What's in a Name?
In January 1918, distillers and philanthropists Bernard and Isaac Bernheim contributed $100,000 for an addition to the Jewish Hospital. One of the conditions attached to the brothers’ donation was their request to rename the hospital Bernheim Memorial Hospital in memory of their parents. The blank hospital bill with the “Bernheim Memorial Hospital” letterhead is a remnant of the board’s initial acceptance of the donation with its conditions.
However, many board members later felt they had acted “in haste.” In June 1918, a committee of board members wrote to the Bernheims about the importance of the Jewish Hospital name:
[T]he word Jewish is the token of our mission in the world. . . that has come with us through the tear stained centuries to this very hour. . . And to our non-Jewish neighbors, the name Jewish in connection with a philanthropic institution is a synonym of excellence and a guaranty of high standard. As such it serves to win the admiration and respect for our people and is one of the strongest factors in removing prejudices.
The Bernheims informed the board that they would wait until the end of the year to make a final decision about their donation. In December, they wrote that “the Hospital Association is at liberty to keep the money” without renaming the hospital. A decade later, the money was used to build the Bernheim Memorial Addition and the new Nurses Home.