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One of the most acclaimed actors of his generation, Jon Voight has built a distinguished career playing damaged characters who somehow survive to see in themselves some "small light of God."

A native of Yonkers, New York, and a graduate of Catholic University in Washington D.C., Jon Voight currently lives in the San Fernando Valley section of LA. County. He will be seen Sept. 9 from 5 p.m. to midnight on Channel 13's "L'Chaim-To Life!" telethon to benefit the West Coast Chabad in Westwood. This Chabad has established the most comprehensive network of non-sectarian social service programs, operated under Jewish auspices, on the West Coast. Jon has participated in this event each of the last few years and helped make last year's the most successful local telethon ever. He recently spoke to WHERE Magazine about his experiences with the telethon and his life in L.A.

My involvement with the Chabad Telethon goes back about five years, when I became friends with this wonderful man. Rabbi Cunin, who has since become family to me.

He displays for me the same kind of spirituality that you see in a person like Mother Teresa, whom I consider to be a true living saint. They both have an enormous compassion for other people and try to help those who otherwise would get no help. Even though I was raised a Catholic, I have always tried to understand other religions so that in my travels I could be at home in any church or synagogue. For me Rabbi Cunin's efforts were something I needed to be a pan of and showed a spirituality that is part of all religions. I realize it may look funny sometimes to see me, this tall skinny blonde fellow, out there dancing with all the rabbis at the telethon, at least it's certainly funny to me, but there is so much joy and giving at this event that I want to be there. Everybody there has become part of my family.

One of the main ways the Chabad House helps other people is by providing shelter for the homeless. What I think we should do is get Washington to treat money the way the local people who are trying to help the homeless treat money. Local people at all different levels are capable of taking a dollar and treating it like $150, making it stretch because they have to in order to have adequate shelters and medical supplies; if we could get Washington to learn this economic system, we'd certainly be able to solve the homeless problem.

(WHERE/Los Angeles, Sep. 1990)

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