Dr. Ruth returns

Dr. Ruth Westheimer meets President Obama. Photo courtesy of White House
Dr. Ruth Westheimer meets President Obama. Photo courtesy of White House

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the world’s most famous sex therapist, is coming to D.C.

The pint-sized (4 feet 7 inches) professor at Columbia University is headlining the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival with a planned appearance at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center on the night of Saturday, Oct. 25. There, Ruth plans to discuss her latest and 39th book, Myths of Love: Echoes of Ancient Mythology in the Modern Romantic Imagination, co-authored with scholar Jerome Singerman.

Surveying ancient literature from Homer to Ovid, the book takes a (characteristically) frank and funny look at how the ancients struggled with gender identity, love and sex – issues just as relevant then as today. Following the talk, Ruth and her co-author will take audience members’ questions – on any subject, scholarly or erotic – Ruth said in a phone interview.

Born in Germany in 1928, the only child of an Orthodox Jewish couple, Westheimer was sent to an orphanage in Switzerland at age 10 to escape the Holocaust. At 17, she immigrated to Israel, where she served as a sniper for the Haganah. She was seriously wounded in that country’s 1948 War of Independence. Two years later, Westheimer moved to France, where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne. She came to the United States in 1956, where she earned a doctorate in education in Columbia. In the 1980s, she vaunted to pop culture status, dispensing quotable sex advice sound bites, such as:


“For more fun between the sheets, add some yoga to your daily routine. It not only gets the blood pumping, which helps with arousal, but stretching promotes more flexibility, which comes in handy.”

But the leitmotif of Ruth’s advice has always been the importance of relationships.

“Nothing will replace a relationship. Nothing will replace when you look at [someone] with love and care, and that you really like being with her [or him].”

At 86 years old, Ruth took her message to South Africa and Israel this summer. She arrived in Israel just as Hamas rockets were falling on Israel and Operation Protective Edge was underway in Gaza. “I stayed the whole month and I didn’t leave before I was supposed to,” she said proudly.

For more information, visit: dcjcc.org/litfest.

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