Foxman Fetes Feldshuh at New Run of ‘Golda’s Balcony’


By Masha Leon

Published October 31, 2003, issue of October 31, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

When playwright William Gibson’s one-woman play “Golda’s Balcony” opened last March at the Manhattan Ensemble Theater, reviewers proclaimed Tovah Feldshuh’s portrayal of Israel’s Prime Minister Meir as “blazing,” “sensational” and “extraordinary.” Nothing has changed in the recent move to Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre, except that the seats are far more cushy.

At the play’s October 15 opening-night celebration at the Bryant Park Grill, the crowd of well-wishers gave Feldshuh a standing ovation as she made her post-performance entrance, flanked by her husband, Andrew Harris Levy, and son Brandon. Free of makeup magic and released from prosthetics that transform her into the 75-year-old Meir, Feldshuh, in a knock-’em-dead strapless gown, posed for photographers as she exchanged hugs with fans and admirers, including Anti-Defamation League executive director Abraham Foxman, who came with his aptly named wife, Golda.

“What courage to take on this role,” Tony Award-winning actress Zoe Caldwell said as we nibbled on buffet goodies. “She’s just phenomenal!” gushed comedian Freddie Roman, whom I introduced to journalist Ruth Gruber.

“Do you know Hershey Felder?” Patti Kenner asked me by way of introduction to the actor. Felder reminded me: “You reviewed me in the Folksbiene’s [1994] production of ‘Stempeniu.’” Aha!

A composer and Steinway concert artist, Felder recently starred in “George Gershwin Alone.” His stage credits include “Fiddler on the Roof” and he has recorded “Love Songs of the Yiddish Theatre: The Music of Abraham Ellstein.”

“My wife,” Felder volunteered, “is Kim Campbell, Canada’s former prime minister [1993].… We met in 1996 when we were both in Los Angeles. I was working for Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation… as an interviewer…. I was asked to perform a concert for the [then] former prime minister…. It was love at first sight.… I later discovered that Kim learned to speak Yiddish when she was married to Nathan Divinsky. Kim is currently a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government…. We’ve been married for seven years…There is 20 years between us, and we are happy! Mazl un glik” (luck and luck).

* * *

And here’s another Foxman sighting: He was a guest at the September 29 reception at Bulgaria’s Mission in New York for its prime minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, hosted by Bulgaria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Stefan Tafrov, and attended by his sister Princess Maria-Louisa and her Polish-born husband, Bronislaw. (During World War II, the prime minister’s father, King Boris III, is credited with saving Bulgaria’s 50,000 strong Jewish population from deportation to Poland.)

* * *

A launch for Foxman’s book “Never Again? The Threat to the New Anti-Semitism” (Harper SanFrancisco), hosted by Jack and Susan Rudin on October 21 at the Four Seasons, felt more like a Jewish communal “summit” than a book party. Among the wine-sipping crowd were Samuel Norich, Samuel Pisar, Lester Pollack, Michael Steinhardt, Seth Lipsky, Kenneth Bialkin, Roman Kent, Robert Morgenthau, Elie and Marion Wiesel, Benjamin and Vladka Meed, and Stanley and Rita Kaplan.

“Who would have believed that we would hear such ugly, antisemitic hate, a call for a religious victory over the Jews by [Mahathir Mohamad], a leader of a so-called moderate civilized country as Malaysia,” a livid Foxman said. “Not since the ’30s has a head of state dared to utter such inciting hate…. Read the book, and help us change the question mark into an exclamation point!”

* * *

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who in 1965 founded the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, told the nearly 1,000-strong crowd of guests, diplomats and clergy gathered in the New York Hilton’s Grand Ballroom for the foundation’s October 14 annual award dinner: “We stand for live and let live… co-existence… dialogue.” Recapping his September 1939 flight from Vienna to Budapest and his survival as members of his family were exterminated in Auschwitz, Schneier vowed, “We are not going to be overcome by those who want to destroy humanity!”

The evening’s honorees were President José María Aznar López of Spain and Joseph Ackermann, a Deutsche Bank AG chairman. In his speech, which was translated into English, Aznar declared: “Free democracy and individual rights are the values that characterize a civilization open to the entire world.” He described “modern-day” Spain as “a responsible, dynamic and open country” and touted “the imperative, the need to listen to the victims of terrorism.”

“Without international cooperation and solidarity,” Aznar said, “it will be very difficult to eradicate terrorism from today’s globalized world.”

During dinner, after reading in the program notes that the Spanish president had once served as the “regional chairman of the ‘Popular Alliance of Castile and Leon,’” I told Aznar that, though I was born in Poland, my ancestors, the Calahoras, had lived in Castile in 1400 and that my husband’s family traces its roots to Leon.

Find us on Facebook!
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight":
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here:
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.