Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Today’s WOD is Dr. Ruth Westheimer. (June 4, 1928- ). She was born as Karola rith Siegel in Frankfurt, Germany. Ruth grew up in the German Depression and Hitler’s Nazi Germany, on Nov 16 1938 her father was taken by German SS Soldiers. Her family sent her out of the country for her safety and she never saw her family again. She was sent to Heiden, Switzerland and she lived a hard life as a servant. The letters she exchanged with her parents suddenly stopped in September of 1941. Later Ruth learned that her parents had been taken to the Lodz Ghetto and had most likely been killed at Auschwitz. 

At 17 she had no family and no home, she moved to Palestine shortly before it was attacked by Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. So she joined the Haganah and was trained as a sniper and she dedicated herself to the building of a Jewish Homeland. On her twentieth birthday she had just finished up guard duty when an Arab shell exploded at her feet, seriously injuring her. Her recovery was slow, but she survived to walk again. She married and divorced a Jewish solder. She moved to France studied Psychology, met her new boyfriend and they moved to New York. She got married again, had a daughter and got divorced again. She raised her daughter alone and received her master’s degree in sociology in 1959. She met her third husband, became an American citizen and had her second child Joel in 1963. She then worked on her Doctoral degree.

In the late 60’s she began working at Planned Parenthood and became so comfortable with the frank discussions regarding sex that she decided to pursue a career in sex education. She received a doctorate in Education from Columbia Teachers College in 1970 and began teaching that same year at Lehman College in the Bronx. In September 1980 she was convinced to fill 15 minutes of air time in a NY radio station and that is where “Dr. Ruth” was born. Month after month her audiences grew. Piles of fan mail arrived. The show expanded. Ruth started answering questions from letters, and after a year she started to take live phone calls on the air. Before long over seventy-eight stations across the country were broadcasting Dr. Ruth's radio show. With the incredible exposure Ruth received came newspaper columns, books, a movie cameo, home videos, a board game, and numerous appearances on television talk shows. 

She has continued to take her frank discussions of sex everywhere she goes, including the Internet. In November of 1996 she launched a Web site. She continues to maintain a private practice in New York, and her awe-inspiring energy continues to astound each person whose life she touches. Dr. Ruth has devoted her entire career to making people feel good about themselves and enjoy life. And perhaps no one had a better time than Dr. Ruth Westheimer herself. The 4'7" grandmother has through her career changed the America's ideas of sexual education and literacy and for that we are grateful.