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The Eulogizer: psychoanalyst for children, bar mitzvah suit king

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer is a new column (soon-to-be blog) that highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Read previous columns here.

Eleanor Galenson, researched children’s sexual identity

Eleanor Galenson, a psychoanalyst and researcher whose work showed that children are aware of their sexuality at very early ages, died Jan. 15 in Manhattan at 94.

Galenson’s 1981 book "Infantile Origins of Sexual Identity," written with Herman Roiphe,“refined existing Freudian theory about when children begin their sexual development,” The New York Times said.

Freud had said that awareness of genital difference does not affect children until they are 4 to 5 years old, but the research was based on adults. Dr. Nellie Thompson, a historian of psychoanalysis, told the Times that Galenson and Roiphe’s research included observing young children over time and they concluded that children make the discovery of genital difference between the ages of 15 to 19 months, which affects their play, “their relationship with their own bodies, their relationship with their parents.”

In 1976, Time quoted earlier findings by Galenson that would be “bound to incur feminist wrath” because it indicated that so-called “penis envy” by girls was a true phenomenon. "Some women’s lib people have felt that penis envy is a dirty word, but there is no doubt that it occurs, and much earlier than Freud thought," Galenson told the magazine.

Her research led her to advocate early counseling for children with anxieties and their families before the approach was widely accepted.

Galenson was born in the Bronx borough of New York City and graduated from Barnard College in 1936. She was one of the first women to attend the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and trained as a psychoanalyst at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. Her 65-year career included time as a professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.

She directed therapeutic nurseries at Mount Sinai and Einstein Medical Center, helped create clinics for troubled children in East Harlem and the Bronx, and was a founder of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.

Galenson was a contributor to the book "Ultimate Intimacy: The Psychodynamics of Jewish Mysticism," in which she described her research on early childhood sexuality in comment to the mystical Talmudic-era story of the four rabbis — Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Aher and Rabbi Akiva — who enter into the pardes (orchard).

Eugene Lubin, bar mitzvah suit merchant

Eugene Lubin, whose men and boys clothing store in suburban New York provided bar mitzvah suits for decades, and who was a longtime leader in Jewish organizations, died Jan. 30 at 88.

The store, Lubin’s Men’s World, has operated in several locations throughout Westchester County, just north of New York City. In 2010 it opened an operation within Rothman’s, an upscale men’s clothier in Scarsdale.

“What happens when upscale specialty men’s clothier Rothman’s invites Lubin’s, the 56-year-old young men’s clothing institution (it has dressed generations of bar mitzvah boys), to move into his Scarsdale shop? Y-chromosome clothing kismet. From boys to men, all are suitably attired here at this brilliant — and stylish — pairing of retail roomies,” a Westchester magazine raved.

Eric Schoen, who is active with the Jewish Council of Yonkers, said that “Gene Lubin was a man who cared greatly about the city of Yonkers and was involved in its business, civic, religious and philanthropic community." But, like others, Schoen also returned to Lubin’s bar mitzvah suits.

"He also cared that bar mitzvah boys and anyone celebrating a special occasion looked perfect," Schoen said. "People traveled far and wide to get that perfect fit."

Lubin was a former president of the Westchester Jewish Council and was a member of the Yonkers citizen budget commission in 1993.

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