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Episode 12: Before Dr. Ruth

The Story of Ruth Westheimer

Known for her candid talk and blunt advice about sex, Dr. Ruth Westheimer is the world’s most renowned psychosexual sex therapist. But beneath her joyful demeanor is a chaotic story about her youth — a girl named Karola Ruth Siegel left orphaned and stateless. How does she harness all of this uncertainty - and the sexual awakenings of adolescence - to make it in the world?

Dr. Ruth shared her diary for the first time with the Leo Baeck Institute – and with all of you – for this episode of Exile. We are grateful for her generosity with her time and her story – and for the decades of sound advice.

Exile is a production of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York | Berlin and Antica Productions.

It’s narrated by Mandy Patinkin.

Executive Producers include Katrina Onstad, Stuart Coxe, and Bernie Blum. Senior Producer is Debbie Pacheco. Produced by Brian Rice. Associate Producers are Hailey Choi and Emily Morantz. Research and translation by Isabella Kempf. Sound design and audio mix by Philip Wilson, with help from Cameron McIver. Additional sound by Violet Lucca. Theme music by Oliver Wickham. Voice acting by Lucy Hill

Special thanks to Cliff Rubin, Barbara Schmutzler for translating Dr. Ruth’s diaries, Dr. Ruth and Ben Yagoda for All in a Lifetime, and Soundtrack New York.

Want more from Dr. Ruth?

In 2017, Westheimer joined historians Atina Grossmann (Cooper Union), a scholar who has written widely on birth control and abortion reform in Germany, and Robert Beachy (Yonsei Intl. University), author of the history Gay Berlin (2015) to discuss the legacy of German-Jewish reformers who played an important role in advancing an understanding of human sexuality that has informed the gay and transgender rights movements.