The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, played host, on Sunday, April 22nd, to an evening of theatre, music and celebrity readings, that raised thousands in emergency funds to be sent to remaining Holocaust Survivors. An evening written by TV comedy director, Zane Buzby, and produced by Conan Berkley, Zane Buzby and Frances Fisher, used true stories of Holocaust Survivors, in the own words, that were read by such noted artists as Ed Asner, Frances Fisher, Elliott Gould, Valerie Harper, Lainie Kazan, Randal Keith, Arnold McCuller, Alan Rosenberg and Brenda Russell. Additional readings were given by Rabbi Moshe J. Kushman and Consul General of Israel, David Siegel.
See photos from the event below!
The audience sat in focused silence as the actors dramatically brought patrons the physical and emotional struggles of men and women, who experienced, as one letter expressed "... terrors that can not accurately be shared, even in writing." Testimonies that depicted first hand accounts of torture, rape and the mass murder of parents, siblings, sons and daughters, as well as overall message of hope and the power of the human spirit.
Accentuating an already passionate evening were haunting renditions of songs such as "Fields of Gold," "I Think Its Going To Rain," "Lost in the Stars,' and "Bring Him Home" by Randal Keith, Brenda Russell and Arnold McCutler. Founder of The Survivor Mitzvah Project, Zane Buzby, told the patrons that "... the greatest tribute we can give the victims of the most catastrophic human tragedy of the 20th century, is to honor their family members, who - by some miracle, survived."
Among those in attendance who raved about the evenings performance included child star Erin Murphy, who remarked, "Inspirational! In fact, I am a little embarrassed not to have known more about the plight of those who survived the atrocities of the Holocaust. Ignorance may be bliss, but sometimes, it is just ignorance. Ms. Buzby has created a uniquely educational and theatrical experience by which to raise awareness that everyone should see."
Academy Award-winner George Chakiris added, "This was a great and important evening. I'm so glad I was here. Wonderful work, by truly talented actors. Zane Buzby is doing something so beautiful." Cabaret sensation Barbara Van Orden, said, "God Bless Zane Buzby and The Survivor Mitzvah Project. What an experience this program was. Hearing the letters from the Holocaust Survivors was very heart wrenching, as well heartwarming."
Stage and TV star Holland Taylor summed the experience up by saying "Only Zane Buzby, or someone like her - if there is someone like her - who lives in the world of joyous comedy, would have the spirit and strength to do this noble work in the face of unbearable sorrow."
Ms. Buzby concluded the evening by thanking the audience for their support, "These are the people the world has forgotten. The people who are still alive. People who are isolated and alone - still living and struggling to survive in hostile environments. These are the people you are rescuing. These are the lives you are saving."
The Survivor Mitzvah Project is a humanitarian effort dedicated to helping elderly, impoverished and forgotten Holocaust Survivors, dedicated to providing direct financial aid to those elderly survivors scattered throughout Eastern Europe who are sick, isolated and receive no financial aid from any other agency. Their families and communities destroyed by the Nazis, they struggle to survive in their few remaining years, lacking the means to buy even the most basic of human necessities: food, medicine, heat and shelter. Most live alone in horrific conditions.
The project, by bringing help quickly and directly to these survivors, helps ensure that they may live out their last years with some measure of comfort, support, and dignity. These Holocaust survivors, isolated and forgotten, were not in concentration camps and so do not received reparations from Germany. They are from places that were invaded by Nazi mobile killing squads who systematically killed every man woman and child in thousands of towns and villages all across Eastern Europe. Many ran from the killing fields only to find themselves caught in ghettos and forced labor. Some fled to Central Asia where they endured slave labor and starvation. Most are sole survivors of their families.
Read more about the project here, and see photos from the event below.
Photo Credit: Bill Dow
Consul General of Israel David Siegel, Alan Rosenberg, Valerie Harper, Arnold McCuller, Zane Buzby, Ed Asner, Frances Fisher, Lainie Kazan, Brenda Russell, Randal Keith and Elliott Gould
Ed Asner and Company
Cast of The Mitzvah Project
Consul General of Israel David Siegel, Zane Buzby and Rabbi Moshe J. Kushman
Frances Fisher, Holland Taylor, Zane Busby, Ed Asner
Barbara Van Orden, George Chakiris and Erin Murphy
Alan Rosenberg, Elliott Gould, Frances Fisher, Rabbi Moshe J. Kushman, Lainie Kazan, Arnold McCuller, Brenda Russell, Randal Keith, Zane Buzby, Valerie Harper, David Siegel and Ed Asner