American sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer has been surprising people all her life, from her revelations about losing her virginity in a haystack (without contraception) when she was just 17, to her frank talk about all aspects of sex on radio and television.
Now the pin-sized (4’7”) psychologist has surprised the world by announcing that she a trained sniper during the Israeli War for Independence while still in her teens.
“When I was in my routine training with the Haganah (forerunner of today’s Israeli army), threy discovered by sheer chance that I was a lethal sniper. I could hit the target smack in the center further away that anyone could believe. Not just that, I was incredibly accurate throwing hand grenades too,” she exclaimed.
Even today, the 85-year old grandmother claims to still be able to “load a Sten automatic rifle in a minute while blindfolded.”
Born Karola Ruth Siegel on June 4, 1928 in Wiesenfeld, Germany, Westheimer was sent to Switzerland at the age of 8 after her father was taken by the Nazis. She later learned that both her parents, Irma (née Hanauer) and Julius Siegel had been killed at a concentration camp, It was then that she decided to emigrate to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1945.
She was later seriously wounded when shrapnel tore through her legs when the student dorm she was living in in Jerusalem was bombed, and it took several months before she was able to walk again.
After the war, Westheimer moved to France, where she studied and then taught psychology at the University of Paris before coming to the US in 1956, settling into the 3-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights (Manhattan), where she still lives.
She then went on to earn her master's degree in sociology from The New School and an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University. She completed post-doctoral work in human sexuality at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she trained with pioneer sex therapist Helen Singer Kaplan. Ruth Westheimer has been married three times. Her third husband Manfred Westheimer, died in 1997. She also has two children, Joel and Miriam as well as several grandchildren.
Editor’s note:Westheimer was named #13 in the list of the 55 most important people in sex from the past 55 years in Playboy’s 55th anniversary issue published in January 2009.