Tuesday, December 17, 2013

205: The Self-Empowered Woman: Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Dear Followers,

Practically everyone knows that Dr. Ruth--who studied at the Sorbonne and rose to fame in the 1980s--is America's most popular sex therapist. But few know about her life before success and stardom.
Her birth name was Karola Ruth Siegel, and she was born in Wiesenfeld, Germany in June 1928. Her parents (she was an only child) were Orthodox Jews (3: Belief In The Unbelievable), and soon afterwards Hitler began actively promoting genocide against the Jews. When she was ten years old, her father was taken by the Nazis (1: No Paternal Safety Net), and in January 1939, her mother and grandmother sent her to an orphanage in Switzerland. Letters from her parents stopped arriving by September 1941, and four years later she learned that her parents had been murdered in the Holocaust, probably at Auschwitz (12: Hard Times).
As a teenager, she emigrated to Palestine, where she joined the Haganah as a scout and sniper (11: Risk Addiction). When an exploding shell seriously wounded her in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, she was unable to walk for several months. Two years later she moved to Paris, and six years after that she immigrated to the United States (14: Selective Disassociation).
Dr. Ruth speaks English, French, German and Hebrew, and has written a number of books on human sexuality. She received her master's degree in sociology from The New School; her doctorate in education is from Columbia. She completed her post-doctoral work in human sexuality at New York-Presbyterian Hospital (10: The Critic Within).
In 1980, Maurice Tunick, who was the program coordinator at WYNY (NBC Radio's New York City station) joined with Betty Elam to launch a fifteen minute program at midnight on Sunday night starring Dr. Ruth and called "Sexually Speaking" (4: Supportive Someone). Within two months the show was expanded to an hour, and soon Dr. Ruth was appearing on TV shows like David Letterman. By 1982, Lifetime cable gave Dr. Ruth her first TV show, and she has also appeared on Israeli TV, PBS and has made guest appearances on a wide variety of programs (13: More Than Meets The Eye). 
Dr. Ruth is only four foot seven, wears size four shoes, has been married three times, and has a son and a daughter (who both have earned doctorates in education, just like their mother) and several grandchildren. At 85, she remains active, and recently allowed a New York Times reporter to write about her three-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights, Manhattan.
Looking forward to your comments...

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