Author: Vigoda, Rachel
Date published: January 20, 2011
When Joseph Shore graduated from the School of Dentistry at Temple University in 1952, he didn't know he was starting a dental dynasty.
Today, the 86-year-old still works two mornings a week, alongside his son, Jeffrey, and grandson, Andrew, at SnyderShore Dental Center in Norwood, Pa. Granddaughter Robin, Andrew's sister, is in her second year of dental school.
"I remember my father coming home, smelling like a dentist office. I didn't think I wanted to be a dentist then," says Jeffrey Shore. "But he always came home happy - he liked his patients, enjoyed what he was doing. And then I did become a dentist, and I think my kids saw the same thing."
Jeffrey also teaches at Temple's dental school, like his father, Joseph, did a few decades ago.
Joseph was born in Philadelphia's Strawberry Mansion section, an area that had a large Jewish population. His family had settled there after emigrating from Romania, and was active in supporting other Jews who came to the neighborhood from Eastern Europe, he says.
After graduating Gratz High School, Joseph was taking classes in accounting and working as a purchasing agent for the Army Signal Corps when he was drafted, and left to serve in World War II. A cousin, Samuel Shames, wrote to Joseph and suggested a change of plans.
"Sam was well-known in Delaware, as a dentist and for raising funds for Temple.
The DuPonts were his patients," says Joseph. "He said to me, 'Accounting isn't doing well. Go for dentistry when you get home.' "
So Joseph did. He enrolled in a program at Temple to catch up on his science and math requirements, then stayed at the university for his undergrad degree and his DDS.
In his last year of dental school, Joseph married, and together with his wife, Bette, began looking for a place to set up a practice.
THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
"We took a compass and formed a circle all the way around Philadelphia. We looked at the number of dentists and the population in each little town, looking for places where the dentists were old - in their mid-50s or older - so we knew they wouldn't want to keep treating children," he says.
Nowadays, it's his turn to avoid young patients: "I treat the people coming in with canes and wheelchairs and walkers. Patients who've been coming to me for 59 years.
"Everyone says, 'Here, these are your people.'"
Back to 1952, Joseph and Bette came upon Norwood, in Delaware County, and decided that it was perfect. They got to work building up a practice, with Joseph treating patients while Bette kept the books. (Bette's sister also married a dentist.)
Meanwhile, Joseph's brother Leon graduated from Temple University and took a job in a hardware store. "So like my cousin said to me, I said to my brother, 'How about dental school instead?' " says Joseph.
Leon returned to Temple for his dental degree, then joined the Norwood practice. He died in 1982, a few years after his nephew Jeffrey came on board. Jeffrey, who grew up in Wynnewood, where he still lives (his parents have since moved to neighboring Haverford), went to St. Josephs University for psychology.
But "dentistry grew on me more and more," he says, and so he, too, went to dental school at Temple before adding his name to the office's shingle.
A new partner, Mark Snyder, DDS, was soon hired. But there were still enough patients to bring in another.
Jeffrey says that he and his wife, Hennie, didn't push their kids to join the practice - a fact everyone agrees on.
"I didn't think it was what I was going to do," says Andrew, 27. "I didn't know anything about dentistry I just knew it had something to do with teeth."
Andrew started out as a business major at Penn State, but says dentistry "started to make more sense," and he switched to psychology to get the science and math credits he'd need for Temple's dental school.
This past May, he graduated from Temple - where his father, an assistant professor, got to preview his work - and joined the family practice.
Now, it's almost Robin's turn to join the practice - or not. Unlike the others, Robin, who's 24, was interested in health and science from the beginning, so following in the family tradition was a no-brainer. But she's not sure where she'll wind up: "I might do something different; I might go into a specialty. But I'd also love to join the practice. It would be a dream come true."
Jewish Exponent Feature