Calendar Picks and Clicks: July 5-July 15, 2011


Adat Ari El’s young professionals group, Valley Ruach, hosts its monthly evening of schmoozing, drinking and Torah discussion for people in their 20s and 30s. Wed. 7:30-10 p.m. Free. Private residence in the San Fernando Valley (address e-mailed following RSVP). (818) 835-2139.


Jazz guitarist Doug MacDonald, who has collaborated with Ray Charles, Stan Getz and other music legends, leads the Doug MacDonald Trio in a performance at the Original Farmers Market, located at West Third Street and Fairfax Avenue. The Los Angeles landmark holds concerts every Thursday and Friday all summer long, with vendors serving up different types of cuisine and artists serving up jazz, rock and more. Thu. 7-9 p.m. Free. 6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (323) 933-9211.


She redefined the high-school comedy in the ’80s with a film adaptation of Cameron Crowe’s “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and updated Jane Austen’s “Emma” for the ’90s with “Clueless,” featuring Alicia Silverstone as Cher, a superficial Beverly Hills high school student who learns a valuable lesson about meddling in other people’s lives. Director Heckerling appears live for a discussion between the double-feature screenings. Fri. 7:30 p.m. $11 (general), $9 (students and seniors, 65 and older). Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 260-1528.

Best known for her chart-topping hit “A Thousand Miles,” the pop pianist and vocalist performs “Carousel” and other songs from her forthcoming release, “Rabbits on the Run.” Singer-songwriter Maia Sharp opens. Fri. 8 p.m. $25. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 855-0350.

Joel and Merryl, a 20-something couple, have their relationship tested in this Gen-Y dramedy by L.A. playwright Joanclair Richter. Joel offers to remain in his dead-end position to support Merryl’s dreams of pursing a music career when she loses her part-time job. But when Doug, a successful music exec and family friend who harbors a crush on Merryl, agrees to listen to her demo, things get complicated. Thu. Through Aug. 14. 8 p.m. $20. Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 960-5774.

This late-night event at the Skirball features performances by indie rock groups Autolux and Superhumanoids, KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez and strolling magicians; a screening of “Master Mystery” (1920), a serial starring Harry Houdini as justice department agent Quentin Locke investigating a cartel protected by a robot; and after-dark access to the exhibitions “Houdini: Art and Magic” and “Masters of Illusion: Jewish Magicians of the Golden Age.” Ages 21 and over only. Fri. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. $15. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-5400.

Summer is supposed to be spent outdoors. Join families from the SIJCC for a weekend camping trip in the Angeles National Forest. Through July 10. $50 (individual or family). (323) 663-2255.


The 29th annual Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival features two Israeli entries today. Director Eytan Fox (“Yossi & Jagger”) brings us “Mary Lou,” a musical miniseries that’s been called Israel’s “Glee.” Meir is a young gay man in search of his mother, who abandoned him on his 10th birthday. As he searches for her in Tel Aviv — convinced she became a backup singer for ’70s pop star Svika Pick — Meir joins the city’s gay scene and emerges as a celebrated drag queen, Mary Lou. In Veronica Kedar’s dark indie comedy, “Joe + Belle” (2010), two women — one a drug dealer, the other a suicidal psychopath — end up on the run following an outlandish accident. With a body on their hands and the cops on their tails, the pair fall in love as they head for Sderot. Sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel in collaboration with Beth Chayim Chadashim, Congregation Kol Ami, JQ International and El Al. Sun. “Mary Lou,” 1:30 p.m. Directors Guild of America, 7920 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. “Joe + Belle,” 7:15 p.m. Laemmle Sunset 5, 8000 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. $13 (per film). (213) 480-7065.

Get in the water with ATID, the young professional (ages 21 to 39) organization of Sinai Temple, for 90 minutes of kayaking. Reservations required (e-mail Sun. 10 a.m.-noon. $15. 13719 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey. (310) 481-3244.

Lewis Holzman, a docent at the Autry National Center’s Museum of the American West, lectures on Jews who immigrated West before the 1900s, sharing the stories of prominent Jewish pioneers, including Solomon “Sol” Star, the Jewish mayor of Deadwood, S.D., in 1885; Josie Earp, Wyatt Earp’s Jewish wife; and others. Holzman also discusses the Galveston Plan and the “Hidden Jews” of New Mexico. Organized by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles (JGSLA). Arrive at 1 p.m. for some food, and browse JGSLA’s traveling library. Sun. 1:30 p.m. (lecture). Free. JCC at Milken, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (818) 771-5554.
Visit the famous Beth Olam mausoleum, the burial site of mobster Bugsy Siegel, and the grave sites of legendary talent agent Charles Feldman, who represented John Wayne, the Ritz Brothers and more during this walking tour of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. While you’re there, stop by the graves of Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille and other non-Jewish celebrity icons. Sun. 2 p.m. $15. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. (818) 517-5988.


The young novelist discusses and signs copies of his debut work, “The Instructions” (McSweeny’s), the story of Gurion Maccabee, the Philip Roth-admiring 10-year-old son of a former IDF soldier and Jewish civil rights attorney. Professing to be a translation of a Hebrew manuscript, the book follows four days in the life of Gurion, who has been expelled from three Jewish day schools for acts of violence and messianic tendencies, only to end up in the Cage, a special lockdown program for the most hopeless cases. Levin appears at Book Soup with author Adam Novy, who will present his own work, “The Avian Gospels.” Mon. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110.


The nonprofit holds a social event for Jewish business people and professionals to network. So, come and eat, chat and make those connections. Guest speakers will be Randy Schwartz and David Stein. Wed. 7-9 p.m. Free. Temple Ahavat Shalom, 18200 Rinaldi Place, Northridge. (818) 426-6340.


Tonight’s party, organized by the young leadership division of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), raises funds for Friends of Israel Firefighters, a project that purchases equipment, trucks and facilities for the Israel Fire and Rescue Services. Thurs. 7-11 p.m. $40 (pre-registration), $50. Busby’s East, 5364 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 964-1400.

Raichel, an Israeli native and renowned world musician, joins fellow long-haired sonic soul mate Arie, a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, for tonight’s concert. The two collaborated on an upcoming album, set to be released in the fall, “Open Door.” A reprisal of their performance at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony last year, expect soulful vocals about social unity (in Hebrew and English), and a healthy fusion of pop, folk and R&B. Thu. 8 p.m. $65-$105. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. (310) 434-3200.

Back from her June trip to Tel Aviv, the always irreverent and raunchy comedian performs at Largo with guest stand-up comics. Past guests have included Aziz Ansari and Louie CK. Silverman often experiments with new material and plays acoustic guitar during her shows at this intimate venue (which has general admission seating). Must be 18 or older to attend. No late entry. Thu. 7:30 p.m. (bar opens), 9 p.m. (show). $25. Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 855-0350.


The founder and chair of Children Uniting Nations discusses and signs copies of her new thriller, “The Gray Zone,” which raises awareness about issues facing foster children. The New York Times best-selling book follows Kelly Jensen, a bold identify thief raised in an abusive home, who uses her skills to save foster kids from trafficking and other abuses. Fri. 2 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110.


The classical music ensemble, which includes musicians from 20 countries under the direction of maestro Eduard Schmieder, performs the L.A. premiere of Israeli composer Avner Dorman’s “Concert Grosso and the U.S. premiere of Kareem Roustom’s “Three Klezmer Dances.” Fri. 8:30 p.m. $20 (nonmembers), free (members). Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 205-0511.

Spend Shabbat shmoozing and worshipping with people in their 20s and 30s. Organized by Valley Ruach, the young professionals organization of Conservative synagogue Adat Ari El, a happy hour with snacks and cocktails starts off the evening. Afterward, a guitar-accompanied service makes praying accessible for those who don’t go to synagogue often; a kosher, catered meal follows. Fri. 7-10 p.m. $9 (members), $12 (nonmembers). Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. (818) 835-2139.

Islamic tales of forbidden love, lovers

produced by Sandi Simcha Dubowski, we meet Mazen, a 20-something Egyptian man who has fled Cairo for Paris to avoid the three-year prison sentence authorities want to impose on him because he is gay.

“I was in jail a year before my trial,” Mazen says as he watches a video recording of the judicial proceedings where he and 51 other men were convicted of crimes related to their sexuality. “And I was raped while I was in prison. I couldn’t go back.”

After Mazen is granted refugee status by the French government, he is able to rent an apartment and begin to cobble together a life for himself. Soon after he moves into his new home, he calls his mother in Egypt to share his bittersweet news with her.

“There is no god but God,” we hear the woman say at the end of their tearful telephone conversation.

“And Muhammad is His Prophet,” her son replies.

That brief exchange captures Sharma’s intention in making “A Jihad for Love” — which will screen on July 17 as the documentary centerpiece at Outfest, Los Angeles’ gay and lesbian film festival, and during the first week of August at Laemmle’s Sunset 5.

“When we started cutting ‘ Jihad,’ the editor asked me, ‘ Is this a film about Islam or homosexuality?'” said Sharma, a respected print and broadcast journalist in his native India and, more recently, a producer at Democracy Now! in the United States.

“Together we decided to edit the film to be about Islam,” he said, “which means the gay and lesbian characters in the film are really coming out as Muslim.”

The intense religiosity of the film’s characters was transformative for Sharma, who said that while at the beginning of the project he felt a lot of anger — toward conservative Muslims who openly say they want to kill their homosexual brothers and sisters and toward the conflation of Islam and terrorism in most mainstream Western media outlets. He acquired a deeper respect for his religion by the end of the project.

And that religious intensity resonated with Dubowski, whose 2001 documentary, “Trembling Before G-d,” examined the struggle between spirituality and sexual identity among gay and lesbian Jews in Orthodox communities.

“Jews have very recent memories of being refugees — of fleeing persecution and crossing borders,” Dubowski said. “But that’s what’s happening right now for gay Muslims. Michelle, one of the Orthodox women in ‘ Trembling,’ said to me after she saw ‘ Jihad,’ ‘ I had it bad, but I never had to flee my country.'”

Dubowski met Sharma in 2002 at an interfaith panel in Washington, D.C., and quickly saw their conversation evolve into a collaboration that was both personal and professional.

“Parvez’s idea for the film was rooted in my struggle, as well,” Dubowski said. “Being gay but not being a secular Jew presents me with a distinct set of challenges. By the end of the year, I had gone from playing the role of advice-giver to being the producer for the film.”

Though “Jihad” has only been screening for seven months, the geographically diverse profile of the film’s audiences — including festival dates and panel discussions in India, South Africa, Canada, Europe, Turkey, Mexico and the United States — and the feedback Dubowski has received so far suggest that “Jihad” could have the same impact in the Muslim world that “Trembling” had in Jewish communities.

“I’m in awe of the movement that ‘ Trembling’ sparked,” Dubowski said. “It led to policy change in Conservative Judaism, which now ordains gay and lesbian rabbis and recognizes same-sex marriages, and made sexuality a legitimate issue for public discussion in the Orthodox community. That kind of change is just beginning to happen with ‘ Jihad.'”

Dubowski cites as an example of that change an encounter he had with an Iranian woman after a screening of “Jihad” in Toronto.

“She told me she came to see the film with her fist clinched,” because she feared the documentary would be just another Western misrepresentation of Islam, Dubowski said. “And when she spoke to me afterward, she said her hand and her heart were open.”

Five Jewish films at Outfest

“A Jihad for Love” is a longer version of a 20-minute segment called, “In the Name of Allah,” that Parvez Sharma first screened at Outfest in 2002.

It is one of five feature-length titles screening during Outfest’s week of Jewish programming — the others are “Citizen Nawi,” a documentary that examines the social activism of a gay Israeli who advocates for the rights of Palestinian farmers; “Antarctica,” a sexy dramedy that depicts the lives and loves of a group of gay men and lesbians in Tel Aviv; “Seeds of Summer,” director Hen Lasker’s documentary of her relationship with a woman she met while serving in the Israel Defense Forces; and “The Secrets,” a haunting and lyrical drama that explores the place of women and sexuality in Orthodox Judaism.

The screenings of Jewish films at Outfest are part of a first-ever collaboration organized by JQ International and include Congregation Kol Ami, Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim and the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Films at L.A.’s Outfest examines gay life in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

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