Hazed Jewish Internes Tell of Persistent Discrimination at Kings County Hospital
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Hazed Jewish Internes Tell of Persistent Discrimination at Kings County Hospital

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How Jewish patients suffered because of racial discrimination in Kings County Hospital was told yesterday at the public hearing conducted by Mayor Walker at City Hall, by Dr. Louis Zweifler, one of the Jewish internes hazed at the hospital on the night of June 20th by their Gentile colleagues.

“In October, 1926,” Dr. Zweifler related, “I was assigned to the female ward to treat Mrs. Kessler, a Jewish patient who suffered from heart trouble. During the time she was under my care she was satisfied with the medical treatment received. About two weeks later I received another assignment but when visiting my old cases the woman told me how poorly the Gentile internes treated her. They call me ‘kike’ and ‘Jew,’ the woman cried. She was compelled to address her complaints to the officials of the hospital, and to communicate with outside individuals.”

Dr. Zweifler also related that phone messages were never delivered to him even when the messages came from nurses on duty. “The nurses used to tell me later when I came to the ward that they called me with regard to the patient, but never were any of their calls delivered to me.

“In a conversation with Dr. Curry, assistant superintendent of the hospital, I complained to him about the miserable life I was living and about the petty quarrels that made my life in the hospital bitter. I couldn’t afford to leave the hospital. Dr. Curry agreed with me, stating that this is purely one of the tricks to get rid of Jewish internes.”

To illustrate how anti-Semitism was practiced as a policy in the Kings County City Hospital, Dr. Zweifler told of a case where a Gentile interne, Dr. Campbell, frankly admitted, in conversation with him, that he is compelled not to greet him. Dr. Campbell used to greet Zweifler only when alone. Taking him out once for a ride in his car, Dr. Campbell apologized before Zweifler for the general attitude.

“You don’t know how badly I feel about the anti-Semitism in our institution. I am almost ready to resign,” Dr. Campbell had told Dr. Zweifler.

Describing his humiliations, Dr. Zweifler continued to testify about the professional embarrassment which he suffered at the hands of nurses and officials entirely because of his Jewish faith. “It interfered many times with the efficiency of my medical duties,” he stated.

Dr. Aaron Trainin of Brooklyn Zion Hospital was the second witness to testify at the hearing about the anti-Jewish discriminations practiced at the Kings County Hospital where he worked as physician in the summer of 1921. “‘Dam Jew’ was the phrase constantly repeated by internes to Jewish patients,” Dr. Trainin told the Mayor.

Permission was asked by Dr. Trainin of the mayor not to relate publicly a certain incident which took place in the Kings County Hospital while Trainin was working there in the laboratory. “Because of professional ethics I would prefer to relate this incident to the Mayor privately,” Dr. Trainin said. The Mayor granted his request.

A graphic description of the humiliations suffered by Jewish internes was also given by Dr. Hyman Soloway who was the first Jewish interne to be appointed in the Kings County Hospital, since 1916. He has been there since 1925.

“The first day I entered the hospital I had to sit alone in the dining room. I tried on the next day to sit at another table where the Gentile internes were seated, but was snubbed and ignored. Not suspecting any anti-Semitism, I sat at a differnt table, but here also I was totally ignored. Things grew worse from day to day, but I did not complain because I knew if my complaints would not be rectified, conditions would become worse.

“Once I came up to my room and found things upset, my books torn, my bed turned over. I did not complain even then, but when this continued for two months two or three times each week, I complained to the office, but received a very cold answer.

“After making this complaint, I always kept my door locked, but this was of very little help. The next week I found the door open and the room full of broken eggs. My clothes were all smeared and my books scattered and messed. This has never been done to Gentile internes. Even the janitor who used to clean my room was furious.”

Dr. Soloway went on to relate how everybody but Jewish internes were invited to the graduation exercises of the nurses’ training school. Once when he was passing by a group of internes and nurses, he overheard a part of their conversation. “What does that Jew want here? We don’t want any Jews,” they had said.

The case of the three hazed internes will be brought to court in Brooklyn tomorrow.

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