A MYRIAD OF GOLDAS AND A FOXMAN BOOK PARTY
It’s raining Goldas! First came Sholem Aleychem’s Golda, Tevye the milkman’s wife. In 1982, Ingrid Bergman portrayed Golda Meir in the TV bio-film “A Woman Named Golda.” In 2003, Tovah Feldshuh channeled Meir in William Gibson’s Broadway hit “Golda’s Balcony,” and she also portrays Meir in the new film “O Jerusalem!” Now comes Valerie Harper as Israel’s prime minister in the film version of Gibson’s play. And then there is Golda Foxman. Her husband Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has dedicated his new book, “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control” (Palgrave Macmillan), to her. At the October 9 book reception hosted by Jack Rudin at the Four Seasons, I spotted statuesque blond Golda Foxman chatting with height-challenged Ruth Westheimer. “You made the National Enquirer!” I informed the petite sexpert. “Vat! Ven?” exclaimed Westheimer, who rushed off most likely to call her publicist Pierre Lehu. I didn’t get a chance to tell her about the montage: sandwiched between a photo of Pamela Anderson and an expose about alleged sexual harasser TV host Bob Barker is a photo of a beaming Westheimer touting her book, “Sex for Dummies.”
“‘The Deadliest Lies’ is a book I wish I did not have to write,” Foxman told the crowd. “This book does not only apply to Jews but [to] anyone who [touts] democracy.” In his preface, former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz writes: “Those who blame Israel and its Jewish supporters for U.S. policies they do not support are wrong. They are wrong because… Israel and its supporters have the right to try to influence U.S. policy. And they are wrong because the U.S. government is responsible for the policies it adopts, not any other state or any of the myriad lobbies and groups that battle daily — sometimes with lies — to win America’s support….What impresses me most of all is the fair-minded and carefully judicious tone of Abe Foxman’s voice as it is heard in these pages.” Among the coming-and-going well-wishing crush at the reception, I managed quick chats with: Ed Koch, David Marwell, John Ruskay, Fanya Heller, Germany’s consul general Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth, Burton Resnick, Melvin Salberg, Henry Schleiff, Lally Weymouth and Roman Kent.
OBSERVANT ORT GRADUATE ADMITTED TO FRANCE’S ELITE ECOLE POLYTECHNIQUE
The buffet was luscious and — I was told — chairs were intentionally sparse to foster “networking” among the 300 suited guests at the September 25 Accountants & Bankers Chapter of ORT luncheon at the Grand Hyatt. Honored were Bruce Fisher, partner, Friedman LLP, and Joseph Pollicino, senior vice president of Wachovia Bank, N.A. Founded in 1880 in Russia, ORT educates 270,000 students on five continents, offering cutting edge technology and programs to assure long-term employability. I was struck by a headline in its summer 2007 journal: “ORT Alumnus Enters France’s Elite.” The story was accompanied by picture showing Jonathan Aflalo in dress uniform. Aflalo was one of 45 chosen from among 6,000 applicants for Ecole Polytechnique, France’s most prestigious engineering school. Founded in 1794 in Paris, Ecole Polytechnique alumni include Alfred Dreyfus, France’s former president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, and Andre-Marie Ampere, co-discoverer of electromagnetism. Coming in “first in mathematics and 11th overall,” Aflalo, a strictly observant Jew, studied for the entrance exam at ORT Strassbourg, which has 450 Jewish and non-Jewish students. Last year ORT Strassbourg became the first private college in France to offer a three-year bachelor degree course in collaboration with the Louis Pasteur University. A far cry from the dressmaking, tailoring and manual skills ORT taught during its formative years and post-World Ward II to Holocaust survivors in Displaced Persons camps in Germany.
“THE GOLDMAN PROJECT” A HOLOCAUST PLAY THAT RINGS TRUE
The further the world spins away from World War II, the more deconstructed, alienated and “artistic” Holocaust-related plays have become. This is not the case “The Goldman Project,” which realistically captures the confrontational dynamic of a survivor parent and second generation (adult) child. Written by Staci Swedeen, the two act show offers a pas de trios between Tony (Tony Guncler), son of a Holocaust survivor haunted by unresolved issues with his dead father; Aviva (Bernadette Quigley) an interviewer for Stephen Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation and in real life a daughter of a Holocaust survivor; and Naomi (Anita Keal), a survivor with an unspeakable secret. It’s 1994 in Inwood, N.Y., and Naomi’s accent, mannerisms, apartment and elegant wardrobe are time and place perfect. When Naomi’s revelation of the wartime event finally surfaces, it is as though a boil had been lanced and the threesome begins a process of healing. The play is intuitively directed by Joe Brancato (who, post-performance, confided to me that he grew up “a shabbes goy”). For mameloshn lovers there is a special bonus — the dialogue is peppered with beautifully articulated Yiddish. Also applause, applause to scenic designer Ken Larson and costume designer Patricia Doherty. You can experience “The Goldman Project” through October 28 at the comfortable — lots of leg room — June Havoc Theatre, Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex, 312 W. 36th Street.