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A Frog Under the TongueJewish Folk Medicine in Eastern Europe$
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Marek Tuszewicki

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764982

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764982.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 28 November 2021

Feldshers and Healers

Feldshers and Healers

(p.65) chapter Four Feldshers and Healers
A Frog Under the Tongue

Marek Tuszewicki

Liverpool University Press

This chapter talks about feldshers and healers. Feldshers were the group most devoted to offering medical aid, and occupied a position somewhere on the borderline between official and folk medicine. It was they to whom one went with broken bones, sprains, dislocations, and other mechanical injuries. They were also considered the experts in taking the pulse, bloodletting, applying leeches, performing dry and wet cupping, applying iodine to the throat, pulling teeth, and giving enemas. Some feldshers had completed nursing training in community institutions such as homeless shelters or public baths. Most feldshers based their treatment on traditional views of anatomy, attributing illness to 'bad blood.' By the 1900s, feldshers had begun to bring elements of biomedicine into Jewish folk medicine. In the second half of the nineteenth century, women educated in midwifery schools gained the recognition of the rabbinic authorities. They were cited in the responsa as specialists, the more so since the scope of their competencies went far beyond assisting at births and they were practically comparable in their functions to feldshers. The Jewish populace preferred the assistance offered by feldshers, wise women, and midwives from within their own community. There was a fairly large group of practitioners who worked outside the parameters of the law and the regulations of state bodies. The scope of their activities may be defined as healing, even quackery, though not all of them drew on magic and they were not all known as quacks.

Keywords:   feldshers, Jewish healers, bloodletting, biomedicine, Jewish folk medicine, Jewish women, midwifery, Jewish practitioners

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