And Be a Blessing
The One-hundred Year History of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center


Although the founding of Cedars-Sinai Health System took place at the beginning of the last century, the institution's true spiritual origins can be traced to God's biblical commandment to Abraham; “And Be A Blessing” (Genesis: 12:2). Inspired by His words, Abraham established a hospice for the sick and needy under the spreading oak at Hebron and the small terebinth of Beersheba. Ever since, Jewish communities worldwide have built and supported the development of hospitals.

Giving to and caring for those who are less fortunate, especially the ailing, is one of the fundamental principles that guide Jewish life. The concept is elegantly simple: Those who “have” are morally obligated to provide for those who “have not.” Practicing this core value, commonly referred to as tzedakah and translated as social justice or righteousness, is as much the responsibility of an individual as it is a communal duty. Through the performance of “good deeds” or mitzvas, no matter how great or small, the collective well-being is enhanced and God's commandment is fulfilled.

It was in the spirit of tzedakah that Los Angeles' diverse Jewish community initially established two separate hospitals: Cedars of Lebanon in 1902 and Mt. Sinai in 1918. The founding of each institution represented a unique response to community health needs by distinct supporters and was shaped by the vagaries of immigration, local demographics, epidemics, and economics. Yet, ultimately, the two were folded into one with the formation of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Until now, much of the institution's history has been obscured by time. This is because virtually all of its early records and documents were lost when the hospitals physically merged in 1976. Consequently, newspaper articles, letters, memoirs, biographical profiles and oral histories have been used to reconstruct the past. Fortunately, this painstaking effort has been rewarded. Fragment by fragment, Cedars-Sinai's long and dramatic story has been restored.

Over the course of this century, the institution has served the greater Los Angeles in many ways. Not only has Cedars-Sinai been a place of healing, it has consistently provided for the specific religious and cultural needs of the Jewish community, initially offered opportunities to Jewish physicians and medical students when opportunities were scarce, and bettered the world's health through stunning medical contributions and breakthroughs. All this, while offering premiere patient care on a non­sectarian basis. For these reasons, Cedars-Sinai Health System stands as a tribute to the vibrant heritage of the Jewish people and every member of our beneficent community that has made its existence possible.