Celebs Raise Funds to Send
Food to Children of Ukraine

Story and Photos by Tim Boxer

ON VOIGHT, tears clouding his eyes, told how proud he was to help Tzivos Hashem, the Lubavitch youth organization directed by Rabbi Yerachmiel Benjaminson, in reaching across the world to send food, clothing and medicine to the street children in Ukraine.

Gabriel Byrne presented Voight with an award of excellence at organization’s third annual Joseph Papp Children’s Humanitarian Fund dinner at the New York Hilton.

“What Tzivos Hashem does is a beautiful process, a Jewish process,” Voight said, his voice breaking. “It’s what Judaism means to me – this kind of compassion. It’s the whole meaning of life.”

Byrne said when he was a student in his native Dublin he saw Voight in Midnight Cowboy and was “blown away.” At age 28 he came to America to pursue his dream to become an actor too.

Bruce Adler and Dick Capri

This spring he was in Australia for a film. His driver told him, “If you’re anything like that last guy I drove, you’ll be all right.” And who was that? Jon Voight!

Voight, raised Catholic, recalled the promise of Isaiah that God would gather his people and return them to their land.

“This great people have done their work,” Voight said. “The Jewish people have carried this great message of service to humanity, justice, law and truth down through the ages.”

The evening sparkled with Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Bruce Adler, Harvey Keitel, Tovah Feldshuh, Valerie Harper, and Hallie Kate Eisenberg.

Hallie’s mother Amy told me how proud she is of her 9-year-old daughter. A public school student in New Jersey, Hallie has already racked up 11 Pepsi commercials. The Broadway play she was in this season, The Women, aired on PBS in June.

The program, produced by Jerry and Jeff Cutler, continued with a couple of Catskill veterans. Van Harris pointed out that his roots are in Russia. “We were poor, penniless. Even the tsar was Nicholas.”

Dick Capri revealed he’s the only Italian who can’t sing. “I once sang and the price of the Mona Lisa plummeted.”

Jeff and Jerry Cutler

Martin Charnin, the legendary director/lyricist of Annie, recalled that what Papp loved most – aside from fighting with the Shuberts – was Shakespeare and Yiddish theater.

So Charnin wrote an amusing 10-minute playlet, From Bard to Worse, focusing on Yiddish actors grappling with Shakespeare. The cast included Bob Dishy and Fyvush Finkel.

Hasidic singing star Avram Fried came up with a story about a king who promised his daughter to the most talented swordsman in his realm.

A Japanese warrior stepped forward, opened a box, out came a fly, and with a swish-swish of his formidable sword, he brought the fly down, neatly sliced in half.

Dr Ruth with Jon Voight

A Chinese soldier opened a box, out came a fly, and with a swish-swish brought the fly down to the ground, skillfully quartered.

A tall bearded Hasid boldly stepped up, opened a box, out flew a fly, and with a swish-swish the fly landed on the ground.

“But the fly is not dead!” the king exclaimed.

“Dead shmed,” the Jew replied. “Circumcision – that’s talent!”

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