Dr. Ruth Westheimer Speaks to HUC-JIR/NY Students

Monday, March 3, 2008

(Dr. Ruth Westheimer meets Barbara Friedman, Chair, HUC-JIR Board of Governors, Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President of HUC-JIR, and Board Member Peter Joseph)

Dr. Ruth Westheimer joined HUC-JIR/NY students for a dinner and discussion Tuesday evening, March 25. Barbara Friedman, Chair of the Board of Governors, along with Board Members Bonnie Tisch and Peter Joseph, joined the group. Rabbi David Ellenson, Ph.D., President of HUC-JIR, introduced Dr. Westheimer who, in May of 2000, received an Honorary Doctorate from HUC-JIR for her work in Human Sexuality and her commitment to the Jewish People, Israel, and Religion. Students received copies of her book Heavenly Sex: Sexuality in the Jewish Tradition

(Dr. Ruth Westheimer with HUC-JIR rabbinic student Daniel Sklar)

About Dr. Ruth Westheimer (from www.drruth.com)

Born in Germany in 1928, Dr. Westheimer was sent to a children's home in Switzerland at the age of ten which became an orphanage for most of the German Jewish students who had been sent there to escape the Holocaust. At 17 she went to Israel where she fought for that country's independence as a member of the Haganah, the Jewish freedom fighters. She then moved to Paris where she studied at the Sorbonne and taught kindergarten. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1956 where she obtained her Masters Degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research. In 1970, she received a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher's College. 

She worked for Planned Parenthood for a time and it was that experience that prompted her to further her education in human sexuality by studying under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center. She later participated in the program for five years as an Adjunct Associate Professor. She has also taught at Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Adelphi University, Columbia University and West Point. 

Currently Dr. Westheimer is an Adjunct Professor at N.Y.U. and an Associate Fellow of Calhoun College at Yale University, where she taught a course on the American family in the Fall of 2005, and a Fellow of Butler College at Princeton University, where in the spring of 2007 she taught a course on the Jewish family. She is a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and in addition to having her own private practice, she frequently lectures at universities across the country and has twice been named "College Lecturer of the Year." 

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu