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Dr. Ruth Westheimer Invests In The Future By Investing In Our Youth

Dr. Ruth Westheimer at one of the many charity events she regularly attends. This photo was taken at a dinner a few years ago for The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer at one of the many charity events she regularly attends. This photo was taken at a dinner a few years ago for The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene.Giacinta Pace

Dr. Ruth Westheimer aka Dr. Ruth is a psychosexual therapist who pioneered speaking frankly about sexual matters on radio with her program, Sexually Speaking. Dr. Ruth is active and energetic and does it all! This mother and grandmother is the author of thirty-five books, and counting, a teacher, a media icon and can be followed on Twitter(@AskDrRuth) too!

Currently Dr. Ruth is an Adjunct  Professor at New York University, an Associate Fellow of Calhoun College at Yale University, and a Fellow of Butler College at Princeton University. She is also a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and in addition to having her own private practice, she frequently lectures at universities across the country and has twice been named "College Lecturer of the Year."

Dr. Ruth is also an unstoppable philanthropist and a regular on our Cause Celeb page. Check out her very first Cause Celeb and a more recent oneshe did with us just last year.

The Zamir Choral Foundation is at the center of a growing network of Jewish choirs, creating a new world of Jewish music, musicians and pluralistic Judaism. This organization is the only one of its kind to use Jewish choral singing as a vehicle to foster Jewish identity, community and continuity. Through its extensive programming, education, and outreach Zamir has been bringing people together for years. 

The Foundation was begun by Director Matthew Lazar in 1990. At that time Lazar brought the Zamir Chorale (an adult choir established in 1960) under the umbrella of the Zamir Choral Foundation. In 1993, he established HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir in order to give Jewish teenagers the opportunity to sing first-rate Jewish choral music at the highest performance level.

This year 300 singers from 22 cities across the U.S. and Israel will take part in a special HaZamir event marking the 20th anniversary of these concerts. The concert will take place at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Sunday March 17 at 3pm and at 6:30pm.


Interview Conducted Via Email By: Giacinta Pace

Q: What is your cause?

Dr. Ruth: I support the HaZamir: The International Jewish High School Choir, a program of the Zamir Choral Foundation.  HaZamir has 22 chapters in 21 American cities and in Israel.  Each chapter learns the same Jewish choral music over the course of a year, and then they all come together to sing this music together in a major New York concert venue.  These concerts are glorious musical events, but they are also important, character-building opportunities for young people to learn to make new friends and to work with others toward a common goal.  Every year lifelong friendships are made. This year's concert, at Jazz at Lincoln Center, is the organization's 20th anniversary concert.


Q: What is your role with the charity and how did you get involved? 

Dr. Ruth: I have a special relationship with the Zamir Choral Foundation, an organization led by Matthew Lazar, whose goals I believe in deeply.  I especially love and support HaZamir, directed by Vivian Lazar, a program that teaches teenagers to respect and collaborate with one another through a process that encourages them to open their hearts to one another and create things of beauty together. I have become more directly involved by sponsoring a scholarship for HaZamir, which is named in memory of my late husband Fred Westheimer.


Q: Why when there are so many other causes out there is this one important to you?

Dr. Ruth: Investing in young people is an investment in our future. HaZamir is a choir, but it is not only a choir:

It is a community-building experience where young Jews of different backgrounds, and denominations, and those who are unaffiliated, understand one another, treat each other with respect.

HaZamir is a learning experience where young men and women get to study many different kinds of Jewish texts as they learn to sing those words through music that often was composed to sustain us in times of hardship and need.  HaZamir helps create literate Jews who have fun singing about their history and culture.

HaZamir also trains future leaders through its leadership program, so the entire social structure of society is encompassed in the HaZamir experience.  It's really quite remarkable.


Q: Do you have anything else to add?

Dr. Ruth: Seeing the faces of 300 Jewish teens from across the United States and Israel as they sing so passionately and together, is an inspiring thing to watch.  It gives us the encouragement to know that our future will be forged by a committed and knowledgeable generation which has been prepared to deal with the challenges that it will inevitably face.