Adath Jeshurun’s 92nd Street Y

[Archived from November 6, 2009]

by Phyllis Shaikun

After attending the third “Live at 92nd Street Y” program at Adath Jeshurun on Sunday, October 25, I was even more convinced of two things: how lucky we are to live in the age where you don’t have to leave town to take advantage of first-rate entertainment; and how fortunate we are that the congregation’s Vision Committee decided to include our Jewish community along with a handful of other places around the country in New York’s famous 92nd Street Y’s program that enabled us to view three varied and interesting programs via satellite in real time. How lucky is that?

The series began with Paul Krugman and Charlie Rose discussing the current economic crisis on September 22; and on October 8, Alan Dershowitz and Dennis Prager faced off to debate politics from the perspective of the right, the left and Judaism. The concluding session of the series on October 25 featured Susie Essman, best known as Susie Greene on the HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” who was interviewed by Joy Behar, one of the humorous and outspoken ladies on “The View.” At $7.50 per ticket for each show and dessert, the audience got its money’s worth and then some.

Behar, who is Italian but could easily be mistaken for a bona fide “member of the tribe,” kept things moving by asking Essman some free-form questions pertaining to her life – professionally and personally. Although not necessarily off-putting, the exchange between the women had its share of words that would have been bleeped had the show been on live TV. Essman commented on the fact that raucous language was expected and encouraged on her HBO show, but in a synagogue setting, it probably raised a few eyebrows.

By her own admission, Essman is “very Jewish,” but she married a Catholic fellow with four teenage daughters last year (her first marriage at age 53). She could not be happier. “I’m surrounded by Jewish business people,” she said, “with Jewish accountants, lawyers and bankers,” but her marriage to a non-Jew named Jimmy assured her that anything that needed fixing around the house would be tended to in short order! If he had been alive, she says, her father would have loved Jimmy and had lists of things to keep him busy. The program’s 90 minutes seemed to fly by.

According to Jon Klein, co-chair of the Vision Committee with Ruth Greenberg, the 92nd St. Y program will return in the spring when the offerings might include appearances by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg among other dignitaries. Updates will be printed in Community as they become available.

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