While recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor earlier this month, Cardinal John O'Connor composed his annual New Year's letter to his many friends in the New York Jewish community.
In fact, the 79-year-old leader of New York City Catholics has been sending heartfelt holiday greetings twice a year (on Rosh HaShanah and Passover) to Jewish leaders for at least 10 years.
First came the dogs. At 5, two years after he was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumor, Spenser Scharfman had developed a love for animals, and he told his parents he wanted a pet. “When you’re 7, we’ll get you a dog,” they told him. “We had no idea what that meant,” Stewart Scharfman says — they didn’t think Spenser would survive two more years.