Calendar: November 27 – December 3


FRI | NOV 27

“CENSORED VOICES”

Winner of the 2015 Ophir Award for Best Documentary, “Censored Voices” has its Los Angeles theatrical premiere. This Israeli documentary presents, for the first time, uncensored recordings of conversations between Israeli soldiers and renowned author Amos Oz just after the 1967 Six-Day War, during which Israel took ownership of Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. The outcome of the Six-Day War is portrayed as a righteous undertaking, but behind the euphoria of a proud new national narrative are some voices with something different to say. The film shows the men, almost 50 years later, hearing the recordings for the first time, and they offer disturbing confessions as they wrestle with the elimination of Palestinians, the dehumanizing nature of war and the echoes of the Holocaust. Directed by Mor Loushy. Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 478-0401. Laemmle Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 981-9811. “>laemmle.com.

TUES | DEC 1

WHY ITALIAN JEWS LIKED FASCISM

What did Jews think of fascism in interwar Italy? Most would think they resisted Mussolini and his dictatorship, especially because of his alliance with Hitler, but Shira Klein will share quite the opposite. She argues that Italian Jews rarely opposed Mussolini until 1938, when the fascist government enacted a series of racist laws against them. Klein, an assistant professor of history at Chapman University, draws her arguments from a variety of sources, from memoirs to photographs to songs. Noon. Free. 6275 Bunche Hall, 315 Portola Plaza, Los Angeles. (310) 825-5387. ” target=”_blank”>jewishla.org/mainstage2015.

WED | DEC 2

“FEASTING, FASTING AND EATING DISORDERS IN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY”

The Renfrew Center Foundation presents a seminar addressing eating disorders within the Jewish community, examining in particular the frequency of such behavioral disorders among adult Jewish women, and presenting innovative treatment strategies utilizing Jewish rituals and traditions. Speakers include Marjorie C. Feinson, a professional development specialist for the Renfrew Center Foundation and a university professor specializing in women’s mental health, who directed the first community study of disordered eating and domestic abuse among women in Israel. Also participating will be Sarah Bateman, the Renfrew Center’s liaison to the Jewish community, who has been practicing social work for more than 10 years. Dairy breakfast included. 8:45 a.m. $75. JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot, 1740 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica. (800) 736-3739. ” target=”_blank”>templeetzchaim.org.

THUR | DEC 3

AN EVENING WITH MICHAEL MEDVED

Michael Medved, nationally syndicated radio host and best-selling author of “The Ten Big Lies About America,” joins the Annual Orthodox Union West Coast Convention. The community is welcome to join the evening focusing on “Leadership in Troubled Times.” 8 p.m. Free. Pre-lecture dinner $35. 5:45 p.m. Dinner reservation required. Beth Jacob Congregation, 9030 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 278-1911.

Place of Balance


The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana ("Head of the Year" in Hebrew), is an occasion for celebration and feasting but also for introspection and reflection. Marking the "birthday of the world" — the creation of the universe some six millennia ago, according to the traditional reckoning — it falls on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei and is commonly celebrated for two days.

Because Judaism uses a lunar calendar adjusted to the solar year, the holiday can fall anywhere from mid-September to mid-October, and people often speak of Rosh Hashana coming early (as it does this year) or late — but, as the joke goes, never quite on time.

"On time," however, might be at the solar equinox, for Rosh Hashana is concerned with balance, with weighing and with judgment — like the scales of Libra, the astrological sign associated with this time of year. As daylight and darkness even out and summer slowly fades, it seems as if a larger drama framing human lives is being acted out above. It’s to this drama, its Creator and the individual in relationship to it, rather than to events in Jewish history, that Rosh Hashana directs itself. The holiday does not neglect festive meals, holiday clothes and family get-togethers, but its themes are existential, focusing on rigorous self-examination, free will and the possibility of personal change.

Wearing this hat, under the name Yom ha’Din, the Day of Judgment, Rosh Hashana asks that individuals assess themselves to see where they have fallen short in their relationship to their inner selves, to their loved ones, to their community and to God. Because the holiday urges return to the inner self, it has a feeling of homecoming embedded in it. This promise of homecoming may explain why even many Jews who feel disconnected from Judaism the rest of the year bring themselves back to synagogue on these High Holidays.

Rosh Hashana is also called Yom Teruah, the day of sounding the shofar, or ram’s horn, whose piercing blast is the primary symbol of the holiday. The practice of blowing the shofar is mandated by biblical law, and though the Bible offers no justification, the shofar sounds can be understood as a way of waking the inner person to self-examination, change and recommitment to the moral and ethical requirements of Jewish life.

The holiday’s tropism toward the philosophical and internal is corrected, so to speak, by an array of appealing customs. Among the best-known is eating apple slices dipped in honey with a wish for a sweet year. Many people also follow a custom of eating symbolic foods at the start of Rosh Hashana meals, with a spoken word play that explains their symbolism (see page 36). For example — to carry the verbal play into English, as many people do — beets may be served to express the hope that our opponents will not "beat" us. The head of a fish (or even a sheep) suggests, "May we be the head and not the tail."

The braided breads typical on Jewish festivals are exchanged for round loaves, to allude to the cycles of time. Some bakers decorate them with such motifs as a ladder (to recall the ladder that the biblical Jacob saw connecting heaven to earth). At Tashlich, from the Hebrew word meaning "to send," individuals or congregations go to a river or pond to symbolically empty their pockets, as if to cast the mistakes of the past year into the flowing water.

The process of personal realignment is begun on Rosh Hashana, but the struggle with the self isn’t likely to be completed in a day or two of feasting or even praying. Rosh Hashana initiates the period of the Days of Awe, an extended opportunity for making amends to others and for clarifying one’s own heart that culminates 10 days later in the austere and yet joyful fast of Yom Kippur.