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Judi's Journal 8-2-2013

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Medical care, Jewish style

Long before Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Blue Cross, Jews have been caring for their sick in compassionate hospital settings. As was the case before public hospitals came into existence, most hospital care was under the auspices of religious groups. For Jews, this posed the problem of the obtaining of kosher food as well as the discrimination practices against Jewish doctors. To this effect, Jewish hospitals were set up in major cities to alleviate these problems.
One of the first hospitals to be set up for Jewish patients was the Jews’ Hospital of New York, now known as Mt. Sinai Hospital, which was founded in 1852. It was to serve the indigent Jews as well as new immigrants to New York. A major philanthropic contributor to this institution was American born Sampson Simson who donated the land on which the hospital was built, (West 28th St. between 7th & 8th Avenues) and served as the first president of the Board of Directors. Funding was provided by private donation and government subsidy since non-Jews were also treated there.
The 45 bed Jews’ Hospital of New York accepted its first patient on June 5, 1855.
People of all faiths were welcome especially to the emergency department but the majority of the patients were Jews. With the outbreak of the Civil War, the demands for the hospital’s services became greater and in 1866, the hospital abandoned its sectarian charter and was renamed the Mount Sinai Hospital.
Today, the hospital is one of the most prestigious in the country and is a 1,171 bed tertiary teaching hospital.
As part of the many commandments (mitzvot) that Jews are required to fulfill, visiting the sick, bikur cholim, is one of the most important.
Helping a sick person physically or spiritually is a mitzvah that brings so much comfort to one that is ill. Calling, sending cards or visiting are wonderful ways to connect with a person that is ill.
Jews have always had social service organizations to care for their poor, widows, children or indigent citizens.
For this reason, Jewish settlers were allowed to settle in areas as long as they could provide social welfare for them. Giving this concept some thought, it is no surprise to me that some many Jews are social workers or doctors.
These are professions that are chosen for the common good, the Jewish idea of health care.
Today, in so-called Jewish hospitals, there are professionals of every race and creed and all who are in need may receive care.
This is very evident in the State of Israel at the famous Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem where Arab and Jew and treated side by side.
Should you need medical care and elect to use a Jewish hospital, you will be in good hands.
However, have your insurance card handy.