Safe Haven refugee to lead screening of film about Ruth Gruber

A noted former refugee from Hitler’s regime will lead a SUNY Oswego screening and discussion Thursday, March 10, of a feature-length documentary on the nearly century-long life of pioneering journalist Ruth Gruber.

Ruth Gruber.Doris Schechter, an executive producer of the film “Ahead of Time” and a renowned New York City restaurateur, will appear for the screening and discussion at 7 p.m. in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.

The event is free and open to the public, and includes a 6 p.m. reception in Tyler Hall sponsored by the Safe Haven Museum and Education Center, which celebrates Oswego’s role in sheltering Jewish refugees from Nazi-held Europe in World War II.

Gruber, who had many firsts as a woman journalist, escorted Holocaust refugees in 1944 from Italy to Fort Ontario’s Safe Haven. It is one chapter in a remarkable life that cinematographer Bob Richman retold in his 2009 film “Ahead of Time.”

Schechter, now owner of the Manhattan kosher restaurant/bakery My Favorite Food, recounted her family’s journey from Austria to Italy to the United States in her 2007 cookbook and memoir, “At Oma’s Table: More than 100 Recipes and Remembrances from a Jewish Family’s Kitchen.”

Shepherding refugees

Gruber, whose 99th birthday was in September, has been making headlines since 1931, when, at age 20, she earned a Ph.D. in Germany. She went on to become a maker of news herself, reporting for the New York Herald Tribune as the first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic in 1935, covering the Nuremburg trials in 1946 and, during World War II, agreeing to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes’ plan to escort Jewish refugees to the United States.

Oswego remains the home of the Safe Haven Museum and Education Center, dedicated to keeping alive the stories of the 982 World War II refugees—allowed into the United States as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt—housed at Fort Ontario from 1944 to 1946.

The award-winning, 73-minute documentary about Gruber’s life was Richman’s directorial debut. His cinematography credits include “Waiting for Superman,” “The September Issue” and “An Inconvenient Truth.” As Richman told the New York Times, the Ruth Gruber story “presented a challenge of compression … ‘present-day Ruth was so fascinating. I wanted to do a film that showed both Ruths, present day and past.’”

Supporters of the March 10 reception, screening and discussion include the Safe Haven museum and its foundation and the SUNY Oswego Women’s Center, with support from the college’s Office of Business and Community Relations, Artswego, the Jewish Student Union and history department, as well as the student Oswego Film Club and community Oswego Film Group.

Parking is free that evening for those attending the event.

PHOTO CAPTION: Famed journalist—Ruth Gruber, then 30, wields her omnipresent camera during a 1941 reporting trip to Alaska. SUNY Oswego will screen the feature-length documentary “Ahead of Time,” about the remarkable life of the now-99-year-old Gruber, at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre. (Reel Inheritance Films)

NBC’s Ann Curry interviews Ruth Gruber, 99, on NBC, in a March 3 “Today” show piece titled “Today’s Living Legends: Photographer, Journalist, Hero”

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(Posted: Feb 24, 2011)

Tags: history