Dr. Ruth booked for Jan. 30 Connections event
By Deborah Moon Seldner
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To draw a large number of women and to demonstrate the power of their collective voice, this year's Connections co-chairs booked relationship expert and Jewish advocate Dr. Ruth Westheimer, known as "Dr. Ruth."
This year's Connections event will be a 10 a.m. brunch at the Portland Hilton on Sunday, Jan. 30.
The 10 previous Connection events, which have been held in the evening, have drawn about 400 to 500 women. The only other Connections to feature a celebrity--Gerda Klein, author of "All But My Life: A Memoir"--drew 597 women in 2000.
Portland has tended to shy away from big-name celebrities because it is difficult to justify spending the money to bring in such a speaker.
But this year's co-chairs Susan Stern and Michelle Eastern Gradow felt drawing a crowd was so important that they launched a "Friends of Dr. Ruth" drive to find underwriters to bring Dr. Ruth to town without spending any of the federation budget.
About 60 women have pledged $250 each to underwrite Dr. Ruth's visit.
"We are trying to help women feel empowered," said Stern. "A big focus of the event is letting women know how important their individual gifts are."
"The strength of the women's voice--both the communal voice of women as well as a woman's individual voice--is so important," agreed Gradow.
Gradow said she saw Dr. Ruth last year in Seattle when her sister chaired the Connections event there. Though Seattle has a much larger Jewish community and its federation has a larger budget than that of Portland, Gradow said she felt Portland women deserved the same chance to see this "warm, loving, family-oriented, funny" woman.
Gradow and Stern said that they are very grateful to the women who have stepped up to underwrite Dr. Ruth's appearance here.
"It shows the power of the individual and the power of the group and what they can do," said Stern.
Connections will begin at 10 a.m. with registration and time to socialize over mimosas (champagne and orange juice) while listening to classical music. At 10:45 a.m., the doors will open for a "lovely champagne brunch."
After the brunch has been served, Dr. Ruth, who likes to decide on her topic after "feeling out" the audience, will share her unique brand of wisdom and warmth. Her formal presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session, and she will sign copies of one of her books that will be for sale at the event.
Dr. Ruth requests that attendees be 18 and older.
Dr. Ruth helped pioneer the field of media psychology with her radio program, "Sexually Speaking," beginning in 1980. She is the author of 14 books, a college professor and a syndicated columnist.
Born in Germany in 1928, she was sent to Switzerland at age 10. Immigrating to Israel at age 16, she fought for that country's independence as a member of the Haganah. She then moved to Paris and studied at the Sorbonne. In 1956 she immigrated to the United States, where she received her doctorate from Columbia University.
This year's Connections brunch has been planned by Esther Abouaf, Bev Eastern, Tracy Frankel, Myra Friedman, Maureen Mandel, Eleanore Rubinstein, Robyn Spring, Sharon Weil and Marilyn Yoelin.
Tickets for the Connections brunch at the Portland Hilton are $36 by Jan. 17
and $45 thereafter. That includes 3 percent to be donated to Mazon--A Jewish Response to Hunger. To register or for more information, call Rachel Halupowski at the Jewish Federation of Portland at 503-892-7413, or register online at www.JewishPortland.org.