Yishuv Publishes Its First Medical Journal: “Harefuah”

August 20, 1920

Aryeh Feigenbaum was born in Lvov, Poland in 1895.  At the age of ten, he was sent from his home to be trained for the rabbinate.  After four years, the rabbi who was training him returned him to his family feeling that Feigenbaum had lost interest in his studies.  A short time later, according to Feigenbaum he told a friend, “I’m going to be a doctor; I’m going to emigrate to Palestine; and I’m going to found the first medical journal in Hebrew.”

Feignebaum would accomplish all three of his stated goals, becoming an ophthalmologist and moving to Palestine in 1913 to become the head of the eye department of the newly established Jewish Health Bureau in Jerusalem.  While there had been periodic medical literature published in the yishuv on a variety of health education issues, most notably malaria, there was no regular journal.  Feigenbaum joined with other physicians who wished to not only create a medical journal but who recognized the need for a Hebrew medical dictionary as a way to expand the field of medicine.

Feigenbaum would become the first editor of Harefuah (Medicine), the first Hebrew language medical journal in Palestine.  The journal was published by quarterly the Jewish Medical Association of Palestine.  Its objectives as outlined in the first issue were to: “strengthen and coordinate the medical forces of the country and to collaborate with doctors outside of Palestine; to give the medical work a national as well as a humane value; to prepare a native soil for Jewish scientists; and to help in the creation of the Hebrew University.”  The journal is still published monthly by the Israel Medical Association and distributed free of charge to all its members.