Ruth Gruener was born in Lvov, Poland in 1933, where her parents owned a chocolate shop. Her family was forcibly moved into the ghetto upon Nazi occupation, and stayed there for 3 months. Thanks to the efforts of two Christian families, Ruth and her parents survived in hiding.
Ruth immigrated to the U.S. in January 1949. Ruth attended Brooklyn College and the New York School of Interior Design, where she later owned her own business as an interior designer.
A beloved Gallery Educator and cherished member of the Museum’s Speakers Bureau since the Museum’s opening in 1997, she first learned of the Museum in a newspaper article asking for Gallery Educators to join in the Museum’s education efforts. Throughout her time at the Museum, Ruth and her husband Jack (z”l) spoke to thousands of students about her story of survival. You could often find Ruth in the Pickman Gift Shop or in the galleries speaking to people about her experiences and sharing the words of the beautiful books she authored. She touched many of the Museum’s staff and students with her words: “I believe that regardless of our backgrounds or the color of our skin, we all share the same humanity, and we are deserving of empathy. Today, people from all over the world are being forced to leave their homes because of their ethnicity, race, or religion. In a way, their struggles are similar to the struggles I experienced as a displaced person in Europe. Our stories are not so different. There is more than unites us than divides us. If there is any message I’d like to pass along, it’s that.”
Ruth died September 29, 2021. She is survived by her two children, Artie and Danny, and several grandchildren.