From the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle:
"'Hollywood Nights' Jan. 28 at 18th & Vine
Meet "West Wing" star Josh Malina, participate in a Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament, tour the Negro Leagues Baseball and American Jazz Museums, swing to live jazz at the Blue Room and indulge in a dessert and martini reception at the Jewish Federation's "Hollywood Nights" fund-raiser at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at 18th & Vine.
The event is the local fund-raising kick-off for Operation Promise. Locally, Operation Promise Co-chairs Bob Cutler and Patricia Werthan Uhlmann are leading the effort for Kansas City's Jewish community to raise $950,000 over three years.
Josh Malina will begin the evening at the Gem Theater, speaking about "What it means to be a Mensch in Hollywood." Afterward, a martini and dessert reception catered by Lon Lane will be held across the street at the American Jazz Museum. Stacey Belzer and Polly Kramer are co-chairs of "Hollywood Nights.
The fun continues with a poker tournament, in which the prizes include a 20" LCD TV. Malina will play in the tournament, and a drawing will be held for a chance to sit at his table during the opening round. Instructional poker and blackjack tables will also be available.
Malina explained that, while he's been a longtime card player, his transition to the production side of television with "Celebrity Poker" was a matter of lucky timing.
Malina's co-executive producer "Andy Newman is an old friend of mine, an old poker buddy," Malina said. "We were at a poker tournament during a break, and I mentioned an idea that occurred to me on the drive over," namely the format in which celebrities play poker against each other, with the winnings going to charity. "He already, by strange coincidence, was already developing a similar idea. So we said 'Oh, my gosh, let's do this together.' It was just pure synchronicity."
Malina said he has long wanted to be involved in other aspects of the TV business besides acting. "But I don't have the skill set to be a director," he quipped.
"West Wing" Press Secretary and Communications Director Will Bailey is not Jewish, but Malina grew up in an observant Jewish home in New Rochelle, N.Y. He attended a Hebrew day school before going on to Yale drama school. He is now married and lives in California with his wife and two children in a kosher home.
Malina often appears on behalf of Jewish Federation groups across the country, as he will do in Kansas City.
"I do a bit of shmoozing, a bit of posing; I talk about the show," Malina said, "and then I talk for whatever requested length of time they've given me. I'm not an expert on any topic other than myself, so that's what I generally talk about."
Malina said that Israel and the Jewish people are "one of the things I care most about."
Malina said he went with his father, Robert Malina, on a trip to the Jewish state this past summer. While in the Tel Aviv area, Joshua Malina said, they visited an absorption center supported by the Jewish Agency for Israel, an overseas partner of the American Jewish Federation system.
"The idea of people coming to Israel as the place they've decided to make their home, but also as a safe haven, really resonates with me," Malina said. At the Kfar Saba absorption center, "We were surrounded by these people who had given up a lot and risked everything to settle in Israel. The fact that Federation helps people to do that and helps them once they are in Israel get used to radically different surroundings means a lot to me."