American Comedians Stand-Up For Israeli Benefit

A childhood friendship has brought some of America’s top comedians to Israel in order to benefit a group assisting at-risk youth.

Ezra HaLevi,

A childhood friendship has brought some of America’s top comedians to Israel in order to benefit a group working to help at-risk children of English-speaking immigrants.

Thanking the crowd for causing the first sold-out show of the tour, Crossroads founder and director Caryn Green extolled the work that the organization does with at-risk English-speaking youth in Israel. “We seek them out, offer them a drug-free environment, help them find housing and jobs and graduate high school,” she said.

A handful of young people in the audience were helped by the program, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Green introduced Avi Liberman, with whom she grew up with in Texas; she made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) and he moved to California. Liberman warmed up the crowd with comedic observations of a lapsed Orthodox Jew on entering a Reform synagogue (“This place is NICE! I’ve been praying in a dump! Is that a Jacuzzi on the bima? It is!”) and Jewish day school sports leagues (“They really instill kids with a false sense of athletic ability – if we played gentiles, we’d get slaughtered!”)
Avi Liberman at Jerusalem's Yellow Submarine
(Photo: Jeremy Wimpfheimer)

Gary Gulman, the other Jewish entertainer of the four-member tour, humbly dismissed any notion that the comedians were somehow doing an exceptional thing by touring Israel. “What a great guy I am – I came to another country for free…I’m just sorry I didn’t pay attention during Hebrew school.”

The two non-Jewish comedians - Dwight Slade and Craig Robinson (‘Daryl’ on ‘The Office’) couldn’t help breaking out of their comedy routines to comment on experiences they had while touring the country. “I took a Schrute to Tel Aviv,” Robinson said, confusing the word for a shared cab (sheirut) with the name of one of the lead characters on his TV show. He also talked about visiting the City of David in eastern Jerusalem.
Dwight Slade
(Photo: Jeremy Wimpfheimer)

“Of course you guys are gonna be all critical of Avi and I and prefer the non-Jewish performers,” said Gulman to the crowd. “That’s what we do.”

The packed house laughed at all four, however. The tour continues Thursday night in the Gush Etzion town of Efrat’s community center, at 8:30 PM.