Stroke of Genius: The Naming of Albert Einstein Medical Center

Posted by Larry Blumenthal on Mar 31, 2016 4:35:35 PM

Albert_Einstein.jpgSo, how did the Jewish Hospital wind up being named after Albert Einstein?

In 1951, the Jewish Hospital agreed to merge with Philadelphia’s other two Jewish hospitals—Mt. Sinai Hospital in South Philadelphia and Northern Liberties Hospital.

The three hospitals had decided to face the growing medical challenges of the 20th century together.

One of the first orders of business for new president Joseph M. First was to choose a name for the combined network.

It was agreed to approach Albert Einstein, one of the most eminent names in science at the time. (Second choice was Moses Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher and physician from the 13th century.)

First, who had been a board member of Mt. Sinai for many years and was an executive with the company that owned the Philadelphia Inquirer, reached out to Einstein with an offer to visit the great scientist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. to discuss using his name for the new medical center.

On June 28, 1951, First received a letter from Einstein saying he was “gladly willing to accept this honor” and that there was no need for a personal visit.

Albert Einstein Medical Center was born. (Learn more and view an interactive timeline on Einstein history.)

The typed letter from Einstein (below) was donated to the Hospital by First’s widow, Helen. It typically hangs on the wall outside of the president’s office at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, but is currently in a protected location during renovations.

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Topics: 150th Anniversary

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