Calendar March 1-7



Like Cyndi said, it’s all we really want. But throwing in a brunch and four impressive authors wouldn’t hurt either. Start your mid-morning right with Daniel Bergner (“What Do Women Want?”), Yael Kohn (“We Killed : The Rise of Women in American Comedy”), Susan Orlins (“Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others”) and Lynn Povich (“The Good Girls Revolt — How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace”). Subjects range from female lust, to Jewish mothers, to punch-lines and civil rights. The morning will be nuanced, like every woman you know. Sun. 11 a.m. $20. American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Dr., Bel-Air.(310) 476-9777. TUE | MAR 4


Join art historian Anat Gilboa to explore how Israeli identity has been defined by the Holocaust, and how that identity struggles with self-representation in art. While Israel stands as a state of survivors, the burden of the memory of the Holocaust touches every generation of citizens there. What is the artist’s obligation here? How does art reconcile moving on with not forgetting, and what does that look like? Gilboa, who specializes in early-modern European art and Jewish and Israeli visual culture, will have some answers. Tue. Noon. Free. RSVP requested. Royce Hall at UCLA, 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 267-5327. ” target=”_blank”>



The third annucal ucLADINO Symposium will focus on Judeo-Spanish revitalization and preservation efforts in all spheres. Featuring two days of graduate-student presentations, keynote speakers from Israel and Turkey, a concert by Sarah Aroeste and more. Come enjoy the rich language with an even richer culture. Aroeste is one of the few artists today writing music in Ladino, blending rock, funk and blues with Judeo-Spanish folk songs. With Greek and Spanish roots, she is Sephardic rock personified. Wed and Thu. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. both days. Free. First come, first served. Fowler Museum, North Campus of UCLA, Los Angeles. (310) 825-4361. THU | MAR 6


Hollywood, here you come! Have an itch for writing? Let this event scratch it. Learn survival tips from writing successes Ken LaZebnik (playwright and screenwriter), Peter Mehlman (“Seinfeld,” The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times) and Richard Kramer (“My So-Called Life”). Comedian and writer Alyson Weaver will moderate this evening of drinks, food and laughs. And if you learn something, so be it. Thu. 7 p.m. $5-$8. The Hesby Writer’s Room, 5031 Fair Ave., North Hollywood. For tickets, search “Hollywood in Spring” on ” target=”_blank”> for more information.



Israeli Secret Service officer Razi recruited 15-year-old Palestinian informant Sanfur, the younger brother of a wanted Palestinian militant, only to learn his loyalties don’t lie in just one place. Winner of six Israeli Oscars, the film was Israel’s official submission for the Academy Awards. Fri. Various times. $11 (general), $8 (seniors, ages 11 and under, bargain matinee). Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles; Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd, Encino. (310) 478-3836. ” target=”_blank”>

Spectator – A Hand in Global Harmony

The Middle Eastern fusion music on “Hamsa” is so insidiously infectious and rhythmic that you will not only be humming along but tapping your feet, as well.

“It was never intended to become an album,” said Carvin Knowles, the CD’s creator. “It was how I felt at the time. But I kept hearing from people I had given it to as a gift about how much they loved the music, so I put together this collection.”

Knowles, 41, a native of Long Beach who now lives in Hollywood, has been scoring films since 1991 — perhaps his best-known track is from the infamous pie scene in “American Pie.” His creative flair, though maybe not his name, is best known to Jewish Journal readers through the award-winning covers he designs for the publication.

Knowles, who is not Jewish but a student of Jewish culture and mysticism, wrote “Ghita” and “Taqsim,” the first of the 12 songs that would eventually make up “Hamsa,” for a documentary about Egyptian archeology that was in production prior to Sept. 11, 2001. The unique sound was an amalgamation of musical influences, such as klezmer, Egyptian pop, hip-hop and Rai (a combining of Arab classical music with R&B).

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, the documentary was never released, and Knowles temporarily lost his taste for Middle Eastern music.

“For a full year I didn’t listen to Middle Eastern music at all, because I was really angry,” he said. “Working in the media, I saw images of Arabs celebrating our loss, and I was angry.”

Knowles’ anger dissipated when he started hearing from music scene friends about how many Middle Eastern artists were concerned, rather than gloating. Some artists canceled concerts to show solidarity with the victims; others used their fame to promote peace and dialogue. Newly inspired, Knowles picked up his ud (like the oud — a round backed string instrument — but smaller and Turkish) and started recording again. The result was “Hamsa,” a mostly instrumental CD.

In concert with his desires for global harmony, Knowles produced and played rhythms that borrowed from many cultures (North African, Turkish, Lebanese) — then fused them together.

He titled the CD “Hamsa” — a hand-shaped amulet, thought to represent the hand of God, which is used to banish the “evil eye.” He also designed the beautiful, filigreed, earthy-red hamsa that appears on the cover. “Part of what the hamsa means is ‘Go away Westerner. We don’t want you here,'” said Knowles. “But the hamsa is also a signpost marking where East and West touch. It is a symbol not just of the conflict, but the meeting, the cooperation.”

For more information, go to href=”” target=”_blank”> To order “Hamsa,” visit

Vocal Musicians Make a Joyful Noise

Human voices converge on the same note, echoing a haunting harmony — arousing complicated emotions.

This has been the buzz surrounding an award-winning Jewish a cappella group, Shir Appeal, a group of college students from Massachusetts, who will bring their hypnotizing harmonies to Orange County’s Temple Bat Yahm (TBY) for Shabbat evening service, Jan. 16. The group was named after Tufts University’s mascot — Jumbo the Elephant. The Hebrew phrase shir hapeal means "song of the elephant."

A cappella, Italian for "in the style of the chapel," is a term used to describe a type of music composed of entirely human voices.

A student-run organization, Shir Appeal receives no funding from their student government, and sustains their costs with CD sales, which feature Jewish folk songs, Israeli pop songs and liturgical music.

This year marks the group’s return to TBY in Newport Beach, also home of operatic cantor Jonathan Grant. The 15 members of Shir Appeal have been invited to stay with TBY congregants and will sit in a place of honor among the temple’s choir.

"Where ever there’s a sizable Jewish population [at a college], you’re bound to find an a cappella group," said Rebecca Bromberg of Shir Bruin, UCLA’s Jewish a cappella ensemble, who also co-founded a Jewish a cappella group in 1997 at Emory University in Atlanta.

Bromberg cites Columbia University’s Pizmon, which formed in 1987, as popularizing American Jewish a cappella on college campuses. As secular a cappella gathered steam in the 1990s, marked by the formation of major a cappella societies, Jewish a cappella also became more popular, especially among youth on college campuses. Techiya of MIT formed in 1994; Shir Appeal in 1995; Shircago, of the University of Chicago, in 1996; as well as a slew of others on university campuses whose participation waxed and waned over the decade — including Harvard, Brandeis and Boston and New York universities.

During the spring of this year, the University of Chicago hosted "Striking a Chord," the first-ever, all-Jewish Midwest a cappella festival, attracting groups from around the Midwest.

The San Francisco-based Contemporary A Cappella Society, a loose association of amateur, semi-pro and professional a cappella artists, recognizes groups that have produced a commercially available body of work with a Contemporary A Capella Recording Awards (CARA). Like the mainstream recording industry’s Grammy Awards, a CARA is given to artists in many categories. Groups with limited distribution also qualify for recognition, said Jessika Diamond, former vice president of the Contemporary A Cappella Society, however, they are less likely to have the resources to create a recording with high production values.

"This year is the first time in the history of the CARA competition that any religious group did as well as Shir Appeal," Diamond said.

Shir Appeal took home the award for "best collegiate song" and runner-up for "best collegiate album."

This year, approximately 60 volunteer a cappella aficionados judged the CARAs. Among them was the society’s representative, Greg Bowne, of Massachusetts.

"[Shir Appeal] used their voices in such a great way that really conveyed power and emotion in the song," Bowne said.

After the competition was over, Bowne said he kept listening to their recording, impressed with the group’s strong sound.

Two of the group’s songs were also featured on the "Best of College A Cappella" CD, a production of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), which Diamond directed from 1999 to 2003. The ICCA attracts a cappella groups worldwide and encourages them to submit recordings of their best songs for a competition. Out of thousands of submissions, 18 songs are selected for a compilation CD, "The Best of College A Cappella," released every year. Shir Appeal won coveted spots on the 2000 and 2003 collections.

Before their Newport Beach appearance, Shir Appeal performs in Los Angeles with Shir Bruin, the Scattertones and another UCLA-affiliated a cappella group on Jan. 11.

Cantor Grant said he expects the group to sing a 17th-century selection by Solomone Rossi, called "Eftach Nai S’Fatai" (God Please Open My Lips), and a unique arrangements of "Shalom Aleichem" and "Shalom Rav."

"I also look forward to the Israeli popular selections they will sing at our Shabbat dinner program," he said.

For information about the Jan. 16 appearance at Temple Bat Yahm, call (949) 644-1999.