Primary Instrument: Tuba
After growing up in New York, Eli went to Yale, where he majored in music theory. Although already an accomplished tuba player, Eli wished to serve people directly, and in his sophomore year started taking premedical courses. Perhaps the prospect of counting rests in an orchestra for much of his professional life helped this decision. But his interests in music were both in performance and in critical analysis, and the latter seemed to fit well with a career in science. His CV, incidentally, includes several publications on the development of jazz piano style. Eli graduated from Yale Medical School in 1966, and spent another year there as a house officer in internal medicine.
His next two years were spent in the Peace Corps, working in rural West Africa. After five years in a highly academic environment, this experience brought new perspectives on the realities of people’s lives. Working with other bright, socially aware, and idealistic Peace Corps people strongly influenced his appreciation of medicine in a social context. During this time, his values and priorities crystallized and Eli become interested in pediatrics. He returned to the U.S. to do his residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. During his pediatric training, Eli was impressed by the many unmet needs of abused and neglected children and their families, and by the inadequate responses of the health and child welfare systems. Still a resident, he organized an interdisciplinary child maltreatment team in the hospital to improve the care of these children. This was the beginning of a commitment he has continued for two decades to the field of child maltreatment and family violence.
Always conscious of the 'big picture,' Eli has been instrumental in drawing attention to the underlying environmental circumstances contributing to child maltreatment. This has been, and continues to be, a major struggle against a prevailing victim-perpetrator framework that is typically accusatory and narrowly focused on individual behavior. A degree in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health added more scientific rigor to Eli’s quest for a deeper understanding of child maltreatment. His broad perspective on the context of family violence has further shaped his substantial contributions to this field.
Eli’s contributions have been acknowledged with many honors and awards, including induction into Alpha Omega Alpha medical honorary society; the annual award for improvement of the welfare of children from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; the Pantaleoni Award for the outstanding contribution to the betterment and welfare of children, awarded by the greater Boston Committee for UNICEF; the Commissioner’s Award for outstanding contributions in the prevention of child abuse and neglect, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and the Humanitarian Award of the Massachusetts Psychological Association.
This excellence in the field of child abuse and neglect has been matched by Eli’s musical success playing tuba and piano with the New Black Eagle Jazz Band. Well known to jazz aficionados, the group has played in numerous festivals throughout the U.S. and overseas, and has cut more than 20 records. A rave review of the band in the New York Times hailed Eli as one of the outstanding tuba players in the country.
In addition to his enormous commitment to two professions, Eli is extremely devoted to his family. His close relationships to Carolyn, his wife, and Mary Helen, his daughter, are deeply satisfying. His admiration of them is always evident, and he is obviously proud that Mary Helen has joined the Peace Corps in West Africa. Eli and Carolyn, who is a child psychologist, have succeeded in sharing both their personal and professional lives, working together on several projects and often sharing the stage.
Eli personifies the word ‘mensch,’ a decent, gracious, and compassionate man. Immense intellect and profound caring about bettering our society combine in this powerful advocate for children and families.
Source: Dr. Howard Dubowitz
Eli Newberger/Butch Thompson/Jimmy Mazzy, The Men They Will Become - Jazz Takes on Male Character (Stomp Off Records, 1999)
The M 'N' M Trio, Halfway to Heaven (Stomp Off Records, 1997)
Jimmy Mazzy/Eli Newberger,Shake It Down (Stomp Off Records, 1985)
The New Black Eagle Jazz Band, The New Black Eagle Jazz Band at Symphony Hall (Philo Records, 1982)
The New Black Eagle Jazz Band, Classic Jazz (Phillips Records, 1979)
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