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.
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."