Skip to main content Accessibility help


  • Liat Kozma

In late 1931, German sexologist and gay-rights activist Magnus Hirschfeld, quoted above, visited Palestine for a lecture tour that attracted hundreds in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and kibbutz Beit Alfa. By this time, the Jewish settlers' community (or Yishuv) in Mandate Palestine had already been exposed to the science of sexology and to the reform movement it inspired. Sexual-hygiene manuals had been translated into Hebrew and Yiddish in both Tel Aviv and Warsaw. Hebrew readers had access, for example, to translations of Auguste Forel's Sexual Ethics and Max Hodann's A Boy and a Girl. Finally, in the fall and winter of 1931–32, three sex consultation centers were opened in Tel Aviv.

Corresponding author
Liat Kozma is a Lecturer in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel; e-mail:
Hide All


Author's note: I thank Leigh Chipman, Yaara Chotzen, Dafna Hirsch, Abigail Jacobson, Gady Kozma, Zachary Lockman, Goetz Nordbruch, Sherene Seikaly, and the anonymous readers for their comments on earlier versions of this article. I assume responsibility for all errors.

1 Hirschfeld, Magnus, Women East and West: Impressions of a Sex Expert (London: Heinemann, 1935), 268.

2 Theme issue, Journal of the History of Sexuality 12, no. 1 (2003); Vyras, Panayiotis, “Magnus Hirschfeld in Greece,” Journal of Homosexuality 34 (1997): 1729.

3 On “dual society” and Palestine's medical system, see Borowy, Iris and Davidovitch, Nadav, “Introduction: Health in Palestine: 1850–2000,” Dynamis 25 (2005): 319.

4 Bernstein, Deborah, “The Study of Women in Israeli Historiography: Starting Points, New Directions, and Emerging Insights,” in Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel: Life History, Politics, and Culture, ed. Kark, Ruth, Shilo, Margalit, and Hasan-Rokem, Galit (Waltham, Mass.: Brandeis University Press, 2008), 717.

5 Porat, Amir Ben, Hekhan Hem ha-Burganim ha-Hem: Toldot ha-Burganut ha-Yisreʾelit (Where are Those Bourgeois? The History of the Israeli Bourgeoisie) (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1999).

6 Bernstein, Deborah, Nashim ba-Shulayim: Migdar ve-Leʾumiyut be-Tel Aviv ha-Mandatorit (Women on the Margins: Gender and Nationalism in Mandate Tel Aviv) (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Tzvi, 2008); Razi, Tami, Yalde ha-Hefker: Ha-Hatser ha-Ahorit shel Tel Aviv ha-Mandatorit (Forsaken Children: The Backyard of Mandate Tel Aviv) (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2009).

7 Sela-Sheffy, Rakefet, “Integration through Distinction: German-Jewish Immigrants, the Legal Profession and Patterns of Bourgeois Culture in British-Ruled Jewish Palestine,” Journal of Historical Sociology 19 (2006): 3459; Alroe, Gur, “Aliya to Early Twentieth Century Palestine as an Immigrant Experience,” Jewish Social Studies 9 (2002): 2864; Rolnik, Eran, Ose ha-Nefashot: ʿIm Freud le-Eretz Israel (The Soul Makers: With Freud to Eretz Israel) (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2007). For experiences of German-refugee intellectuals elsewhere, see Jakman, Jarrell C. and Borden, Carla M., eds., The Muses Flee Hitler: Cultural Transfer and Adaptation, 1930–1945 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1983).

8 Foucault, Michel, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception, trans. Smith, A. M. Sheridan (New York: Vintage Books, 1973); Mosse, George L., Nationalism and Sexuality: Respectability and Abnormal Sexuality in Modern Europe (New York: Howard Fertig, 1985), 10, 33; idem, The Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 63–68, 151–53.

9 Zimmermann, Moshe, “Muscle Jews versus Nervous Jews,” in Emancipation through Muscles: Jews and Sports in Europe, ed. Brenner, Michael and Reuveni, Gideon (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 2006), 1326; Gluzman, Michael, Ha-Guf ha-Tsiyoni: Leʾumiyut, Migdar u-Miniyut ba-Safrut ha-ʿIvrit ha-Hadashah (The Zionist Body: Nationalism, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Hebrew Literature) (Tel Aviv: HaKibutz HaMeukhad, 2007); Gilman, Sander, Difference and Pathology: Stereotypes of Sexuality, Race, and Madness (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985), 150–62.

10 See Efron, John M., Defenders of the Race: Jewish Doctors and Race Science in fin-de-siècle Europe (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1994); Hirsch, Dafna, “Zionist Eugenics, Mixed Marriage, and the Creation of a ‘New Jewish Type,’Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15 (2009): 592609; Stoler-Liss, Sachlav, “Kakh Agadel Tinok Tsiyoni: Havnayat ha-Tinok ve-ha-Em be-Emtseʿut Sifre Hadrakhah la-Horim” (This is How I Shall Raise a Zionist Baby: The Construction of the Baby and the Mother through Instruction Manuals for Parents), ʿIyunim be-Tkumat Israʾel 13 (2003): 277–85.

11 Hirsch, Dafna, “‘We Are Here to Bring the West, Not Only to Ourselves’: Zionist Occidentalism and the Discourse of Hygiene in Mandate Palestine,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 41 (2009): 577–94.

12 Bernstein, Frances L., “Envisioning Health in Revolutionary Russia: The Politics of Gender in Sexual-Enlightenment Posters of the 1920s,” Russian Review 57 (1998): 191217; idem, The Dictatorship of Sex: Lifestyle Advice for the Soviet Masses (DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, 2007); Carleton, Gregory, Sexual Revolution in Bolshevik Russia (Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), 3.

13 Grossmann, Atina, Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920–1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 14, 20, 34, 38.

14 Ibid., 14–17, 28; Lenz, Ludwig L. Levy, The Memoirs of a Sexologist (New York: Cadillac Publishing, 1954), 406–27.

15 Haeberle, Erwin J., “The Jewish Contribution to the Development of Sexology,” Journal of Sex Research 18, no. 4 (1982): 305–23; Schlör, Joachim, “‘Wenn ich eines richtig gemacht habe . . .’ Die Emigration Berliner Sexualwissenschaftler nach Palästina/Israel,” Exilforschung. Ein Internationales Jahrbuch 16 (1998): 229–52.

16 (accessed 3 March 2009); Levy Lenz, The Memoirs of a Sexologist.

17 Dr. Kurt Levinstein, “Dr. Max Marcuse Ben Shishim” (Dr. Max Marcuse is Sixty Years Old), Ha-Refuʾah 12 (1937): 261; A. Levi and A. Uri, “ʿAnak she-Nishtakeah—Dr. Max Marcuse, me-Meyasde Madaʿ ha-Seksologiyah” (A Forgotten Giant—Dr. Max Marcuse, One of the Founders of the Science of Sexology), Ha-Refuʾah 108 (15 May 1985): 488–89; Hirsch, “Zionist Eugenics”; Yohanan Meroz, “About My Father, Max Marcuse, 1877–1963,” V. Congress of the European Federation of Sexology, Berlin, 29 June–2 July 2000, (accessed 3 November 2009); interview with Michael Meroz, 17 December 2007.

18 (accessed 3 November 2009); Efron, Defenders of the Race, 141–153; interview with Theilhaber's son, Adin Talbar, 11 January 2009.

19 (accessed 3 November 2009); Hodann, Max, History of Modern Morals, trans. Browne, Stella (London: Heinemann, 1937).

20 Interview with Michael Meroz, 17 December 2007.

21 Interview with Adin Talbar, 11 January 2009.

22 Hirschfeld, Women East and West, 275–80.

23 Tamagne, Florence, “La Ligue mondiale pour la réforme sexuelle: La science au service de l'émancipation sexuelle?Clio 22 (2005): 101–21; Matte, Nicholas, “International Sexual Reform and Sexology in Europe, 1897–1933,” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 22 (2005): 253–70; Dose, Ralf, “The World League for Sexual Reform: Some Possible Approaches,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 12 (2002): 115.

24 Grossmann, Reforming Sex, 138–45; Haeberle, Erwin J., “Swastika, Pink Triangle, and Yellow Star—The Destruction of Sexology and the Persecution of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany,” The Journal of Sex Research 17 (1981): 270–87; Levi, Nisim and Levi, Yael, Rofʾeha shel Eretz Israel, 1799–1948 (Eretz Israel Physicians, 1799–1948) (Zikhron Yaʿakov, Israel: Eliyahu Bakhur Press, 2008), 3034.

25 Levi and Uri, “ʿAnak she-Nishtakeah,” 448–50; interview with Michael Meroz, 17 December 2007.

26 Grossmann, Reforming Sex, 187; British National Archives, “Max Julius Alexander HODANN, alias Martin HANSEN,” KV 2/2339 and KV 2/2342.

27 L'Aurore, 18 March 1937, 2; Fargeon, Maurice, Medicine et Avocats Juifs au Service de l'Egypte (Cairo: Lencioni, 1939), 39; (accessed 27 December 2009).

28 M. Ungerfeld, “Le-Takanat Musar ha-Min” (On the Regulation of Sexual Morality), Haaretz, 20 October 1930, 2.

29 Moshe Glikson to Moshe Ungerfeld, 27 November 1930, Central Zionist Archive (hereafter CZA), A71/6.

30 Hirschfeld, Women East and West, 284–85, 289.

31 Dr. Max Hodann, “Ha-Sheʾelah ha-Minit be-Eretz Israel” (The Sexual Question in Eretz Israel), Ha-Briʾut 2 (2 July 1934): 1–2; Hodann, Max and Lindbæk, Lise, Jødene Vender Hjem (Oslo: H. Aschehoug, 1935), 144–54.

32 Doron Niderland, “Hashpaʿat ha-Rofʾim ha-ʿOlim Me-Germanyah al Hitpathut ha-Refuʾah be-Eretz Israel (1933–1948)” (The Impact of the German Immigrant Doctors on the Development of Medicine in Eretz Israel [1933–1948]), Cathedra (1983): 119–20.

33 Levi and Uri, “Anak she-Nishtakeah,” 448–50; interview with Michael Meroz, 17 December 2007.

34 Adin Talbar, “About My Father Felix Theilhaber,” V. Congress of the European Federation of Sexology, Berlin, 29 June–2 July 2, 2000,, (accessed 13 December 2009); Tidhar, David, Entsiklopedyah le-Halutse ha-Yishuv u-Vonav (An Encyclopedia for the Pioneers and Builders of the Yishuv) (Tel Aviv: self-published, 1947–71), 11:3756.

35 Shvartz, Shifra, “Who Will Take Care of the Worker? The Establishment of ‘Kupat Holim,’ the Workers’ Sick Fund in Israel, 1911–1921,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 50 (1995): 532–45.

36 Shvartz, Shifra, “The Development of Mother and Infant Welfare Centers in Israel, 1854–1954,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 55 (2000): 405–19.

37 Tel Aviv Municipality Yearbook, 1938/9, 57–58; Letter from Dr. Ziber to Dr. Brumberg, Hadassah's administration, 13 February 1938, CZA, J113/7930; Tsiporah Shehori-Rubin, Hadassah le-Briʾut ha-ʿAm: Peʿilutah ha-Briʾutit-ha-Hinukhit shel Hadassah be-Eretz Israel be-Tkufat ha-Mandat ha-Briti (Hadassah Health Services: Hadassah's Medical-Educational Activities in Eretz Israel During the British Mandate) (Jerusalem: Zionist Press, 2003), 128–70.

38 “A List of Candidates for the Supervisor of the Health House in Tel Aviv,” n.d, CZA, 113/7926; Tidhar, Entsiklopedyah, 11:3713.

39 Tidhar, Entsiklopedyah, 10:3520–521; “Health Guard,” Davar, 29 December 1931, 3.

40 “Skirah du Hodshit al Avodat Beit ha-Briʾut le-Natan ve-Lina Strauss shel Hadassah be-Tel Aviv” (A Bimonthly Review of the Work of the Nathan and Lina Strauss Hadassah Health House in Tel Aviv), February–March 1932, CZA, J113/7941.

41 Esther Oren, eulogy to the late Dr. Einhorn, courtesy of Kibbutz Maʿgan Michael archive, (accessed 3 November 2009); Interview with Yehudit Kantor, Dr. Einhorn's daughter, 19 November 2007.

42 Engel, Barbara Alpern, Women in Russia, 1700–2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 110, 196; Levi and Levi, Rofʾeha shel Eretz Israel, 20; Hertzog, Hanah, “Irgune Nashim ba-Hugim ha-Ezrahiyim: Perek Nishkah ba-Historyah shel ha-Yishuv” (Women's Organizations in Civil Circles: A Forgotten Chapter in the Yishuv History), Cathedra 70 (1994): 126; Freidenreich, Herriet Pass, “Jewish Women Physicians in Central Europe in the Early Twentieth Century,” Contemporary Jewry 17 (1996): 79105.

43 Avraham Matmon, “Hashbahat ha-Gezaʿ u-Bikoret ha-Nisuʾim” (Improvement of the Race and Marriage Regulation), Ha-Briʾut 1, 15 December 1934, 75.

44 Letter from Dr. T. Berman to Haaretz editorial board, 3 July 1932, CZA, J113/7926.

45 See especially Avraham Matmon, Hashbahat ha-Gezaʿ shel ha-Min ha-Enoshi ve-ʿErka le-ʿAmenu (The Improvement of the Human Race and Its Value for Our Nation) (Tel Aviv: Makhon le-Higyenah u-Madʿe ha-Min, 1933).

46 A., “Al Tahanat ha-Hityaʿatsut be-Sheʾelot Haye ha-Min ve-ha-Nisuʾin she-al Yad ha-Makhon le-Higyenah u-Madʿe ha-Min be-Tel Aviv” (On the Consultation Station for Sexual and Marital Life at the Institute for Hygiene and Sexual Sciences in Tel Aviv), Ha-Briʾut 1, 1 September 1932.

47 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut” (The Health Guard), Davar, 1 July 1931, 3.

48 Hirsch, “‘We Are Here to Bring the West.’”

49 “Skirah du Hodshit al Avodat Beit ha-Briʾut le-Natan ve-Lina Strauss shel Hadassah be-Tel Aviv, Yuni–Yuli 1933” (A Bimonthly Review of the Work of the Nathan and Lina Strauss Hadassah Health Center in Tel Aviv, June–July 1933), CZA, J113/7926; Tel Aviv Municipality Yearbook, 1938/9, 58; Minutes from the subcommittee's meeting on 7 May 1945, CZA, J113/2376.

50 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 1 July 1931, 3; Miryam Aharonova, “Marital Hygiene,” Ha-Em ve-ha-Yeled 1 (1934), 9–10; idem, Ha-Higyenah shel Khaye ha-Ishah (The Hygiene of a Woman's Life) (Tel Aviv: Mishmar ha-Briʾut, 1934), 59.

51 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 12 August 1931, 3; “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 17 July 1931, 7.

52 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 11 May 1932, 5.

53 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 12 January 1932, 3.

54 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 27 January 1932, 8; 17 February 1932, 6.

55 Mosse, The Image of Man, 11–13, 29, 60–62, 99–100.

56 “Sheʾelot u-Tshuvot,” Ha-Briʾut 3, no. 1 (3 October 1934): 10.

57 “Sheʾelot u-Tshuvot,” Ha-Briʾut 3, no. 3 (6 November 1934): 24.

58 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,”Davar, 29 July 1931, 3.

59 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 24 November 1931, 4.

60 Dr. A. Levy Lenz, “Onenut etsel ha-Ishah” (Women's Masturbation), Ha-Briʾut 1 (1 October 1932).

61 Dr. Miryam Aharonova, “Ha-Higyenah shel ha-Yaldah be-Gil ha-Gan ve-Beit ha-Sefer” (The Hygiene of Pre-school and Primary School Girls), Sefer ha-Em ve-ha-Yeled 1 (1934): 146.

62 “Sheʾelot u-Tshuvot,” Ha-Briʾut 1, no. 11 (24 January 1933): 95.

63 “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 8 December 1931, 3.

64 “Sheʾelot u-Tshuvot,” Ha-Briʾut 3, no. 3 (21 November 1934): 3.

65 “Sheʾelot u-Tshuvot,” Ha-Briʾut 3, no. 9 (15 March 1935): 72.

66 Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic, xviii–xix.

67 Aharonova, Ha-Higyenah shel Haye ha-Ishah, 53.

68 See, for example, Delilah Amir and Niva Shoshi, “Hok ha-Hapalot ha-Yisreʾeli—Hebet Migdari ve-Feministi” (The Israeli Abortion Law—A Gendered and a Feminist Perspective), in ʿIyunim be-Mishpat, Migdar u-Feminizm (Studies in Law, Gender, and Feminism), ed. Dafna Barak-Erez (Srigim, Israel: Nevo, 2007), 784–85.

69 On the legal status of abortions in Mandate Palestine, see Tz. Eliyahu Cohen, “La-Sheʾelah ha-Mishpatit shel ha-Yeled” (On the Legal Question of the Child), Ha-Ishah 2 (1929): 9; Amir and Shoshi, “Hok ha-Hapalot ha- Yisreʾeli—Hebet Migdari ve Feministi,” 784–85.

70 Atina Grossman, “German Women Doctors From Berlin to New York: Maternity and Modernity in Weimar and in Exile,” Feminist Studies 19 (1993): 65–88; Jill Stephenson, “Girls’ Higher Education in Germany in the 1930s,” Journal of Contemporary History 10 (1975): 41–69.

71 Dr. Z.-N., “Vikuakh” (Debate), Dvar ha-Poʿelet 1, no. 10 (27 December 1934): 215.

72 Miryam Aharonova, “Ha-Hapalah ve-Totsʾoteha” (Abortion and its Consequences), in “Mishmar ha-Briʾut,” Davar, 14 October 1931, 3; idem, Ha-Higyenah shel Haye ha-Ishah, 55.

73 H., “Le-Divere Dr. Z.-N.,” Dvar ha-Poʿelet 1 (24 February 1935): 266–68.

74 Tova Berman, “Le-Darkhe ha-Hasbarah ha-Popularit” (On Ways of Distributing Information to the Public), Dapim Refuʾiyim 2, nos. 1–2 (November 1937): 60–61.

75 “Hazrakat Yod li-Mniʿat o Hafsakat Herayon” (Iodine Injection for the Prevention or Termination of Pregnancy), Ha-Briʾut 2, no. 3 (12 November 1933): 26.

76 Tova Berman, “Sheʾelah Yishuvit” (A Yishuv's Question), Dvar ha-Poʿelet 3, no. 12 (February 1937): 247.

77 Dr. Miryam Aharonova, “Haganat ha-Em” (Protecting the Mother), Dvar ha-Poʿelet 1 (March 1934): 10–11; Dr. Tova Berman, “Vitur al ha-Yeled” (Giving up on a Child), Dvar ha-Poʿelet 1 (31 July 1934): 107; Dr. M. Aharonova, “Ovdot” (Female Workers), Dvar ha-Poʿelet 1 (27 November 1934): 178–80; Dr. M. Aharonava in the third meeting, “Ha-Kinus Ha-Artsi shel Irgune Imahot ʿOvdot” (The National Convention of Working Mothers), Dvar ha-Poʿelet (27 December 1934): 223; Dr. M. Aharonova, “Darush Pitron” (A Solution is Needed), Dvar ha-Poʿelet 2 (6 June 1935): 71; Dr. Tova Berman, Dvar ha-Poʿelet 3 (February 1937): 247; Dr. Tova Berman, “Al Sibot ha-Hapalot ha-Melakhutiyot” (Reasons for Abortion), Ha-Refuʾah 38 (1 March 1945): 98–99; M. Aharonova, “Ha-Hapalah ve-Totzʾoteha” (Abortion and its Outcomes), Davar, 14 October 1932, 3.

78 “Sheʾelot u-Tshuvot,” Ha-Briʾut 3, no. 3 (21 November 1934): 3.

79 Yosef Meir, “Le-Sheʾelat Hafsakat ha-Herayon” (The Question of Termination of Pregnancy), Dvar ha-Poʿelet 3, no. 8 (25 October 1936): 148.

80 Dr. Tova Berman, Dvar ha-Poʿelet 3 (February 1937): 247.

81 Preventive medicine, Tel Aviv Station, 1939–1940, two letters from Dr. Yaski to Dr. Schiller, 7 April 1940 and 15 July 1940; a letter from Dr. Schiller to Dr. Yaski, 26 March 1940. CZA, J113/2374.

82 Letter from Dr. Yaski to Dr. Schiller, 10 April 1940, CZA, J113/2312.

83 Tova Berman, “Le-Darkhe ha-Hasbarah ha-Popularit,” Dapim Refuʾiyim 2, nos. 1–2 (November 1937): 59–60.

84 A protocol, 22 May 1945, CZA, J113/2376.

85 Minutes from the sub-committee's meeting on 7 May 1945, the end of the war, CZA, J113/2376.

86 Dr. Yosef Asherman, “Tafkid ha-Rofeʾ be-ʿIdud ha-Yeludah” (The Pro-Natalist Role of the Doctor), Ha-Refuʾah 38 (1 February 1945): 50–51; “Ha-Kinus ha-Artsi ha-Rishon shel Rofʾe Nashim be-Tel Aviv” (The First Convention of Tel Aviv Gynecologists), Ha-Refuʾah 36 (1 May 1944): 173.

87 Tova Berman, “Al Sibot ha-Hapalot ha- Melakhutiyot,” Ha-Refuʾah 38 (1 March 1945): 100.

88 Prof. R. Beki, “Ha-Matsav ha-Demografi be-Eretz Israel” (The Demographic Situation in Eretz Israel), Ha-Refuʾah 38 (15 March 1945): 131–32.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed