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The Human Touch

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If it is true that man lives not by bread alone, it is equally true that he does not live exclusively by his job, trade or profession. I know of at least one extremely successful lawyer who is painter and writer during his leisure hours and I know of one dentist who has written a book of brilliant Oscar Wildean aphorisms. In fact, who doesn’t? There is in New York a group of physicians and dentists, mainly Jewish, whose inspiration during their leisure hours is provided by that great English surgeon-etcher, Sir Seymour Haden. While these gentlemen make their living healing the sick, they make their play, so to speak, by etching on the copper plate. These men banded together in the pursuit of a hobby call themselves the Haden Etching Club, although none of them has yet achieved any distinction outside of his profession. The story about Haden is that one day a patient called while the great surgeon-etcher was engrossed in his hobby. He was an impatient patient and wondered what was keeping the learned doctor. When he learned that it was, not another patient, but a copper plate, he became enraged, whereupon Sir Seymour told him to go to the devil and then and there gave up his surgery to devote himself exclusively to etching.

The doctor-etchers meet twice a month, in the club studio on the garret floor of an old house on 14th Street. They have an executive meeting the first Tuesday of every month, and on the third Tuesday they bring their plates along, take impressions on the club press, exchange technical information and experience, and have the kind of good time that it is possible to extract from a hobby pursued in common. Once a year they exhibit, but it is one of the rules of the game that none shall make a profit out of his hobby. Perhaps their work is not yet good enough to compete in the open market with the output of first-rate print-makers, which is all to the good, for there is much more fun in the making of a bad plate than profit in the making of a good one.

Some weeks ago a physician acquaintance of mine, who occupies an apartment in the same building as that in which I live, asked me to step up some time to hear some chamber music. Every Thursday night he plays with a group of others under the composite name of the Medical Arts Quartet. This announcement lifted my eyebrows to their maximum height, but I rather thought that it must be more fun to play than to listen. I anticipated, I am afraid, scraping and scratching and un-coordination of instrument to instrument. I had heard chamber music over the radio, especially on Sunday mornings, but never within the area for which chamber music had been composed—a room.

Several Thursday evenings ago I heard the Medical Arts Quartet for the first time and received the delighted surprise of my life. With the arrival of the pianist, a wizard reader of music, the quartet became a quintet, playing one of my favorite Brahms pieces of chamber music. I heard also Haydn and I heard Bach and what more can one ask of an evening? By the time this appears in print. I shall have heard a second evening of chamber music. Unfortunately, it is impossible for me to say that the Medical ### Arts Quartet is purely amateur for its magnificent first violinist, Max Hollander, is a member of the Perole String Quartet and the way in which he makes his fiddle sing is—as they say on Broadway—nobody’s business. And the pianist, Eugen Kuzmiac, whose presence converts the quartet into a quintet, is a teacher of music, so that only the three remaining members of the musical group may be said to retain their full amateur standing: Dr. William Spielberg, who plays the second violin; Dr. Paul Elkind, dental surgeon, who performs on a golden-stringed and golden-bellied cello, and Sidney Bricker, medical student, who always knows his place with the viola. The concerts taking place in the home of Dr. Spielberg, it is possible to say that he plays second fiddle in his own home.


Problems of local Communal Organization of the Jews of New York will be discussed at the mid-year special conference of the Jewish Council of Greater New York to be held at the Hotel Pennsylvania on January 21.

Officers will present reports of recent activities and studies made by the Council. Plans will be adopted for the enlargement of the scope of the Council’s work.

Among the speakers who will address the conference are Bernard G. Richards, chairman of the Council; Louis Lipsky, Dr. Joseph Tanenbaum and Max Silverstein. The conference will close with an informal dinner.

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