If you want to catch one of the more surreal events in downtown New York this week, head south west from the urban bohemia of TriBeCa to the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Wednesday night, October 9. Holocaust survivors, ballet dancers and a whole gaggle of New York County District Attorneys — past, present, assistant, executive, emeritus and presiding — will gather to buy wheelchairs at an event presided over by Conan the Barbarian’s arch enemy, Khalar Zym.
To reassure would-be attendees, Khalar Zym (and Colonel Miles Quaritch from “Avatar”) will only be in attendance as part of the repertoire of Stephen Lang who will be taking time out from being a Hollywood bad guy to be an all round good guy as master of ceremonies for the Musical Chairs benefit for the Rose Art Foundation. The music for the musical chairs will come from Anne Warin, the dance will come from Nile Baker and Giorgia Bovo (choreographed by Matthew Prescott, a Joffrey alum and resident choreographer for the “Billy Elliot” national tour) and the chairs will come from Invacare.
The event was dreamt up by the Rose Art Foundation which in turn was founded because of the later experiences of renowned Holocaust survivor, Shalom Yoran. Having taken a fall later in life that rendered him immobile, and finding other chairs deeply uncomfortable, he and his family found him an Invacare chair which, so his wife Varda told the Forward by phone, “made a tremendous difference in his quality of life.”
Author of the 1996 memoir of his Holocaust years, “The Defiant: A True Story of Jewish Vengeance and Survival,” Yoran was a self-made man who overcame his harrowing European experiences to enjoy success in Israel and then in America. Rather than through anger, his defiance seems to have played out as a resolution to endure. One of his legacies to the Israeli Air Force and to Israel Aircraft Industries (now Israel Aerospace), for which he worked before coming to America, was a robust system of checks and maintenance.