Calendar Picks and Clicks: Oct. 13-19, 2012



11th Annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days

Dedicated to the life and memory of journalist Daniel Pearl, this October music month features concerts across the globe, including today’s performance of “Songs of Salomone Rossi: Harmony for Humanity” by Tesserae at Contrapuntal Recital Hall in Brentwood. Other concerts include Ray Dewey (Oct. 16); Chabad-hosted Hakafot (Oct. 20); the Phil Ranelin Jazz Ensemble (Oct. 21); the Kadima String Quartet (Oct. 24 & 28); the UCLA Philharmonia (Oct. 25); the Daniel Pearl Magnet High School Choir (Oct. 26); Cantor Ruti Braier, the Orange County Wind Ensemble and conductor William Nicholls (Oct. 26); the Harmony Project and the West Los Angeles Branch of the Music Student Services League (Oct. 28); Yuval Ron, Russell Steinberg, Mitchell Newman and Hazzan Mike Stein (Oct. 29); and Conductor Noreen Green of the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, Cantor Magda Fishman and Cantor Marcus Feldman (Oct. 30). Through Oct. 31. For information about other Daniel Pearl World Music Days performances, visit


30 Years After Civic Action Conference

The Iranian-American Jewish group’s third biennial conference explores the imperative of civic participation and community leadership from the Iranian-American Jewish community. Speakers include Ambassador Dennis Ross, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Consul General of Israel David Siegel and former U.N. Ambassador Mark Wallace, the current CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran. The daylong conference will include a mayoral candidates forum; an organizational fair; and sessions on the future of the Middle East, Jewish life in Los Angeles, Israel and Iran, activism, political action and philanthropy. Sun. 9:30 a.m. (opening plenary), 7 p.m. (keynote gala dinner). $150 (includes glatt kosher breakfast, lunch, cocktail reception, community organization fair and gala dinner). Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Ave., downtown.


“Battle for Our Minds”

Michael Widlanski, a specialist in Arab politics and communication, appears in person to discuss his new book, “Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat,” and why America and the Jewish people remain prime targets of terrorists. A book signing follows. Tue. 7 p.m. Free (reservations required). Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 553-8403.


“Deeply Rooted” and “Photographic Visions of the Diaspora”

An artists’ reception celebrates two exhibitions opening at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. “Deeply Rooted” explores the connection between the two primordial trees in the Garden of Eden while “Photographic Visions of the Diaspora” highlights the once-vibrant but rapidly fading world of Jewish shopkeepers. Wed. 5-7 p.m. (reception). Through Dec. 14 (“Deeply Rooted”). Through May 31 (“Photographic Visions”). Free. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 3077 University Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 765-2106.

Mayoral Candidates Forum

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, L.A. City Council member Jan Perry and L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel discuss their positions on issues facing Los Angeles and participate in a Q-and-A with the audience. A meet-and-greet reception featuring local representatives within the public and private sectors precedes the candidates’ forum. Light refreshments served. Organized by Temple Isaiah’s Isaiah Continuing Enrichment program. Wed. 6-7 p.m. (meet and greet), 7:30-9 p.m. (mayoral candidates forum). Free. Temple Isaiah, 10345 W. Pico  Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 277-2772.


“The Other Son”

French-Jewish writer-director Lorraine Le-
vy’s family drama follows two young men — one Israeli, the other Palestinian — who discover that they were accidentally switched at birth. The revelation turns the lives of the two families upside down, forcing them to reassess their respective identities, values and beliefs. Thu. 7:30 p.m. $10. Laemmle Town Center, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (213) 368-1661.


“Simon and the Oaks” 

Swedish director Lisa Ohlin’s epic drama portrays the situation of Jews in Sweden during World War II. Spanning the years 1939 to 1952, the film follows Simon, an intellectually gifted boy from a working-class family in Gothenburg who attends an upper-class grammar school. Soon he meets Isak, the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller who has fled Nazi persecution in Germany. When Simon’s family takes in Isak, the boys’ households merge and connect in unexpected ways. Fri. Various times. $13 (general), $10 (matinees, seniors, children). Landmark Theatres, 10850 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 474-6291.

Kids Page

Josh Fields, 8, of Thousand Oaks, won the “My Amazing Summer” essay contest.

He wins a gift certificate to the store of his choice.

I went to Yellowstone National Park two days after school ended. It took two days to drive all the way to Yellowstone. We drove through beautiful scenery in five states that I had never been to before, including Idaho and Montana.

In Yellowstone, I saw bison, moose, elk, a bear, trumpeter swans and baby bald eagles. I saw geysers, mud pots and hot springs. I became a junior ranger, which made me very proud. I saw the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Lower Falls, Mystic Falls, the Prismatic Springs and Excelsior Geyser. I also went to Virginia City, which is an old gold mining town. I had a tour of the town and I went gold mining.

After I got home I went to an acting camp called Kids Acting Out West, and we did “Cinderella.” I was a bodyguard. I made lots of friends at the camp. This is the process of what I went through: First, I had auditions. After that I got assigned my part. I practiced and played with my part. We had two successful shows. All in all, I had a great summer!


David Gamliel’s Weird Science

It’s a wintery Saturday night in Hollywood, and I am having one of those quintessential L.A. outings. Sitting in the dank, stonewalled basement of the landmark Magic Castle, I am watching psychokinetecist David Gamliel move objects with his mind. Our well-dressed group stares at the short, intense, balding, goateed Israeli as his hands hover over a pair of eyeglasses that sit on a green felt table. His hands begin to make slow circles in the air, and soon the glasses levitate and circle, mimicking his hands’ movements. There is an audible sigh. He never touched the glasses — we all watched.

"These magnets cost a fortune," Gamliel jokes, easing the tension of the moment, and allowing the glasses to fall back onto the table.

"He’s a mutant!" one woman exclaims.

Later, Gamliel tells me he prefers to think of his abilities as a gift. Other tricks up his sleeve that night included spoon-bending and hypnosis. He says he’s always known he was different, even before he discovered his gift nine years ago.

"As a small boy, when we used to play hide-and-seek, I was able to know where everybody is," he says. "I always thought it was a natural ability; that other people can do it."

After 25 years in this country, Gamliel’s slightly broken English is still spoken with the hint of an accent. Maybe it’s that Israeli charm that does it, or that ever-elusive charisma, but there’s something about Gamliel that makes you want to believe. He backs up the talk with his act, too. Watching him bend a spoon with just his thumb and forefinger, or levitate a fork, it’s impossible to discern the trick — if there indeed is one.

This draw has taken him as far as Japan, and as close as the last bar mitzvah you attended: "I’ll start in the lobby while they serve hors d’oeuvres for about half an hour, then I go and do tables."

He also performs Thursday nights at Cafe Belissimo, and every couple months at the Magic Castle.

In the six years he’s been performing, Gamliel’s had his share of nonbelievers. But, as he puts it, "I always have arguments with people that study physics or psychology. But it brings us back to the fact that all they study is wrong and they don’t like it."

In truth, it seems the jury is still out on the reality of psychokinetics. Probably the most famous Israeli spoon bender and mentalist, Uri Geller, acquiesced to have his powers studied by Stanford Research Institute back in the 1970s. But the controversy surrounding his claimed powers has never really been settled.

And though too late for a ride on Geller’s proverbial coattails, the 53-year-old carpenter-by-day seems unconcerned. Gamliel enjoys his regular gigs, and says his eventual goal is to be able to use his abilities to help people more. Party tricks aside, he lists hypnosis, healing, mind-reading, psychic predictions and conflict resolution among his powers.

"I want to apply to be an adviser to our new governor," he says. (As I cynically wait for the punch line, I realize he’s being sincere.) "I think I can help him out to make the right decisions. I can do predictions."

It was during a visit with his sister in Holland that he realized he had these gifts.

"We were sitting in a restaurant and waiting to be served and I just started playing with a fork, and I noticed that the fork is acting really funny," he says. "It started moving inside my hand and it started getting warm. I remember this vividly. I came home to L.A., and I started calling people because I wasn’t sure what it is."

Gamliel says he eventually found a man who could explain it to him.

While he says he was scared by his own powers at first, he’s learned how to harness them and today has chosen to embrace them.

"My favorite thing is to make peace between people — between family members or between neighbors," he says. "I don’t know how I do it. I just talk to the people. By talking and showing love, they can change their opinions about each other and I make them understand that there’s no need for animosity or rage."

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m surprisingly touched by the warm and fuzzy spoon-bending mentalist. If it’s not real, I’d rather not know anymore, and so I have just one more question. Doesn’t all that silverware get expensive?

"I’m a regular customer at Denny’s," he says with a smirk.

Stan Burns

Stan Burns, an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, died of heart failure Nov. 5 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund Hospital. He was 79.

Born in 1923 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Burns was the original writer of "The Tonight Show" starring Steve Allen and later became the original writer for "The Steve Allen Show." He relocated to California in 1960 when the show moved West and remained Allen’s principal writer throughout his career.

Burns wrote for many popular variety shows in the 1950s and 1960s, including "The Smothers Brothers," "The Flip Wilson Show" (for which he received an Emmy nomination), "The Milton Berle Show," "Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts" and "The Carol Burnett Show," for which he earned an Emmy Award for the 1971-72 season.

Among his television writing credits, Burns co-authored "The World Book of Jewish Records," and co-created, with partner Mike Marmer, the show "Lancelot Link/Secret Chimp" and the film, "Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen."

He is survived by his wife, Shirley; daughters, Laurie and Bonnie; son-in-law, Martin Green; and grandchildren, Adam, Josh and Megan.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation, 22212 Ventura Blvd., Suite 300, Woodland Hills, CA 91364. — Staff Report

Finding the ‘It’ Shul

In Los Angeles, the happening High Holiday haunts sell out faster than Springsteen at The Forum. And the tickets cost just as much. So every fall, Jewish singletons like myself do the New Year hustle, seeking out affordable, last-minute tickets to The Main Event. About a week before the big Rosh, the calls start coming in: "Davis, where are you going to services this year?" "How are you ringing in 5763?" "What are you doing New Years, New Year’s Eve?"

This September, my friends and I once again find ourselves without a place to hang our kippot. With the holidays near, and our plans in the air, we’re scrambling to secure seats in a sanctuary. We’re calling ticket brokers, checking eBay, there’s even talk of resorting to scalpers (Two? Anyone need two? Great seats, near the aisle, obstructed bimah view…). But so far, no luck. No shirt. No shoes. No services.

To be fair, it’s not that all Southland synagogues are posting sold-out shows. It’s that my crowd isn’t looking for just any Rosh Hashana service. They’re looking for the Rosh Hashana service. Where "The Player" meets the prayer.

Like everything else in Los Angeles, Rosh Hashana is immersed in the entertainment industry. Aliyahs (calls to the Torah), double as auditions for "American Idol 2"; the gabbai has a recurring role on "Buffy"; and what my rabbi really wants to do is direct. No wonder my friends carry their head shots and demo reels in their tallit bags, hoping to be assigned a seat next to a congregant who can greenlight their career. In this city, if you don’t schmooze, you lose. And what better place than services to network with Jews in the biz? My writer friend, Alex, met his manager two years ago while nabbing a piece of pre-"Kiddish" honey cake. Emet.

And my peeps who don’t spend Rosh Hashana looking for their next big break, spend it looking for their next big date. Like any other Hollywood night, my wannabe swinger friends wanna spend Erev Rosh Hashana with the cool cats and the beautiful babies. For these Juppies (Jewish urban professionals), the holidays have become the ultimate meat market. According to the National Singles Council, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur boast the highest singles-per-service numbers of the year. Any Jewish singleton who’s even remotely religious attends services on the High Holidays, so the odds of meeting someone who’ll dip his apples in your honey are pretty high. Blind dates, SpeedDates, even JDates can’t hold a bread crumb to the pick-up potential at a good Tashlich. Meeting the Jew of your dreams is as simple as praying in the right place at the right time. Which is why my friends insist that we get tickets to the "it" shul.

Last year, my friend, Andy, scored big — huge — when his boss, a Hollywood macher with a first-look studio deal, handed him six free tickets to a high-rent service. We’re talking $185 face value — each. Valet parking. Tallit check. The works. Packed with industry folks and single blokes, it raised the Rosh Hashana bar. And now my friends are looking to me to hook them up with this year’s ultimate davening machine. "CD, you write for The Journal, you must have some pull at the door. Can you get me ‘plus one’ on the list at Synagogue X?"

I think it’s time to re-evaluate our High Holiday priorities. I appreciate my friends’ enthusiasm to kibitz at the "Kiddush." But in all honesty, the last thing I want to hear on the holiday is, "Did the story department do coverage on the Machzor?" And as much as I want to meet my mensch, pick-up lines like, "Hey baby, wanna blow my shofar?" and "You’ll love my tekiah gedolah" send me running. Services have become such a scene!

So I’m asking my single friends to make some Rosh Hashana resolutions. In our search for High Holiday tickets, let’s remember that this New Year is about more than having someone to kiss at Musaf. We should ask for forgiveness, not phone numbers; we should be making amends, not making out. And for the first day of Tishrei, let’s put the Industry speak in turnaround. Even Tinseltown can take a day to focus on teshuvah (repentance), tefilah (prayer) and tzedakah (charity).

Of course "The Binding of Isaac" would make a great movie title. I wonder who owns the film rights?

7 Days In Art


Julius may have inspired Shakespeare and a pizza chain, but Sid made millions laugh with “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour.” Tonight, you’ve got good reason to stay in, as KCET presents “The Sid Caesar Collection.” The documentary includes sketches from both shows and interviews with some of the greats who worked behind the scenes: Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Carl Reiner. You can even order in some pizza! pizza! should you feel so inspired.
7-8:30 p.m. KCET. For more information, go to


OK, here’s the dish: the Skirball Cultural Center is calling all foodies. If you like to eat (Hey, you are Jewish, aren’t you?) head over for its Food Festival, celebrating the international cuisine and cultures of Los Angeles. There’s plenty to keep you busy, including food and wine tastings, cooking demonstrations and activities for the kids. If you’re like us, you plan to glutton yourself on all of it. So break out the elastic waistband pants and we’ll see you there!
11 a.m.-4 p.m. $8 (general), $6 (seniors and students), free (members and children under 12). (Additional fees for food and wine tastings.) Bring a can of food for donation and receive $1 off admission. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. For reservations, call (323) 655-8587.

It’s hard to relate personally to news headlines about places so removed from our backyards. But Leora Krygier brings it home in her new novel. Set against the backdrop of the San Fernando Valley, “First the Raven” is the story of Amir, an Israeli ex-paratrooper struggling with life as a veteran of two Middle East wars and the first intifada. Krygier signs her book at Dutton’s Brentwood Bookstore today.
2 p.m. 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles. For more information, call (310) 476-6263.


Poor Danny Simon. He’s always being compared to his more famous younger brother, Neil. And with his play, “The Convertible Girl,” he committed an unfortunate and unforseeable faux pas in his choice of name for his main character. We feel bad that Danny makes us think of Neil, and that his character Ron Goldman makes us think of O.J., especially since “The Convertible Girl” sounds like a darling little play. So cut him a break and check out the show tonight at the Beverly Community Theatre.
7:30 p.m. Runs through Aug. 20. $15 (general), $10 (seniors and students). 241 Marine Drive, Beverly Hills. For reservations, call (310) 551-5100, ext. 8459.


You may have to get over feeling resentful of Ben Gleiberman first, but once you do, you’ll agree the kid is talented. Barely out of college, the Jewish ex-frat boy known fondly as “Gleib,” hosts “Gleib’s College Comedy,” the Laugh Factory’s regularly sold-out Tuesday night show. And hey, don’t hate him because he’s funny. He may just be able to give you a job some day.
9:30 p.m. $10 (plus two-drink minimum). Must be 18+. 8001 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. For reservations, call (323) 848-2800.


The Danube River was a passageway for fleeing Jewish refugees and Bessarabian Germans returning to the fatherland in 1939 and 1940. As a ferryboat operator on the Danube and an amateur filmmaker, Capt. Nándor Andra sovits both witnessed and documented these contrary departures. His films have become the springboard for the Getty Center’s “The Danube Exodus: The Rippling Currents of the River,” an interactive video installation comparing what artist Peter Forgacs calls, “The incomparable duet of the German Jewish exodus.”
10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Sundays and Tuesday-Thursday), 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Fridays and Saturdays). Runs Aug. 17-Sept. 29. Free. For more information, call (310) 440-7300.


You started out the week with Sid Caesar and spent your Tuesday with Gleib. Now it’s time to school yourself on all those funny Jews who’ve paved the way in between. Tonight, writer and humorist Arie Kaplan discusses, “Wizards of Wit: How Jews Revolutionized Comedy in America.”
7:30 p.m. $10 (general), $5 (students), free (members). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. For reservations, call (323) 655-8587.


Those of us not of the Catskills generation still remember that, “nobody puts Baby in the corner.” Now Murray Mednick has created a new story about a Jewish resort in the Catskill Mountains, this one set in 1948. And while there’s no dirty dancing in this play, “Fedunn” does promise plenty of nostalgia and family drama.
8 p.m. (Thursday-Saturday), 3 p.m. (Sunday). Runs through Oct. 13. $25. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles. For reservations, call (310) 477-2055.

Your Letters

Prime Time for Hitler

Well, Hitler, has made it to prime time (“Prime Time for Hitler,” Aug. 2). How about a joint project about the life and times of Yasser Arafat? However, we will need to determine his true story, or should we just file his under TV fiction? Why not do a movie-of-the-week on the eating habits of Jeffrey Dahmer, or a show based on the inside story of child pornographers? Since it seems the U.S. public has an appetite for reality shows, why stop at Hitler?

Allyson Rowen Taylor, Valley Glen

Your article on the upcoming CBS miniseries, “Young Hitler,” noted that several years ago, another such program, “Nuremberg,” almost reduced the greatest international trial in living memory to a sappy love story between the American prosecutor and his assistant. But that, too, had a precedent.

In “Wallenberg,” back in the 1970s, not only was a fictitious lover created for Raoul Wallenberg to pursue across half of unoccupied Europe, but a classically obscene line of dialogue was actually written for actor Richard Chamberlain, “I would give up everything, even this rescue mission, if only you would be mine.”

Realistically though, none of this is new. Seventy years ago, Irving Thalberg, MGM’s “boy wonder,” greenlighted “Rasputin and the Empress,” instructing playwright-scriptwriter Charles MacArthur to turn Czar Nicholas of Romanov Russia into a gentle, kindly, sensitive soul. MacArthur finally asked, “How can you portray him as such a sympathetic hero in light of what he and his family did to your people for 300 years?”

In an answer that could just as easily come from Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS, and Nancy Tellem, his entertainment chief, in summer 2002, Thalberg replied, “It wouldn’t be fair to the company stockholders to jeopardize any market just because I’m a Jew.”

The expression, “With Jews like you, who needs anti-Semites?” didn’t originate in Hollywood, but nowhere else has it blossomed and flourished so gloriously.

David R. Moss, Los Angeles

15 and Counting

I applaud President Bush’s firm denouncement of the horrific Hamas attack at Hebrew University last week and share his fury at the depraved indifference of terrorists to the sanctity of human life (“15 and Counting,” Aug. 9). However, the time has come to recognize that peace will never be possible in the Middle East nor will worldwide terrorism be defeated unless the United States uses military and monetary force against all agents of terror.

The attack was a clear and direct assault against America and its citizens. The five Americans who were killed were not “collateral damage” in the eyes of the terrorists, but were successfully destroyed targets, no different than the victims of Al Qaeda’s strike on Sept. 11. We can no longer simply provide verbal support to Israel, but must also take action in defense of our own country and citizens.

Carolyn Blashek , Encino

The problem with the Bush administration’s Middle East policy isn’t its failure to intervene militarily in the conflict It is the failure to aggressively intervene politically. A policy that is contingent on a change of Palestinian leadership is a policy lacking in political imagination and political courage. In its eagerness to be un-Clinton, the Bush administration has caved in to the Sharon government.

Failure to actively create and push responsible Palestinian political institutions will leave the peace process continually hostage to elements committed to continued violence — Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli right wing, with the death toll mounting.

David Perel, Los Angeles

Is France Anti-Semitic?

The American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) did not claim that France or the French people were anti-Semitic and never called for a boycott. It did, however, take strong action to question the wisdom of attending the Cannes Film Festival while synagogues were being firebombed or of vacationing in France when Jews were being physically attacked on the Champs-Elysee.

When Joel Kotkin says that anti-Semitism had become a cliche and worries about what could happen in the United States, he fails to understand the difference between state-accepted anti-Semitism and when governments use the full force of the law to prevent and prosecute anti-Semitic acts (“Is France Anti-Semitic?” Aug. 9). This is what is now happening in France under the new prime minister.

David Suissa says that only through pressure, such as demonstrations in front of the French consulate, did the French government begin to seriously address the problem (“Why I Stopped Hating France,” Aug. 9). I am convinced that the actions of the Los Angeles Region of the AJCongress and the travel warning issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center made a real impact on the French government. At each meeting with French government officials, they had copies of our ads and our Web site, and were really concerned about what other actions AJCongress might take.

What is the lesson and conclusion that can be drawn from our trip? First, anti-Semitism can rear its ugly head when the authorities let it and ignore it. Second, if necessary, pressure must be brought to bear against any government that condones anti-Semitism. I am ready to do whatever is necessary to protect my brethren in Europe or elsewhere and I salute those who will stand up against anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head.

Gary P. Ratner Executive Director American Jewish Congress Pacific Southwest Region

David Suissa may have “stopped hating France,” because the French are finally attending to the business of protecting their Jewish citizens and admitting that they had a problem. At the time that StandWithUs, Olam and Betar had our five consecutive Friday “Shame on France” rallies, the French government was making excuses about the attacks against Jews.

We consistently explained that just as America has a responsibility to protect its citizens from violence brought about by ideological differences, the French government has an obligation to admit that they have a problem.

It’s nice to see that the statistics in France have changed. And that is precisely why we are no longer having our “Shame on France” demonstrations. It’s wonderful to know that Deputy Pierre Lelouche has just introduced a new law in France that will increase the penalties for racist and anti-Semitic incidents. Again, that’s why we no longer need to demonstrate our concern regarding this issue.

Suissa was very clear in our first meeting with the consul general’s office in Los Angeles, as we presented our declaration to them. He said: “We want to love France again. You can help us love France again by making sure that the Jews of France feel protected. You can be a role model for other European countries to follow.”

I agreed with Suissa then, and I agree with that logic today.

Everyone who attended the “Shame on France” demonstrations was simply saying: “Never Again.” And in my mind, all our efforts were indeed helpful. No shame on us, and now, no shame on France.

Roz Rothstein, Los Angeles

Peace Now Ad

The Americans for Peace Now ad placed in your paper is the most misleading thing I have read in a long time (Aug. 9). I highly doubt that the people taking this survey — if in fact there was a survey — would agree so readily to giving up their homes. According to the Peace Now Web site, they “surveyed” 3,200 people. With approximately 200,000 people living in these cities, towns and suburbs, 3,200 people is not representative of the population by any stretch of the imagination.

Contrary to what Peace Now wants people to believe, soldiers are not stationed in these towns to protect the citizens, most of the people paid full price for their own housing, the tax break is a whopping 6 percent and there is nothing nefarious about building roads — bypass or otherwise.

In response to the ridiculous statement that these citizens of Israel leave their homes to make aliyah, they don’t need to make aliyah — they are home!

Sue Mischel, Los Angeles

Embrace the Enemy

As a Jew in the Diaspora, my whole being bleeds with each injury, dismemberment and loss of life in the Middle East conflict. My heart is broken as I find myself, a lifelong liberal, proponent of civil rights and student of comparative religions and cultures, starting to have knee-jerk negative reactions to people that I deem by their dress and features to be Arab, and thus, my enemy. I don’t want to feel this way. It shames me. I mourn my idealism and pray that the time be not distant when circumstances are such that I can more easily embrace the Arab community once again, in the same way I embrace my fellow Jews.

Carol Felixson, Culver City


The date and time listed for “A Yiddish World Remembered” were wrong (“The Lost Yiddish World,” Aug. 9). The PBS special will air on Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. on KCET.

In “Silence Speaks Volumes” (Aug. 9), Marcel Marceau’s age should have been listed as 79.

The opening paragraph of the article “Camp Supervisor Accused of Molestation” (Aug. 9) should have read, “A 35-year-old preschool supervisor at an Orthodox day camp was arrested last Sunday after two preschool boys told their parents that the supervisor has sexually abused them.” The camp director has not been accused of any impropriety. Additionally, David Schwartz, a counselor for the preschool group, was not arrested outside Anshe Emes, but at a nearby synagogue.

The Jewish Journal regrets the errors.

Blame It on the Dummy

If you’ve got something against the Jewish dummy named Velvel, blame Nat King Cole.

Back in 1955, the legendary crooner would come into the Sunset Strip club where his wife worked, and catch Rickie Layne and Velvel in action.

"He told Ed Sullivan, ‘There’s a guy working with my wife in Ciro’s,’" Layne, 78, told The Journal. "’He’s hysterical. He uses a dummy with a Jewish dialect.’"

Cole promised Sullivan that if Layne and Velvel bombed, he would do a show gratis. On Jan. 1, 1956, Rickie Layne and Velvel killed on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Cole never did the free show.

"After our bit," Layne recalls, "Ed told me, ‘We’re gonna have you on again in two weeks.’ Two weeks later, Ed told me, ‘We’re going to have you a month from now.’"

The man/puppet comedy duo made 48 appearances on "Sullivan."

"I always tried to work Sullivan into some of the bits because he loved working with the dummy," Layne says.

At the Vegas Ventriloquist Festival 2002 in April, the International Ventriloquist Association (IVA) presented Northridge residents Layne and Velvel with a career-saluting Askins Award, alongside Candice Bergen, who accepted an honor on behalf of her pioneer ventriloquist father Edgar Bergen.

"He represents what I called dyed-in-the-wool ventriloquist," IVA Director Valentine Vox says of Layne. "They asked me how ventriloquism has changed over the years and it hasn’t changed. It’s still about comedy."

"I’m not a good ventriloquist," Layne admits. "I’m basically a comic. I use the dummy as an excuse to do dialogue."

Born Richard Israel Cohen, Layne, who alternately bills himself as Rick E. Layne, began working in showbiz at age 9. The Brooklyn-born comic impersonated Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson until the day his Uncle Norbert bought him a dummy. That dummy was one Willy Gladstone.

"I called him Gladstone because he slept in a Gladstone bag," Layne says. "One night I tried the dummy out as an encore. The audience liked the encore better than the act."

Layne and Gladstone have remained joined at the lap ever since. Throughout Layne’s teens, the pair toured America with Major Bowes’ entertainment troupe. In 1943, 18-year-old Layne was drafted. When Layne exited the Army at 21, he hit the Catskills. It was while playing the Borscht Belt that Gladstone was reborn as the Yiddish-accented Velvel.

"Velvel is ‘Willie’ in Jewish," Layne says.

Over their long career, Layne and Velvel have played every venue, from New Jersey’s Grossman’s Hotel and the Catskills’ Grossinger’s to New York’s Copacabana, the Fountainbleu in Florida, and L.A.’s Orpheum Theatre. The pair has palled around with Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra and hung out at Jerry Lewis’ place. Cary Grant would catch Layne and Velvel at Billy Gray’s Bandbox, a popular Fairfax District club.

"Once in Miami, I opened at the Ritz-Carlton," Layne remembers, "and a chambermaid came into my suite while I was down having lunch. She called the police after she had opened my suitcase and found Velvel. She went around screaming, ‘There’s a dead boy! His eyes are open, his eyes are open!’ She thought I killed a kid. The hotel fired her for going into my stuff."

Personality-wise, Layne and Velvel have not changed much over the decades. However, life on the road has physically aged both ventriloquist and dummy. Clean-shaven in the 1950s, the team filled out, grew their hair and sported mustaches by the late 1970s.

"I was up in Reno in 1978 and I did a gag with the dummy where he had a mustache," Layne says. "I’d say, you’re just jealous because your mustache is bigger than mine, and Velvel would answer, ‘Anything I have is bigger than yours.’"

After a veritable lifetime of ventriloquism with Velvel, Layne still gets a charge out of entertaining audiences. And there’s a good reason why Layne has worked with Velvel all these years: "If something came out wrong, I’d blame the dummy."