watch it on Kanopy.

“No other place in the world has a romance with American bluegrass like the Czech Republic. Banjo Romantika introduces the musicians who play this unique bluegrass hybrid. Czechs first heard bluegrass during World War II when the Armed Forces Network broadcast American music for soldiers. The music represented freedom to dissatisfied Czechs living in a communist state. Czechs’ love for the music was solidified when Pete Seeger visited and performed in 1964. Inspired by classic American bluegrass sounds, an assortment of musicians from across the formerly communist Czech Republic have melded the past, the political and the present into a lively musical tradition entirely its own.”

Klezmer Musicians Travel Home to Krakow, by Ellen Friedland and Curt Fissel (2004, premiering on PBS May 2005)  The entire film can be streamed on vimeo. Or watched here:

Klezmer on Fish Street, by Yale Strom (2004)




  • From Dark Tourism to Tourism Attractions — College of Charleston, March 2019
  • Two talks, University of Alabama, February 2019: Beyond Virtually Jewish and The Evolution of Jewish Heritage Tourism
  • Chair, panel on Jewish heritage projects in Hungary — Association of European Jewish Museums annual conference, Budapest, November 2018
  • Introducing Jewish Heritage Europe – Future for Religious Heritage conference, Paris, France, October 2018
  • Then, (Then), and Now: Revisiting “A World Passed By” — Conference on Urban Jewish Heritage, Krakow, September 2018
  • Two talks, at the IAJGS annual conference, Warsaw, August 2018: Navigating the Jewish Heritage Europe Web Site and From Dark Tourism to Tourist Attractions: The Evolution of Jewish Heritage Tourism
  • Defending the Latke: Latke Hamantash Debate, Krakow, June 30, 2018
  • Three Decades of Jewish Heritage Work – Jewish Museum, Munich; University of Miami, FLA. December, 2017.
  • Ruth Ellen Gruber in Conversation w/ Shaul Bassi – Venice; Jewish Heritage Tourism in the Digital Age conference. October 2017.
  • Watch on YouTube:


  • Jewish Heritage Travel: From Dark Tourism to Tourist Attractions – Dark Tourism conference, Glasgow, Scotland; City Hall, Lviv, Ukraine. July 2017.
  • Watch Lviv presentation on YouTube:


  • From Shtetl to City: Jewish Heritage Travel in East-Central Europe – Smithsonian Associates, Washington DC
  • Three Decades of Jewish Heritage Work – Oxford University, England; St. Andrews University, Scotland. March2017
  • Life after Life: 15 Years since Virtually Jewish – Southampton University, England. February 2017
  • Jewish Heritage & Social Engagement. POLIN Museum, Warsaw. Keynote at Jewish Heritage conference, June10, 2016 — watch on YouTube:

  • 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, Bold 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. 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
  • Jewish Culture in Europe: from Personal Expression to Public Image. Institute for Jewish Policy Research, London, England, April 19, 2005
  • Jews and the Virtual World. York University, Toronto, Canada. March 30, 2005
  • Book tour in Poland for Polish edition of Virtually Jewish. Spoke and was interviewed on Polish television: Oswiecim, Poznan, Warsaw, Lodz; March 2005
  • Interviewed for a BBC Radio 3 program on world music, aired March 6, 2005. Interviewed on “Mosaic” talk show, CBS TV, Channel 5, San Francisco, aired January 2005
  • Jewish Life in Europe Today. San Francisco Jewish Community Center, also Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco, January, 2005
  • Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe. Skirball Museum, Los Angeles, also, Beach Hillel and Jewish Community Center, Long Beach, and Temple Emanuel, Los Angeles, December, 2004
  • Considering Jewish Quarters, Conference: Protecting the Architectural Heritage of the old Jewish quarter in Budapest. Budapest, Oct. 26, 2004
  • Life after Life: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe, Festival of Jewish Culture, Krakow, Poland, July 2004
  • Jewish Budapest from Herzl to Kertesz, Jewish Museum of Bologna, July 2004
  • Jewish Heritage: Ownership and Documentation, General Assembly, European Council of Jewish Communities, Budapest, May 2004
  • Anti-Semitism Without Jews, Keynote lecture, conference on the “New Anti-Semitism” organized by the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, April 2003
  • Redefining Jewish Identity in Europe, Conference on contemporary Jewish issues, Comenius University, Bratislava, May 2003
  • Virtually Jewish: Jewish Culture Without The Jews In Europe, lectures in 2003/2002/2001 at the Simon Wiesenthal Center  Museum of Tolerance (Los Angeles); Center for European Studies, Harvard University; University of California at Santa Barbara (Taubman Endowed Symposium in Jewish Studies); Brandeis University; Trinity College; Brown University; University of Massachusetts at Amherst; the Moses Mendelssohn Center, Potsdam, Germany; the American Jewish Committee, Berlin; the Jewish Museum, Trieste, Italy; the Jewish Public Library, Montreal, Canada; Astor Judaica Library, San Diego.
  • What Is Jewish Art? Presentation at General Assembly of the European Council of Jewish Communities, Madrid, 2001. Virtually Jewish, lecture presentation at the International  Conference on Yiddish Theater and Music, Rome 2001. A Virtual Jewish World, Jewish Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest, November 1999. Remnant Or Renaissance? Changes In European Jewry Since The Fall Of Communism, paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, January 1999. Non-Jewish Interest In Jewish Culture,  presentation at Conference on Strengthening Jewish Life in Europe, Strasbourg, 1997. European Jewry: Remnant Or Renaissance? Round-table presentations, Chicago and Los Angeles, May 1996. A Tribe Of Stones, Lecture at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Research Institute, February 1996