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November 03, 2005 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-11-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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48

tory in any kind of detail, but
that became a very interesting
element of the piece.
"Half of my family is Jewish
and comes from Eastern Europe,
and my Jewish roots and heritage
are very important to the person
I am. This play about Golda and
her Russian background, the
leadership she brought to the
Jewish people and the develop-
ment of the State of Israel has
deep meaning for me."
Because the play has only one
character, Harper and Schwartz
have been working together more
closely than they would if there
were more cast members.
"Valerie and I have been talk-
ing about Golda's particular
cadence and accent:' explains
Schwartz, who has worked in the
area with a touring production of
Godspell, a play with music and
lyrics by his father, Stephen
Schwartz. "While this show is not
about doing an imitation, I think
there are certain patterns of
speech and ways in which one
places one's voice that help con-
vey who this woman is."
Harper, in working on Meir's
inflection, calls attention to the
time the Israeli leader lived in
Milwaukee and developed her
American English.

Jewish Friends

The actress explains that her
portrayal of Jewish characters
was helped by living in New York
and having Jewish friends.
"Ron Rifkin, a terrific actor
married to one of my very best
friends, worked with me and the
Yiddish I will be using;' reveals
Harper, who last appeared at the
Fisher as another Jewish charac-
ter in The Tale of the Allergist's
Wife. "Ron also taught me
Kaddish. There's a section in the
play where I say the first lines of
Kaddish, and I wanted those
lines to be accurate.
"Zvi Almog, another friend's
husband and executive producer
of the PBS series Israel: A Nation
Is Born, has tons of archival
footage of Golda, and I got to see
all that. I also went to the
Museum of Tolerance in Los
Angeles because Golda did so
much work with the survivors,
and I wanted to see the camps
that are mentioned."
Harper, who has appeared in
many Broadway shows, gained
experience for the one-character
production by co-writing and
starring in All Under Heaven,
which is based on the life and
work of Nobel Prize-winning

Golda And Me

Recollections of Golda Me it are very personal for
two senior staff members of the Jewish Federation
of Metropolitan Detroit.

oth Allan Gelfond and
Robert Aronson met the late
Golda Meir (1898-1978) long
before they came to Michigan —
one before she became prime
minister and the other after she
left office.
Allan Gelfond, senior financial
resource development officer, had
an informal introduction while
he was a teenager and Meir was
Israel's minister of labor.
Accompanied only by her driver,
Meir offered him a ride during a
day he was hitchhiking in Israel.
Robert Aronson, Federation's
chief executive officer, had a
more formal experience during
her retirement. While working
for the Milwaukee Jewish

B

Federation, he
was among a
group invited
to join her in
discussions
about the rela-
tionship of
Israeli and
Allan Gelfond
American Jews.
Gelfond
recalls, "I'm from Vancouver and
was attending a youth program
sponsored by Habonim. I was
among 60 students training to
become active in the Jewish com-
munity through a series of expe-
riences planned during the 1952-
53 school year.
"I was standing on the road
trying to get a ride to Tel Aviv

mariosdet ro it.com

November 3 . 2005

ni

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