The Jewish community followed its hospital to settle in the surrounding streets, transforming it into a vibrant Jewish neighborhood celebrated by Philip Roth in his many novels about Newark.
The Beth was committed to providing training and research opportunities to doctors—Jewish and non-Jewish—who were denied privileges at other hospitals early in the 20th century.
The commitment to providing high-caliber training was evident in its accreditation from the American College of Surgeons in 1919 and the AMA Council approval for the internships in 1921.
By 1930, the laboratory, physical therapy, social work, and dietary departments were offering technical training programs. During World War II, it was designated as one of 1,000 depots that stored penicillin.
During the Great Depression, despite financial difficulties that nearly bankrupted the hospital, the Beth maintained an animal house for research. It was at the Beth that the Rh factor was identified as the cause of erythroblastosis fetalis.
A Laboratory Research Foundation was created to provide funding for research projects and support publication of a hospital journal. The journal published the earliest research results of the Beth Cardiopulmonary Laboratory, which became a leading center for the development of the pacemaker.
In the mid-1960s, as the Newark Jewish community resettled in the outlying New Jersey suburbs, hospital leaders decided to remain on Lyons Avenue and expand into a regional medical center.
Like other industrial cities, Newark suffered through a turbulent decade, requiring the hospital to redefine itself in its mission to serve its neighborhood and waves of immigrants settling into the region.
Federal grant programs and loans from the Prudential Life Insurance Corp. enabled the phased construction of a fourth hospital complex next to the old hospital, providing inpatient and ambulatory care services.
In 1996, Newark Beth Israel Hospital and Medical Center became an affiliate of Barnabas Health Care—New Jersey’s largest integrated healthcare system.
The Beth Today
These days, Newark Beth Israel Hospital and Medical Center is a major teaching affiliate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, N.Y, and St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada.
The Beth’s division of cardiology continues pioneering work on therapeutic cardiac services and offers the most comprehensive robotic surgical center in the state.
And, honoring a 75-year-old tradition, the center still holds the outreach health screening and health fairs program begun by the Maternity Guild as a citywide public health initiative.
At its inception, the “Born at the Beth” program meant every baby born in the hospital was eligible to join a Babies’ Alumni Club. The $1 annual dues paid on their behalf entitled them to attend an annual babies’ health fair at which they enjoyed Dixie cups of ice cream and free examinations from the hospital staff. Now, the hospital offers the Born at the Beth Wall of Recognition to pay tribute to all those who greeted life within the hospital’s walls.
The Star of David remains at the front entrance, an enduring symbol of the hospital’s heritage. And the hospital’s creed—first displayed in 1928—still asserts the commitment of its staff: “The value of the human touch as a power for healing is never lost sight of at Beth Israel.” TH
The Krauts are coauthors of “Covenant of Care: Newark Beth Israel Hospital and the Jewish Hospital in America.”