Sinai Hospital in Detroit was a major achievement for Detroit’s Jewish community by providing a non-discriminatory environment for patients and professionals.

As this calendar year nears its close, there is one more anniversary, out of many, that might be important to recognize. It has been 30 years since Sinai Hospital merged with Grace Hospital in Detroit.

Sinai Hospital was a major achievement for Detroit’s Jewish community. And, I emphasize the “community.” The hospital opened its doors on Jan. 4, 1953, on Outer Drive in Northwest Detroit. At this time, the area was in the midst of the city’s Jewish neighborhoods.

The hospital was created by and for Jews in need of medical care, and more. First, it was established to be a center for Jewish health professionals to work in a non-discriminatory environment. Furthermore, it was a hospital that provided services such as kosher meals to Jewish patients, services that could not be found in other hospitals. Finally, the hospital was open to everyone, regardless of race, color or creed.

These factors provide evidence that Sinai had a most remarkable agenda for the era. Although we know prejudice against Jews still exists in today’s world, in the 1950s, along with African Americans, Jews in Detroit were discriminated against in many overt ways, including in health care services. Segregation was a standard practice in many hospitals.
I found a lot of stories and information about Sinai Hospital in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History.

A report in the Dec. 12, 1952, issue of the JN provides a one-stop report about Sinai after the cornerstone was laid. Titled “The Sinai Hospital Story,” it is a full-page article consisting of questions and answers about the new hospital.

Some of the advertisements for Sinai in the JN are also very interesting. One from the Dec. 29, 1989, states: “Ask Any Other Michigan Hospital for A Latke and See What You Get.” Or the ad written in Hebrew from Oct. 6, 1989.

There is, of course, plenty of medical news from Sinai about new procedures, staff enterprise or Detroit Jews providing extraordinary support and service. Sinai was even in the news, both in the JN on Jan. 13, 1989, and in other media around the nation when the hospital was host to a brand-new set of quintuplets!

Like many other hospitals over the past several decades, Sinai faced serious economic difficulties as a stand-alone operation in the 1980s. To stay in business, it was sold in 1989 and merged with Grace Hospital of Detroit, which was founded in 1888.

But, for the Jewish community, there was a great upside to the sale and the end of an era. Proceeds from the sale went to support the Jewish Fund, which has provided millions of dollars for good causes in Detroit since 1997.

The Davidson Digital Archive is loaded with good reading about Sinai Hospital. It is an institution that Jewish Detroiters can look upon with pride. It really is a remarkable story.

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

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