A Time for Travel
Summer? Summer is the time that you eat sticky popsicles, ride your bike to the beach, and watch fireworks, right? Oh wait, I think summer is the time that you have to plan six months in advance to find a single weekend that you can go away with your friends because everyone is off traveling. Yes, even this year, with gas prices sky-high. And we are not without good company. Jewish women have made it their business to see the world for hundreds of years.
Several of these women - Glikl Bas Judas (in the 17th century!), Henrietta Szold, and Joanna Eckstein, (all of whom are profiled in Jewish Women on the Road), made their marks on their communities by traveling freely and independently in a world where women - and Jews - did not necessarily travel alone with ease. Come to think of it, they're a lot like Annie Londonderry in that way. But the woman who really catches my fancy is Ruth Gruber, a woman who was responsible for saving 1000 Jewish refugees from Europe in 1944, and a journalist known for covering some of the most important moments in Middle East history during the middle of the 20th century.
In spite of the glamour of being an intrepid reporter, Gruber's life was not glamorous. In fact, reading about how she followed the ship Exodus (you know, Leon Uris, Paul Newman, etc.), from Haifa to Cyprus to France and finally, with many DPs, back to Germany, awes me with not just how brave she was, but how tired, sweaty, and frustrated she must have been, running around chasing the bad decisions made by a variety of governments. That takes dedication.
After 1950, Ruth Gruber moved back home to the United States, raised a family, and wrote a column called "Diary of an American Housewife." I'm interested to find that column and see how it compares to Gruber's earlier journalistic work, to find out how a woman whose early years were filled with travel and danger adapted to the life of a "housewife."
Ruth Gruber is still alive and writing in New York City - to date she's published 13 books. To find out more about her, visit Discover: Summer Vacation.