Many Yemenite Jews made their way to Israel in the first half of the century. Later, following the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, the rest of the community was flown in from the Yemen–an airlift of 50,000 people code-named Magic Carpet. These two groups, the early and late immigrants, afford a rare opportunity to describe the changes in health patterns during development toward a modern society. Using the fascinating but scanty information available from all manner of sources and comparing it with contemporary accounts of life in the Yemen today, Michael Weingarten relates the changes in the physical and psychological health of the Yemenite Jews to the various components of their new environment.
There was no modern medicine available in the Yemen, and most of the older generation of patients described in this study continue to believe in a threefold etiology of disease–magic, fate, and environment. Weingarten describes how traditional healers coexist with modern doctors and how, even when modern medicine is used, magical cures are expected. Although there are several sections dealing with largely medical data which will interest physicians and geneticists, most of the book is readable by anyone taking an interest in health and culture, including ethnologists, anthropologists, sociologists, health workers and planners, students of medical history, as well as all those interested in the study of Yemen, Judaic history, or Israeli culture.