Honor Thy Father

  • Steve Schalchlin
  • Gary Crawford
  • Lina Orfanos
  • Mark Nadler
  • Eli the King of Broadway
  • Denise Spann-Morgan
  • Liz McKendry
  • Barry Levitt
  • Tom Gamblin
  • Sara Zahn
  • Anita Gillette
  • Julie Budd
  • Jim Brochu
  • Bernie Furshpan

By: Sandi Durell

One of cabaret’s most poignant evenings happened on January 12th, when Bernie Furshpan, manager-owner of the Metropolitan Room, created a tribute to his recently deceased father Moishe (Murray) Furshpan. – a Celebration of Life!

This wasn’t an easy story to tell about a father born in a Shtetl in a small village between Ukraine and Poland in 1931 to a hard working family of eight. When the Nazis stormed the village in 1942, raped, plundered and slaughtered the Jews, Moishe was 9 years old and became the only family survivor. He lived in the woods and somehow managed to endure with the help of others. Eventually, he was taken to Palestine by Israelis spending time on a Kibbutz and in the Israeli Army.

Overcoming unbelievable adversities, he worked tirelessly, ultimately meeting and marrying his soul-mate Zahava, who bore twin boys, Bernie and his brother, all making their way to America in 1963.

The evening featured many singers who had relatives that experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, some relating their own family histories.

Steve Schalchlin, at the piano, opened with self-penned “Somebody Save Me a Seat,” the evening progressing as musical director Barry Levitt took over; singers offering up songs centered around love of family with great heart, emotion and memories such as Gary Crawford’s rendition of Steven Lutvak’s “Museums;” Lina Orfanos sung in Hebrew; Mark Nadler offered a one-of-a-kind “Ragtime;” Eli-the King of Broadway sang Jerry Herman’s “Shalom” and “Milk and Honey” and Denise Spann-Morgan soared on the Exodus song, “This Land is Mine.”

Throughout, Bernie continued speaking about the man with endless soul and talent as a plasterer and craftsman – who plied his skills to such a degree that he was sought after to renovate John Lennon’s kitchen and bath. But most importantly, Murray was a Mensch (a person of integrity and honor).

The singers kept coming including favorite Met Room barman Tom Gamblin with spiritual treasure “You Raise Me Up” and Met Room’s stylish hostess Liz McKendry singing “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” Sara Zahn dug deep with “Papa Can You Hear Me” (Yentl). Nothing like a splash of shiksa to make sure the mix is right – Anita Gillette and “Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown” from Irene, in which she starred in the Broadway revival.

With Herb Bernstein at the piano, Metropolitan Room resident Julie Budd sang the dramatic Yiddish “Vi Ahin Zol Aich Gein” (Where Can I Go?) filled with her own great soul and passion.

Closing the evening was Jim Brochu with Larry Kerchner’s beautiful and heartfelt “A Life Without End.”

There is no doubt that Moishe Furshpan’s legacy will live on in the spirit of his son Bernie who is filled with the same loving generosity and soul – a true Mensch.

Photos: Maryann Lopinto