Born in Latvia, Dr. Noah Ephraim Aronstam immigrated to Detroit in 1892, where he practiced medicine for more than 60 years and became entrenched in many facets of the Detroit Jewish community.
While little is known of his early education, Dr. Aronstam received his medical degree from the Michigan College of Medicine and Surgery, the forerunner to Wayne State’s School of Medicine. Early in his career, Dr. Aronstam established himself as a physician of exemplar skill and great renown. He was appointed by Michigan Governor Aaron Bliss as delegate to the British Congress of Tuberculosis held in London in 1901 and again to the American Congress of Tuberculosis in New York in the following year. Upon further study in Vienna and Berlin, Dr. Aronstam became a specialist in the fields of Urology and Dermatology, respectively, and would eventually focus primarily on the latter. In addition to his specialties, he lectured on many topics including euthanasia, alcohol consumption, and medical practices in ancient times.
In addition to his strong reputation in the medical field, Dr. Aronstam was also a gifted lecturer, ardent Zionist, student of philosophy, and published poet. He married Sarah Deborah Blumberg in 1899, and the couple had two children, Ralph and Theodora.
Dr. Aronstam was heavily involved in Jewish matters and the Jewish community of Michigan throughout his life. A passionate Zionist, Dr. Aronstam served as president of both the United Zionists of Detroit and the Zionist District of Detroit and, in 1903, he founded the Young Men’s Zion Association. His 1904 paper, “The Jewish Dietary Laws from a Scientific Standpoint,” was a seminal work on the subject, and received an Honorable Mention from the International Exhibit of Hygiene in Dresden, Germany. Dr. Aronstam was one of several Jewish community leaders who published the monthly journal The Jewish Advance and served for a time as its editor. He was also one of the original founders of the Maimonides Medical Society in 1912 whose primary mission was the creation of a Jewish hospital in Detroit.
Despite such a distinguished reputation in the medical field, Dr. Aronstam was even more passionate about his writing. “I have, all my life, wanted to be a great poet, but since the fates were against me, I found it more expedient to earn my living by being a dermatologist,” (Edgar, 91).” He simultaneously followed his passion throughout his professional life, writing for and editing several periodicals including the Detroit Jewish News. Within those pages he published his poetry nearly every week of his life. His works, “Hope,” and “Tears,” were both published in anthologies of poetry in the 1930s.
For more information:
Edgar, Irving Iskowitz. A history of early Jewish physicians in the state of Michigan. New York: Philosophical Library, 1982.
Ergas, Aimee. "Zionism in Detroit Before the State: The First Fifty Years, 1898-1948." Michigan Jewish History (November 1998): 11-20. https://www.michjewishhistory.org/assets/docs/Journals/Michigan_Jewish_History_1998_11.pdf