Operation Savta

You can’t handle the Ruth

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, everyone’s favorite sex therapist, returns to Tel Aviv to field questions during wartime

Debra writes for the JTA, and is a former features writer for The Times of Israel.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer giving her 'master class' on sex at the 2013 Israeli Presidential Conference. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel staff)
Dr. Ruth Westheimer giving her 'master class' on sex at the 2013 Israeli Presidential Conference. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel staff)

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, celebrity sex therapist and everyone’s favorite Jewish grandmother, returned to Tel Aviv Wednesday night for her second show in two years, and brought the exact same sass and dirty jokes that earned her a devoted White City following last year.

The German-born doyenne of dirty talk — known for her good nature, thick accent and diminutive (4’7”) size — is a staunch supporter of Israel, having immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine after the Holocaust and having served as a sniper in the nascent Israel Defense Forces.

“I have four grandchildren,” Westheimer told the crowd of nearly 700 English-speaking Israeli immigrants at Hangar 11 at the Tel Aviv Port, where the talk was held. “Hitler lost and I won.”

The performance was once again sponsored by Tel Aviv International Salon, a grassroots organization that arranges English-speaking events in Tel Aviv with prominent politicians and intellectuals, and at times it felt a bit like de ja vu.

“I’m old-fashioned and a square,” Westheimer said at the beginning of the talk, echoing the exact words she opened with last year, before rehashing the same favorite midrash about an over-eager yeshiva boy caught hiding under his rabbi’s bed in a bid to learn about that crucial bit of Torah, the lovemaking process between a man and his wife.

But Westheimer, who still lives in the cramped three-bedroom apartment in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood that she has called home for more than half a century, is a strong adherent of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. So while much of her content was a mirror of last year’s, so was her sass and charm – and hearing a woman as old as your grandmother talk openly about fellatio never gets old.

Like last year, Westheimer took questions from the audience. There was a bit of new content this year, due to the ongoing security situation. Asked what the best sexual position is when making love in a bomb shelter, Westheimer couldn’t help but suppres a giggle.

“I doubt that you can have an erection while worrying about the siren,” she said, her glasses glinting under the lights. “But if you are one of those men or those women who can switch off their worries and think about sex, then have a good time.”

Of course, she countered, that’s only if you have a private bomb shelter. Getting jiggy with it in front of your neighbors is not something the good doctor condones.

Jay Schultz, founder of Tel Aviv International Salon, said he was delighted by the turnout, especially because many of the audience members were jittery that a siren might go off during the event but nevertheless came anyway.

“We had some serious questions, but we also got beyond the fun side of it and got to help some people,” Schultz said. “We can’t wait to host her again.

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