More than 100 years ago the medical profession looked very different. Jews faced antisemitism on campus and discrimination in the workplace. Quotas existed at all major universities that limited the number of Jewish students that were admitted. For this reason and more, the Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity was created.
AO was founded at the University of Maryland School of Dental Medicine in 1907 by a group of Jewish dental students. These students were barred from forming social groups, so instead they created Alpha Omega, a professional fraternity. Their mission was clear; to stop discrimination within places of higher education and beyond. Throughout their existence in the past 115 years, their impact has been widespread and long lasting. Now known as the Alpha Omega International Dental Society, they have torn down barriers for not only future Jewish dental professionals, but paved the way for the greater participation of women dental students and women dentists.
Locally, the Cleveland alumni chapter is focused on providing educational programming to enrich the careers of their members. Their meetings are held in the Jewish Federation of Cleveland Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Building in Beachwood, and they adhere to all kashrut guidelines. These meetings are held three times a year, with additional study group sessions throughout the year. Since the start of the pandemic, the Cleveland chapter has been holding online meetings and programming.
The Cleveland chapter has had a national presence in years’ past, with four Cleveland members serving as international presidents: the late Dr. John Samuels (1965), Dr. William Rose (1978), the late Dr. Bernie Stone (1993), and Dr. Steven Marsh (2018). Their leadership and vision, along with the efforts of our local members, culminated with the development and ongoing support of Israel’s two dental schools in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Our alumni members provide mentoring opportunities to the Case dental students as well as interested high school and college students in our community. Many of our AO alumni members also provide volunteer hours at the dental school and through Medworks. We are proud of our relationship with the Mt. Sinai Health Foundation for programming support and for scholarship to dental students to attend regional and international AO meetings. If you know of any students interested in a career in dentistry, please have them reach out to our Alpha Omega members. Our experienced members work in a wide variety of dental health fields, including general dentistry, periodontics, orthodontics, endodontics, pediatric dentistry, oral surgery and more. They can provide a wealth of knowledge and resources to prospective students.
We are proud of our deep and longstanding relationship with the Cleveland Jewish community. We feature our members in the annual Cleveland Jewish News Rosh Hashanah ad and are proud to partner and support the annual Smile! We’ve Got You Covered dental section of the CJN. We happily welcome new members to our organization to enjoy our fraternal community honoring our Judaic heritage while helping to attain professional excellence and high trust networks and relationships. In this manner, the Cleveland Alpha Omega members are able to provide personal and professional dental care to the Northeast Ohio community.
For more information about AO, visit ao.org.
Dr. Sylvia Malcmacher Kramer is a locum tenens dentist at a variety of offices in Northeast Ohio. Additionally, she is a clinical faculty dentist at Lakeland Community College Dental Hygiene Program. She is the membership chairperson of Alpha Omega Dental Society, Cleveland alumni chapter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.