The Ithaca Area United Jewish Community will present “Empty Spaces/Bold New Realities: Jewish Culture in Today’s Europe,” a lecture from author and journalist Ruth Ellen Gruber, on Sunday, March 27, from 3:30-5:30 pm, at the Women’s Community Building, 100 W. Seneca St. in downtown Ithaca. The event will include a musical interlude by the Cornell University Klezmer Ensemble and a book signing by Gruber. Refreshments will be served. The event will be free and open to the public.
In Europe, 65 years since the end of World War II and since the fall of Communism, there are empty synagogues and abandoned cemeteries. However, there is also a new Jewish reality. Gruber is an expert on the impact of the Holocaust as a backdrop in today’s Europe. An award-winning American writer and photographer, she is a witness to the burgeoning European forms of Jewish religious and cultural expression, where few if any Jews live today.
During her presentation, Gruber will focus on the changes in Jewish life since the fall of Communism and compare them with conditions as she found them throughout the past decades. She will provide an illustrated exploration of the re-emergence and popularity of Jewish culture, and will discuss new Jewish youth trends that blend old traditions with today’s culture. Additionally, she will describe the “virtually Jewish” world of “shtetl chic, klezmer cafes and kitschy souvenirs.”
For more than two decades, Gruber has chronicled Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European Jewish issues. She coined the term “Virtually Jewish” to describe the way the “Jewish space” in Europe is often filled by non-Jews. Her books include “National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe,” “Letters from Europe (and Elsewhere),” “Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe” and “Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today.”
Gruber is the senior European correspondent for the Jewish Telegraph Agency. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Tablet Magazine, Hadassah Magazine and many other publications. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Simon Rockower Awards for excellence in Jewish journalism. Gruber was recently a scholar-in-residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.
The Ithaca Area United Jewish Community is a volunteer organization dedicated to educational and humanitarian efforts both locally and globally. Donations to the IAUJC in support of its work will be accepted at the door.
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