Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Orphan of the War

Orphan of the War

More From Ruth

In this video

Westheimer talks about the powerful bond she formed with the other children in the Swiss orphanage. 

Ruth's Biography

Cause of Choice: Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

First Paying Job: Ran and taught a kindergarten in Israel for Yemenite children who had just arrived from Yemen.

Domestically Skilled or Challenged: Very challenged.

Early Bird or Night Owl: Night owl. "No, no, no, don’t call me before nine o’clock."

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a beloved sex therapist whose frank talk while spreading what she’s coined as “sexual literacy” has reached millions through radio and television over the last three decades.

 

Born in Germany in 1928, she fled the country at the age of seven for a children’s home-turned-orphanage in Switzerland to escape the Holocaust. While there, she was trained to be a Swiss housemaid, but she had very different plans in mind.

 

Following the war, she took off for Israel to fight as a sniper with the Jewish Freedom Fighters for the country’s independence, and soon after, channeled that tenacity into her continuing education; she earned her Masters Degree in Sociology from the New School of Social Research, and a Doctorate of Education in Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher’s College.

 

It was her work with Planned Parenthood and studying under mentor Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan, however, which catapulted her intrigue into human sexuality. After giving a candid lecture to New York broadcasters about the need for sex education, WYNY-FM offered her a 15-minute show Sundays after midnight. With her unique ability to communicate the science behind such a taboo subject matter as sex, her show became a huge success. It evolved into an hour-long nationally syndicated show and opened the doors for Westheimer’s multi-media platform including print and television.

 

A household name for decades, Westheimer’s incredible career has earned her countless accolades including multiple honorary degrees, Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Medal For Distinguished Services, a Liberty Medal from the City of New York, the International Society for Sexual and Impotence Research 20th Anniversary Award, and was even named by People Magazine one of the Most Intriguing People of the Century. She continues to educate based on her philosophy that women should take responsibility for their own sexual satisfaction.

Related Videos

Karen Nussbaum
Karen Nussbaum
Founder of 9to5 First Union for Secretaries

Karen Nussbaum is an activist, labor leader, and founder of 9to5, a pioneering labor organization for female clerical workers. She has also served as Director of the Women’s ...

Rebecca Morris
Rebecca Morris
Abstract Painter

Rebecca Morris is known for revitalizing abstract painting through her acclaimed artwork. Among her many accomplishments, Morris is the recipient of the 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship,...

Heather Fleming
Heather Fleming
Designer & Engineer

Heather Fleming is the Founder and CEO of Catapult Design, a non-profit design firm that develops and delivers technology and service solutions to low-income and underserved commun...

Yan Geling
Yan Geling
Novelist and Screenwriter

Yan Geling grew up in Shanghai with very artistic parents, her talent for dance winning her a place in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) dance troupe at the young age of 12,...