There’s a historic building on South Beach, built in 1936, long before the SoBe of today, that houses the Jewish Museum of Florida. Committed to documenting the Jewish community in Florida—which dates all the way to 1763—the museum has hosted countless exhibitions that expose audiences to the historic importance of Jews in the region. An exhibit on view now, titled Ruth Gruber: Photojournalist, showcases the museum’s parallel dedication to educating visitors about Jews outside Florida.
Gruber, who died last year at the age of 98, was an acclaimed photographer who broke many a barrier and glass ceiling. Born in Brooklyn in 1911 to Jewish immigrants, she became one the youngest people to hold a PhD, during a time when women were still struggling to enter higher education and compete in the workforce.
Gruber went on to travel the world, documenting landscapes (and hellscapes) that few or no other journalist would. The exhibition at the JMOF, which is traveling from the International Center of Photography in New York, shows photos from Gruber’s private archive as well as her work for publications such as LIFE, and illuminates the impact that Gruber had on revealing the plight of Jews and other marginalized groups across the world.
The photographer and writer was the first to travel to the Siberian Gulag and Soviet Arctic region. Gruber then went on to become an international foreign correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, and generated a long, historic string of assignments. Assigned by the U.S. Department of the Interior, she travelled to Alaska in 1941 to explore its conditions, before it was a state.
In 1944, Gruber embarked on a secret mission to escort Holocaust survivors from Europe to New York, an experience that drove her to focus her lens and pen on the experience of refugees. The exhibition at the JMOF contains snapshots of these moments, as they were so masterfully captured by the fearless Gruber, which accrued over her astonishing 50+ year career.
Ruth Gruber: Photojournalist
Through January 7, 2018
Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU
301 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33139