Ask the Midwives: A Hebrew Manual on Midwifery from Medieval Germany

Elisheva Baumgarten

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2 Scopus citations


This article focuses on a chapter in a manual on circumcision written in Worms in the thirteenth century by Jacob and Gershom haGozrim (the circumcisers). The third chapter of the manual contains medical instruction on how to attend to women in labour and other gynaecological conditions. Whereas the first two chapters of the manual were published in the late nineteenth century, the midwifery chapter has only been recently examined. This article is comprised of a translation of the midwifery text(s) along with an introduction to the text and the community practices it reflects. It outlines the cooperation between medical practitioners, male and female, Jewish and Christian, and discusses the medical remedies recommended and some practices current in thirteenth-century Germany.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-733
Number of pages22
JournalSocial History of Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Social History of Medicine.


Elisheva Baumgarten is the Prof. Yitzhak Becker Chair for Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University where she teaches in the History and Jewish History Departments. She studies the social history of the Jews of Medieval Ashkenaz. She is currently leading a research project entitled Beyond the Elite: Jewish Daily Life in Medieval Europe funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant number 681507. During 2017–18, she was the George William Cottrell, Jr. Member at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme681507
European Research Council


    • Birth
    • Circumcisers
    • Gender
    • Jewish-Christian relations
    • Medieval
    • Midwives
    • Physicians


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