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Bush Babes Bring On the Bling


“Cancer is a wildfire… help stop it before it starts,” urged Dr. Richard Rivlin, director of the Ann Fisher Nutrition Center of the Strang Cancer Prevention Center, at the center’s March 12 Garden of Hope Gala. Rivlin emphasized, “We are what we eat, and what we don’t eat.” Adding dazzle to this black-tie gala at the Metropolitan Club were co-chairs Sharon Bush, Lauren Bush and Ashley Bush.

After acknowledging “my very patient husband of 53 years [N.Y. State governor Mario Cuomo], honoree Matilda Cuomo stated: “In business, it used to be location, location, location. In life, survival it is now nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. We need to teach children a healthy lifestyle by preventing diabetes, heart disease, even cancer.” The evening also honored Dr. Richard Osborne, chief of the Breast Center and attending surgeon in the department of surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He joshed: “My father would be proud. My mother would believe it.”

During our private chat, Rivlin revealed that his “family was involved with the founding of Israel… my mother was Sephardic, my father spoke Yiddish…. The family has been in Israel for eight generations since the 19th century…. There are streets named for Rivlin in Jerusalem, Petah Tikvah… a David Rivlin was ambassador to Norway, and a professor Joseph Rivlin was the first to translate the Koran from Arabic to Hebrew.” As for the family branch that settled in New York, he noted, “My father was [a] dean of City University in the 1960s.”

As the oldest dedicated American cancer prevention institute, Strang has discovered, developed and distributed some of today’s most effective cancer prevention tools, including the Pap test for cervical cancer and sigmoidoscopy for colon cancer. It was noted: “Strang research aims to diagnose and treat cancer in its early stages — before the need for surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.” Strang has launched Healthy Children Healthy Futures, an innovative child health initiative designed to reduce the high incidence of health and social-risk factors affecting urban schoolchildren and their families. Among those who helped make the evening a success were co-chairs and benefit committee members Michele Gerber, Jeffrey Klein, Cynthia Lufkin, Andrea Stark, Audrey Gruss, Iris Cantor and Somers Farkas.


At its first-ever dinner celebrating 50 years of service to the Jewish Community, The Academy for Jewish Religion honored retired justice Betty Weinberg Ellerin, currently chair of the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts and a member of the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics. At the March 19 jubilee gala at The Harmonie Club, Marc Alcott, event co-chair and president of the New York State Bar Association, touted the academy’s “inclusive approach in its training of rabbis and cantors for the community: “We are one people.… We welcome students, faculty and staff, irrespective of age, gender, learning style or sexual orientation.” Alcott — whose wife, Cantor Susan Alcott, presided over the hamotzi and also sang selections from the Pirkei Avot — informed that “starting with three ordained rabbis in the 1960s in this new century, the academy has ordained over 100 rabbis and cantors.”

In his invocation, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis and Jewish chaplain of the New York City Fire Department, cited examples of Jewish ecumenicism: “Services an Orthodox congregation held in a Conservative synagogue in New Orleans,” and “When soldiers in Iraq needed Torahs for the High Holidays, they were donated by congregations of all denominations.”

Ellerin — who is the first woman appointed to New York State’s Appellate Division, past president of the National Association of Women Judges and a member of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York — recalled “how my Jewish roots have influenced me as a person and consequently as a judge…. It was not so much Hebrew school or the lessons I learned there that were the real foundation of my ‘Jewishness,’ as it were, but the everyday examples and values of my parents and grandparents” who settled in the East Bronx after fleeing White Russia in the 1920s. “They never learned to speak English, but I soon became proficient in Yiddish — I even sent them Yiddish letters when I was away at camp.” Ellerin recalled how her grandparents distributed tzedakah charity — “a dollar, maybe two in envelopes — money was hard to come by in the midst of the depression… and no beggar who came to the door went away empty-handed or [without] some food.” Her European-born “Americanized” parents “followed the tradition and lived the lessons of their parents. Ellerin cited the refugees from Darfur who “have been given refuge in Israel… I am particularly proud that I, too, am engaged in that endeavor through my work in HIAS [the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society], and that Jewish voices are among the loudest condemning the genocide by Arab Muslims against their black-co-religionists and are seeking to help the victims.” She stressed: “We cannot afford internecine quarrels among our people because of ritualistic differences…. The academy, with its pluralistic approach to Jewish education, offers a home where all denominations can feel welcome and can join together to confront our external enemies — not each other.”


“We are here to celebrate those who teach the next generation… relief of suffering,” said Dr. David Kessler, keynote speaker at the March 13 Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. National Physician of the Year Awards dinner, held at The Pierre Hotel. Defining the patient-doctor relationship not as “an exchange of services but a contract of trust,” Kessler, dean of The University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine and also UCSF’s vice chancellor of Medical Affairs, and former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, railed at the “manipulation of science for political purposes.” Though allowing that “abstinence [is] morally right,” Kessler attacked the FDA for rejecting recommendations regarding contraception “because of politics — not science…. Don’t manipulate the science.… Without science, there can be no medicine…. Let doctors be healers.”

Emceed by Dr.Jay Adlersberg, health and medical reporter for WABC-TV Eyewitness News, the dinner’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients included Dr. Joseph McCarthy, Lawrence D. Bell professor of plastic surgery at, and director of, New York University Medical Center’s Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. He oversees the largest educational program in plastic surgery in the nation at NYU and has trained more than 100 plastic surgery residents and 25 fellows in craniofacial surgery, many of whom have gone on to assume the chairs of plastic surgery at other universities. To date, he and his team — The Smile Train —have performed 150,000 pro-bono surgeries on children “so they do not grow up embarrassed, ashamed or in hiding.”

Dr. Patrick Walsh, director of The James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital, was honored for his pioneering work in techniques that result in nerve-sparing that has reduced the probability of impotence and incontinence. “This is the men’s version of breast cancer,” Walsh said. “Medicine is a miracle and a privilege. I give my patients my home telephone number. I want to be a good doctor, and a tribute to the [patient’s] wife.”

Groundbreaking research in the area of neonatology by Dr. Maria Delivoria-Papadopoulos, professor of pediatrics/physiology and obstetrics/gynecology at Drexel University College of Medicine, has had a lasting impact on the health (and survival) of the world’s children. Delivoria-Papadopoulos’s successful use of a ventilator in 1963 at the University of Toronto saved a newborn weighing less than 1 pound. Thanks to her innovative experiments, today thousands of babies are saved worldwide. Of her neonatal research she mused, “All the babies we could not save [now] have sentimental immortality, but [they] gave their lives so other babies could be saved.”

The National Health Leadership Award was presented to the Honorable Nancy Brinker. She founded “Susan G. Komen for the Cure” 25 years ago in memory of her sister Susan Komen, who died of breast cancer at age 36. A recipient of the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service, Brinker, former U.S. ambassador to Hungary, is listed in Biography Magazine among the 25 Most Powerful Women in America.

Everybody claims, believes or hopes that their doctor is “the best” in his field. But for validation, it’s worth checking the Castle Connolly “America’s Top Doctors” references. Founded in 1991 by John Castle, chairman and CEO of Castle Harlan and former chairman of New York Medical College, and John Connolly, former president of New York Medical College, and based on peer surveys, the books now include “America’s Top Doctors,” “America’s Top Doctors for Cancer,” “Top Doctors: New York Metro Area” and “America’s Cosmetic Doctors and Dentists.” As my mother used to say, abi gezunt — just stay healthy.

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