Up Front

Rabbi Laibel Wolf

How do you like your kabbalah? For those delving into the mysticalsystem of Judaism, there are plenty of choices these days. We won’tname names, but the menu runs from intense and concentrated tohalf-baked. For those of you who take your kabbalah on the thoughtfuland serious side, try sitting in when Rabbi Laibel Wolf delivers alecture on “Angels and Dreams: Their Mystical and PracticalImplications.”

Wolf, of Melbourne, Australia’s Institute for Jewish Development,is an eloquent and learned kabbalist, with a truly memorable knackfor guiding audiences through the misty worlds of Jewish meditationand esoterica. He’ll be speaking at Chabad of the Valley’s GutnickAdult Education Institute, Tues., Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m. For ticketsand more information, call (818)758-1818. — Robert Eshman,Associate Editor

A Jewish Computer Fest

Quick, name the prerequisite features of the complete Jewish home:mezuzzah, Shabbat candles, Chagall lithograph… and a computer.

These days a wealth of information about Jewish life and learningcomes through our PCs, from Internet web sites on the best mohels toCD-ROM walk-throughs of “Virtual Jerusalem.” On Sun., Oct 26, you canlearn all about Jewish software and Judaic websites at what Up Frontbelieves is the first-ever “Jewish Family Cyberfest” in SouthernCalifornia.

Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel andPomona Valleys, the Cyberfest will be held at the Pasadena JewishTemple and Center (1434 N. Altadena Drive) from 1-5 p.m. The festivalwill feature workshops with computer experts on such topics asInternet basics; maintaining a home Jewish computer library; Israelon the web; and keeping your kids safe on the Net. Plenty of web andsoftware demonstrations will take place on a dozen or so computers.

Federation president Doug Graff sees computers as complementingJewish learning in schools and synagogues. “The Cyberfest is a way ofbringing more of these resources to the community,” he says.Earthlink Network is co-sponsoring, along with several Jewishorganizations, and the ZInternet service provider will offerhigh-speed web access as well as a donation to the Federation forevery new subscriber they sign up.

For more information on the free event, call Phil Liff-Grieff at(626) 967-3656. — R.E.

Sarah’s Daughters Return

Several years ago, San Francisco writer/director Marcia Jarmel didnot identify as a Jew. She identified, rather, as a feminist and adocumentary filmmaker.

Then came the Orthodox wedding that changed her life.

Jarmel’s old friend, Linda, had been an outspoken feminist at hercompetitive liberal arts college. Now she had become ba’aleiteshuva and was marrying “a man she barely knew, in somethingakin to an arranged marriage,” the director recalls. Jarmel expectedthe wedding to be “disconcerting and uncomfortable.”

Instead, she experienced a “joyous, life-affirming, spiritualevent” and met several young, intelligent, college-educated women whohad “returned” to Orthodox Judaism. When Jarmel asked why, they toldher that they wanted to live in a community with shared values andfeel connected to their past.

The director was both skeptical and intrigued. These women did notfit her negative stereotypes; they seemed to have found the sense ofpurpose Jarmel felt was missing in her own life. Their stories werethe inspiration for her documentary, “The Return of Sarah’sDaughters,” which runs Oct. 24 through 30 at the State Theater inPasadena, part of the International Documentary Association’s”Doctober” festival.

To find her protagonists, Jarmel, now in her late 30s, interviewedmore than 50 women, from college coeds to former 1960s radicals toprofessional go-getters. She finally settled on Rus, a social workerand Chassidic Jew; and Rus’ friend, Myriam, “an intensely spirituallesbian” who wants to fit into the Lubavitch world. “The Return ofSarah’s Daughters” explores how each woman finds a place in theJewish community.

The documentary also focuses upon Jarmel, who asks “What do womengain and lose by making these [spiritual] choices?” In the end, thedirector is transformed by her movie. She marries a Jewish man, has ason, and must re-evaluate her own connection to Judaism.

For information about the screenings, call (626) 792-3540. —Naomi Pfefferman, Senior Writer

Touring the Blacklist

In the first-floor library of the Writers Guild of America, youcan walk through the most insidious period in modern Americancultural and political history. From now through January, the WritersGuild Foundation is sponsoring an exhibit on the Hollywood Blacklist.Composed of photos, original documents, back issues of moviemagazines and newspaper clippings, the exhibit takes visitors back toa time when your beliefs — or innuendo or lies about your beliefs –were enough to preclude you from finding work in Hollywood. The ideabehind the bite-sized exhibit is the familiar “those who don’t knowhistory are condemned to repeat it,” Angela Wales-Kirgo, thefoundation’s program director, told Up Front.

The exhibit is located at 7000 W. Third St. Hours are 10 a.m.-5p.m., closed for lunch. Admission is free. Call (213) 782-4544 formore information. — R.E.