Monday, October 21, 2013

The Jewish Hospital in Philadelphia

Excerpted from:
By Mark I. Wolfson

During the Civil War, Rev. Isaac Leeser, the Minister of Mikveh Israel, was very concerned about the wounded Jewish soldiers in the army hospitals. He obtained a hospital pass from his friend General Charles Collis, who was married to Septima Levy, formerly of Charleston. Sulzberger would accompany Leeser on hospital visits to the Jewish wounded. During the annual meeting of the Grand Lodge No. 3 of the B'nai B'rith on August 14, 1864, Sulzberger, in calling attention to the fact that three Jews within the previous six months had died in various area Christian hospitals, offered resolutions asking for the appointment of a committee to consider the subject of organizing a Jewish Hospital.

That committee was established and included Sulzberger, Rev. Isaac Leeser, Samuel Weil and others. Within a few days a circular was sent to every B'nai B'rith Lodge and all of the congregations and Jewish societies in the area requesting appointments for committees. On December 4, the first meeting of this joint convention was held during which a plan was prepared, and a constitution and by-laws were framed and presented. On Sunday February 19th, 1865, these were ratified by a large meeting of the area Jews at a meeting held at the National Guard's Hall on Race Street below Sixth. Officers and managers were appointed, including President Alfred T. Jones, Vice President Isadore Binswanger, Treasurer Samuel Weil, and Secretary Mayer Sulzberger. Sulzberger's home at 977 North Marshall Street became the temporary headquarters of the provisional committee for the hospital.

The Association was incorporated on September 23, 1865 and a lot was soon purchased at 56th Street and Haverford Road in West Philadelphia for $19,625. The hospital opened the on August 6, 1866 along with a home for the aged. It started with 22 beds and linens donated by philanthropist Moses Rosenbach. During the first year 71 patients were treated and 5 people were admitted to the old-age home. In 1873, the hospital moved to greatly expanded facilities at Old York Road and Olney Avenue. In 1952, after merging with Northern Liberties Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital to form a single medical center, it evolved into the Albert Einstein Medical Center. It was very appropriate that Einstein granted permission to use his name for the non-profit organization, as Sulzberger's wife Sophia descended from the same Einstein family.

IMAGE: Mikveh Isreal Congregation


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