Above: Linda and Steve Selig show support for Hillel and the Leven family.

Community leaders walked the red carpet at the Buckhead Theatre on Tuesday, March 29, to honor the Leven family, see an uplifting show featuring past Campus Superstar winners, and raise money for Hillels of Georgia.

“I consider Hillel to be my most important job ever. I’m into the fourth year of a two-year term,” Hillels of Georgia President Michael Coles said. While the organization’s spring Campus Superstar topped out at raising about $210,000 in past years, “tonight we are striking just over $300,000. And I am so proud of how the young people here shared how Hillel has affected their lives.”

Alliance Theatre casting director Jody Feldman, who stunned the audience with her rendition of “A Mother’s Prayer,” attends the benefit with sons Kevin (left) and Brett.

Alliance Theatre casting director Jody Feldman, who stunned the audience with her rendition of “A Mother’s Prayer,” attends the benefit with sons Kevin (left) and Brett.

Veronica Beskin, the director of Georgia Tech Hillel, estimated that the university has 600 Jewish students, 70 of whom attended a bagel lunch that day. “Hillel allows us to bring together Jewish students on campus.”

The Buckhead Theatre event, Night With the Stars, mimicked the opening night of a major movie with stars walking the red carpet and was meant to wrap up the successful Campus Superstar format. “This is the last year of branding this format; thus, we are saluting the superstars of past years competing against each other,” Coles said. “The format in 2017 will be totally different.”

Steve Oppenheimer, a member of the sponsorship and host committee, said: “I share the community’s response to tonight’s honoring the Leven family as over-the-top enthusiastic.”

He said Mike Leven has been a key part of Hillels of Georgia’s growth and success, including helping secure the Emory campus location for the Marcus Hillel Center and serving with Jody Franco as co-chairs of the capital campaign to build the center in 2006.

“Hillel provides a place for kids of any opinion or bias to have a venue for open discussion with other Jewish kids,” Leven said before the show. “The future of the Jewish people is in their hands.”

Leven’s three sons served sequentially as the emcees to introduce the five competing stars — Iris Kelly, George Lovett, Christy Clark, Sam Burchfield and Sandie Lee — who praised Hillel for providing financial support for them to complete their education or begin music careers. Leven’s wife, Andrea, read a heartfelt poem about his generous spirit.

Georgia Tech Hillel Director Veronica Beskin (right) is joined at the Buckhead Theatre by students (back row from left) Tommy Eichenblatt, Kevin Sloan, Scott Shapiro and Will Finklestein and (front row from left) Leah Giverz and Sarah Jane Lowenblitt.

Georgia Tech Hillel Director Veronica Beskin (right) is joined at the Buckhead Theatre by students (back row from left) Tommy Eichenblatt, Kevin Sloan, Scott Shapiro and Will Finklestein and (front row from left) Leah Giverz and Sarah Jane Lowenblitt.

“Leven has been a community builder, and I am proud to be measured among his friends,” Eliot Arnovitz said.

Two sentimental favorites brought down the house with their performances:

  • Jody Feldman, who was instrumental in putting together the Campus Superstar concept, harmonized with sons Kevin and Brett in a performance of “A Mother’s Prayer” that would have given Celine Dion a run for her Vegas show.
  • Leven himself took the microphone to close the evening, crooning the Sinatra favorite “My Way” as the audience leapt to its feet.

He is still doing it his way, thank goodness for Atlanta.

Photos by Marcia Caller Jaffe