Halpern, Ayana (2019). 'Between Universal and National Social Therapy: Professional Interventions of Jewish Social Workers in Mandatory Palestine'

This article explores the interrelated affinity between social work, nationality and universal humanitarianism through the case study of professional interventions by Jewish social workers in Mandatory Palestine. Given the limited literature on these professionals and the significant contribution of women in particular, it focuses on Siddy Wronsky and other GermanJewish immigrants whose pre-immigration international heritage has been relegated to the margins. The article examines the therapeutic theory and practice of this unique group of social workers based on a qualitative analysis of archival texts. Several leitmotifs guiding these women emergefrom the documentation of their work: the German-Jewish tradition that represented the past, the Zionist ideology that represented the future, andthe encounter with a diverse immigrant population in a new geopolitical reality that represented the present. The findings indicate how, together with the transnational transfer of knowledge from the Jewish communityin Germany to that in Palestine, social workers created a new profession inspired by a value system that sought to be simultaneously Zionist and universal. The article contributes to historical knowledge on social work and its ambivalent approach to a nation-building ideology as opposed to a universal commitment, as well as an understanding of social work’s attitudes and techniques in working with immigrants and refugees.


Ayana Halpern (2019) Between universal and national ‘social therapy’? Professional interventions by Jewish social workers in British Mandatory Palestine, European Journal of Social Work, 22:6, 1085-1097