Calendar Picks and Clicks: March 16-22, 2013


Looking for Passover events? Check out our Passover calendar.


SAT MARCH 16

“LOVE FROM JEWISH KITCHENS”

Storyteller Karen Golden takes a food-centric journey through the holidays with a buffet of traditional and original stories that highlight how recipes bond generations. A catered nosh — including kugel — follows the performance. Sat. 2-4 p.m. $20. Institute of Musical Arts, 3210 W. 54th St., Los Angeles. (323) 300-6578. lovefromjewishkitchens.eventbrite.com.


SUN MARCH 17

“CONCENTRATIONARY CINEMA/CONCENTRATIONARY MEMORY”

Alain Resnais’ “Night and Fog,” one of the most screened films about the Holocaust, is often criticized for its failure to confront the specificity of the genocide. “Concentrationary Cinema” authors Griselda Pollock and Max Silverman, both professors at the University of Leeds, present their argument that the film’s political aesthetics of resistance might better be approached through the prism of the camps as the core instrument of totalitarianism’s assault on the human condition. Sun. 2 p.m. Free. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 443-7000. hammer.ucla.edu.

“MURDER ON A KIBBUTZ”

Michele Paskow, a lecturer in the Jewish studies department at California State University, Northridge, leads a discussion on “Murder on a Kibbutz: A Communal Case,” a murder mystery by late Israeli author Batya Gur. Today’s event is the first meeting of a book discussion group at CSUN featuring the university’s Jewish studies faculty facilitating conversations about interesting reads. Sun. 2-4 p.m. Free. California State University, Northridge, Oviatt Library, Jack & Florence Ferman Presentation Room, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. (818) 677-4724. http://www.csun.edu/~jsprogr.

DANIEL KAHN AND THE PAINTED BIRD

Fusing klezmer, political cabaret and punk folk, this internationally renowned ensemble, led by Detroit-area native Daniel Kahn plays West Hollywood. The set-list draws on material from the group’s newest album, “Bad Old Songs,” which features polyglot reinventions of Yiddish folk songs and covers of classics from Leonard Cohen and Franz Josef Degenhardt. Notable Russian-Jewish songwriter Psoy Korolenko appears as a special guest. Sun. 7-8:30 p.m. $10. Plummer Park, Fiesta Hall, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. (213) 389-8880. yiddishkayt.org.


MON MARCH 18

“TECHNOLOGY … DOES IT FREE US OR KEEP US ENSLAVED?”

Rabbi Mark Borovitz, spiritual leader of rehabilitation center Beit T’Shuvah, and Cambria Gordon, co-author of “The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming,” discuss mindfulness in navigating today’s technologically dense world during an evening of dinner and learning. Gordon, wife of “Homeland” producer Howard Gordon, who lost control of her SUV while reaching for her cell phone and struck an elderly man in 2011, shares her personal story on the dangers and consequences of distracted driving and the faith-based lessons she learned. Mon. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. Beit T’Shuvah, 8831 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 204-5200. beittshuvah.org.

HARPER SIMON

The singer-songwriter, son of folk-rock icon Paul Simon, moves away from his alt country-flavored debut to explore a modern psychedelic folk-rock sound driven by electric guitars as he plays material from his forthcoming sophomore album, “Division Street.” Willoughby, Henry Wolfe and Heather Porcarro also perform. 21 and older. Mon. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Free. The Satellite, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 661-4380. thesatellitela.com.


TUE MARCH 19

DORA LEVY MOSSANEN

The Women’s International Zionist Organization hosts a special dessert reception and Q-and-A with the acclaimed Israeli writer. A Jewish Journal contributor, Mossanen is author of the historical novels, “The Last Romanov,” “Harem” and “Courtesan.” Tue. 7 p.m. $36. Light in Art Gallery, 8408 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 378-2312. wizola.org.


FRI MARCH 22

“DORFMAN IN LOVE”

Set in Los Angeles’ revitalized downtown and a highlight of the 2012 Los Angles Jewish Film Festival, this indie romantic-comedy follows a nebbish-y young Jewish woman named Deb (Sara Rue). Trapped in the role of caretaker of her unappreciative family, Deb suddenly gets her own life when she volunteers to cat-sit at her unrequited love’s downtown loft for a week. Oscar nominee Elliott Gould costars as Burt Dorfman, Deb’s cantankerous widowed father. Fri. Various times. $11 (general), $8 (children younger than 12, seniors). Laemmle’s Noho 7, 5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Laemmle’s Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino. laemmle.com


ALL WEEK

PASSOVER

Celebrate the Jewish people’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery with Pesach events that begin well before the first seder on March 25. Highlights include musician Craig Taubman’s interfaith experience, drawing Jewish, Muslim and Christian clergy to downtown’s Pico Union neighborhood; acclaimed restaurant Jar’s kosher-for-Passover menu, which features crispy potato pancakes, Alaskan halibut and horseradish mash potatoes; and the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles’ women’s seder, which aims to inspire and educate about social justice issues. With events for children and their parents, the elderly, young professionals and for all denominations, there is something for everyone.

View more Passover events here.

Drug abuse debate: Legalization, medication or therapy?


On a wall at Beit T’Shuvah’s sanctuary there are plaques with the names of those connected with Beit T’Shuvah who have passed away. One of those names is that of Josh Lowenthal, a former resident who died on June 11, 1995.

The Jewish Journal recently ran a story about “One-Way Ticket,” Rita Lowenthal’s memoir about her son, Josh, who was addicted to heroin from the age of 13 until his death from a self-administered overdose 25 years later. Lowenthal’s moving account of her son’s life punctures the myth that addiction can’t happen to Jews. It can, and it does.

Another myth that Lowenthal would like to puncture is that if addicts only had enough willpower, they could kick the habit — that only weak-willed people can’t pull themselves out of the addiction abyss.

A recent Newsweek cover story is called, “The Hunt for an Addiction Vaccine.” The article says that science views addiction not as a failure of willpower, but as a “chronic, relapsing brain disorder to be managed with all the tools at medicine’s disposal,” and that the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) is developing and testing compounds that could prevent or treat addiction.

NIDA scientists have concluded that there are three kinds of self-control: putting off present gratification for a later reward, processing sufficient information before making a decision and being able to change responses that have become automatic.

It should come as no surprise that addicts score poorly in all these categories. In other words, addicts’ brains are wired to opt for immediate rewards, to leap before they look, and to keep repeating accustomed behavior in a rote manner. The medicines in development would change the addict’s responses in all three areas.

Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, has a different focus: He objects to what he calls the massive failure of the global war on drugs. Like a growing number of responsible voices, Nadelmann argues for drug legalization, or at least decriminalization.

In a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine, Nadelmann makes the case that the war on drugs cannot be won — he cites “mountains of evidence documenting its moral and ideological bankruptcy.” He writes that U.S. administrations have let rhetoric and ideology drive policy, and that in countries that have adopted a different way of dealing with drugs and addicts — Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland — the result has been “a reduction in drug-related harms without increasing drug use.”

When asked about this, Beit T’Shuvah staff and residents uniformly say that legalization and pharmacological addiction treatments are beside the point. Their attitude is that addiction — defined in their Web site as the “obsessive pursuit of drugs, alcohol, food, sex, money, property and/or prestige” — is not about drugs, it’s about the issues that lead to drug use, issues that also lead to other self-destructive behavior.

One long-time Beit T’Shuvah resident, a middle-age man with an MBA and a background in the entertainment industry, said that “you can solve your drug problem and still not be any closer to an effective life. The point is to find out what the problems underneath are: not living your life effectively, not living it with truth. The problem is not the drugs.

“You can legalize drugs, you can find chemical ways of neutralizing the effects of drugs, but the end result will be the same: the root problem will still be there, and the person who has that problem will suffer in a different way. If it’s not drug addiction, if it’s not incarceration, it’ll be family dysfunction or abuse or other issues. These are all manifestations of a deeper problem, just as drug addiction or alcoholism is a manifestation of a deeper problem. And it’s that deeper problem that has to be treated.”

Lowenthal agrees that addiction’s deeper problems should be addressed: “Anyone who has been shamed and punished for addiction needs understanding and support.” But she points out that the situation with illegal drugs, as opposed to alcohol or prescription drugs, makes users subject to the law: Her son was in and out of San Quentin and other prisons because he stole in order to maintain his addiction. “Try getting a student loan, a job, or sympathetic in-laws after serving time in prison,” Lowenthal says.

If her son had lived in a society where heroin use is not a crime and where it’s cheaply available, then he probably wouldn’t have stolen, she believes. He probably wouldn’t have gone to prison over and over, and he might not have chosen to take his own life at the age of 38.