Ruth Westheimer (born June 4, 1928) is an American sex therapist, media personality, and author. Best known as Dr. Ruth, the New York Times described her as a "Sorbonne-trained psychologist who became a kind of cultural icon in the 1980s. The Sister Wendy of sexuality, she ushered in the new age of freer, franker talk about sex on radio and television—and was endlessly parodied for her limitless enthusiasm and for having an accent only a psychologist could have."
Westheimer was born Karola Ruth Siegel in Wiesenfeld (Karlstadt), Germany, the only child of Orthodox Jews, Julius Siegel and Irma Siegel née Hanauer. In January 1939 she was sent to Switzerland by her mother and grandmother after her father was taken by the Nazis. There she came of age in an orphanage, and stopped receiving her parents' letters in September 1941. In 1945, Westheimer learned that her parents had been murdered in the Holocaust, possibly at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Westheimer decided to emigrate to the British Mandate of Palestine. There, at 17, she "first had sexual intercourse on a starry night, in a haystack—without contraception." She later told the New York Times that "I am not happy about that, but I know much better now and so does everyone who listens to my radio program." Westheimer joined the Haganah in Jerusalem. Despite her diminutive height of 4 feet 7 inches (1.40 m), she was trained as a scout and sniper. Westheimer was seriously wounded in action by an exploding shell during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, and it was several months before she was able to walk again.