Dr. Ruth Westheimer urged Jewish women philanthropists to “make believe tonight is Friday night” — and she wasn’t talking about lighting Shabbat candles.
The famed sex therapist and radio host was the guest speaker May 13 at the Lion of Judah celebration — sponsored by Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ — at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston. The event marked the contributions of women to the UJA Campaign.
Just a few weeks shy of her 85th birthday, the diminutive “Dr. Ruth” spent most of her talk describing her escape from Nazi Germany on the eve of Kristallnacht in 1938 at age 10, her experience as a sniper in the Hagana, and the Jewish values that informed her career as America’s “sex sage” (she credits a mixture of “chutzpah” and Judaism’s long tradition of viewing sex as a vehicle for “recreation, not only procreation”).
Westheimer called Jewish sages “very smart” for suggesting that “a man should talk to his wife so she would be willing and ready to engage in the activity I usually talk about.” She pointed out that “A Woman of Valor” is traditionally sung by a husband to his wife at the Shabbat table. “I don’t know any other song as sexually arousing as a husband saying to his wife, ‘You are the very best,’” she said.
As for Friday night, she sounded confident that her audience was familiar with the Jewish tradition that on erev Shabbat it is a mitzva “to engage in the thing I usually talk about.”
“And try a new position tonight, and then call and let me know so I can talk about it!” she added, as her audience laughed.
The event honored Dr. Ruth Legow and her efforts to create Lion of Judah endowments. A member of Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange, she has served on many local boards, including the Greater MetroWest federation, the Jewish Community Housing Corporation, Jewish Historical Society, and JESPY House. Legow also serves on the boards of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey and Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey. She was chair of the Lion of Judah event from 1997 to 1999.