Founding Mission, 1905-1920
This is a solemn moment, my friends; none of us can conceive of the vast beneficence, extending as I hope it may, to many, many generations, still unborn, which will issue forth from the portals, which we are about to throw open, bidding all who may suffer and seek refuge to enter.
-Charles Goldsmith, Vice President, Jewish Hospital Association, May 15, 1905 (History of Jewish Hospital, folder 1)
The dawn of the 20th century brought changes and challenges for American Jews. German Jewish immigrants of the mid 1800s had established houses of worship, community groups, and successful businesses throughout the United States. The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought a new wave of Jewish immigration from eastern Europe. Fleeing oppression and violence, many arrived on American shores destitute and unfamiliar with the language and customs of their new home. Aspiring Jewish doctors longed to assist them but, due to discrimination, faced a lack of training and practice opportunities.
In 1903, local Jewish leaders began marshalling resources to build a hospital that could meet the unique needs of their changing community. Two years later, Jewish Hospital opened at the corner of Floyd and Kentucky streets, a convenient distance from the city’s Jewish neighborhoods clustered around Preston and Floyd streets between Market and Broadway.
The founders’ aims were ambitious and altruistic: providing the highest level of care to the neediest of patients. Sustaining this mission would not be easy.