Gitel D., a college graduate, was living an upper-middle-class life in an apartment on Central Park West. Married to a professional with a doctorate, she did volunteer work for UJA-Federation, joining its Business and Professional Women's Division and sitting on its government relations committee.
"Then my life took a detour," she said.
Bernice Myones of Seaford glowed as she watched her mother sing, clap and sway to the music as she and nearly 100 other residents of the Gurwin Jewish Geriatric Center in Commack helped celebrate her 108th birthday. Asked the secret of her mother's longevity, Myones, 71, chuckled.
"I wish I knew," she said. "I'd bottle it and sell it."
Her mother, Ann Kierstein, seated in a wheelchair and alert, offered no insight herself.
"You live naturally," she said.
There were no political speeches given or placards raised among tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox who huddled under umbrellas Sunday in Lower Manhattan.
There was only the steady hum and slow sway of men and women separately at prayer, calling upon God through the Psalms to right what they see as the wrongs of Israel: its people and its government.
"Redeem Israel from all its iniquities," the crowd, estimated at 20,000 to 50,000, beseeched through the recitation of Psalm 130. "If you should take account of iniquities, my Master, who would survive?"
Forget kabbalistic gurus, feminist authors and Orthodox revivalists. The hottest speaker on the national Jewish lecture circuit this year may be a Roman Catholic Republican from New York.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is racking up Jewish appearances in major cities as he crosses the nation to raise his national profile.
"We are getting requests from all over the country," said Bruce Teitelbaum, director of the mayor's political action committee, Solutions America, citing recent and upcoming events in New Jersey, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Miami.
Jews hunting for Easter eggs on Passover? "Sacrilege," according to Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten. That's what the judge said last week during the contentious custody battle between billionaire Ronald Perelman and his ex-wife, Patricia Duff, over their 4-year-old daughter, Caleigh.
Attorneys for Perelman, a self-described Orthodox adherent, charge that Duff staged an Easter egg hunt and baked cookies during Passover last year while the child spent the Jewish holiday with her.
As she sat down for lunch at a Midtown restaurant, Sandy Cahn set her cell phone on the table. Within minutes, a client was calling. Minutes later, the phone rang regarding an appointment later that day at UJA-Federation.
Cahn, 50, who in July will become the first full-time working woman to head UJA-Federation's Women's Campaign, is already juggling her workload. She is not only vice president of sales for The Weeks, Lerman Co., an office supply and furniture company in Maspeth, Queens, but chair of the Women's Campaign in Manhattan, where she lives.