The Auschwitz Jewish Center honored Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who was a pioneer in talking about sexuality on radio and television, on June 1 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Manhattan.
Speakers included actor Jake Ehrenreich and Captain Benjamin Dratch.
Born in Germany in 1928, Dr. Westheimer, who is known to millions simply as “Dr. Ruth,” went to Switzerland when she was 10 to escape the Holocaust, which wiped out her immediate family. At 17 she went to Palestine, joined the Haganah, (Israeli freedom fighters), was trained to as a sniper, and was seriously wounded. She moved to Paris, studied at the Sorbonne, and in 1956 went to the United States, where she obtained her master’s and Ed.D. Her work for Planned Parenthood led her to study human sexuality at Cornell University Medical Center, where she became an adjunct professor; she now teaches at Columbia’s Teachers College. She lectures worldwide, and is the author of 38 books and the executive producer of five documentaries. A widow, she has two children, four grandchildren, and lives in New York City.
The Auschwitz Jewish Center, an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, is the only Jewish presence in the town of Oświecim — the town the Germans called Auschwitz. The center is a haven where visitors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps can memorialize victims of the Holocaust and learn about the vibrancy of prewar Jewish life in Poland.