As you may know, Meretz USA’s board chair, Theo Bikel, is an internationally renowned singer and actor. At 85, he’s in extraordinary physical shape, looking at least 20 years younger. He’s also extraordinary in maintaining a busy schedule as a performer and as an activist. (I’m not simply kissing up to one of my bosses; he really is an amazing individual.)
He’s even a fine writer, as you can see from his article in the May/June issue of Moment magazine, reviewing a new translation of “Wandering Stars” by Sholem Aleichem. Singing Yiddish songs, as well as Hebrew, French, Spanish, Russian and in a host of other languages, is his forte.
I had the pleasure of attending a benefit concert in honor of his birthday a few days ago at Carnegie Hall. It was MC’d by Alan Alda and featured 30 or more performing artists, including Arlo Guthrie, Tom Paxton, the Klezmatics, Peter and Paul (of Peter, Paul and Mary) and the comic monologist of Yiddish, Michael Wex. Wex was hilarious as a singer. David Krakauer blew us away with his clarinet, and I could go on about other terrific performances.
The first half was good, the second half tremendous– and not only because the second half included Theo himself. But Theo did bring down the house singing Jacques Brel’s “If We Only Have Love” and reprising his role as Tevye singing “If I Were A Rich Man.”
True to his social activist side, the proceeds of the concert were for the benefit of the Juvenile Law Center, which advocates on behalf of children who get into legal trouble.