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Jon Voight and James Gandolfini

Edie Falco and Judge Judy Sheindlin

Nancy Spielberg and mother Leah Adler

Edie Falco, Dominic Chianese and Michael Imperioli

Sopranos Blast Benefit
Into $$ Stratosphere

Story and Photos by Tim Boxer

EW JERSEYíS ill-famed Mafia family, The Sopranos of HBO notoriety, blasted their way into Chabadís Children of Chernobyl benefit gala at Chelsea Pier 60 on New Yorkís West Side.

The five cast members caused a lovefest pandemonium. Everyone wanted pictures with the cast of TVís most recent smash hit.

A bewhiskered James Gandolfini (who plays the boss Tony Soprano) came with a crew that included Edie Falco (his wife Carmela on the show), Lorraine Bracco (his psychiatrist Dr. Melfi), Michael Imperioli (his nephew Christopher) and Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior).

"Iím a great fan of these people," said Jon Voight, who served as event chair with Jody Durst. "Itís impossible to have that energy last for eight years."

"I had the pleasure of growing up in a Jewish neighborhood," said Bracco, who was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and raised in Hicksville, L.I.

"I was the only Italian. I learned to get along with everyone. Everyone in the neighborhood embraced me Ė even the rabbi.

"On Rosh Hashanah the school bus came and nobody was on it. Next time the bus came I said, okay, Iím going to temple."

As a new mother with an adopted son, Falco said her vantage point has changed. "Everything is on your kids," she said in explaining why she came to support Chabadís efforts in treating 2,495 children stricken by the Chernobyl radiation fallout.

The fundraising dinner attracted 750 guests. Event chairs Nancy Spielberg and Tobi Rubenstein-Schneier also honored Julia and Norman Bobrow, Neil Book, Lindsay and Joey Schottenstein, and Joe Torre.

"Itís not very often that you lose your job and people are honoring you," said Torre, 67, who left after 12 seasons as coach of the New York Yankees to take up with the L.A. Dodgers.

Jon Voight and Edie Falco

Judge Judy and Michael Imperioli

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