Summertime and the reading is… Diverse

Summer is coming, and here are a few good reads for long flights or lounging by the pool — some newly published, some coming soon, some recently reviewed in the book columns in the Jewish Journal and on ” title=”” target=”_blank”> and can be reached at {encode=”” title=””}.

7 Days in the Arts

Saturday the 30th

Funny Jewess Rita Rudner takes a break from her regular Vegas shtick to entertain us Angelenos this evening. Pepperdine’s Smothers Theatre hosts the comedian before she returns to the City o’ Sin for a new contract with Harrah’s on Oct. 2.

8 p.m. $65. 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. (310) 506-4522.

Sunday the 1st

” target=”_blank”>

Wednesday the 4th

Still some time for some “Summertime.” The Gershwins’ classic American opera, “Porgy and Bess,” plays tonight and tomorrow night as part of the opening celebration for the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Hear arias, including “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” and “I Loves You, Porgy,” through the hall’s impressive acoustics.
8 p.m. $50-$140. 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. (800) 346-7372.

” target=”_blank”>

Friday the 6th

Inspired by the essay “The Grey Zone,” written by Primo Levi, Tim Blake Nelson penned a play and screenplay of the same name, telling the obscure story of the Sonderkommandos-Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz/Birkenau who worked in the gas chambers in exchange for better treatment. The controversial film was released in 2001, and the play now makes its Los Angeles debut in a guest production at Deaf West Theatre.

Sept. 29-Nov. 5. $20-$30. 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. (800) 838-3006.

” border = 0 alt = “”>

Active Camps for the Unathletic

Jordan Cinnamon, 15, has been crazy about the ocean since he
was a little kid, so when it came to choosing a way to spend the summer, the
idea of going to a regular sports camps didn’t appeal to him.

“I really don’t like that many sports,” admitted the high
school freshman from Claremont. Instead, Cinnamon has spent his last seven
summers at Catalina Sea Camp on Catalina Island. Last year, he became certified
in scuba diving, and this coming summer he plans to shoot underwater films
during his dives.

Like many kids, Cinnamon’s interests don’t revolve around
baseball, basketball or tennis. In a camp world that is dominated by outdoor
sports, many nonathletes feel forced to play ball in order to reap all the
other benefits of camp — like forming lifelong friendships, finding other
activities they like and spending time without Mom and Dad. For those who are
in need of a change, there are plenty of alternative camps available to Southern
California kids who aren’t as sports-minded.

Most West Coasts Jewish overnight camps are much more
focused on Jewish programming than getting kids out on the field.

“What we do is Judaism,” said Zach Lasker, associate
director of Camp Ramah, a residential camp in Ojai. “The goal is to show kids
that being Jewish is a 24-hour experience and way of life.”

While Ramah and other local Jewish camps offer activities
like swimming, arts and crafts, archery, hiking and sports, there is usually
more emphasis on Jewish study, Hebrew and Israeli dancing.

Judi Joyce from Bakersfield has sent both of her teenage
daughters to Wilshire Boulevard Temple-run Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu since
they were 8. While her daughters, now 13 and 17, are both aspiring dancers,
Joyce and her husband encouraged the girls to spend their summers establishing
their Jewish identities.

“We live in a very small Jewish community,” Joyce said. “My
kids are not at Hess-Kramer for a sports program, they’re there because they
want to be around other Jewish kids.”

If finding a Jewish connection is not a summertime priority,
there are number of other specialty camps around the Southland. For the
technologically gifted or curious, there is iD Tech Camps, a summer program
available at more than 35 universities nationwide, including UCLA, Pepperdine, Cal
Lutheran University, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Stanford. The programs, which
are available as day camp or residential camp, consist of weeklong or multiweek
computer-related courses. While living in the dorms or commuting, campers can
take classes like video game creation, digital video and movie production, Web
design, graphic arts, robotics, digital music editing, cinematography and
special effects, among others.

Space enthusiasts might explore Astrocamp, the sister camp
to Catalina Sea Camp, which is located in Idyllwild. Here campers participate
in astronomy, simulated missions into space, science experiments, rocketry, a
ropes course and geology.

“Astrocamp brings kids out of their shells,” said Paul
Kupferman, Catalina Sea Camp director, adding that the program tends to attract
academic children. “In school, [these kids] are kind of teased and at camp
we’re here to embrace and celebrate difference.”

For the dramatic at heart, there is Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria,
which is located between Santa Barbara and Monterey. For half the summer, Ocean
Pines is a performing arts camp that offers four one-week sessions relating to
theater, singing and music. During the other four weeks, the camp offers
“nature camp” sessions in surfing and the marine sciences.

While a nonathletic child might still flourish at a sports
camp, specialty camps often help kids gain confidence as they hone a new skill
or develop a deeper understanding of an area of interest.

“Kids just thrive here and when the school year starts, they
become mentors to other kids for knowing the technology,” said Karen Thurm
Safran, vice president of marketing for iD Tech Camps. “Their self-esteem just

Some kids, like Alyssa Loriezo, 14, who studied digital
music editing at Stanford through iD Tech Camps, even develop a career
direction from their summer experience. After two weeks of composing her own
songs on the piano and manipulating her work through an editing system last
summer, the Loma Linda teen is thinking of majoring in music when she gets to

“I have lots of other friends who go to other camps, but
they don’t seem as appealing as [Catalina Sea Camp],” said Cinnamon, thinking
ahead to his eighth summer in the ocean. “This is what I’m interested in now
and when I’m old enough, I want to be a counselor there.”

For more information on Catalina Sea Camp and Astrocamp,
call (909) 625-6194 or visit

For Camp Ramah, call (310) 476-8571 or visit .

For Camp Hess Kramer, call (213) 388-2401 or visit

For iD Tech Camps, call (888) 709-TECH or visit

For Camp Ocean Pines, call (805) 927-0254 or visit