Moving and Shaking: Irwin Field honored, Rabbi Ari Segal elected, Breed Street Shul Project ceremony

Irwin Field

Former Jewish Journal publisher and board chair Irwin Field was honored by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles on June 25 with the organization’s Tocqueville Legacy Award. The honor from  the local division of the anti-poverty organization came during its 25th Alexis de Tocqueville Awards, held at the Getty Villa in Malibu.

The ceremony featured a performance by actress and musician Tia Carrere and remarks from Tocqueville member and former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan.

Field, who remains a Journal board member and is CEO of Liberty Vegetable Oil, helped initiate the Tocqueville Society at United Way of Greater Los Angeles in 1988 while serving as board chair of the latter. According to the nonprofit’s Web site, the Tocqueville Society was created “to deepen individual understanding of, commitment to and support of United Way’s work.” The society acknowledges individuals who contribute a minimum of $10,000 to United Way and has raised more than $350 million since its inception. 

Mid City West community council board members includes new appointee Rabbi Ari Segal of Shalhevet School (second from right). Courtesy of Steven Rosenthal.

Rabbi Ari Segal, head of school at Shalhevet High School on Fairfax Avenue, was recently elected to the Mid City West (MCW) Community Council as a religious representative. Board members unanimously elected Segal during a June 12 meeting at the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles council house.

The MCW council helps give neighborhoods a voice in policymaking and influence over city government, according to its Web site. 

From left: Stephen Sass, board president of the Breed Street Shul Project; husband-and-wife Barbara and Zev Yaroslavsky; East Side Jews' Jill Soloway; and Uri Resnick, deputy consul general of Israel in Los Angeles. Photo by Joel Lipton.

The Breed Street Shul Project honored Jill Soloway and Barbara and Zev Yaroslavsky during a ceremony last month. The June 23 event, “Praise for Our Past, Raise for Our Future,” took place at the Autry National Center. The evening included a private showing of the ongoing Autry exhibition “Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic.”

A writer-director whose first feature film, “Afternoon Delight,” screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Soloway is a founding member of East Side Jews, a nondenominational collective of Jews on Los Angeles’ East Side that holds monthly events at unlikely venues. 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has served as an elected official for more than 35 years and is well known for his social-action activities on behalf of Soviet Jews and other Jewish causes. He has decided to leave public office at the end of his term in 2014.

His wife, Barbara, an ardent activist devoted to community and civic engagement, has lent her expertise to organizations such as the Zimmer Children’s Museum and Koreh L.A. and has participated in Latino-Jewish dialogue efforts. 

Established in 1999, the nonprofit Breed Street Shul Project has overseen the rehabilitation of the Boyle Heights-based Breed Street Shul. It works to bring together Jewish, Latino and other communities in Los Angeles. 

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Jewish War Veterans honor more than 20 World War II veterans in Culver City on Sunday, June 23. Courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) last month joined the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV) at the latter’s 75th annual statewide convention, where more than 20 World War II veterans were honored. The event took place at the Courtyard by Marriott in Culver City on June 23.

Lisa Zaid, Western region major gifts associate at USHMM, delivered a message of gratitude and hope to the World War II Jewish veterans on behalf of the nation’s living memorial to the Holocaust. Zaid also presented specially designed USHMM commemorative pins to each veteran. 

JWV provides nonsectarian assistance to veterans and advocates on behalf of Jewish issues. The USHMM in Washington, D.C., celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. It hosts programs, lectures, traveling exhibitions and more in Western cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle.

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more, as well as local events that featured leaders from the Jewish and Israeli communities. Got a tip? E-mail it to

Moving and Shaking: Chris Silbermann, Morton Schapiro and Lawrence Trilling honored

From left: Saban Free Clinic CEO Jeffrey Bujer, producer Andy Friendly, ICM Partners founding partners Chris Silbermann and Bob Broder and producer David Friendly. Photo by Christianne Ray. 

The Saban Free Clinic, a medical clinic for the underserved, honored Chris Silbermann, founding partner of talent agency ICM Partners, during its 18th annual Golf Classic last month. 

The tournament was held at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana on June 3. It is one of the largest fundraisers for the clinic, which has raised nearly $230,000 in funds this year and more than $3.5 million to fund medical, dental and behavioral health services since its inception.

Event chairs and co-chairs included music industry executive Irving Azoff, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chairman Rob Friedman, producers Andy Friendly and David Friendly, entertainment lawyer John Frankenheimer, NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert and Marcia Steere.

Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro addresses Valley Torah High School's annual trustees dinner. Photo by Yehuda Remer.

Valley Torah High School honored Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro with its inaugural Education Leadership Award last month, in recognition of Schapiro’s encouragement of religious tolerance and sensitivity on the Evanston, Ill., campus.

Under his leadership, “Northwestern has changed its climate, attitude and atmosphere … and is attracting more high school graduates from Jewish communities throughout America,” Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, Valley Torah’s dean, said in a statement.

Schapiro received the award during the Valley Torah annual trustees dinner on June 6, which took place at a private home in Valley Village. The dinner featured Schapiro addressing “The Role on Faith in Secular Universities.” Valley Torah alumni Rabbi George and Lisa Lintz chaired the dinner, which also promoted a scholarship fund of the Valley Village Orthodox school.

Recently, the mainstream media has spotlighted Valley Torah graduate Aaron Liberman, who played on Northwestern’s basketball team last year as a freshman. The team has accommodated the religious practices of Liberman, who is Orthodox. Lenard Liberman, Aaron’s father, was in attendance at the Valley Torah dinner.

Bend the Arc honoree and board member Lawrence Trilling with wife Jennifer Kattler Trilling and children, Jonah, Lyla, and Dahlia. Photo by Amy Tierney.

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice honored television producer Lawrence Trilling (“Parenthood”) during its Pursuit of Justice gala last month.

Bend the Arc CEO Alan van Capelle. Photo by Amy Tierney.

Appearing at the June 9 dinner at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Trilling — a board member of the social justice organization — described himself as “a storyteller who tries to ennoble the people portrayed in stories and expand the capacity for empathy in people watching them. Those are Jewish values, and tonight I’m honored to be in a room full of people who live those values.” 

Trilling’s TV credits also include “Alias,” “Felicity,” “Pushing Daisies” and “Damages.” 

A nonprofit, Bend the Arc advocates for progressive positions on issues such as immigration, tax reform and more. 

Approximately 400 supporters of Bend the Arc turned out for the event. Bend the Arc CEO Alan van Capelle and Serena Zeise, Bend the Arc’s new Southern California regional director, delivered remarks. 

In addition to celebrating Trilling, the gala recognized the California Domestic Workers Coalition, which has fought for fair labor standards for the state’s domestic workers since 2006. Bend the Arc is a partner of the coalition. 

Julia Cosgrove, joined by her family, submits Pages of Testimony to Debbie Berman, manager of the Yad Vashem Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project. Courtesy of Remember Us. 

During a visit to Israel last month, Los Angeles teen Julia Cosgrove submitted pages of testimony memorializing her grandfather’s family members who died in the Holocaust to the Yad Vashem Shoah Victims’ Name Recovery Project.

Organized by the Jerusalem-based institute, which is devoted to the research, documentation and education of the Holocaust, the worldwide project is part of an effort to recover the names of millions of Holocaust victims that remain unidentified.

Cosgrove’s grandfather, Gabriel Legmann, lost his three brothers and mother in the Shoah. Only Legmann and his father survived. The family was from Reteag, Romania.

Cosgrove, a student at the Harvard-Westlake School, is a participant of the Remember Us: The Holocaust B’nai Mitzvah Project. Run by Los Angeles nonprofit Remember Us, the project involves boys and girls remembering lost children from the Shoah during their b’nai mitzvah. Additionally, it has partnered with Yad Vashem to advance the work of the Shoah Victims’ Names Recovery Project in Los Angeles.

Cosgrove becomes a bat mitzvah this August, at Sinai Temple.    

Moving and Shaking acknowledges accomplishments by members of the local Jewish community, including people who start new jobs, leave jobs, win awards and more, as well as local events that featured leaders from the Jewish and Israeli communities. Got a tip? E-mail it to

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Sept. 29 – Oct. 5, 2012



Smithsonian magazine hosts a free day at participating museums, including the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, The Grammy Museum, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Autry National Center. Zimmer Children’s Museum, which is closed on Saturdays, will be open for Museum Day on Sunday, Sept. 30. Sat. Free (registration required, ticket information on Web site). Various times, locations.



Join the Israeli Leadership Council, MATI and Mitchabrim — organizations dedicated to strengthening the Israeli-American community — at this folksy Sukkot festival. Arts and crafts, Israeli folk dancing, sukkah decorating, kids’ activities and more make it a can’t-miss event for the entire family. Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. Warner Center Park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 466-6454.


West Hollywood’s celebration of the written word features more than 220 authors and artists. Speakers include “Saturday Night Live” alum Rachel Dratch (“Girl Walks Into a Bar”) and comedy writer David Misch (“Funny: The Book”); Journal columnist Bill Boyarsky (“Inventing L.A.”); political commentators Robert Scheer (“The Great American Stickup”) and Nancy L. Cohen (“Delirium”); novelists David Brin (“Existence”), Seth Greenland (“The Angry Buddhist”), Tod Goldberg (“Living Dead Girl”), Gregg Hurwitz (“The Survivor”), Stephen Jay Schwartz (“Beat”) and Jerry Stahl (“Pain Killers”); and children’s writers Amy Goldman Koss (“Side Effects”) and Eugene Yelchin (“Breaking Stalin’s Nose”). Attend writer’s workshops, poetry readings and performances, and peruse more than 75 exhibitor booths featuring publishers, booksellers and writing groups. Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free (includes admission, shuttle and parking). West Hollywood Library and West Hollywood Park, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood.



Comedian Sarah Silverman joins actor Russell Brand and singer-songwriters Catie Curtis and Mary Gauthier in headlining this Americans United concert in support of church-state separation. Mon. 7:30 p.m. $25 (standing room), $50 (rear orchestra), $100 (front orchestra). El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.



YouTube clips of the Pittsburgh native effortlessly freestyling are viral classics, and his records — including debut album “Blue Slide Park” — showcase Miller’s knack for lacing his rhymes with humor. The 20-year-old rapper makes a stop in Los Angeles as part of his Macadelic Tour. Hip-hop act Travis Porter and rapper YG also perform. Tue. 8 p.m. $30-$35. Nokia Theatre, L.A. Live, 777 Chick Hearn Court, Los Angeles. (213) 763-6030.



David Levinson, Big Sunday executive director and author of “Everybody Helps, Everybody Wins,” joins bioethicist Stephen Post (“The Hidden Gifts of Helping”) and Stanford University School of Medicine neurosurgery professor James Doty in a discussion about the latest in medical science and altruism. They draw on recent studies that found that frequent volunteering among older adults led to reduced risk of an early death, and that nonvolunteers were more likely than volunteers to experience a major illness. Moderated by Lisa Aliferis, editor of KQED health policy and public health blog “State of Health.” Thu. 7:30 p.m. Free. Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, 5750 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.


L.A. Opera music director James Conlon’s concert series restores two generations of composers that were wiped off the map by the Third Reich. Tonight’s chamber music concert features performances of lost works by Austrian composers Alexander von Zemlinsky, Arnold Schoenberg and Franz Schreker; and Czech composer and pianist Erwin Schulhoff. Pacific Trio and friends accompany Conlon. Thu. 7:30 p.m. $37-$65. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. (310) 434-3200.



Documentarian Barry Avrich’s latest film offers an unflinching portrait of Harvey Weinstein, co-founder of the Weinstein Co. and Miramax Films. Avrich turns to Martin Scorsese, James Ivory, John Irving and others to examine the influence that Weinstein holds in Hollywood. A post-screening Q-and-A with Avrich follows. Thu. 7:30 p.m. $10 (general), $7 (LACMA members, seniors, students). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bing Theater, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-6000.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Sep. 1-7, 2012


A folksy singer-songwriter (and rabbi of congregation Beth Shir Shalom), Daniels appears live at the Skirball to perform children’s music that carries a universal message. Come dance and sing along in Skirball’s scenic outdoor amphitheater. All ages welcome (children must be accompanied by an adult). Sat. Performances at noon and 2 p.m. Free (included with museum admission). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.


Television icon Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”) hosts tonight’s nostalgic celebration at the Hollywood Bowl, which honors Hollywood’s oldest major studio. Led by conductor and acclaimed film composer David Newman (“Anastasia,” “Ice Age”), the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra performs scores from Paramount’s rich history, including “Wings,” the first Academy Award winner for best picture, “The Godfather” trilogy, “Titanic,” action-thriller “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and many others. Special guests include Emmy-winning television composer Michael Giacchino (“Lost”); film composer and Grammy-winning musician Lalo Schifrin and Oscar-nominated film composer Alan Silvestri (“Forrest Gump”). Sun. 7:30 p.m. $11-$160. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 850-2000.

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb performs during Adat Ari El Early Childhood Center’s end-of-summer carnival. Set on the CBS lot that was home to shows such as “Seinfeld” and “Gilligan’s Island,” this daylong family event includes rides, entertainment, pop-up retail shops (SOTO, Little Rockstar Salon, Tough Cookies) and food trucks (Canter’s Deli, the All American Softy Truck and more). Proceeds benefit the Adat Ari El Early Childhood Center. Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $36 (adults), $18 (children), free (children under 1). CBS Radford Lot, 4024 Radford Ave., Studio City. (818) 766-9426.

Discuss the ideas behind artis Rothko’s large-scale pictures and the techniques used to apply various colors that appear to float on the canvas. Then paint a picture with a guest artist, using Rothko’s techniques and your own. This participatory hands-on workshop, part of MOCA’s Sunday Studio, has been designed in collaboration with Center Theatre Group’s “Red,” a play that spotlights the legendary artist Rothko before his death in 1970. Sun. 1 p.m. Free. Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 621-1745.


Produced by Beit T’Shuvah, a Jewish residential rehab facility in Culver City, this Passover-themed musical features alumni and residents of Beit T’Shuvah who use the Passover story as a lens through which to view their own journeys. The staging juxtaposes a 12-step meeting with a family seder. The music, a mash-up of original theater tunes, Jewish liturgy and forceful pop, with interludes of rap, plays as a constant underscore for dialogue that weaves itself into the music. Wed. 7 p.m. $50. Skirball Cultural Center, Magnin Auditorium, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 204-5200.


This USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education holds a two-day workshop that examines what enables people to resist racist ideologies, state discrimination practices or active participation in mass atrocities. Fri. Through Sept. 8. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Friday), 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Saturday). Free. Friday: University of Southern California, University Park Campus, 850 W. 37th St., Los Angeles.  Saturday: Villa Aurora, 520 Paseo Miramar, Pacific Palisades. (213) 740-6001.

The life of Australian animator Yoram Gross — from his childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland to Australia, where he created the popular animated series “Blinky Bill” — comes to life in director Tomasz Magierski’s documentary. At 85, Gross continues to create with youthful enthusiasm. The film follows Gross as he journeys back to Poland, accompanied by his teenage grandchildren, to revisit his past. Magierski participates in a Q-and-A after the 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. screenings on Sept. 7-10. Fri. Various times. Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (310) 478-3836.

A celebrity narrator guides us through the life of Natalie Portman — and what may or may not have happened — stopping along the way at all her major movies (“Black Swan,” “Garden State,” “Star Wars”) and life events in this sketch comedy musical. Fri. Through Sept. 30. 8 p.m. $18. Chromolume Theatre at the Attic, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 510-2688.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Aug. 25-31, 2012

SUN | AUG 26

The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony celebrates its 18th, or Chai, anniversary at the Ford Amphitheatre. The event features the orchestral ensemble performing fiery Spanish sonorities, dark laments, riotous folk and much more. The Aug. 26 concert marks the U.S. premier of “Klezmopolitan Suite” by Niki Reiser, a former member of the klezmer group Kol Simcha, and selections favored by the symphony’s founder and conductor, Noreen Green, spotlighting concertmaster Mark Kashper, cellist Barry Gold and clarinetist Zinovy Goro. Special performers include Sam Glaser accompanied by the newly formed Jewish Community Children’s Choir. Sun. 7:30 p.m. $25-$36 (general), $12 (full-time students, children 12 and under). Ford Theatres, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood. (323) 461-3673. or

The lead-up to the High Holy Days has inspired this exhibition featuring work incorporating found art, calligraphy, micrography, expressionism and more. Participating artists include Rae Antonoff, Aharon Aba Ben Avraham, Barbara Mendes, Freda Nessim, Yoram Partush, Sarah Devora Podolski and Rae Shagalov. Light refreshments, kosher wine and a chance to meet the artists highlight today’s opening reception. Through Oct. 12. Sun. Opening reception: 3-7 p.m. Gallery hours: Noon-7 p.m. (Sunday-Thursday). Free. Barbara Mendes Gallery, 2701 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 558-3215.

Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel — film exhibitor, radio broadcaster, theater manager and war propagandist — helped movies become the dominant form of mass entertainment between 1908 and 1935. UCSB film and media studies professor Ross Melnick, author of “American Showman: Samuel ‘Roxy’ Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry,” discusses Rothafel’s multifaceted career and his contributions to American popular culture. A book signing and a film screening follow. Sun. 3 p.m. $11 (general), $9 (seniors, students), $7 (American Cinematheque members). Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 461-2020.

TUE | AUG 28

The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival and The Jewish Journal present this exclusive sneak preview of writer-director Henry Jaglom’s family drama. Actress Pandora Isaacs (Tanna Frederick), stinging from a romantic breakup, retreats to the safety of her stage-actor parents’ country house, where her non-theatrical sister (Julie Davis) and her sister’s non-Jewish fiancé (Judd Nelson) are also arriving for the family’s yearly Passover seder. Journal Arts & Entertainment Editor Naomi Pfefferman moderates a post-screening Q-and-A with Jaglom, Frederick and Nelson. Tue. 7:30 p.m. $11. Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (213) 368-1661 or 800-838-3006.

A 90-minute training for adult family members and middle school and high school youth examines how to empower students and families to respond to cyberbullying and how to foster a culture of e-safety and moral action on issues related to online social cruelty. Adults and youth participate separately but reconvene for a community closing. Part of the BJE, Anti-Defamation League and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California campaign, “Click Responsibly: A Jewish Response to Cyberbulling,” an effort to increase awareness of positive online behavior. Tue. 7-9 p.m. Free. Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (310) 446-4233.

THU | AUG 30

Known for Ladino and Sephardic liturgical music in Hebrew with Sephardic melodies, the Southern California musical ensemble performs an “Evening of Sephardic Music” alongside flamenco dancers. Thu. 6:45 p.m. Free. Los Angeles Public Library’s Robertson Branch, 1719 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 557-1096.

FRI | AUG 31

Highlighting Yiddish culture and portraying a universal experience of carefree childhood, director Isaac Hertz’s documentary evokes the vibrant life of Jewish families in pre-war Europe through the childhood memories of Holocaust survivors. Started as an attempt by two friends to trace a family history, the project grew to a feature-length story of 25 people around the world and includes interviews with Shimon Peres, president of the State of Israel; Walter Kohn, Nobel laureate in chemistry; Robert Aumann, Nobel laureate in economics; and children’s book author Uri Orlev. Fri. Various times. $11 (general), $8 (children under 12, seniors). Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Laemmle’s Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (310) 478-3836.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: May 12-18, 2012

SAT | MAY 12

What if O.J. Simpson didn’t do it? The Journal invites you to the L.A. premiere of a documentary that examines that very question. Explore the evidence with private investigator William Dear, whose ongoing investigation into the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman comes to a conclusion that has yet to be explored. A panel discussion and Q-and-A follow, featuring Dear, Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson and criminal defense attorney James Blatt. Journal president and columnist David Suissa moderates. Must be at least 17 years old to attend. Sat. 7-10 p.m. $12. Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (800) 838-3006.

TUE | MAY 15

The master of narrative nonfiction appears in conversation with David Kipen, founder of the Boyle Heights used bookshop Libros Schmibros. They discuss Larson’s bestseller, “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin,” which follows U.S. Ambassador William Dodd, who arrives in Hitler’s Germany in 1933. Glamorous Germany soon reveals its true colors, but the State Department shows indifference to Dodd’s reports of Jewish persecution. Tue. 7:30 p.m. $20. Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 300 N. Clark Drive, Beverly Hills.

The out-and-proud executive at Bravo, who oversees development of shows like “Top Chef” and “The Real Housewives” franchise, discusses and signs copies of his new memoir, “Most Talkative: Stories From the Front Lines of Pop Culture,” which recounts how he became the first openly gay late-night talk show host, an Emmy winner and network head. Wristbanded event. Tue. 7 p.m. Free. Barnes and Nobles at The Grove, 189 Grove Drive, Suite K 30, Los Angeles. (323) 525-0270.

WED | MAY 16

Journal president and columnist David Suissa debates Peter Beinart, author of the controversial book, “The Crisis of Zionism,” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Temple Israel of Hollywood’s Rabbi John Rosove moderates the discussion on the lack of progress in peace talks — Beinart acknowledges acts of violence on the Palestinians’ part but faults Israeli policies; Suissa ascribes blame to the Palestinian Authority’s use of incitement against Jews. Wed. 7 p.m. Free. Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 876-8330.

The National Council of Jewish Women holds an educational program advocating for reproductive freedom and addressing the current pushback against feminism. Actress and activist Tyne Daly (“Judging Amy”); American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney Maggie Crosby; Serena Josel, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles; Linda Long, vice president of California National Organization for Women; and Kaya Masler, a USC student and political organizer, participate in a panel discussion. Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks moderates. Light refreshments served. Wed. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Free. NCJW/LA Council House, 543 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. RSVP (323) 852-8503.

Israeli musicologist and pianist Astrith Baltsan’s concert reveals the surprising origins of Israel’s national anthem, which has its roots in an ancient Sephardic prayer, classical music by Mozart, Chopin and Smetana, and a Romanian immigrant folk song. Presented by Mati and the Consulate General of Israel. Cocktail reception included. Wed. 7:30 p.m. (cocktails), 8:30 p.m. (program). $50 (advance), $60 (door). Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills. (323) 351-7021.

THU | MAY 17

The new Skirball exhibition explores how a Chinese game became an American Jewish tradition, influencing fashion, style and cultural identity. Mah jongg-inspired contemporary works by Isaac Mizrahi, Bruce McCall and Maira Kalman accompany mah jongg sets and rulebooks, newspaper articles and vintage photographs. Visitors are encouraged to play at tables set up throughout the Skirball. Included with museum admission. Thu. Through Sept. 2. Noon-5 p.m. (Tuesday-Friday), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Saturday, Sunday). $10 (general), $7 (seniors, students), $5 (children, 2-12), free (members, children under 2). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

The veteran “CBS Evening News” anchor discusses his new memoir, “Rather Outspoken: My Life in News,” with Journal columnist Kaplan, the Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Thu. 7:30 p.m. $20. Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills.




Hike Griffith Park and relax in Amir’s Garden ( with the young professionals of Valley Ruach. A barbecue and picnic with kosher and veggie hot dogs and salads follows. Wear sturdy and comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat. The easy hike lasts between 90 minutes and two hours. Sun. 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. $4 (members), $6 (general). Meets at: Mineral Wells Picnic Area, Griffith Park Drive (near Harding Golf Course), Los Angeles. (818) 835-2139.


JConnectLA and Jewlicious invite 20- and 30-somethings to their annual Lag b’omer party at Dockweiler State Beach. Bonfires, music and games rage along the shoreline. Make sure to bring to bring guitars, tambourines or bongos to take part in jam sessions.  Last year, 600 people turned out. Don’t forget to bring a coat. Sinai Temple’s AtidLA participates. Wed. 6-10 p.m. Free. Dockweiler State Beach, 12501 Vista Del Mar, Playa del Rey. (310) 277-5544.


Orthodox singer Lipa Schmeltzer blends music and comedy; the Cheder Menachem Boys Choir and a juggler perform, and The Jewish Journal’s David Suissa and Rabbi Shlomo Cunin of Chabad-Lubavitch of California speak. Hebrew Academy Huntington Beach, Conejo Jewish Day School, Cheder Menachem, Bais Chaya Mushka Chabad, Congregation Kol Yakov Yehuda and others attend. Organized by Chabad Youth Programs. Thu. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. $18 (general, advance), $25 (general), $54 (premium seating, advance), $75 (premium). Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (424) 242-2239.

Juggling sensation Josh Horton infuses his show with comedy and audience participation at tonight’s Lag B’omer celebration.  Plus, a moon-bounce, music, bonfire and roasted marshmallows please all ages. Thu. 5:30 p.m. $10 (adults), $5 (children, 13 and under). Chabad of Calabasas, 3871 Old Topanga Canyon Road, Calabasas. (818) 222-3838.

7:00 pm
Dockweiler State Beach
Playa Del Rey between lifeguard stations 52 & 53
Join Rabbi Naomi Levy and members of the Nashuva Band for a nighttime bonfire, kosher hot dogs, fresh homemade hummous, S’mores and the traditional (for Nashuva anyway) bubbling kettle of fresh, sweet mint tea.  Every one of all ages is welcome!  We’ll have a drumming circle and plenty of singing. For more information see  There is no cost, but please RSVP at  Bring a blanket and dress warmly.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Feb. 25-Mar. 2, 2012

SUN | FEB 26

American Friends of Tel Aviv University holds mini-classes with renowned Tel Aviv University academics, including “Birds: The Middle East’s Peacemakers” with ornithologist Yossi Leshem, “Should You Know Your Genome?” with genetics professor Karen Avraham, “Human Rights in a Multicultural Society” with law professor Nili Cohen, “A Simple Blood Test to Detect Cancer (Really!)” with chemistry professor Fernando Patolsky, and “What Will the ‘Arab Summer’ Bring?” with Middle Eastern and African studies professor Uzi Rabi. Sun. 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $54. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 553-5232.

The new exhibition by artists Lauren Evans, Carol Goldmark and Jamie Sweetman opens today. Their drawings, paintings and sculpture/installations draw on nature in unexpected ways. Today, the public is invited to a free “meet the artists” reception. Sun. Through May 18. Reception: 4-6 p.m. Regular gallery hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (Sunday-Thursday), 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Friday). American Jewish University, Platt and Borstein Galleries, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 476-9777.

Clergy and scholars appear during tonight’s discussion, which seeks to break barriers between religious faiths. Participants, including IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous, the Rev. Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, Muslim Public Affairs Council President Salam al-Marayati, Fuller Theological Seminary President Richard Mouw and Princeton University religion professor Jeffrey Stout, explore the interplay of cultures, peoples, and faiths in Los Angeles and beyond. Diane Winston, the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at USC, moderates. Organized by the UCLA Center for the Study of Religion, and co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. Sun. 5-7 p.m. Free. UCLA, James Bridges Theatre, Los Angeles. (310) 206-1396.

TUE | FEB 28

Gabler, author of “An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood,” is joined by a star-studded panel that includes actor-director Carl Reiner, Leonard Nimoy (“Star Trek”), Jeff Garlin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Marta Kauffman (co-creator, “Friends”) and Philip Rosenthal (creator, “Everybody Loves Raymond”). Tue.  7 p.m. Free (Temple Israel of Hollywood members), $10 (general). Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. RSVP by Feb. 27. (323) 876-8330.

Satirist, writer and stand-up comedian Borowitz, editor of New York Times best-seller “The 50 Funniest American Writers: An Anthology of Humor From Mark Twain to the Onion,” dishes on politics and humor with the infamously witty stand-up comedian Oswalt, who recently authored, “Zombie Spaceship Wasteland.” Tue. 7:30 p.m. $20. Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. writersblocpresents.

The Clippers play the Minnesota Timberwolves during Jewish Pride Night at Staples Center. An Israeli dance team performs at half time, and attendees receive a free T-shirt. GesherCity Long Beach, a young adults organization, provides discounted tickets. Tue. 7:30 p.m. $28 (GesherCity), $15-$1,500 (Ticketmaster). Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles.  (562) 426-7601 (GesherCity), (888) 895-8662 (L.A. Clippers).

The veteran Israeli hip-hop ensemble performs tonight at The Colony in Hollywood. Hadag Nahash blends Western pop influences, funk and world music. The group also leads a free interactive workshop—including informal acoustic demonstrations and a discussion on the group’s history, musical influences and engagement with social issues—at UCLA earlier in the day (1-2:30 p.m., visit for details). On Wednesday, Rutgers University Jewish studies professor Azzan Yadin discusses the use of the Hebrew literary canon in the band’s lyrics (noon-2 p.m., free, also at UCLA). Concert: Tue. 8 p.m. $20 (UCLA students), $40 (general), $100 (VIP). The Colony, 1743 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 525-2450.


Friends of Ma’aleh Film School screens three short films produced by the school, including “Barriers,” which took the top prize for best short film at the Jerusalem Film Festival, “A Jerusalem Tale” and “The Breakfast Parliament.” A panel discussion with Neta Ariel, Ma’aleh’s school director, as well as “Barriers” director Golan Rise, producer Ohad Domb and actor Hillel Kabub follows. Journal Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Rob Eshman moderates. Co-sponsored by the Museum of Tolerance and The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Thu. 7-10 p.m. $10 (Museum of Tolerance members), $15 (general). Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 772-2505.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: December 4-December 9

Pick of the Week: Wednesday, Dec. 21

East Side Jews, Reboot and the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center head to Atwater Crossing for an evening of funny stories and deep music on the second night of Chanukah. Performers include former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Michaela Watkins, “How I Met Your Mother” writer Tami Sagher and folk-pop band The Wellspring. Dinner, beer and wine available for purchase. Wed. 7-10 p.m. $10. Atwater Crossing, 3245 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles.,

FRI | DEC 16

Actor-satirist Shearer (KCRW’s “Le Show,” “The Simpsons”) and his singer-songwriter wife, Owen, host their annual evening of musical mirth. What began as a yearly gathering for family and friends soon grew too large to host at the couple’s home. Mixing traditional and nontraditional holiday music, the public performances have drawn such celebrity guests as Jane Lynch (“Glee”), Weird Al Yankovic and Shearer collaborator Christopher Guest. Who knows who will turn up this year? Fri. 7:30 p.m. $47-$75. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. (310) 434-3200.

SAT | DEC 17

Director Gregg Barson got unlimited behind-the-scenes access to the 85-year-old Lewis for this documentary, which provides viewers with a contemporary look at the comedian’s career as well as never-before-seen film footage. Carl Reiner, Jerry Seinfeld and Richard Lewis are among the stars offering their perspective on Lewis. Sat. 5 and 9 p.m. Premieres on Starz.
Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, known for his work with the Batsheva Dance Company, is the featured artist in this program from The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance. Approximately 20 undergraduates, who rehearsed under Batsheva veteran Danielle Agami, perform two works by Naharin: “Echad Mi Yodea” and “Humus.” The evening concludes with premieres from CalArts faculty choreographers Colin Connor and Stephanie Nugent. Sat. 8:30 p.m. $20 (general), $16 (students), $10 (CalArts students, faculty, staff). Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater at Walt Disney Concert Hall, 631 W. Second St., downtown. (213) 237-2800.

Have fun for a good cause. Young professional groups ATID LA and 30 Years After host the third annual communitywide toy drive and mixer. The party goes off at L.A. nightclub Crimson Hollywood, and proceeds benefit the Friendship Circle and Cedars-Sinai Pediatrics. The LEV Foundation provides a limited number of free taxi vouchers. Sat. 9 p.m-2 a.m. New, unwrapped toy or gift valued at $10 or more, or $10 donation. Crimson Hollywood, 1650 Schrader Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 481-3244.

MON | DEC 19

Grinstein is an expert on Israeli political life, having participated in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Tonight, the founder and president of Israel strategy group the Reut Institute discusses “Flexigidity: The Invisible Hand of Israel’s Adaptation.” Mon. 7 p.m. Free. Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 530-4097.

The Grammy-winning klezmer supergroup celebrates its silver anniversary this year. Steeped in Eastern European Jewish traditions and spirituality, The Klezmatics aren’t afraid to mix up their Yiddish-roots sound, whether it’s recording an album set to Woody Guthrie lyrics (“Wonder Wheel”) or collaborating with kosher gospel artist Joshua Nelson (“Brother Moses Smote the Water”). What better way to spend the night before Chanukah than with this eclectic ensemble? Mon. 8 p.m. $38-$97. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown. (323) 850-2000.

TUE | DEC 20

CHANUKAH celebration
The Original Farmers Market at Third Street and Fairfax Avenue and The Jewish Journal host an outdoor Chanukah bash for all ages. Kids can help build a giant Lego chanukiyah, families can play Chanukah bingo, make dreidels and play games with DJ Groovy David. Arts and crafts, snacks and more highlight the occasion, which closes with the menorah lighting ceremony and sing-along. Community participants include Temple Israel of Hollywood, Miracle Mile Chabad and the Zimmer Children’s Museum. Tue. 2:30-4:30 p.m. Free. The Original Farmers Market, 6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (323) 933-9211.

WED | DEC 21

Forget “The Price Is Right.” Come on down to Ohr HaTorah! You’re the next contestant at the Mar Vista synagogue’s Chanukah celebration, which features music, prizes and dinner. Wed. 5:30 p.m. (dinner for families with young children), 6 p.m. (dinner for all ages), 7 p.m. (Chanukah program). Ohr HaTorah, 11827 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 915-5200.

THU | DEC 22

Blending contemporary electronic beats with world sounds from the Middle East, India and beyond, music trio Naked Rhythm perform at tonight’s charity concert, organized by Jewlicious and progressive synagogue IKAR. Proceeds benefit Jewish Heart for Africa, which brings Israeli solar technology to African villages, and Tomchei Shabbos, a weekly food delivery agency. Thu. 8-11 p.m. $18 (presale), $25 (door), $20 (with two cans for food donation). The Joint, 8771 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 277-5544.,

Calendar Picks and Clicks: December 8-December 16

Pick of the Week: Tuesday, December 13

She honed her photography skills on a kibbutz and helped define the look of Rolling Stone magazine, where she worked for 10 years as its chief photographer. One of the most sought-after American portrait photographers, her subjects have included Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama; Scarlett Johannson and Keira Knightley nude, with Tom Ford in a suit, for the cover of Vanity Fair; and John Lennon nude and curled around a fully clothed Yoko Ono for Rolling Stone. Don’t miss an opportunity to see her in person during tonight’s discussion and presentation, “Pilgrimage: A Photo Lecture.” The event is part of the ALOUD series at the Central Library. Tue. 7 p.m. Free. Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown. (213) 228-7500.


Kehillat Israel examines solutions for energy sustainability, hosting a film screening of “Burning the Future: Coal in America” and a conversation with David Nahai, senior adviser to the Clinton Climate Initiative and former CEO of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Thu. 7-9 p.m. Free. Kehillat Israel, 16019 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades. (310) 459-2328.


Director Agnieszka Holland adapts this true Holocaust story about Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief who hides a group of Jews beneath the Nazi-occupied city of Lvov, Poland, in exchange for money. But what begins as a business transaction between Socha and the Jews turns into an unlikely alliance. Fri. Various times. $11 (general), $8 (children, under 12), $8 (seniors). Laemmle’s Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 478-3836.

SAT | DEC 10

Temple Adat Elohim’s Cantor David Shukiar reinvents the Chanukah story. Bullied at school for being Jewish, 13-year-old Benjamin is feeling low about himself and his religion. After dreaming one night that he’s Judah Maccabee, however, he awakes with a new sense of self-confidence. Music, dance and drama highlight this family-friendly show. Sat. Through Dec. 11. 7 p.m. (Sat.); 2:30 and 7 p.m. (Sun.). $27-$36. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. (800) 745-3000.

Set in the 1940s, Ryan Paul James’ original comedy for the stage features a play within a play, with “A Christmas Carol” becoming “A Chanukah Carol.” John Wayne is set to play Scrooge on a radio program, but, minutes before showtime, he’s hit by his horse and unable to perform. The only actor they can find to replace “The Duke” demands they make the play more Jewish than they ever intended. Directed by Katy Jacoby. Sat. Through Dec. 18. 8 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.), 3 p.m. (Sun.). $25. Theatre 68, 5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 960-5068.

SUN | DEC 11

The entire family will have a blast celebrating Chanukah with the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center at this day-long kids’ fair and concert. Eugene Edwards Band, The Neighborhood Bullys and folk group The Hollow Trees are among the local bands performing; Rebecca Martin reads the Chanukah story; and magician Ryan Majestic shows what tricks are up his sleeve. Sun. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. $15 (all-inclusive wristband), free (adults). Silverlake Independent JCC, 1110 Bates Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 663-2255.

The Skirball’s annual festival features live music, shadow puppets, a family dance party and more. Golden State Klezmers, Triumph of the Egg and a handful of folk artists whip up some musical holiday magic; TreePeople leads a planting activity; author Erica Silverman discusses her new children’s book, “Hanukkah Hop!”; and Judy Zeidler signs copies of her cookbooks, “Italy Cooks” and “The 30-Minute Kosher Cook.” Want to do some arts and crafts? Stop by the drop-in workshops to create a menorah out of wire and beads, your own tzedekah box or a portable planter. Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $10 (general), $7 (seniors and full-time students), $5 (children, 2-12), free (members). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

His body of work is extensive and his collaborators are renowned — among them Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers. Tonight, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer appears for a discussion about his latest film, “The Tree of Life,” director Terrence Malick’s abstract meditation on a 1950s Waco, Texas, family. Sun. 5 p.m. $11 (general), $10 (KCRW members), $9 (students, seniors), $7 (American Cinematheque members). Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 466-3456.

TUE | DEC 13

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office and The Board of Rabbis of Southern California host this hourlong celebration, which includes musical performances and a candlelighting in the building’s rotunda room. Thu. Noon-1 p.m. Free (RSVP required for parking; e-mail Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles. (323) 761-8600.

FRI | DEC 16

Actor-satirist Shearer (KCRW’s “Le Show,” “The Simpsons”) and his singer-songwriter wife, Owen, host their annual evening of musical mirth. What began as a yearly gathering for family and friends soon grew too large to host at the couple’s home. Mixing traditional and nontraditional holiday music, the public performances have drawn such celebrity guests as Jane Lynch (“Glee”), Weird Al Yankovic and Shearer collaborator Christopher Guest. Who knows who will turn up this year? Fri. 7:30 p.m. $47-$75. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. (310) 434-3200.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: December 4-December 9

Pick of the Week: Sunday, December 4

Hundreds of rabbis and Jewish scholars participate in discussions, panels, text study and presentations during this “Day of Jewish Learning and Culture.” The event concludes with a concert celebrating the words and music of Leonard Cohen. Sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Sun. 11 a.m. (registration), noon-6 p.m. (program). $36 (adults), $18 (adults, 30 and under; seniors). Sheraton Universal Hotel, 333 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City. (323) 761-8000.

TUE | NOV 29

The veteran broadcaster discusses his recently released book, “The Time of Our Lives,” which raises questions about our relationship to our communities and our country, with Jewish Journal columnist Marty Kaplan. Tue. 7:30 p.m. $20. Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills.


Beth Chayim Chadashim and Project Chicken Soup co-sponsor a program of history, testimony and memory on World AIDS Day, featuring people who experienced the early years of AIDS, including long-term survivors, physicians, activists, writers and performers. Buffet, beverages and no-host bar. Thu. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Free (reservation required). ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, 909 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023.


Eighth- and ninth-grade boys and the men who raise them unplug from their busy lives for some bonding time during this weekend retreat in Simi Valley. Fri. Through Dec. 4. $150 (per adult/teen pair). Brandeis-Bardin Campus of the American Jewish University, 1101 Pepper Tree Lane, Simi Valley. (323) 761-8243.

Shabbat is hardly ever this eclectic. South American bossa nova and Sephardic music collide with jazz, rock, folk and classical sounds during this musical Shabbat experience at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. If you really want to complete the experience, you’re going to have to eat: Visit the synagogue’s Web site and order a picnic dinner from Factor’s Deli in advance of the event. 6 p.m. Free (picnic dinner not included). Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Irmas Campus, 11661 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 445-1280.


Join or cheer on the annual 5K walk/run, which raises funds that directly benefit residents of the Los Angeles Jewish Home. The family-oriented event includes food, music, clowns and magicians. Sun. 7-8 a.m. (registration), 8:30-10 a.m. (5K), 9:30-10:30 a.m. (awards ceremony). Free. Jewish Home’s Eisenberg Village Campus, 18855 Victory Blvd., Reseda. (818) 774-3344.
The National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles (NCJW/LA) distributes clothing to in-need and at-risk individuals during its annual clothing giveaway. NCJW/LA expects to distribute 70,000 pieces of clothing for women, men and children, as well as children’s books. Stop by the tables for NCJW/LA’s community resource fair. Volunteers are needed to organize clothing and staff tables. Sun. 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (event). Volunteer shifts include: Dec. 3: 8 a.m.-noon; Dec. 4: 7-10:15 a.m.; Dec. 4: 9:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Free. NCJW/LA Council House, Parking Lot, 543 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 651-2930.
Ilan Ramon Day School hosts a day of science activities for the whole family (children preschool-fifth grade) with hands-on projects, including a wind tunnel, fishing with magnets and a microscope station, a live show with Reptile People and a Student Invention Exhibition. Worried all this learning will make your kids hungry? A kosher food truck will be on site. Sun. 10 a.m.-noon. Free. Ilan Ramon Day School, 27400 Canwood St., Agoura. (818) 707-2365.

Officials from Guinness World Records will be on hand to judge as attendees attempt to break the record for the number of dreidels spinning at the same time (for a minimum of 10 seconds). So come by and enjoy entertainment, kosher food, children’s activities and the (hopefully) record-breaking spin. Presented by Sinai Temple in partnership with The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Dreidels provided. Sun. 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Free (RSVP requested). Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 481-3273.


Nourishment of the Soul
Shimona Tzukernik, an international lecturer on kabbalah, joins weight-loss coach Miriam Wiener to discuss “uncovering the hidden secrets to permanent weight loss.” During this two-hour event for women only, Tzukernik and Wiener will address the kabbalah behind nutrition and the spiritual forces that drive a desire for food as well as offer tools and techniques to address cravings. The event will also stream online. Mon. 10 a.m. $36 (live), $10 (online). Private home in the Beverly/La Brea area. RSVP online for location. (800) 647-5674.  


The author of “Surrender Is Not an Option” appears in conversation with Rabbi David Woznica. An outspoken advocate against a nuclear Iran, Bolton writes frequently for The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The event is part of Stephen S. Wise Temple’s Center for Jewish Life series of lectures, dialogues and courses. Tue. 7:30 p.m. $15. Stephen S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-8561.


Kehillat Israel examines solutions for energy sustainability, hosting a film screening of “Burning the Future: Coal in America” and a conversation with David Nahai, senior adviser to the Clinton Climate Initiative and former CEO of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Thu. 7-9 p.m. Free. Kehillat Israel, 16019 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades. (310) 459-2328.


Director Agnieszka Holland adapts this true Holocaust story about Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief who hides a group of Jews beneath the Nazi-occupied city of Lvov, Poland, in exchange for money. But what begins as a business transaction between Socha and the Jews turns into an unlikely alliance. Fri. Various times. $11 (general), $8 (children, under 12), $8 (seniors). Laemmle’s Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 478-3836.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: November 22-December 2

Pick of the Week: Tuesday, November 29

While procrastinating on her second screenplay, “The Future,” in 2009, July became obsessed with reading the classified ads in the PennySaver. She set out across Los Angeles to meet with PennySaver sellers, documenting the experiences in her latest book, “It Chooses You,” which blends narrative, interviews, photographs and deadpan humor. July appears in conversation with “This American Life” contributor Joshuah Bearman. Tue. 7 p.m. Free. Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown. (213) 228-7500.

TUE | NOV 22

The irreverent author discusses his latest memoir, “Drunken Angel,” divulging how growing up as the son of a French Holocaust survivor affected him, and how his alcoholism alienated those around him, including his daughter, before he got clean at 40. Tue. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 659-3110.

THU | NOV 24

Spend Thanksgiving Weekend with Jewish professionals (25-45) on the slopes in Whistler. The trip includes a three-night hotel stay, a Friday night Shabbat dinner, a Saturday Shabbat lunch and barbecue, and more. Contact the Chotzen Sisters, who organized the excursion, for discounted rates for ski tickets as well as ski and snowboard rentals. Airfare not included. Thu. Through Nov. 27. 7:30 p.m. $199 (per person). $225 (per person, two-bedroom suite), $320 (per person, two-person occupancy). (604) 738-7060.

FRI | NOV 25

Sephardic singles (40s-60s) host tonight’s Shabbat celebration, featuring a catered Middle Eastern dinner and a musical performance by Zirzuvi, a band from Santa Cruz that plays mostly Sephardic music in Ladino, Jewish music in Hebrew and Turkish folk songs. Fri. 6 p.m. $30 (door), $25 (prepaid by Nov. 20), $20 (prepaid chavurah members). Culver City Clubhouse. Call (818) 564-0153 or (323) 294-6084 for more information.

SAT | NOV 26

Whether you’re a knucklehead or a newbie, you soitenly wouldn’t want to miss the annual Stooge-Fest. Spend Thanksgiving Weekend with Larry, Moe, Curly and Shemp as the Alex Theatre screens selected shorts, including “Back to the Woods” (1937), “Goofs and Saddles” (1937), “Mummy’s Dummies” (1948) and “Wee Wee Monsieur” (1938). Lineup is subject to change. Sat. 2 p.m. $15. Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. (818) 243-2539.

SUN | NOV 27

Casey Stangl directs Noël Coward’s 1946 anti-war melodrama, which imagines a Nazi-occupied England after losing the Battle of Britain to Germany. Set in a South London pub, with a cast of characters affected by the German invasion, the adaptation by Barry Creyton adds 11 songs to the revival and different troupes take turns starring during The Antaeus Company’s run. Sun. Through Dec. 18. 2:30 p.m. $34. Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 506-1983.

Bradley Whitford (“West Wing”) stars as Albom in this inspirational made-for-TV movie based on the writer’s first nonfiction book after “Tuesdays With Morrie.” Albom connects with two men of faith — a New Jersey rabbi (Martin Landau) who asks him to write his eulogy, and a Detroit pastor (Laurence Fishburne) whose life was once mired in drugs and crime. Affected by the men’s outlooks on life, Albom reconnects with his beliefs and learns the value of helping others. Tony winner Anika Noni Rose (“Dreamgirls,” “Caroline, or Change”) co-stars. Sun. 9 p.m.

MON | NOV 28

Mooly Landesman’s 2009 documentary explores the search for identity in the kibbutz movement of the 1960s. The film follows a group of non-Jewish Europeans who traveled to the Jewish state and looks at the realities that emerge when individuals from different backgrounds start families. Mon. 6-8 p.m. Free. UCLA Campus, Royce Hall 362, Los Angeles. (310) 825-9646.

TUE | NOV 29

The veteran broadcaster discusses his recently released book, “The Time of Our Lives,” which raises questions about our relationship to our communities and our country, with Jewish Journal columnist Marty Kaplan. Tue. 7:30 p.m. $20. Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills.


Beth Chayim Chadashim and Project Chicken Soup co-sponsor a program of history, testimony and memory on World AIDS Day, featuring people who experienced the early years of AIDS, including long-term survivors, physicians, activists, writers and performers. Buffet, beverages and no-host bar. Thu. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Free (reservation required). ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, 909 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023.


Eighth- and ninth-grade boys and the men who raise them unplug from their busy lives for some bonding time during this weekend retreat in Simi Valley. Fri. Through Dec. 4. $150 (per adult/teen pair). Brandeis-Bardin Campus of the American Jewish University, 1101 Pepper Tree Lane, Simi Valley. (323) 761-8243.

Shabbat is hardly ever this eclectic. South American bossa nova and Sephardic music collide with jazz, rock, folk and classical sounds during this musical Shabbat experience at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. If you really want to complete the experience, you’re going to have to eat: Visit the synagogue’s Web site and order a picnic dinner from Factor’s Deli in advance of the event. 6 p.m. Free (picnic dinner not included). Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Irmas Campus, 11661 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 445-1280.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: October 19-October 27

Pick of the Week: Thursday, October 27


Inspired by the best-selling book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the Skirball’s new exhibition of photography, graphics and visual art addresses how women have persevered in the face of sex trafficking, gender-based violence and maternal mortality in the developing world. Museum visitors can learn more about ways to advocate on behalf of victims. Thu. Through March 11. Noon-5 p.m. (Tuesday-Friday), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Saturday-Sunday). $10 (general), $7 (seniors and full-time students), $5 (children, 2 to 12), free (members and children, 2 and under; everyone on Thursdays). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

WED | OCT 19

Jack Miles, author of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize-winning book “God: A Biography,” and UC Davis professor David Biale, author of “Not in the Heavens: The Tradition of Jewish Secular Thought,” explore the distinction between Scripture and commentary. The discussion is part of the Getty’s “In the Beginning Was the Word: Medieval Gospel Illumination” exhibition, which runs through November. Wed. 7 p.m. Free (reservations recommended). Harold M. Williams Auditorium, Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-7330.

SAT | OCT 22

Romance blossoms between computer scientist Elliot (Jason Ritter) and molecular biologist Molly (Mandy Siegfried), but their new relationship proves as complex as algorithms and microbes in this comedic play by Itamar Moses (“Boardwalk Empire”) about love in the 21st century. Tonight’s show will be recorded by L.A. Theatre Works. Sat. 3 p.m., 8 p.m. Through Oct. 23. $49. The James Bridges Theatre, UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television, Melnitz Hall, 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles. Enter UCLA from Hilgard Avenue, near Sunset Boulevard, and park in Lot 3. (310) 827-0889.

SUN | OCT 23

It’s 1946, and Hollywood mogul Sam Baum, an assimilated Jew, hires non-Jewish screenwriter Garfield Hampson Jr. to pen a script about the American Jewish experience. As Baum lavishes affection on his son Adam, who is preparing for his bar mitzvah, the mogul berates Hampson over the screenplay: “You have betrayed me. You wrote it like a Jew.” Playwright Daniel Goldfarb’s off-Broadway satire is based on the true story of Sam Goldwyn hiring Ring Lardner Jr. in the hope of beating “Gentleman’s Agreement” to the silver screen. Sun. 2 p.m. $16 (general), $14 (members, students, seniors), $12 (senior members, student members). Westside Jewish Community Center, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 938-2531.

The D.C.-based comedy troupe of former congressional staffers returns to American Jewish University with song parodies, skits and stand-up that satirize the politicians and culture of Capitol Hill. Sun. 4 p.m. $45. American Jewish University, Gindi Auditorium, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-1246.

TUE | OCT 25

Critically acclaimed comedian Marc Maron kicks off a new live version of his hit podcast, “WTF,” at the Steve Allen Theater on the last Tuesday of each month. A top download on iTunes, the podcast features Maron’s insightful interviews with today’s top comedians. Standing-room-only ticket lineup at 6:30 p.m. Tue. 8 p.m. $10 (door). Steve Allen Theater at the Center for Inquiry West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (800) 595-4849.

WED | OCT 26

West Hollywood City Councilwoman Abbe Land moderates today’s panel with medical personnel from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USC and Tower Hematology Oncology, including Dr. C. Michele Burnison, a radiation oncologist; Dr. Catherine Dang, breast surgeon and associate director of the Wasserman Breast Cancer Risk Reduction Program; Dr. Ora Gordon, director of the GeneRISK Adult Genetics Program; Dr. Dung Nguyen, plastic and reconstructive surgeon; Dr. Dorothy Park, hematology oncology; and Dr. B.J. Rimel,  gynecologic oncologist. Wed. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Free. National Council of Jewish Women /LA Council House, 543 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 651-2930.

A special reception with artists Michael Cohen, J.J. L’Heureux and Ilan Laks highlights tonight’s art show, hosted by the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA Hillel. Attendees can view three very different exhibitions at once, including “Ultra-Orthodox in Israel,” a photography exhibit by Cohen, showing candid moments in the lives of ultra-Orthodox Jews; “Faces From the Southern Ocean,” L’Heureux’s photographs of wildlife in the Southern Ocean, its islands and Antarctica; and “Galactic Infinity,” Laks’ attempt to capture the galaxies of the collective unconscious in large-scale paintings. Wed. 7-9 p.m. Free (RSVP required). Hillel at UCLA, 574 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 208-3081, ext. 108.

Harvard oncologist and New Yorker medical writer Dr. Jerome Groopman and physician Dr. Pamela Hartzband, the husband-and-wife team behind the recently released book “Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What Is Right for You” (Penguin Press), join Dr. David Feinberg, associate vice chancellor and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System, for a discussion on how patients can make medical decisions — from the “right” doctor to the best treatment — that make sense for them. Wed. 7:30 p.m. $20. Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 300 N. Clark Drive, Beverly Hills.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: September 27-October 6

Pick of the Week: Sunday, Oct. 2


Amy Ephron (“Loose Diamonds”), Hope Edelman (“The Possibility of Everything”), Jackie Collins (“Goddess of Vengeance”) and Lisa See (“Shanghai Girls”) are among the 300 authors and artists appearing at the 10th annual West Hollywood Book Fair. The literary event will also attract celebrity guests, including Meredith Baxter, Dyan Cannon, Marg Helgenberger, Steve-O and Kevin Sorbo. Catch panels, live performances and readings, book signings, writer workshops and more than 125 exhibitors — including the National Council of Jewish Women/LA and the Levantine Cultural Center. Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. West Hollywood Library and West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood. (323) 848-6515.


The all-female retro pop band — led by MOT vocalist-guitarist Susanna Hoffs — performs and signs copies of their long-awaited album, “Sweetheart of the Sun.” Best-known for hits like “Manic Monday,” “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Eternal Flame,” The Bangles celebrate their 30th anniversary with “Sweetheart,” their first album in nearly eight years. Tue. 7 p.m. Free. Barnes and Noble, The Grove at Farmers Market, 189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles. (323) 525-0270.

Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean at the UC Irvine School of Law, joins UCLA School of Law professor Adam Winkler for tonight’s ALOUD discussion about how guns — rather than abortion, race or religion — have caused the American cultural divide. The two prominent law experts take their cues from Winkler’s recently released book, “Gunfight.” Tue. 7 p.m. Free; reservations required. Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown. (213) 228-7025.


Join East Side Jews, Silverlake Independent JCC and Reboot for this transformative High Holy Days celebration at the Los Angeles River. The evening features a picnic with wine, water and apples; a musical service with spoken essays, text study, meditation and contemplation; tashlich; Havdalah; and, finally, a brown bag dinner from Heirloom-LA. Ticket includes food, drinks, introspection and reflection. Sat. 5:30-9:30 p.m. $40 (per person). Marsh Park, 2960 Marsh St., Los Angeles. (323) 663-2255.

Playwright James Sherman’s comedy follows a second-generation American Jew who learns that a Nazi group plans to stage a demonstration in Skokie, Ill., and wonders what — if anything — he should do about it. The play is part of the West Coast Jewish Theatre’s 2011 season. Sat. Through Nov. 27. 8 p.m. $20-$35. Pico Playhouse, 10508 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 860-6620.

It’s 1944, and the Nazis construct a fake Jewish village at the Theresienstadt concentration camp to fool Red Cross inspectors and quell extermination rumors. Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga adapts this true story for the stage, and Ron Sossi directs. Sat. 8 p.m. Through Dec. 18. 8 p.m. (Wednesday-Sunday), 2 p.m. (Sunday). $25-$30. The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 477-2055.


Art of the Brain, celebrating art and patients undefeated by brain cancer, will celebrate its 12th anniversary during tonight’s gala, featuring hundreds of friends, food, art works, music and a special theme this year – honoring the Art of Care Giving. Warm and casual attire. Sat. 6:30 p.m. $250. UCLA, Schoenberg Hall, Los Angeles. (310) 825-5074.


Jewish Community Children’s Choir Vocal Placement
Children 8-12 are invited to audition for a new Schulweis Institute-sponsored community choir lead by Michelle Green Willner, an award-winning composer and conductor, and Noreen Green, founder and conductor of the L.A. Jewish Symphony and musical director at Valley Beth Shalom. Sun. 2 p.m. Milken Community High School, middle school campus beit midrash, 15800 Zeldins Way, Bel Air. $65 (10 classes, culminating in concert). {encode=”” title=””}.

Oscar-winning composer Yuval Ron (“West Bank Story”) leads a group of Jewish, Arab and Christian musicians at the Broad Stage. Accompanied by Gypsy flamenco singer Jesus Montoya, flamenco dancer Briseyda Zarate and flamenco guitarist José Tanaka, they explore the Jewish and Gypsy traditions of Andalusia in the Middle Ages. Sun. 4 p.m. $47-$60. The Broad Stage, Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. (310) 434-3200.


The Museum of Tolerance puts on view the most significant document that the Simon Wiesenthal Center has acquired in its 34-year history: a four-page letter written by Adolf Hitler on Sept. 16, 1919, six years before the publication of “Mein Kampf.” In the letter, Hitler calls for “The uncompromising removal of the Jews altogether,” warns against an “emotional anti-Semitism which will always find its expression in the form of pogroms” and seeks a “legal … removal of the rights of the Jew,” demonstrating his long incubating hated of the Jewish people. The document will be on permanent display at the entrance to the museum’s Holocaust section. Tue. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $15 (adults), $12 (seniors, 65 and over), $11 (students and children, ages 5-18). Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 553-8403.


Celebrity chef Silverton discusses her new book, “The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes From Los Angeles’s Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria,” with Kleiman, host of KCRW’s “Good Food.” A Q-and-A and book signing follow. Wed. 8 p.m. Free (advance reservations recommended). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: September 21-September 30

Pick of the week: Sunday, Sept. 25


Marking a new beginning for the Agoura Hills Jewish day school, tonight’s party celebrates Heschel West Day School’s re-naming for Israel’s first astronaut — Ilan Ramon Day School. The event features special guest appearances by astronaut Garrett Reisman; Team SpaceIL, a team of Israeli scientists competing for the Google Lunar X Prize; Consul General of Israel David Siegel and his wife, Myra Clark-Siegel; and producer Christopher Cowen; as well as a screening of Cowen’s “An Article of Hope,” a 2011 documentary about Ramon’s journey into space. Special appetizer reception with special guests for sponsors precedes the event, and a dessert reception for all guests follows. Sun. 5 p.m. $40 (individual tickets), $180+ (sponsorship packages). Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. (800) 449-2787.


The American-born Israeli actress, best-known for her recurring role as Rachel Heinemann on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and as the Russian madam title character on HDNet’s “Svetlana,” discusses and signs her new bawdy memoir, “Machu My Picchu: Searching for Sex, Sanity, and a Soul Mate in South America,” the follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2007 book, “Dork Whore: My Travels Through Asia as a Twenty-Year-Old Pseudo-Virgin.” Wed. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110.


For the past 10 years, fans of the Coen brothers’ L.A. noir comedy, “The Big Lebowski,” have gathered in cities around the world to celebrate their devotion to characters like The Dude and Walter Sobchak (“I don’t roll on Shabbos!”). This weekend, the festival returns to Los Angeles with a film screening at The Wiltern and a bowling party at Cal Bowl. Special guests to be announced for both events. Fri. Through Sept. 24. Friday: 8 p.m. $18.50. The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Saturday: 9 p.m. $25. Cal Bowl, 2500 E. Carson St., Lakewood. (502) 583-9290.


This New York-based band — featuring Israeli natives Ori Kaplan (saxophone), Tamir Muskat (drummer) and MC Tomer Yosef — performs its unique Nu Med sounds at the Conga Room. 21 and over. Sat. 8 p.m. $25 (general admission), $35 (standing room), $45 (VIP). Conga Room at L.A. Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown. (213) 745-0162.


Playwright Wendy Graf (“Behind the Gates”) charts the struggles of Hanna Jokhoe, a lesbian Muslim coming of age in pre- and post-9/11 Queens. Born in Guyana, where the local Creole has no word for “lesbian,” Hanna is sent to live with her aunt and uncle after her mother is killed in a fire. In New York, she’s mocked by other students for wearing a hijab. And when her arranged marriage ends in disaster, the teen bride must reconcile her religious and sexual identities. Anna Khaja (“Shaheed: The Dream and Death of Benazir Bhutto”) stars in this one-woman show at National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles’ Fairfax headquarters. A discussion with Graf and guest speakers follows the performance. Proceeds benefit the Esther Lewin Emergency Survival Fund. Sun. 1:30 p.m. $50. NCJW/LA Council House, 543 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 651-2930.

Join award-winning Jewish performers for an afternoon of hilariously dark and compelling stories, Klezmer and comedy. This literary vaudeville show features Dennis Danziger (“A Short History of a Tall Jew”), Forward contributor Daniel Jaffe (“With Signs and Wonders”), Amy Ferris (“Marrying George Clooney: Confessions From a Midlife Crisis”) and singer-songwriter/comedian Eric Schwartz. Memoirist Amy Friedman moderates the evening, and musical guest Extreme Klezmer Makeover performs. Jewish delicacies served. Sun. 2-4 p.m. Free. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., downtown. (213) 488-0599.

Known for pairing Persian melodies and Hebrew texts with electronic soundscapes, Dardashti performs Monajat, an evening of Middle Eastern musical poetry sung before the Jewish New Year. The multimedia concert is part of the Grand Performances series and inaugurates the New Jewish Culture Network initiative, which brings Jewish art to the United States and beyond. Sun. 8 p.m. Free. Grand Performances, 350 S. Grand Ave., downtown. (213) 687-2159.


In this 2008 feature-length documentary written and directed by Eli Tal-El, a group of young Ethiopian and Russian Israelis travel to Gondar, Ethiopia. There, the Ethiopians, who are grappling with identity issues, revisit their pasts and undergo personal transformations. Mon. 6-9 p.m. Free. UCLA Center for Israel Studies, Royce Hall 362, Los Angeles. (310) 825-9646.


The all-female retro pop band — led by MOT vocalist-guitarist Susanna Hoffs — performs and signs copies of their long-awaited album, “Sweetheart of the Sun.” Best-known for hits like “Manic Monday,” “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Eternal Flame,” The Bangles celebrate their 30th anniversary with “Sweetheart,” their first album in nearly eight years. Tue. 7 p.m. Free. Barnes and Noble, The Grove at Farmers Market, 189 Grove Drive, Los Angeles. (323) 525-0270.

Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean at the UC Irvine School of Law, joins UCLA School of Law professor Adam Winkler for tonight’s ALOUD discussion about how guns — rather than abortion, race or religion — have caused the American cultural divide. The two prominent law experts take their cues from Winkler’s recently released book, “Gunfight.” Tue. 7 p.m. Free; reservations required. Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown. (213) 228-7025.

Fall preview calendar


George Billis Gallery hosts a reception for the Jerusalem-based artist’s latest exhibition. Arnovitz’s past work has combined etching, printmaking, fabric and more to create large-scale paper garments. Her pieces reflect tensions that exist within religion, gender studies and politics, including the plight of women whose husbands won’t grant them a divorce. Sat. Through Oct. 8. 5-9:30 p.m. (reception). Free. George Billis Gallery, 2716 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City. (310) 838-3685.


The Rolling Stone contributing editor discusses and signs “Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion,” a journalistic exploration of a controversial faith’s history, from pseudoscientific self-help group to worldwide spiritual corporation. Based on five years of research and unprecedented access to Scientology officials, Reitman offers an even-handed look at the development of this controversial religion, which attracts celebrities, attacks psychiatry and requires its followers to pay tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation. Thu. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110.


Steven Berkoff’s dark comedy offers an absurdist look at our secret thoughts, exposing the anxieties, desires, fears and prejudices of a Jewish family. Presented by the SeaGlass Theatre. 18 and older. Sat. Through Oct. 16. 8 p.m. $25. The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 745-5537.

SUN., SEPT. 18

Expect melodic vocals, hip-hop-inspired beat-boxing and spiritually resonant lyrics from the Chasidic reggae star, who performs as part of the Hillel Charity Concert Series. Hebrew reggae artists Zadik shares the bill. Sun. 5 p.m. $18-$136, $250 (VIP). The Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (323) 655-0111.

WED., SEPT. 21

Two political and social satirists share the stage tonight. Trillin, a contributor to The New Yorker, Time and The Nation, is renowned for his food writing, political poetry and comic novels. Trillin has selected the best of his humorous writing for his new book, “Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff,” which he discusses tonight with “Weeds” star Nealon, author of the 2008 book “Yes, You’re Pregnant, but What About Me?” Wed. 7:30 p.m. $20. Writers Guild Theatre, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills.

THU., SEPT. 22

The best-selling author and sibling of Nora Ephron discusses and signs copies of her memoir, “Loose Diamonds,” in which she humorously and candidly talks about her childhood, two marriages, parenting, friendships and other highlights from her life. Thu. 7 p.m. Free. Diesel, A Bookstore — Brentwood Country Mart, 225 26th St., Santa Monica. (310) 576-9960.

SAT., SEPT. 24

Sun. Sept. 24

Sun., Sept. 24

This New York-based band — featuring Israeli natives Ori Kaplan (saxophone), Tamir Muska (drummer) and MC Tomer Yosef — performs its unique Nu Med sounds at the Conga Room. 21 and over. Sat. 8 p.m. $25 (general admission), $25 (standing room), $45 (VIP). Conga Room at L.A. Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown. (213) 745-0162.

SUN., SEPT. 25

Known for pairing Persian melodies and Hebrew texts with electronic soundscapes, Dardashti performs Monajat, an evening of Middle Eastern musical poetry sung before the Jewish New Year, as part of the Grand Performances series. Sun. 8 p.m. Free. Grand Performances, 350 S. Grand Ave., downtown. (213) 687-2159.

SAT., OCT. 1

Playwright James Sherman’s comedy follows a second-generation American Jew who learns that a Nazi group plans to stage a demonstration in Skokie, Ill., and wonders what — if anything — he should do about it. The play is part of the West Coast Jewish Theatre’s 2011 season. Sat. Through Nov. 27. 8 p.m. $20-$35. Pico Playhouse, 10508 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 860-6620.

SUN., OCT. 2

Oscar-winning composer Yuval Ron (“West Bank Story”) leads a group of Jewish, Arab and Christian musicians at the Broad Stage. Accompanied by Gypsy flamenco singer Jesus Montoya, flamenco dancer Briseyda Zarate and flamenco guitarist José Tanaka, they explore the Jewish and Gypsy traditions of Andalusia in the Middle Ages. Sun. 4 p.m. $47-$60. The Broad Stage, Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. (310) 434-3200.

WED., OCT. 5

Wed. Oct. 5

Celebrity chef Silverton discusses her new book, “The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes From Los Angeles’s Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria,” with Kleiman, host of KCRW’s “Good Food.” A Q-and-A and book signing follow the discussion. Wed. 8 p.m. Free (advance reservations recommended). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

THU., OCT. 13

Israel’s Raichel, a renowned world musician, joins Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Arie to perform songs from their new album, “Open Door.” Expect soulful vocals about social unity (in Hebrew and English), and a healthy fusion of pop, folk and r&b. Thu. 8 p.m. $30-$50. Luckman Fine Arts Complex, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles. (323) 343-6600.

SUN., OCT. 16

The self-described “all-American Jewish lesbian folk singer” pays musical tribute to the Woman’s Building in Los Angeles, a legendary former center for feminist art, with “This Is Your Life: The Woman’s Building.” During tonight’s show, Phranc, a Santa Monica native who started out in the ’70s and ’80s L.A. punk scene before turning to folk, reflects on her experiences at the feminist workshop. Sun. 4 p.m. $25 (general), $20 (members), $15 (full-time students). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

WED., OCT. 19

Wed., Oct. 19

Israeli-born choreographer Hofesh Shechter, alumnus of the Batsheva Dance Company, leads his acclaimed U.K. dance ensemble in a performance of “Political Mother,” a full-length piece that offers a surreal glimpse of oppressed societies. Wed. 8 p.m. $20-$60 (general), $15 (UCLA students). Royce Hall, UCLA Campus, Los Angeles. (310) 825-2101.

SUN., OCT. 23

The D.C.-based comedy troupe of former congressional staffers returns to American Jewish University with song parodies, skits and stand-up that satirize the politicians and culture of Capitol Hill. Sun. 4 p.m. $45. American Jewish University, Gindi Auditorium, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-1246.

MON., OCT. 24

In this 2010 documentary directed by Ofir Trainin, manic depression prevents Gabriel Balahassan, an Israeli would-be rock star and former Orthodox Jew, from achieving his artistic ambitions. Following his release from a mental institution, Balachsan leaves his family behind and moves to Tel Aviv, where he struggles to complete his solo album as he wrestles with his illness. Mon. 6-9 p.m. Free. UCLA Center for Israel Studies, Royce Hall 362, Los Angeles. (310) 825-9646.

THU., OCT. 27

Inspired by the best-selling book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide” by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the Skirball’s new exhibition of photography, graphics and visual art addresses how women have persevered in the face of sex trafficking, gender-based violence and maternal mortality in the developing world. Museum visitors can learn more about ways to advocate on behalf of victims. Thu. Through March 11. Noon-5 p.m. (Tuesday-Friday), 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. (Saturday-Sunday). $10 (general), $7 (seniors and full-time students), $5 (children, 2 to 12), free (members and children, 2 and under; everyone on Thursdays). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

FRI., OCT. 28

The popular mentalist and magician performs “Thinking in Person: An Evening of Knowing and Not Knowing,” which blends conventional magic and mind reading. Not suitable for children under 12. Fri. 8 p.m. $40-$60. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. (800) 300-4345.

SUN., OCT. 30

Sun., Oct. 30

The Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter — known for hit songs “Stay (I Miss You),” “I Do” and “How” — performs songs from her forthcoming kids’ book and accompanying album, “Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs.” Suitable for all ages. Sun. 2-3 p.m. Concert included with museum admission. $10 (general), $7 (seniors and full-time students), $5 (children, 2 to 12), free (members and children, 2 and under; everyone on Thursdays). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

He has won every major entertainment award — Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony — as well as a Pulitzer Prize and two Golden Globes. Hamlisch, one of America’s finest composers of musicals (“A Chorus Line,” “The Goodbye Girl”) and films (“The Way We Were,” “The Sting,” “Sophie’s Choice”), conducts an afternoon performance, “From Broadway to Hollywood.” Sun. 3 p.m. $48-$68. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. (800) 300-4345.

FRI., NOV. 11

Fri., Nov. 11

Kibbutz-raised Beiser, a cello virtuosa, performs tonight with Dame, a Scottish percussionist. The evening features individual sets by the artists and a joint performance of a short and not-yet-titled new work by Pulitzer-winning composer David Lang. Fri. 8 p.m. $20-$75 (general), $15 (UCLA students). Royce Hall, UCLA Campus, Los Angeles. (310) 825-4401.


WED., NOV. 23

The stand-up comedian, known as the “pitbull of comedy,” likes to say, “If you can’t laugh a yourself, make fun of other people,” which is why everybody’s fair game when he’s performing. Tonight, he brings the funny to Hermosa Beach. Warning: This show is not for the easily offended. Wed. 8 p.m. $22.50 The Comedy and Magic Club, 1018 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach. (310) 372-1193.

Jason Segel (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and Amy Adams (“The Fighter”) co-star in this new film, which follows Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of Jim Henson’s beloved characters as they struggle to save their old studio from a greedy tycoon. The star-studded supporting cast includes Mila Kunis, Zach Galifianakis, John Krasinski, Jack Black and many others.

Events Calendar: September 2011


Based on a true story, this heartwarming (and tear-jerking) play follows six women who gather at Truvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, La., to gossip, tease, laugh, fight, cajole and comfort each other through life’s joys and challenges. Starring Bonnie Franklin, Clarinda Ross and Stephanie Zimbalist. Runs through Sept. 18. 8 p.m. $39-$59. Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. (805) 667-2900. ” title=””>


Remember the victims of Sept. 11 and honor the troops through this program that will include patriotic music; keynote remarks by Lt. John McCole, a New York firefighter; tributes to the military, law enforcement and fire department; a flyover; and the sixth annual Simi Valley Freedom Walk (free shuttles will return participants to their cars). 4:30 p.m. (musical performances), 5 p.m. (program), 5:45 p.m. (freedom walk). Free (registration recommended). Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library, 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley. (805) 522-2977. ” title=””>


Get ready for the High Holy Days with this two-part Melton adult school class. Learn the “why to” rather than the “how to.” The first class (Sept. 13) focuses on Rosh Hashanah;  the second class (Sept. 20) looks at Yom Kippur. Sponsored by the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School. 9:30-11 a.m. $10 (per class). Temple Aliyah, 6025 Valley Circle Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 346-0811. ” title=””>

The compelling and moving 2010 musical documentary highlights the current resurgence of Jewish culture in Poland through the personal reflections and musical selections of a group of cantors and acclaimed composer Charles Fox (“Killing Me Softly,” “I Got a Name”), who made an important historical mission to the birthplace of cantorial music. After the film, stay for a panel discussion that includes the film’s producer. 7 p.m. Free. Temple Judea, 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana. (818) 758-3800. ” title=””>


Check out more than 60 visual art exhibitors, interactive exhibits for children, live performances, refreshments and more. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and The Lakes, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. ” title=””>

The Los Angeles Jewish Home gala brings the community together for a special dinner honoring Eleanore and Harold Foonberg (Lifetime Achievement Award) and Barbara and Arnold Price (Humanitarian Award). Featuring entertainment by Frank Sinatra Jr. 5:30 p.m. (cocktails), 6:30 p.m. (dinner). Beverly Wilshire Hotel, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (818) 774-3332. ” title=””>


NBC 4’s Fritz Coleman entertains at Brandeis Conejo Valley Chapter’s annual membership luncheon and boutique. The organization raises funds for medical research for Brandeis University. 10 a.m. $70. North Ranch Country Club, 4761 Valley Spring Drive, Westlake Village. (805) 388-0579.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: August 3-August 12


Citing an increase in delegitimization campaigns against the Jewish state, L.A. civil trial attorney Baruch C. Cohen argues that defending Israel is more important than ever. Tonight’s lecture is presented by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) and Beth Jacob Congregation. Wed. 7 p.m. Free. Beth Jacob Congregation, 9030 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 855-9606.

The L.A. Afro-pop band opens for Swedish pop star Lykke Li and indie rockers Best Coast. Led by Israeli-born musicians Luke Top (bass, vocals) and Lewis Pesacov (guitar), Fool’s Gold performs new material from its upcoming album, “Leave No Trace,” the follow-up to the band’s self-titled debut. Wed. 7:30 p.m. $27.50-$35. Greek Theatre, 2700 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 665-5857.

Expect melodic vocals, hip-hop-inspired beat-boxing and spiritually resonant lyrics from the Chasidic reggae star, best known for the hit songs “King Without a Crown” and “One Day.” San Francisco’s bluesy jam-band Tea Leaf Green opens. Wed. 8 p.m. $25-$30. Club Nokia at L.A. Live, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 765-7000 or (800) 745-3000.


Blending traditional Jewish Yemenite melodies with blues, funk and jazz, the music by this nine-piece ensemble reflects singer Ravid Kahalani’s journey from West African roots to Western influences. Yemen Blues performs tonight as part of the Skirball’s free Summer Sunset concert series. Also, roam around and enjoy the “Houdini: Art and Magic” and “Masters of Illusion: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age” exhibitions, open until 10 p.m. Thu. 8 p.m. Free (parking not included). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic and clarinetists Kari Kriikku and Paul Meyer perform Aaron Copland’s orchestral suite and his “Clarinet Concerto” as well as renditions of Carl Nielsen’s “Maskarade Overture” and Magnus Lindberg’s “Clarinet Concerto.” Thu. 8 p.m. $1-$130. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 850-2000.




Music, spirituality and nature come together for this Big Jewish Tent event, a joint project of Craig ’n Co. and the Shalom Institute, at TreePeople. Chart-topping Israeli singer-songwriter Idan Raichel, who blends Middle Eastern and Ethiopian music with electronics and traditional Hebrew texts, joins an interfaith lineup of musicians, including Kenneth Crouch, Stuart K. Robinson, Lisbeth Scott, Duvid Swirsky and Craig Taubman. The evening kicks off with a bird walk hosted by Wild Wings and continues with dinner and drink, a Shabbat celebration and a moonlight hike. Fri. 7 p.m. (dinner), 8:30 p.m. (program). $15 (TreePeople members), $20 (general). TreePeople, South Mark Taper Foundation Amphitheatre, Coldwater Canyon Park, 12601 Mulholland Drive, Beverly Hills. (818) 623-4877.

Kristen Scott Thomas has garnered critical praise for her role as an expatriate American journalist in Paris who finds her life entwined with that of a young girl whose family was torn apart during the notorious Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup in 1942. The film, adapted from the novel by Tatiana de Rosnay, opens today at the Laemmle Monica 4-Plex and Fallbrook 7. Fri. Various times. $11 (general), $8 (children, 12 and under; seniors, 62 and over). Laemmle Monica 4-plex, 1332 Second St., Santa Monica. (310) 478-3836. Laemmle Fallbrook 7, 6731 Fallbrook Ave., West Hills. (818) 340-8710. Also playing at Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 844-6500.



Marissa Jaret Winokur and Harvey Fierstein reprise their Tony-winning Broadway roles as Tracy and Edna Turnblad in this 1960s-set musical about a plump teen with big hair and her quest to dance on (and integrate) “The Corny Collins Show.” Running for two nights at the Hollywood Bowl, its ensemble cast includes Susan Anton, Drew Carey, Nick Jonas, Michael McDonald and John Stamos. Sat. Through Aug. 7. 8:30 p.m. (Sun. performance, 7:30 p.m.). $12-$163. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 850-2000.




Beth Chayim Chadashim, IKAR and Shtibl Minyan come together for a somber evening of prayer, learning and music. BCC scholar-in-residence Rachel Adler speaks on “Pour Out Your Heart Like Water: The Necessity of Lament.” Enjoy simple foods — hard-boiled eggs, bread, tea — before the fast. Free. 6:30-7:30 p.m. (food before the fast). 7:30 p.m. (gathering). 6090 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023.


Congregations Temple Beth Am, IKAR and B’nai David-Judea commemorate the destructions of the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem. After Minha, Rabbis Aaron Kligfeld (Beth Am), Sharon Brous (IKAR) and Yosef Kanefsky (B’nai David-Judea) lead a session of study and singing. After Ma’ariv, the evening concludes with dinner. Tue. 6:15 p.m. (Minha), 7 p.m. (study and singing), 8:15 p.m. (Ma’ariv). Free (services and group study). $10 (per person for dinner, RSVP required). Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 652-7353.

THU | AUG 11

The historic Boyle Heights synagogue, a landmark 18,000-square-foot Byzantine structure, is being redeveloped by the Breed Street Shul Project into a neighborhood community center for educational, arts and cultural programs. Come visit the shul today with The Jewish Federation’s Real Estate and Construction Division, which has contributed to its restoration. Lunch will be provided. Thu. Noon-3 p.m. Free. Breed Street Shul, 247 N. Breed St., Los Angeles. (323) 761-8302.

The Mexico City vocalist draws on her Jewish Iraqi and Syrian roots as she combines Spanish vocals with rumba flamenco, Afro-Cuban drumming, Arabic melodies, Gypsy brass and Middle Eastern and Caribbean rhythms. Expect music from her new album, “Tanita,” which features lyrics in Spanish, English, Hebrew and Arabic. Limited seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Thu. 8 p.m. Free. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

Celebrate Tu B’Av — the Jewish holiday of love — with live music, mixed drinks and good company during tonight’s party, organized by young professionals organization JConnectLA. Ages 18 and over. Singles and couples welcome. Thu. 8-11 p.m. $10 (advance), $15 (door), $50 (VIP booth). Bungalow Club, 7174 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 277-5544.

Singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Leah Siegel’s latest project, a four-piece art-rock band, performs music from the group’s debut album, “And So They Ran Faster…,” at Hotel Café. Ages 21 and over. Thu. 9 p.m. Hotel Café, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 461-2040.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Dec. 16-24, 2010

THU | DEC 16

Iranian American comedians Maz Jobrani and Michael perform during “An Evening of Fun and Laughter” at Nessah Synagogue. Proceeds benefit the synagogue’s preschool and teen club. Beer, wine and refreshments served. Thu. 7:30 p.m. $95 (VIP), $65 (regular), $35 (students). Nessah Synagogue, 142 S. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 273-2400.

FRI | DEC 17

A university secretary is drawn into espionage and a love triangle when her Polish Security Service fiancé pressures her to become the lover of a well-known Jewish professor with suspected anti-communist ties in “Little Rose.” Set against the backdrop of an anti-Semitic campaign launched by Polish communists in 1967, co-writer and director Jan Kidawa-Blonski shows how a totalitarian regime can crush the human spirit in one’s own home just as surely as on the streets. Fri. Various times. $11 (general), $8 (seniors). Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 478-3836.

SAT | DEC 18

Shelley Adler, a former Jewish Journal production designer; producer Eve Brandstein; and mixed-media artist Michael Knight take part in an artists’ talk at The Artists’ Gallery in Santa Monica. After sharing their insights, you can peruse the artists’ exhibitions. Adler’s “New Work” transforms old snapshots into paintings, Brandstein’s “Word Forms” places poetic text around paintings of the human face and body, and Knight’s “Border Crossings” mixes hand drawings and monoprints to create “digiglyphs,” a term he coined. Sat. 3 p.m. Free. TAG Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., D-3, Santa Monica. (310) 829-9556.

SUN | DEC 19

Jeanie Buss — Lakers executive vice president, daughter of team owner Jerry Buss and longtime girlfriend of coach Phil Jackson — discusses and signs copies of her recently released memoir, “Laker Girl,” for Shomrei Torah Synagogue’s Men’s Club. New York Times best-selling co-author Steve Springer, a former Los Angeles Times sportswriter and Shomrei Torah congregant, will appear with Buss. Sun. 9:45-11:45 a.m. Free. Shomrei Torah Synagogue, 7353 Valley Circle Blvd., West Hills. (818) 348-5821.

The Jewish veterans featured in the documentary “About Face: The Story of the Jewish Refugee Soldiers of World War II” escaped Nazi Germany for the United States and Great Britain only to return to their former home to fight fascism in the European theater. Join filmmaker Steven Karras and executive producer Michael Berenbaum, director of American Jewish University’s Sigi Ziering Institute, for a screening of the film and a discussion about Karras’ book, “The Enemy I Knew: German Jews in the Allied Military in World War II.” Sun. 4 p.m. $10. American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-1548.

MON | DEC 20

Learn about the Shanghai Ghetto through the documents and photographs from one family who fled Austria for China during World War II. Charles Millett, who grew up in the Shanghai Ghetto, leads an in-depth exploration of his family’s collection. Mon. Noon-1 p.m. Free. Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, 100 S. The Grove Drive, Los Angeles. (323) 651-3704.

Comedian Sarah Silverman, author of the best-selling memoir “The Bedwetter,” hosts an evening of stand-up comedy with Dax Shepard, Chelsea Paretti, Jeffrey Ross and a special musical guest. Mon. 9 p.m. $25. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 855-0350.

THU | DEC 23

“One of the biggest challenges facing a parent and a grandparent today is the uncertainty whether our children will continue to follow in the ways of Judaism, in the Derech Hashem,” said Rabbi Alan Kalinsky, Orthodox Union’s West Coast director. The 20th annual Orthodox Union West Coast Torah Convention, “Keeping Our Values for the Next Generation,” features a variety of distinguished speakers addressing values — as they relate to daily life in schools, homes, shuls and the community — at numerous local synagogues during the four-day regional event. On Thursday, a plenary discussion at Beth Jacob Congregation focuses on “Keeping Our Kids and Grandkids on the Derech.” OU President Stephen J. Savitsky speaks Friday night as part of a panel, “Defining Our Values – The Effect of Polarization in the Jewish Community,” at Congregation Mogen David. On Sunday, a closing session at Young Israel of Century City features Savitsky with Rabbi Shaul Robinson and Journal senior writer Julie Gruenbaum Fax addressing “The Future of Orthodoxy.”  Thu. Through Dec. 26. Various times and locations. (310) 229-9000, ext. 200.

Party like a rock star with more than 1,200 young Jewish professionals during The Ball 2010 at The Colony, which raises money for The Guardians. Thu. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. $30 (advance), $40 (door). The Colony, 1743 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles.

FRI | DEC 24

Make a love connection amid the old Tinseltown glamour of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel as JDate and Stu and Lew Productions brings you the 17th annual Schmooz-a-Palooza. The Erev Christmas event also features an earlier three-course kosher-style Shabbat dinner at the hotel’s Public Kitchen and Bar (separate admission). Fri. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. $30 (general), $100 (VIP), $125 (VIP with table/bottle service). Dinner: 6:30 p.m. $45. Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.

Synaplex’s membership tip: put spirit back in Shabbat

The shades were drawn in the classroom at the Skirball Cultural Center. Lights dimmed. A white cloth anchored by softly glowing candles covered the center of the room. Sitting cross-legged on the floor or on straight-backed chairs, a group of men and women kicked off their shoes and closed their eyes as Rafael Harrington guided them in meditation.

At the same time in adjoining rooms, Mike Mason was leading a circle of fervent drummers, while Naomi Ackerman conducted a series of theater games focusing on Jewish identity.

These workshops, presented as possibilities for enhancing Shabbat offerings, were part of an afternoon organized by Synaplex, an initiative of STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), funded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation and the Samuel Bronfman Family Foundation.

About 150 people, including rabbis, cantors, lay leaders and staff from 40 congregations representing all denominations — Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Renewal — attended the Oct. 25 event, which was also sponsored by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
The capacity turnout — some congregations got no farther than the waiting list — was a clear indication that Synaplex, with its promise to help build membership participation through innovative Shabbat programming, is addressing a need.

Rabbi Hayim Herring, STAR’s executive director, emphasized that most people are not currently happy with their Shabbat observance.

“We don’t want to lose the minority who are satisfied, but we have to add to what we’re offering, so more people have rewarding experiences,” he said. “We know there is no magic bullet.

“People have all kinds of yearnings,” Herring continued. “Some are looking for God, some for prayer and meditation, some for community. I don’t want to impose my definition of spirituality on anyone else. We all go through different stages; what fits us today might not fit us tomorrow. If you think of Shabbat as the destination, Synaplex provides many paths to get there. Synagogues take what we have to offer and imbue it with their own creativity and energy.”

Ready to expand beyond the 120 congregations it now works with throughout the country, Synaplex offered the afternoon as an opportunity for interested congregations to sample a variety of activities, as well as to hear from veteran participants in the program.

“Synaplex gave us the scaffolding to create an expanded Shabbat community,” said Rabbi Dan Moskovitz of Temple Judea in Tarzana and West Hills, which has been involved in the program for three years. “We were interested in bringing in groups that weren’t participating in Shabbat. During our monthly Shabbats, we now have a Saturday luncheon for seniors that draws 50 people and a Shabbat romp for 30-45 families with small children.

“We’ve created a fusion service on Friday nights. We’ve gone from an average of 75-100 participants to well over 200. During a Synaplex Shabbat, there’s always something going on. We initially had simultaneous offerings, but the congregation didn’t like missing any of the activities, so our events are now sequential.

“Synaplex provided us an opportunity to experiment and explore and suggested new ways to create a sacred community,” Moskovitz reported. “In a sense, it’s completely transformed our service. Our Synaplex Shabbat was like a stone dropping on a calm pool of water. The ripple effect continues to reverberate in a positive and profound way across our temple community.”

Rabbi Laura Geller, describing the four years of evolution of Synaplex at Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, said, “There are many different doors to Judaism. For some it’s spiritual, for some it’s cultural, for some it’s community, for some it’s learning, for some it’s social justice,” and the genius of Synaplex is that all those doors open onto Shabbat.

“Our Shabbat Unplugged Services were our most successful, but we wanted to add to that,” she said. “We wanted to bring in the most underserved segments of our population — families with young children, singles and older people. From the beginning, the project had a playful quality as we began to imagine new kinds of programs.”

Geller described a typical Synaplex Friday, which might have 300 people in attendance (the regular Friday night services draw 70-100.) There is a Tot Shabbat and a healing service, as well as dinners for families and empty nesters and a wine-tasting for young adults, followed by the Shabbat Unplugged Service. The evening concludes with a festive oneg, complete with cappuccino cart, and a program that might include a guest speaker, film or music.

“There’s tremendous energy,” she said. “That energy makes people proud to be connected to Temple Emanuel. It’s still a work in progress. Shabbat was created to let people take a deep breath. Our Synaplex Shabbat reminds us how important a connection to a synagogue can be. It can be a connection of joy.”

Elana Centor, STAR’s marketing consultant, had the task of convincing the audience that the language of marketing and branding is not just appropriate but necessary for the revitalization of synagogues. Acknowledging that many in the group might not have the most positive feelings about “marketing,” she urged them to think of it as a “process of exchanging something of value for something you need.”

Her confidence in the efficacy of her approach and the importance of emotional connections appeared to melt most resistance, even for those who weren’t quite ready to think of their congregation as a “brand.”

When a congregation signs on to Synaplex, she assured them, they’d have access to the experience and resources of those who have been working successfully with the program for several years.

As the afternoon wound down, many lingered for a summing up. Sandy Calin, president Temple Kol Tikvah of Woodland Hills, reflected the enthusiastic consensus, saying, “We have a small congregation, about 250 families. We need both to grow and to revitalize ourselves. Synaplex provides an enormous variety of ways to participate.”

‘Moishe Houses’ provide post-Hillel hangout for 20-somethings

Say you’re a few years out of college, living with friends and working in a low-paying job for some do-good organization. You don’t go to synagogue, but you miss the camaraderie of your college Hillel, and you like to invite people over for Shabbat meals.

Imagine if someone was willing to pay you to keep doing it?
That’s what’s offered by Moishe House, a fast-growing network of subsidized homes for 20-something Jews committed to building Jewish community for themselves and their peers.
The project was launched less than a year ago by The Forest Foundation, a Santa Barbara-based philanthropy. The foundation’s executive director, David Cygielman, 25, says the goal was to give young activist Jews the financial freedom to focus on creative programming designed to reach other young, unaffiliated Jews.

To the people living in these houses, it’s a terrific gift.
“We were already having Shabbat dinners three or four times a month and then they came along and said, ‘We’re looking for people doing what you’re doing. Keep it up, and we’ll support you,'” said Jonathan Herzog, 29, who lives in the Seattle house with his sister Norah and two friends.
The project is a validation of these young Jews’ efforts to create a Jewish home for an age group they feel gets lost in the communal shuffle.
“After college there’s no more Hillel, and they don’t join the Jewish community until they have families,” Cygielman noted.
The first Moishe House opened last December in San Francisco. Seattle was next in February, joined quickly by houses in Boston and Los Angeles.
New ones are to open in October in Oakland, Washington, Uruguay and Nigeria, and the plan is to have 12 houses up and running by next year.
Except for the Nigerian house, which is a one-man outreach operation, they all follow the same formula: Three or four Jews in their 20s receive a rent subsidy of up to $2,500 a month, along with $500 for programming, and are expected to become a communal hub for young Jews by hosting Shabbat meals, card games, Yiddish lessons, film nights, book discussions, neighborhood clean-ups and other social, intellectual and civic-minded activities.
Residents say the formula works because it lets young people organize events they themselves would want to attend, rather than having something imposed from above by a synagogue or JCC.
In many ways, it’s the bayit of the 21st century. But unlike those communal Jewish homes of the 1970s and ’80s, which usually were sponsored by Zionist youth groups, residents of Moishe Houses don’t subscribe to a particular ideology.
The focus varies according to residents’ interests: The houses in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco host a lot of poker parties and film nights, while the Boston house is more involved in social action.
Houses have great freedom, Cygielman says, so long as they meet the minimum requirements: hosting eight to 12 events a month, making weekly reports, maintaining a Web site and reaching out to young people. Funding can be withdrawn if a house doesn’t perform.
“I won’t tell them what’s a wrong program or a right program,” Cygielman said. “I don’t care, so long as they’re building community and lots of people are coming.”
Maia Ipp, 24, moved into the San Francisco house in June. She runs a women’s group and a cooking club that is working its way alphabetically through the world’s cuisines.
Her parents once lived in a bayit sponsored by Habonim, a Labor Zionist youth group, but Ipp prefers the Moishe House model.
“We’re not affiliated with a movement that has a belief system, which frees us to do new, fresh work and engage young adults in ways other movements and campus groups can’t,” she said.
One recent evening, the four young residents of the San Francisco house got together for their weekly meeting. They sat around the large table in the dining room, which opens onto a large patio they use for Shabbat dinners and holiday parties.
David Persyko, 25, started hanging out at the house soon after it opened.
“I found myself really attached to being part of a Jewish community again,” he said. “Some of my fondest memories growing up were from Camp Swig, and coming here, I felt that rush of support I hadn’t felt in 10 years.”
He moved in in June and now runs poker night, which draws a group of guys every three weeks to “vent about the women in our lives,” Persyko said.
Aaron Gilbert, 24, runs a book club. The books aren’t Jewish, but the participants are, and talking about the books leads to talking about other things.
“It’s really intimate. We hang out, catch up on each others’ lives,” he said.
The house holds a big Shabbat dinner once a month and sponsors a softball team called the Matzah Ballstars. But the events and programs are secondary to the real draw.
“At our core, we’re four people who live in a house and we’re inviting people over. That’s appealing to people like us. It’s not institutional,” said Isaac Zones, 24, national director of the Moishe House network and a founding member of the San Francisco house.
On a table in the corner is a silver-toned bust of Zones’ grandfather, a man who founded his business empire with money he won playing poker. Zones makes sure the statue is always there during games.
The Moishe House concept is still in its early stages, and some things need to be tweaked. For example, the Los Angeles and Seattle houses are trying to beef up their social action component, while the Boston house is being encouraged to offer more “fun events,” Cygielman said.
It’s all part of figuring out what constitutes a Jewish community, or even a Jewish event. Must it be something devoted purely to a Jewish ritual or Zionist goal? Or is it enough to bring together a bunch of Jewish people to shmooze and eat?

Class Notes

New Yeshiva Flying SCY High
Founding board members of the new Southern California Yeshiva High School (SCY High) for boys in La Jolla knew that with a history of failed yeshiva high schools in the area, they had to offer the community something new and innovative. So they, along with headmaster Kevin Cloud, developed a school that utilizes high-tech project-based learning to integrate all disciplines — from science to literature to Gemara.

The school, the only Orthodox boys high school in the San Diego area, attracted 17 boys in ninth and 10th grades last year, its first year of existence, and next year between 25 and 30 are expected to be enrolled in the ninth through 11th grades. One Los Angeles boy boarded with relatives, and next year several families are opening up their homes to students who want to board.

As a school starting from scratch, teachers were able to take novel approaches to study.

The ninth graders, for example, read Goethe’s “Faust,” then rewrote it as short film. They created sets — some using “South Park”-style puppets, some using stop-action dolls and action figures — set it to music, and filmed short movies. The 10th graders read Christopher Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus,” then rewrote a modernized version then studied and debated the moral implications of making Faustus Jewish.

“What you do in project-based learning is you take the ability the students have in one subject and you bring that enthusiasm into another subject,” Cloud said.

The students also get traditional instruction, but even there things tend to blend.

In Rabbi Moshe Adatto’s Gemara class, students had to present talmudic arguments in a PowerPoint flowchart. Each student is given a Dell laptop when they enter, and the school is wired for high-speed wireless Internet access.

To Adatto, who previously was a teacher at the Valley Kollel, it’s all part of making kids love school and love Judaism.

“We’re trying to create lifelong learners, and to me that has two components: They have to know how to learn, and they have to want to learn,” said Adatto, who organized Shabbatons and other events to build school spirit.

All but one student has reenrolled for next year, and an anonymous survey that all of the parents filled out brought back astonishing results for a Jewish school: No one — not one family — reported being anything less than satisfied.

For more information on SCY High School, contact (858) 658-0857 or visit

Follow the Fellows to Israel
Three Southern California teens were among 26 selected nationally to visit Israel on a five-week Bronfman Youth Fellowship this summer. Priscella Frank of Calabasas High School and Benjamin and Mitzi Steiner of Shalhevet were selected following a rigorous application process. They will participate in an intensive program of study and travel in Israel designed to develop leaders committed to Jewish unity.

The fellows participate in seminars and dialogues with diverse rabbinic faculty and spend a week with a group of Israeli peers who have been chosen through Amitei Bronfman, a parallel Israeli program. Bronfman Youth Fellows are asked to complete 40 hours of community service when they return home at the end of the summer.

3 Books = 31 Flavors
Students at Temple Beth Am’s Pressman Academy have another reason to pick up a good book — to satisfy their sweet tooth. As part of the Be a Star Reader program, elementary and middle school kids who read three books this spring were awarded a free ice cream cone at any Baskin-Robbins. Arna Schwartz, the school librarian, has run the Be a Star Reader program for several years, purchasing Baskin-Robbins gift certificates. This year, Robert Schwartz, who owns the Baskin-Robbins on Kinross Avenue in Westwood, offered to sponsor the program. Other Schools or youth organizations interested in participating in the Baskin-Robbins Reading Rewards Program can contact Robert Schwartz at (310) 208-8048.

To Bee or Not to Bee
More than 150 boys from Chabad schools across the world gathered in Los Angeles in April for a battle of wits on Maimonides’ Sefer Hamitzvot. Cheder Menachem in Los Angeles was the host school of the chidon, or bee, which attracted 1,000 spectators to the finals held at Emerson Middle School. The girls’ competition was held the week before in New York. Local winners were Sender Labkowsky, first place, older division; Mendel Mishulovin, third place, older division; and Shmully Lezak, third place, younger division.

ADL Reaches 700,000 Students
As part of LAUSD’s Live Violence-Free Day, 35,000 teachers in the district were urged to use materials and activities they received from the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) A World of Difference Institute, impacting more than 700,000 K-12 students in one day. The activities and lesson plans were designed to assist educators in addressing issues of bias, discrimination, bullying and violence, and focused on empowering students to become agents of change on their campuses. For more information on ADL education programs, contact Jenny Betz at (310) 446-8000, ext. 233.


Latin American Jews Create L.A. Oasis

Imagine that you live in Latin America and you’re Jewish. Typically, you and your family would belong to a full-service Jewish club with cultural, recreational, educational and athletic activities for all ages. The club is reasonably priced, promotes Jewish identity in a secular manner and is the backbone of your social life.

You spend a lot of time in club-sponsored activities with your nuclear and extended family, and with friends from the club: Friday night dinners, Sunday afternoon barbecues, weekends in the country, vacations at the seashore — a full and active communal life.

Now imagine that — mainly for economic reasons — you emigrate from such a country and come to Los Angeles. You have your nuclear family, but you’re separated from your extended family and friends. You may know enough English to earn a living, but you’re not at ease with the language. As a result, it remains difficult for you to have a social life with English-speaking friends, or participate fully in an American cultural life — whether you’re a new arrival or have been in the country for a number of years.

And even though you have a strong Jewish identity — you may speak Hebrew and/or Yiddish — you’re not really interested in a communal life that revolves around a shul: first, you’re not observant and you don’t want to make a shul the center of your life; second, it would be in English, not Spanish; and third, it would mean spending more than you feel you can afford. The Jewish Community Center (JCC) might be a possibility, but in the last few years there has been a cutback in JCCs in Los Angeles, and what they offer is not exactly you’re looking for.

So what do you do?

What you could do is start your own Jewish organization, using the Latin American model. That’s what happened in early 2005 when the Latin American Jewish Association (LAJA) was founded by several people with exactly that idea.

Omar Zayat, director of LAJA and one of its founders, said the “drive to create this organization came from the fact that after 2001, with the economic crash in Argentina, many Jews left there, and a lot of them came to L.A. Once here, they wanted to recreate the kind of community they’d left behind, and creating their own club seemed a good way to go about it.”

In Argentina, Zayat had worked for Jewish groups, organizing children’s summer camps and programs for seniors and other age groups, so it was logical that he would continue doing that kind of work here. He’s not a hands-off administrator: LAJA presents evening dance workshops that are both energetic and sweat-inducing and where about 20 to 30 people get a good workout in Israeli and other kinds of dance. Zayat himself leads these groups.

“For now,” he said, “we have 85 families signed up and many more come when we have special events. We have the names of 400 families that we contact for these events, like movies that someone has brought from Argentina or casino night or a tango show.”

One of the challenges for LAJA has been to adapt to Los Angeles’ sprawling area, which has meager public transport. Here, a parent needs to drop off and pick up a child, which takes getting used to by Latin American parents whose children were accustomed to using good public transport or cheap taxis to navigate their own way around a city like Buenos Aires. It also means scheduling activities to fit working parents who double as chauffeurs.

LAJA divides its activities into youth, Jewish education, university student programs, adults, sports, arts and drama and marketing. Youth activities are handled by teenage madrichim, Hebrew for guides. Zayat said that “using the Latin American model, older kids are trained to guide the younger ones, encouraging Jewish identity and having fun while doing it.”

LAJA is co-sponsored by The New JCC at Milken in West Hills, which has provided office space and other facilities. Since many of the new immigrants arrived with limited resources, the JCC has permitted them to become members at a discounted price.

If you go to The New JCC at Milken nowadays, you’re as likely to hear Spanish as English. There’s an unmistakable spark of creative, communal energy in the air, whether one attends a workshop that helps new arrivals get oriented to life in Los Angeles or a Latin American-style barbecue or a musical recital.

Michael Jeser, director of development and community affairs at The New JCC at Milken, noted that “one of the most exciting pieces in working with the Latin American Jewish Association is that the JCC, historically, has been a home for new immigrants and a venue for the absorption of new immigrants into American society. And here we are in 2006, and it’s really no different. When the Latin American group came to us and said, ‘We’re looking for a home,’ it was a really natural partnership, and we’ve sort of adopted them, made them into one of our own programs, and have watched them flourish.”

Jeser said that “seeing how the members are interacting with our other JCC members, it’s the extension of a real family, and the feeling of a real international ethnic Jewish community, even beyond Los Angeles’ typical ethnic diversity. The JCC has been home to a large Russian community, a large Persian community, a large Israeli community, and now with the growing Latin American group, it’s just getting larger. And we are very proud to have this community [because] they have a strong history with Jewish community centers in Argentina, which lent itself to this partnership.”

“Having them here is like having a piece that we were missing,” Jeser said. “Now we’ve filled that void in the community and are looking to expand it.”

?LAJA is located at The New JCC at Milken, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. They can be contacted at (818) 464-3274. Their Web site (in Spanish) is

The Circuit

Kudos for Kuh

Los Angeles culinary expert Patric Kuh was honored recently in New York by the James Beard Foundation for his humanitarian efforts during the the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards.

Kuh won kudos in the Magazine Restaurant Review or Critique category for his work at Los Angeles Magazine.

A Clear Need

Bob Ralls and Linda Falcone accepted awards from Harold Davidson, chairman of the board for Junior Blind of America, at the nonprofit organization’s gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The event was held specifically to recognize the contributions of the couple to Junior Blind of America, where they have served as president and vice president of development for more than 20 years. For more than 50 years, Junior Blind of America has offered unique programs and services to help blind and visually impaired people become more independent.

Farewell to Anat Ben-Ishai

While many Jewish Angelenos gathered to do a mitzvah for Big Sunday or to celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut at the Israel Festival, a group of almost 300 Wilshire Boulevard Temple staff and families gathered at the Irmas campus for a cause equally personal. The morning’s event was dubbed a “Farewell to Anat Ben-Ishai,” who retired this year after 15 years as director of the Edgar F. Magnin and Gloria and Peter S. Gold Religious Schools.

“You’ve been an inspiration to our children. We can’t pay any person enough for that,” Rabbi Emeritus Harvey J. Fields told Ben-Ishai via a video message. Fields prerecorded a special goodbye message to Ben-Ishai, knowing he would be out of the country for the event. He said what would be missed most in Ben-Ishai’s absence would be her “poetic soul,” her storytelling, and her “care about each of us.” He also noted the excellence of the synagogue’s religious schools today “is your crowning achievement.”

Indeed, in the time Ben-Ishai served as Hebrew school director, the school grew from less than 400 students attending Hebrew school once a week at one campus, to close to 1,000 students attending three days a week at two different campuses.

The haimishe event, as one attendee described it, included many students, several of whom came with their parents. The day began with the tribute and was followed by Israeli dancing, children’s art projects and lunch, as well as a video station to record personal messages to Ben-Ishai and another station to “Write an Anat-o-gram.”

Students also participated in special art projects in their classes, as well as a video project, in which they bid Ben-Ishai farewell and told her they would miss her friendliness and her stories.

Gil Graff, executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE), acknowledged Ben Ishai’s leadership contributions over the years, stating that out of the five outstanding teachers recognized by the BJE last year, two teachers were from Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

“Anat,” he told her, “you are truly a teacher of teachers.”

Ben-Ishai told those assembled that her greatest pride came from seeing her student’s independent participation in acts of tikkun olam and tzedakah.

The Anat Ben-Ishai Religious School Scholarship Fund was established May 3 in Ben-Ishai’s honor.

Those wishing to contribute may call the school at (213) 388-2401. — Keren Engelberg, Contributing Writer

Much About Maller

Hot dogs and happy memories were the recipe for the weekend as Temple Akiba, the Reform congregation of Culver City, honored Rabbi Allen Maller for 39 years of dedication and inspiration. The weekend was filled with events to bring the congregation together to celebrate and reflect on the Maller’s years as their leader.

Friday night a special service was held and representatives of California Assemblywoman Karen Bass and L.A. County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke presented commendations. Former Culver City Mayor Albert Vera and Culver City Councilwoman Carol Gross praised Maller’s contributions to the community — the City Council even designated April as “Rabbi Maller Month.” There was a “Potpourri of International Tastes” dinner Saturday night and an original musical review written by Barbara Miller that featured five temple members — performing a “shtetl-flavored” tribute to Maller and Temple Akiba.

Maller will leave Temple Akiba at the end of June. Rabbi Zach Shapiro will become new spiritual leader of the congregation.


Nearly 800 donors, community leaders and public officials gathered May 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the 17th annual Magbit Foundation gala to raise funds for interest-free loans for Israeli college students and to celebrate Israel’s 58th year of independence. Master of ceremonies and Magbit leader David Nahai, chair of the L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board, welcomed the guests and the contributions of the local Iranian Jewish community that started the Magbit Foundation.

Keynote speaker, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, acknowledged Magbit’s nearly $3 million in loans given to almost 7,000 new immigrant Israeli university students during the last 17 years.

“The fact that you have provided a means for the talented students in Israel to get the education that will help better the world is truly remarkable,” Villaraigosa said.

Israeli Consul General Ehud Danoch spoke about the uniquely strong sense of Zionism of Iranian Jews living in Southern California.

“My friends I have known many Jewish communities around the world, but I have grown to admire the Iranian Jewish community for your sense of Israel and love of Israel which is heartfelt,” Danoch said.

Guests also enjoyed the Middle Eastern dancing of the Sunflower Dancers and the singing of acclaimed Israeli Noa Dori. Also in attendance were Israeli Justice Ministry official Shlomo Shachar, and Los Angeles Jewish Federation President John Fishel — Karmel Melamed, Contributing Writer

7 Days in The Arts

Saturday, April 15

The bread don’t rise, but spirits may. Two events tonight focus on Passover through music and comedy. Celebrate Chol Hamoed Pesach at Stephen S. Wise Temple with this evening’s “Let My People Sing” series event, “Tears, Laughter and Spirit.” Comedian Joel Chasnoff performs with The Lost Boys of Sudan Choir and Dream Freedom Performers of Milken Community High School. Or visit the Workmen’s Circle for “Music, Mayses … and Matse?!” a concert of Yiddish and klezmer tunes performed by renown musicians Yale Strom on violin, Mark Dresser on contrabass and singer Elizabeth Schwartz.

Stephen S. Wise: 7:30 p.m. Dessert and coffee follow. Donation. 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 476-8561. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>

Sunday, April 16

Ladies only, you are cordially invited to a special screening of “Together as One,” a multicamera video produced by Kol Neshama, an L.A. arts program for Orthodox girls and women. The film about positive attitude and watching what you say has a “Wizard of Oz”-ian spin, when the snide-mouthed protagonist, Bracha, ends up in The Land of Emes (Truth). There are elaborately choreographed musical numbers featuring now-Orthodox professional performers, along with local school girls. The video may only be viewed in today’s and tomorrow’s screenings.

April 16 and 17, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Upstairs@ Kehilas Yaakov, 7211 Beverly Blvd. (877) 637-4262.

Monday, April 17

Director Nicole Holofcener’s film about the midlife struggles of four female friends — and their uneasy relationships with money and each other-comes to theaters this week. Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, Joan Cusack and Frances McDormand star in the comedy/drama “Friends With Money,” which was the opening night film at the Sundance Film Festival.

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Tuesday, April 18

Head to LACMA West for art that makes you go, “hmmmm….” Their new LACMALab installation, “Consider this…” features the work of six varied artists that all invite viewers to “examine the cultural and social landscape: who are we and what do we want to be?”

Through Jan. 15, 2007. Free (children 17 and under), $5-$9 (general). 6067 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.

Wednesday, April 19

Pay homage to legends of different sorts at tonight’s American Cinematheque screening of “The Night of the Hunter.” This is the kickoff event for their new screening series of devoted film critic “Kevin Thomas’ Favorite Films.” The monthly event will feature 10 of Thomas’ favorites, including “Sunset Boulevard” and “A Star is Born.” Tonight also serves as a tribute to Thomas’ friend, actress Shelley Winters, who starred in “Hunter.”

7:30 p.m. $6-$9. 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica.


Thursday, April 20

The circle of life takes an unconventional turn or two in Michelle Kholos’ new play “Two Parents, Two Weddings, Two Years.” The story follows Sidney, a grown woman with a boyfriend and a career, who must reconcile herself with the fact that her divorced parents are both, separately, getting remarried, while she struggles to hang on to her significant other, and her brother tries to romance his soon-to-be sister-in-law. Wacky Jewish family drama ensues….

8 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.), 3 p.m. (Sun.), through May 14. $25. The Hollywood Court Theatre, Hollywood United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. (323) 692-8200.


Friday, April 21

A woman dressed in a white gown and veil stands at a border crossing between the Golan Heights and Syria. She is “The Syrian Bride,” the titular character in a new film by Eran Riklis, and her story is based on a real incident Riklis witnessed and filmed for his 1999 documentary, “Borders.” The bride’s story is a complicated one, of people’s lives caught between the politics and bureaucracies of border countries. The film played at this year’s Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles, and is released theatrically today.

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What Do Gen-Y Jews Want? Everything

Brandeis University just released a new study of Jewish college students. It found that they’re proud to be Jewish, largely unaffiliated, attracted to Jewish culture more than religion, like diversity and don’t feel strong ties to Israel or Jewish federations.

Reboot, a nonprofit that promotes creative Jewish initiatives, just did a study of the same age group, and found that they’re proud to be Jewish, avoid institutional affiliation, are interested in Jewish culture and have diverse allegiances.

Sociologist Steven Cohen of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York did a similar study, as did Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, and they both found … guess what? Young Jews are proud, unaffiliated, pro-culture, pro-diversity and anti-tribal.

The last few months have seen a flood of studies of Gen-Y Jews — all trying to map their sense of Jewish identity, affiliation patterns, needs, hopes, beliefs and behaviors.

Why is everyone looking at the same population?

First, there are the numbers: almost half a million Jewish college students, the future of this country’s Jewish community. The very few studies on record, particularly the 1990 and 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Surveys (NJPS), indicate that large numbers of young Jews aren’t going to synagogue, joining Jewish organizations, marrying other Jews or giving money to Israel or Jewish charities.

They’re opting out, which has led to great hand-wringing and head-shaking on the part of American Jewish officials.

Yet the new studies show an up-and-coming generation that is proud of its Jewish identity and culturally creative, is coming up with new methods of religious expression and feels part of a global community linked by Jewish Web sites and blogs.

Researchers say it’s cause for cautious celebration.

“There has been a general angst about the Jewish future for the past two decades, a continuity crisis,” says Roger Bennett, senior vice president at the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, which sponsored the March 2006 Reboot study, “Grande Soy Vanilla Latte with Cinnamon, No Foam: Jewish Identity and Community in a Time of Unlimited Choices.”

Describing his study’s findings as “very positive,” Bennett says, “I hope this study assuages almost all the fear. There’s plenty to be optimistic about.”

The question for Jewish funders and organizations is what they’re going to do with the information, Bennett says.

Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, says that while Jewish leaders in the late 1960s and early ’70s were “very unhappy about developments in the youth culture, and took a long time to reconcile themselves to it,” today’s Jewish leadership “is inquisitive, wants to know more.

Even while the older generation “may be shocked at things like Heeb,” an irreverent youth magazine, it “sees that something is going on and is paying attention,” Sarna says.

But if all these new studies are yielding pretty much the same information, are they useful?

Yes, researchers insist. First, each study asks slightly different questions, reflecting the needs of the sponsoring organization.

For example, Hillel’s study was prompted largely by one figure from the 2000-2001 NJPS, which showed that two-thirds of Jewish college students don’t attend Hillel activities, says Julian Sandler, chair of the group’s strategic planning committee. Hillel will release its long-awaited study of Jewish college students in late May.

The statistic “troubled us immensely,” Sandler says. Hillel engaged in two years of research “to try to understand what it is that today’s Jewish students are interested in.”

Hillel already has put some of that information to work. One of the central findings of its study is that young Jews have “a strong desire to find out more about their Jewishness, especially from an ethnic perspective,” which can “be manifested in multiple ways.”

One popular way is through tzedek, or social justice work. To that end, Hillel last month sent hundreds of students on a spring-break trip to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild communities hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“Tzedek will be a major emphasis [of Hillel programming in the future],” Sandler says.

Amy Sales, co-author of “Particularism in the University: Realities and Opportunities for Jewish Life on Campus,” a new study by the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis, says her data, collected in 2003, helps the people funding Jewish campus activities to use their dollars more effectively.

Her study found, among other things, that Jewish college students are interested in Jewish studies, want events that have a Jewish “flavor” but are open to non-Jews and need help in finding meaningful, compelling ways to engage in Jewish life.

She and co-author Leonard Saxe used that information to propose that Hillel customize its programs for each campus and develop better relationships with university administrations, other campus groups and local Jewish communities, creating “Jewish-friendly campuses” rather than focusing on simply reaching as many Jewish students as possible.

In fact, Hillel is doing just that, incoming President Wayne Firestone says. The group is convening a Washington summit May 21-23 to bring together funders, university administrators and Jewish organizational heads to talk about how to improve working relationships on campus, the first time such a targeted meeting has been held.

Researchers from all the studies agree that today’s young Jews can be a willing and energetic audience if the organized Jewish community steps up to the plate in time, and with a message that is relevant.

“They are looking for a positive Jewish experience, and every Jewish institution that answers that and puts its faith in young people will have a rosy future,” Bennett says. “Any funder that wishes to innovate is going to prosper.”


The View From L.A.: Hoping for the Best

Los Angeles supporters of Israel’s political parties praised or mourned the results of the Knesset election, but even the winners weren’t entirely in a mood to celebrate.

Shimon Erem, a former high-ranking officer in the Israeli army, said he had planned to fly to Israel to cast his ballot for Kadima (Israel has no absentee voting). However, with pre-election predictions that the centrist party would gain around 40 seats, Erem felt his vote wouldn’t be needed.

Instead, Kadima got only 29 seats out of a total of 120, a showing he attributed to “faulty strategy due to overconfidence, to taking its support for granted.”

Dr. Yehuda Handelsman, a veteran leader of the local Israeli community, also backed Kadima, but had been more realistic.

“I think we did pretty well,” he said. “If Ariel Sharon had remained healthy and had led the party, I think we would have gotten 35-40 seats.”

As a new party, Kadima has not yet organized an American support group, but Handelsman predicted the establishment of such an organization in the next two years.

The Labor Party came in second with 19 seats and Bea Chenkin, regional executive director of Ameinu (formerly Labor Zionist Alliance), said she was satisfied.

“Considering that [former Labor Party leader] Shimon Peres jumped ship to join Kadima, we did as well as could be expected,” she said. “A lot of Israelis feel that the social problems of the country have been neglected, but now these issues are coming to the fore again.”

Rabbi Meyer May, president of the (Orthodox) Rabbinical Council of California, said that the three religious parties had done a good job in mobilizing their base among the generally apathetic electorate.

“Shas, National Union-Religious Party and United Torah Judaism understood that there was a lot at stake for the observant community and managed to retain their strength, May said.

Even among the Orthodox parties, there are strong ethnic and ideological differences, noted Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, a Loyola Law School faculty member and an Orthodox leader.

At least one of the religious parties, most likely the less ideological United Torah Judaism, will join a Kadima-led coalition, Adlerstein predicted.

Robert Rechnitz, national vice chairman and Western regional president of American Friends of Likud, said he was “obviously disappointed” by the election results.

Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, had been the largest party in the sitting Knesset, but will have only 12 seats in the next one.

Rechnitz blamed the decline on Sharon’s absence at the top of the ticket and defections by many retired and Orthodox voters, who had been hurt by Netanyahu’s past economic policies, as well as by what he called a “vicious” campaign against Netanyahu in the Israeli media.

The leftist Meretz Party managed only five seats, to the dismay of Dr. Isaac Berman, a national board member of Meretz USA.

“Similar to the Democratic Party here, Meretz didn’t seem to have clear message and didn’t make the right kind of noise,” Berman said.

Views on the road ahead in the peace process varied from wait-and-see resignation to cautious optimism among several community leaders interviewed by The Journal.

Roz Rothstein, executive director of StandWithUs, a pro-Israeli advocacy group, said the situation in Israel is so fluid that it is difficult to make predictions about how events will unfold. Given the internal and external challenges Israel faces, though, she said that now is a time for unity.

“This is a time when Israelis need to pull together and work together,” Rothstein said. “You have the potential polarization of the Israeli society on the left and right on the inside and the Hamas threat from the outside.

A more upbeat assessment came from Mark LeVine, associate professor of Middle Eastern history at UC Irvine. He said that despite Olmert’s vow to draw Israel’s final borders unilaterally, a negotiated settlement could eventually emerge. Hamas, he said, despite its refusal to recognize Israel, is not opposed to cutting a deal. And because of its standing in the Arab street, the group has the credentials to do so.

“Assuming Hamas doesn’t engage in too much violence either against military targets or terrorism against civilians, I would assume that in the next couple years there’s going to be a repeat of the negotiations you had at Camp David in 2000 and in Taba,” said LeVine, who wrote the 2005 book, “Why They Don’t Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil” (Oneworld). “They’re probably going to be using pretty much the same maps.”

A local Muslim leader weighed in with similarly cautious optimism.

“There’s a recognition by the bulk of the Israeli population that the Greater Israel Project is over,” said Nayyer Ali, past chair of the Muslim Pubic Affairs Council. “Unlike the mood in Israel in 2000 and before, we now have a consensus among Israelis that the end solution is a Palestinian state.”

Ali added that the rise of the terorrist Hamas group on the Palestinian side also should not be viewed as a fatal impediment to peace. Just as the Israeli left cannot make peace without the support of more conservative Israeli parties, Ali said, Palestinian leaders, absent Hamas, also could not make a binding agreement. Despite its vow never to recognize Israel, “like other ideological parties, I think Hamas will have to deal with reality now that it’s in power,” Ali said.

But Sabiah Khan, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Southern California chapter, said she sees nothing but a stalemate ahead in at least the short term: Israel, on the one side, refuses to negotiate until Hamas renounces terrorism and recognizes its right to exist. The new Palestinian government, on the other hand, won’t engage Israel until the Jewish state ends its “occupation,” recognizes the national rights of the Palestinian people and renounces terror.

“Basically, we have two groups saying the same thing, that they’re not going to talk to each other [until the other side does something that it isn’t willing to do], Khan said. “Outside intervention from the U.S., Europe, the United Nations or Arab governments is needed.”

Some or all of those parties, she said, could break the impasse by encouraging a negotiated settlement based on international law and existing U.N. resolutions.

Regardless of last week’s voting results, the local Israeli consulate was in campaign party mode on Election Day. Consul General Ehud Danoch and his staff festooned the consulate’s Jerusalem Hall with small Israeli flags, and had spread out a generous supply of pita, hummus, techinah and cookies for more than 100 guests who jammed together to watch the results of the first exit polls.

Danoch drew on his own political background for a running commentary on the merging trends and shared the general astonishment at the success of the Pensioners Party, which came out of nowhere to gain seven seats.



GOP ‘Munich’ Event

In his review of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s “Munich” event (“‘Munich’ Still Topic of Debate,” Briefs, Feb. 24), Robert Jaffee feigns surprise when he states, “Even with Republican sponsors and a largely Republican audience, the panelists at a recent discussion on Steven Spielberg’s ‘Munich’ covered most of the spectrum from left to right.”

As moderator, I opened the event by stating the two conditions under which we agreed to co-host the event with Pepperdine. First was that it should be held as a nonpartisan event, since I do not believe there is an established Republican or Democrat position on the movie — nor should there be. As evidence, I cited critics of the movie on the left, such Alan Dershowitz, as well as defenders of it on the right.

My second condition was that I would not allow the discussion to devolve into ad hominem attacks on either Steven Spielberg, for whom I hold admiration (and as a guardian of the memory of the Holocaust, gratitude), or Tony Kushner, whom I do not particularly admire.

To the audience’s credit, they abided by these admonitions. And when two (out of almost 200) participants engaged the panelists with debate from their seats — as Jaffee noted with condescension — I reminded them of our agreement to submit questions on cards, and they also responded respectfully.

It is curious that Jaffee would leave out all mention of these comments by me.

Readers of The Jewish Journal should be reassured that if they choose to sample one of RJC’s thoughtful events, they will be greeted with respect, not with cream pie in the face, a fate that has befallen conservative speakers at some venues.

Dr. Joel Geiderman
California Chair
Republican Jewish Coalition

Jack Abramoff

Two recent articles in the Los Angeles Times have undermined David Klinghoffer’s impassioned statement on Jack Abramoff (“In Defense of Jack Abramoff,” Jan. 27). One demonstrated that Abramoff used charities as a place to park money, which he subsequently used as if it was his own, and from another, we learned that this self-described Orthodox Jew advanced the interests and facilitated a meeting for the president of Malaysia with the president of the United States. His client had made such well-publicized anti-Semitic statements that they were broadcast throughout the world.

I wonder if Klinghoffer’s op-ed should not be withdrawn by the author or at least by the papers which published it. We now know it was contrafactual and verifiably untrue when it was written.

I do not claim that Klinghoffer knew that his defense — or his attack on the so-called attackers — was untrue, but his failure to withdraw the story leaves such an impression on this — and I presume other readers. If he does not withdraw it, The Jewish Journal should.

Michael Berenbaum
Sigi Ziering Institute
University of Judaism

David Klinghoffer responds:

This correspondent missed the point of my article. That Jack Abramoff broke the law, abused the system and the trust of others was the premise of and occasion for the article I wrote. Once again: What I asked was, given that Abramoff has admitted serious criminal activity, that he’s publicly abased himself, that he’s now going to receive a hefty and deserved prison sentence, how appropriate is it for the Jewish community to continue to pour scorn and, indeed, hate upon him?

The lack of pity and compassion from so many of his co-religionists, the venom I’ve seen in numerous e-mails sent to me directly, is the real desecration of God’s name in this case. The fact that the writer of this letter can’t understand such an elementary point illustrates, rather than contradicts, what I tried to say.

Shameful Cover

On our trips to Israel we have seen Ethiopian Jews in modern dress, integrated into modern Israeli society. It was heartening. Your Feb. 24 cover showing a primitive Ethiopian and questioning whether such a person can be a Jew is a shameful dig or racist bigotry. It would be more appropriate for a Ku Klux Klan publication than for The Jewish Journal.

Marshall Giller

Not Made Clear

The Bush administration and the Israelis should have made it clear before the Palestinian elections that democracy does not mean that a people has the right to vote for “Nazis” (“U.S. Must Refocus Democracy Building,” Feb. 24). No fair-minded person would deny that Germany is a democracy, but certainly the Allies would never have let the people of (West) Germany govern themselves if they had elected Nazis, and if this happened, the Allies would not be called “hypocritical.

Another point of common sense. Now that everyone is aware how sensitive Muslims are about certain things, should the world not demand not only that Hamas recognize Israel and denounce terrorism, but that it end all hate speech against Jews.

Obviously, Jews certainly have the right to feel more sensitive about Holocaust denial, the blood libel and being called “pigs” and “dogs” than Muslims do about cartoons that truthfully depict their behavior.

Ronnie Lampert
Los Angeles


I hope someone asked Elias Khoury at his book reading why the people who started the war against Israel with the intent of wiping it and it’s inhabitants off the face of the earth have the chutzpah to call themselves victims, after they lost their attempted genocide of Israel (“‘Gates’ Hold Key to Palestinians’ Pain,” Feb. 24). I hope someone also asked Khoury why the Arab perpetrators of the “nakhba” didn’t take care of there own refugees.

Robert Miller
Sherman Oaks

Shlomo’s World

Howard Blume’s piece is precisely the kind of self-righteous equivocating that keeps the Jewish people off course and susceptible to attack (“Shlomo’s World,” Feb. 24). How dare he go on and on about one, count ’em: one person named Goldstein who killed Arabs while over the past five, 50, 100 and more years how many Arabs have killed how many innocent Jews?

Blume demonstrates that he has very little accurate knowledge of the history or purpose of his own people. A child of the civil rights movement, he does not see a religious Jew’s world as [Blume’s] own world — and therein lies the problem.

Blume was raised with the American civil rights movement as his religion. Has he or others like him really taken the time to see what the roots of that movement were and how it relates to Israel? It was and is the heroic story of the people of Israel that fuels and informs the struggle of black Americans for their freedom.

But Blume apparently refuses to see the cold, hard realities of the Middle East. He doesn’t believe it that when someone says they’re coming to kill you, they actually mean it. If Blume knew the history of his own people and understood what is truly his own world, he would have a very different view.

But, alas, he and others wish to remain in their give peace a chance/we are the world cloud, while denigrating the very religious Jews, who by the courage and devotion, continue to live and maintain the land of Israel. Give a thoughtful reading to from time immemorial will ya?

Read about some of your heroic brothers and sisters on And you are welcome to contact me for a thorough discussion of the real story of Israel in the Middle East.

Joshua Spiegelman

Kudos to Howard Blume for his article, which clearly states that the fundamentalists of any religion can be quite evil. They believe that anyone who does not believe exactly as they do are fair game.

In 1977, my wife and I gave ourselves a 25th wedding anniversary gift by touring Israel. My first purchase was a blue-and-white Israeli hat that I wore throughout the tour.

Our guide took us through West Bank communities without any fear. There were soldiers around, but we comfortably fraternized with Arabs in their shops and on their streets. I was delighted to witness Arabs and Jews praying simultaneously in different rooms at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

I constantly wonder what the situation would be today if subsequent Israeli governments had chosen to separate synagogue and state and not encourage religious Zionists, like the murderer Baruch Goldstein, to settle in the West Bank and Gaza.

Martin J. Weisman
Westlake Village

Betty Friedan

Blu Greenberg’s eloquent tribute to the late Betty Friedan reminds us how much courage it took for Friedan to stand up against American society’s treatment of women in the early 1960s (“Friedan: Universal Woman, Particular Jew,” Feb 10). Less well known is that more than 20 years earlier, Friedan spoke out for another unpopular cause — bringing German Jewish refugees to the United States.

Friedan was a freshman at Smith College in Massachusetts in the autumn of 1938, when Hitler unleashed the Kristallnacht pogrom. A debate soon erupted on campus over whether the United States should aid Jewish refugees.

On one side stood Smith President William Allen Neilson, a deeply principled humanitarian who believed America should be true to its tradition of welcoming the downtrodden. He urged the students to sign a petition asking President Roosevelt to let German Jewish girls enter the United States outside the immigration quotas, in order to enroll at Smith.

On the other side in the debate were most of the students, whose opposition to the refugees mirrored the bigotry and isolationism that was all too common in American society then. To Friedan’s surprise and dismay, some assimilated Jewish students joined the anti-refugee side.

Each student house held its own discussion on whether or not to sign the petition. “A number of girls spoke against it, about not wanting any more Jews at Smith,” Friedan later wrote.

There were four older, well-to-do Jewish girls in her house — “the type that spoke in whispery voices and became utterly anemic because they did not want to be known as Jews,” as she put it. “I expected them to speak up [in favor of the petition], but they didn’t. Finally, despite being only a freshman from Peoria, I spoke, urging that we open our doors to those girls fleeing persecution.”

Sadly, her plea fell on deaf ears — the petition was rejected by a large margin. But it is to Friedan’s credit that she stood up for what was right, even when it was unpopular to do so.

Dr. Rafael Medoff
David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies Melrose Park, Pa.

To read more letters this week, visit JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from all readers. Letters should be no more than 200 words and must include a valid name, address and phone number. Letters sent via e-mail must not contain attachments. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used, but names will be withheld on request. We reserve the right to edit all letters. Mail: The Jewish Journal, Letters, 3580 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1510, Los Angeles, CA 90010; e-mail:; or fax: (213) 368-1684

Choosing Pluralism

We were all seated in our respective minyanin when a large outburst sounded from the Orthodox group down the hall. Within a few moments, teenagers were running out from every direction, anxious to see what the excitement was about. As I edged closer, I realized it was not disagreement, but joyous celebration filled with shrieks and songs.

Before I could gather my thoughts, someone grabbed my hand and I was swept up in a whirlwind of excitement and shoved against Jewish teenagers of every denomination in a celebration of Shabbat, Israel and Jewish pluralism.

Attending the North American Association of Jewish High Schools’ (NAAJHS) leadership conference last year awakened me to the great possibilities of Jewish pluralism. NAAJHS was founded as a forum for Jewish community high schools to exchange ideas and work toward the betterment of Jewish education.

Sensitive to the needs of students that affiliate themselves with different denominations, the heads of the program offered a variety of minyan choices, from liberal nature services to Orthodox services with a mechitza. However, as Shabbat approached and we gathered in our separate alcoves, a spark of enlightenment surged across the room as we felt the need to enact the Jewish pluralism that we discussed in our daily seminars.

Clasping hands with Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist Jews, we proclaimed our love for Judaism in an outburst of song and dance, putting our differences in belief behind us.

Hidden beneath such Jewish rituals and celebration lies the true nature of pluralism. As Rabbi Harold Schulweis discusses in his essay, “The Pendulum of Pluralism,” the Talmud prescribes benedictions for all of life’s wonders — upon seeing a rainbow, nature, the ocean — but upon witnessing a Jewish audience we are commanded to pronounce: “Blessed is he who discerns secrets, for the mind of each is different from the other, as is the face of each different from the other.”

Are we living up to this commandment?

Earlier this year, Rabbi Schulweis came to Milken Community High School to engage in a discussion with teachers and students about pluralism. As a school that prides itself on pluralism within a community setting, Milken sought clarity and distinction about a concept that can become cloudy and convoluted.

I was seated on a panel with other students and faculty members, and after our prescribed questions were asked and answered, one teacher in the audience asked a monumental question, one that broadened the question of internal Jewish pluralism to our place in a larger, pluralistic culture: How can we truly embrace pluralism within our society if we are the chosen people, deemed by God to be prosperous and blessed?

Rabbi Schulweis answered the question without hesitation.

“I don’t believe that any religion is chosen by God,” he said, “I believe that we are a choosing people, not a chosen people.”

If we as Jews were to walk around deeming ourselves higher than our surroundings, we would fail to accept others as equals. However, the first step in solving this problem of universal pluralism is addressing the problem of denominational pluralism within our own faith.

Too often we neglect the tension that exists between the Jewish people in order to focus on more prominent, global concerns. By choosing to engage in study and discussion with Jews from all denominations, we will instead model the very behavior we wish to incorporate into larger American society. As the modern enactors of our ancient covenant with God, we must emphasize “choosing” over “chosen,” equality over factionalism and denominationalism.

This transition from passivity to action must first be implemented in solving what Rabbi Schulweis identifies as a key tension within Judaism — the sectionalism among Jewish youth. Conservative teens attend United Synagogue Youth (USY) events, Reform teens attend North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) events, and Orthodox teens attend National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY). Each youth group provides a comfortable environment for teens to interact with one another, forming friendships that emphasize Jewish values and the importance of Israel. After reviewing the mission statement on each group’s Web site, I found an abundance of overlap and commonality. Each group aims to develop a strong attachment to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel by engaging in study, participating in services, and living a Jewish life. Why don’t these groups explore their own beliefs and values through interaction with each other?

As a student of Milken Community High School, a school in which Reform, Conservative and Orthodox teenagers study together, I have made it my personal goal to traverse the boundaries of my affiliation with the Conservative movement. If we take a step back from our differences in opinion — take a step back from the confines of our denominations, the limits of our beliefs and the restrictions of our own subjectiveness — we will truly be able to embrace pluralism. As Rabbi Schulweis writes, “Pluralism is not the surrender of debate or the bleaching of passionate conviction … pluralism calls forth an ethic of openness, a disposition to inclusiveness.”

Ashley Reich is a senior at Milken where she is co-editor of The Roar, the school’s newspaper.

‘One People’ Adopts Novel Plan on Book

Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei knew his congregants at Westwood’s Sinai Temple loved reading when about 20 of them braved the evening rush hour last November for an event at the University of Judaism (UJ) celebrating the 1939 talmudic novel, “As a Driven Leaf.”

“This was sandwiched in between two major adult learning weekends,” said Schuldenfrei, still amazed two months later.

The novel by the late Rabbi Milton Steinberg is currently being read at two dozen local synagogues in the new “One People/One Book” program, an attempt to broaden Jewish communal learning by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. It joins other Jewish book group gatherings at the Skirball Cultural Center and Orange County’s Bureau of Jewish Education.

The “One People/One Book” plan is for synagogue members to meet and discuss “As a Driven Leaf” in small groups at least four times between last November’s opening at the UJ and a closing event on May 24 at Milken Community High School.

“Every synagogue is sort of coordinating this in a different way,” said Rabbi Mark Diamond, the board’s executive vice president. “In some synagogues, it’s just lay people studying.”

Steinberg’s well-received book is a fictionalized portrait of Elisha ben Abuyah, a dissident talmudic scholar in Roman-occupied Jerusalem. The “One People/One Book” study guide mixes the book’s ideas with Torah texts.

“This book lends itself to so many profound themes,” Diamond said. “Modernity vs. tradition, forgiveness and repentance.”

The board’s president, Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Pico-Robertson’s Orthodox B’nai David Judea Congregation, worked last year to develop “One People/One Book” with Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh of the Reform congregation, Temple Israel of Hollywood. The new learning program came after the board held annual interdenominational “Meeting in Torah” study nights for six years, but interest in that waned.

“For the first couple of years, it was very novel,” Kanefsky said. “Over the course of years, it became one part of the landscape.”

The new “One People/One Book” program replaces the one night of annual “Meeting in Torah,” with its opening and closing gatherings and smaller synagogue discussion groups.

“This way, we have two of those everyone-coming-together events and the four study groups in between,” Kanefsky said.

At Temple Emmanuel in Beverly Hills, a Reform congregation, people are absorbing the book in clusters.

“We are reading the book in different settings around the congregation,” Senior Rabbi Laura Geller said. “Two different classes are including it in their reading, so it’s happening all around the congregation.”

Geller said she feels that her 50 to 60 congregants who are reading Steinberg’s book together are gaining “a deeper understanding of rabbinic Judaism. It’s putting flesh and blood on names. I also think that they are finding themselves in the book.”

Schuldenfrei said Sinai Temple will start discussing “As a Driven Leaf” in March, with the Conservative synagogue currently busy marking it its centennial anniversary.

Beyond “One People/One Book,” the Jewish community has other ongoing book groups.

The Skirball Cultural Center’s book group has an “Echoes of the Past” theme set around five novels and nonfiction books to be discussed at monthly meetings through June. The first meeting, on Feb. 14, will examine Australian writer Anna Funder’s “Stasiland: True Stories From Behind the Berlin Wall” (Granta Books, 2003).

Skirball book lovers in March will read Brian Morton’s “A Window Across the River” (Harcourt, 2003), followed in April by Edwidge Danticat’s “The Dew Breaker” (Vintage, 2005). In May, the book group will read James McBride’s “The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother” (Riverhead Trade, 2001) and in June Andrea Levy’s “Small Island” (Picador, 2005).

In Orange County, the Bureau of Jewish Education is in the midst of 30 weeks of Tuesday morning book club meetings around the women-driven theme, “Foundations: Making Our Wilderness Bloom.”

The bureau’s Web site lists six books anchoring the theme: Haviva Ner-David’s “Life on the Fringes: A Feminist Journey Toward Traditional Rabbinic Ordination” (JFL Books, 2000); “A Spiritual Life: A Jewish Feminist Journey” (State University of New York Press, 1999), by Merle Feld, and Kim Chernin’s “In My Mother’s House: A Daughter’s Story” (Harper Perennial, 1994).

Also listed are the Rebecca Goldstein novel, “Mind-Body Problem” (Penguin, 1993); Anzia Yerzierska’s, “Bread Givers: A Struggle Between a Father of the Old World and a Daughter of the New World” (G. Braziller, 1975), and Gina Nihai’s “Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith” (Washington Square Press, 2000).

In addition, the Santa Monica Public Library is exploring Jewish books with its program, “Between Two Worlds: Stories of Estrangement and Homecoming,” meeting the third Tuesday of each month. It will start on Feb. 21 with Eva Hoffman’s “Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language” (Penguin, 1990), followed March 21 by a discussion of Saul Bellow’s “Mr. Sammler’s Planet” (Penguin reissued edition, 2004). Scheduled for April 18 is the Andrea Aciman memoir, “Out of Egypt” (Riverhead Trade, 1996).