Sniper, Survivor, Sex Therapist


Dr. Ruth Westheimer has become an American icon, one of our culture’s most famous sex educators and therapists.

In 1938, when Westheimer was 10 years old and living in Germany, her father was sent to a detention camp and she was sent to an orphanage in Switzerland. At 16, she immigrated to Palestine and joined the Haganah resistance movement as a scout and sniper.

She came to America in 1956 and enrolled in the New School’s sociology program, on a special scholarship for Holocaust survivors. She stayed on in the States, working as a therapist and sex educator. In 1980, Dr. Ruth’s guest appearance on a local radio show was surprisingly successful–and Dr. Ruth soon garnered a rabid following. Her own radio show, Sexually Speaking, grew from a 15-minute segment to an hour-long program, and then to two hours.

Since then, Dr. Ruth has been raising the eyebrows of the masses with television shows, feature films, and books, including Heavenly Sex: Sexuality in the Jewish Tradition (1995). She has also produced documentaries about Ethiopian Jews and the Druze, and spoken about Israel and Jewish causes. At 82, she shows no signs of slowing.

Recommended from JTA