Challah-Chella: Shabbat tent at Coachella 2016


The 4th annual Coachella Shabbat Tent brought wine, challah, delicious Shabbat meals, Havdallah and other great programming to Coachella 2016.

Drake and Madonna share kiss at Coachella


Last night, April 12, Madonna showed up as a surprise guest during Drake's Coachella Valley Music and Arts performance, which closed out the annual, three-day Indio, CA music festival, and she planted a kiss on the Jewish rapper while performing her 2005 song, “Hung Up,” Rolling Stone reported. The crowd cheered wildly to the theatrics.  

While TMZ reports that Drake did not appear to enjoy the kiss, you can watch the video below and decide for yourself. 

Coachella takes place again next weekend, April 17-19, with the same lineup as last weekend. It will be interesting to see if Madonna shows up again, and, if so, if she kisses Drake again.  

Drake did not seem to enjoy kissing Madonna


Madonna’s performance with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 VMAs was a huge pop culture moment. And when she made out with Spears – and the camera quickly cut, hilariously, to a shocked Justin Timberlake – it was even bigger.

Then the tender age of 44, Madonna’s antics were sensational but not overly strange. Twelve years later, she’s involved in another high-profile makeout sesh, this time with former Canadian Bildungshow star Drake, nearly thirty years her junior.

And it definitely gets weird.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Drake to headline Coachella


Coachella, one of the summer's largest and most prolific music festivals, confirmed Drake as a headliner of this year's installment.

The Jewish rapper performs on April 12 and April 19.

Every year, music fans anxiously await the announcement of which bands and artists will appear at Coachella, which takes place from April 10-12 and April 17-19 this year.

The setting of the multi-day festival, which unfolds over three days and over two consecutive weekends, with duplicate lineups appearing each weekend, is the picturesque Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. It's like the coolest thing to do all summer-long, with droves of Los Angelenos heading out to the desert to take part in the festivities.

Surprise, unannounced guests are a thing at Coachella, which means there's a chance Drake's friend and frequent collabator, Nicki Minaj, will come out onstage with him. Let's just hope that Minaj leaves the Nazi-inspired symbolism behind.

Tickets for Coachella–full name: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival–go on sale tomorrow, Jan. 7, at noon.

For more information, visit coachella.com. Full lineup below. 

Israel Festival brings L.A. a taste of Tel Aviv


Eden Bennun craved a taste of Israel. Growing up in Kfar Saba and Rishon LeZion as a child gave her a love of Israel’s smells, sounds and foods.

That’s why she made her way to the Celebrate Israel Festival at Rancho Park along with about 10,000 other Angelenos (down from approximately 15,000 last year on a very busy day in Los Angeles). The April 21 event was hosted by the Israeli American Council (IAC), formerly the Israeli Leadership Council (ILC).

“I wish I could record the smell,” Bennun said, standing next to a food booth occupied by Hummus Bar & Grill, a restaurant in Tarzana.

Thousands of people walking around in Hebrew-lettered T-shirts, shorts and sunglasses, helped create a scene reminiscent of a beautiful day along the Tel Aviv beaches, but it was the aroma of Mediterranean eats that stuck with many.

[SLIDESHOW: Celebrate Israel Festival’s 'Top Jews of L.A.']

From the standard fare of shawarma and falafel to Jerusalem bagels with za’atar (dried herbs mixed with sesame seeds), the festival offered a range of Middle Eastern treats. An area called Café Tel Aviv provided dozens of options, including local kosher favorites Mexikosher, Toast Café and even a stand from Sadaf, the Mediterranean gourmet food company.

The sounds of Celebrate Israel, like the food, brought the Holy Land to Los Angeles for a day. Israeli pop and rock music blared from speakers until Mashina, a popular Israeli rock band that drew many late visitors to the event, took the stage around 6 p.m.

Thousands of people packed in near the main stage, where they listened to the American and Israeli national anthems and speeches by some of the event organizers and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. A sea of miniature Israeli flags emerged in the crowd as Mashina took the stage; the band’s performance was even streamed live over FMIL radio, a worldwide Hebrew-language radio station.

Anthem

Attendees at Sunday's Celebrate Israel Festival stand for the Israeli national anthem. Photo by Korey Johnson

Due to smaller crowds in the celebration’s initial hours, several thousand early birds were able to enjoy Israel without having to wait in line.

Person after person described how the food and environment reminded them of Israel, whether as their childhood home or as their religious and relaxation destination. Galia Dhari, an Israeli who now lives in Valley Village, said that coming to Rancho Park made her feel a part of her native land — for a day.

“It feels like a little bit of home,” Dhari said. “It makes me miss Israel more, but it gives me a little feeling of home.”

Bringing Israelis “home” — even briefly — and bringing Israel to Americans, was the whole point of the event, according to festival chairman Naty Saidoff. Saidoff and his wife, Debbie, were the presenting sponsors of the event.

“When we see the red, white and blue, and then blue and white, fluttering in the wind, we know this is all what it is about,” Saidoff said in a speech to the audience. “We brought you Israel — art, culture, agriculture, the past and the future.”

 

Attendees

Thousands of people stand in preparation for a musical performance from Mashina, a popular Israeli rock band. Photo by Abraham Joseph Pal

Jason Ramin, a native Angeleno, visited Israel for the first time 12 years ago. The sense that he was connected to almost everyone at the festival through that experience was what made it special for him.

“Last week I was at Coachella, and I didn’t feel like I was as connected to every random person in that setting [as] I am today,” Ramin said.

The musical variety and energy at Celebrate Israel didn’t quite match that of Coachella, which hosted 180,000 people over two weekends, but there was no lack of things to do. Kids could enjoy a puppy petting zoo, a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, other rides and even physical training activities with “Israeli Scouts” (Tzofim).

In addition to the remarkable variety of foods, there were picnic tables of adults playing backgammon (shesh besh). Adults and kids could take part in a drum circle in the respite of the shade; it was a sunny 80 degrees in the afternoon. There were dozens of vendors as well.

Timan Khoubian, who was born in Iran and now lives in Los Angeles, came to Celebrate Israel to join L.A.’s Jewish community in celebrating the Jewish state, and also to enjoy some Israeli food himself.

“It’s a part of my identity,” Khoubian said, holding pita filled with chicken shawarma. “It’s a reminder [that] I’m a part of a bigger community.”

Nadav Tzabari, whose permanent home is in Israel, traveled to the festival from San Francisco. For Tzabari, it was an important symbol of unity for thousands of Jews in Los Angeles — Israeli and American — to come together.

“I want the Jewish people outside of Israel actually to feel proud of who they are and of Israel,” Tzabari said. “It’s a safe place for them.”

Cultural Mix Inspires Revenge’s Warfield


Get out a pen and the map to Los Angeles. Now, draw a crooked line from the dense neighborhoods of South Central to the suburb-hubbub of North Hollywood. No, this is not a story about a Metro route but rather one about familial roots. Justin Warfield, the monotone-voiced, seductive lead singer and co-songwriter of the local nouveau and dark-wave group, She Wants Revenge, has roots that stretch across the city, and truth be told, he really doesn’t feel any tinge of revenge these days, because his band’s moody, dance-club-beat debut self-titled album has not only conquered the radio waves nationally, but is about to take on the avid audience at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival this weekend, too.

The music of She Wants Revenge is a mix of light and dark tones, soft and harsh feelings and complicated sexual innuendo. Taking a peek behind the public mask, Warfield is more than ready to get into those complicated feelings.

If one person could embody the diversity of Los Angeles’ cultural mix, it may be Warfield. The product of a Jewish mother with a Russian-Romanian lineage, who lives in North Hollywood, and a Southern, African American father, who lives in South Central, he always felt a little on the fringes as a kid. “When I was growing up, it seemed like I was the only person experiencing such a drastic sharing of cultures. But since then, I’ve talked to a number of people, and because of the liberal and progressive nature of the entertainment industry in New York and Hollywood, there are more of us than I thought.” In fact, Warfield developed a friendship with rock star Lenny Kravitz because of their shared backgrounds — Kravitz’s father is a Russian Jew and his mother is a Bahamanian American.

Whatever the outside world thought about Warfield’s “different” family, inside the walls of his grandparents’ beach house in Malibu the two cultures were completely unified, Warfield remembers. “Every summer we’d have my dad’s side of the family from South Central meet up with my mom’s side of the family from Brooklyn, and we ate together and laughed together, like any other family.” And to this day, Warfield still finds comfort and “a feeling of being with grandma,” when he sees a group of elderly Jewish women eating at a table next to him.

“I grew up around Jews from Coney Island and Brighton Beach who all lived during the Depression. My mother’s father inherited a business from his father, a well-known eatery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan called, Sammy’s Romanian, and my grandmother’s father was a cantor and a kosher butcher.” And although Warfield wasn’t bar mitzvahed and never went to temple, his family did celebrate some of the holidays. But Warfield contends that he doesn’t regard Judaism so much as a religion but more as a way of life.

“When people ask about the darkness or sadness expressed in our music, although there is no obvious connection between the lyrics and Judaism, it does make me think of sitting at the dinner table with my family, because if you grew up around the kind of Jews I know, there’s a certain sense of humor that they all have. One moment, you’re laughing while you’re eating, and then, two seconds later, tragedy will creep into the conversation, and then, in no time, you’re all laughing again. Humor, food and tragedy, what could be more Jewish?” Warfield laughs.

The mere fact that someone so seemingly happy as Warfield would end up making minor-chord dance dirges is, in itself, ironic, especially when you find out that he was introduced to hip-hop at an early age because of his father’s job in the rhythm and blues and rap music industries. Even Warfield’s first full-length solo musical output titled, “My Fieldtrip to Planet 9,” was a hip-hop album.

So how did he end up writing songs with DJ Adam 12, (whose real name is Adam Bravin) the other songwriter of She Wants Revenge? Warfield, a self-proclaimed skateboarder, met the slightly older Bravin at a junior high party, where the latter was spinning ’80s new wave music. But it wasn’t until years later — at the suggestion of a mutual friend — that they teamed up to make music and what resulted was She Wants Revenge. Their music is inspired as much by pop-rock royalty, Prince, as by those British goth-fathers of rock, Bauhaus.

The pair will get a chance to bring their music to the masses this weekend at the mega seventh annual Coachella festival near Indio. Warfield is excited about being part of a festival that features the best in new- and old-school alternative bands. Coachella is a great stepping stone for any band with the desire to become a household name — for it, 50,000 people camp out for two days in the blistering desert sun to catch some rays, while tapping their toes to hottest names in rock.

Warfield promises that those coming to see them will be happy with their time slot, which is a highly guarded secret up until the day of the show. He’s also hoping that after this performance, the music of She Wants Revenge will be a secret no longer.

Karla S. Blume is an arts writer living in Los Angeles.