Calendar: May 20-26, 2016
SAT | MAY 21
“A SONG FOR YOU”
In 1943, the Karp family escaped the Nazis by crossing the Pyrenees on foot with help from the French Resistance. Carrying the burden of her parents’ trauma, filmmaker Sharon Karp returns to Europe with her sisters to confront the events of the past. This story of survival through strength, luck and the help of others is told through interviews with the director’s mother, segments of her father’s book, home movies, photographs and historical footage. A dessert reception and discussion with the filmmakers will follow. 7 p.m. $20 suggested donation. Beit T’Shuvah, 8847 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 204-5200, ext. 263. SUN | MAY 22
“SIBLING RIVALRY” TALK SERIES WITH BETTE ALKAZIAN
The Early Childhood Center at Temple Etz Chaim presents Bette Alkazian, a nationally recognized parenting expert who will discuss “Sibling Rivalry”: How love and hate can exist in the same space and why it’s great! As kids try to figure out who they are through the eyes of their family, sibling rivalry can have tremendous benefits — like instilling important values early on. 9:30 a.m. Free. Temple Etz Chaim, 1080 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. (805) 497-6891. ” target=”_blank”>shalominstitute.com.
“CHUTZPAH & SALSA”: GROUP SHOW OF LATINO ARTIST
Four artists explore the fusion of Latino culture with Jewish traditions. Latino Jews have immigrated to the United States from many South and Latin American countries, where they often found refuge from persecution in Europe, Russia or the Middle East — journeys that exposed artists to diverse cultures and spurred their creative representations. Featured artists are Julio Sims, Patricia Krebs, Florencia Glas and Gisele Goldwater-Feldman. This is the companion exhibition to the salon-style show “Chutzpah & Salsa,” which features stories and theater performances by writers from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Venezuela, Peru and Cuba. 11 a.m. Free. The Braid, 2912 Colorado Ave., #102, Santa Monica. ” target=”_blank”>wcce.aju.edu.
JOAN CARL RETROSPECTIVE — ARTIST’S RECEPTION
As Joan Carl celebrates her 90th birthday this year, this retrospective and reception showcases more than 80 years of art. She is an artist, mother and educator who creates her art with a chisel, brush, pencil or pen. Her work is abstract but representational, drawn from direct observation or reflective memory. 3-6 p.m. San Fernando Valley Arts & Cultural Center, 18312 Oxnard St., Tarzana. (818) 697-5525. MON | MAY 23
RAISING ISRAELI KIDS IN L.A.
How do you balance Israeli identity with an American one? This discussion, which will be led in Hebrew, is hosted by child psychologist Ernest Katz of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and by child therapist Irit Bar-Nezer. The Ma Koreh Israeli parenting program is a project of BJE-Builders of Jewish Education. 7:30 p.m. Free. Kosher refreshments provided. Tickets available on eventbrite.com. Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (323) 761-8605. TUES | MAY 24
HOW ABOUT 2016? AN ELECTION YEAR FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS
Come to this lecture and discussion about the craziness that is the 2016 presidential election year. Featuring guest speaker Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Journal. Light refreshments will be served. 6:30 p.m. $15 for Columbia Alumni Association members; $20 nonmembers. No tickets sold at the door. Roxbury Community Center, 471 S. Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills. (323) 513-4755. ” target=”_blank”>einsteintheplay.com.
WED | MAY 25
Come hear the Israeli-born guitarist and singer Oneg Shemesh bring a new sound to Jewish music with his indie folk/rock. Featuring great music and inspiring speakers, this event is dedicated to mental health awareness. In observance of Lag B’Omer, music will begin after sundown. 7:30 p.m. $18. Includes coupon to Jeff’s Gourmet Sausage Factory for a burger, fries and a drink. B’nai David-Judea Congregation, 8906 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 276-9269. ” target=”_blank”>eventbrite.com
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FACING JEWISH AND ASIAN-AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENTS
Come for dinner and a panel discussion about how both Jewish and Asian-American student groups are affected by “model minority” stereotypes and how this impacts intergroup dynamics on campus. This event, hosted by the Anti-Defamation League’s Asian Jewish Initiative, presents students and administrators from UCLA, Pitzer College and USC as part of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. 6 p.m. $10. Pre-registration required. Tickets at eventbrite.com. Light dinner included. ADL Offices, 10495 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 446-4232.
Calendar November 22-28
SAT | NOV 22
“HANNAH AND HER SISTERS”
If you think your family’s Thanksgiving dinners are complicated, just consult this Woody Allen classic. The 1986 film tells the story of Hannah (Mia Farrow), her husband, Elliot (Michael Caine), and the infidelities and lives of a close-knit eccentric family. Winner of three Academy Awards, including best original screenplay, the movie was the director’s biggest box-office hit for a long time. If you’re curious about one of the commercial successes of one of our not-so-commercial artists, revisit this filmic staple. Costume designers Jeffrey Kurland and Deborah Nadoolman Landis, one of Hollywood’s most accomplished in her field, will be in discussion. Sat. 7:30 p.m. $5 (general), $3 (film club members and students). LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-6010. ” target=”_blank”>einsteintheplay.com
SUN | NOV 23
“ROCKETS, JOURNALISTS AND FILMS”
They came to cover the 2014 Jerusalem Film Festival and ended up with front-row seats to a war drama playing out on the global political stage. Operation Protective Edge wasn’t a title on the festival lineup, it was the real-life summer saga that left more than 2,000 Israelis and Palestinians dead. A few of today’s leading film critics will offer their perspectives on witnessing firsthand one of Jerusalem’s most tragic summers during what should have been a regular stop on the film-festival circuit. Featuring Ella Taylor, professor at USC and regular contributor to Variety, Jewish Journal and npr.org; Amy Nicholson, author and chief film critic for LA Weekly; and Uri Dromi, columnist and director general of the Jerusalem Press Club. Sun. 4 p.m. $18. The Whizin Center at AJU, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angles. (310) 476-9777. ” target=”_blank”>booksoup.com.
Rebecca Gilman’s new play follows veteran social worker Caroline as she tries her best to protect and help baby Luna Gale. But working within a bureaucracy can mean hidden motives, long-held secrets and moral ambiguity, so it’s not exactly smooth sailing. Gilman, the first American playwright to win an Evening Standard Award, is best known for her widely and well-received plays “Spinning Into Butter” and “Boy Gets Girl.” Directed by Robert Falls, the play is a powerful piece of passion and conviction. Sun. 8 p.m. $25-$39. Through Dec. 21. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City. (213) 628-2772. TUE | NOV 25
“IT DID HAPPEN HERE: ANTI-NAZI ACTIVISM IN LOS ANGELES”
In the face of true horror, any form of resistance is powerful. With Hitler’s ascent to power in 1933 Germany, anti-Semitism reared its ugly head all around the world, including in Los Angeles. While many locals remained indifferent, the L.A. Jewish community mobilized, combating the hate. Historians Laura Rosenzweig and Caroline Luce will discuss their forthcoming digital exhibit on this little-known but largely important chapter of L.A. history. Tue. 4 p.m. Free. Must RSVP. Royce Hall at UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 267-5327.
On Einstein and God
On October 8, 2012, a handwritten letter was set for auction on e-bay. It sold, 10 days later, with a winning bid of over $3M. The handwritten letter was penned by Albert Einstein to Jewish philosopher Eric B. Gutkind in January 1954, a year before Einstein’s death. In the letter, the Nobel Prize winning physicist called religion childish and made light the idea of Jewish “chosenness.”
“For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions,” Einstein wrote. “…As far as my experience goes, [the Jewish people] are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything chosen about them.”
Einstein’s genius was, undoubtedly, his clarity. Where scientists the world over struggled to explain phenomena which didn’t follow a trajectory, he sensed the framework which pulled them together. He saw order where others saw confusion, rules where others saw chaos. His genius was more than mere brilliance – being able to compute facts and figures quickly. It was his vision, sensing the sum where others saw parts, the end where others saw the process. His discoveries were rightfully lauded because they uncovered physical order in a complicated world, and resolved age old dilemmas.
Science is amoral; the splitting of the atom can be used for good or evil purposes. It is also “areligious.” Einstein had the equal opportunity to attribute the organization he discovered to an Organizer who purposefully desired for life to flourish, or to the random forces of happenstance.
Religion and science are said to be the great rivals of the 19th and 20th Centuries. But, in truth, they share significant points of agreement. Both science and religion agree that God that cannot be seen under the microscope. Both science and religion agree that God cannot be measured, charted or bent. The debate is whether God can be experienced, spoken to, and connected with. Judaism says that He can, via the soul, a spark of Divine within each one of us, the force the pulls us to the permanent, the force that pulls us to eternity, the force that pulls us to morality. Science does not comment as it can only study physical phenomena. Judaism says that the soul cannot be measured or charted, but that it is the most central part of our being, an idea that mirrors the experience of the majority of mankind. Science does not comment, as it, by definition, recluses itself to assessments of entities within time and space.
Einstein was raised secular, lived secular and was most animated by secular ideas; it is hard to imagine that he could have connected the dots from persistent design to purposeful Designer. A cultural Jew, his comments on life and living, history and theology are those of one trying to make sense of the Jews in a god-detached world. His understanding of anti-Semitism and the historical oddity of the Jew were spot on, but when he speaks of God he speaks, not of science which has no comment, but of his own experience. He did not have a relationship with God.
In a March 24, 1954 letter, he is quoted as writing, “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.
Einstein was perhaps the most famous agnostic of his time. Yet, I would argue that he held an underlying appreciation of God in the most traditional Jewish way.
In October 1933, Einstein took a position at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey. This was the final chapter is his research, and, coming at the height of his fame, a period that allowed him to expound upon any area of science he chose.
He chose to spend much of his time working on the Unified Field Theory. Simply put, there are four interactive forces which keep the physical world together: strong interaction, weak interaction, electromagnetic interaction and gravitational interaction. In the Unified Field Theory, Einstein worked to discover the force that holds it all together. He spent all that time searching for unity because, undoubtedly, he intuited that there is a Unifying force.
Einstein spent 20 years trying to find the “one” in “four.” Interestingly, the Torah speaks about the spiritual taking on physical form as one becoming four. Genesis 2:10 recounts: And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it was parted, and became into four streams.
Man’s ability to connect to and speak to that God is the wonder that Judaism taught the world. It is the gift that never stops giving. The human is predisposed to this relationship and its soul craves it. In retrospect, it is unfortunate that Einstein, in a 20 year search for the idea that keeps it all together, failed to relate to the Hand that holds it all together.
As of October 18, the most expensive paper Einstein ever wrote is one that negates much of traditional Jewish belief. But to me, the most important paper he ever wrote is the one he never completed, the Unified Field Theory. It is, in fact, the mission of the Jew that remains until this day: promoting monotheism, a United God, who is the source of all pleasure and challenge, hope and purpose. May we encourage the world to connect to the Force that, truly, holds it all together.
The author of two books and the Director of The Jewish Centre’, Yaakov Rosenblatt is a rabbi in Dallas, Texas
Once dreaming of a Hebrew charter school, now only Mandarin is offered
When the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences (AEA) opened in August 2010, part of the draw for parents was the chance for students at the Santa Clarita charter middle and high school to study Hebrew.
Since then, AEA backers have submitted petitions to set up elementary schools in the Newhall School District, Los Angeles Unified School District and Ventura Unified School District, without success. In August 2012, a revised version of its twice-rejected petition for an elementary charter was submitted to the Saugus Union School District in Santa Clarita. Among the changes in the newest version was eliminating offering Hebrew at the school, at least initially.
“We will offer only one second language at the beginning; it will be Mandarin,” Shannon Perches, the principal and lead petitioner for the proposed elementary school, told the Saugus district’s board of governors at a well-attended public hearing on Sept. 19.
In denying an earlier version of the charter petition, the board expressed concerns about the proposed school’s financial plan and its ability to accommodate students with special needs, as well as those whose first language is not English.
As for teaching a second language, a central element of AEA’s unique curriculum, the board’s objection wasn’t to offering Hebrew, per se.
The board’s concern was focused on how the proposed elementary school would go about teaching multiple foreign languages.
“The AEA petition fails to state how students would be assigned to either Hebrew or Mandarin instruction, or whether there would be any consideration of the child’s ability to learn either language,” states a report by the Saugus district staff adopted by the board when it rejected the second version of the charter petition in April 2012.
Hebrew may yet return to the proposed school’s curriculum, according to Jeffrey Shapiro, the executive director of the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences (AEALAS) Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization designed to support and develop AEA schools.
“In future years, we intend to add additional languages,” Shapiro said.
Other public schools in California teach Hebrew, including public charter elementary schools. At the AEA high school, 80 students are enrolled in Hebrew classes this year, the vast majority of them new learners of the language, and not all of them Jewish.
“It’s like a miracle,” said Nehama Meged, head of the school’s Hebrew department. On the wall in her classroom are half a dozen framed photographs of her students on a school trip to Israel taken after the end of the 2011-12 academic year.
Twenty students traveled through Israel on an itinerary that featured both Jewish and Christian historical and holy sites; five of the students were not Jewish, Meged said.
“The kids, who had zero knowledge — not just about the language, but the place, the people — learned so much, and they care about Israel,” she said.
Taking Hebrew out of the AEA Saugus elementary petition is just the most recent step in a long process that has dramatically reduced the prominence of Hebrew language instruction in AEA schools.
In order to get the high school’s charter petition approved by the William S. Hart Union High School District, the backers of the AEA high school dropped a curriculum that would have offered Hebrew-immersion instruction. That change led the Hebrew Charter School Center, the leading organization dedicated to developing Hebrew-language charter schools, to cut ties with AEA. The school also abandoned their plan to locate in a newly planned Jewish community center building.
The school was, from the first, the vision of Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami in Santa Clarita, and Blazer spoke publicly to parents, officials and the media during that initial AEA charter approval effort. He has since taken a much lower profile, though he remains president of the board of the AEALAS Foundation. Blazer attended the Sept. 19 hearing but left before the proceedings began.
Einstein letter sells for $14,000
A coup for Hebrew U — Gates to accept award
NEW YORK (JTA)—Usually a “mazel tov” would go to the person being honored, but this week the American Friends of the Hebrew University is accepting congratulations for convincing one of the world’s richest men to accept an award.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates will receive the inaugural Einstein Award, the American fund-raising arm of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem announced Monday.
The award, which will be presented to Gates in December at a gala dinner in New York, is named for Albert Einstein, who helped found the university. It will be given only rarely to those who have made a significant impact on humanity, according to the organization’s executive director, Peter Willner.
American Friends officials say this is the first time that Gates is accepting an award from a Jewish or Israeli organization.
“We have been talking for a long time about creating the award and giving the award,” Willner said. “But we recognized that if we gave the award, it would be given infrequently because it has to go to an individual that has not only changed the world in terms of what they have done in changing their own industry, but in changing humanity.”
Only Gates was considered to be the first recipient of the award, which has been in the works for six years, Willner told JTA.
American Friends, which raises about $60 million annually for Hebrew University, was in discussions with Gates for about a year and a half before he accepted the award. Ultimately, according to Willner, Gates decided to attach his name to the university because of its vast work and research in sustainable agriculture.
Whereas the Rockefeller Foundation was perhaps the most influential charitable foundation in the 20th century, many observers of the philanthropic scene these days are pointing to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Since its launch in 1994, the foundation has given away more than $16 billion. And its efforts appear only likely to increase, with Warren Buffet announcing in 2006 that he would donate some $30 billion of his wealth to the foundation.
Gates stepped down last month from his job at Microsoft to work full time at the foundation.
The vast majority of the foundation’s money has gone to health and humanitarian projects in the developing world.
In January, the foundation gave $875,242 over three years to Hebrew University to develop novel methods for controlling mosquito vectors of malaria and other diseases, according to a database of grants on the foundation Web site
. Proceeds from the dinner will help fund cutting-edge plant and animal science research at the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences in Israel. “We are honored that The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the American Friends of the Hebrew University have chosen Bill Gates as the recipient of the first-ever Einstein Award,” the Gates Foundation told JTA in an e-mail statement. “Both Bill and Melinda believe deeply that all lives have equal value and began their foundation to help ensure that inequities are reduced in the United States and throughout the world.
Proceeds from the dinner will help fund cutting-edge plant and animal science research at the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences in Israel.
“We are honored that The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the American Friends of the Hebrew University have chosen Bill Gates as the recipient of the first-ever Einstein Award,” the Gates Foundation told JTA in an e-mail statement. “Both Bill and Melinda believe deeply that all lives have equal value and began their foundation to help ensure that inequities are reduced in the United States and throughout the world.
In Spring a reader’s fancy turns to thoughts of … books
Michael Chabon’s Alaskan Adventure
In Michael Chabon’s invented world, Yiddish is spoken in the Alaskan panhandle.
After World War II, the Federal District of Sitka in Alaska — not Israel — became the homeland for the Jews.
“The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” (HarperCollins, May, $26.95) is the much-anticipated novel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.” While Chabon has published short stories, a novella and a novel for young adults, this is his first full-length work of fiction since 2000. Film rights have already been bought by Scott Rudin.
Sitka is “a compound of fog and the light of sodium-vapor street lamps. It has the translucence of onions cooked in chicken fat. The lamps of the Jews stretch from the slope of Mount Edgecumbe in the west, over the seventy-two infilled islands of the Sound, across Shvartsn-Yam, Halibut Point, South Sitka, and the Nachtasyl….”
The novel is set in the present, and Sitka is reverting to Alaskan control, after 60 years of prosperous times for the Jews. Homicide Det. Meyer Landsman of the District Police discovers the corpse of his neighbor, a former chess prodigy, but his investigation is mysteriously ordered closed. This is a hard-boiled detective story that’s an homage to 1940s noir, a love story, a meditation on identity and faith and a celebration of language, spiced with Chabon’s distinctive humor.
Chabon’s first novel, “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” was originally written for his master’s degree from the University of California, Irvine, and became a national bestseller. His other novels include “Wonder Boys” and “Model World”; his adventure novel, “Gentlemen of the Road,” is now running in serial form in The New York Times Magazine.
Born in 1963, Chabon grew up in Columbia, Md., a planned community with utopian aspirations, and has lived in California for the last 20 years. He now lives in Berkeley with his wife, novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their four children.
Chabon will embark on a 15-city author tour, making two unusual stops — in Anchorage and Juneau.
Chabon will speak in Los Angeles on May 9, 7 p.m., at the Los Angeles Public Library, 630 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles; and May 10, 7 p.m., at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. For more information, visit www.michaelchabon.com.
Einstein, Times Two
Two new biographies look closely at the life and work of the 20th century’s most celebrated mind, Albert Einstein, whose name — and shock of hair — has come to symbolize genius.
Veteran journalist Walter Isaacson, formerly managing editor of Time magazine and chairman and CEO of CNN, who now heads the Aspen Institute, has written “Einstein: His Life and Universe” (Simon & Schuster, April, $32), following his best-selling biography of Benjamin Franklin.
A journalist with a background in physics, Jurgen Neffe is the author of “Einstein: A Biography,” translated by Shelley Frisch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, May, $30). His book was a bestseller in Germany when it was published in 2005, on the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.
Isaacson’s book is based largely on newly released personal letters of Einstein. More than 3,500 pages of correspondence between Einstein and his two wives and children, along with photos, were released last year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The release was made in accordance with the will of Einstein’s stepdaughter, Margot.
Isaacson probes Einstein’s private side, as well as how his mind worked. He sees Einstein as a rebel from childhood, always questioning conventional wisdom; his character, curiosity, creativity and passion for freedom were interconnected, driving his life, science and politics.
As Isaacson writes, “His tale encompasses the vast sweep of modern science, from the infinitesimal to the infinite, from the emission of photons to the expansion of the cosmos. A century after his great triumphs, we are still living in Einstein’s universe….”
Isaacson is also the author of “Kissinger: A Biography” and co-author of “The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made”; he lives in Washington, D.C.
Neffe looks at Einstein as a parent and physicist, as a citizen and a Jew and as an American. He writes of his complicated subject: “He could reconcile discrepant views of the world, but he was a walking contradiction. Einstein polarized his fellow man like no other. He was a friend to some, an enemy to others, narcissistic and slovenly, easygoing and rebellious, philanthropic and autistic, citizen of the world and hermit, a pacifist whose research was used for military ends.”
He adds, “Rarely has a single individual been so far-sighted and myopic at the same time.”
The English version was updated to include information from the recently published 10th volume of Einstein’s collected papers.
Isaacson will discuss and sign “Einstein: His Life & Universe” on April 27, 7 p.m., at All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena.
Memoirs from Harry Bernstein and Ruth Gruber, both 95
In this age of memoir, two new volumes are particularly notable for their wisdom and the age of their writers: Both Harry Bernstein and Ruth Gruber are 95. Bernstein is a first-time author, making his literary debut with “The Invisible Wall” (Ballantine, March, $22.95), and Gruber is a veteran author and journalist. “Witness” (Schocken, April, $27.50) is her 19th book.
The wall of Bernstein’s title is the figurative barrier running down the middle of the street in a northern English mill town on the eve of World War I. On opposite sides were Jewish families and Christian families; the two didn’t speak, although they had much in common in terms of poverty as well as prejudice. Written from the perspective of a young boy, the memoir details how the author’s sister crossed the line, falling in love with a brilliant young Christian man. Harry was the go-between, hiding their secret. He describes the atmosphere inside their home and outside in the fear-filled world.
Bernstein, who lives in Brick, N.J., began this book about four years ago after his wife died. At his age, he says, people have less of a present and no future, so the past becomes larger. When he started thinking about his childhood, the memories came easily.
Albert Einstein was a very smart man — probably one of smartest people of all time. In 1905, when he was 26, he had a “miracle year,” in which he proved the existence and sizes of molecules, explained light as both particles and waves and created the Special Theory of Relativity. You can learn more about his life at the Skirball Cultural Center, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of that miracle year.
Where Would You Go?
Einstein proved that it is possible to travel though time. Where you would go in time and space if you could climb into a time machine? Write an essay, story or poem, telling us about your adventure. Send entries by Nov. 4 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember to include your full name, age, address, school and grade.
We will publish your essay in the Kids’ Pages and send you a ticket to the family-friendly movie destination of your choice.
Visitors entering the exhibit on Albert Einstein first have to pass through a gravity-warping black hole.
It’s the only disorienting experience in a mind-stretching encounter with the life, loves and thoughts of the man who, in a very real sense, explained and shaped the modern world in which we live.
Simply named "Einstein," the nearly nine-month-long exhibit, the largest ever mounted by the Skirball Cultural Center, opens Sept. 14 and closes May 29, 2005.
In the words of Dr. Uri Herscher, the Skirball’s founding president, "We are trying to show that Einstein was not only a scientific genius, but a deeply involved humanist, a passionate advocate of social justice and a dedicated Zionist. He used his global stardom in striving to better the world in which he lived."
The exhibit also marks the centennial of Einstein’s annus mirabilis, the miracle year of 1905, when the 26-year-old "technical expert third class" in the Swiss patent office published four scientific papers, including the special theory of relativity, which revolutionized the concepts of time, space, energy and matter.
From those four theoretical papers sprung such discoveries as X-rays, crystallography, DNA, photoelectric effect, vacuum tubes, transistors, the mechanics of the information age and the foundation of the atomic age.
Paralleling the new scientific vistas of the time were experiments in painting, literature and other arts, and radiating from the exhibit will be some three-dozen satellite lectures, films, plays, dance recitals, side exhibits, adult classes, family programs, publications and even a cabaret.
"Einstein" also marks the inauguration of the Skirball’s new Winnick Hall, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, with its 300-foot-long unbroken gallery space and light-diffusing skylights.
Grace Cohen Grossman, the Skirball’s senior curator, gave an advance visitor a compact rundown on the exhibit’s nine thematic sections:
• Einstein’s Revolution — How Einstein, in his special and general theories of relativity, overthrew the classic Newtonian view of gravity.
• Life and Times — Einstein’s childhood and early studies in Germany and Switzerland and his sometimes stormy relationships with women, illustrated through original artifacts and family photos. A video narrated by actor Alan Alda explains some basic physics concepts.
• Light — A kinetic light sculpture illustrates Einstein’s revolutionary theories on the nature of light.
• Time — Displays and movie clips prove Einstein’s dictum that the faster a traveler goes the slower time passes.
• Energy — The world’s most famous mathematical equation, E=mc2, is explained through interactive displays.
• Gravity — On a wall-sized interactive computer screen, visitors can use their own body mass to explore Einstein’s notion of gravity as a warping of time-space.
• Einstein in Peace and War — The great physicist was also a proud Jew, musician, sailor, pacifist, atheist, Zionist and even a fundraiser for Hebrew University. Included are originals and copies of Einstein’s correspondence with President Roosevelt, Sigmund Freud and other luminaries, as well as an installation on Einstein’s lengthy stays in Southern California.
• Global Citizen — Einstein spoke out passionately against segregation, anti-Semitism, McCarthyism and nuclear armament, activities that earned him a 1,500-page FBI dossier. Included is the original letter offering him the presidency of the State of Israel.
• Einstein’s Legacy — Videotaped interviews with many of today’s leading physicists, emphasizing Einstein’s lasting impact on our world.
To create the exhibit, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, to which Einstein willed his intellectual legacy, released many original documents and artifacts, some of which will be displayed for the first time at the Skirball exhibit.
The bulk of the exhibit was first organized and shown at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, with Michael M. Shara as the curator, in collaboration with Hebrew University.
For the Skirball run, the cultural center’s senior vice president, Lori Starr, coordinated the collaborative efforts of the California Institute of Technology, University of Southern California and the J. Paul Getty Trust.
Caltech will present talks by leading scientists during the Einstein Centennial Lectures, from March to November of next year.
USC’s Labyrinth Project is erecting an innovative installation, "Three Winters in the Sun: Einstein in California," which tracks his meetings with scientific colleagues, fellow Jewish émigrés and the Hollywood glitterati. USC educators have also prepared a classroom study program to prepare student groups visiting the exhibit.
The Getty Research Institute will be represented at the Skirball in a series of lectures, film screenings, and the exhibit "Time/Space, Gravity and Light," which explores the relationships between art and technology.
UCLA is offering an Extension course on "Einstein for Poets."
During the run of the Skirball exhibit, a specially trained group of "explainers," mostly retired physics teachers, will augment the center’s docents. Audio tours will also be available.
Advance tickets for "Einstein" will go on sale Sept. 7. $12 (general admission), $10 (group rates), $8 (students and seniors), free (Skirball members and children under 12). Visiting hours are Tues.-Sat., noon-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free entrance on Thursday evenings, 5 – 9 p.m., between Sept. 23-Dec. 30. Closed Mondays and holidays. For tickets or more information, contact (310) 440-4500 or visit www.ticketweb.com or www.skirball.org.
For a complete list of programs, visit www.jewishjournal.com.
A Killer’s Face
The article, “Inmate Wants New Label to Avoid Hate” (April 9), was greatly offensive. I can accept the need to address the rights of Jewish prisoners. I am unable to accept opening The Journal only to see the face of a brutal killer. Not only did he kill a dear friend of mine, he tore a very prestigious family apart. I am in a strange situation to know both families. The victim, though, was part of a Jewish community that was strong, united and shocked beyond belief.
Did Stephen Liebb expect sympathy? To see a photo of Liebb is offensive and spine-chilling to all who knew his victim and family.
Name Withheld, Valley Village
Your cover story, “Is Bush Good for Israel?” (April 30), was extremely disappointing. Anyone who asserts that President Bush is not an extraordinary friend of the State of Israel is mistaken to say the least. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is the democratically elected leader of the Jewish state. By definition, when President Bush supports Sharon, he is supporting Israel.
It is wrong to suggest, as your article does, that if President Bush would pressure Prime Minister Sharon, instead of supporting him, Bush would be better serving the interest of Israel. Imagine the British supporting our war efforts in Iraq and the French opposing our war efforts, because, in the opinion of the French, in the long run, it would be better for the United States not to be in Iraq. Would any clear-thinking person ask: Is France a better friend of the United States than Britain?
I go to synagogue and pray three times a day and ask God to bless President Bush and give him the wisdom to be our best friend.
Andrew Friedman, President Congregation Bais Naftoli
I find Jewish support for Bush incomprehensible (“More Jews May Hop on the Bush Bandwagon,” April 30). It is exceedingly dangerous for any voter, Jew or otherwise, to support a candidate based on a single issue, particularly when that candidate is so weak in every other area.
Even if Bush were a strong leader on national security, he has handed over the national economy, ecology and institutions to corporate executives and right-wing ideologues and has conducted his government under a veil of secrecy. He says he wants democracy in Iraq, but he doesn’t seem to want it in the United States.
What’s more, when it comes to national security, Bush has already blown it. On Sept. 12, 2001, the world sympathized with us; thanks to Bush, that support is gone, and the war on terror is in imminent danger of being lost.
Judaism is close to unique in its emphasis on wisdom as the predominant human virtue, and I am amazed to find so many Jews taking leave of it. I fear for my country if Bush is re-elected, and I fear for my fellow Jews who have been duped by a man who, in addition to all his other flaws, professes a belief that they are going straight to perdition.
David Zasloff. Los Angeles
Last week’s Journal (April 30) has two of the best things I have ever seen in your great periodical.
First of all, that it the best cover art ever on your or any other magazine (“Is Bush Good for Israel?”). I know it will stir things up a bit, but it is funny, thoughtful and brave — in a word, brilliant.
The second is the article by Tom Teicholz (“The End of ‘Friends'”). He hit so many nails on the head, he could have been building Monica and Chandler’s new home himself. Keep up the good work.
Michael Raileanu, Fort Worth, Texas
I cannot get the image of the slaughter of Tali Hatuel, eight months pregnant, and her four daughters, Hila, 11; Hadar, 9; Roni, 7, and Merav, 2, out of my mind (“E.U. Condemns Gaza Killing,” May 7). I can imagine her terror; I can hear her screams and the crying of her children. The begging for their lives. And I ask myself, “What kind of monsters could do this?”
Until Muslims who truly want a two-state solution, who truly want peace, who truly believe terrorism is wrong raise their voices in protest against acts of terrorism such as this and suicide bombings and demand that they stop, I will find it hard to believe that they exist.
Tobi Ruth Love, Thousand Oaks
Road of Deception
Rabbi Steven Greenberg may talk of a loving, accepting Judaism, but I am sure that he is just another Jew walking down that dark road of deception (“Gay Orthodox Rabbi Peels Back His Life,” May 7).
As every Orthodox rabbi knows — everyone that is worth his salt — that the Law handed down to Moses from God still stands today. His behavior is not going to fly with God, and I back this up with Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”
In other words, refrain from homosexuality.
Joan Goldstein, Hancock Park
Send a Message
Regarding Carole Raphaelle Davis’ article about the French Jews, “What’s New in Paris?” (April 30), I would urge your readers to let the French consulate and/or embassy know how they feel about the government’s unofficial sanctioning of the harassment against the French Jews.
I called the embassy in Washington, D.C., to let them know that I will not buy any products made in France until this stops. The number of the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., is (202) 944-6030; the number of the consulate office in Los Angeles is (310) 235-3200.
Gail Saunders, via e-mail
The First Fest
In the April 30 edition, the article on the Independence Fest by Naomi Pfefferman had a major error (“Independence Fest Turns Sweet 16,” April 30). The article maintains that the Independence affair was 16 years old. This is not true.
The first Independence Day celebration in Los Angeles was held in May of 1972 at Pierce College, under the auspices of the San Fernando Valley Community Relations Committee and the West Valley Jewish Community Center.
How do I know? I was then the director of the Community Relations Committee, and the late Abe Boxerman was the director of the center. We were led by a remarkable woman, Harriet Rechtman, who chaired the event.
The police estimated that we had 30,000 people there, only outnumbered by the next Independence Day celebration at Pierce, where more than 40,000 people attended. That has never been equaled by any Jewish fest since.
How do we know that we had that number? Everyone who wished to do so was able to sign their name, address and phone number to a roll of butcher paper to wish Golda Meir a happy birthday. There were more than 20,000 names on that roll, which the Israeli consul took to Israel the next week.
Al Mellman, Los Angeles Not in Same Boat
I do not share professor [Samuel] Huntington’s concerns either (“The Same Boat,” April 30). However, I believe that there are enormous adverse impacts of mass immigration that have nothing to do with the question of assimilation.
At the current population growth rate of the United States, which is primarily due to the mass immigration policies of the federal government, the U.S. population will triple in this century. Think about it. Southern California will have to support three L.A. metro areas, three San Diegos, three Inland Empires. Northern California will have to support three San Francicso metro areas.
Already California is suffering huge adverse effects from excessive population growth, such as gridlocked freeways, overcrowded schools and medical care facilities that are shutting down right and left, because they can’t handle the burden of large numbers of customers who are unable to pay their bills.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what is in store if the people of this state and nation allow the federal government to continue growing the U.S. population without consideration for the economic and environmental consequences.
It is time for people to get out of their tunnel vision in thinking that the only issue raised by mass immigration is whether newcomers will assimilate.
Lance B. Sjogren, San Pedro
I see no parallel between American Jews and Latinos. We are not in the same boat. Latinos need to begin practicing to be Americans by speaking English more and by stressing education in their homes, before you can consider us in the same boat.
Richard Leibowitz, Westlake Village
Out of Touch?
Ira Forman is entirely correct in his criticism of Jimmy Carter’s bias concerning Israel and the Palestinians (“View on Mideast ‘Embarrassing,'” April 30). However, his faith in the position of John Kerry should be tempered by the fact that Kerry recently suggested that Jimmy Carter and James Baker would be his peace envoys to the Middle East, should he win the election.
Both men have often expressed anti-Israel positions. Could Kerry have been so out of touch with their positions or did they reflect his feelings to some degree?
Mike Michelson, Mission Viejo
I would just like to commend the writer of the article about the synagogue in Yangon, Myanmar, and especially his note about the “richness of spirit” of the Myanmar people (“A Piece of Familiarity in Myanmar,” May 7).
Much misinformation is written in the Western press about Myanmar, especially with regards to religious freedom. In the apartment I stay when I’m there, I can see three churches, three mosques and one Pagoda. And of course, there’s the synagogue not far away!
Gerry Haines, Myanmar and Thailand
My forthcoming book, “Einstein in California,” will be appearing this fall in connection with the Einstein exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center. The book is complete, right down to the dust jacket, and that is why I need help.
Does anyone have a picture of Einstein addressing a Jewish group or, perhaps, your family member back in the early 1930s, when he was a scholar at Caltech and the most distinguished guest that Western Jewry ever had?
Contact me, professor Rabbi William M. Kramer at (310) 475-1415.
Rabbi William M. Kramer, Los Angeles