The New South Wales Jewish Hospital

In 1947 a joint initiative of several Sydney Jewish doctors, the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (MYHA) and the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) successfully opened a hospital in Wentworth Street, Point Piper. The doctors included Dr. Fanny Reading (NCJW), Dr. Joseph Steigrad,Dr. H. Landecker, Dr. A. Owen and Dr. A. Reading. Mr Sam Karpin was President of the YMHA.

The hospital was situated in “White Abbey but the organisation also owned the house next door named “Linlithgow”. A much larger general hospital was proposed but unfortunately a capital appeal to build the hospital fell flat and plans were put on hold.

“Linlithgow” was sold reducing financial commitments but the hospital ceased functioning in 1954 and funds were held in trust by the Committee.

White Ivy, first home of the NSW Jewish Hospital


The Aaron and Gertie Wolper Convalescent Home

The National Council of Jewish Women NSW Division was essentially formed in Sydney in 1923 due to the efforts of Dr. Fanny Reading. They immediately set up an immigrant welfare committee, raised funds for Sunday School, visited the sick in hospitals and were not only involved with the Jewish community but strongly supported the Zionist cause. The success of the Council was so resounding that the organisation quickly expanded nationwide. From 1927 it became The National Council of Jewish Women with Dr. Fanny Reading as President.

In April 1949 Gertie Stone left her house in Coogee to the hospital committee of the National Council of Jewish Women to be used as a convalescence home or hospital for Jewish people to be known as the Aaron and Gertie Wolper Convalescent Home or Hospital. Gertie’s first husband was Aaron Wolper.

The property in Coogee was unsuitable for a convalescence home and the trustees of the NCJW sold the property and the proceeds helped procure the current hospital site at 8 Trelawney Street, Woollahra. The “Wolper Convalescent House” was opened in April 1953. The trustees of the hospital visiting committee were Dr. Fanny Reading, Mrs Max Lake and Mrs Ethel Zions. In 1956 the trading of the Wolper convalescent house caused some concern. Cost savings were instigated but unfortunately the trading position deteriorated further and the whole hospital project was threatened with closure.

Wolper Jewish Hospital, 1961.


The Amalgamation

From 1954 to 1959 discussions continued intermittently on a merger of the now-defunct New South Wales Jewish Hospital and the Wolper Convalescent Home. The hospital had a substantial sum of money invested but no property or business to operate. The home had a property and a business with trading difficulties.

In 1959 Mrs Ena Rychter representing the trustees stated “Our institution has amalgamated with the New South Wales Jewish Hospital and in the future will be known as Wolper and New South Wales Jewish Hospital. The executive consists of three trustees from the National Council of Jewish women and Messrs Sam Karpin and Maurice Allen being the representatives of the New South Wales Jewish hospital”.

With the merger established mortgages were paid out and the hospital was able to embark on its first building program. The Wolper Jewish Hospital was officially opened by the Honourable W F Sheahen, New South Wales Minister for Health on 20 August 1961.

At the opening, left to right: Rabbi Dr Israel Porush, Mrs Becky Lake, unknown nurse, Dr Fanny Reading MBE, The Hon. Syd Einfeld MLA.

1960s, 1970s and 1980s

The Expansion

With the now fully functioning operational hospital, expansion was envisaged. Plans were prepared for the building of an operating theatre and a new surgical wing to be named after Dr. Fanny Reading. On completion, in 1966, the hospital consisted of 37 beds and one operating theatre. Later additions saw the installation of a passenger lift to the first floor.

The hospital prospered during the 60’s and 70’s and plans were made for an expansion to 51 beds and an updating of the operating theatre. This involved the building of an additional floor above the Fanny Reading surgical wing and connecting this floor to the existing building. The cost of the works necessitated a bank loan. The title of the property in Trelawney Street had continued to be held in the name of the Trustees of the Hospital Visiting Committee so the hospital could not offer sufficient security for a proposed loan. On May 14th 1982 the Trustees of the Hospital Visiting Committee (NCJW ? NSW Division) transferred the title of the land to Wolper Jewish Hospital.

The extent of the building works were such it was decided to close the hospital for 18 months and in August 1983 the hospital reopened with 51 beds and a new operating theatre.

Mr Ludi Adler and Dr Bruce Reading affixing the mezuzah in 1966 to bless the new building. As demonstrated by the ceremony, Jewish traditions have been observed at Wolper since its beginnings. “Jewish patients enjoy a sense of ‘yiddishkeit’ at Wolper, whether it’s walking into their rooms with a mezuzah on the door, the taste of their kosher meals or the lighting of Shabbat candles.” Rabbi Mendel Kastel, CEO, Jewish House

The 1990s

Further Expansion

In 1991 the adjoining property was purchased which allowed for further expansion of the hospital. The existing operating theatre was to be replaced by an operating theatre suite of two theatres and a six bed recovery ward all located on a new third level. In 1993 with this phase completed the hospital reached the capacity of 71 beds with two operating theatres.

In 1998 the Scottish Hospital closed. As a result their ENT surgeons and the Rehabilitation Unit were transferred to Wolper. In 2000 the rehabilitation unit was extended providing our first hydrotherapy pool, a purpose-built physiotherapy room and a new dining/occupational therapy room.


Into the new millennium

Operating Theatres Closed

In 2002 the operating theatres were closed due to financial concerns and lack of utilisation by the Jewish Community. The theatres were leased to the Sydney Eastern Eye Centre until we commenced our current redevelopment.

The Gola Launch with Shula Endrey Walder, Hon. Malcolm Turnbull and Rabbi Dovid Slavin


A New Beginning

The current hospital was officially reopened in August 2010. It now has 32 beds in Rehabilitation and a further 22 for medical patients. Every room has its own ensuite bathroom. The fully equipped physiotherapy department services both inpatients and day patients as does the new improved spacious hydrotherapy pool.

Handover of the Presidential baton from Graham Einfeld (right) to Dr David Golovsky


Wolper Foundation launched

The Wolper Jewish Hospital Health Foundation was established with the aim of funding health and wellbeing initiatives that will deliver clear benefits to the Jewish and general community.