Pols talk issues at Bayside Jewish Ctr.

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The Bayside Jewish Center was packed Sunday with members of the Queens Jewish Community Council and politicians like Gov. George Pataki, who stopped by to attend the group’s fifth-annual breakfast.

State Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing) and Jewish community leaders Dan Friedenreich and Deborah Perelmuter were honored by the umbrella organization, which unites more than 90 synagogues and Jewish organizations in Queens.

“There are thousands of unborn children in the state who are alive because of Nettie Mayersohn,” Pataki said when presenting her with the award.

Mayersohn sponsored the state’s “Baby AIDS” bill, enacted in 1997, which requires doctors to notify mothers when their newborns test positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Before the passage of the bill, babies were tested for HIV, but doctors were not permitted to tell the mother if their baby tested positive.

“It was really an insane policy,” Mayersohn said. “As a result, babies were not getting the treatment they so desperately needed.”

She thanked the governor for his support of the bill, which she said she knew would be “a tough road to hoe.”

City Comptroller Alan Hevesi, fresh from a debate with his fellow Democratic mayoral candidates, praised Mayersohn’s work and echoed comments made earlier by Pataki on support for Israel.

His Queens rival in the mayoral race, City Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), also mentioned Israel, which he recently visited. He said he agreed with Pataki’s proposal to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, who is running against Pataki in his bid for re-election this year, praised the Queens Jewish Community Council for its public service.

The group serves immigrants, seniors and the needy and works to unite all Queens Jews, including those who identify with the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements, said Sandra Alfonsi, president of the council.

“This organization provides social services to a portion of the Jewish community that needs it,” Alfonsi said.

Daniel Friedenreich received the council’s community service award Sunday, his 80th birthday, for his work as president of the Bell Park Jewish Center and former president of the council.

Social worker Deborah Perelmuter was honored with the council’s Chesed Award for acts of loving kindness. Perelmuter, who comes from a family of rabbis and is married to Rabbi Mayer Perelmuter of the Reform Temple of Forest Hills, said she was thrilled to get a Chesed award.

She was recognized for her work as director of services to the Jewish community for the Jewish Child Care Association.

Pataki swore in new council officers and reinstalled many others at the breakfast, which was attended by about 250 people, including state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and state Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria).

They were joined by borough president candidates Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach), city council members Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) and Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst) and former Board of Education President Carol Gresser.

About a dozen city council candidates joined candidates for city public advocate and comptroller. Term limits will force all 14 of Queens’s city council members out of office at the end of this year, prompting more than 100 borough residents to run for office.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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