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The Mount Sinai Hospital Bulletin

Judge Joseph M. Proskauer: Four Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Toastmaster and Corpus Delicti:  I quite sense the significance of what the Toastmaster said a few minutes ago, that this was a meeting of the Mount Sinai Hospital group and two outsiders.  For once, despite all the trials and tribulations that inhere in the presidency of the Federation, I rejoice that I am president of the Federation and have thus the opportunity of sharing in the delight of this very happy occasion.  But I realize full well, Mr. Toastmaster, that I am here not personally, but as a personification of Federation and I bring to you as the Medical Board and the directors and friends of Mount Sinai Hospital from Federation (and when I say from Federation I think I am justified in saying from the whole communal-minded Jewish community of this city) our deep and heart-felt congratulations upon this very auspicious occasion.

Mr. Arnstein has very correctly said that we don't look upon George Blumenthal merely as the head of Mount Sinai Hospital.  He is one of us, and I ask you to believe that not the least of his contributions to the great good of communal institutions in New York is the demonstration in his character and in his conduct of the truth that a man may be loyally the head of a great hospital and at the same time be Federation-minded and devote himself to the whole greater and larger philanthropic problem of the city of New York. And that you have done, Mr. Blumenthal, in a degree which nobody has surpassed.  It is not only that Mr. Blumenthal has done specific things like heading a Federation drive in a peculiarly onerous year; it is that in his counsel, in his participation in Federation affairs he has always been able to reconcile the viewpoint of the president of Mount Sinai with the viewpoint of the necessities of the community as a whole.  By precept and by example he has thereby achieved an enormous, an indescribable public good.

Now I have spoken as the personification of Federation.  If I could come here and speak for a moment as the personification of Mount Sinai, I think perhaps I should like to do it in the guise of Harry Lauder and say, "We have been together forty years and it don't seem a day too long."  Because Mr. Blumenthal's personality has been that kind of challenging one which incites every one to emulation.  It has been a many-sided personality.  It has been like the jewel which the gem-cutter cuts into many facets that reflect back all the varying streams of light and life that beat down upon it and send them back with a very glory and delight to all who gaze upon it.

He has been a leader in the high adventure of great business enterprise.  He has been leader among all those who love what is beautiful in life and who strive to bring home the significance of that beauty to those less gifted than themselves––a lover of art, a lover of music and a friend of all those movements which make others love art and line and color and music.  And with it all he has had the greatest of all gifts, the gift of friendship, that kind of comradery which ties men to him not only with admiration of achievement, but with admiration of good fellowship.

Mr. Blumenthal, you know the inscription in St. Paul's in London, the memorial of its great architect––"If you would see his monument, look about you."  But your monument is a great deal more than the walls of Mount Sanai Hospital.  It is true that those stately piles were reared and stand largely by reason of your zeal, your skill and your indomitable perseverance; but over and beyond all those material things, your monument consists of more than that.  It consists of the years of service which have developed and educated there a great medical profession.  It consists of all those things which you have done to develop research and learning in medical science and medical art and above all it consists in a long tradition of relief of suffering, of relief to those who were ill and in the alleviation of human pain and human misery.  All these things must be take together to give a picture of what, during these forty years, you have meant to Mount Sinai Hospital and to the whole community of the city of New York.

And so I bring you, sir, a tribute not only of admiration and respect from Federation, but I bring you a tribute of regard, of affection and esteem and may the years continue to let you stay with us for a long, long time to come that you may continue to be our leader, our guide and our friend 

TOASTMASTER SPEYER:  Ladies and Gentlemen, I think you will agree with me that we were very wise in inviting one of those "outsiders."

The next gentleman I am going to call on is really not an outsider.  If anybody is an "insider," it is Judge Cohen.  He knows Mr. Blumenthal probably more intimately than any of us and I wish him to say a few words.

JUDGE WILLIAM N. COHEN:  Ladies of Mount Sinai Hospital, to you and to you only am I about to speak.  I have reason to be grateful to the Chairman for limiting my remarks and insisting on limiting them.  But that is the only mention of any man I shall make except possibly the guest of the evening who may come in for a few words.

Why I am here, I cannot conceive.  I know nothing about Mount Sinai Hospital.  I have never been even an inmate.  So I just consider that I am called upon by virtue of my personal relations to the guest of the evening.

Well, they began (and you will see, ladies of Mount Sinai, why I address you) in a spirit of rivalry.  There were some very beautiful girls way back in the nineties known as the Meyers, and I still a poor, lonely bachelor strove to be relieved from that condition by proposing to one after another and failing utterly.  It was in that connection that I think I first met the guest of the evening and as usual he got ahead of me.  He succeeded where I had failed and selected, if I may say so in these presence, the flower of that flock, one of the sweetest and most sympathetic souls that it was ever my privilege to know and whose aid and sympathy and companionship, not only in hospital affairs but in fields of art and music and beauty of every kind, meant much to him.

He seemed to be hard-headed when I first met him.  He had habits wholly different from mine.  Early to bed and early to rise made him healthy, wealthy and wise.  I went to bed late and got up late and all I have got is health.  I ought not say that.  I may have a little wealth and if I have, it is all due to the guest of the evening.  I haven't much sense––financial or of any kind, but I did realize that I knew no more about finance than I knew about goats and so I went to him and said "Occasionally I have a few dollars.  Will you manage them for me?  Will you take care of them?"  And did he?  He watched over them more carefully than he did over his own I know.  And of course I have been trying to disentangle myself lately.  (Laughter)  But that is 

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The Mount Sinai Hospital Bulletin  5

quite hopeless when you are a tail to a kite like that.  And then just think of the many other fields!  Often these forced him to go to bed late and get up early.  I do not think you have any idea of the industry, the concentration, how he has not only done his work in the hospital which you all know, but in a similar field in Paris, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in that beautiful home he has erected here also with the aid of that real helpmate:  I believe it to be the finest and most artistic private house in the city of New York;  then there is the wholly different chateau in the outskirts of Paris.  All these activities meant not only concentration but a real love of and flair for beauty.

But then there is another trait that is more valuable than all of those.  He not only has helped poor lawyers who knew nothing about finances but widows and orphans and people who were utterly helpless.  And he has watched over them with a zeal that I am sure he has not given to his own affairs.

He seems on the surface sometimes to be hard and obdurate but he is only direct and straightforward, whether he agrees or differs.  There isn't any poet, there isn't any high strung and nervous woman (although what should I, a bachelor, know of them) that has the sensitiveness, even the sentimentality that has the guest of the evening.  A steady, firm hand is out to help you over stony and difficult places never with any show of having done anything but always there––true, reliable, staunch.

I can say nothing now of him or to him except to pledge my undying devotion and love.  (Applause).

TOASTMASTER SPEYER:  Judge Cohen, we thank you very much.  I think you will agree with me that I was right to call him an "insider."

I am now going to ask the gentleman who knows probably more about Mount Sinai than any one except our guest of honor, who has been working there for years and years and has a reputation all over the country as an expert in hospital work, to say a few words.  Dr. Goldwater.

DR. S. S. GOLDWATER:  My feelings at the moment are, I imagine, such emotions as all of you have experienced in the course of your contacts with our guess during the many years of his public service.  They include several recognizable elements––elements of fear, of respect, of gratitude and of affection.  We fear that which we cannot control, and I have yet to meet the man who has succeeded in controlling George Blumenthal.  We respect a man's character and conduct when they are in harmony with what we regard as sound ethical principles, and it would be hard to name a public man who has more consistently adhered to such principles than George Blumenthal.  We are grateful not only for what is beneficial to ourselves but, if there is the slightest spark of humanity in our make-up, for whatever makes life easier for others, and the number of those who have been aided by George Blumenthal is legion.  We respond with affection when we are treated with such consideration and such kindness as most of us have experienced in our relations with the man we honor to-night.

To a majority of those who are present, George Blumenthal stands and has long stood in relation of leader to follower.  Now I think it is true that ordinarily a man is not proud to acknowledge himself a follower, but we all know that for many years the Mount Sinai Hospital group has followed Mr. Blumenthal frankly and without any sense of shame or humiliation.  We have done so because we have perceived in him a leader whose strength was as the strength of ten.  When he throws himself into battle we are as little disposed to contend against him as we would be to contend against the elemental forces of nature.

It would be a mistake to assume that, because of Mr. Blumenthal's great gifts and splendid achievements, he has always found the line of duty plain.  Consistent in most respects, he has been, in that part of his public career that we know best, as inconsistent as a man could be.  Unless I entirely misunderstand his point of view, it has always been his firm conviction that the care of the sick poor is the function of the State, not of the individual philanthropist, not of a voluntary association like Mount Sinai Hospital;  and yet his talents and his fortune have been devoted to the building up of that great institution which, without his admirable leadership, would never have attached the position it occupies to-day.  It has been a case, it seems to me, of a conflict between the head and the heart, in which the heart has triumphed.  (Applause).

Life is a puzzle to any thinking man.  Perplexed by the absurd contradictions, the inevitable frustrations of our modern civilization, I have heard Mr. Blumenthal say, "What, after all, is the meaning of this life?  What is it all for?" and instantly the thought came to me that whether or not it was possible to answer this question in its most profound philosophic sense, it would be easy to show what George Blumenthal's life has been for.  I think it can be done very briefly.  Business success achieved, he has treated a large part of his fortune as if it were a public trust.  Loving the beautiful in art, he has sought to make art accessible to the multitude.  Hating suffering, he has tried to alleviate or prevent it.  These characteristics have consistently found expression in his private and public conduct, and to tell the story of his life in any adequate way it would be necessary to trace the far-reaching effects of his activities on our city and on our times.  (Applause).

TOASTMASTER SPEYER:  We thank you very much, Dr. Goldwater.

Ladies and Gentlemen, although our guest and all of you I suppose will always remember this occasion and feel happy that we have taken part in honoring our guest tonight, the trustees are not satisfied with that.  They want to give to Mr. Blumenthal a permanent memorial of this occasion and we have prepared a little book and Mr. Harlow, our Secretary, who did this work and did it well will present this on behalf of the trustees to our guest of this evening.  It contains photographic views of Mount Sinai Hospital buildings from the earliest day to the present.  Mr. Harlow.


Tonight with cheer we celebrate,
Our President congratulate;
But so that you, George Blumenthal,
May this day vividly recall,
With loving thoughts this souvenir
We have prepared, and though we fear
That it is but a token slight
Of our affection flaming bright,
We hope when at this gift you look
You'll read the thoughts behind the book.
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