- Eric L. Goldstein
Fishberg, Maurice (16 August 1872–30 August 1934), physician, anthropologist, and Jewish community worker, was born in Kamenets-Podolski, Russia, the son of Philip Fishberg and Kate Moverman. Raised in a traditional Jewish household, Fishberg was introduced to modern scientific study in a Russian government school before immigrating to the United States in 1890. He attended the Medical College of New York University, where he received his M.D. in 1897. That same year he married Bertha Cantor; they had two children. Fishberg was initially engaged in private practice on New York’s Lower East Side, later securing a post as chief medical examiner for the city’s United Hebrew Charities. There Fishberg treated immigrant patients who relied on the support of the Jewish community and made recommendations to community leaders on how social conditions and medical care for the Jewish poor could be improved. While at the United Hebrew Charities, Fishberg became concerned with the attempts of immigration restrictionists to paint Jewish immigrants as carriers of disease. His early medical scholarship, therefore, mustered scientific data in an attempt to dispel myths concerning “Jewish pathology,” particularly the common accusation that immigrants were responsible for the spread of tuberculosis. Fishberg demonstrated, in fact, that Jews were more immune to tuberculosis than other immigrants, a fact he attributed to their religious customs and previous exposure to urban life in European towns and cities....