Joel Feiner

FEINER — Joel, MD, 82 years old, a community psychiatrist, died peacefully on September 8, 2020 after a long illness. Dr. Feiner grew up in Englewood, NJ and attended Yale College and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His commitment to community psychiatry was shaped by his post-medical school years working in a South Bronx community mental health center and by a trip to the south in the 1960s with the Medical Committee for Human Rights. He became a Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Social and Community Psychiatry at Einstein and Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the Einstein Montefiore Medical Center. He later became a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. At both medical schools, he received numerous teaching awards. He served as President of the American Orthopsychiatric Association from 2000-2001. Dr. Feiner was revered by patients, colleagues, and friends as someone who asked questions and listened intently to the answers and who inspired scores of doctors to devote their professional lives to the compassionate care of all people. His advice to those who work with individuals who are homeless: “Simply ask: how may I be of help?” His willingness to help rather than judge informed his 50-year public health career. “‘Them’ is the most dangerous word in the English language,” was one of his oft-quoted Feinerisms and one patient said, “As one of the ‘thems,’ you really made me feel like a ‘we.'” He will also be remembered for his deep connection to music and intimate knowledge of sports, and especially for his playful spirit, gentle heart, and profoundly loving presence. He is survived by his devoted wife, Gail Alexander MD, also a psychiatrist; three stepchildren; a niece and nephew; nine step-grandchildren, and several first cousins. May his memory be a blessing.

Published in New York Times on Sept. 20, 2020.