BACKSTAGE AT ‘IRENA’S VOW’ TOVAH FELDSHUH RECALLS BARBRA STREISAND
“ Barbra Streisand was very good to me,” Tovah Feldshuh told me recently backstage at the Walter Kerr Theatre, where she stars in “Irena’s Vow.” It was my fourth viewing and her 101st Broadway tour de force performance in the role of Irena Gut Opdyke, a young Polish woman who saved 12 Jews by hiding them in the cellar of the residence of Tarnopol’s leading Nazi, a major by the name of Rugemer. Post-performance I brought my granddaughter, Rachel , backstage to meet Tovah. With us, waiting to see her, was Sheldon Streisand , Barbra’s brother, with mishpokhe in tow. “Shelly!” Tovah exclaimed as she hugged him. Seems Brother Streisand had been represented by Tovah’s father, Sidney Feldshuh, Esq., who, she declared emotionally, “at 83 had his second bar mitzvah.”
“Thanks to my father, I was able to buy house seats for Barbra’s concerts,” Tovah told the Streisand clan. “ Barbra” once called to ask me if she should build a third house in Malibu or direct a film.” As the stage manager was setting up her post-performance healthy dinner (after which Feldshuh does her treadmill work “to keep my body looking like a teenager not a matron,), she said: “The first time Barbra called me was to congratulate me when she saw me in ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’… She later called me when she was moving from her [Manhattan] apartment: ‘Do you want some of my stuff?’ I have some of her planters and an LP of ‘Yentl.’” While Feldshuh was eating her dinner — a plate of pasta, a huge bowl of salad, lots of green stuff, carrots, a plate of mushrooms, a tall glass of some kind of very healthy looking “soup smoothie” — we recapped some of our past backstage encounters.
MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE HONORS VISIONARY DEVELOPER LARRY SILVERSTEIN
“This is my bar mitzvah year with the museum,” said Larry Silverstein , Heritage Award honoree at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust’s 13th annual dinner, held at the museum May 18. President and CEO of Silverstein Properties, Inc., and a founding museum trustee, Silverstein signed a 99-year lease in July 2001 with the World Trade Center, only to see the trade center destroyed six weeks later, on September 11. “Despite the events of that terrible day, [the museum] decided to move ahead with construction on its new wing two months later,” said Silverstein, who touted the museum as a “place that celebrates life and survival in the face of horror and tragedy.” Co-chaired by Bernard Nussbaum , a partner at Watchtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and John Zuccotti , co-chairman of Brookfield Properties Corp., the evening’s stellar guest list included former mayors David Dinkins and Ed Koch ; James Cavanaugh , president and CEO of Battery Park City Authority; Asaf Shariv , consul general of Israel; a roster of the museum’s trustees; museum director David Marwell , and museum chairman Robert Morgenthau , who touted Silverstein’s not-so-well-known contributions to both the city and its Jewish community.
Dubbing Silverstein a visionary “who got through the dark times that [he knew] at some point would come to an end,” Morgenthau touched on such personal highlights as Silverstein’s 53-year marriage to, as Silverstein himself said, “my darling Klara ,” he also celebrated his “three children, eight grandchildren, the most important people in the world to me, in the day-to-day politics and meshugas that I encounter, [who] help me get through them.” Morgenthau highlighted Silverstein’s commitment to Jewish causes, his devotion to Jewish and secular communal service, and, especially, his generosity. “[Larry] donates space at 7 World Trade Center to nonprofit groups to hold fundraisers, community board meetings, art exhibits, gala dinners.” The roster included the SoHo Synagogue, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Foundation, Dia Art Foundation, the Cooper Union; the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, UJA-Federation of New York and local public schools.
In his welcoming address, Marwell highlighted the museum’s current exhibitions: “’Irene Nemirovsky,’ the uplifting exhibit which demonstrates the enduring bonds that were forged between refugee Jewish professors who taught in historically black colleges in the South”; and the just-opened “Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow.” Applying a term usually appropriated for real estate — “Location, location location,” Marwell spoke of the historic “location” of the museum as being among “important symbols of New York and American history that add to our strength and the power of our story — and [said] that we could not be who we are anywhere else.” And throughout the evening, visible from the museum’s row of windows overlooking New York Harbor, stood a majestic Statue of Liberty.
ISAAC MIZRAHI SHOWS ‘GREEN’ LOX COUTURE AT THE NATURE CONSERVANCY EVENT
“What a cool exhibit! We are trying to save our planet!” declared The Nature Conservancy’s president and CEO, Mark Tercek , at the conservancy’s May 13 launch of its Design for a Living World exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. For the exhibit, 10 designers were invited to create objects using sustainably grown and harvested material from some of the world’s most fragile places. Among the 10 designers that used sustainable materials that were showcased was Isaac Mizrahi , who made a cocktail dress made out of salmon skin, and Ezri Tarazi , who made a bamboo chaise. Mizrahi, formerly with Target and currently co-host of Bravo’s “The Fashion Show,” created his dress, with its floor-length train, from rows of iridescent sequins cut from Nushagak-Mulchatna Watershed Alaska salmon leather. (No cream cheese boa!) Tarazi’s lounge is composed of 5-inch bracelet-width bamboo segments (sourced from Anji Zhoumao Bamboo and Wood Industry, China) strung along a metal frame. Fabricated by Tarazi Studio with Rani Ltd., and the Industrial Design Department Workshop of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, the chaise is beautiful to look at, but probably not what the chiropractor ordered.
The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth. “It’s really about a new approach to conservation,” TNC New York State board chairman Joseph Gleberman said. “We can’t protect nature from people…. It’s all about products [and] the use of resources responsibly.” Each of these landscapes supports a distinct ecosystem and provides crucial livelihoods to local communities. Each one faces threats from climate change, deforestation and other destructive forces. In its declaration of intent, TNC notes: “Design can help us cherish inanimate objects. We must do the same for our sacred natural heritage and strike a better balance between consumption and conservation.” The event’s goody bag gift: an energy-efficient showerhead from American Standard. The exhibit can be seen through January 4, 2010.