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2016-04-22 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


April 22, 2016  RSS feed
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Women of Distinction tea to honor 29 on May 15

Dr. Ruth will be the guest speaker at the Women of Distinction event Dr. Ruth will be the guest speaker at the Women of Distinction event Dr. Ruth Westheimer is well known as a psychosexual therapist, but did you know when she was only 17 years old, she was also a freedom fighter in 1945 for Israel’s independence?

Though the world knows much about the popular “sex doctor,” folks in Pinellas County will get a chance to know her better when she serves as keynote speaker at the annual Women of Distinction program, an afternoon tea, on Sunday, May 15 at 2 p.m.

This the 14th year of the event, put on by the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, and it will he held at Temple B’nai Israel, 1685 S. Belcher Road, Clearwater.

Preceding the tea, there will be a private reception at 1 p.m. for select guests with Westheimer, 87, who will be signing her 2015 book, The Doctor is in: Dr. Ruth on Love, Life, and Joie de Vivre.

In addition to Westheimer’s speech, the Federation will honor women volunteers from 30 Jewish organizations in Pinellas and Pasco counties with the Women of Distinction award, to be presented for their outstanding dedication and leadership within the local Jewish community.

This year will also institute a new honor: the Dawkins Young Woman of Distinction, which is being established to recognize the 30th year of operations in the local community of the Jewish Press of Pinellas County and its owners Karen and Jim Dawkins.

The award will honor a woman in her 30s who serves as an example of leadership. Nominations for this award will be accepted through midnight Monday, May 2 by going to the Federation website,, then clicking on the banner with a photo of Dr. Ruth at the top of the web page. Anyone can make a nomination and there will be online voting for candidate from May 3-5, with the winner revealed at the tea. The Federation website will give instructions on how to vote.

The other 28 honorees, all nominated by their respective organizations as Women of Distinction are: Pamela LeCompte, Benjamin Tower; Lizz Singh, Chabad of St. Petersburg; Lori Kremer, Chabad of Pinellas County; Valerie Levy, Chabad of West Pasco; Yvette Sussman, Chabad of Clearwater; Elaine Markowitz, Congregation Beth Shalom; Arlene Fiel, Congregation Beth Shalom Sisterhood; Carole Frank, Congregation B’nai Emmunah; Judith Unger, Congregation B’nai Emmunah Sisterhood; Pam Himmel, Congregation B’nai Israel; Eileen Richman, Congregation B’nai Israel Women’s League; Dr. Zena Lanksy, Florida Holocaust Museum; Deena Silver, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services; Elaine Miller, Hadassah St. Petersburg; Ilene Turker, Lylah Pinellas Hadassah Chapter; Patti Hytner, Hadassah North Pinellas; Michelle Gordon, Hillel Academy; Linda Goldfarb, Israel Bonds; Edie Becker, Jewish Women International; Gladys Schutz, Menorah Manor; Loren Fay Saunders, Tampa Bay Jews; Loren Goldman, Temple Ahavat Shalom; Ivy Fish, Temple Ahavat Shalom Sisterhood; Randi Nash-Ortiz, Temple Beth-El; Polly Kraus, Temple B’nai Israel; Fran Brickman, Temple B’nai Israel Sisterhood; Lois Cohen, Tampa- Orlando-Pinellas Jewish Foundation and Jennifer Rosoff, Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties.

About Dr. Ruth

Born in Germany in 1928, she was age 10 when Nazis took her father. In 1939 her mother and grandmother sent her to a children’s home in Switzerland. The home became an orphanage for many German Jewish children who were sent there to escape the Holocaust. By 1941 she stopped receiving letters from her parents and in 1945, at age 17, she learned they had died, probably at the Auschwitz.

That same year, Westheimer went to Israel where she fought for that country’s independence as a member of the Haganah, the Jewish freedom fighters, her biography states. She was only 4’7” tall so she was trained as a scout and sniper. In 1948 during Israel’s War of Independence, she was wounded by an exploding shell and it was several months before she could walk again.

Dr. Ruth told the New York Times that while in British controlled Palestine at age 17, she “first had sexual intercourse on a starry night, in a haystack without contraception.” She added, “I know much better now.”

She went to France in 1950 and studied, then taught, psychology at the University of Paris. She immigrated to the United States in 1956, earned her doctorate from Columbia University and did post-doctorate at New York Presbyterian Hospital. In 1980 she began a 15-minute taped radio show called Sexually Speaking, and that eventually led to a live radio show, a TV show and many books offering sexual and relationship advice to the world.

Dr. Ruth has been married three times. She has two children and four grandchildren.

* * *

Becca Tieder and Katie Blaxberg are co-chairing the event. Committee members Linda Goldman, Chaya Korf and Abby Sterensis plan the event.

General admission is $36 and there will be various upgraded packages available that will include Dr. Ruth’s book and a chance to meet her and have a photo taken with her. Childcare at the event will be provided. For more information, call (727) 530-3223 or e-mail Diana at

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