Ben Platt, award-winner and supermensch, delights audience at JUF Women’s Division’s annual Spring Event

In a candid, casual conversation facilitated by his aunt, Wendy Platt Newberger, Platt regaled the audience with tales of camp, Passover, acting, singing, and his love for his Jewish mother. 

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Photo: Susan Berk, Overall Spring Event Chair; Ben Platt, featured speaker; Melissa Weiss Spellman, Women’s Board Vice President, 2018 Campaign; Jane Cadden Lederman, Women’s Board President. Photo by Robert F. Kusel

Grammy and Tony award winner--and more importantly, supermensch--Ben Platt delighted some 1,200 women at JUF's Women's Divisions annual Spring Event luncheon at the Hilton Chicago on Wednesday.

In a candid, casual conversation facilitated by his aunt, Wendy Platt Newberger--who also happens to be the Chief Operating Officer at JUF's partner agency, Jewish Child and Family Services--Platt regaled the audience with tales of camp, holidays, acting, singing, and his love for his Jewish mother. Guests learned that his favorite holiday is Passover, his favorite Jewish food is matzoh ball soup, and his bar mitzvah entrance was choreographed to the song "Walk Like a Man" by the Four Seasons. 

Platt also spoke about his deep emotional ties to the Jewish community and the role it plays in his life today. 

"A victory for me is a victory for the whole community, and a rough patch for me is a rough patch for the whole community," he said, sharing how his shows are always packed with a strong contingent of Jewish friends and family members clamoring to be in the audience. "My non-Jewish friends don't get that."

Following the discussion, Platt treated attendees to a special musical performance of two original songs from his pending solo album with Atlantic Records.

Susan Berk, Overall Spring Event Chair, also spoke at the event, congratulating the crowd on breaking JUF's record for largest Spring Event attendance ever. In fact, the event was so much larger than usual that event organizers had to book a larger ballroom.

"Chicago's Jewish women are a force to reckon with," said Berk. "A force that has come together for good." 

Platt is known for starring as Benji Applebaum in Universal Pictures' smash hit Pitch Perfect, as well as breaking new ground starring on Broadway in the title role of the Tony Award winning original musical Dear Evan Hansen, for which he won the 2018 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and the 2017 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical.

A Los Angeles native, he grew up attending Camp Ramah in Ojai, California, which he has called "the first place that I was allowed to decide for myself what kind of Jew I would be." His parents, Marc and Julie Platt, are nationally recognized lay leaders and philanthropists in the Jewish community.

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