A Loving Tribute to
Gerald Nissenbaum, M.D.


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Submissions from Colleagues

Listed Post(s): 9

FROM: Bill Dauster
DATE: Monday, September 30, 2002 12:35 PM
Hi my name is Bill Dauster. I am the Senior Vice President, Development & Public Affairs for Liberty Health, parent of Jersey City Medical. I also know Dr. Nissenbaum very well. He called my staff "Pubic Affairs" among other things. With your permission, I would like to link your website off of our Liberty Website. You can look at it at www.libertyhcs.org    Bill Dauster


FROM: Carmen Pagan
DATE: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 11:32 AM
My encounters with Dr. Nissenbaum as the Administrative
Secretary to the Department of Medicine are too many to write down; twenty years cannot be broken down in a few words. Gerry was always there when I needed to let off some steam and not to mentioned the times I was there for him (loved to talk! ). When his telephone number appeared in the ID caller I prepared myself for a long conversation or to be yelled at for no apparent reason but throughout time and patients I learned to calm him down - he always needed someday to listen. I will treasure our conversations and all his wisdom forever and most of all I will always remember him dearly and miss him forever.

Carmen Pagan


FROM: H. Clay Irving III, M.D.
DATE: Sunday, October 06, 2002 10:26 AM
Gerald Nissenbaum, M.D.

Jerry was the personification of the Jersey City Medical Center Medical Staff.  He was our recorder, treasurer, archivist, and historian.  He made sure we could always park and get a snack.  He was the Medical Staff's conscience acknowledging us when we excelled and identifying and assisting us in correcting our deficiencies when we faltered.   He was our link to the rich history of the Jersey City Medical Center and its outstanding clinicians.  His name now joins the ranks of those outstanding physician leaders who served our community with exceptional skill and compassion.  We will miss him as a friend, educator, clinician, and most of all as an exceptional individual.

H. Clay Irving III, M.D.
Colleague for 25 years, who had the privilege of working on parking with Gerry for most of the time of our association.


FROM: Philip M. Bonaparte, MD
DATE: Monday, October 14, 2002 6:00 PM
Dear Family of Dr. Nissenbaum,

I met Dr. Nissenbaum for the first time July 1st, 1989 when I started my residency in Internal Medicine on 6 Medical. Dr. Nissenbaum was my Attending then I have never met a clinician or mentor as dedicated and knowledgeable as he was. Rather than just teach us facts about diseases, Dr. Nissenbaum taught us the facts of life so that we could apply the facts of diseases to life. I consider him a friend, father, mentor and the most outspoken, honest person that I have ever met. You knew exactly where you stood with him. I remember him taking a small group of us to his summer home the last weekend in July. I was shocked to receive such warmth and care from Americans that opened the doors of their summer home to me, a black kid from a small island in the Caribbean, Grenada. Mrs. Nissenbaum's cooking, sailing, and just listening to Dr. Nissenbaum's stories left an impression in my memory bank that I will never forget.

The world is a better place because of the unselfish work of this devoted father, clinician and mentor. I am a better doctor and person because of the countless hours he imparted in my life. Great advisor.

I want to say THANKS to Mrs. Sylvia Nissenbaum, Gary, Eliot and Robert for sharing your Dad's life with me. I WILL NEVER FORGET nor cease to pay tribute to a man that has given so much.

Philip M. Bonaparte, MD
Chief Medical Officer


FROM: Rev. James F Reilly -- Liberty Healthcare System
DATE: Friday, November 08, 2002 12:48 AM
Unfortunately, I was out of state when Dr. Nissenbaum entered into Eternal Life, and I only recently learned of this web site in his memory. To be a physician and healer is a special calling from God, and rarely have I ever met an individual who so genuinely and wholeheartedly answered that call as Jerry did. I was both blessed and privileged to know Dr. Nissenbaum for almost 20 years, and as one article so appropriately put it, he truly was, will continue to remain, the "Heart and Soul" of the Jersey City Medical Center.

Once, when visiting him as a patient in the JCMC, he reminded me, and everyone else within earshot, that, though ill, he was still "the Doctor" on call. What a beautiful lesson for us all: to be what we are called to be every moment of our lives, whether convenient or inconvenient.


Rev. James F Reilly
Chairman of the Board
Liberty Healthcare System


FROM: Margie Medina
DATE: Monday, November 11, 2002 11:12 AM

My most deepest condolences to Dr. Nissenbaum's wife Sylvia and family. My name is Margie Medina and I have been living in Puerto Rico for the past fourteen years. I worked at the Jersey City Medical Center for seven years as Medical/Dental Staff Coordinator and as Administrative Assistant to the President at that time (Harvey Holzberg). I was informed of Dr. Nissenbaum's passing away by Barbara O'Neill who also worked at the Jersey City Medical Center at that time. Barbara and I established a bond with Dr. Nissenbaum and he would always advise us on many issues. I am glad to have met an extraordinary human being such as Dr. Nissenbaum and having shared many moments at work with him. He was a fascinating man and during the meetings he exposed his way of thinking and opinion in a most unusual manner. He was well respected among his peers and his bedside manner with his patients was one of the many qualities that made him an extraordinary physician. I will always remember Dr. Nissenbaum's sense of humor and candor. He was truly an exceptional human being.

Thanks for providing a method of being able to remember a great man.

Sincerely, Margie Medina



FROM: Dr. Marvin Antelman
DATE: Tuesday December 3, 2002  9:37 AM

I first met Jerry in the fall of 1947. We were both students at the then-called Talmudical Academy High School. The high school students who did not commute daily were on one floor in Yeshiva University's then-only dorm at 526 W. 187th Street. Jerry was a sophomore and I a freshman.

Jerry and I had a lot in common besides our interest in science. He read anything he could find dealing with medicine and biology, and I did so in chemistry. College students who had problems with biology in the same dorm would come to ask Jerry questions. Not too long thereafter, it became known that I had an advanced knowledge of chemistry...so we both were considered student "professors" after dark. I joined the science club and Jerry was active in the biology club.

           We both attended the Bet Midrash Lamorim (BML) in the mornings for our Hebrew studies, and not the Yeshiva which only studied Talmud. Jerry and I shared a love for the rational exposition of Judaism which led us to an in depth reading of the Friedlander translation of Maimonides’ "The Guide to Perplexed." We never ceased to amaze adults in Jewish philosophical discussions about God, Reward and Punishment and the problem of evil. However, we considered these adults as having only a paucity of knowledge about Judaism and considered ourselves as neophytes.

When I look back on those days, the fact of the matter is however, that Jerry and I would have these debates among ourselves based on Maimonides to refine our own rational thinking, and we had sharp analytical minds trained to think scientifically; so by the time we got through with the Rambam's quotations, we were converting them into powerful weapons. This was so much so that my  "Hamada Vidateinu" Science and Our Religion was published in the BML yearbook, Nir, around '53. It reflected our discussions over the years and was a very short essay precursor to the best seller books today such as Schroeder and Aviezer, head of Bar Ilan's Physics Dept. In recent years Jerry and I were critical of some of these thinkers; e.g. Aviezer who we felt had a hang up about believing that HaShem only created life on earth and nowhere else in the universe. Jerry was into in those years’ Bible Codes way ahead of our time before computer analysis of the Tanach being influenced by Rabbi Weismandl's Torat Chemed. I did not get into it until about 1982.

In his high school years Jerry set up a small dingy room in Yeshiva University's basement next to the tiny Elchanite office, which he converted to a first class microbiology lab. He would carry around a wooden carrying case with his microscope, never allowing it to remain in that padlocked room, and kept it in his locked closet in the dorm. That basement room was the center of attraction for the TA biology club. In the fall of 1949 which was the beginning of Jerry's senior year, I was Treasurer of TA and ran the appropriations committee. The biology club which had trouble getting funding was given by me every cent they requested. Jerry was in 7th heaven.

Out of this, came his first scientific paper published in Science -- a first at YU. Over a 3 year period  my own 4 papers were published, the most prestigious and last paper being the invention of thin layer chromatography published in Analytical Chemistry vol. 26, 1218 (1954).

Jerry and I were called to YU president, Dr. Samuel Belkin's, office. He thought that Jerry and I had a good science background from other high schools. He was astounded to learn that we were products of a Yeshiva High School. A few months before his death, Jerry sent me the write up in Commentator about our articles. Dr. Belkin distributed reprints of our articles to potential contributors to Albert Einstein College of Medicine saying these are the kind of students we have at YU.

In our college years, we were neighbors on the 4th floor, Jerry being next door. I would observe some of his experiments and he would visit my dorm room to observe the thin layer chromatography work I did in my own microlab set up there. During our last conversation I was marveling at how his protozoa stain had become accepted world wide and he was remarking how my work impressed him then as a student, that it did away with qualitative analysis.

After college, Jerry and I stayed in touch. We were staunch militant Zionists. I attended American Zionist Federation Conventions as a Herut delegate and the World Zionist Congress, keeping Jerry informed about the inner workings and politics. He followed with keen interest my studies at Chaim Berlin in Choshen Mishpat and my becoming a Dayan. Meanwhile Jerry was making a big name for himself in internal medicine. The Nissenbaum Diagnostototube became a legend. In the Acknowledgment to my Analytical Encyclopedia of Thermoplastic Materials (Sadtler 1974), I wrote :  "I also wish to thank Dr. Gerald Nissenbaum for his suggestions whom I had the pleasure of attending Yeshiva University with, who is presently Director of Jersey City Hospital, Jersey City, New Jersey. He pioneered the development of the thermoplastically constructed Nissenbaum tube, which has been used internationally to enable surgeons to photograph the inner digestive tract and stomach of their patients. Our association over the years has been most intellectually rewarding, as we constantly stimulate each other in scientific interdisciplinary dialogue."

            His success was my success, and my success was his. Last Tuesday the US Patent Office awarded me a patent for curing cancer. It is sad that he did not live to see this patent issue. I am E mailing the main highlights from an IBM Patent web site called Delphion.  All the citations of my publications and patents were subjected to his critical input and constructive criticism. This is also true for my Encyclopedia of Chemical Electrode Potentials (Plenum 1982) and my books in Hebrew and English dealing with Jewish History and Halacha.

           Dr. Marvin Antelman


FROM: Ariel Teitel. M.D.
DATE: Saturday January 4, 2003  6:00 PM

There are of course many anecdotes about Dr. Nissenbaum around JCMC. I always enjoyed seeing him -- especially at the Department of Medicine meetings.

Sometimes, Dr. N would observe wryly that he had a Yiddish contribution. The hubbub would cease and the physicians from all around the world would look over befuddled/lost. Then he would give a saying or story that was perfectly apropos of the situation. The faces from Bangladesh/India/Pakistan/Cuba/South Africa/Philippines/U.S. would slowly react, eyes narrowed, mouths upturned, smiles into chuckles into laughs.

Jerry brought people together with his warmth, cleverness and charm. He was cherished.
Ariel Teitel, M.D.


FROM: Dr. Jim Maguire
DATE: Monday, October 06, 2003 1:30 PM

Owing to the nature of our relationship, I am honored to have counted Gerry Nissenbaum as a colleague. But from my personal perspective, I will always remember him as the friend he was to me.

            I first met Gerry when I arrived at the Jersey City Medical Center in December of 1994. I served with him on the Executive Committee from that time. But I got to know the man so much better after I was elected the President of the Medical-Dental Staff in January of 2000. Whenever I thought that I cared about residents or Graduate Medical Education, I realized how much more did he. Whenever I felt that my clinical skills were finally getting honed, I sensed that he had the wisdom to improve me at every turn. And whenever I thought I had given something to the institution, I realized that his dedication to the hospital were probably unmatched by anyone in its history.

             Yet he was self-effacing in his encouragement. You never envied him because you wanted to emulate him. He always brought out the best out of you. He cared for people, be they colleague, patient or friend.

            Since grammar school, I remember a quote that I believe is from the wisdom literature of the Old Testament: "If you would take a friend, try him before you take him - and do not credit him easily." In a time when the fundamental human values of trust, honesty, and integrity are so difficult to find in a friend, Gerry was a paragon.

             I have wondered many times why I could not bring myself to write these words here on this website for so long. I believe that I feared that my words would be inadequate. As I reread them, I realize that I was correct - my words will never be adequate. When you lose a friend like Gerry, words will always be inadequate. So I dry my eyes and smile when I think what he would tell me for talking like this about him. That's the way my friend was. I'll miss him, but I'm oh so glad I knew him.

                                                   Jim Maguire


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