Publication Date



Arts and Sciences




Dr. Janice W. Fernheimer

Document Type



According to Mary Wagner, the author of Jewish Hospitals Yesterday and Today, Jewish Hospitals emerged in the mid-19th century in the U.S. for several reasons: the Jewish American community’s need to combat anti-Semitism, to provide services for its large and then-growing immigrant population, and to establish a place for Jewish medical professionals to work, since anti-Semitism prevented them from being employed elsewhere. Although, American Jews became increasingly more accepted as part of the broader American social and political milieu throughout the early 20th century, Jewish Hospitals persisted in cities across the U.S. until the 1970s. To date roughly 22 of originally 113 Jewish hospitals remain. Among them, is Jewish hospital in Louisville, KY, first established in 1903 by a group of Jewish physicians and the Jewish community of Louisville. This study considers Louisville Jewish Hospital as an unusual case example of a Jewish hospital that continues to exist and preserve its Jewish heritage by using Jewish concepts to guide its principles of care, despite a shrinking local Jewish population. Although Louisville’s Jewish Hospital faces economic hardships it continues to impact the global medical community through its medical advancements, such as the nation’s first hand transplant. To carefully investigate the way Jewish Hospital Louisville connects its Jewish values to its medical innovations, we conducted three original oral history interviews with leaders of Jewish Hospital to determine how Jewish Hospital had impacted the local community by following the Jewish concept, Tikkun Olam, in their mission for social justice, advocacy, philanthropy, and medical advancement. The primary source interviews with Rabbi Dr. Nadia Siritsky, Dr. Gerald Temes, and Mr. Robert Waterman call attention to the ways Louisville Jewish Hospital adjusted to new pressures, while honoring its Jewish heritage, thus providing a useful case example for other U.S. Jewish hospitals.


Hannah Thompson was a winner in the Media Project/Digital Methodologies category of the Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Scholarship in 2019. She presented this research in the Posters-at-the-Capitol event in Frankfort, KY on Feb. 21, 2019.

Interviews on which this research was based are accessible from the Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project.