Home Ancestral

As soon as the two volumes of the Scripta arrived from the printer in the summer of 1923, Elisheva and I went on our way to Israel with two copies (still without title pages) in our hands. We traveled first to Kissingen, where we met Elisheva’s uncle Solomo, then continued to Wurzburg, where we came late in the evening, and, waiting for the train to Carlsbad, wandered through this charming medieval town, even more charming because of the night, our steps in the empty street being the only sound except for the clocks on towers that sounded the time.

We arrived in Carlsbad, where the Zionist Congress was convened. On the sidewalk near the Congress hall, Professor Chaim Weizmann stopped me and said that he still waited for an answer to his proposal to me to head the work of establishing the University in Jerusalem. We gave the members of the Congress reprints of the works published in the Scripta, and not remaining too long there, traveled toward Trieste.

I believe that the first of our many visits to Venice took place then. This city later again and again attracted us. On the boat to Egypt was Elieser Kaplan, whom I knew well from my student years in Moscow, and I asked his advice about the form in which I should mention Prof. Loewe’s role in publishing the Scripta. Loewe gave me much support and guidance in the beginning, but for more than a year since my return from Israel he was practically out of the picture. This indecision I called the “Loewe problem.” In the end I mentioned him following my name. If I think back, I wonder why the name of my father, who gave the funds, is not mentioned at all on the front page of the books, which is printed in Latin, but appears only on the Hebrew side of the volumes; the volume on Mathematics and Physics also has his Preface. But in the libraries of the world these volumes are not mentioned on the catalogue cards in any relation to my father. Apparently the “Loewe problem” had something to do with my father, whose name I omitted on the Latin front page as if from modesty, as I understood then.

The work on the Scripta was not continued. Had I been a practical and honor-seeking man, I would have accepted Weizmann’s offer, put myself to work to organize the University, traveled to America to find funds, and continued the Scripta. My father’s funds were exhausted, and actually he had so little to begin with that nobody in his place would have thought to underwrite such a costly enterprise.

From Egypt we traveled by train, and on the sand near the primitive railway station in Tel Aviv we were met by my parents: there they saw Elisheva for the first time. With one arm I held her; in the other arm I had the fruit of our great effort—the two volumes of the Scripta.

My parents immediately liked Elisheva, and my mother, speaking fluent German, could converse well with her. But already on the very first day of our arrival, October 30th, 1923, I had to take over a mission: my father had come into agreement with the Anglo-Palestine Bank (later the Jewish National Bank) on the division of Ruhama. During the World War Ruhama played an important strategical role. In the British parliament and press the role of Ruhama was mentioned often, when for long months the army of General Allenby held the front there and had water from the only artesian well in the region. When the Turks under Djemal Pasha retreated before general Allenby’s army, they planted a bomb in Ruhama’s well, the only artesian well in the south of Israel. As soon as they departed after igniting the fuse, two Hebrew pioneers climbed all the way down into the well and at the last moment severed the fuse from the mine.

For many months the army of Allenby remained stationed in the Negeb, the well of Ruhama being its main water supply. Then the British Army and the Jewish-American Legion conquered Palestine. But the farm fell on difficult times: the manager, Mr. Hirschfeld, died of typhus, and the place became deserted. In some way the bank supported the place a little, and though not a single tree or plant was added the Bank presented a bill for 29,000 pounds sterling to my father for the loan. The entire farm with its plantations and buildings was worth much less. My father could refuse to acknowledge the debt because the Bank had not been asked by the owners to make this loan, and the amount of the loan was but the result of an arbitrary conversion of Turkish pounds into British pounds sterling. My father informed the Bank that he had the interests of the Bank—which he had helped to create as a member of the Second Zionist Congress in Basel—as much on his mind as the interests of the cooperative, and offered to divide the land with them. By this he hoped also to preserve this, the only settlement in the Negeb, because the members of the cooperative had no means, or were not reachable, since the October Revolution in Russia. The Bank agreed, and we had to accept the division as mapped by the Bank—certainly prepared to its advantage. And the day after my arrival I had on me this task.

Soon I found out that my father was having a very hard time also with the new group of Sheerith Israel. My father had lost as much as 95 percent of his property; his own transfers of money to Europe were not honored by the recipients, but the money of the second group of Sheerith Israel we saved to the last ruble, even though the rubles were worthless “Kerenski” money. Yet these sacrifices were not appreciated, and those who thought that they had some rights demanded money, as if we were in the money transfer business. Actually, none of the original members of the new group arrived in Israel. What we did was to purchase land in Palestine, or, as it was usual then to say, to “redeem” the land. Actually my father had already bought land for that purpose, but considering the changed conditions, and partly being influenced by brokers, he bought land adjacent to the developed portion of Tel Aviv, that was soon to become its central part.

My father appointed a lawyer, Hershman, mentioned earlier, a son-in-law of a member of Ruhama, to help him, and to advertise in papers in Poland that anybody who participated should write to him. Soon, on being warned that this lawyer had a bad reputation, my father severed connection with him. Hershman used the answers he received to inform the writers that he could obtain money for them, whereas the plan was for a new settlement.

To make the long story short, for the next seven years my father was exploited by lawyers who wished to be near the pot, but who could not solve the problem—especially the legal problem of whether the old group and the new were the same or two different companies. I never hesitated to take on this burden and, instead of starting my medical practice, became involved in the protracted consultations.

I remember how once in the morning I stood on Herzl Street and waited to meet Hershman—I did not wish to see him, yet I needed to talk to him, the man in whose night shirt I had slept five years earlier when the secret police found out about my father’s and mine Zionist activities. As for the money that was due to us from various sources, I made hardly any effort to recover it.

Elisheva took in her stride this our waste of time; she organized a quartet, and in the spring of 1924 they traveled through the Emek Israel and Galilee, and played, and I accompanied them. Still I hear in my ears the aria of Bach and the melody from Schubert’s “Der Tod und das Madchen.” It was the first time that the people in the kwuzoth heard chamber music in their places. In Kinnereth the mother of Marek, who had wandered to the land of Israel, wept, listening to the music.

About ten months after our arrival in Tel-Aviv, I traveled one day to Jerusalem, and found a place where I could practice medicine with a group of better-known doctors. Each practiced his own specialty, and the post of internal specialist happened to be open. So Elisheva and I moved to Jerusalem, and lived there for almost two years. We liked to go to the Old City, to the Wailing Wall, and walk on the walls around the Old City. Our daughter Shulamit was born in Jerusalem in 1925. My mother came from Tel-Aviv to help—from Shulamit she had her great and last joy. Our second daughter, Ruth, was also born in Jerusalem—on April 26, 1926, while I was away in Tel-Aviv. That day Elisheva accompanied me to the taxi—and I saw on her face the first signs of labor; but in her self-denial she told me to go, and then in Tel-Aviv I received the message that she was in the hospital.

One evening in 1926 we parted with Jerusalem, for the last time walking on the city wall. In the spring of 1927, after having spent about nine months in Tel-Aviv in the house of my parents in an ever-frustrating effort to find some legal solution to the conflict over the group Sheerith Israel, I went one day to Haifa. My nerves were strained; I was not earning anything, giving my time and efforts to helping my father in that thankless task. My mother was now on the decline in her health, and the means of my parents were also diminishing, all making mandatory a change in my unproductive way of life that now dragged, week after week, through the fall and winter of 1926-1927.

In Haifa, in the space of two days, I had a little luck: passing by a pharmacy on a stony road uphill, I was called in by the proprietor—it was Simoni, who recognized me from the days back in Crimea where he had spent time ten years earlier because of an incipient tuberculosis. He told me of a musician’s family in the building in the court who wished to have a violin teacher for their son—for very little pay, but it would be a beginning. Then from that family I heard of a violin teacher who was about to leeve town and had a rather large class to give over. I visited him. He had about thirteen pupils, and cared that they should not fall into the hands of his competitor at the local music school, who was truly an unsympathetic character. Neither of them could measure up to Elisheva, even by a long stretch.

Traveling on the little bus to Mount Carmel, I entered into conversation with a man, Marcus his name, and he told me that in the Ahuza of Herbert Samuel, farther back on the Carmel, they would like very much to have a visiting physician, and would I not agree to look at the place and the room they had for that purpose in their new settlement? This Mr. Marcus was a brother of the organizer of the new settlement of Rumanian Jews, and himself an official of this enterprise. I continued to travel with him, and found the new houses high above the Mediterranean and the Jezreel to the northeast. There was no salary in it, but a kind of “monopoly.” Then I found myself a place to live on Carmel: it was in a stone house with an entrance room, and two bedrooms, each with a stony and roofed porch—one to the sea and one to the woods. I also spoke with a lady physician who was leaving Carmel, and another physician who had a very small practice. There were no others on Carmel and I decided to settle there, and rented the place. I also agreed to take over the care of the thirty or so members of Kuputh-Holim, a labor union on Carmel. A few times a week I was to visit their clinic in a dingy little room, all for four Palestinian pounds a month: the only paying job I have held in my life.

I returned to Tel-Aviv after one night in Haifa at the house of Simoni, with a certain feeling of success: a good start! I would tell all these little achievements to Elisheva. We had not much to pack. So we moved. We looked at the wide horizon of the Mediterranean from our porch, and we said to ourselves, quoting the words of our poet friend Kamskoi:

The heaven all around closed us here in a ring,
And here we shall stay and not move.

It is much better in Yiddish. We longed for a place of our own for peaceful work, for the horizon of the sea, for a little sunny place in the homeland, that land we had dreamed of for so long. I would soon be thirty-two, and we wished to drop our anchor, prepared to find satisfaction in very little, to have peace. I was the only doctor on Carmel. Elisheva earned more than I did, giving violin lessons in Haifa. She had a large class, and two of her pupils later made prominent careers—Ivri Gitlis and Zvi Zeitlin.

My mother spent some time with us after we moved to Carmel, but her condition deteriorated; my father cared for her during the fall and winter of 1927-1928, and she died. Elisheva, I, and our two daughters, Shulamit and Ruth, lived on Carmel from the early spring of 1927 to December of 1930. I had an office in town, but would also go to Ahuza on foot, and say Kadish for my mother.

My father was left alone in Tel-Aviv. He came to Carmel to visit us and, upon returning, felt lonely. A year later he married a widow, a much less educated woman, who at first concealed that she had grown-up children in Tel-Aviv.

The death of my mother coincided with my beginning to work in psychiatry. I was reading books on psychology and occupied myself with the problems of memory, subconscious mnemes, automatic actions, and telepathy. The books that I read about spiritualism—though written by the detective mind of Sir Conant Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, and quoting as confirmed spiritualists such authorities as Crookes and Oliver Lodge the physicists, Flammarion the astronomer, Richet the physiologist, or Weber or Fechner the psychologists—did not convince me in the least: the messages of the deceased were just not worth dispatching, and the only feeling left was that from immemorial times—from the days of the witch of Endor—the same practices were repeated and the same claims made, in different ages and various cultures.

But still my thoughts were not exactly conservative. In the tower that was atop the house we rented on Mount Carmel, or in the train I jotted down my thoughts on the mental processes in man. In the summer of 1930 I went to Paris, visiting the Pasteur Institute, and then to Switzerland. There a very nice person, Rivka Schaerf, who later emigrated to Israel and lived in a kibbutz, gave me freely of her time to help me express the concepts in my paper in a more precise form; until then it was only a draft. The work done—I called the paper “Ueber die physikallische Existenz der Gendankenwelt” ("On the Physical Existence of the World of Thought”)—I showed it to Professor Eugen Bleuler. He was the most prominent psychiatrist of his generation; it was his interest in the work of Sigmund Freud, a private scholar, that brought the work of psychoanalysis out of the private domain into the academic circles. In Burghoelzi Krankenhaus the theories of Freud were tried out, and one of Bleuler’s assistants, Carl Jung, soon became the main armorbearer for Freud, only to become a renegade later. As Bleuler did to Freud over twenty years earlier, he did now to me. He showed enthusiasm for my essay and the thoughts it contained, discussed the themata with me at his home in Kuessnacht, close to Zurich, on Zurichsee, and invited me also to follow him to Lucerne, where a psychological convention was to take place. There we met again and he wrote a preface to my paper. In it he said that my work serves science by opening for discussion a region that had previously been taboo.

The main idea of my essay was the unity of mind and matter; thus an idea has a physical existence, and I imagined that the idea of light and the perception of physical light have the same physical existence in the human brain. Memory (mnemes) are are in a sense physical “negatives” of ideas and experiences; and thus I envisaged an artificial memory.

As an addendum to the paper I wrote a preliminary note about the prospects of applying electroencephalography in epileptics and expressed my opinion that strong discharges should characterize the brain waves of epileptics. This I was subsequently able to demonstrate in a series of experiments I performed at Hadassa Hospital in Tel-Aviv. A boy about ten years of age was brought to me from Tiberias. He was having daily epileptic seizures, and was under the care of a pediatrician there. I took this opportunity for recording an early curve of petit mal using a cardiograph adapted for the puropose.

In Zurich I also visited Carl Jung, in an effort to see whether his teaching would be in harmony with my own feelings and approaches. He was a tall man, inseparable from his dog, a Great Dane. All went very well until I mentioned that he was a pupil of Freud. He bristled at my words—he did not like the reference to himself as a pupil of Freud. Nevertheless I suggested that we should spend some time together. He referred me to a lady-analyst who was close to him, but after two meetings with her I decided not to continue. I worked for a while at the Monakow Brain Institute in Zurich, and developed a friendship with Prof. M. Minkowsky. In Geneva I investigated the methods of treatment applied by Baudouin and attended lectures of Prof. Claparede at the J. J. Rousseau Institute. But I could not stay indefinitely—my family was in Israel. Elisheva joined me for a week in Switzerland, then went to see her father in Hamburg.

Although my paper “On the Energetics of the Psyche” had a preface by Bleuler, the first scientific periodical to which I sent it upon my return to Carmel declined to publish it. Then I mailed it to Zeitschrift fuer gesammte Neurologie und Psychiatrie, the leading journal in its field, and its editors published it in the January 1931 issue. I sent a copy of the paper to Freud. He wrote me that he himself had very similar ideas—almost identical he said—ideas he had not yet published.1

Shortly before my paper was printed, we moved from Carmel to Tel-Aviv. With an increased part of my practice devoted to psychotherapy, and with patients traveling from afar, I need to choose a central location in the country; this was one of the reasons for the move. Another was to enable Elisheva to participate in music. I rented a villa and paid my first rent, as agreed, later in the month—I arrived in Tel-Aviv with 33 piasters in my pocket. Beginning in December 1930 and for the next few years I was very busy with work on patients, being also chairman of the Psychological Society in Tel-Aviv, and often the lecturer at its meetings. This left me with very little time for reading or for following the scientific literature. The Sheerith Israel affair was practically finished. After securing from the Mandate Government the consent that the portions of absent members would be given to the Jewish National Fund, and not appropriated by the Government, a voluntary liquidation was arranged. The appointed liquidators—the prominent lawyer Mordechai Eliash was one of them—wrote a statement officially praising my father’s role, conduct, and sacrifices. Ruhama became the property of the Jewish National Fund. Today it is a large agricultural settlement.

The Scripta were not continued. In Jerusalem Dr. Magnes, later Chancellor of the Hebrew University, asked me to continue by printing textbooks and the like, but I declined. We had no means. All these years Elisheva and I worked hard for necessities, and my father’s income was insufficient. My father greatly regretted that he could not do something like the Scripta anymore. In his seventies he wrote several dramas, two of which I published. I also saw to it that an issue of Haaretz and other newspapers carried several articles of prominent authors, among them Simon Dubnow, dedicated to the jubilee of my father, which gave him satisfaction in the atmosphere of oblivion in which he lived.

From December 8, 1930 until the summer of 1939 we lived in Tel-Aviv. These nine years in Tel-Aviv were taken up by work with patients. I used to start early and work till the late evening, and yet I could not earn more than expenses. Even so, we invited one after the other three sisters of Elisheva to move to Israel, and at first stay with us. While I practiced medicine, Elisheva brought music to the land. She was the first to organize a quartet to go to Emek and Galilee and play there; and there were among the listeners those who cried. She gave concerts in Jerusalem and also in Tel-Aviv, Haifa, and other places. She led the Palestine String Quartet, first with Bentwich and Yellin, traveling often from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem for this, and I encouraged her to play. Then she organized another string quartet in Tel-Aviv. She is a very fine musician, and her playing was sometimes divine.

In the spring of 1933 Elisheva and I went to Vienna. On the way we visited Italy, going by train from Brindisi to Naples, to Rome, to Florence. I had already selected in advance to see Dr. Wilhelm Stekel. In a book that I had, describing various forms of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, I liked Stekel’s approach best of all. I thought that the shortest preparation and the shortest analysis would be the way that would suit me best, partly because of my temperament. Stekel was of the first generation of Freudian pupils. Freud started his work in 1895, the year I was born, and the next nine years he spent in “splendid isolation,” a time when he had no followers and no pupils, and felt best. In 1904 he had two pupils, and these were Wilhelm Stekel and Paul Federn. Stekel was a very prolific writer and intuitive thinker, and was considered a better dream interpreter, quicker in thought, than Freud. But I did not come to Stekel empty-handed. I brought a paper in which I revised his analysis and interpretation of dreams in a case of his, described in detail in the first volume of his multivolume work on Neuroses and Psychoses. The patient was an opera singer, who had lost the ability to sing. Stekel described this analysis on many pages, including her associations and dreams. Though I was not very knowledgeable in German literature, I observed immediately that what she was telling Stekel was actually from Goethe’s Faust. The entire analysis—her dreams, her associations—were from this poem, and she confabulated herself into the role of Margarete. Stekel did not notice this and gave a far-fetched interpretation of the dreams and the case itself. I wrote a re-interpretation of this analysis, and with this came to Stekel, three years after my visit to Zurich. He read the paper and was so generous as to invite his group of followers, some twenty people or more, and let me read my paper—a devastating criticism of his way of analyzing this singer. He acknowledged that I was right, and only then revealed that the patient’s real name was Margarete. On the part of a dream interpreter superior to Freud himself, it was magnanimous. But this was in some respect also my undoing, because after a rather short time Stekel told me: “You are a master, I don’t need to give you analysis; you can do it yourself.” He himself had taken only eight lessons from Freud.

In Vienna analytical practice and theory occupied a very important place in that year of 1933. Daily there were public lectures, especially open meetings held by people of the school of Alfred Adler. In order to have insight into the ideas of the contending schools of thought in psychoanalysis, I attended a seminar given by Adler at his house. I also visited periodically the psychiatric clinic of the University and attended consultations given to delinquent children by Aichhorn.

In those days of my sojourn in Vienna in 1933 I also became acquainted with Dr. Paul Federn. As president of the International Psychoanalytic Society, Federn chaired that year the monthly meetings of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, of which Sigmund Freud was the founding member. At one meeting that spring at which I was present, the discussion became rather emotional—a chapter in the new book by Freud was the theme, and it dealt with telepathy. Freud was absent due to his poor health (he repeatedly underwent surgery on a cancerous jaw) but his daughter Anna was present. The subject of telepathy, foreign to the tenets of psychoanalysis, caused visible and audible consternation among the assembled members of the Society, mostly psychoanalysts. Only Federn and I sided with Freud and spoke up. After that meeting Federn and I spent the rest of the evening in a Viennese cafe, and though I soon left for home, our friendship can be dated from that date.

With Freud himself I had a tête-à-tête on his 77th birthday in a suburb of Vienna where he went for this occasion. He left his guests on the terrace and came to see me, and we spent thirty or forty minutes together. We had already corresponded long before, and he had published several pieces of mine in Imago—so I was not a stranger to him. He impressed me as being a fragile man. I did not write down what we discussed, and regretably I do not remember too well.

That spring Freud published a paper of mine, “On the Dream Interpretation in the Traktate Brachot of the Talmud.”2 In it I showed that the ancient Hebrews knew of various things considered innovations of psychoanalysis. I also published a paper in Stekel’s Psychanalytische Praxis under the title “Psychische Anaphylaxie.”3

In this paper on a case of my experience I established the existence of the anaphylactic phenomenon in mental processes. Thus I introduced a new understanding of the complex nature of neurosis. A patient who as a child almost drowned reacted to the next peril to his life with asthma, although he suffered from no lack of air. This paper was accompanied by a short excursus on the physical signs of fear as self-defense. Finally, before leaving Vienna, I submitted to a medical journal a paper in which I discussed the phenomenon of melancholy, or depression, and the role which tears play in relieving a person in distress or mourning.4

We stayed a few months in Vienna—Hitler’s shadow was already reaching there. On our way back to Israel we visited Venice and fell in love with Lago d’Iseo, the village of Del Castro and the surroundings. After crossing the Mediterranean, we visited Cairo and saw the Cairo Museum and the pyramids. Then we continued by train to Tel-Aviv. Upon my return to Israel I resumed my practice, adopting a method of participating personally in the analysis, rather than the accepted way of sitting passively, making notes. I wrote several additional papers on psychoanalysis, among them one dealing with the psychological problem of the specificity of the brain centers and the discrepancy in the different levels of intelligence in the same person. In another paper I explored the question whether a newly-acquired language may become the language of the unconscious. I showed how in dreams are to be found plays on words—and not only in dreams, but the entire structure of a neurosis is sometimes built on a play on words. This I was able to show on numerous cases, presenting a few lines from each—and each case could have been made into a complete story by itself, had time permitted. Yet I see now how my years of sessions with patients prepared me for my future work by allowing me to see similarities in things that do not at first glance appear related. I also investigated the role played by subconscious homosexuality in neuroses, and planned a book on this theme entitled The Masks of Homosexuality, of which I wrote several sections.

In 1935 Elisheva’s father, George Kramer, and his second wife Mally came to Israel from Hamburg, leaving behind Nazi Germany. But he died several months later in Jerusalem and was buried on the Mount of Olives. Elisheva saw that morning a dream that was as if telepathic—we did not expect her father to die; he was not seriously ill.

In 1935 I published in Paris my Russian prose poem “Thirty Days and Nights of Diego Pirez on the Bridge of Sant’Angelo,” written fifteen years earlier in the Ukraine and Caucasus. It was accepted by Petropolis Publishers after Ivan Bunin, the Nobel Laureate (1933) read it and wrote in praise about the talent of its author. It is the story of Solomon Molcho who spent thirty days before the palace of the pope, waiting for God’s sign to act as a messiah. I admit that many of the feelings ascribed to Molcho were ones I myself experienced during those years.

Once, in 1935, Elisheva and I went to the Cedars of Lebanon, and stayed there above the clouds. My hair greyed early, and Elisheva also had a few grey hairs. That same year I started to build a large building on the site in Tel-Aviv where my father had a small structure. I drew the plan myself, including the exterior—all that an architect would do. Capital we had not, even the small building was mortgaged, but I was able to raise the necessary money through a large mortgage based on future rents. But I chose a difficult man to execute the building, and soon became depressed. The depression passed when I took a boat to Cyprus with my family; there the children enjoyed riding on horses on paths above precipices. Returning from Cyprus (1936), I sent the contractor away and finished the building myself, with great energy. It was one of the best buildings in town, and the professor of Architecture at the Haifa Technion came to see me, looked at my sketches, and said he would bring his class to see the building.

After I finished the building, Elisheva and I went on a grand tour of Europe. Four months we traveled, spending some time in northern Italy, again in Venice and Florence, then in Paris, on the left bank. In Paris I attended the XIth International Congress of Psychologists. A great number of psychologists attended, also from America. The Chairman of this convention, Prof. Claparede from Switzerland, read the main address, “Hatred among the Nations.” My paper, “The Psychological Origins of the Hatred among the Nations” was the only other discussion of the same theme. Following the convention, Mally, the widow of Elisheva’s father, brought our children, Shulamit and Ruth, to Venice, and we traveled with them to Como, Pontresina; there the children saw their first snow. When we returned to Tel-Aviv, my father was weak. He had waited for me so long, and said to me as Jacob said to Joseph, that it was good that he lived to see me. I visited him daily for the next few months until his death. He died on December 16, 1937, in the house he had built for himself. My father died as if he were going to a wedding with death—such was the expression on his face. I have a photograph made by myself. His last blessing to me was barely audible.

In Tel-Aviv we lived about two years in the rented villa, and seven years on Shadal Street. By now the war was approaching. In our new apartment on Rhov Balfour, we lived three months. To the memory of my father I started a new series, Scripta Academica. I saw Weizmann, explained to him the idea of an Academy, and later he gave me for publication a paper he had written in collaboration with E. Bergmann.5 After this I published a work of Prof. A. Fodor, also a chemist, the first professor of the University, the results of twelve years of his research.6 I regret that I did not start this series in the lifetime of my father—it would have been a source of great satisfaction to him.

Looking back on the almost sixteen years spent in Israel, I could note but little achievement. I treated many psychoanalytic patients, and usually succeeded. I published a few philological works of my father (Sfotenu), and two issues of Scripta Academica after his death. I wrote several psychological papers, as well as a treatise on philosophy and biology called Introgenesis, which was accepted for publication by Presses Universitaires of France but was left incomplete because of the war. I experimented with electroencephalography; Elisheva bore me two children; I built a large building in Tel-Aviv. But altogether it did not amount to much for the best years—my 28th to 44th—and I stated to myself that my achievements were few; at this tempo there was nothing but the chance to write some more essays on psychology, to see some few hundred patients, to make a few trips to Europe, and to be the landlord of an office building. All this was far from what I expected from my life. But at the age of 43 I had already lost the faith of achieving something great as a scholar. I thought of continuing the Scripta Academica as a basis for a Hebrew Academy based in Jerusalem. But once Elisheva on a walk asked: “And what of your own vineyard (kerem)? Don’t you think to do something yourself?”

Once I stood before a window of a bookstore; there was the book of Hitler, Mein Kampf, and the book of Freud, Moses and Monotheism. I deliberated which to buy, and bought the latter. Actually, I had read Freud’s earlier presentation of his ideas about Moses already when I was in Paris in 1937. At the Bibliotheque Nationale, a place that I liked to visit, I read the paper by Freud in Imago. Now the reading of Moses and Monotheism led me to surmise that the Pharaoh Akhnaton, whom Freud thought to be the originator of monotheism and a teacher of Moses, was in fact the prototype of Oedipus of the Greek legend. Today I wonder what were the sufficient grounds for that conclusion, which I would later elaborate and substantiate with material which I did not then have. But in a few weeks I had a rather convincing list of supporting evidence. I also concluded that Freud had some unsolved problem of his own concerning his being a Jew, and I turned to his own dreams as found in his Interpretation of Dreams, about sixteen in number. I found that, truly, he had a subconscious desire to convert to Christianity, in order to open up for himself the road to advancement.

Thus I had the idea to write a book on Freud and his heroes. In Tel-Aviv I could hardly concentrate on writing, and the meager Tel-Aviv library did not suffice for doing research. Also, I looked with concern upon the approaching war, which I correctly predicted in an article offered to Klinoff, ed of Haaretz.. I decided to go to America. As long as my father and mother were alive, then my father alone, I could not leave them: the land was harsh and they had too many aggravations. Now they were resting in peace; and only three months later we were packing to go to the United States, with the plan to stay there for a while.

I remember coming to Ruth’s school to take her out: the children ran and jumped, not surmising with their parents that the war was approaching. I felt a little of a coward to leave at that time, but I had wished for so many years to start working on some book. Freud and his Heroes appeared to me an important enough work.

The last two nights, and especially the last before leaving Israel, were nights of agony. I could not overcome the feeling of indecision. It was like jumping into the unknown. The future was not revealed to me: many times I opened the Bible and looked for a verse to guide me. Finally, leaving my business affairs unsettled, we took a cab to Tel-Aviv harbor, intending to board a ship going to Trieste. There was no place there, and I could have room only on the ship from Haifa. We went to Haifa and took the ship bound for America. I wavered until the last moment; when the boat reached Larnaka in Cyprus, we disembarked, but immediately regretted it bitterly; Elisheva advised to cable Paris, and a new passage was secured. Within a few days the “Mauritania” came and we continued to New York, where we arrived on July 26, 1939. It was still a gay trip; a few weeks later the boats were arriving without lights. The war started with the invasion of Poland on September 1, five weeks after our arrival.


  1. See my article “Very Similar, Almost Identical” in Psychoanalysis and the Future (New York, 1957), pp. 14-17, 152-53.
  2. Psychoanalytische Ahnungen in der Traumdeutungskunst der alten Hebräer nach dem Traktat Brachoth,” Psychoanalytische Bewegung V.1 (1933), pp. 3-6.
  3. “Psychische Anaphylaxie und ihre Reaktionsgebundenheit an das erste Agens,” Imago XX.2 (1934), pp. 10-16. The paper was published in an English translation in The Psychoanalytic Review, XXIII.2 (1936), pp. 187-194, and in The British Journal of Medical Psychology, XVII.1 (1938), pp. 98-104.
  4. “Eine Arbeitstheorie zun Verständnis der Melancholie und zu ihrer Behandlung,” Wiener Medizinischen Wochenschrift, (Nr. 21, 1933).
  5. Ch. Weizmann and E. Bergmann, “Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons,” Scripta Academica Hierosolymitana (Jerusalem, 1938).
  6. A. Fodor, “Researches on the Chemical Structure of Proteins and the Action of Proteinases,” Scripta Academica Hierosolymitana (Jerusalem, 1939).