September 18, 2018

Moms Use Celebrity Connections to Help Kids

The names Sharon Feldstein and Patsy Noah may not immediately ring a bell, but you’re probably familiar with their children. Feldstein is the mother of actors Jonah Hill and Beanie Feldstein, and Noah’s son Adam Levine is the lead singer of Maroon 5 and a judge on “The Voice.” 

The 63-year-old Westside Los Angeles residents, who have been best friends since they were 17, are now the driving force behind YourMomCares (yourmomcares.org), a nonprofit advocacy, awareness and action group focused on children’s health issues. 

The organization engages mothers of show business celebrities, athletes and social media influencers in attracting attention to its work with charities, such as the Children’s Health Fund’s financing of mobile health units that bring health care to youth in underserved areas around the country.

“We focus on the child in need — with money, with time, with influence,” Feldstein said. “We have mobile health units that go around the country to foster homes [and] shelters. We have a focus on pediatric mental health, because of all the gun violence. We’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.” 

The idea for YourMomCares grew out of a public service announcement for access to affordable health care that Feldstein, Noah and singer Alicia Keys’ mother, Terria Joseph, were asked to do in 2014. It received a lot of attention, and they were invited to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama. 

“We focus on the child in need — with money, with time, with influence.“ — Sharon Feldstein

Feldstein, a former costume designer (“Taxi,” “Dear John”), envisioned the branding potential of the organization’s name and the worthiness of its cause. Bringing aboard other celebrity mothers — including Donna Jordan (Michael B. Jordan), Lisa Oz (Daphne Oz) and Denzel Washington’s wife, Pauletta — they officially launched the group in January. Their goal is to expand the group to involve “moms that don’t have famous kids,” Noah said. 

The two first met as teenagers on a trip to Las Vegas with their boyfriends Richard Feldstein and Fred Levine, whom they would later marry. At the time, Noah, Richard Feldstein and Levine were attending UC Berkeley. Sharon, a high school senior, flew in to join them from her home in Jericho, N.Y.

Sharon (nee Chalkin) was glamorous and gregarious and Patsy was dressed down and reserved, but they bonded over a game of backgammon and became lifelong friends.

“I love Sharon’s spirit, her sense of humor and sense of humanity,” Patsy said. “We bonded over so many difficult things and so many joyous things. We’re nothing alike personality-wise, but we mesh very well. We can count on each other.” 

Celebrating holidays together, and with common interests in the arts, their children “grew up like cousins,” Feldstein said, noting that her kids’ talents emerged early on. “We called Jonah ‘Shecky Feldstein’ [after comedian Shecky Greene]. He was always hilarious. Beanie was singing since she was 4. She’d sing at Temple Emmanuel on the High Holidays. She could have been a cantor.” 

Noah said she knew her son Adam “was talented but he never thought he would be a singer.” Nonetheless, he formed a band in ninth grade and by 17 had a record deal.

Feldstein, who grew up Conservative and now describes herself as “a holiday Jew,” raised her children in the faith, and they had bar and bat mitzvahs. Noah, who is Jewish on her father’s side, was not brought up with organized religion. Her ex-husband, Fred Levine, is Jewish. “We’ve always raised our kids to be aware of their Jewish faith, the part of them that is Jewish,” Noah said. “Adam feels like he’s more Jewish than anything.”

Both women said they have endeavored to instill the importance of hard work and generosity in their offspring. Feldstein, who operates a celebrity management company and teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, where she lives part time, said she and her husband, a music industry manager, “worked our entire lives for everything we have. Whatever job I had, I never missed a carpool.” She added the key to raising “menschy” kids is “being menschy parents.” 

Noah, a retired school admissions counselor who has been married to Phil Bartolf for 25 years, said her famous son stays grounded by surrounding himself with childhood friends who “won’t take any crap.”

Feldstein takes pride in the fact that she and her best friend — with whom she still loves to play backgammon — have been able to parlay “the gifts that our children were given to raise awareness and give back to kids. I’m incredibly proud of that.”  

Noah and Feldstein said they don’t meddle in their children’s careers or offer career advice, and in turn they have not asked their children to promote YourMomCares. “If we do ask,” Feldstein said, “it will be for a fundraiser or something they believe in.” “But,” Noah added, “they’re certainly supportive and proud of us for doing this.”