Whoopi Goldberg, a star on ABC’s “The View,” confessed that she hadn’t been “as participatory as I should have been” with Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl (CCOC) mission to rescue children from Russia and Ukraine stricken by the nuclear explosion of 1986. She hadn’t been heard from since she served as guest auctioneer at a 1996 dinner.
That didn’t inhibit the group from presenting her with its Children at Heart Award at its fundraiser on Nov. 22 at Chelsea Pier 60.
“I will do better next time,” Whoopi pledged. “It doesn’t mean there’ll be a check coming,” she added.
She congratulated Robert Land, jetBlue’s senior vice president of government affairs, for accepting an award for the airline for its support of CCOC auctions for several years.
“I’m a Virgin girl,” Whoopi asserted. “I’m glad there’s competition. I will some day get on jetBlue — but I expect to be fed!”
Harvey Krueger, the former vice chairman of Lehman Brothers and now vice chairman of Barclays Capital, was given the Humanitarian Award.
He admitted he’d never been involved with Children of Chernobyl. But now that he learned how the organization saved 27,000 young lives in the past 20 years by bringing them to Israel for medical treatment and education, he’s a changed man.
“I came here a stranger but I will not leave as a stranger,” he said. “There will be a check in the mail.”
Jesse Eisenberg, who portrayed Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” revealed that his family originated in Ukraine. “At that time Ukraine was in Poland, then Russia, maybe even Kenya. Who knows?”
He said he recently visited a cousin, Maria, in Poland.
“She wants her family in America to think of her, to remember her, to Skype her occasionally,” Jesse said. “Similarly we should remember and help the Chernobyl children.”
Jon Voight, who’s been emceeing the dinner every year, was a no-show this time. He had a good excuse though — he’s filming in Alaska.
WABC-TV sportscaster Bruce Beck filled in eminently. While handing out the awards he allowed as how he grew up in Livingston, N.J., and had a bar mitzvah without having learned Hebrew. “I memorized my haftorah,” he explained. He chanted a phrase or two, to the delight of the 600 guests.
Tim Boxer is editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com.