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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
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My Son the Pioneer Jewish Doctor

Surgery, Newark Beth Israel Hospital, early 20th century

Surgery, Newark Beth Israel Hospital, early 20th century
Photo Credit: Collection of the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey

While some religions place ultimate responsibility for healing in divine hands, “Jews don’t see a conflict between faith and medicine,” says Alan M. Kraut, a professor of history at American University who helped put together the exhibition “Trail of the Magic Bullet: The Jewish Encounter With Modern Medicine, 1860-1960,” on view at Yeshiva University Museum in Manhattan.

“The healer is seen as one of God’s instruments, not a competing force,” he said. “The physician is someone held in the highest esteem, doing God’s work — preserving life.”

Of course, the good professor is ignoring statements like “Even the best among the doctor will end up in Hell,” which is our sages’ way of stating the opposite of that God’s work thing.

But the exhibition looks fabulous. The Times review cites an application to medical school from the 1920s, on which the interviewer scribbled: “Probably Jewish, but no unpleasant evidence of it.”

Were it only true for all of us…

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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