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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Talk to God and her brother-in-law, and you'll hear very different appraisals of the kind of person Sarah Silverman is.
"You," the Almighty says in the first episode of Silverman's hit TV show, "are the most selfish, racist, manipulative, pompous human being alive today."
Her brother-in-law, meanwhile, calls her a "mensch."
The evidence appears to be on the side of her brother-in-law this fall, with the star of Comedy Central's The Sarah Silverman Program set to headline a fund-raiser next month for the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the ecological and coexistence center located at Kibbutz Ketura, near Eilat.
The fund-raiser, scheduled for November 29 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, will feature the entire cast of the comedienne's TV show - including her sister and co-star, Laura Silverman - as well as a stand-up routine by former sitcom actress Roseanne Barr.
Billed as "Comedy without Borders," the event is being organized by the US-based Friends of the Arava Institute, but was the brainchild of another of the comic's sisters, Rabbi Susan Silverman, who moved to Israel with her family last year.
The idea for including the show's cast, Rabbi Silverman wrote in an e-mail, came from Sarah Silverman, who will perform her own stand-up set as part of the fund-raiser. Though not officially affiliated with the Arava Institute, Rabbi Silverman is currently writing a book in its offices.
A regular film and TV presence since getting her start 14 years ago on NBC's Saturday Night Live, Sarah Silverman has shot to new levels of visibility and praise in recent years. Reviews of 2005's The Aristocrats widely credited the performer with besting comedy legends such as George Carlin and Phyllis Diller with her own, particularly filthy rendition of the vaudeville joke at the heart of the movie.
Silverman released her own stand-up film, Jesus is Magic, to critical acclaim later that year, and has further expanded her fan base in 2007 with her eponymous TV show, a politically incorrect farce that recently went on the air in Israel.
In addition to the verbal tongue lashing from God, the series's first episode features the actress vandalizing a convenience store, provoking a homeless man and admitting, only half-regretfully, "Totally, totally granted. I'm a terrible person."
That, however, appears to be the case only for the "Sarah Silverman" character presented on the TV show.
Besides the Arava Institute fund-raiser, the star's philanthropic work has included a contribution to I Am Jewish, the 2005 book in which figures ranging from a US Supreme Court justice to an Olympic gold medal winner share their thoughts on the final words of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter killed by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002. Proceeds from the book go to support the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which promotes cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music and other projects.
The comedienne is "not sure of a time to visit" Israel, Rabbi Silverman wrote, adding that Laura Silverman and the family's fourth sister, Jody, would be "coming to visit in the next few months."
"We're just thrilled that Sarah Silverman and her cast from Comedy Central have been generous enough to donate their time to support the work that the Arava Institute does," said David Lehrer, the organization's executive director.
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