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Valerie Harper, from left, Rabbi
Yerachmiel Benjaminson,
Rabbi Benjamin Brackman,
Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Joseph Hecht and
Donna McKechnie signed their names on
the Joseph Papp Wheels for Life Bus.
Photo by Steve Shevett

Celebrities Help Ukraine
From Broadway with Love

galaxy of stars gathered on Broadway to keep the dreams of the late producer Joseph Papp alive by sending off a life-saving bus to Ukraine. Dubbed the Joseph Papp Wheels for Life Bus, the 24-foot long vehicle will distribute food and medicine to the country’s street children.

Matthew Broderick, Rosie Perez, Mandy Patinkin, Valerie Harper and Jerry Stiller showed their support by signing their names on the Life Bus.

The bus is a project of Tzivos Hashem, which raised the money through its Joseph Papp Memorial Fund. The fund supports the Benenson family orphanages, a food pantry and an eye care clinic in Ukraine. Meryl Streep and James Earl Jones inaugurated the bus fundraising at the first banquet in 2000 of the Joseph Papp Memorial Fund.

Tzivos Hashem executive director Rabbi Yerachmiel Benjaminson said that Papp, the legendary Broadway entrepreneur, “was never afraid to dream big. His vision gave us the strength to chase the dream of helping homeless children.”

The U.S. government, with the help of the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund, will transport the bus to Ukraine free of charge.

Adina Moskowitz of Great Neck, Long Island, conceived the idea of a life bus following a heartbreaking visit to Zhitomer, Ukraine. A six-year-old street child approached her, and Moskowitz was pained to see the little girl’s hollow cheeks and tattered clothing.

Her guide, Rabbi Benjy Brackman, director of Tzivos Hashem in the CIS, said there were 5,000 street children in Ukraine. About 10 percent are Jewish.

Moskowitz’s impassioned plea on behalf of the poorest children of Ukraine touched many hearts, especially Joseph Hecht who helped raise funds in the Great Neck Jewish community.

Besides bringing food packages to homeless children, the Life Bus will cruise the streets with counselors from the orphanage who will try to persuade the kids off the streets into caring halfway homes. When the bus is free, the orphans will be treated to ice skating trips and other activities.

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