In 1975 an investigation was in progress against “Rabbi Bernard Bergman”Nursing home czar. the complaint lodged against the Rabbi was that he was starving his patients and locking them in closets. These charges were brought about, I believe, at the time by”Andrew Stein” then Borough President of manhattan.” The Jewish community was very concerned, because Rabbi Bergman was the first Rabbi to have abuse charges of this nature lodged against the Jewish religion. None of the charges were substantiated. If this were true, staff would had to act in collusion to carry out these abuse practices.
The true allegation was Medicare fraud. The abuse charges appeared, in order to get public attention, “Borough President Stein” accused the Rabbi starving patients.
The result was a guilt syndrome suffered by people who had family members as residents in his facilities.
. A Special Prosecutor was ordered by” Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo.” Charles J Hynes ,” the Brooklyn Distrect Attorney was chosen to head up this Health and Social Services agency.
Since I was a retired NY Police Officer and a Registered Nurse I was hired as the “Patient Abuse Coordinator”…
Investigator Artie Eiger and I were chosen to process the arrest of Rabbi Bergman. This was a very old man who was worn out from being a German concentration camp survivor.
When Arty started the finger print process the rabbi brought back memories of the Holocaust and the old tattered old man turned an ash grey.Thinking heart attack I immediately intervened. Being raised in a Jewish community and in order to subvert a major crises, I said in broken yidish “Sha Sha the Rabbisa”he turned and said “Ah Bis Ah Yid” I answered trying to be a bit humerous,”no a Talyanisha Yid.”His color came back and with a relieved look he said”Vat is your name” i responded saying “Mike Garone” he said in broken English “Gaoneh”and proceeded to write my name on the border of the New York Times. What I tried to say in a clumsy Yidish manner was “easy easy Rabbi”he answered “are you a Jew,”I said “no I am an Italian Jew. the fact that i was not Jewish impressed him more than my partner who was Jewish. this tattered old man knew I was reaching out to comfort another human being in time of crises… The End
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