Seinfeld fills dream for ill Israeli boy

LOS ANGELES — When 13-year-old Ayal Beer spent most of last year at an Israeli hospital because of acute leukemia, his ordeal was brightened by regularly watching the "Seinfeld" television show.

So when the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which fulfills the requests of children with life-threatening illnesses, asked Ayal for his biggest wish, the answer was easy: to meet Jerry Seinfeld and watch him tape a show.

On Wednesday of last week, Beer's dream came true.

Accompanied by his parents and a sister, he watched for more than three hours as the cast taped one of its last shows on the tightly guarded set.

The climax came when Seinfeld himself walked over to the Beer family for a brief chat.

"It was great. I actually got to meet Jerry," Beer said later. "I told him how much people in Israel liked his show and gave him a T-shirt which said, `I Met Ayal Beer' in front and `Jerry' on the back."

Seinfeld, in turn, marveled that Israelis spoke such accent-free English. This was explained by the fact that Beer's parents, Leo and Nettie, are native New Yorkers who moved to Israel in 1975.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation in Israel, which scored a coup last summer when it arranged a meeting between young Yoni Dotan and President Clinton, was challenged by the tough assignment of lining up Seinfeld.

However, by pulling the right Hollywood strings, Lori Schaefer Bacher, the organization's Israel coordinator, got the green light two days before the taping.

She notified the Beer family, then visiting relatives in New Jersey, and the following day they were on their way to Los Angeles.

They were picked up at the airport by a limousine, housed in a luxury hotel and even got to visit Disneyland, said Leo Beer, a dentist in Rehovot, which is near Tel Aviv.

Make-A-Wish is an international volunteer organization, active in 14 countries.

The Israeli branch of the group, known as Mishalat Lev and founded a year ago, has fulfilled the requests of 43 children so far, Bacher said.

Tom Tugend

JTA Los Angeles correspondent