May is Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). JAHM was established in 2006 by President George W. Bush to honor and celebrate the important contributions Jewish Americans have made to American life and beyond. At American Friends of ALYN Hospital, we are marking JAHM by featuring the contributions made by Jewish Americans that shaped ALYN Hospital.

ALYN Hospital was established in 1932 by Dr. Henry Keller, an American orthopedic surgeon from New York. Dr. Keller visited pre-state Israel in 1918 as part of a medical delegation to learn about the country’s health care situation (this delegation would later become the Hadassah Medical Organization). More than a decade later, in 1930, he was granted a license from the British Mandate to practice medicine in Palestine and he returned, dedicating the remainder of his life to serving children with disabilities in Jerusalem.

In 1931, he and several other Jewish New Yorkers opened a clinic on King George Street in downtown Jerusalem to treat these children. At the time, the local hospitals refused to provide orthopedic services, so the private clinic was founded. The clinic moved the next year to Bezalel Street and in 1934 to a building on Ben Yehuda Street and established themselves as a non-profit, called “The Society for the Aid of the Cripple in Palestine”. In 1935, the Hebrew name “ALYN” was created, as an acronym meaning “The Society to Aid Disabled Children” (in Hebrew: Agudah L’Yeladim Nechim).

Dr. Keller
Dr. Keller
Early ALYN3
Malcom Woldenberg
Malcom Woldenberg
Early ALYN W Doc

A polio epidemic in Israel in the 1940s and 1950s affected many children. To house the growing need of the ensuing emergency situation, the Ministry of Health provided ALYN Hospital with a monastery previously belonging to the San Simon Orthodox Church to use as a hospital. In this space ALYN provided medical and educational help to approximately 200 children with polio.

However, the monastery building was not well-suited for housing a developing rehabilitation center. In 1971, thanks to matching funds generously donated by Malcolm and Dorothy Woldenberg, Jewish community leaders from New Orleans, the ALYN Woldenberg Family Hospital, a modern hospital and rehabilitation facility in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of Jerusalem, opened its doors.

We are fortunate and honored that the great niece of Dr. Henry Keller, Paula Glazier. serves as our Board of Directors President, and the niece of Malcolm Woldenberg, Minette Brown, serves as the Chairwoman of the AFAH Board of Directors. M’dor L’dor – from generation to generation – Jewish Americans continue to support progress, innovation and compassion.

To learn more about Jewish American Heritage Month:

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