The Friends of the Mentally Afflicted played host to 700 mentally diseased at the Chanukah celebration Wednesday night in the auditorium of the Manhattan State Hospital for the Insane on Ward’s Island in the East River.
On the ferry which bore reporters to the Island, Oscar Maxwell, president of the Friends of the Mentally Afflicted, explained the purpose of the organization.
“When someone gets cancer or diphtheria,” he said, “his family isn’t ashamed. He’s sick, that’s all. But when he is sick in the mind, they ship him to the Island and never visit him. They are ashamed. When the patient needs sympathy most, his family doesn’t come to visit him.
“So we give the patients the sympathy their families withhold. We give them Seders on Passover sure, the Christmas too. We give them the Chanukah entertainment. You should see how happy they are. It’s worth a million dollars just to see the gratitude they show when somebody is kind to them.”
15 IN THE GROUP
The group is made up of fifteen Jewish men and women who bring the patients newspapers, gifts and entertainment on Jewish holidays, with the cooperation of city authorities.
In the auditorium the 700 patients listened to a phonograph playing songs by Yussele Rosenblatt. They applauded on the slightest pretext.
Mr. Schechter, the secretary, spoke. When he mentioned Hitler, the audience jeered. He apologized for the absence of Rabbi Martin, the chaplain, who is in California recovering from an illness.