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.
The Schneider family of Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester is running out of shelf space. The bookcase in their living room is packed with the chess books, in Russian, that Dimitri brought from his native Riga, and the ones in English he bought after the family immigrated to the United States eight years ago.
There are the chess sets that Dimitri likes to buy. And the trophies he keeps winning.
The tires of three cars parked at the South Huntington (L.I.) Jewish Center were slashed while their owners attended pre-High Holy Day services Saturday night, and a few hours later in Centereach, L.I., other vandals scrawled swastikas and anti-Semitic and anti-black epithets on a public school.
Simy, a 75-year-old woman who was "well off" financially until four years ago, found herself alone and virtually penniless when her husband of 50 years dumped her for their 20-year-old housekeeper.
"I couldn't believe he would throw away 50 years for a young kid," she says of her husband, a retired engineer. "And she had an infant. ... He's 85 years old!"
Kicked out of her Queens home, Simy found a room in a private home on Long Island. "My Social Security payment covers the rent," she says.
The New York Board of Rabbis held its annual sermon seminar last week to permit rabbis to share ideas for their High Holy Days sermons. Rabbi Marc Schneier of The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach, L.I., and president of the board, chaired the discussion featuring spiritual leaders from all movements.
Jewish Week: What will be some of the themes of sermons this year?
An estimated 50,000 needy Jews in the city received special Rosh HaShanah food packages in the past two weeks, and UJA-Federation provided a special grant to allow those below the poverty level to receive food vouchers redeemable at their local supermarkets.
"We've been doing this for 20 years," said William Rapfogel, executive director of the Metropolitan New York Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty.