Despite both national and traditional imperatives to have many children, the birthrate of the Jewish community in British Mandate Palestine declined steadily from 1920-1948. During these years Jews were caught in contradictions between political and social objectives, religion, culture, and individual needs. Lilach Rosenberg-Friedman takes a deep and detailed look at these diverse and decisive issues, including births and abortions during this period, the discourse about birthrate, and practical attempts to implement policies to counter the low birthrate. Themes that emerge include the effect of the Holocaust, economics, ethnicity, efforts by public figures to increase birthrate, and the understanding that women in the society were viewed as entirely responsible for procreation. Providing a deep examination of the day-to-day lives of Jewish families in British Mandate Palestine, this book shows how political objectives are not only achieved by political agreements, public debates, and battlefields, but also by the activities of ordinary men, women, and families.
Note on Translation
1. "Collective Self-Suicide": The Decline in the Yishuv’s Birthrate
2. The Parents’ Rebellion: Economic Factors
3. The Parents’ Rebellion: Social and Psychological Factors
4. Abortions in Practice
5. Low Birthrate, High Abortion Rate: Responses
6. Making More Babies
Conclusion: The Birthrate Issue as a Portrait of the Yishuv
The issue of birthrate and its numerous ramifications has hardly been discussed. Lilach Rosenberg-Friedman not only raises an issue which has so far been ignored, but also, and most importantly, shows the way in which birthrate reflects many aspects of the small yet exceedingly complex Israeli society.
Deborah Bernstein, author of
Pioneers and Homemakers: Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel
Lilach Rosenberg-Friedman gives a penetrating understanding both of the day-to-day lives of Jewish families in Mandatory Palestine, shedding new light on one of the Yishuv's major problems: internal population growth.
Margalit Shilo, author of
Girls of Liberty: The Struggle for Sufferage in Mandatory Palestine