BENYOMEN M. SEYKIN (BENJAMIN SAKIN) (ca. 1887-February 17, 1958)
He was born Benyomen Kazatshina in Tultshin (Tulchyn), Ukraine. He made his way to the United States in 1906. He spent his first years in New York as a (house) painter, while at the same time studying. His first lessons in English were delivered by Mrs. Zametkin. He graduated with a medical degree in 1917 and was a specialist in stomach illnesses. He was a fellow of the Geriatric Society and of the Gastroenterologist Society. For almost forty years he practiced medicine, and for over twenty-five years he wrote articles on medicine for the Yiddish press; for over two decades, until the last day of his life, he published on issues of sicknesses for Tog (Day) and later for Forverts (Forward)—both in New York. He was a true people’s doctor, an idealist. He would come to the sick person and ask for no fee; on one occasion he left money with the patient to purchase medicine. In his free time, he worked in hospitals and clinics gratis and gave lectures on medicine for the wider Jewish public—also without remuneration. He had a fine Yiddish, and both in speech and in writing he was able to explain complex matters of medicine, so that everyone might be able to understand. His book, Ayer gezunt, popular-meditsinishe ophandlungen (Your health, popular medical treatments) (New York, 1959, 324 pp.), appeared only after his death. He died in New York. According to Dr. Gekhman: “Dr. Seykin is honest and precise in his description of illnesses. He does not downplay the dangers that are connected to a number of them, but he always introduces a warm ray of hope. His lengthy experience has taught him that the seriously ill can under certain circumstances live long lives, that this is dependent oftentimes on how the sick person behaves and the extent to which he works with the doctor. Dr. Seykin strives consequently not only for clarity as to what the illness consists of, but also for a certain regime that the sick person needs to follow. The good-hearted Dr. Seykin, with his boundless love for people and especially for sick people, cannot and will not issue a death sentence to anyone, and he offers each person a possibility to be ‘rehabilitated,’ so that he might avoid or even postpone a bitter fate…. Dr. Seykin has left us forever, but in [his book] Ayer gezunt he guides us further with talent and great expertise with his many years of experience, but an interesting and productive work in explaining and helping those who are suffering. A glance at his book, when you have a medical issue to resolve, will always give you the impression that you are having a chat with a beloved, a heart-and-soul devoted doctor and friend.”
Sources: S. Dingol, in Tog-morgn-zhurnal (New York) (February 22, 1958); M. Osherovitsh, in Forverts (New York) (February 23, 1958); Dr. A. Shtilman, in Keneder odler (Montreal) (August 23, 1960); Dr. Gekhman, in Forverts (January 31, 1960); Arbeter-ring boyer un tuer (Builders and leaders of the Workmen’s Circle) (New York, 1962).