Jewish-American Hall of Fame Honors Photojournalist Ruth Gruber

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Mel Wacks, Director of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame, has announced that its 53rd annual inductee – photojournalist, author and public servant Ruth Gruber – whose portrait will appear on high relief medals designed by sculptor Eugene Daub. The medal’s reverse, designed by Mel Wacks, features the issuer’s name.

Ruth Gruber

Ruth Gruber graduated from New York University at eighteen and two years later, she became the youngest Ph.D. in the world. Gruber was appointed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes in 1941 to report on conditions in the Alaska Territory. She captured pictures of the lives and customs of the native population. An iconic photo taken of Gruber in Alaska inspired the medal design by Eugene Daub.

Gruber continued her career as a journalist following the war, working for various U.S. publications as a correspondent in the Middle East and Europe. She authored 18 books. She authored 18 books, including Destination Palestine: The Story of the Haganah Ship Exodus 1947, Haven: The Dramatic Story of 1000 World War II Refugees and How They Came to America, and Raquela: A Woman of Israel.

When President Roosevelt decided to accept about a thousand European immigrants in the midst of World War II, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes chose Ruth Gruber to go on a secret mission to escort the refugees to the United States. Ickes made her “a simulated general” so in case the military aircraft she flew in was shot down and she was caught by the Nazis, she would be kept alive according to the Geneva Convention.

The journey culminated in the arrival of 984 refugees in the New York harbor on August 3, 1944 and their being given sanctuary on an old army base in Oswego, New York. In a touching moment in Haven, Gruber recalls a rabbi conducting a service as the boat passed the Statue of Liberty, and her pride in telling the Jewish refugees of the Holocaust that the poem within the pedestal was written by Emma Lazarus, an American Jew.

While Roosevelt planned to allow the refugees to reside in the United States only until the end of hostilities, when peace came, Gruber lobbied the President and Congress – with the help of Catholic, Jewish and Protestant clergy – and convinced the officials to let the refugees stay.

Ruth Gruber died in 2016, at the age of 105 – enough time to allow her all of her adventures and accomplishments.

This is the 53rd medal in the Jewish-American Hall of Fame Series.

The Ruth Gruber Medal

The Ruth Gruber 2-inch, 3-oz. medal in this popular series will be produced in very limited quantities of no more than 150 bronze (available for contribution of $50), 75 pure silver ($200) and 35 gold plated pure silver ($250) medals. Each art medal is serial numbered on the edge and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Add $10 per order for shipping and insurance in USA, $25 elsewhere. Mention that you read about this in Coins Weekly and take 10% discount. Medals can be ordered using a credit card by calling 818-225-1348 or with paypal using email:


Visit the website of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame.

In 2020 Mel Wacks published a book about the Medals of the Jewish-American Hall of Fame from 1969 to 2019.

Mel Wacks chose for us his Most Beautiful Judaic Medals.