Volume 14, 2009 : Women in Israeli Judaism

Muted Voices:
Immigrant Women’s Experiences of Medical Encounters during Mass Immigration to Israel in the 1950s

Sachlav Stoler-Liss
Communication Department and Gender Studies Program
Ben-Gurion University, Israel


Shifra Shvarts
Moshe Prywes Center for Medical Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University
Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel


The unmediated voice of the women is hardly ever heard in the social science literature on mass migration, leaving the discussion in the hands of politicians, media publicists, and ethnic activists. This article seeks to rectify this deficiency by analyzing women’s perspectives on the health-related issues during mass immigration of the early years of the State. The study is based on 25 in-depth interviews with women who immigrated to Israel from The Middle East and Europe during the 1950s. Along with the embodied narrative that the immigrants adopted in the course of their absorption, we also present categories that reflected the immigrants’ own perceptions of their bodies, identities, and the process of health-related change they underwent. In conclusion we analyze women’s encounters with the Israeli medical system using the gendered perspective.

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