The legislative effort to help victims of child sexual abuse in New York State got much more complicated this week as two competing bills have now been cleared to go to a vote on the Assembly floor.
The bills are sponsored by Margaret Markey (D-Queens) and Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) respectively, and have already set up a showdown, pitting survivors of abuse and their advocates — who support the Markey bill — against major Catholic and Jewish institutions, which are backing the Lopez version.
Being the first isn't a new experience for Rabbi Janet Ross Marder, the newly elected president of the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis. Twenty years ago, just four years after being ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, she became the first rabbi to lead Los Angeles' predominantly gay and lesbian congregation, Beth Chayim Chadashim. While there, she established a federation-funded AIDS education program for the Jewish community.
When Reuben Zellman was a girl, he didn't know that he wanted to become a rabbi. But since he began identifying as male four years ago, his Jewish involvement has become more intense and, with the support of his synagogue community, he realized that he wanted to become a leader of the Jewish people.
Zellman has recently been granted his wish with admission to the Reform movement's rabbinical school. He will begin his studies next summer. Sources say that Zellman will be the first transgender individual ever to study in rabbinical school.
It had big-money marketing written all over it. Every detail in the Soho gallery space was futuristically sleek and designed to impress the New Yorkers who, the company hoped, would be sold on shelling out $2,499 to get their DNA tested for 18 disease predispositions — but only after they enjoyed fresh pomegranate juice or a “Navitini,” a cocktail created for the occasion.
Munching on healthy hors d’hoevres, several dozen people milled among the computer monitors showing Navigenics videos of happy customers.
In the deepest early morning of March 7, on California’s Pacific Coast Highway, a gold Cadillac driven by a drunk ran a red light, hit a bus and then spun around until it smacked into a white rental car driven by a man named Gedaliah Shaffer. Shaffer had flown into California from Brooklyn that evening, and as an inveterate traveler began the journey to a professional conference with a little sightseeing on one of the country’s more scenic drives. But when the Cadillac hit him, Shaffer was instantly killed.
From the outside, it looked like Kenneth Cohen had it all. A founding executive of the software giant Oracle Corporation, Cohen worked for an innovative company in California’s Silicon Valley. With a wife and young daughter at home, life should have felt complete.
But something, Cohen says, was missing.
“It’s just inevitable that you say to yourself, ‘What do I want to pass on to this kid other than my stock certificates?’ I had to have a higher goal,” he says.
Steven Minns, a basketball fan in New Jersey, says he had trouble following the exploits of his favorite player, Davon Jefferson, a former star at the University of Southern California now playing professional ball in Israel this season. Then Minns discovered the just-launched Web site, israelifantasyhoops.com.
On his first visit to New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks a year ago, Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, from Los Angeles, was talking with some fellow Lubavitchers about a Jewish response to terrorism.
"What would the rebbe do?" one of the chasidim asked, referring to the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, leader of the Chabad movement.
"The rebbe would give New York City a gift," was the answer.