Famed Sexologist in Israel to Film Documentary About Circassians

At 82, Dr. Ruth has more than sex on her mind

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the world renowned sexpert, is in Israel probing something completely new.

She here to research the country's tiny Circassian Muslim community for a PBS documentary. The work follows similar films she has made in recent years about other minority groups in Israel, such as the Bedouin, the Druse and the Ethiopian Jews.


The octogenarian sex guru says the projects have sparked her curiosity at a time when she has little new to add in the field that made her famous.

"I didn't want to have to talk about the things that I knew already. I don't have any new research. There is nothing new under the sun," she said.

But that doesn't stop people the world over from asking the 82-year-old bespectacled, diminutive grandmother and widow intimate questions about their own sex life.

"Sex is still the most interesting subject under the sun," she said. "People will say my wife is too tired or my husband is too tired, and I listen and I say 'go for help.'"

The psychosexual therapist ushered in a new era of speaking openly about sexual matters with her call-in radio show, "Sexually Speaking," in 1980. She quickly became a sought-after speaker and has written 32 books, most on the topic of sex.

Westheimer would seem an odd choice to become an international sex icon. Born in Germany to an Orthodox Jewish family, she was saved from the Holocaust when her parents sent her to an orphanage. Much of her family perished in the war.

She immigrated to Israel as a teenager and was later seriously wounded fighting in the two-year war that followed Israel's creation in 1948. She moved to the United States in 1956. Israel is also where she says she had her first sexual experiences.

She's a cult hero here as well. During her current visit, she appeared on morning TV talk shows conversing fluently in Hebrew - one of the four languages she speaks. She said she raises money for her documentary projects by promising donors good sex for life.

Westheimer has a small practice in New York and teaches at Yale and Princeton universities. Her most recent focus revolves around the Internet, warning that social networking and other online tools are replacing real intimacy.