Israel’s Psychoanalytic Society Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary
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Israel’s Psychoanalytic Society Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

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The Israel Psychoanalytic Society recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and the European Psychoanalytical Federation marked the occasion by holding its fifth conference in Jerusalem and publishing a “festive” issue of the “Israel Journal of Psychiatry and the Related Sciences” devoted to a “historic overview of the psychoanalytic movement in Palestine and Israel.”

Prof. Dan Hertz, the president of the Society and the director of the Psychiatry Clinic at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center, said that Israel’s psychoanalysts believe that this is a nationwide milestone.

“In fact,” he said, “an interest in psychoanalysts preceded the founding of the Society by several decades. Max Eitingen, a great friend of Freud, come to Palestine in 1910 and thought of settling there, but eventually he decided to return to Germany. However, he never lost his interest in Zionism and finally made his home in Jerusalem in 1933.”

In 1920, in a letter to his close associate, Ernest Jones, Sigmund Freud wrote that he had heard from Chaim Weizmann that immigrants from Eastern Europe arrived in Palestine with few clothes and personal belongings, but with copies of “Das Kapital” and “The Interpretation of Dreams” under their arms.

Weizmann invited Dr. David Eder to serve as a member of the British Zionist Commission that came to Palestine in 1918. Eder was the first secretary of the British Psychoanalytical Society founded in 1913. He was a passionate devotee of Zionism, Socialism and psychoanalysis.

Many educators in Palestine in the early days supported the theory of psychoanalysis. Hertz said that it still provides a frame of reference for the educational system of many kibbutzim.

Hadassah was always close to the development of psychoanalysis in Israel. Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah, approached Eitingen for help in dealing with the problems encountered with children in youth aliyah, and he willingly provided it. Eder was considered for the post of director-general of the Hadassah Medical Organization but decided not to take it. Hadassah psychiatrists have always been prominent among the Psychoanalytical Society, such a Professors Julius Zellermayer, Eleazar Edelstein and Jacob Avni.


Most people who have read “Moses and Monotheism” believe that Freud was anti-Jewish to the point of seeming to be anti-Semitic. Hertz says that this is not a correct interpretation of Freud’s attitudes. “Because of his traditional Jewish background, he was preoccupied with, but ambivalent about, the land of his forefathers. But on December 10, 1917, he wrote a letter in which he said: ‘The only cheerful news is the capture of Jerusalem by the English and the experiment they propose about a home for the Jews.'”

An even more remarkable comment was made by Freud in a foreword to a memorial volume on Eder: “We were both Jews and knew of each other that we carried in us that miraculous thing in common which –inaccessible to any analyst so far –makes the Jew.”

Freud and Eitingen hoped to set up a Chair of Psychoanalysis at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Freud accepted an invitation to become a member of the university’s first Board of Governors. These attempts failed, because the university felt that it wanted to have a Chair of Psychology before introducing one of Psychoanalysis.

Eventually, in 1977, when the International Psychoanalytical Association held its 30th Congress in Jerusalem, the Freud Chair of Psychoanalysis was established.

After the State was founded in 1948, psychoanalysis went from strength to strength. Erick Gumber, one of Eitingen’s students, became president of the society, and he was succeeded by H. Winnik. American psychoanalysists rendered great assistance, and many of them became Corresponding Members of the Society. Today many doctors specializing in psychiatry in Israel have had some psychoanalytic training.

The dedication of the Sigmund Freud Square, near the Liberty Bell Garden in Jerusalem, took place during the conference in the presence of Mayor Teddy Kollek, a native of Vienna, like Freud, “I am sure that Freud would have been very pleased about the association with Jerusalem, a garden and Mayor Kollek,” Hertz said.

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