Ruth Westheimer balanced unabashed practical advice about sexual health and safety with a playful sense of humor to educate the public and break down social taboos against discussing sex. Westheimer’s family sent her to a Swiss orphanage at age ten to save her from the Holocaust, but the rest of the family perished. After the war, at age sixteen, Westheimer served as a Haganah sniper in Palestine, then travelled to Paris in 1950, where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne. After moving to New York in 1956, she earned a master’s in sociology from the New School and an EdD from Columbia University. She did post-doctoral work in human sexuality for several years before making an appearance on a local radio show in 1980 that led to her own radio show, originally called Sexually Speaking, where she answered questions from listeners. The show grew from fifteen minutes to two hours under different titles, attracting huge audiences. Westheimer wrote dozens of books on sexuality geared to teens, seniors, and everyone in between, from Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Good Sex in 1983 to Sex for Dummies in 2006, as well as several autobiographies. She has taught courses at NYU, Yale, and Princeton.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Dr. Ruth Westheimer." (Viewed on March 24, 2018) <https://jwa.org/people/westheimer-ruth>.