H/T War History OnLine.

When I heard this several years ago I thought Damn I could have never imagined Dr.Ruth as a sniper.

From time to time, life will feed you one of those amazing facts which will rock your worldview and change the entire way in which you look at a person. Much of the world will know Dr. Ruth as the short little old lady who talks pretty explicitly about sex. Many were captivated by her wisdom while others were just dumbfounded at what looked like their grandmother talking a whole lot about sex.

Whatever you may have thought about Dr. Ruth, it is likely you never sat back and wondered if she was an Israeli trained sniper who fought for the creation of the Jewish State. Just don’t say that within a 1,000 yards of her because I hate to rock your worldview, but that is exactly who she is. Dr. Ruth, sex therapist extraordinaire and Israeli Sniper.

An Unbelievable Life

Born Karola Ruth Siegal, a younghad the horrible misfortune of watching her father taken away by the Nazis in 1930’s Germany.  While that would not be an uncommon experience for young Jewish children of that era, Ruth was fortunate to be sent to a Swiss boarding school in 1939 by her mother and grandmother.  Ruth would never see a member of her family again.

As the war raged around her in Europe, Ruth was to be raised in this boarding school from the age of 11 on.  While she remained in contact with her family through letters, those ceased in 1941 as her parents became another tragic casualty of the Holocaust.  She never knew for certain what happened to her parents, but as the world become shockingly aware of the Nazi atrocities, it became quite apparent they did not survive Hitler’s Germany.

Prisoners in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen

Meanwhile, at the boarding school, Ruth was beginning to show her zeal for independence much to the annoyance of school leadership.  An avid reader, it was reported that from an early age that she was unafraid and unashamed to tackle taboo conversations.

When the war ended, Ruth found herself a 17-year-old Jewish girl with no family in the middle of war-torn Europe.  As a result, she immigrated to Palestine as did many Holocaust survivors and their families.  And as tragic as her childhood had been, her story was about to take a fascinating turn.

The State of Israel

Shortly after arriving in Palestine, Dr. Ruth became captivated by the idea of establishing a Jewish homeland and joined the Haganah, which was an underground militant organization fighting for the establishment of a Jewish State.  Ruth would not chalk this up to spectacular bravery as she reports everyone was part of one organization or another attempting to establish a homeland.  The Haganah was a fierce fighting group that would later go on to become the core of the Israeli Defense Force.

While training, it was determined that due to Ruth’s short 4’7” stature that she would make an excellent sniper as he would be hard to see.  And while that might seem like an absurd reasoning, it turns out that young Dr. Ruth was an amazing shot.  By her own admission, she was surprised at just how excellent a marksman she was and she couldn’t attribute any reason why that was so.

However, the Haganah handed her a sniper rifle and trained her to throw grenades.  So keep that in mind next time you watch this grandmother dishing out sex advice and know that this lady could kill you in multiple ways.

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By Avishai Teicher – CC BY-SA 2.5

As fascinating as that might be, Dr. Ruth’s military career was cut short on her 20th birthday when a bomb exploded at the barracks in which she was staying.  Fortunate to survive, the bomb blast did blow off part of her foot leading to months of painful recovery before she was able to walk again.

And while Dr. Ruth admits she never had to utilize her sniping ability in combat, she played her role in the establishment of the Jewish State long before she would establish her preeminence as America’s sex therapist.

The Future

A fascinating life that would begin in one of the most horrific of world events.  From this point forward, Dr. Ruth would go on to become the lovable, short, quirky sex therapist the world has come to know.  After being injured in the barracks bombing, Ruth would recover and eventually wound up marrying an Israeli soldier before moving to Paris to study psychology.

She eventually moved to America and after a couple of marriages settled down with Manfred Westheimer whom she would remain married until his death in 1997.

306px-Dr._Ruth_Westheimer_by_David_Shankbone
By David Shankbone – CC BY-SA 3.0

Dr. Ruth attributes her audacity and boldness to her experience growing up in Nazi Germany.  She stated, “I am what you call bold because the one thing that I’ve learned coming out of Nazi Germany, is that I have to stand up and be counted for what I believe. And that is how people are listening to me, because they know it is not a put-on.”

Her experience with the Haganah gives a fascinating glimpse into the historical creation of the Jewish State and how most Jews, included a short 4’7” orphan from Europe, would play some role.

Her story is one of pain and perseverance that ought to inspire all to press forward despite the odds.  It also warns you all not to judge a book by their cover. Because the same lady would wasn’t afraid to throw grenades at the enemy or operate a sniper rifle just might be that little old lady giving you sex advice.

 

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