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Ben Brafman and Dr. Alexander Swistel

Ben Finds Judith Leiber’s
Not Easily Amused

Story and Photo by Tim Boxer

S the perennial master of ceremonies for Israel Cancer Research Fund galas, criminal defense attorney Ben Brafman is able to polish his standup routine. Usually he succeeds to elicit a chuckle, a chortle, a titter.

He recalled a recent ICRF luncheon where he introduced the honoree: "Judith Leiber created a tiny evening bag that carries nothing, yet sells for thousands of dollars."

"She didn’t crack a smile," Brafman said woefully.

Undaunted, he reached into the realm of black humor: "This is Judith Leiber and she’s carrying a Kate Spade bag!"

"That joke goes better when she’s not in the room," Brafman concluded.

At an ICRF dinner this month at the New York Hilton, Brafman was on a roll with an audience of cancer surgeons and ICRF supporters.

He introduced the guest of honor, Dr. Alexander J. Swistel, the director of the Weill Cornell Breast Center. "You say Swistel as in pistol," Brafman said. "Say that to a criminal lawyer and that’s all he’ll remember."

Brafman praised Dr. Yashar Hirshaut, ICRF chairman: "He’s a great doctor who saved my wife Lynda, a breast cancer survivor. You come to his office at 9 o’clock in the morning and there are 100 patients already there."

Hirshaut also honored Judith and Isaac Sherman in the fight against "cancer terrorism." Mr. Sherman is a lawyer specializing in property tax litigation.

"I see the irony in all these doctors who treat women’s breasts," Brafman said, "and I spent the day defending someone who touched a woman’s breast."


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