Bruce Vilanch to headline historical society fundraiser

Bruce Vilanch to headline historical society fundraiser

Bruce Vilanch
Bruce Vilanch

The Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey hosts an exclusive livestreamed performance by, a comedian, actor, and Emmy Award-winning writer Bruce Vilanch on Sunday, November 15, at 7 p.m.

“We thought Bruce would be a perfect headliner for our annual fundraising event, as both he and the JHSNJ started out in Paterson,” said Ina Cohen Harris, president of the nonprofit historical organization. “We are so excited to present a native son in concert.”

For the last 40 years, the JHSNJ has collected and preserved documents, photographs, letters, and other items that tell the story of Jewish life and culture in northern Jew Jersey. The nonprofit organization’s collection area includes the city of Paterson, one of the main centers of Jewish immigration in northern New Jersey. That’s where Mr. Vilanch grew up; he went to the city’s public schools and graduated from Eastside High School. He went to Hebrew school and was a member of United Synagogue Youth, which he recalls fondly.

Mr. Vilanch’s performing career includes six years as a square on television’s “Hollywood Squares” — “to the left of Whoopi (Goldberg), if there is such a thing,” as he writes in his autobiography — writing 23 Academy Award telecasts, and winning several Emmys for his work.

Mr. Vilanch also performed on Broadway, where he met Bette Midler and began collaborating with her. A 1999 movie, “Get Bruce,” is about his work with many famous comedians.

“We are grateful to Bruce for giving his time and talents to our organization which is focused on preserving the Jewish history of his hometown,” Joy Kurland, the group’s executive director, said. “I know his performance is going to make us all laugh.”

Tickets for the performance are free. The JHSNJ is soliciting sponsorships, which start at $180. “The JHSNJ lost its main funding sources when the coronavirus caused the state of New Jersey to shut down last March, resulting in the cancellation of our annual fundraising event,” Ms. Kurland said. “We hope that our members, and all fans of Bruce, will be generous in helping to make sure the JHSNJ exists in the future to preserve this priceless history.”

As Mr. Vilanch says in his hilarious stream-of-consciousness autobiography, he “has done benefits for almost any Jewish, LGBT or AIDS-related charity you can name and has a shelf of Lucite awards from them that will be very dangerous to be around in an earthquake.”

For tickets, which include a link to the livestreamed performance, email the JHSNJ at

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