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  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 .… 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.