Oy Caramba! Serve a Simcha Fiesta

Your special family simcha (celebration) is just around the corner and you aren’t feeling enthusiastic — the caterer’s offerings feel predictable, and the room you’ve rented seems impersonal.

Whether you’re organizing a bris, congratulating a bar or bat mitzvah, welcoming a new son-in-law or daughter-in-law into the family or celebrating a birthday or anniversary, honoring the people we love in an inviting, intimate setting with exquisite food is one of the best gifts someone can give. Choosing to hold your celebration at home is to select the warmest venue of all.

Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, chefs and co-owners of Border Grill and Ciudad restaurants, are big advocates of entertaining at home.

“If you want to have a really special party, where everyone will feel not only loved and appreciated but comfortable and relaxed, decorate the house with bright, happy colors and serve them Mexican food,” Milliken said. “It puts people in the mood for a party.”

South-of-the-border cuisine is the perfect fit for at-home celebrations — it’s colorful and conducive to being shared.

Dress your dining room in oranges, greens, reds, blues and yellows. Cover the table with a bright tablecloth and add an earthenware tureen of pimento red, richly flavored tortilla soup; a cast-iron kettle of glistening black beans; piping hot, multiflavored tortillas nestled in a hand-painted tortilla warmer; twin bowls of red and green rice; a brightly colored platter of halibut Veracruzana; an assortment of red, yellow and green salsas; and handmade reed baskets of quinoa fritters, with a bowl of Mexican red Romesco sauce. Also, don’t forget the different fillings, toppings and stacks of tortillas clumped together at a special interactive taco-making table.

Olvera Street or local Mexican art stores, such as Artesanias Oaxaquenas in Santa Monica, have authentic paper flowers and ethnic accessories.

“Orchestrate your party. When guests arrive, serve them cool drinks and hot and cold appetizers. Guests are more forgiving if they have a drink in one hand and an appetizer in the other,” Milliken said.

Welcome them with refreshing watermelon lemonade, horchata and margaritas — alcoholic and nonalcoholic versions. Pass trays of appetizers and scatter additional offerings about the room — miniature tacos and tamales, guacamole and salsas.

Halibut Veracruzana

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless fillets of halibut, sea bass, snapper or other firm-fleshed fish, cut in four portions

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 serrano chilis, stemmed and sliced in 1/4-inch disks

1/2 cup lime juice

1 tomato, cored, seeded and cut in strips

1/2 bunch (1/4 cup) fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup Spanish green olives, sliced

1/2 cup white wine

3/4 cup fish stock

Season fish fillets evenly with salt and pepper. Heat one very large skillet or two medium skillets over medium-high heat for a minute; coat pans with olive oil.

Add fillets and turn heat to very high. Sear until golden brown, about two minutes, then flip to sear the other side, about one minute. Transfer fillets to a rack over a plate to catch the juices; reserve.

Return the pan (or pans) to high heat. Add onion and sauté, stirring frequently for one minute or until it starts to brown. Add garlic, chili slices, lime juice, tomatoes, oregano and olives and sauté briskly for an additional minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by half.

Pour in fish stock, bring to boil and reduce to a simmer. Return fish fillets, along with their juices, to the pan. Cover and cook gently for two minutes or longer, depending on thickness of fillets. Taste broth and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve with a generous puddle of broth and garnish of vegetables.

Makes four servings.

Tortilla Soup

5 garlic cloves, peeled

10 Roma tomatoes, cored and quartered

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 cups vegetable stock

1 dried chipotle chili, stemmed and seeded (optional)

3/4 pound tortilla chips

Garnishes: 1 bunch (1/2 cup) cilantro leaves; 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped; 1/2 cup Crema; 2 limes, cut in wedges

Puree garlic and tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over low heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until pale brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomato puree and cook 10 minutes longer, stirring frequently.

Pour in vegetable stock and add chipotle chili (if desired). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in tortilla chips and cook 10 minutes longer, until chips soften. Remove and discard chili.

Serve hot, with cilantro, avocado, Crema, lime wedges and some extra-crisp fried tortilla chips for adding at the table.

Makes six servings.

Quinoa Fritters with Romesco Sauce

These delicious fritters may be made ahead, frozen and reheated.

2/3 cup quinoa, preferably organic

1 1/3 cups water

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup grated Spanish manchego, romano or parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

4 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped

1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped

1 egg

1 egg yolk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

Lemon wedges for juice

Wash the quinoa and drain well. Place a small, dry saucepan over high heat. Add the quinoa and toast, shaking and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching, about five minutes. Transfer to a large saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook covered until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, flour, cheese and salt. Add scallions, basil, egg and yolk. Blend thoroughly with a mixing spoon until mixture has consistency of soft dough.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. With your hands, roll dough into walnut-sized balls and press to form small cakes.

Fry until the bottoms are golden brown, less than a minute. Turn and fry the second side until golden. Drain on paper towels. Drizzle with a lemon juice; serve with Romesco for dipping.

Makes 18 pieces.

Romesco Sauce

2 large, thick slices of country bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/3 cup red-wine vinegar

1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted to golden

1 1/2 red peppers, roasted and peeled

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tomato, cored, seeded and chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

Soak bread with red-wine vinegar for 10 minutes, pressing to moisten thoroughly, and transfer to a food processor. Add almonds, red pepper, garlic, tomato, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. With the motor running, add olive oil in a thin stream, until mixture is the consistency of a thick creamy sauce. Thin with warm water as necessary.

Serve at room temperature.

Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter

1/2 loaf French bread or baguette with crust cut into small cubes

1 pound brown sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 pound tofu or regular cream cheese, chilled and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 13-by-9-inch glass casserole or lasagna pan. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add bread cubes and stir to coat evenly.

Spread cubes on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp. Remove bread and turn oven temperature up to 400 F.

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in cinnamon and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped apples, walnuts, cream cheese and toasted bread cubes. Drizzle with the reserved sugar syrup and mix to evenly distribute. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan.

Bake uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Then bake an additional five minutes without stirring, until the top is golden brown and crusty and liquid is almost gone. Drizzle with powdered sugar. Serve warm. If desired, plop a dollop of nondairy ice cream on top.

Makes eight to 10 servings.

Watermelon Lemonade

What could be cooler than a nice, tall glass of iced watermelon lemonade? Serve sandia (Spanish for watermelon) in a clear pitcher to highlight its brilliant color. A garnish of thin lemon slices looks nice against the pink of the juice.

4 cups watermelon chunks, seeded

2-3 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

1/2 cup cold water

5 ice cubes

Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve over additional ice.

Makes four servings.

All recipes courtesy of Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.

Written in the Jewish Stars

We’re not saying we believe any of this, mind you, but, yes, Jews, too, like to peek at horoscopes. But up until now, something’s been missing — that Jewish touch. Sure, you could count on Bubbe and Zayde to dispense career advice and to forecast general doom, but that hardly suffices. And, yes, there are always those well-meaning, pushy relatives to talk up eligible singles as the man or woman of your future.

But it’s time for some counsel that’s neutral, detached, learned, authoritative — and perhaps as equally useless but infinitely more entertaining. So, starting Jan. 1, we present for your weekly consideration: Jewish Horoscopes.

They are a Web-only exclusive feature of The Jewish Journal at jewishjournal.com/horoscopes.php — authored by the soon-to-be-famous Minnie Mankowitz.

You’ll have to log on to find out how Karl Marx, Erica Jong and Bob Dylan fit into the picture. Or what to buy or not at Trader Joe’s and IKEA. Or the role of chocolate and romance in the week to come. Should you buy a bra? Whiten your teeth? Go into seclusion?

Log on and start planning your future — before someone else does.

Shavuot Food : Turn Torah Fest into a Veggie Feast

Shavuot, which marks the receiving of the Ten Commandments by Moses, was often referred to as the Jewish Thanksgiving or the “Feast of the First Fruits,” a time when farm bounty and grains were brought to the ancient Temple. The harvest often included wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

In modern times, Shavuot inspires the preparation of many delicious and traditional recipes that usually feature a variety of vegetarian and dairy foods. Milk, eggs and cheeses of all kinds are used in abundance.

Blintzes are the most popular of the Shavuot foods and can accompany other foods or be served as a main course. They are thin pancakes or crepes, filled with interesting mixtures. I have included a classic cheese filling, enlivened with sugar-glazed, crunchy apple slices. It makes a perfect holiday dessert. The same basic blintz can be made with a spinach-ricotta combination, and served with yogurt, which adds a perfect dairy accent.

Stuffed Eggplant Rolls are a wonderful choice for your Shavuot lunch, brunch or dinner. Thin slices of eggplant are rolled around a filling prepared with three cheeses plus beaten egg whites. The spicy, garlicky herbed tomato sauce is a perfect accompaniment.

Shavuot desserts are especially tempting and fun to serve family and friends. Desserts your family will enjoy include my Apricot Cheesecake, along with bowls of dried figs, dates and nuts.

Shavuot is a wonderful occasion to entertain informally and since this is an agricultural holiday, decorate your home or table with fresh plants and flowers from the garden. Some Sephardic Jews celebrate Shavuot as “The Feast of Roses” and use roses as the table centerpiece. As a treat for your guests, bake your favorite cookies and wrap them in rose-patterned paper for them to take home.

Blintzes (Savory or Sweet)

Basic Batter for Blintzes

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt

Ricotta and Spinach filling (recipe follows)


Hoop Cheese and Apple Filling (recipe follows)

Unsalted butter, for frying

In a large bowl, blend eggs, milk and butter. Add flour, salt and herbs, blending thoroughly until smooth. Cover and set aside for one hour.

Lightly butter and preheat a 6-inch nonstick frying pan. Pour about 1/8 cup of batter in at a time to form a thin pancake, tilting pan and swirling batter to patch up holes. When lightly browned, gently loosen edges and turn out of pan onto towel or plate. Cool before filling.

Place 1 or 2 tablespoons of filling on browned side, in center of each blintz. Fold lower portion over filling; tuck sides; continue rolling to form a flat rectangle. Place on large platter and cover with plastic wrap until ready to cook.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet. Cook blintzes on both sides, about three to four minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to serving plates and serve immediately with sour cream, preserves or remaining Glazed Apple Slices.

Makes about 15 to 20 blintzes.

Ricotta/Spinach Filling

2 bunches spinach
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper

Rinse spinach and remove stems. Place in salted boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and cool, then squeeze dry in cheesecloth; chop fine.

In bowl of electric mixer, combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg yolks, parsley and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Cheese/Apple Filling

2 pounds hoop cheese, farmer or pot cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Glazed Apple Slices (recipe follows)

In large bowl, combine hoop cheese, sugar, salt and eggs. Fold in 1 cup of the drained apple slices. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to assemble blintzes.

Glazed Apple Slices

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup orange juice
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

In large heavy skillet, combine sugar, marmalade and orange juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar and marmalade dissolve. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer two to three minutes, just until it begins to thicken.

Place apple slices in large bowl and toss with lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring. Add apples, lemon zest and lemon juice to syrup in skillet and toss to coat. Simmer, covered for 10 to 15 minutes, until apples are soft. Transfer to glass bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

Makes about 2 cups.

Stuffed Eggplant Rolls

1 pound Ricotta or hoop cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons minced parsley
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried
2 eggs, separated
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
2 medium eggplants
Flour seasoned with salt and pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
Tomato-Basil Sauce (recipe follows)
Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Cheese Filling: Combine Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil and egg yolks. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill.

Slice mozzarella cheese into sticks 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide by 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.

Slice eggplant in half lengthwise, 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Dredge in seasoned flour mixture, shaking off the excess.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, and sauté eggplant slices on both sides until soft and lightly browned. Drain on paper towels. Cool.

Place 2 tablespoons of cheese filling across the narrow end of each eggplant slice. Press a stick of mozzarella into the filling. Roll up eggplant tightly around filling. Place rolls, seams side down, in buttered baking dish. Cover with foil at this point and store in refrigerator for one to two hours; do not freeze.

Spoon Tomato-Basil Sauce over each roll and bake at 350 F for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. With metal spatula, carefully place one or two eggplant rolls on heated plates. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve immediately.

Makes about 16 rolls.

Tomato-Basil Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid
1 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy skillet, heat oil. Add the garlic, onions, red pepper and carrots and sauté until the onions are transparent. Dice the tomatoes and add with liquid, red wine, basil, parsley and sugar. Bring to boil and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally until thick, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into food processor or blender and blend well. Transfer to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Apricot Cheesecake

1 6-ounce package dried apricots
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 1/2 cups sugar

Sugar Cookie Crust (recipe follows)

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sour Cream Topping (recipe follows)

In a small saucepan, combine apricots, apple juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Bring to boil and simmer until tender, five minutes. Cool. Puree apricot mixture in food processor or blender and set aside.

Prepare Sugar Cookie Crust and refrigerate.

In bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and 1 cup of the remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in vanilla and 1/2 cup of apricot puree. Pour into prepared springform pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until center is set and top is golden. Remove from oven; spread with sour cream topping and return to oven for five minutes. Cool. Remove from spring-form pan; garnish with apricot puree and serve cold.

Sugar Cookie Crust

1 1/2 cups sugar cookie crumbs (oatmeal, coconut or vanilla)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup apricot puree

In food processor or blender blend crumbs with butter. Transfer cookie mixture to 9-inch springform pan and press down firmly. Spread a thin layer of apricot puree over cookie mixture. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes.

Sour Cream Topping

1 pint sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small bowl, blend sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

For more holiday recipes, visit www.jewishjournal.com/local/KosherEats.php.

Judy Zeidler is the author of “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” (Cookbooks, 1988) and “The 30-Minute Kosher Cook” (Morrow, 1999) Her Web site is members.aol.com/jzkitchen.


Chabon Crusades for Fun Literature

“The Final Solution: A Story of Detection” by Michael Chabon (Fourth Estate/HarperCollins, $16.95).

Depending on their authors’ predilections, so-called “literary” novels are often unsettling, disturbing, enlightening or tragicomic. They are not, in the main, much fun. Fun is left to hacks, those genre writers who churn out the chick-lit blockbusters, weepy romances, thrillers, sci-fi fantasies and blood-and-guts horrors that dominate the best-seller lists.

Michael Chabon is the shining exception to this rule. He’s a literary writer on a crusade to put the pleasure back into our reading experiences. In his 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay,” the fun begins in the title — “Amazing,” a word not often deployed in contemporary literature — and carries through all 639 pages. Chabon next reclaimed the “low” genres (the mystery, ghost story, etc.) by editing “McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales,” a collection of such yarns by famous literary and genre writers intended, in Chabon’s words, to remind us “how much fun reading a short story can be.” (Although it received mixed reviews, the anthology was successful enough to warrant a sequel, the forthcoming “McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories.”)

“The Final Solution” — a brilliant and unswervingly entertaining novella — is Chabon’s latest sally against the dastardly forces of literary dreariness. As the subtitle proclaims, this is a “Story of Detection,” a good ol’ fashioned whodunit complete with slaying, sleuthing and a coterie of suspects. But while mystery keeps tension high until the last page, the book’s ultimate interest lies less in discovering the murderer and more in the author’s exuberant unfolding of the stories of all those involved.

At the core of “The Final Solution” are 9-year-old German Jewish refugee Linus Steinman and an African gray parrot named Bruno. Linus never speaks; Bruno habitually recites curious series of German numbers — “Neun neun drei acht zwei sechs sieben” — and both are highly surprising to discover in the British countryside in July 1944, while World War II rages on the continent. As such, they are a “puzzle to kindle old appetites and energies” for a long-retired and once-famous detective who has spent the past several decades in secluded retirement, consumed with beekeeping. When Mr. Shane, a guest at the boarding house where Linus and Bruno live, is bludgeoned to death and Bruno disappears, the old detective reluctantly agrees to take the case.

In each short chapter, Chabon’s omniscient narrator perches on a different character’s shoulder and relates events as seen through the eyes of that person (or, in one example, the bird). Among the picturesquely odd personages embroiled in the murder and bird-napping are Kumbhampoika Thomas Panicker, “who was not only a Malayalee from Kerala, black as a boot heel, but also a high-church Anglican vicar” and proprietor of the boarding house; Reggie Panicker, the vicar’s delinquent son and the police’s primary suspect; and Parkins, a supposed architectural historian who, strangely enough, works at a local “Research Dairy,” which, strangely again, is guarded by National Security.

While everyone hopes to retrieve Bruno and the intriguing string of German numerals in his brain, no one involved seems particularly perturbed by the murder itself. Mr. Panicker, for one, is delighted that Mr. Shane’s untimely death has brought into his life the old detective and “the unlikely possibility, all the more splendid for its unlikeliness, of adventure.”

For the careful reader, “The Final Solution” is an equally delightful adventure, not only because of the swift and engrossing plot but also on account of Chabon’s extravagantly rich prose. Inset in his elegant sentences are words and names as rare and dazzling as precious stones: “ecru laid,” “mundungus,” “serried,” “ignus fatuus,” “rep necktie,” “Webley,” “blackthorn,” “Der Erlkonig.” Far from pretentious, Chabon’s diction welcomes the reader into lost worlds — for example, the world of British beekeeping circa 1944. One piece of advice: Don’t read Chabon without Internet access – you’ll find yourself wanting to Google something on almost every page.

Along with offerings of humor, adventure and linguistic luxuriousness, Chabon finds time for pathos and poetry. His story transpires in an England scarred by war, and the attempted extermination of the European Jews alluded to in the title hangs over the book. This is a story of survival and survivors. Referring to London, the narrator says: “They had bombed it; they had burned it; but they had not killed it.”

The parrot’s German numbers occasion beautiful musings on the powers and curses of memory, many of them articulated through the perspective of Bruno himself. The numbers “lingered far longer and more vividly in his mind than any of the thousand other songs he could sing, for reasons unclear even to him but having to do with sadness, with the sadness of his captivity, of his wanderings, of his finding the boy, of the rolling trains, of the boy’s mama and papa and the mad silence that had come over the boy when he was banished from them.”

I am unable to offer further interpretation of the fascinating ways the solutions to Chabon’s mysteries intertwine with the legacies of the Holocaust, lest I spoil the surprise. Suffice to say that in Linus Steinman, the mute refugee with the parrot on his shoulder, Chabon has created an immensely resonant and original figure of the survivor. That he’s able to touch on issues of such seriousness, in a novella that is such fun to read, is just one more sign of his immense talent.

Reprinted courtesy of The Forward,

New UJ ‘Tradition’ Starts

Tevye, Tzeitel, Golde and all the other memorable characters of "Fiddler on the Roof" graced the big screen at the University of Judaism (UJ) on Sunday, April 25, but it was the audience who stole the show.

Five-hundred people — some bold enough to come in costume — sang along with the memorable songs of "Tradition," "If I Were a Rich Man" and other classic "Fiddler" tunes. The UJ singalong event capitalizes on the popularity of participatory shows, such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding" and "Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral."

UJ staff passed out kitschy props highlighting key points in the film — ring pops for "Matchmaker" and boxes of gilded chocolate coins for "If I Were A Rich Man." When the sun set on Friday evening at Tevye’s house, the audience munched on mini challahs.

Participants, drawn into the excitement of the production, led performances of their own. During the graveyard scene of the film, Sandy Erkus, dressed as the ghostly Fruma Sarah, ran about the theater in her tattered wedding gown, reviving the role of Lazar Wolf’s dead wife. Erkus said she didn’t plan to steal the spotlight, but fellow audience members coaxed her to get up and play the part. "Me, being a ham and a half — wait that’s not kosher is it? — I went up," she recalled with a laugh.

At intermission, timed with the wedding of Motel and Tzeitel, Tevye’s oldest daughter, the UJ treated the audience to a mock wedding reception with sliced wedding cake, champagne and even a fiddler playing in the background.

Sandy Kanan, wearing a shawl over her head and a long cloak-like dress, enjoyed coming out and dressing up like Yente the Matchmaker.

"I love getting into it," said Kanan, who finds the program an entertaining lesson in Jewish tradition.

"This is so important; this is our culture; this is our heritage," she said. "There is a lot of truth in it."

The next "Fiddler" singalong has been set for March 20, 2005. A "Grease" singalong is also being planned. For more information, call the UJ’s Department of Continuing Education at (310) 440-1246.