Bob Dylan on Feb. 6, 2015. Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Listen to Bob Dylan’s epic Nobel Prize award lecture

Bob Dylan waited over six months after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature to give a lecture to the Nobel’s Swedish Academy — a requirement of receiving the award. But his talk does not disappoint.

The academy released Dylan’s nearly half-hour lecture in full on Monday. In it, the Jewish folk rocker dissects three of the many works of literature that have informed his view of the world over the years: “Moby Dick,” “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Odyssey.” The whole thing is delivered in vintage Dylan rasp over a backing soundtrack of soft piano music — in other words, it should be immensely satisfying to most Dylan fans.

Listen to the speech on YouTube.

Rice, Powell and Albright: Friends in ‘Retirement’

Revolutions spreading through the Middle East added timeliness and weight to the convening of three former secretaries of state by American Jewish University (AJU) on Monday evening, Feb. 28, at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk. Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, all active authors and advocates on the international scene, joined AJU President Robert Wexler onstage to agree on just about everything, and bicker over only a few matters.

The agreement came largely over responses to the current wave of populist uprisings in the Arab world. “This is not an American story,” Albright said of the game-changing, riotous public protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran and Jordan. It is also going to unfold over a long period of time, she said: “There is much I admire about our media, but they are covering this like a short sports event. This is a long story.”

Powell admitted some surprise—and then again none at all—at the fall of Mubarak and the newly minted instability elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East. “People have been talking about freedom for years,” he said. “It’s not as if we didn’t press them. But who could have anticipated that a young man who immolated himself would have started that?” He was referring to Mohammed Bouazizi, the university-educated, unemployed Tunisian fruit-peddler who set himself on fire in public in an act of desperation, igniting equally desperate cries for freedom through the Arab world.

“We knew that these autocratic regimes were isolated from their people,” Rice agreed, “that they weren’t delivering for their people.” But, she said, you can’t see in advance what spark might start a revolution. “What we tried to do was to say to these regimes, ‘Start reforming now.’ ” And, indeed, there was the feeling, for example, that with the elections in Egypt in 2005 some progress toward democracy was being made, but then in 2006 Mubarak took back all that he had given up.

When Wexler asked the three what kind of regime might be expected to govern a new Egypt, Albright expressed optimism: “This is a very intelligent population,” she said, predicting that a moderate Islamist government, along the lines of Turkey, would arise. “That’s where we can be helpful, she said, by providing the ‘nuts and bolts’ of governance.” This is not a time to fear the fanatics, she said, “This could be al-Qaeda’s worst nightmare. … But democracies have to deliver, to help with foreign aid, with jobs. “It is in America’s national security to help the economy in Egypt,” Albright said.

Powell pointed to the deep interests that Egypt’s military has in maintaining stability, but also control: “I think you’re going to be seeing the military governing for quite a while,” he said.

Wexler asked Rice about her 2008 trip to Tripoli to meet with Muammar el-Qaddafi, which led to the reinstatement of the dictator in international good graces. Rice expressed no regrets, even in retrospect knowing what she knows now, and said the trip was made on the condition that Qaddafi give up his weapons and offer a settlement for the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. “It is better that he is not sitting there now with his weapons,” Rice said.

On Israel, there was not much disagreement, either. “If I were Israel’s defense minister or Bibi Netanyahu,” Powell said, “I would try to determine how porous the border with Israel is.” Added Albright: “I think Israel has every reason to feel anxious now,” but she added, “in the long run, I truly believe Israel’s security is much better off with democracy than with corrupt dictatorships.”

For her part, Rice said she hopes that the Israelis will reach out to continue the peace process: “I would like to think it’s possible to push for a deal,” she said. But there is also, “a longtime problem on the Palestinian side,” because of WikiLeaks, which hurt the leading Palestinian negotiators, as well as other factors. “Israel should be doing everything that they can to support the current leadership in the West Bank,” she said. “This is not a time for inactivity.” Albright called the current situation in the West Bank a public-private partnership,” and called Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad “remarkable.”

The disagreements among former U.S. dignitaries came over Iran, as well as the foreign diplomacy of President Barack Obama.

When Albright suggested that Iran is gaining influence in the region, Rice retorted, “I think Iranians have a lot of trouble.” She said their nuclear program has isolated them, their economy is not strong, there have been splits among the clerics and, she said, “I think we shouldn’t underestimate that 70 percent of Iranians are under the age of 30.”

To Albright’s concerns over Iranian ties to Hezbollah and Hamas as well as Powell’s concern over what he sees as growing Iranian influence with respect to Iraq, Rice said, “The posture of the U.S. about what we think of Iran matters. I think it’s time to stop painting the Iranians as 10 feet tall, and talk about them as what they are.”

But it was when Wexler brought up Donald Rumsfeld’s new memoir that the disagreement over the face Obama is showing the world came into dispute between Albright and Rice. Albright said that Obama is seeing the nation as a partner among nations, which seemed to anger Rice. Repeatedly calling the U.S. an “exceptional nation,” she said Obama should see the U.S. as a leader and not just one of the pack. Albright retorted that as an immigrant herself, no one could be more proud of this country, to which Rice pointed out that as a black woman raised in Birmingham, Ala., where she was not allowed to go where whites went, she knew what America could offer. “America has to lead,” she said, “because we surely have something special to say.”

Powell interjected that the United States would be wise to seek out partnerships, and Albright said “I am now concerned that we are turning inward.”

With so much wisdom coming from the stage, Wexler’s final question sparked both introspection and humor. He asked the panel what they might do over, if they got one opportunity to do so.

Rice said she would have focused more on a comprehensive immigration bill: “I don’t know when immigrants became our enemies,” she said, sounding profoundly moderate.

Powell referred to the moment when he told the United Nations that the war in Iraq was necessary, based on what he now knows was faulty CIA intelligence. “I would ask the president to have Condi give the speech at the U.N.,” he said to laughter. “But after that, immigration.”

And Albright ended the night with her regret over work she did as ambassador to the United Nations. “I regret,” she said, “that I didn’t push harder on what was going on in Rwanda,” she said of the massive genocide that occurred there in 1994. “I can explain it,” based on what else was happening at the time, she said, “But I regret it.”

Clinton, Bush to Appear Together During 2010 AJU Lecture Series

Two former presidents will share the stage when American Jewish University’s (AJU) Public Lecture Series returns in early 2010. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are scheduled to appear together at Universal’s Gibson Amphitheatre on Feb. 22, the university announced Monday.

Clinton has made several appearances during the series’ history, and in 2004 he spoke with Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas), former Senate Majority Leader and GOP challenger to Clinton during the 1996 presidential election. The Feb. 22 event will mark President Bush’s first appearance with the high-profile lecture series, which is organized through the AJU’s Department of Continuing Education.

Past political speakers at the AJU series have included Vice President Al Gore; Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell; White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove; White House Press Secretaries Ari Fleisher and Dee Dee Meyers; Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres; and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Tickets for the Feb. 22 Clinton-Bush event go on sale Nov. 5, with prices ranging from $75 to $125.

For more information, call (310) 440-1246.

To read a background article about the AJU lecture series, from 2001, click

Arts in L.A. Quarterly Calendar: Cultural events through Feb. 2009


Robert Dowd — Pop Art Money — See Jan.17 listing


Fri., Dec. 12
“Laemmle Through the Decades: 1938-2008, 70 Years in 7 Days.” It must have been an extraordinarily difficult task to select only seven films to represent the rich and diverse history of the Laemmle Theatres chain. But someone did it. For the next week, Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles will screen the seven most iconic foreign-language films to have graced the company’s silver screens, each one representing a different decade of its existence. The lineup includes “Children of Paradise” (1945, France), “La Strada” (1954, Italy), “Jules & Jim” (1962, France), “The Conformist” (1970, Italy, France and West Germany), “Fanny & Alexander” (1982, Sweden), “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (1988, Spain) and “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (2001, Mexico). Films will screen several times a day. Through Dec. 18. $7-$10. Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 477-5581. ” target=”_blank”>

Sat., Dec. 13
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” With a long list of Top 40 favorites, such as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Yakety Yak,” “Stand by Me” and “On Broadway,” this musical mishmash of Leiber and Stoller hits is ideally jubilant for the holiday season. Since its 1995 premiere on Broadway, the 39-song revue has been nominated for seven Tony Awards, won a Grammy Award for the legendary duo’s songs and featured special appearances by megastars such as Gladys Knight, Gloria Gaynor and Rick Springfield. Starring in this NoHo production of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” are DeLee Lively, Robert Torti and a host of other talented stage veterans. Special performances include tonight’s opening night gala and two New Year’s Eve shows, one with a champagne reception, the other followed by an all-out party with the cast. 8 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Through Jan. 4. $25-$150. El Portal Theatre, Mainstage, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 508-4200. ” target=”_blank”>

Sat., Dec. 13
“Moonlight Rollerway Holiday Jubilee.” Charles Phoenix is addicted to thrift store shopping. Luckily for us, Phoenix has put together a collection of the goodies he has found. Now, Moonlight Rollerway, which calls itself Southern California’s last classic roller rink, is presenting Phoenix and his quirky, retro holiday slide show. The viewing event will be followed by a roller-skating revue spectacular, featuring 75 championship skaters and celebrating the entire year’s holidays, including Cinco de Mayo and Valentine’s Day. Snacks and an after-show skating party are included. 8 p.m. Also, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. $35. Moonlight Rollerway, 5110 San Fernando Road, Glendale. (818) 241-3630. ” target=”_blank”>

Sun., Dec. 14
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus Annual Winter Concert. There is an Academy Award-nominated documentary about this choir. It has toured Brazil, China, Italy and Poland, among other nations. And since its inception in 1986, the chorus has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Approximately 250 talented and dedicated children between the ages of 8 and 12 make up the LACC. The angelic voices of these preteen choristers will bring to life works by composers such as Aaron Copland, Pablo Casals, Randall Thompson and J.S. Bach in a winter concert inspired by literary luminaries Robert Frost, William Shakespeare and others. The program follows the 2008-2009 season theme, “The Poet Sings,” and features a varied selection of classical, folk and contemporary pieces. 7 p.m. $24-$42. Pasadena Presbyterian Church, 585 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 793-4231. ” target=”_blank”>

Mon., Dec. 15
Reel Talk: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Stephen Farber, film critic for Hollywood Life magazine and The Hollywood Reporter, has been treating audiences to sneak previews of the industry’s hottest films for more than 25 years. The veteran film buff concludes this year’s preview series with a fascinating film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story about a man who is born in his 80s and ages backward. Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton, the odd tale is already making waves and is set to hit theaters during prime-time movie-watching season, Christmas. The screening will be followed by a discussion with members of the filmmaking team, including Oscar-nominated costume designer Jacqueline West. 7 p.m. $20. Wadsworth Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 365-3500. ” target=”_blank”>

Tue., Dec. 16
Carrie Fisher presents and signs “Wishful Drinking.” It’s not easy being an action figure before you can legally drink a beer, but that didn’t stop Princess Leia from having one, or two, or many more. Fisher’s first memoir, adapted from her one-woman stage show, is a revealing look at her childhood as a product of “Hollywood in-breeding” and her adulthood in the shadow of “Star Wars.” After electroshock therapy, marrying, divorcing then dating Paul Simon, a drug addition and a bipolar disorder, Fisher still manages to take an ironic and humorous survey of her bizarre life. Meet Fisher and get a copy of her book signed at this WeHo book haven. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. ” target=”_blank”>

Fri., Dec. 19
“Peter Pan.” Tinkerbell, Captain Hook, pirates, Indians — we know the cast of characters well. But how many of us have actually seen a full production of J.M. Barrie’s classic fantasy play, “Peter Pan” — especially one that features the complete musical score by Leonard Bernstein? Composer Alexander Frey — who helped reconstruct portions of Bernstein’s score that had been previously lost for a special CD — is flying in from Berlin to conduct the live orchestra. 7 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Through Dec. 28. $30-$70; $10 (seniors and students). Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara. (805) 963-0761. ” target=”_blank”>

Wed., Dec. 24
“49th Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration.” Los Angeles’ biggest holiday show, featuring 45 groups and 1,200 performers, is a proud tradition — and it’s absolutely free! Running approximately six hours, the holiday extravaganza features the county’s cultural diversity. This year’s highlights include hip-hop group Antics Performances, South Bay Ballet and Grammy-nominated Lisa Haley and the Zydekats. Audiences will have the opportunity to listen to sounds and see sights from the world over, including Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. For those of you who can’t make it to see the event in person, KCET-TV will also be airing the event live. Sponsored by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and produced by the County Arts Commission. 3-9 p.m. Free. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-3099.

Calendar Girls Picks and Clicks Dec. 6 – 12: Poetry of La Norte, love and latkes


Whether or not you’re a firm believer in life after death, screenwriter and playwright Dan Gordon has a message for you: People in heaven might be sending you postcards. In his new book, “Postcards From Heaven: Messages of Love From the Other Side,” Gordon explains how a “whisper, a familiar smell in the air, or just the feeling of a presence” can indicate a message from above. This weekend, Gordon is part of Temple Menorah’s second annual “Authors, Books, and Conversations” event. Ariel Sabar, author of “My Father’s Paradise,” will speak about the search for his Kurdish Jewish roots. And on Sunday, children’s book author Kathy Kacer, an expert on writing about the Holocaust for children, will be featured. Sat. 5 p.m. $25-$36 (includes dinner). Through Dec. 7. Temple Menorah, 1101 Camino Real, Redondo Beach. (310) 316-8444. ” target=”_blank”>

“Fiddler on the Roof.” Enough said. You know the story, you know the songs, you know you’re going to enjoy the performance. The Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities presents their production of “Fiddler,” starring Thomas Fiscella as the endearing Tevye and Richard Israel as Motel. Sat. 8 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Through Dec. 21. $40-$65. Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach. (310) 372-4477. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>raise $400,000 for the nonprofit Jewish Home — the largest single-source provider of senior housing in Los Angeles. But it’s not all just physical activity. The fun-filled day comes complete with music, food and clowns! The event is open to all ages and will begin and end at the Jewish Home’s Eisenberg Village Campus. Sun. 7 a.m. (registration); 8:30 a.m. (opening ceremony). Eisenberg Village Campus, 18855 Victory Blvd., Reseda. (818) 774-3324. ” target=”_blank”>

Rabbi Mordechai Dubin’s upbeat songs have 3-year-olds quoting from Genesis and Maimonides. The fourth-grade teacher at Maimonides Academy received a $10,000 grant from the Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educators Awards for his excellence in teaching and used it to produce a children’s CD that has become the buzz of day schools across the country. Bring your tots to see Rabbi Dubin live, singing holy hits from his CD, “I Made This World For You,” at the Jewish Community Library. Sun. 3-4 p.m. Free. JCLLA, 6505 Wilshire Blvd. #300, Los Angeles. (323) 761-8648. ” target=”_blank”>


Transit prose queen and performance artist Marisela Norte will not only read selections from her poetry collection, “Peeping Tom Tom Girl,” at ALOUD, she will perform them with longtime friend and talented collaborator Maria Elena Gaitan. “An Evening of Spoken Word and Cello” features two unique female artists ” target=”_blank”>


Esther Jungreis once trembled, starving and terrified in Bergen-Belsen. Many years later, she flew over Germany on the president of the United States’ plane. The world-renowned spiritual leader and speaker, who comes from a rabbinical dynasty tracing back to King David, has come a long way from the death camps of ” target=”_blank”>

Imagine growing up knowing that your father was brutal Nazi leader Amon Goeth. Monika Hertwig learned at a young age of her father’s history and his eventual hanging as a war criminal. But Hertwig didn’t simply try to forget the past; she went on to search for one of her father’s victims and found Helen Jonas, a woman rescued by Oskar Schindler. Directed by Academy Award-winner James Moll, the meeting of the two women captured in the film, “Inheritance,” “unearths terrible truths and lingering questions about how the actions of our parents can continue to ripple through generations.” Wed. Airs nationally on PBS’ series, “Point of View.” Check local listings at ” target=”_blank”>


In its brief 60-year history, Israel has undergone enormous changes and even greater threats. What will the Holy Land look like at 100 years? None of us can say for certain. But that doesn’t stop Israel experts from pondering the question. Rabbi Daniel Gordis tackled the issue on Nov. 13 in part one of Temple Beth Am’s Israel 2048 Master Teacher Series, “Envisioning the State of Israel on the occasion of its 100th Anniversary.” Tonight, another brilliant scholar shares his insights on the future of the Jewish state. David Myers, director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, has published numerous books and is the co-editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review. Thu. 7:45 p.m. $15 (Temple Beth Am members), $25 (nonmembers). Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P. required, (310) 652-7354, ext. 215. ” target=”_blank”>

Annie Leibovitz, Ed Asner, Shelly Berman, Lainie Kazan and Elliot Gould


Jack and Robin Firestone, an average American Jewish couple, were vacationing in Paris in 1997. Then tragedy struck — right before their eyes, a car carrying Princess Diana fatally crashed in a Paris tunnel. The Firestones have since written a book, “Chasing Diana,” about their tumultuous experience and their role in the ensuing investigation. “You never want to believe it was anything more than an accident, but the more we saw, we could not help believe that there’s something deeper here,” Robin said. “The inquest, the verdict, the book; it’s all closure for us. Now we’ll just let the reader decide.” Sat. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. ” target=”_blank”>

You can lend a hand in the fight against cancer by playing a hand at the eighth annual Visions Israel Cancer Research Fund’s Monte Carlo Night. Dressed in chic evening attire, you can dance, bid on auction goodies, roll the dice in craps, take a chance on roulette and don your poker face in Texas Hold’em while feeling good that your money is going to the best hospitals, universities and cancer research institutions in Israel. Visions, the ambitious “next generation” of charitable organizations, will honor Rachael Tanenbaum and Benjamin Sternberg with its “Visionary of the Year Awards.” Sat. 8 p.m. $80 (before Nov. 14 at noon), $95 (thereafter). Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 651-1200. ” target=”_blank”>


Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews are a minority within a minority. The largely understudied cultures of Jews from Iraq, Syria, Georgia, Iran, Morocco and other Arab countries are the focus of an academic-minded conference, “Integrating Sephardi and Mizrachi Studies, Research and Practice,” co-sponsored by Hebrew ” target=”_blank”>

Going Metro is becoming all the rage in our eternally traffic-jammed city. Even ATID is hopping on the bandwagon with its Outdoors Metro Rail Art Tour — a sightseeing trip that takes you below ground to view the eclectic artwork in and around the Metro Rail system in Los Angeles. Knowledgeable guides will point out the works, tell you about the artists and provide insight into the communities they beautify. The tour, beginning at the Union Station Metro stop, will also provide a chance to try out the city’s burgeoning public transportation system — it ain’t New York, but it’s a start! Sun. 10:45 a.m. Free (members), $8 (guests). Metro Station at Historic Union Station, 900 Alameda St., Los Angeles. ” target=”_blank”>

The West Coast Jewish Theatre invites you to “An Evening of Stars!” The benefit show, starring Jewish theater favorites Ed Asner, Shelley Berman, Hal Linden and others, will enable the organization to continue producing quality theater that presents Jewish themes, traditions and ideas. Famous former host of “Let’s Make a Deal,” Monty Hall, will be the master of ceremonies at this grand evening of entertainment. Sun. 6:30 p.m. $150-$225. American Jewish University, Gindi Auditorium, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (323) 650-6973. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>relationship with the courageous German businessman who saved the lives of hundreds of Jews, at “Little Leyson — The Youngest Schindler’s List Survivor Tells His Story.” Mon. 8 p.m. $15-$20. Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel, 880 S. Westlake Blvd., Westlake Village. (818) 991-0991. ” target=”_blank”>


Painting and poetry meld together beautifully in Marcia Falk’s new exhibition, “Inner East: Illuminated Poetry and Blessings.” Falk, author of “The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible” and “The Book of Blessings: New Jewish ” target=”_blank”>


“M*A*S*H” and “Ocean’s Eleven” star Elliot Gould will be honored at the Laugh Factory during a special night for Hillel 818. The comedy-filled evening will feature Elon Gold, Bret Ernst and The Skylar Brothers. Proceeds from the event will help support Hillel programs at Cal State Northridge, and Pierce and Valley colleges. Thu. 7 p.m. (VIP reception) 8 p.m. (show) $10-$25; $75 (VIP). The Laugh Factory, 8001 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 887-5901 or (818) 886-5101. ” target=”_blank”>

What can the Jewish community expect from our next president? Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay will host Jonathan Adelman, a professor at University of Denver’s Joseph Korbel School of International Studies and author of “The Rise of Israel: A History of a Revolutionary State,” for a special Shabbat service that will address this and many other questions. Adelman will speak on “What Does Our New President Mean for Israel and the Middle East?” If you’re not already impressed with Adelman’s credentials, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice can vouch for him: She was his former doctoral student. Fri. 6:15 p.m. Free. Congregation Ner Tamid, 5721 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes. (310) 377-6986.

Calendar Girls Picks and Clicks Nov. 8 – 14: Healing Havdalah, comedy, films


Joe the Plummer. Tina Fey. Yes We Can. Terrorist ties. Maverick. Hockey mom. It’s time to put the contentiousness of Election 2008 behind us. Republicans or Democrats, we are all Jews. To reunite the community, LimmudLA is hosting a “Healing Havdalah,” where cheering and jeering, political debates and heated ” target=”_blank”>

Beth Lapides is 100 percent happy — 88 percent of the time. But Lapides will certainly be making everyone around her cheerful when she performs her “evolutionary entertainment.” Lapides, a comedian and creator-host of “Un-Cabaret,” has appeared on “Sex and the City,” “The Today Show” and “All Things Considered,” among other programs. During the 1992 presidential election, she tried to make First Lady an elected office and received as many electoral votes as Ross Perot. Sat. 8:30 p.m. $15-$20. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. (310) 315-1459. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>Forgotten Jews of South America,” about South Americans who long to affirm their long-hidden Jewish faith, will also be featured during the fest. Rabbi Daniel Bouskila will be honored with the Maimonides Leadership Award for his years of service to the Sephardic Educational Center, and “West Wing” and “House” producer Eli Attie will receive the Cinema Sepharad Award. Sun. 4 p.m. $250 (opening gala). Through Nov. 16. $12 (screenings). Paramount Studios, 5555 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; Majestic Crest Theater, 1262 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 601-6302. ” target=”_blank”>

In a powerful precursor to the Holocaust, 92 Jews were killed, 25,000 people were arrested and 200 synagogues were destroyed in one night in 1938. That night, remembered today as “The Night of Broken Glass” or Kristallnacht, will be commemorated at Loyola Marymount University when acclaimed photographer, filmmaker and writer Rick Nahmias presents his multimedia exhibit “Last Days of the Four Seasons.” Nahmias, who is best known for chronicling the struggles of California’s agricultural workforce, traces the lives of 100 Polish, Hungarian and Russian Jews who survived the Holocaust and established a refuge in the Catskill Mountains. Professor of Jewish Studies at Cal State Northridge Beth Cohen will deliver a keynote address, “Holocaust Survivors in Postwar America: Facts and Fictions of the Early Years.” Sun. 1 p.m. Free. Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 338-7850. ” target=”_blank”>

Not that the subject of Israel is ever out of focus for organizations like StandWithUs and The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, but the aptly titled “Israel In Focus” conference will give the Jewish state center stage above issues like the new president-elect, the economy and the housing market. Featured experts will include Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch, who will share some of the latest outrageous videos he has unearthed on Palestinian TV; Roberta Seid, who will demonstrate how StandWithUs rouses college kids with a presentation on Israel 101, history and Zionism; and Micah Halpern, a political and social commentator with the latest developments in the turbulent Middle East political scene. Additional sponsors of this event are Sinai Temple Israel Center and the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles. Sun. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $75 (includes breakfast, lunch and all sessions). Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 836-6140 ext. 0.

Leave your to-do lists at home and spend an entire day focusing on yourself. “A Day for Women” at the Alpert JCC offers a rejuvenating experience of a different sort that doesn’t include massages or spa treatments. The theme is “Small Steps Toward Change” and the activities and discussion groups will center on how to make changes in ourselves as well as the world around us, starting with small efforts. The keynote speaker will be “Hours of Devotion” author Dinah Berland. Your day of spiritual pampering will also include lunch, a creative writing/art workshop and a Women’s Boutique (what’s a women’s day without shopping?). Sun. 10:30 a.m. $36 (young adults 18-28), $52 (AJCC members), $58 (non-members). 3801 E. Willow St., Long Beach. (562) 426-7601 ext. 1067 or ” target=”_blank”>


You don’t have to be a foodie or even an avid cook to enjoy a presentation by Jayne Cohen. The author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics and Improvisations” will join Deb Swartz and Deanna Clark of Old Town Cooking School in Pasadena to discuss Jewish aesthetics, Mark Rothko and Barbie dolls. What do Barbie dolls have to do with cooking? We have no idea, but you can find out during this evening of conversation, demonstrations and tastings with Cohen, where the culinary queen will also tell you how to celebrate Chanukah with a modern twist. Wed. 7-8 p.m. Free. Pasadena Central Library, DRW Auditorium, 285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena. (626) 791-0358. ” target=”_blank”>


Nanci Neidorf Christopher was in her mid-30s when she felt her biological clock go off. With no knight in shining armor in sight, she decided to adopt. “… And Baby Makes Two — An Adoption Tale” is this Jewish mom’s tumultuous and inspiring story, which enjoyed an extended run at the Santa Monica Playhouse last year. This one-night only performance coincides with National Adoption Month and aims to raise awareness of the oft-misunderstood parenting option. Proceeds from the evening, which includes a live auction and a Sweet Lady Jane cake and champagne reception, will go to the American Liver Foundation, Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services and The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. Thu. 8 p.m. $35 (single), $60 (pair), $100 (four tickets). The Other Space at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. (310) 285-2200. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>”Church, State, God and Politics: Past, Present and Future Religion in America,” accompanied by a Shabbat service. Saturday’s services will be followed by a study session led by Waldman and a luncheon. Waldman, with the help of Glendale Mayor John Drayman, will bring the weekend to a close with a lecture and Q-and-A session on Sunday. Fri. 7:30 p.m. Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m. Fri. and Sat. morning Shabbat services, free; $10-$25 for all other events. Temple Sinai of Glendale, 1212 N. Pacific Ave., Glendale. (213) 626-5863; (818) 246-8101. ” target=”_blank”>

— Lilly Fowler contributed to this article

Arts in L.A. Quarterly Calendar: Cultural events through November 2008


Fri., Sept. 12
“A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People.” Angelenos can explore the legacy of one of the Catholic Church’s most beloved popes in a new Skirball Cultural Center exhibition. Through artifacts, photographs and audiovisual recordings that first appeared at Cincinnati’s Xavier University only weeks after the pope’s death in 2005, visitors can explore the life of Pope John Paul II and the historical and personal circumstances that led him to aggressively reach out to Jews worldwide. Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to enter a synagogue, recognize the State of Israel and formally apologize for the Catholic Church’s past treatment of the Jewish people. The Skirball will also offer several public programs related to the exhibition: an adult-education course on “Jesus and Judaism” and film adaptations of biblical epics, among others. Through Jan. 4. $10 (general admission), free to all on Thursdays. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. ” target=”_blank”>

Sat., Sept. 13
“Speech & Debate.” The town is Salem, Ore., and, as in countless other American cities, teenagers are on the prowl for like-minded adolescents via the Internet. However, the three teenagers who find one another in “Speech & Debate” don’t just bond over music, books and movies, but are linked through a sex scandal that has rocked their community. The three adolescent misfits do what anyone else would to get to the bottom of the scandal: form their school’s first speech and debate team. Check out the West Coast premiere of the play, which critics are calling “flat-out funny.” 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Through Oct. 26. $22-$28. The Blank Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 661-9827. ” target=”_blank”>

Sat., Sept. 13
Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival. Camarillo is offering visitors a one-day extravaganza filled with music, artists and gourmet food, all culminating in an evening concert under the stars. The 2008 Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival will include gospel and bluegrass music, a farmers’ market and more than 50 artists showcasing their work. By evening, retro-band Royal Crown Revue will warm the stage for a secret, Grammy-nominated headliner. 8 a.m. (farmers’ market), 10 a.m. (music and art walk). $20-$60. 2400 Ventura Blvd., Old Town Camarillo. (805) 484-4383. ” target=”_blank”>

Fri., Sept. 19
“Back Back Back” at The Old Globe. There’s nothing poignant about professional athletes using steroids. Or is there? Old Globe playwright-in-residence Itamar Moses delves into the controversial topic and takes the audience beyond the newspaper headlines and congressional hearings to the sanctuary of sports — the locker room. With humor and insight, Moses unfolds the stories of three major league baseball players who struggle to compete in the unforgiving world of professional sports, as well as balance their personal lives and professional images. The up-and-coming playwright has “clearly demonstrated tremendous talent along with a willingness to tackle complex ideas in his plays,” said The Globe’s Executive Producer Lou Spisto. Moses’ other works include “The Four of Us,” which won the San Diego Critics’ Circle Best New Play Award last year and “Bach at Leipzig.” 8 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Through Oct. 26. $42-$59. Old Globe Arena Theatre, James S. Copley Auditorium, San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park, San Diego. (619) 234-5623. ” target=”_blank”>

Sun., Sept. 21
KCRW’S World Festival. A remarkable, eclectic lineup marks the last week of KCRW’s World Music Festival. Ozomatli toured the world, engaging audiences with its blend of Latin-, rock- and hip-hop-infused music, as well as its anti-war and human rights advocacy. The multiethnic group headlines this special night at the Hollywood Bowl, along with Michael Franti, a former member of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and his latest band Spearhead. Mexican singer Lila Downs as well as Tijuana’s premiere electronic band, Nortec Collective and its members Bostich and Fussible, will make it impossible for anyone not to get something out of the mix. If you haven’t had the chance to catch this spectacular summer concert series, don’t miss this last opportunity. 7 p.m. $10-$96. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 850-2000. ” target=”_blank”>

Wed., Sept. 24
Brad Meltzer signs “Book of Lies.” The New York Times best-selling mystery writer is back with a riveting new thriller that links the Cain and Abel story with the creation of Superman. Young Jerry Siegel dreamed up a bulletproof super man in 1932 when his father was shot to death. It may sound like a strange plotline, but trust Meltzer, who has written six other acclaimed page-turners as well as comic books and television shows, to produce a great read. The novel is already receiving major buzz and you can get in on the action in a variety of ways: By watching the trailer on Brad Meltzer’s Web site (yes, the book has a movie trailer), listening to the book’s soundtrack (yes, the book has a soundtrack) and by coming to a reading and book signing by the author. 7:30-9 p.m. Free. Barnes & Noble, 16461 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 380-1636. ” target=”_blank”>

Sat., Sept. 27
“Skinny Bitch: A Bun in the Oven.” If there is one thing that doesn’t ever get old, it’s mocking our own culture. Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin do just that in their newly released “Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven,” a sequel of sorts to their best-selling cookbook “Skinny Bitch.” The book is a guaranteed laugh riot and today’s in-store reading and signing could offer a sassy twist as the two authors show up in the flesh to dish about expecting mothers. And don’t be fooled, just because the subjects of this book are in a more fragile state of mind, Freedman and Barnouin refuse to make any exceptions to their insightful and illuminating critiques. 2 p.m. $14.95 (book price). Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. ” target=”_blank”>

Sat., Sept. 27
“Jack’s Third Show.” Long hair, dramatic eye shadow and electric guitars return for an ’80s afternoon. Billed as a benefit for autism education, radio station JACK-FM stages an edgy blend of retro and new wave rockers. Billy Idol joins Blondie, The Psychedelic Furs and Devo for a musical bash that will have you dancing all day long. 2 p.m. $29-$89. Verizon Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. (213) 480-3232. ” target=”_blank”>

Sat., Sept. 27
Museum Day. Art and cultural institutions are hoping to attract folks from all walks of life by making them an offer that’s hard to refuse: free admission to museums across Southern California. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, this event gives art lovers and art novices alike the opportunity to visit venues from the Getty Center to the Craft and Folk Art Museum, free of charge. Natural history and science museums, like the California Science Center are also participating in the event. Regular parking fees do apply and advance reservations are recommended for some exhibitions. For a complete list of participating museums, visit ” target=”_blank”>

Sat., Sept. 27
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s 40th Season Opening Gala. L.A. Chamber Orchestra’s first musical director, Sir Neville Marriner, will conduct its current director, Jeffrey Kahane, in a piano solo to celebrate its 40th year. A symbolic bridge between the orchestra’s past and its future, expect to hear classical masters Beethoven, Schumann and Stravinsky, followed by dinner, dancing and a live auction for patrons. 6 p.m. $35-$125 (concert only), $750 (full package). The Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. Saint John Ave., Pasadena. (213) 622-7001, ext. 215.

Calendar Girls picks and clicks for Sept. 6–12: Hip hop art, veggie Jews, string theory & laughs


They’re being called the “Divas of Domesticity.” Three PTA-parents-turned-girl-group prove dishes can’t diminish a desire for artistic creativity. “It’s The Housewives,” a rock-musical by husband/wife songwriting team Laurence and Hope Juber of “A Very Brady Musical” and Ellen Guylas, features 19 songs with titles that will make you chuckle: “In Sink and at Your Disposal,” “Ironing Bored” and “Reynolds Rap.” Sat. 8 p.m. $40. Through Oct. 12. The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (323) 960-5563. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>respectively, in “Wicked”). Hilty takes on the role of secretary Doralee played by Parton 28 years ago. The show will play at the Ahmanson for more than a month, but tonight you get to turn your evening of entertainment into a mitzvah. Vista Del Mar, a social service agency that focuses on children, is hosting an evening to raise funds for their many social, educational, behavioral and health programs. What a way to make a livin’ — and what a way to make a difference. Sun. 4 p.m. (cocktails), 5 p.m. (dinner). Call for prices. Center at Cathedral Plaza, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. 6:30 p.m. (show). Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 836-1223, ext. 274.

“String theory is a still-developing mathematical approach to theoretical physics, whose original building blocks are one-dimensional extended objects called strings. String theory is the first candidate for the ‘theory of everything,’ a way to describe all the known natural forces and matter in a mathematically complete system.” Perhaps art can explain better than Wikipedia. In “String Theory: Works by Gary Frederick Brown and Baila Goldenthal,” the abstract artists contemplate “the sub-microscopic dimensions” of human relationships with the divine, trying to get at the invisible threads that link them. At this artists’ opening reception, USC professor Solomon Golomb will address the science of string theory in connection with the exhibit. Sun. 3-5 p.m. Free. USC Hillel Art Gallery, 3300 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles. (213) 747-9135.

Interested in supporting gay and lesbian rights, but not sure how? Start by visiting a moving-art exhibition, “The Shepard Cycle: Prints and Drawings by Nomi Silverman,” at the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring’s A Shenere Velt art gallery. Silverman will present prints, studies and drawings relating to gay college student Matthew Shepard, whose hate-motivated murder in Wyoming 10 years ago has inspired a variety of artistic endeavors. The gallery will donate 50 percent of the sale price from each Silverman piece to the campaign to defeat Proposition 8, the measure that aims to ban same-sex marriage in California. Congregations Beth Chayim Chadashim and Kol Ami, Progressive Jewish Alliance and Jews for Marriage Equality are co-sponsoring this exhibition. Sun. 3-5 p.m. (opening reception). Through Oct. 3. Free. 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-2007.
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When L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa visited Israel earlier this summer, he was deeply moved by the plight of those living in Sderot. Over breakfast, several senior members of his delegation will discuss their experiences in the town that is being barraged daily by Palestinian terrorist rocket attacks. Under the auspices of AMIT, a religious education and social services organization that supports Israeli youth, and the Jewish Free Loan Association, Los Angeles city officials will bring the realities of the tragedy home during “New Perspectives — A Report from Sderot: A Lox and Bagel Breakfast and Panel Discussion.” Sun. 9-11 a.m. $20-$40. Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 859-4885. ” target=”_blank”>

Just in time for the High Holy Days, the Lehkeeroov Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) wants you to know that if you eat meat, you’re sinning and you should probably repent on Yom Kippur for every steak and chicken thigh you’ve devoured this year. In “The Messianic Vision: Vegetarian or Not?” an intensive exploration with Orthodox rabbis and other authorities, the JVS will debate the religious and moral implications of being a carnivore as well as the ethics of using animals for clothing, experimentation and sacrifice (guess that rules out ” target=”_blank”>


You probably know more Yiddish than you think, thanks to “Seinfeld,” Heeb magazine and Jewish screenwriters, who made words such as shlep, klutz, nosh, shlimazel (remember the “Laverne and Shirley” hopscotch theme song?) and shmooze household lingo. If pop culture catchphrases aren’t satisfying your hunger for ” target=”_blank”>

Omer Bartov, a professor at Brown University, set out to investigate the history of his mother’s hometown in eastern Galicia, and now he is telling the public about what he discovered. During the course of his research, he came face to face with the region’s ethnic conflicts, historic anti-Semitism and complex political development. Bartov also reveals a newly independent country that ethnically cleansed its own history, wiping out nearly all traces of the vibrant Jewish communities that once thrived in the region. Hear the details of the professor’s fascinating study in a community lecture sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Jewish studies program at California State University, Northridge, “Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine.” Mon. 4:30-6 p.m. Free. California State University, Northridge, Oviatt Library Presentation Room, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. (818) 677-2957 or (818) 677-4724. ” target=”_blank”>


It’s easy to focus on the horrors that religion has inspired, especially since the conflicts raging around the world today are so heavily infused with talk of holy missions, God’s will and martyrdom. Rabbi David Wolpe spends more than 200 pages doing the exact opposite in his much-talked-about new book, “Why Faith ” target=”_blank”>

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Can the Middle East help California solve its environmental problems? Friends of the Arava Institute, an environmental teaching and research program in the Middle East, are actively exploring the possibility. Experts from the institute will be sharing the ways Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have worked together to try to solve the region’s many environmental woes. The seminar will also focus on how the quest for alternative energy sources and environmental strategies used to combat water scarcity, industrial waste and pollution could be adapted to our state. “In many ways, these two regions that are at opposite ends of the planet have very similar problems. Our hope is that our experiences from the Middle East may have relevance to similar issues in the Western United States,” said Clive Lipchin, research director of the Arava Institute and one of the featured experts at the panel discussion. Tue. 5 p.m. Free. UCLA School of Law Auditorium, 385 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles. (866) 312-7282. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>freshest ingredients and finest restaurants, it’s still somehow better known for exporting California Pizza Kitchen and Koo Koo Roo than anything else. And with so much food fusion happening in Los Angeles, do local flavors get lost in global palettes? During this discussion put on by Zócalo public lecture series, moderator and Pulitzer-winning L.A. Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold will ask local chefs Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Evan Kleinman (Angeli Caffe) and a slew of others “Is There Such a Thing as L.A. Cuisine?” Wed. 7 p.m. Free. The Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 403-0416. ” target=”_blank”>

Pisher [peesh-ehr], a Yiddish-English term, meaning, politely, “a little squirt.” The story goes … two new Jewish mothers, Chloe Brakha and Jackie Deutsch, became as fashion-obsessed on behalf of their newborns as they were for themselves. Thus, a shopping-exclusive for Moms entitled, “Rich Lil Pishers,” a one-day, one-stop shop for women to indulge their wallets and get pampered. And since most Jews fancy a steep bargain, the “momtrepreneurs” are amalgamating designer maternity and children’s wear at a 70 percent discount with a portion of ticket sales benefiting Baby2Baby, an organization providing children’s items to Los Angeles families in need. Wed. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. $25. Smashbox Studios, 8538 Warner Drive, Culver City. (310) 339-1558. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’>much the same way that ecclesiastical heavy weights were portrayed by Velasquez and Rembrandt: as compelling, assertive, larger-than-life figures. Melamid, who first made a name for himself as a revolutionary artist in Soviet Russia with longtime collaborator Vitaly Komar, was introduced to the hip hop elite by his son, a music video director. Having escaped Soviet harassment, the artist has continued to dissect contemporary culture and plans to follow this with two additional series, of 12 religious figures and 12 Russian oligarchs. Fri. 7-9 p.m. (opening reception). Tue.-Sat. Through Nov. 1. Free. Forum Gallery, 8069 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 655-1550. ” target=”_blank”>

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— Lilly Fowler contributed to this article

Calendar Girls picks and clicks for April 5-11


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The three-movement composition titled “Water From a Stone” was inspired by a gift — the Jerusalem Fountain — given to the Catholic Church by the Skirball Foundation and an anonymous Jewish family. Composer Michael Isaacson, founding music director of the Israel Pops Orchestra, has written a work combining Jewish biblical themes, Hebrew prayers and Israeli folksongs. With forceful hands, pianist Andrea Anderson will tell the story that begins when Moses defies God, strikes the rock and incites dramatic confrontation, followed by a second movement that draws its melody from a Hebrew prayer for rain. The end is buoyant and hopeful, echoing the imperative of an Israeli folksong based on the words of Isaiah: “Draw water joyfully from the Fountain of Deliverance,” says the prophet, bringing the music and its message back to the symbolic fountain sitting in the cathedral’s courtyard. The performance also includes works by Mozart, Debussy, Copeland and Prokofiev. Sat. 8 p.m. $10 (suggested donation). Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. (213) 680-5200.

It’s a scenario not commonly heard: a young Eastern European Jew flees the pogroms of Russia in 1909 and floats his banana boat to Hamilton, Texas. The story made its stage debut as “The Immigrant” in the 1980s. Written by Mark Harelik, the coming-to-America play reveals the true-life tale of Harelik’s �(c)migr�(c) grandparents and will premiere new creative content in an updated musical version. Sarah Knapp’s lyrics add dimension, depth and emotionality, buoying the spirit of a story about starting over. Sat. 8 p.m. $37-$42. Through May 4. The Colony theater, 555 N. Third St., Burbank. (818) 558-7000, ext. 15. ” target=”_blank”>


Menschs for mitzvahs wanted! Jewish Family Service is enlisting volunteers to help with their three community seders for immigrant families and seniors. Those who are blessed with holiday celebrations filled with family and friends are just the right people to bring those feelings of warmth and comfort to others. Sun. 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Hollywood Temple Beth El, 1317 N. Crescent Heights Blvd., Los Angeles. To sign-up, call Sherri at (323) 761-8800 or e-mail

Prepare to answer touchy questions today at a forum organized by UCLA Extension Public Policy that ponders “Can Faith Be Rational? Cooperation and Conflict Among Christians, Jews and Muslims.” While these faiths trace their roots to a common source, they can and do clash in the context of contemporary life. Is peaceful coexistence possible? How does the religious diversity of modern society impact public policy decisions on education, scientific research and foreign relations? Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, director of UCLA Hillel, Amir Hussain, associate professor in theology at Loyola Marymount University, and Phyllis Herman, chair of the religious studies department at CSU Northridge, will dialogue during this half-day seminar, explaining their respective faiths’ historical backgrounds and spiritual beliefs and how these philosophies can survive in the current world. Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $50. UCLA, Semel Institute for Neuroscience, 574 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. (310) 825-9971. ” target=”_blank”>

New Age Senior Singles could simply never tire of the theater. During their Theater and Dinner Party, they’ll first head to the proscenium for “Moonshine,” described as a “musical romantic comedy with touches of magical realism.” Following the performance, the group will dine at Pomodoro’s during a no-host dinner, where schmoozers can air their best art criticism and satiate their appetite after those theater-snack morsels. Sun. 2 p.m. $24. Woodland Hills theater Group, West Valley Playhouse, 7242 Owensmouth, Canoga Park. For reservations, call (818) 347-8355.

Could Tony Blair be the one?

There was one big question left unanswered when Tony Blair spoke last Monday evening at the opening of American Jewish University’s (AJU) 2007 lecture series.

A day after he stepped down as the British Prime Minister on June 27, 2007, Blair immediately became the Middle East envoy working on behalf of the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together on a peace deal.

Since then, he has been meeting with all sides in the conflict, and logging more miles lining up support from various Middle Eastern and European leaders. Blair told the near-capacity crowd at the 6,000-seat Gibson Auditorium at Universal Studios that just before touching down in Los Angeles, he had been in Oman, Jerusalem, London and Paris.

“It was a week that was rather typical of the weeks I spend now,” he said.

The message was he’s trying, really trying.

But the 64,000 shekel (or dinar) question is this: What, oh what, makes him think he will succeed?

Google doesn’t have enough computers to store the names of all the “Special Mideast Envoys” sent out on the road to Jerusalem to bring peace to the Holy Land. My instant recall begins with Count Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish diplomat whom the United Nations chose as its first official mediator to bring the Arab and Jewish sides together in pre-state Palestine. On Sept. 17, 1948, the Jewish terrorist Lehi group gunned Bernadotte down in Jerusalem.

As the Monday evening appearance progressed, I tried to divine clues — hope, really — that Blair would be a bit more successful.

There is the force of his personality, for one. Not since former President Bill Clinton kicked off the AJU Lecture series six years ago has a series speaker displaying so much natural talent, humor, power and charisma stood at the podium. (True, Blair had less sex appeal, but he is, after all, English.)

Blair’s speech, in fact, echoed many of the points Clinton’s made about the challenges we face in the world: terrorism, poverty, global warming, trade and immigration. And his prescription to the world facing these ills was likewise Clintonesque. “Globalization is a fact,” he said, “but the values that guide us in facing it are a choice.”

In facing these crises, Blair called for a global perspective: “The key thing is that just as these problems arise from our interdependent world, so the solutions can’t come from any one nation or favor any one nation.”

That point of view makes sense for a globe-trotting Mideast envoy, but will it bring him any more success where so many have failed?

He is, on the plus side, a realist. Terrorism linked to a radical Islamic ideology is part of what Blair called, “a fundamental struggle going on.” On the one hand, the world has to give it no sanction, make no excuses for it.

“If the president of Iran says he wants to wipe Israel off the map, we have to take it seriously,” Blair said. “If this were being said about any other country, people would be saying, Now let’s think about that….”

Likewise, he understands that Israel can’t be expected to compromise with terror.

“You need to have a tough stand, because if you do, people are less likely to put your strength to the test,” he said.

For Israelis, the primary issue is security. “Even though we have a peace process, they’re firing rockets from Gaza to Sderot,” he said. “Why are they doing it? They don’t want us to succeed.”

For the Palestinians, Blair said, the issue is a viable state, free of the burdens of occupation. He said he is convinced that this is what the majority of Palestinians and Israelis want. Blair’s Israel defense received loud applause. His assertion that Palestinians want peace, on the other hand, landed with a thud: afterward, many audience members dismissed the idea of a settlement outright.

Blair has — also on the plus side — a track record for dealing with intractable historical problems. In 1998, he shepherded the Good Friday Agreements that brought together the antagonists in Northern Ireland. Catholics and Protestants are not Jews and Muslims — fine op-ed pieces can and have been written on the differences and similarities — but the basic storyline here is one of hard work and faith.

“That is something people said could not be done,” Blair said. “But we believed it, and we were relentlessly optimistic.”

That, I suppose, is the final impressive quality Blair displayed Monday night. After serving 10 years as prime minister, he is still, at the ripe age of 53, energetic and upbeat, “relentlessly optimistic.” Perhaps his legacy will be less Count Bernadotte and more Ralph Bunche, the African American diplomat who took over as Chief U.N. Mediator after Bernadotte was killed and successfully concluded the task with the signing of the 1949 Armistice Agreements, work for which he received the Noble Peace Prize.

“If you want to get across an idea,” Bunche once said, “wrap it up in person.”

Maybe Tony Blair is that person. If only American Jews shared his optimism.

Inside Shelley Berman, Again

Shelley Berman is 80 years old and hot, hot, hot. When he cups his hand over the phone and yells to his wife: “Where am I this week, Sarah?” he’s not having a senior moment. Fresh from playing Larry David’s father on the HBO series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” he’s got bookings in Las Vegas, feature film shoots and network television tapings on top of his regular slate of teaching classes at USC. Shelley’s current schedule would kill a person half his age, which is why, at 44, I’m functioning as his occasional producer, acolyte and coffee bringer (“Last time someone brought me hazelnut — can’t a person get an honest cup of coffee any more?”) at 24th Street Theatre, where we’re in the middle of a live Shelley Berman minifestival. (His next solo performance of classic monologues will be March 24.)

I’ve long been a fan of Shelley Berman. Although not a Jew myself, I’ve been granted cross-cultural permission to write a Shelley Berman report for The Jewish Journal, as we Asian Americans don’t have quite the comedic lineage of the Jews. But surely you can spare us a piece of your cultural history — for how many Christmases have you been eating our food? Ba-dump-bump.

That quasi-joke I just bumblingly attempted — that’s what Shelley calls: “In Yiddish, a shtick. Which means a hunk, or a piece.” He told me, “We don’t know what comedy is, we really don’t. I try to teach it to young people today, not how to be funny, but how to write it, how to think it, how to put it together. And it’s very hard. There’s that marvelous saying, ‘Dying is easy, comedy is hard.'”

Because of Shelley’s love of teaching, we decide that on his first evening at 24th Street he’ll give his lecture: “Comedy and Its Reflections in History.” Such is the appetite to see Shelley live that without publicity, on a rainy Friday night in downtown, our theater is packed beyond capacity — just how far beyond remains between us and the Fire Department. Whereas at some points in his career the comedian has been rumored to be “difficult,” “Shelley 2006” is the soul of wonderful manners, sartorial elegance and cheerful professionalism. (Although we don’t mess around with the coffee — we actually have it brought in.)

Of course, that doesn’t mean that once on stage Shelley won’t fashion the circumstances of the evening into, well, a shtick. After my slavishly fawning introduction, Shelley comes out to a standing O. He waves the audience back down in their seats, looking half-pleased, half-pained. “Thank you … what’s her name. Your introduction was … long. Thank you for inviting me to this… this….” He looks around the small theater helplessly. His voice trails off. Gloomily, he drops his head in his hands. The audience screams.

Further, while Shelley’s famously not a fan of ringing phones, in a cruel twist of fate (as a producer, the phrase “bowels turn to ice” comes to mind), during Shelley’s performance not one — but three — cellphones go off. Three! (Including one whose owner left the building 24 hours ago.) But even here he finds humor. Removing the cell phone from one young man, he says: “I’ll hold it for you. To get it back later, all you have to do is kiss me… ” Long cross back to stage… “Some place.”

Once again, screams.

His audience firmly in thrall, Shelley now embarks on a trip fantastic through Western history. Sometimes with erudition: “Comedy comes from the Greek ‘komos,’ to travel. In that particular period, you knew that comedians had to travel. They weren’t going to stay around in that town that night after what they had done!”

Sometimes with quick irreverence: “I’m very good at talking about the Renaissance because I know so little about it.”

Then sometimes the two together. At one point, when laughter swells into applause, Shelley begins to conduct us. Hands up — applause! Hands down — silence. Hands up — applause! Hands down — silence. He takes a beat, leans forward, confides: “Isn’t it frightening how easily a man can become a leader? Now all I have to do now is learn how to pronounce ‘nu-cu-lar.’ Don’t get me wrong. I’m very proud of our two political parties, the Democrats and the Christians.”


The theme Shelley keeps returning to is how, time and time again, the best comedy illuminates the human condition at that particular historical time: “In the early 1920s, when there was serious hunger in this country, Charles Spencer Chaplin went to the Yukon. But for the hungry, Charles Chaplin ate a shoe. He cooked that shoe with love and anticipation. And when he ate it, he got all of the meat off the nails, as we do with chicken bones. He made a nation feel better. He made a nation laugh at his hunger.”

When Shelley, to his terror, was forced to enlist into the Army, it was Danny Kaye who lent comfort, finding outrageous humor in the indignity of Army medical exams. And there’ve been others, so many others; Shelley’s passion to speak the great names of comedy aloud becomes almost an aria: Mack Sennett, Harry Langdon, Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Buster Keaton, Eddie Cantor, Fannie Brice, Milton Berle, Jackie Miles, Jack Benny, George and Gracie, Henny Youngman, Shecky Green, Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Steve Allen, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, Jackie Mason, Larry Gelbart, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce….

As a monologue writer myself, what struck me, particularly in Shelley’s descriptions of Jewish comedians, was the incredible precision of comedic rhythm. Consider Lou Holz –“a stand-up comedian, a raconteur, a storyteller, who wore a beautiful suit and carried a walking stick. Oh, he was natty as could be. The main character in all his jokes was a fellow by the name of Sam Lapides….”

You don’t have to be Jewish to tell this joke, but that DNA would help:

“So, Sam Lapides goes to the grocery. He says to the grocer, ‘Do you have salt?’ The grocer says: ‘Do I have salt? Do I have salt? Come here, take a look behind the counter here, see? Look at this. Bag salt. Box salt. See that salt? Over here? Canned salt…. Come on downstairs — I show you something….’ They go downstairs. He says: ‘Look. Look on these walls. Canned salt. Bagged salt. Good salt. Everywhere you look — salt.’ And Sam Lapides says, ‘I’m very impressed. But are you going to be able to sell all this salt?’ And the grocer says, ‘Me? I can’t sell salt. But the guy who sells me salt, oh can he sell…!'”

Here’s another joke with cadences so exact it’s akin to a minihaiku, or like one of those little Carl Sandburg epigraphs. You can almost diagram it. I’ve laid it out on the page for you to replicate the way Shelley told it:

Guy tells a doctor, “I can’t pee.”

The doctor says:

“How old are you?”

“I’m 87,” says the guy,

doctor says,

“You’ve peed enough.”

Shelley can also tell a killer Irish Catholic joke, if unprintable in a family newspaper. And of course ever the master artist, Shelley celebrates humor no matter from what tribe it emanates.

“There was a kid, I swear to God…. I saw the first movie, the first movie he ever did? He was so new, so fresh. A lot of Jews had dominated this field for a long time. And suddenly, there he was — the goyim! A non-Jew! Who’s funny! If you’ve never seen Red Skelton, you never saw funny! Oh my God, there was one wonderful thing he did — he did this routine where he’s cross-eyed, and he’s dunking doughnuts in the other guy’s coffee…!”

Bob Hope, though? Not so much.

“He never said anything cogent — never. ‘Road to Rio’?” Shelley opens his hands. “What was that?” None of us know. We are OK, this evening, leaving Mr. Hope — and all the world’s ringing cellphones — to fend for themselves.

It’s true that Shelley believes comedy today is in a fallow time. When the Vietnam War ended, he feels the comedic habit of anger and bad language remained, even as the underpinning of righteous indignation disappeared.

Says he: “There’s a lot of cruelty in our comedy today. We’ve got to find someone to give it to.”

One bright exception? “Larry David. A guy who has made himself the butt of every joke he’s ever done. Who is Harry Langdon? Who is Fatty Arbuckle? Who is Edgar Kennedy of old times? Larry David creates a character who is “Everyman’s Schmuck.” Every time we’re laughing we’re seeing ourselves in that guy. It’s the most therapeutic, wonderful humor I’ve ever seen.”

So as the evening ends “up” and, to a final standing O, Shelley admits: “I love to teach. I’d like to become everybody’s rabbi.”

Shelley Berman will perform a selection of his original comedic monologues on March 24 at 8 p.m. at the 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th St., Los Angeles. $25 (general), $15 (teachers, students and seniors). For tickets, call (800) 838-3006.

Radio personality, author and monologist Sandra Tsing Loh’s solo show, “Mother on Fire,” runs through April 9, at 8 p.m. (Saturdays) and 3 p.m. (Sundays) at the 24th Street Theatre.


7 Days in The Arts

Saturday, February 25

Havdallah includes a redemption song tonight. Following services at Beit T’Shuvah, con man turned rabbi Mark Borovitz talks to Rabbi Ed Feinstein about his story, as outlined in his bestselling book “The Holy Thief,” newly released in paperback.

5:30 p.m. (havdallah), 6:30 p.m. (conversation). Free. 8831 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 204-5200.

Sunday, February 26

Sephardic culture is placed center stage in this weekend’s colloquium at Cal State University Long Beach, titled “My Heart Is in the East and I in the Uttermost West.” The weekend begins with a concert of Ladino music by Vanessa Paloma and Jordan Charnofsky on Saturday, continues today with various lectures and closes with a presentation this evening on Sephardic musical traditions in Italy, Corfu, Salonica and the New World.

Saturday: 8 p.m. $5-$50. Sunday: Noon-8:30 p.m. Free. Locations on CSULB campus vary. (562) 985-4423.

Monday, February 27

Jewish lit maven and Tel Aviv University professor Hana Wirth-Nesher visits us this week. Tonight, see her presentation on the writings of Grace Paley as part of the Jewish Community Library and The Jewish Federation’s Tel Aviv/Los Angeles Book Salon. Tomorrow, USC Casden Institute sponsors her talk on “The Accented Imagination: Speaking and Writing Jewish America” at Temple Emanuel.

Monday: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Free. Private residence. R.S.V.P., (323) 761-8644 or
Tuesday: 7 p.m. Free. 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills. R.S.V.P., (213) 740-3405 or

Tuesday, February 28

In theaters now is Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film of the year, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days.” The film tells the true story of the German anti-Nazi activist and heroine, and has already garnered awards in Germany — its country of origin — as well as three European Film Awards.

Laemmle Theaters: Town Center, Encino; Music Hall, Beverly Hills; Monica 4, Santa Monica; Playhouse, Pasadena. Â

Wednesday, March 1

The controversial, and now out of hiding, Salman Rushdie, is tonight’s star of the Music Center Speaker Series. The Indian-born British author’s public appearances are rare, but he speaks this evening in conjunction with his newly released novel of magic realism, “Shalimar the Clown.”

8 p.m. $45-$200. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 271-6631.

Thursday, March 2

Hillel at UCLA and the Daniel Pearl Foundation present a Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture by Larry King, on “The Art and Science of the Interview: Musings About Everything.” Hear King speak live and in person, in a talk moderated by law professor Laurie Levenson.

7:30 p.m. Donation requested. Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA, Lee and Irving Kalsman Campus, 574 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 208-3081, ext 107. R.S.V.P. by Feb. 27,

Friday, March 3

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy with a little help from National Jewish Outreach Program. The group has organized the 10th annual “Shabbat Across America” tonight, which will have thousands of Jews across the country and Canada participating in the rituals of Shabbat prayer and dinner. Many L.A.-area synagogues are taking part, so see their Web site to find one near you.

(888) 742-2228. ” width=”15″ height=”1″ alt=””>


The Jewish Journal is no longer accepting mailed or

faxed event listing information. Please e-mail event listings at least three

weeks in advance to:

By Keren Engelberg




Friends of Valley Cities JCC and Westside JCC: 7:30 p.m. Celebrity staged play reading of “Driving Miss Daisy”with Charlotte Rae, Charlie Robinson and Alan Blumenfeld. $12-$16. Valley Cities JCC, Sherman Oaks. Also, April 10, 2 p.m. at Westside JCC, Los Angeles. (818) 786-6310.

Yiddishkayt Los Angeles: 8 p.m. “The Kvetching Continues” starring Jackie Hoffman. $25. Renberg Theatre, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood.
(323) 860-7300.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple: 8 p.m. “Hope: A Musical Celebration of the Soul” with local cantors and guest singers. $36-$100. 1161 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 591-2706.

April 10 /SUNDAY


Workmen’s Circle: 11 a.m. West Hollywood Senior Citizens’ Center Chorus performs songs in Yiddish, English, Russian and Hebrew. $5-$8. 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles.
(310) 552-2007.

StandWithUs: 8 p.m. “LaughWithUs.” Proceeds go to Israeli charities. $75 (includes two drinks). The Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 836-6140.


American Israel Public Affairs Committee: Annual OC AIPAC Dinner: A Community United for Israel. Hyatt Newporter,
1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach.
(323) 937-1184.

Jewish Outdoor Adventures: 10 a.m. Easy to intermediate hike to Dawn Mine from Millard Canyon. Carpools available.

Jewish National Fund: 10:30 a.m. (registration), 12:30 (3K and 5K walk begins). “Walk for Water” benefits the Hatzeva Reservoir in the Arava Valley, Negev Desert. Community performances, children’s activities, hands-on exhibits and kosher food vendors. $25, $50 (family). Paramount Ranch, 2813 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills.
(818) 704-5454.

Jewish Federation Real Estate and Construction Division: 5:30 p.m. 65th anniversary and annual tribute dinner honoring Steve Sobroff. $150-$225. Beverly Hilton Hotel, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (323) 761-8226.

April 11/MONDAY


University of Judaism: 7:30 p.m. Public Lecture Series 2005 featuring Tim Russert, Paul Bremer, Andrea Mitchell, George Tenet and Bob Woodward. Universal Amphitheatre, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-1246.


Congregation Kol Ami: 8 p.m. “Torch Song Trilogy” screening. 1200 N. LaBrea Ave., West Hollywood. (323) 606-0996.

Israeli Folk Dancing: 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Classes by Israel Yakove meet Mondays and Thursdays. $7. 2244 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 839-2550.

National Council of Jewish Women:
9:30 a.m. (refreshments), 10 a.m. (meeting). Allan Gruenberg’s one man show, “The Life and Times of Mae West.” Free. Temple Judea, 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana.
(818) 758-3800.


The Jewish Learning Exchange: 6:30-7:30 p.m. (international buffet), 7:30 p.m. (program). “An Evening of Music and Song” with speakers Rabbi Michel and Rebbetzin Feige Twerski, musical performance by Shalsheles and the JLE choir. $250. El Rey Theatre,
5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-0923.

April 12 /TUESDAY


Valley Beth Shalom: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Annual Spring Boutique with more than 60 vendors supports the nursery school. 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino.
(818) 788-0567.


California Institute of the Arts:
8:30 p.m. “What Makes a Great Magazine?” panel with Gil Maurer, Eric Nakamura, Steve Wasserman and Martin Wong. $8. 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia. (213) 237-2800.

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Hadassah Southern California: 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Youth Services Luncheon and boutique with guest speaker and special performance. Beverly Hilton Hotel, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 276-0036.



Temple Kol Tikvah: 8:30-10 a.m. Town hall meeting with mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa. 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 348-0670.

Temple Beth Am: 7 p.m. Professor Reuven Firestone and attorney Josef Avesar discuss “Israeli-Palestinian: The Road to Peace.” 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 652-7353.


Santa Barbara Hillel/The Forest Foundation/Los Angeles Hillel Council/The Jewish Journal/ Events (18-25):
10 p.m.-2 a.m. Southern California Jewish College Night. Element, 1642 Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood.


Valley Yiddish Culture Club: Commemoration of the Six Million with documentary screening of Spielberg’s “Survivors of the Holocaust” followed by candlelighting and Kaddish. Free. Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. (818) 766-9426.

Congregation Or Ami, Jewish Family Service: 7:30-9 p.m. Madraygot 12-Step group. Recovery from addiction in a Jewish setting. Free. 26115 Mureau Road, Calabasas. R.S.V.P., (818) 880-4880.

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Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center: 7:30 p.m. “More Bad Jewish Chicks: Lynne Bronstein and Julia Stein.” 681 Venice Blvd., Venice.
(310) 822-3006.


Temple Adat Elohim Religious School: Sun., April 17, 9-11:30 a.m. “Exodus Experience” workshops for adults and families. Thousand Oaks. (805) 497-0361.

Temple Beth Am: Sun., April 17, 9 a.m.-noon. “Kashering for Pesach.” Kosher all Passover utensils at the temple. Also, April 22 Erev Pesach Shabbat Dinner and April 24 Seder. Los Angeles.
(310) 652-7354, ext. 555.

B’nai Tikvah Religious School: Sun., April 17, 10 a.m.-noon. Open House and Exodus Simulation. Westchester. (310) 645-6414.

Skirball Cultural Center: Sun., April 17, 11 a.m. “Reggae Passover: Songs of Freedom” with Alan Elder and friends. Ages 5+ with an adult. $9. Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 440-4636.

Hadassah, Kochava Group: Sun., April 17, 4 p.m. Women’s Seder. $25. Seventh-day Adventist Church, Santa Clarita. R.S.V.P., (661) 297-2960.

Anti-Defamation League: Mon., April 18, 5:30 p.m. Jewish-Latino Seder. Temple Beth Sholom, Santa Ana. (714) 979-4733.

Temple Kol Tikvah: Wed., April 20, 7 p.m. Women’s Seder. Special songs and dancing. $15-$20. Woodland Hills. R.S.V.P., (818) 348-0670.

Congregation Beth Israel: Fri, April 22,
7 a.m. “Siyum.” Breaking of the fast of the first-born sons. Also, May 1, Yizkor Memorial Service. Los Angeles.
(323) 651-4022.

Merage JCC: Fri., April 22, noon-1:30 p.m. “A Taste of Passover” luncheon seder. Irvine. (949) 435-3400.

The Bistro Garden at Coldwater: Sat., April 23. Passover dinner. Studio City. R.S.V.P., (818) 501-0202.

The Chai Center: Sat., April 23, 6:30 p.m. (singles “Schmooze and Cruise” happy hour), 8 p.m. (seder), 9 p.m. (dinner). Seder also April 24. $39. Los Angeles. R.S.V.P.,

Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging, Eisenberg Village Campus: Sun, April 24, 5 p.m. Seder. $15-$30. Reseda. R.S.V.P., (818) 774-3386.

Jewish Single Parent Network of Jewish Family Service: Sun., April 24, 5:30 p.m. Non-dairy potluck seder. Van Nuys. R.S.V.P., (323) 761-8800, ext. 1251.

Temple Adat Elohim Sisterhood: Sun., April 24, 6 p.m. Community Seder. (818) 375-1164. Also, Thurs., April 28, Women’s Seder. Thousand Oaks. (818) 706-2213.

Jewish Singles, Meet! (30s and 40s): Sun., April 24, 7:30 p.m. Passover dinner at Froman’s Deli. $18.95 (plus tax and tip). Encino. R.S.V.P., (818) 750-0095.

Nexus (20s and 30s): Thurs., April 28, 6:30 p.m. Sixth-night Passover Singles Seder in Long Beach.

Workmen’s Circle: Sun., May 1, 1 p.m. May Day Seder celebration of freedom, community and Jewish tradition. $16-$39. Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 552-2007.

Gay and Lesbian Jews of the Desert/JCC of the Desert WOW/Temple Isaiah/Temple Sinai of Palm Springs/Temple Kol Ami/Beth Chayim Chadashim/JPride San Diego: Sun., May 1, 3 p.m. Third annual Gay and Lesbian Seder. $35. Temple Isaiah, Palm Springs. R.S.V.P., (760) 328-1003.

Many synagogues and Chabads also host community seders. Please contact your local synagogues or visit
A synagogue directory can be found at ” width=”1″ height=”30″ alt=””>



Hillel: 9-9:30 a.m. Producer David Sacks leads an ongoing weekend class on “Fundamentals of Judaism.” Free. R.S.V.P. for address, (310) 285-7777.

Nexus: 7 p.m. International dinner night: Brazilian barbecue. Costa Mesa area.

Super-Singles (35+): 8 p.m.-midnight. Dance for singles and couples at the Elks Lodge in Canoga Park. $12. 20925 Osborne St., Canoga Park.
(800) 672-6122.

Singles Helping Others: 6-10 p.m. Sell tickets and refreshments and help clean up at “Hope: A Musical Celebration of the Soul.” Wilshire Boulevard Temple, 11661 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 343-4722.

Jewish Singles, Meet! (30s and 40s): 7:30 p.m. The comedy, “A Flea in Her Ear,” at the West Valley Playhouse. 7242 Owensmouth Ave., Canoga Park. R.S.V.P. (818) 750-0095.


Wilshire Boulevard Temple: 10 a.m.-noon. “Lox, Lattes and Learning” at the home of Rabbi Dennis Eisner. Fourth meeting in a series of five. $50-$65. Mid-Wilshire area. R.S.V.P. to

Social Circle (40s-60s): 10:30 a.m. Meet in the parking lot of Will Rogers State Park for a walk and no-host brunch at Mort’s Deli, 1035 Swarthmore Ave., Pacific Palisades. $7 (parking). (310) 204-1240.

Harbor Jewish Singles (55+): 2:30 p.m. “The Lion King” at the Orange County Performing Arts Center followed by dinner at the Claim Jumper. $28. 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.
(714) 842-7876.

AISH L.A.(22-33): 6:30 p.m. “Astrology and the Jews” with Chinese buffet. $14, Aries get in free. Aish Center, 9100 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 278-8672, ext. 401.

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Coffee Talk (30s and 40s): 8 p.m. Weekly discussion group. $7. 9760 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-4595, ext. 27.


Westwood Jewish Singles (45+): 7:30 p.m. “Saying ‘No’ and Not Feeling Guilty.” $10. West Los Angeles.
(310) 444-8986.

Elite Jewish Theatre Singles: 8 p.m. “The King and I” starring Stefanie Powers. $39 (prepaid only). 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 203-1312.


Wilshire Boulevard Temple:
7:30 p.m.-midnight. David Dassa’s weekly Israeli dance lessons. Beginners at 7:30 p.m., regular class at 8 p.m. and open dancing from
9:15 p.m. $7. 2112 S. Barrington Ave., Los Angeles.


L.A.’s Fabulous Best Connections: Dinner and cocktails at Morels Bistro at the Grove. 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles. R.S.V.P.,
(323) 782-0435.

Conversations at Leon’s: 7 p.m. “Three Steps to Turn Trauma Into Triumph.” $15-$17. 639 26th St., Santa Monica.
(310) 393-4616.


Ethiopian American Jewish Art Center: 9:30 p.m. Weekly klezmer band performance. $5. 5819 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-6661.



Barbara’s Bungalow by the Beach (45+): 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Singles Sunday Champagne Brunch. $15. Venice residence. R.S.V.P. by April 13,
(310) 823-9917.

L.A. East Coast Connections (25-40): 11:30 a.m. Bagel brunch and Einstein exhibit at the Skirball at 1 p.m.
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 358-9930.


The Jewish Journal is no longer accepting mailed or

faxed event listing information. Please e-mail event listings at least three

weeks in advance to:

By Keren Engelberg


” width=”1″ height=”8″alt = “” >


68 Cent Crew and Theatre: 8 p.m. “The Knights of Mary Phagan” recounts the trial that tore Atlanta apart, caused a Ku Klux Klan resurgence and birthed the Anti-Defamation League. $20.

5419 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 467-6688.

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Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club: 2 p.m. Beba Leventhal on the life and work of Yiddish poet Mani Leib. $4. 8339 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (310) 454-3687.

Congregation Ner Tamid: 7:30 p.m. Marc Dollinger on “What do we owe Peter Stuyvesant?” for the founding of Jewish participation in American history from 1654 to the present. Free. 5721 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes. (310) 328-1981.

University of Judaism Department of Continuing Education: 7:30 p.m. “Reforming Islam From Within: Two Passionate Muslim Thinkers Speak on Needed Changes.” $25. 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1246.


University of Judaism: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Opening of “Hued and Hewn” painting and sculpture exhibit, with artist reception from 3-5 p.m.15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 476-9777, ext. 201.

Temple Menorah: 11 a.m. A tour of the Einstein exhibit at the Skirball with luxury bus transportation and lunch. $21-$31. 1101 Camino Real, Redondo Beach. (310) 316-8444.

Nimoy Concert Series: 3 p.m. Envision Chamber Consort honoring 350 years of Jews in America, Felix Mendelssohn, Andre Previn, David Lefkowitz and others. Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (213) 805-4261.

Valley Beth Shalom: 7 p.m. “Tradition – Music From the Heart,” an evening of music with world renowned cantors. $30-$50. 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 530-4091.

Yuval Ron Music: 7 p.m. “Sacred Soul II – An Interfaith Sacred Music Concert Celebrating the Spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.” with musical traditions of Judaism, Sufism, the Christian Armenian Church and African American spirituals and gospel. $15. Wilshire Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 505-1355.

Kosher Komedy: 7:30 p.m. Ayelet the Kosher Komic on shidduchim, airlines, Pesach and more, confined to the rules of Jewish halacha. $18. Irvine residence. (949) 551-3998. Also, Feb. 23, 8:30 p.m. for women only. $15, at AISH L.A., 9100 W. Pico Blvd.

West Valley Educational Association: Comedy night and benefit auction at the Madrid Theatre featuring Willie Tyler and Lester and Jim Lavoe of Three Dog Night. 21622 Sherman Way, Canoga Park. (818) 348-3000.

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West Valley JCC: 8-11 p.m. Israeli folk dancing with James Zimmer. $5-$7. 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (310) 284-3638.


West Valley JCC: 8-11 p.m. Israeli folk dancing with James Zimmer. $5-$7. 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (310) 284-3638.

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Workmen’s Circle: 2-8 p.m. Have your portrait sketched by master artist Vadim Zang. Appointments are scheduled for every half-hour. $30. 1525 Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 552-2007.


East Valley Multipurpose Senior Center: 1-2 p.m. Yiddish Club with conversation, music, storytelling and films. All levels and abilities welcome. $2 donation. 5000 Colfax Ave., North Hollywood. (818) 766-5165.

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Women’s League for Conservative Judaism: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Torah Fund Study Day on “Women and the Rabbinate.” $25 (with a $36 contribution to the Torah Fund Campaign). University of Judaism, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 476-5359.


Temple Adat Elohim: 6 p.m. Buffet-style Shabbat dinner followed by services at 7:30 p.m. for the deaf community. $12 (must be mailed in advance to 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362).
(805) 497-7101.




Bnei Akiva: 4:15 p.m. Snif Shuchot at Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy. Walking groups from circle park at 3:45 p.m. Pick up from Beth Jacob on Motzei Shabbat. (310) 248-2450.


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Singles Helping Others: 9 a.m.-
1 p.m. or noon-4 p.m. or all day. Help with registration, raffle, set-up, etc. at Olive Crest Rock ‘N’ Bowl to benefit children in foster care. Pinz,
12655 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 345-8802.

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Harbor Jewish Singles (55+): “The Little Foxes,” about a ruthless beauty whose ambition spelled doom for three men. Dinner to follow at a local restaurant. Newport Theater, 2501 Cliff Drive, Newport Beach. (949) 631-0288.

Between Dates (35+): 6-8 p.m. Come out and shoot, play or hustle, however you do pool. No skill required. $12. Valley area. R.S.V.P. for more information, (818) 587-4643.

Singles Helping Others: 8 a.m.-noon. Volunteer for Project Chicken Soup. Help prepare meals in a commercial kitchen for those living with AIDS. 338 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (818) 343-4722.

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Coffee Talk (30s and 40s): 8:15 p.m. Weekly discussion group. $7. 9911 W. Pico Blvd., Suite 102, Los Angeles.
(310) 552-4595, ext. 27.

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Westwood Jewish Singles (45+):

7:30 p.m. “Emotional Differences Between Men and Women,” discussion with therapist Maxine Gellar. $10. West Los Angeles. (310) 444-8986.

Jewish Learning Exchange: 7:45 p.m. “Why Being Single Happens to Good People” with Dr. Lisa Aiken. 7223 Beverly Blvd., Suite 201, Los Angeles. (323) 857-0923.

L.A.’s Fabulous Best Connections: Chinese Food at Shanghai Diamond Garden. 9401 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (323) 782-0435.

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Wilshire Boulevard Temple: 7:30 p.m.-midnight. David Dassa’s weekly dance lessons, beginner at 7:30 p.m., regular class at 8 p.m. and open dancing from 9:15 p.m. on. $7. 2112 S. Barrington Ave., Los Angeles.

Dinner With Friends (30-45): Gourmet cooking class at the Culinary Classroom in West Los Angeles.

Helkeinu (20-40): 9 p.m. Weekly lecture series on self-improvement. Free. (310) 785-0440.

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Sunshine Seniors Club: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Weekly meeting. Valley Jewish Community Center, 13164 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 764-4532.

American Civil Liberties Union: 7:30 p.m. “Current Threats to the Separation of Church and State” with Harry Schwartzbart. Free. Westside Pavilion, third floor, 10800 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 392-7149.

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Adat Shalom: 7 p.m. Cafe Adat Shalom new program for young professionals, with erev Shabbat musical service, wine and cheese reception and musical accompaniment. 3030 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 475-4985.

Ethiopian American Culture Center: 9:30 p.m. Weekly klezmer night. $5. 5819 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-6661.

Chai Center (21-36): Dinner for 60 Strangers. shabbat_dinner_rsvp.htm

Jewish Singles, Meet! (30s-40s): Reservation deadline for a Feb. 26 gathering at Little Rock in Tarzana. Pool, darts, drinks and live music in a casual atmosphere. No cover. (818) 750-0095.


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J-Ski (20s-40s): Taos ski trip. $689. Also, March 18-20, Mammoth ski trip. $185. (818) 342-9508.

Jewish Movies Head South

‘Tis the season of film fests, and this week Orange County Jews do their part with the Pacific Jewish Film Festival. Sunday kicks it off with an afternoon screening of “Columbia: The Tragic Loss,” about the 2003 space shuttle disaster, followed by an evening showing of director Eytan Fox’s “Walk on Water.” Other documentaries, features and shorts from Israel and elsewhere will screen through Sat., Feb. 26, including the 2003 film “Nina’s Tragedies,” which won 11 Israeli Academy Awards, and “My 100 Children,” which won the Jerusalem International Film Festival Jewish Experience Award.

Isidore C. and Penny W. Myers Theater, One Federation Way, Irvine. (949) 435-3400.

Windows to the Yiddish Soul

Russia’s Yiddish actors, playwrights and poets are some of the oft-forgotten victims of the 20th century’s murderous Stalinist purges.

“It was such a crazy-making situation; one minute they were praised to high heaven and the next minute they were torn down,” said Sabell Bender, a retired high school theater teacher who will lecture on the Soviet Union’s Yiddish theater during the Dec. 19-25 intensive language/culture immersion courses at the Skirball Cultural Center.

The California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language (CIYCL) is sponsoring “The Art of Yiddish 2004 — A Bridge of Light Around the World” with klezmer music, four language course levels, plus lectures on Yiddish culture. The Skirball will host a finale concert starring actor and Yiddish “true believer” Theodore Bikel on the evening of Dec. 25.

Some of the Moscow State Yiddish Theater’s artwork was found in a Soviet museum in 1973. After opening amid the world-changing ethnic pluralism promised by communists leading Russia’s 1917 revolution, the theater (also called the Jewish Chamber Theater and the State Jewish Theater during its 1918-1948 existence) attracted a set designer named Marc Chagall. Rather than creating stage backdrops, the Russian-born French artist designed three-dimensional sets and even painted theater ceilings.

The surviving Chagall set pieces will be discussed by Bender, who said Chagall’s art shows how Russia’s Yiddish artists, “really fought to maintain their Jewish identity and their Yiddish theater. There is still Yiddish theater in Montreal, Toronto, New York certainly, Tel Aviv, Melbourne — wherever there are pockets of Yiddish-speaking Jews.”

Miriam Koral, CIYCL’s director, said about 300 people will attend at least part of the intensive Yiddish courses, with about 40 to 50 Yiddish lovers at all the language courses, up from 35 people who attended all of last year’s courses.

“We thought more people would be able to attend during their vacation time,” Koral said of the post-Chanukah Yiddish week, now in its fifth year.

“The Art of Yiddish 2004 — A Bridge of Light Around The World,” Dec. 19-25, Skirball Cultural Center. For more information, visit

A Man Walks Into a Hospital and . . .

The Room

Irving Brecher, 91-year-old wannabe-stand-up comic, is nervous. The Doctors Emeritus Society of Cedars-Sinai is at the buffet in the Harvey Morse room, a conference hall where the old practitioners gather every month to hear specialists on subjects like pain control. Sometimes a marine biologist will discuss Darwin.

Brecher wrote Marx Brothers movies. His stories are about Harpo playing golf without pants.

“When do we get started?” today’s guest lecturer wants to know.

“After everybody stops going up for more,” Dr. Frederick Kahn tells Brecher in a soothing tone. Kahn has been friends with Brecher for 50 years. He is almost 80 and coordinates emeritus events.

“Sometimes we’ll bring a gerontologist in from one of the universities,” Kahn says. “They scare hell out of these old guys.”

“Irv has such a brilliant mind,” says the great comedian Jan Murray. “But he worries about material.”

Murray is 88, and here with his doctor to see his friend perform.

Even before the movies, Brecher wrote gags for radio and vaudeville. He wrote for Milton Berle and George Burns and created the golden-age sitcoms “The Life of Riley” and “People’s Choice.”

“This is the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” says Sylvia Stern of the Emeritus Society, mentioning Dr. Jack Matloff the famous cardiologist and Dr. Bernard Strauss the famous urologist.

Asked about his contribution as a Jew to medicine, Brecher offers this riposte: “The money I spent in pharmacies?”

“I love Irv and respect him as a great artisan,” Murray says. “What is he worried? He’ll kill ’em for crissake.”

He’s seen Brecher in action at numerous tributes and benefits. Murray tells Norma, Brecher’s wife, that he will now do to Brecher what Berle used to do to him: “Sit right up front. First row. When I played New York, I’d go out and I’d see Berle sitting in the first row, and I wanted to die from nerves. I was a kid! Here is a guy right in front of me I know knows every joke, knows everything. And instead of worrying about the audience of maybe 800 people, I’m worrying about this yontz here.”

“How are you, Jan?” Stern asks.

“I’m all right,” Murray says. “I passed away three days ago.”

Murray doesn’t do stand-up anymore.

“I’m retired about five years,” he informs us. “I developed asthma. So for about 10 minutes I’m all right and then I’m gasping. You can’t ask the public to spend money to see an old Jew gasping for breath on the stage. It’s not nice.”

The Routine

“His friend Groucho Marx called him, ‘The wicked wit of the west,'” announces Kahn in introducing Brecher. “He’s performed for the Friars Club and Hillcrest….”

“Talk into the microphone!” Brecher motions at him. Frail and with vision problems from glaucoma, Brecher takes a few minutes to make his way up onto the portable gray rostrum. Shooing away an offer of a stool, he stands holding the jokes he’s scrawled in black Magic Marker on 5-by-7 cards.

“I got here today with a walker,” Brecher begins. “This is progress. The last time I was at Cedars I was on a gurney.”


“Obviously now you know my vision is not great,” he continues. “My eyesight is so bad, this morning I couldn’t find my hearing aid.”

“You, I’ve been told are the emeriti. Once I was introduced as so-and-so ‘the dean emeritus of comedy.’ I didn’t really care for that. To me, emeritus means you’re outta work. And a dean out of work has lost his faculties.”

Can they hear him? A single loud guffaw flies from Murray in the front row.

“Hillcrest is famous for its comedians, its food and its old members,” Brecher says of the club. “George Jessel had said, ‘The average age at Hillcrest is dead.’ I joined 61 years ago. One of the reasons I enjoyed it was the weird members. There was a pawnbroker named Manny who was so tough. Once a starving actor came into the club and asked for help. Manny gave him an appetite suppressant. He was really tough. He had one charity: the Jewish Home for the Aging. Each year he gave them two aging Jews.”


“By the way,” Brecher leans into the microphone. “Is this the Harvey Morse room or the Harvey Morgue room?”

He pushes at his flash cards. He isn’t killing, he feels like the blind leading the deaf. Finally, he does his material on Viagra and Palm Springs, too dirty for this newspaper. He thanks the doctors for their “so-called attention.” And that’s it. Brecher’s a brave man.

The Reviews

“That was very good,” says Kahn offering an arm. “They really did enjoy it.”

“No they didn’t,” Brecher says.

“Yes they did.”

“Well, they’re half-asleep and half-senile,” Brecher says.

“They didn’t understand some of the humor.”

“They didn’t? It was in English!”

But Brecher remains semi-sanguine.

“The nice thing about speaking to a group of doctors after a week of working on the material,” he concludes. “The audience is sedated and you can use it the next time.”

Hank Rosenfeld tells stories on “Weekend America,” a new syndicated radio show from KPCC 89.3 FM. In November, Irv Brecher celebrates the 60th anniversary of his adapted screenplay “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

7 Days in the Arts


Find yourself laughing tonight as Debbie Kasper and Sheila Kay perform their two-woman show, “Venus Attacks!” Their parody of New Age gurus and seminars and self-help Mars/Venus philosophizing had critics raving when they performed the show in 2001. Don’t miss it this time.Runs through Nov. 7. 8 p.m. (Fri. and Sat.), 2p.m. (Sun.) $15-$20. Hudson Avenue Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 960-5521.


Unabashed Bush bashing begins today with the inaugural lecture in the Workmen’s Circle’s series “The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy: Unmasking, Understanding and Defeating It.” Renown author, lecturer and journalist John Powers discusses “George Bush’s America and the Rest of Us.”2 p.m. $6-$10. 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 552-2007.


And the hits just keep on coming in “The Future Dictionary of America,” newly released by McSweeney’s. With suggested new words by nearly 200 writers and artists including Michael Chabon, Art Spiegelman and Jonathan Safran Foer, the book is also accompanied by a CD featuring songs by musicians including REM, Tom Waits and David Byrne. Proceeds benefit organizations that oppose the current presidential administration.$28.


Philosophy and art converge with today’s opening reception of “Too Jewish-Not Jewish Enough” at The Jewish Federation’s Bell Gallery. The exhibit highlights 23 works by Jewish Californian artists whose work is influenced by their faith, and who have taken part in the Jewish Artists Initiative and dialogued for the past nine months on what it means to be a Jewish artist.6-8 p.m. Free. 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (323) 761-8352.


Sabra pianist Daniel Gortler comes to the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts stage. Gortler has collaborated with the likes of Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev and Pinchas Zukerman, and performs solo works by Beethoven and Mendelssohn tonight only.7:30 p.m. $10-$20. 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. (800) 300-434


Tune that radio dial to K-Mozart tonight at 10 p.m. for the first in the 13-part series, “American Jewish Music from the Milken Archive with Leonard Nimoy.” This episode offers a series overview, featuring conversations on the question of whether there is such a thing as a distinctly Jewish kind of music, as well as highlights from the various musical themes to be explored later on – including biblical epics set to music by Kurt Weill and other musicians, Jewish legends in tone poems, film scores, operas and klezmer music.105.1 KMZT FM.


Opening tonight is Michel Deville’s, “Almost Peaceful.” Set in 1946 Paris, the film tells the story of Holocaust survivors working in a ladies’ garment workshop. They struggle to live with survivor’s guilt and the trauma of all they have endured, while at the same time they fervently try to embrace life.Laemmle’s Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 477-5581.

Trick or Treat?

I asked my long-time friend, "Are you a strict father?"

"Not really," he said, "but I wouldn’t let my daughter out for Halloween."

I asked why he had punished her.

"She wasn’t punished. I just couldn’t let her celebrate a Christian holiday."

Actually, Halloween is a 3,000-year-old Celtic holiday, which means it was invented long before Christianity. When the Christians gained power, they couldn’t get the Celts to forget about Halloween so they made a few changes and adopted it as their own.

"Halloween is a holiday for candy lovers," I told him. "And mimes." (A mime once told me that Halloween was the one night of the year he does not paint his face and speak to strangers.)

"It’s a Christian holiday," he said quietly but firmly.

Then I remembered something from our childhood: "I went trick-or-treating with you!"

"I didn’t know about it then," he admitted.

"Why not?"

"My parents never told me."

My best guess was that, as a child, he had mistakenly accepted and tasted about 1,000 pieces of Halloween candy.

Then I remembered something else from our childhood.

"Your uncle owned a candy factory," I said.

"The family candy factory had nothing to do with my parents allowing me to go out trick-or-treating," he insisted.

I began to fear for his 9-year-old daughter.

"The other Jewish kids will make fun of her," I said.

"Not all Jewish kids go out for Halloween," he retorted.

That much was growing clear. I had started out asking about his relationship with his little girl but now we were talking about which holidays were right or wrong in 21st century America.

"What about Thanksgiving?" I asked.

"Thanksgiving is fine," he replied. "And you’re invited."

"When I read about Thanksgiving in elementary school — and you were sitting next to me — I came across a bunch of Pilgrims," I continued, dismissing for the moment his wife’s sweet potato pie. "Pilgrims and Indians. Not one Jewish family in the bunch. Compare that to the Last Supper, where there were plenty of Jewish folks at the table."

"Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday," he claimed.

"Giving thanks to the Lord in prayer is what: nonreligious? A holiday for atheists, Pilgrims and Indians?"

I tried to explain to him that while religious holidays help preserve cultures within American society, national holidays relate to all Americans. Sharing holidays keeps us together, along with television.

"I don’t want my daughter relating to witches and ghosts," he explained.

The Celts believed that, on Halloween, the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead became so thin that spirits could pass through in either direction.

"Halloween used to be about witches and ghosts," I reminded. "Back when they arrested people for writing down their dreams."

"Suppose, one day," he argued, quietly but firmly, "Christmas isn’t known as a Christian holiday? Do you go out and get a Christmas tree?"

"Anything that’s still got strong religious meaning," I decided, "is a religious holiday. Some folks have Easter; some have Passover. Every U.S. citizen has Independence Day, Groundhog Day and April Fools’ Day."

"And your favorite one is …?" he asked.

"Independence Day, naturally."

"Because of your great patriotism."

"And the extra day at the beach."

"So you wouldn’t get a Christmas tree in, say 30 years, when religion is hardly mentioned?"

Christmas — reduced to a marketing holiday?

"In 30 years, the Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo may be the two biggest holidays. And, if traffic allows," I revealed, "I’ll be visiting my family."

"We’re moving to Israel," he countered.

"By the time you move to Israel," I told my friend, "they may be celebrating holidays they share with their Palestinian neighbors."

I knew that wasn’t likely, but maybe it helped convince him to stay and help his fellow American Jews figure out what’s right and what’s wrong.

Meanwhile, whenever a child knocks on my door and says, "Trick or treat!" he or she is going to get some candy, not a lecture.

Don Rutberg is a USC grad who writes and teaches in Philadelphia. His latest book, “A Writer’s Survival Guide,” will be published in 2004 by Pale Horse Publishing.

Lecture Stirs Anger

A public lecture by a visiting scholar on the UCLA campususually doesn’t make much of a ripple, but nearly all of the 1,800 seats inRoyce Hall were taken and the atmosphere was electric when professor Edward W.Said stepped up to the lectern.

The sponsoring Burkle Center for International Studies hadbeen forced to move the Feb. 20 event from a smaller venue, and inside RoyceHall, groups of students worked their cell phones in Hebrew and Arabic. At theentrance, Bruins for Israel, StandWithUs, the Spartacus Youth Club and the BlueTriangle Network passed out competing pamphlets.

Said has impeccable academic credentials as a graduate of Princetonand Harvard universities, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and the author of 20 scholarly books translated into 35 languages.

Although his reputation as an ardent advocate of Palestinianand Arab causes had preceded the Jerusalem-born scholar, some members of theuniversity community and the public had come hoping for a sober and rationalpresentation on the complexities of the Middle East.

Most were quickly disabused of that hope, none more so thana number of the most dedicated Jewish advocates of reconciliation andco-existence with the Palestinians. After a heated shouting match with Said, soardent a peacenik as Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller of UCLA Hillel subsequentlylabeled the Columbia professor as “a fraud.”

Said, who served as a member of the Palestinian NationalCouncil from 1977-1991, set the tone by declaring that Israel’s treatment ofPalestinians is currently the world’s most visible case of human rights abuses.

“The denial of human rights by Israel cannot be accepted onany grounds,” whether based on divine guidance or past Jewish suffering, hedeclared.

While agreeing that Palestinian suicide bombings were”terrible,” Said quickly put the onus on the Israeli bulldozing of homes,helicopter missile attacks and strip searches of civilians.

Warming to his subject and accompanied by enthusiasticapplause by a good part of the audience, Said said that any human rightsviolations charged to Saddam Hussein were also applicable to Israel.

Describing some of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’spronouncements as “thuggish balderdash,” Said said that Israel, which hadenjoyed a reputation as a progressive society in its early years, “now had theimage of an aggressor.”

Said, acknowledging his own partisanship as a Palestinian,said he saw little chance of a modus vivendi between the Palestinian “David”and the Israeli “Goliath,” at least until Israeli leaders expressed theircontrition for the alleged crimes against the Palestinian people.

“Neither side is blessed with a [Nelson] Mandela or a[former South African president F.W.] de Klerk,” Said said.

Toward the end of his 75-minute talk, Said softened hisrhetoric by citing his friendship with Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim,which has led to the creation of an Arab-Israeli youth orchestra.

The mellower mood vanished with the first question, whichwas posed by Seidler-Feller.

Charging that Said had painted a black- and-white picture ofthe world, Seidler-Feller pointed to a number of misstatements by the speaker,and, amidst raucous catcalls from the audience, challenged Said to sign a jointstatement advocating Israel’s return to the pre-1967 boundaries, a jointcapital in Jerusalem and settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem.

Said would have none of it. He denounced Seidler-Feller’s”tirade of falsehoods,” and as a victim of the propaganda, which, Said claimed,is the only thing sustaining Israel, besides the support of the United States.

Seidler-Feller was still in an angry mood the following day.”Said appears as a sophisticated, urbane, reasonable academic, but he is reallya belligerent naysayer,” Seidler-Feller observed. “That is why he is a fraud.”

“He is so encumbered by memory, that he is stuck,” theHillel rabbi added. “He is totally dependent on his sense of victimhood. WeJews have used this approach at times, too, but in order to reach any kind ofagreement, we must both go beyond that.”

Seidler-Feller also expressed his disappointment that, inhis talk, Said had “created an atmosphere which empowered the audience to behostile.”

Dr. David N. Myers, a UCLA history professor and formerdirector of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, who has frequently spoken outagainst the Israeli occupation policies, also expressed his disappointment.

Myers described Said as “a tragic figure, a man ofremarkable intelligence, charisma and oratorical skill, who chose to ignore thecomplex dynamics of the conflict and instead recited the stale platitudes ofPalestinian rejectionism.”

Dr. Sam Aroni, another UCLA professor and a longtimeadvocate of a two-state solution, said he left Royce Hall deeply depressed atthe apparent impossibility of dialogue between the Israeli and Palestiniansides.

“Unfortunately, Said used emotional, rather than rationalarguments,” Aroni said.

One exception to the negative reaction among Jewish doveswas that of philanthropist and political activist Stanley Sheinbaum, one of themost veteran and prominent members of the peace movement.

“Said’s points were generally valid, but Israelis andAmerican Jews don’t have the patience or tolerance to deal with them,” he said.

While there may be some disagreements about certain facts,Sheinbaum said, the main point is that “the Palestinians consider themselves underoccupation, and the question is whether Israelis understand that.”

At the request of the Burkle Center, Sheinbaum hosted areception for Said at his home after the talk. Approximately 60-70 guestscontinued to debate the issues, generating ” a little heat,” Sheinbaum said. Hehas since received four to five pieces of hate mail, Sheinbaum added.

Professor Geoffrey Garrett, director of the Burkle Center,announced that the next forum speaker will be Martin Indyk, former U.S.ambassador to Israel, and that he was finalizing plans for the appearance ofKing Abdullah II of Jordan.

The associate director of the Burkle Center, politicalscientist Steven Spiegel, who was unable to attend the Said lecture, said thatSaid’s appearance was in keeping with the UCLA mission of presenting a varietyof views.

“However, by the end of the forum series, the other sidewill be more than amply represented,” Spiegel said.  

7 Days In Arts


Beware the Yiddish Culture Club’s karma chameleon. Dwindling membership may mean those who value the group but are slow to join may find themselves without it soon enough. Tonight, they sponsor a concert by Cantor Hershl Fox titled “Let Us Sing Yiddish.” Check it out. No more excuses.7:30 p.m. $5 (members), $8 (guests). 8339 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (310) 275-8455.


The Yiddish are coming. All weekend long, it seems. In addition to Saturday’s concert, this weekend Adat Ari El hosts Yiddish playwright, conductor and general cultural authority Zalmen Mlotek. He’ll offer stories, a gathering for Yiddish speakers and a “khootenanny,” with accompaniment by Golden State Klezmer Band. You know you’ve always wanted to be able to say you’ve been to a “khootenanny.”Fri., Feb. 7-Sun., Feb. 9. 12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. (818) 788-1679.


Skip out of work early today, prepare the sick excusesfor tomorrow morning and make the call to Papa John’s. Tonight, February Mondayscontinue with Star of the Month John Garfield on Turner Classic Movies. “TheBreaking Point,” “The Sea Wolf,” “Four Daughters,” “Daughters Courageous,” “FourWives” and “Between Two Worlds” play back to back till the wee hours of morning.It’s a commitment perhaps best reserved for die-hard fans of the Jewish toughguy. But you could always tape it. 5 p.m., Turner Classic Movies.



Sponsored by Istituto Italiano di Cultura (Italian Government Cultural Office), but nonetheless offered in English, is today’s talk at Cal State Long Beach on “Representations of the Holocaust in Italian Literature.” Speaker Stefania Lucamante gives a free lecture this afternoon. Extra credit for pronouncing her name correctly.4 p.m. Library West, Cal State Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach. (310) 443-3250.


Improper Brit artist (and grandson of Sigmund) Lucian Freud had the sass to give hint of 5 o’clock shadow in his commissioned portrait painting of the Queen Mum. Fact is, his portraits are often unflattering. But while we don’t suggest sitting for him, we do recommend MOCA’s “Lucian Freud” retrospective, consisting of 115 of his works from six decades, and now on loan from the Tate Britain. Considered Britain’s greatest living realist painter, Freud also debuts his new portrait of David Hockney in this show.11 a.m.-5 pm. (Tuesday-Sunday), 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (Thursdays). Runs Feb. 9-May 25. $8 (adults), $5 (students and seniors), free (members, children under 12 and everyone on Thursday evenings, 5-8 p.m.). 250 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 626-6222.


Opening this week at the Los Angeles Jewish Theatre is Richard Freedman’s play “Halevai.” It’s the stuff Harry Chapin songs are made of. The title means “if only” in Hebrew, and centers around the relationship between a father and son, and the “if only’s” the son is left to face after the death of his father.8 p.m. (Thursdays and Saturdays), 2 p.m. (Sundays). Runs Feb. 8-March 16. $14 (Thursdays), $20 (Saturdays and Sundays), $18 (seniors). 1528 Gordon St., Hollywood. (310) 967-1352.


To all the lovelorn and dejected on this, depressing ofall holidays, we say, “Chins up!” Personally, we’ve chosen to keep tellingourselves V-Day is just a stupid, capitalist-driven excuse for the masses toconsume chocolates and throw their happy little relationships in our faces. Butwe’re not having it. Our suggestion: Grab a pint — Ben and Jerry’s or Guinness,your choice — and hit the comic book store for an alternative kind of lovestory, on shelves today. “The Nine Loves of El Gato, Crime Mangler,” written andillustrated by Journal staff writer Michael Aushenker (and others), willdistract you from your own sorrows. You’ll be reminded that it could be worse –you could be a big, fat Mexican wrestler with a mask fetish and a distaste forbananas. $5. Available in comic book shops everywhere, or through

Educator Sees Needfor Teaching Morals

Something vital is missing from public and day school
curriculums, says Dr. Hanan Alexander, a rabbi, educator and author of “Reclaiming
Goodness: Education and the Spiritual Quest” (University of Notre Dame Press,
2001), which received the 2002 National Jewish Book Award in Education.

“Schools are just about making doctors and lawyers, and that
troubles me,” Alexander told The Journal. “Schools should be about teaching
[children] about being good people.”

Alexander will speak to the Jewish community about teaching
students morals during a special lecture series and discussion at Congregation
Ner Tamid of South Bay on Feb. 7, 8, 9 and 11.

Through his book and lectures, the author proposes that
Jewish and non-Jewish communities should turn education into “an emissary of
goodness,” where it is expected that students will learn ethics in school.

Currently a professor of education at the University of Haifa,
Alexander attributes his interest in spirituality to the time he spent working
at the University of Judaism. From 1983 to 1999, he was an education and
philosophy professor and eventually became the school’s chief academic officer.

During a conversation between rabbincal students there,
Alexander noticed that people tended to think of Jewish spirituality in an
extreme way — either their ideas were too fundamentalist or too open-ended.
Worried that these perceptions were dangerous, he wrote a book proposing a
different conception of spirituality — especially within the realm of

Dr. Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist, parent educator
and school consultant, believes there is a great need for spirituality and
ethics in education.

“What’s happened is that there is an incredible amount of
stress and competition in schools,” the Los Angeles therapist said. “The
incidents of cheating are very high in high schools, because what is worshiped
are grades and SAT scores.”

A national survey taken by the Rutgers University Management
Education Center in 2002 showed that in a sampling of 4,500 high school
students, 75 percent admitted to some form of cheating.

To counter these behaviors, Alexander believes that the
community has to make a commitment to change. “If we want our kids to be
different in the way they look at Judaism, for example, we have to behave
differently,” Alexander said.

For example, if the community places a high value on wealth,
he said, that mindset will carry over into our schools, because the adults set
the standards.

God — or a sense of something holy or sacred — should be
taught in all schools, Alexander said. “We may differ in how we express God,
but we have to believe somehow we are all trying to aspire to some common
higher good.”

He believes that neglecting to acknowledge this commonality
encourages animosity and competition. “We have to believe we’re together in
this, even though we may disagree what being together means,” Alexander said.

The lecture series is geared toward the Jewish community,
educators and parents. In the lecture “I’m Right and You’re Stupid!” he will
prepare students to talk intelligently about taboo topics, such as religion and
politics. In “Modernity: Political Success — Moral Failure,” he will speak
about Americans creating inclusive communities, while maintaining their
individual beliefs.

 For a more in-depth lecture and discussion of his theories,
Alexander will teach a two-part master class in moral philosophy based on his
book. He believes that if we are able to achieve teaching morality and goodness
in education, our community will flourish.

“The message speaks to a deep need people are feeling,” he
said. “And that is to find a way of being spiritual that reinforces our core
commitment to community, to free will, democratic values and liberal

Hanan Alexander’s lectures and classes will be held this
weekend and early next week at Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay, 5721
Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes. Friday, Feb. 7, at 8 p.m.: “Modernity:
Political Success — Moral Failure”; Saturday, Feb. 8, at 1 p.m.: “I’m Right and
You’re Stupid!” The two-part master class is scheduled Sunday, Feb. 9, at 12:30
p.m., and Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m.

To attend a Shabbat dinner on Feb. 7 ($18) or lunch on
Feb. 8 ($12) before the lectures or register for the talks, call (310) 377-6986;
or e-mail

. p>

Dealing With Divorce

The Jewish community has always pushed marriage. So when it
comes to divorce, it is understandable that resources in the Jewish world are
limited. It’s not the sort of thing the community wants to encourage.

Still, there is a need. The most recent U.S. Census Bureau
statistics available reveal that nearly half of first marriages end in divorce.
Because of this and despite some cultural resistance, the University of Judaism
(UJ) is offering a class on divorce — the first in its history.

The course is “an attempt to meet the various needs of our
community,” said Gady Levy, dean of UJ’s continuing education department and
the person behind the school’s public lecture series at the Universal
Amphitheatre. “The concept of pairing a psychotherapist with a rabbi has proven
very successful in our Making Marriages Work program.” he said. “I believe this
format could [also] be of help to those dealing with divorce.”

Getting Through a Divorce will run three Thursdays,
beginning Feb. 13. The first two sessions will be led by Tamar Springer, a
licensed clinical social worker, and will deal primarily with coping strategies
for dealing with the emotional side of divorce and how to build a support
network. The last class will include Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben of Kehillat Israel,
who will discuss the Jewish aspects and perspectives on divorce.

Prior to going into private practice, Springer worked for
the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Child Custody Division, where her main aim was
to “help people make good decisions, despite their difficult situations.” She
said that while each divorce involves different factors, the main cause that
she sees is communication.

“Usually, there are long-term, deep-rooted problems that
were not addressed earlier that should have been,” Springer said. “Resentment
builds up, and the disconnect between the couple gets too big.”

“But I think people can use the experience of divorce to get
themselves to a wonderful place — to a richer, more fulfilling relationship,
eventually — and to really know themselves in a way [that] can only lead to
better connections,” added Springer, who also teaches the UJ’s Making Marriage
Work class.

“One of the reasons I wanted to do the class is because
there is a lot of help offered at the UJ for married people or for people
getting married, but nothing for people who are getting divorced,” she said. “I
think partly it is because going through a divorce is difficult and people shy
away from difficult things, and partly that in Jewish culture we have so many
celebrations and acknowledgments of positive things and, aside from funerals,
there is not a lot going on for more difficult situations.”

The Jewish community in Los Angeles does have a few
resources for divorced families, such as the Jewish Single Parent Network
offered through Jewish Family Service and various singles groups at area

However, the lack of sufficient support among Jews for those
going through the difficult, emotional process of a divorce was one of the
factors that prompted Rabbi Perry Netter of Temple Beth Am to write his book,
“Divorce Is a Mitzvah” (Jewish Lights Pub, 2002)

The book addresses the gamut of Jewish divorce, from the
initial decision to the beit din (Jewish court of law), as well as Jewish
perspectives on divorce, from what the rabbis of the Talmud had to say to
today’s reactions from well-meaning friends (“I’m sorry to hear about your
divorce, but have I got a girl for you!”).

Netter said that while divorce may no longer be stigmatized,
the typical reaction in the Jewish community is to gloss over its painful
reality, instead of dealing with it in a helpful way.

“We need to give people permission to talk about this,”
Netter said. “Divorce is not a disease; it’s not contagious, but that is the
way most people treat it.”

As an example, Netter described a focus group he conducted
with some congregants prior to the book’s publication. Some in the group were
divorced before they had joined the synagogue, while others went through a
divorce while they were members.

Netter said there was a divorced couple who were members of
the same chavurah. Because the man and his ex-wife did not want their children
to suffer, they decided to both remain in the chavurah, and whoever had the
children that weekend would be the one to participate in the chavurah’s events.

“This man spoke to our group with a hurt bordering on rage,
his lip quivering, saying, ‘When my kids are through with school at this
synagogue, I am through with this congregation. When I was going through my
divorce, I approached people in my havurah to talk, and they said no, because
they didn’t want to take sides,'” Netter recalled. “The man said, ‘I didn’t
want them to take sides — I just needed someone to talk to.'”

Netter said that people must find the vocabulary with which
to talk about divorce and “to be in touch with the compassionate side they
have, to let that overtake their fears and anxieties. Listening to someone is
not taking a side.”

Getting Through a Divorce is scheduled Feb. 13, 20 and 27, 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the University of Judaism. Cost for the class is $72. For more information,
call (310) 440-1246.  

Eat, Read and Meet Gary

The following events are part of The Jewish Federation of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys’ Jewish Book Festival.

Thursday, Nov. 7, 11:30 a.m.: A luncheon with cookbook author Sheilah Kaufman (“Simply Irresistible”). The event will take place at a private home in Claremont. $36; reservations required.

Sunday, Nov. 10, 2 p.m.: Naomi Howland will discuss her new book, “The Matzah Man,” at Borders, 5055 S. Plaza Lane, Montclair. Free.

Tuesday, Nov. 12, 7:30 p.m.: Dora Levy Mossanen will discuss her book, “Harem,” at Borders, 475 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena. Free.

Wednesday, Nov. 13, 8 p.m.: Sharon Boorstin will discuss her memoir, “Let Us Eat Cake — Adventures in Food and Friendship.” The event will take place in a private home in Upland. Free. Reservations are required.

Thursday, Nov. 14, 7:30 p.m.: Memory expert Dr. Gary Small will discuss his book, “The Memory Bible,” at Congregation Shaarei Torah, 550 S. Second Ave., Arcadia. Free.

Sunday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m.: Shimon Camiel will discuss his book, “The Outhouse Wars” at Temple Shalom of Ontario, 963 W. Sixth St., Ontario. Free

Sunday, Nov. 17, 3 p.m.: Jacqueline Bassan will discuss “From Shul to Cool.” The event will take place at a private home in Pasadena. $5. Reservations are required.

Monday, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m.: Spencer Nadler will discuss his work, “The Language of Cells” at Temple Beth David, 9677 E. Longden, Temple City. Free

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 1 p.m.: Merrill Joan Gerber will discuss her newest novel, “Anna in the Afterlife” at Pasadena Temple and Jewish Center, 1434 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena. $5.

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m.: Howard Blum will discuss his new book, “The Brigade” at Temple Ami Shalom, 3508 E. Temple Way, West Covina. Free

Thursday, Nov. 21, 8 p.m.: Rabbi Perry Netter will discuss his work, “Divorce Is a Mitzvah,” at a private home in Arcadia. Free. Reservations are required.

Saturday, Nov. 23, 7:30 p.m.: Lee Cohen will discuss “The Children of Willesden Lane” at Temple Ami Shalom, 3508 E. Temple Way, West Covina. The event begins with Havdalah Service. Free.

Sunday, Nov. 24, 10 a.m.: Rochelle Krich will discuss her latest mystery, “Blues in the Night,” at Temple Shalom Whittier, 14564 Hawes St., Whittier. Free.

Literary Library Fun

The following are upcoming events sponsored by The Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles, 6006 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. All events will be held at the library unless noted otherwise. For more information, call (323) 761-8644 or visit

Sundays are for Stories

Family Activities:

Sunday, Nov. 10, 3-4 p.m.: “Punch & Judaism: Stories from Torah to Today” with puppeteer and storyteller Marilyn Price.

Sunday, Nov. 17, 3-4 p.m.; Meet Chana Sharfstein, author of “The Little Leaf.”

Sunday, Nov. 24 1-4 p.m. “One People, Many Stories” A special family event at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. “One People, Many Stories” is a public radio production of the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles.

Storytime Programs for Families

Mondays-Nov. 11,18,25 from 2:10-2:30 p.m.: Teeny Weeny Stories for babies, newborns-24 months.

Wednesdays-Nov. 13, 20, 27 from 2:10-2:30 p.m.: Toddler Time Tales for kids 3-5 with puppets and songs.

Adult Lecture Series

Nov. 18, 7 p.m.: Lecture and book signing by Jennifer Felicia Abadi author of “A Fistful of Lentils.”

Nov. 19, 9:30 a.m.-noon: Cooking demonstration of Syrian Jewish culinary tradition.

Community Briefs

Two Lectures Series Provide Escape to thePast

Two lecture series, one on biblical archaeology, the other on the beginnings of writing, will allow participants to escape the unruly present and explore the ancient world of 2,000 to 5,000 years ago.

The University of Judaism series on “Pushing Biblical Archaeology to the Limits: Excavating Heaven, Reconstructing Hell, and Exploring Places in Between” starts Oct. 7 and continues for seven successive Monday evening sessions.

The series, now in its 13th year, “will appeal to persons of intellectual curiosity” and of all religious denominations, according to professor Ziony Zevit of the university.

Featured will be experts from leading universities in the United States, England and Israel’s Bar Ilan University. Frederick L. Simmons will serve as co-moderator with Zevit.

Also, the California Museum of Ancient Art is presenting “The Beginnings of Writing in the Ancient Near East: Cuneiform, Hieroglyphs and the Semitic Alphabet.”

The second lecture in the series will be held Oct. 8 and they will continue on Tuesday evenings, Oct. 15 and 29, at Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

The museum specializes in the ancient art of Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Levant, encompassing modern Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, according to its director, Jerome Berman.

For information and registration for “Pushing Biblical Archaeology,” call (310) 440-1246. For information about “The Beginnings of Writing in the Ancient and Near East,” call (818) 762-5500.

Tom Friedman Airs Mideast Views

“Osama bin Laden is a world-class terrorist, who combines the twisted mind of a Charles Manson with the managerial skills of a John Welch.”

“We’ve treated the [Arab] Middle East like a big, dumb gas station.”

“There are more prostitutes with cell phones in Tehran than any other place.”

The author of these lines is Tom Friedman, The New York Times’ foreign affairs columnist, who coined bon mots like the U.S. Mint, as he delivered the first Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA last week.

Addressing an audience of 500 jammed into a room meant for 300, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner analyzed most of the world’s pressing problems, from globalization to possible war with Iraq, without glancing at a single note or marring the flow of words with a single “uuh” or “aah.”

Given his facility of mind and speech, it was doubly discouraging when he responded to a question about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a shoulder-shrugging, “I don’t know what to say anymore.” Prodded further on what the United States can do to alleviate the situation, Friedman replied, “We must tell the truth to both sides. We must tell the Palestinians that their current strategy is insane. We must tell [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon that the settlement projects [in the West Bank and Gaza] are insane.”

“What is your biggest fear?” another audience member asked. Friedman responded that it was a weakened America that would forsake its global leadership role.

“We do a lot of stupid things,” he said, “but few good things happen in the world without American involvement. God save us from a world in which we have to rely on the moral authority of France.”

After the lecture, a long line formed to buy Friedman’s latest book, “Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11,” and have it autographed by the author.

Tour Underlines Peace MovementSupport

Despite widespread reports to the contrary, the peace movement is alive among both Israelis and Palestinians, and enjoys the support of a small but steadfast portion of U.S. Jewry.

One indicator was the tour of eight major cities by peace activist teams during the last half of September. The activists were three Israelis and one Palestinian, consisting of Knesset member Colette Avital of the Labor Party; Knesset member Avshalom “Abu” Vilan of Meretz; Gavri Bargil, head of the Kibbutz Movement, and Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, the senior PLO representative in Jerusalem and president of al-Quds University.

Another sign was the report by Mark Rosenblum, founder and policy director of Americans for Peace Now, who told The Journal that his organization has the support of some 25,000 contributors, of whom 3,000 form an “action network.” There are some 2,000 supporters in the Los Angeles area, he said.

“We took a significant hit after the first year of the intifada, but we have recouped during the past year,” Rosenblum said.

Over the past weekend, the traveling team of Vilan and Nusseibeh was in Los Angeles, speaking at University Synagogue in Irvine, Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills and at a $250-per-head fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The latter event drew some 130 people, mostly veteran liberals, who heard the speakers outline their peace platform. It included the mutual recognition of Israel and a Palestinian state, with the border running roughly along the pre-1967 line; expropriation of most West Bank and Gaza settlements; Eastern Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital, and the return of Palestinian refugees to a Palestinian state, but not Israel.

“The dream of both a big Israel or a big Palestine is dead,” Vilan said .

Nusseibeh described the current situation as a quagmire, “in which both sides are killing each other without any particular plan, and without a good reason for doing so.”

Nusseibeh was to travel to New York, where his scheduled appearance at a synagogue was denounced by the Zionist Organization of America, which labeled him an inciter of terrorists and supporter of violence against Israel.

Americans for Peace Now fired back, describing the Zionist group as a “far right-wing organization” and defending Nusseibeh as a moderate, “working tirelessly for an end to Israeli-Palestinian violence.”

Briefs complied by Tom Tugend.

7 Days In Arts


First the House Un-American Activities Committee and then the fall of the U.S.S.R.Apparently, it’s not easy being red.”Fellow Traveler” is playwright John Herman Shaner’s take on this struggle. His main character is Arnold Priest, a communist TV writer played by Harold Gould, who is forced to reconsider his life’s convictions after the fall of the Soviet Union (see story, p. 36).

Runs through Oct. 20. 8 p.m. (Fridays and Saturdays), 5 p.m. (Sundays). $20. Malibu Stage Company, 29243 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. For reservations, call (310) 589-1998.


So, you’re knee-high in gefilte fish, preparing for the meal to end all meals for the next 24 hours and the kids are driving you crazy. What to do? Sit ’em down with a good book. New out this month is “A Picture of Grandmother,” a children’s book by Esther Hautzig, with illustrations by Beth Peck. It tells the story of Sara, who goes on a search to find an old photo of her grandmother, and uncovers a family secret along the way.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15. Available at bookstores and on Amazon.


We realize you’re probably busy carb-loading after that Yom Kippur workout. But if you’re one of the weak who abandoned the cause early, head downtown for Southern California Institute of Architecture’s new lecture series, “Make it New.” Tonight, the panel discussion on “Make it New Downtown,” includes Tom Gilmore, Con Howe, Eric Owen Moss, Jan Perry and Dan Rosenfeld.

7:30 p.m. Free. Freight Depot, 960 E. Third St., Los Angeles. For more information, call (213) 613-2200.


Adam Duritz, the dreadlocked one, and the rest of the Counting Crows take the stage at the Greek Theatre tonight as the special guests of The Who. With the recent passing of John Entwistle, that famous “My Generation” line, “hope I die before I get old” is sure to have an unsettling ring. But maybe the Crows’ll help smash a bass in honor of old “Ox.”

7:30 p.m. $49-$259. 2700 North Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. For tickets, call (323) 665-1927.


Naked People! OK, now that we have your attention … galerie yoramgil’s latest exhibition, “It Still Figures,” actually does feature naked people. Well, artistic renditions of them, anyway. Admittedly, some of the depictions are less than flattering. But remember, it’s about the art, people. And besides, some of us must take our cheap thrills where we can get them.

Runs through Oct. 6. 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (Tuesdays and Wednesdays), 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. (Thursday-Saturday), 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (Sundays), closed Mondays. 319 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 275-8130.


You probably never consider all the thought and preparation that goes into an exhibit like the Autry Museum of Western Heritage’s “Jewish Life in the American West: Generation to Generation.” But today, you have the opportunity to attend a panel on that very thing. USC’s Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life and the Autry present “Exhibiting Jews: History, Controversy and Concepts,” with panelists from the Skirball Center, the Autry and the Jewish Museum of San Francisco.

8 p.m. Free. Autry Museum of Western Heritage, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles. For reservations, call (213) 740-3405.


Tonight, the Actor’s Workout Studio raises the roof for the notorious G-O-D with “Acts of God.” The play’s three acts, written and directed by Peter Fox, move the story in different directions. Act One tells the story of a writer who enlists the aid of a priest in convincing his Jewish girlfriend to keep her baby. Act Two has a Hollywood producer courting the writer about turning the story of Act One into a television series. Act Three takes place on the set of the series, “God’s In Tha House.” Each act deals with issues of morality, integrity and God’s role in our lives, with the man upstairs showing up in various manifestations along the way.

Runs through Oct. 27. 8 p.m. (Fridays and Saturdays), 7 p.m. (Sundays). $15 (general), $12 (students and seniors). 1735 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. For reservations, call (818) 506-3903.

‘An Uncommon Friendship’

On the lecture circuit, Bernat "Bernie" Rosner and Frederic "Fritz" Tubach make for an odd couple. Rosner, at 70, is small, compact and bald, with a fighter’s quick moves, while the gray-haired Tubach, 71, looks well-fed with a professorial air about him. Their differences, though, go much deeper than physical appearances.

In July 1944, Rosner, then a 12-year-old Jewish boy from the village of Tab, Hungary, arrived at the Auschwitz train platform with his parents and a younger brother.

The same month, Fritz Tubach, 13, was a member of the Nazi Jungvolk in the German village of Kleinheubach, ready to advance to membership in the Hitler Youth.

Tubach was actually born in San Francisco, but when he was 3 years old, his father, an ardent Nazi, returned to his native Germany and served as a counterintelligence officer on the German General Staff during the war.

How two men from such radically different backgrounds made their way in America and eventually became close friends and collaborators is related in their book "An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides of the Holocaust" (University of California Press, $24.95). It was also the topic of a recent discussion, appropriately held at the Museum of Tolerance of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Rosner was liberated at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, the sole survivor of his family. After he was shuttled to Italy, in preparation for aliyah, he befriended some American GIs. One American, particularly impressed by the 13-year- old orphan, was Charles Merrill Jr., son of the founder of Merrill Lynch.

Back in the United States, Merrill sent for Rosner. The boy suddenly found himself a member of America’s wealthy WASP aristocracy and, after college, rose to become senior vice president and general counsel of the Safeway Corp.

Though raised in an Orthodox family, once in America, Rosner assimilated so completely that he even hid his Jewish background from his first wife and raised his three sons as Christians.

"Like many other survivors, I tried to bury and keep my past experiences completely separate from my present life," Rosner said.

In about the same time frame, Tubach, who had always gloried secretly in his American birth, left Germany at age 17, deeply troubled by the Nazi wartime atrocities and the refusal of many Germans, like his father, to face their guilt.

He settled in San Francisco, embarked on a distinguished academic career, and became a professor of German and German literature at UC Berkeley.

Unbeknown to each other, the lawyer and professor bought houses within four blocks of each other in the Bay Area suburb of Orinda, but actually met by a sheer fluke.

Tubach’s wife, Sally, was shopping in a supermarket in 1983 when she spotted an old friend from high school days who had become Rosner’s wife, Susan.

The two families started to socialize and the two men discovered that besides their European backgrounds they shared a fondness for travel, gourmet food and wine, opera and classical music.

Through a decade of friendship, the two men discussed many things, including politics, with Rosner as the corporate conservative and Tubach as a self-described "Berkeley leftie."

However, they avoided talking about their childhood experiences, which loomed like an invisible wall between them.

The wall suddenly crumbled in 1993, when Rosner visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and asked the archivist for the record of inmates for Mauthausen. Scanning the microfiche, he stopped at one entry: Bernat Rosner, No. 103705.

"That hit me like a lightning bolt and I realized that you can’t separate your past from your present," he said.

Rosner decided that he must tell his story, both in memory of his murdered parents and for the future of his children. But he felt that he needed a writing partner and asked his friend Tubach to join him in the project.

The collaboration grew over years of often agonizing self-examination, with both men, but especially Rosner, forced to recall the experiences of half a century ago.

By a curious arrangement, Tubach is the book’s first-person narrator, while Rosner’s experiences are related in a more impersonal third person.

The format was requested by Rosner, who explained that although he was now ready to cope with his past, it helped if the "Bernie/Baruch" of the book was seen as a different individual as the present Rosner.

At some of their joint lectures, listeners have objected to a "German" telling the story on behalf of a Jewish Holocaust survivor. Tubach rejects the criticism, saying, "We have both refused to let the swastika and the yellow star define who we are."

A Matter of Opinion

Rabbis to your corners. We want a clean fight, a fair fight, and no hitting below the beard. It’s not the WWF Wrestling Smackdown — it’s the JSI rabbinical smackdown, brought to you live by the Jewish Studies Institute (JSI) Talkback Series.

The series, held at the Museum of Tolerance, invites panelists from clashing Jewish camps to debate controversial topics in a TV-talk-show format. Rabbi Ari Hier, JSI director, plays a Jewish Jerry Springer, and moderates the intense discussions. He comes with a prepared set of questions, but as with every good talk show, members interject their opinions, and ask some questions of their own.

The series evolved from Hier’s desire to create a more interactive learning experience. "When a person hears a rabbi’s lecture or listens to a sermon, they don’t play much of a role," Hier said. "This series allows the audience to get involved with the discussion," he said.

Hier encourages seminar audiences to question panelists during each program, and the crowds delight in this opportunity to engage in debate.

Joel Levy of Beverlywood, a regular Talkback attendee, found a home in the series. "I really started exposing myself to Judaism 14 months ago. I’ve been to all different synagogues, but somehow felt left out. It’s these nights, these topics, that really hit home to me," Levy said.

The deliberated topics have included "Almost Famous: A Jewish perspective on ethics in rock ‘n’ roll Culture," "Spiritual Center or Social Club: Why do we go to synagogue?" and "The Art of Religious Enticement: The highly competitive means used to bring Jews closer to Judaism."

Ironically, the Orthodox Hier, who expressed disapproval of religious enticements during the last panel, employs those very means to lure Jews into learning. "I really want to bring Jews into textual, Talmudic study. I think it’s what Jewish adults really crave, deep down. But I created the Talkback programs to get people in the door," Hier said. "People talk about these issues behind closed doors, and now we have a format to discuss them in public," he said.

The format has been well-received. On a drizzling February night, over 50 attendees, ranging from their 20s to their 60s, fill the museum hall. And while many Talkback fans attend multiple programs, JSI program director Emma Barron says the audience shifts with each new topic. "We had tons of parents and educators at the session about the high stress level of Jewish day schools, and lots of kabbalahists and Speed Daters at the religious enticement program," Barron said. "So we’re really reaching a broad range of people," she added.

Talkback is as popular with its panelists as it is with its audience. Past panelists invited to dispute the heated issues hailed from Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist congregations. Organizations such as Jews for Judaism, The Chai Center and even Rolling Stone magazine have also sent representatives.

Daniel Greyber, rabbinic intern at the Conservative Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, found his participation in the Religious Enticement panel beneficial.

"There’s great value to this format, to people having a sincere discussion, and agreeing to disagree on topics that affect all Jewish people," Greyber said.

For Greyber, the Talkback format seemed particularly useful in flushing out distinctions between various Judaic schools of thought. "There are substantial differences between the movements that have real consequences for kol Yisrael. This is an important forum, because people can ask questions and learn where different organizations stand on these issues," Greyber said.

Audience member Levy echoed Greyber’s opinion. "The most enticing and informative format is this — an actual learning exchange."

The next Talkback series, "The L.A. Jewish Singles Scene: Can you ever meet Mr. or Ms. Right?" will be held Wednesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at The Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. Admission is $4 (members) and $5 (nonmembers). Dessert reception follows. For more information call (310) 552-4595 ext. 21.

Picks and kicks for February 23-29


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Israel is not the only one celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year. Temple Beth David, a Reform synagogue in the San Gabriel Valley, also was founded in 1948 and is marking the event with a 60th Anniversary Concert featuring Grammy Award-winning composer and singer Doug Cotler and singer Julie Silver. Underwritten by the Kohl Youth Fund and the Dorothy Singer Simon Music Fund, the concert is being held in memory of Dorothy Singer Simon, the synagogue’s first choir director. 7 p.m. $5 (children), $10 (adults), $25 (families). Temple Beth David, 9677 Longden Ave., Temple City. (626) 287-9994. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ alt=””>

The feature documentary, “Salud!” (which means “health” in Spanish) examines the role Cuba endeavors to play in making healthcare a global birthright. It explores the contributions of 28,000 Cuban health professionals working in 68 countries, as well as the 30,000 medical students in Cuba and how they aspire to improve access to quality healthcare around the world. 7 p.m. $5. The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-2007. ” target=”_blank”>

Mehnaz M. Afridi believes Jews and Muslims have more in common than they think. An academic with an extensive interest in modern Islamic identity, Judaism and the Jewish Diaspora, Afridi is committed to stimulating new dialogue on the religious, cultural and literary ties and tensions between Jews and Muslims. For three hours, she’ll espouse her wisdom on “An Illuminated History of Jewish-Muslim Relations” and their many, often overlooked, commonalities. 3-6 p.m. $20-$25. Levantine Cultural Center at Pacific Arts Center, 10469 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 657-5511. ” target=”_blank”>

Drums can drive you crazy if your teenage son is playing them at midnight, but they can also be a vehicle for spiritual enlightenment. Let the Nashuva Healing Drum Circle With Jamie Papish show you the power of hand drumming and ancient rhythms in connecting you to your own rhythmic being. Experienced and beginning drummers are welcome to join the class. 12-1:30 p.m. $10-$15. Pacific Arts Center and Dance Studios, 10469 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. ” border = 0 vspace = ‘8’ hspace = ‘8’ align = ‘left’ alt=””>
If you missed Tony Blair in January, it’s not too late to get in on the action because this month’s guest at American Jewish University’s Public Lecture Series is the infamous (or famous, depending on which side of the aisle you vote) Karl

Clinton Talks at UJ Series

The United States must stay involved in the Middle East peace process, even when it appears to be failing, former President Bill Clinton urged more than 6,000 listeners Monday evening.

Even though the United States may risk its prestige in an unsuccessful effort, “We will be judged by what we tried. It is better to try and fail than not to try at all,” Clinton said.

The former president was the lead-off speaker in a University of Judaism lecture series and was enthusiastically greeted by an audience that filled every place in the 6,200-seat Universal Amphitheatre.

Looking back at his own strenuous efforts to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Clinton said, “I did my best, and perhaps when I failed, I made it worse.”

On the eve of a visit to the Middle East, Clinton pledged that “We will never stand by and let Israel be destroyed…. Those who seek this objective cannot achieve it.”

Clinton will visit Israel later this month to receive an honorary degree from Tel Aviv University. He will also give a speech on the Middle East peace process Jan. 20 in Tel Aviv and participate in the opening of the Clinton Center for American Studies at the university, which will teach U.S. history, culture and political science.

The former president, looking fit and relaxed, devoted most of his talk to the causes of international terrorism, which he termed the “dark side of globalization,” and the disparities between rich and poor nations.

However, in a question-and-answer session with Dr. Robert Wexler, president of the University of Judaism, Clinton addressed topics of special Jewish interest.

Why did the Camp David meeting with Yasser Arafat and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak in July 2000 fail? Wexler asked.

“I don’t know,” answered Clinton. “The Palestinians got 95 percent of what they wanted…. Perhaps Arafat didn’t want to be the target of assassination.

“If Arafat and Barak had had one year to slug it out, perhaps they would have gotten somewhere,” he said.

Clinton noted that he had been invited to the world racism conference in Durban, South Africa, last fall, but decided against going because he feared it would turn into an anti-Israel sideshow.

But he argued that anti-Semitism was not a primary focus of the conference.

Most developing nations believe that the Palestinians “are getting the shaft” and used the conference to show their displeasure with the United States and Israel, he said.

What happened at Durban, he added, was a display “more of ignorance than anti-Semitism, and more of sympathy with the Palestinians than hatred of Jews.”

Asked to explain the overwhelming electoral support he had enjoyed among African Americans and Jews, Clinton said that both communities “have a finely tuned sensibility of who is for them and who is against them.”

The assertion was echoed by Peter Lowy, president of the UJ Board of Trustees, who introduced Clinton as a personal friend. “No American president has worked harder for peace,” Lowy said.

The next speaker will be former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, to be followed by political strategist James Carville. The series ends with Barak.

Gady Levy, the UJ’s dean of continuing education, opened the evening by recounting how each of the four speakers offered remarkable life stories. “This,” he said, leaving his prepared speech, “is very exciting.”