Wednesday, March 2, 2011

“this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears”

Mr. Toastmaster, Mrs. Freiberg, Doctor Freiberg, Friends—

My speech is severely inhibited by my subject—to speak the truth about you, Dr. Freiberg, means that one must drop all superfluous adjectives and adverbs. The direct honesty of your person forbids their use. The integrity of your character demands, Sir, that one use strong verbs of action and substantives of quality.

We have heard about the professional qualifications of our friend, and his achievements, from his colleagues in medicine and surgery. The president of his university has told us of Dr. Freiberg’s administrative and teaching ability; an old friend has revealed with the cunning skill of wit some of the more intimate aspects of the symmetrical and versatile life of our guest of honor, and the Dean, formerly his pupil now his chief, has painted a lovely picture of his old professor as a teacher and as a friend.

A master of the intricate technical knowledge of his chosen profession, Dr. Freiberg has won and felt the esteem and admiration of his colleagues. Sometime his honest opinions have made enemies—so I have heard say—what an enemy is in that profession I naturally do not know. Warm human qualities have endeared him to his patients. His music is the measure of his cultural accomplishment and the vehicle of his upreaching and out-giving spirit. Teacher, administrator, doctor, friend, musician, surgeon—great words describing a great character!

I cannot qualify directly as a patient though I have had Doctor Joe athwart my spinal column, and lo! I stand upright! I come tonight with only one qualification—I am a friend of the Doctor’s, one of a great host of friends, and by your grace, Mr. Toastmaster, the one honored to speak as a friend to our friend, for his many friends.

The first time I met Dr. Freiberg was when a little girl with a club foot hobbled into our parish house for weekday religious school, twenty-five years ago, and I went to the great orthopedic surgeon for his help. While the doctor examined his little patient I waited in the outer office. At length the door opened and out came the shining-faced child—broomstick crutch banging the floor—“I am going to walk, I am going to walk!” . . .  And she did and does.

Again. Some twenty odd years ago my old chief, Sir Wilfred Grenfell, came to visit us. After some speaking engagements had been filled we asked him what, in our city, he would like to see. “The Rookwood . . . and three doctors—Freiberg, Friedlander, Fischer.” We went to see them—from that day to this they have been my friends as well as Sir Wilfred’s.

Dr. Grenfell heard Dr. Freiberg lecture and went with him to a clinic, as I remember. Afterward Dr. Grenfell said to me, “What were those lines of Whittier we used to read, something about Agassiz? . . . Freiberg makes me think of them.” When I got home I looked them up and believe that I can quote them now—
Said the Master to the youth:
“We have come in search of truth,
Trying with uncertain key
Door by door of mystery;
We are reaching, through His laws,
To the garment-hem of Cause,
Him, the endless, unbegun,
The Unnamable, the One
Light of all our light the Source,
Life of life, and Force of force.
As with fingers of the blind,
We are groping here to find
What the hieroglyphics mean
Of the Unseen in the seen,
What the Thought which underlies
Nature’s masking and disguise,
What it is that hides beneath
Blight and bloom and birth and death.
By past efforts unavailing,
Doubt and error, loss and failing,
Of our weakness made aware,
On the threshold of our task
Let us light and guidance ask,
Let us pause in silent prayer!
         —John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Prayer Of Agassiz
“Freiberg makes me think of that,” said Grenfell.

In a generation that has had its violent “conflicts between religion and science,” this scientist has walked humbly with his God, loving mercy and doing justly.

A master in his own domain he has annexed other provinces; among them these: a world of music, a world of nature (botany), a world of books. As chairman of the library committee of the Hebrew Union College he has served for many years—the wisdom of ages he has garnered for others and gleaned for himself.

We have attended many functions similar to this one, but not one quite like it. This gathering has two characteristics—it is entirely spontaneous, no one is here under compulsion; and not one superfluous word has been uttered—just honest, well-merited appreciation of our friend and teacher, the skilled surgeon, Albert Freiberg.

It was said of the Messiah in ancient prophecy that he should make the lame to walk—“this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

Reverend Jesse Halsey, 1938

**American Jewish Archives
The FREIBERG FAMILY PAPERS (1900-2003) consist of the papers of Richard Freiberg (1932- ), his father, Joseph Freiberg (1898-1973), and his grandfather, Albert Freiberg (1868-1940). 

WARM SPRINGS/ROOSEVELT FILES, (1927-1939) contains correspondence between Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Freiberg and other doctors regarding the trial period of the Warm Springs Foundation and the establishment of a permanent foundation and sanitarium at Warm Springs, Georgia. Albert Freiberg served on the Executive Board of the foundation and advised Franklin Roosevelt on the establishment of this well known facility. The correspondence includes reports on patient conditions during the trial period (1927) and reports from Franklin Roosevelt concerning future plans and budgets for the foundation. This series also contains later correspondence between Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Freiberg, and Judge Marx concerning an Ohio man needing medical attention.

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