Tracing the Path of Jewish Medical Pioneers

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The young man who applied to medical school in the spring of 1933 had graduated from Dartmouth College with good grades, a keen interest in medicine and, according to the university official who interviewed him, a nice sense of humor.

The application did not ask about religion, but the interviewer surmised it. “Probably Jewish,” he wrote in a scribbled evaluation, “but no unpleasant evidence of it.”...

The note is displayed in an exhibition called “Trail of the Magic Bullet: The Jewish Encounter With Modern Medicine, 1860-1960,” on view at Yeshiva University Museum in Manhattan. The exhibition offers a rare look at a topic few patients ever stop to consider: the emergence of European and American Jews as innovators in medicine, despite their status as outsiders frequently scorned by the medical establishment.

While some religions place ultimate responsibility for healing in divine hands, “Jews don’t see a conflict between faith and medicine,” said Alan M. Kraut, a professor of history at American University who helped put together the exhibition and has written extensively about immigration and health....

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