Hebrew School Rocks Thanks to Radio Station

On Friday nights, when 13-year-old Michael Rothbart approaches Leo Baeck Temple for Shabbat services, he urges his parents to tune to 87.9 on their radio dial.
He is hoping that Avram Mandell, Leo Baeck’s educational director and the founding force behind the temple’s very low-power radio station, has popped in some pre-recorded Jewish music.

The Friday night program would be a bonus for Rothbart, one of the station’s first certified disc jockeys. Leo Baeck Radio 87.9, run by the third- though seventh-graders, broadcasts live Sunday mornings during drop-off, recess and pick-up from religious school.

On any given Sunday, the radio studio behind Mandell’s office, complete with its “On the Air” red light, is bustling with activity. Students come in 45 minutes early to begin their shifts; four DJs work the live broadcasts, but often during recess the crowd swells, with students wanting to be close to the radio action.
“I’m always looking to ways to engage the children and community in Jewish education,” Mandell says. “You throw out as many hooks as possible. You never know which one will catch a fish.”

Traditional once-a-week Hebrew school did little to inspire a generation of Jews, especially when students attended for fewer than six years, according to the 2000 National Jewish Population study. The same study showed that the longer and more intense involvement students had with religious schooling, the more likely they were to develop a strong Jewish identity as adults.

Leo Baeck’s school, which also meets on Wednesday afternoons, is one of a growing number of programs offering creative classes to make religious school a stimulating, hands-on experience. The goal is to help kids incorporate Judaism into their daily lives and to forge a lifelong positive connection to Judaism, Mandell said.

The school has about 210 kids. About 65 percent return for post-bar and bat mitzvah studies, all the way through 12th grade.

In addition to traditional classes in Hebrew and Jewish heritage and texts, students participate in family learning days, analyze current events, engage in social action, and enjoy field trips, holiday celebrations and prayer workshops. Sunday morning electives include drama, journalism, Krav Maga (Israeli self-defense), band and the radio station.

Leo Baeck Temple Radio, which has been up and running for about a year and broadcasts through the school and the parking lot, has been a particularly effective hook for many students. Started last year with the help of a grant from the Martin Sosin Stratto-Petit Foundation, which Mandell used to purchase a good stock of CDs, the weekly broadcasts provide an opportunity for the students to learn about all kinds of Jewish music, as well as honing their broadcasting skills. In addition to researching and introducing the music they play, the 25 students in the class write scripts for newscasts, commercials, public service announcements and movie reviews.

Last year, the fledgling station received a $1,000 prize for creative use of technology from the Union for Reform Judaism Press and the National Association of Temple Educators.

Rothbart believes that he’s advanced his Jewish education through the station. “We read news stories. We fill in background and history and we explain the Hebrew titles of songs,” he said.

Matthew Schulman, another 13-year-old DJ, liked learning how to modulate his broadcasting voice and developing “a nice attitude on the air and off.”
For their class project this semester, the class produced a radio broadcast based on the latest Ruach CD, an anthology of Jewish rock music from North America and Israel.

The students researched and recorded intros to each of the artists for a broadcast that has become a staple of the station’s programming.
“Some people might be surprised to learn there’s Jewish rock, much less Jewish hip-hop,” Mandell says.

And the definition of “Jewish music” can also expand to “include any band that has a Jewish member” — Bob Dylan qualifies, as does Maroon Five.
The students’ favorites include Leo Baeck’s Cantor, Wally Schachet-Briskin, known as Cantor Wally; Mah Tovu, the band of Leo Baeck’s senior rabbi, Ken Chasen, and Eric Schwartz, a.k.a. Smooth-E, a Jewish rapper and stand-up comedian, who did a live interview with the kids, performed for the religious school and even did a station identification.

The station IDs are a particularly popular format — with everyone from the temple’s custodian to the cantor recording announcements.

“Even if no-one is tuning in, we have a great time. I’ll blast it through the halls of the school. And the DJs love it,” Mandell says. “We have third-graders working with fifth-graders and seventh-graders. It’s very important for me to have different age groups interacting.”

Schulman, has no intention of ending his involvement, when he moves on to eighth grade this year.

“I like the music,” he says. “I’ll definitely do it next year. When I get older I’d like to continue to work with 87.9 and maybe help other temples get radio stations, too.”


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


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Lev Eisha: 7:30 p.m. Andy Hill, former UCLA basketball player and inspirational speaker, discusses “Miracles Do Happen: How You Can Be Touched by an Angel.” $25. Adat Shalom, 3030 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles.(310) 475-4985.

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The Hermosa Beach Playhouse:
2 p.m. and 7 p.m. “Ethel Merman’s Broadway.” $45. Pier Avenue at Pacific Coast Highway. (310) 372-4477.


he New JCC at Milken: 10 a.m.-
4 p.m. Open house for new and old members. Also, 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Koreh L.A. teen literacy corps training session for eighth-12th graders. 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (818) 464-3390.


Temple Akiba: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. American Red Cross blood drive.
5429 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City.
(310) 398-5783.

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UCLA Israel Studies Program and International Institute: 4-5:30 p.m. “Arafat’s Legacy … and How It Spins Out Now” with Kenneth W. Stein. Free. UCLA Law School Room 1357, enter campus at Hilgard and Wyton. (310) 825-0604.

Jewish World Watch: 7:30-9 p.m. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys) on community response to the Darfur refugees. Valley Beth Shalom, Encino. (818) 784-5224.


University of Judaism: 11 a.m. Cellist Tina Guo performs as part of the Young Artist Concert Series. Luncheon follows. $12-25. Bel Air. (310) 440-1283.

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Adat Ari El: 7:30-9:30 p.m. “Bedtime Stories for Grownups” with Donna Rifkind. Wynn Meeting Room, 12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. (818) 766-9426.

Temple Ner Tamid: 9:30 a.m. Tea and Torah four-part “Tradition” lecture series meets Wednesdays. $10-$15. Fellowship Hall, 10629 Lakewood Blvd., Downey. (562) 861-9276.

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Skirball Cultural Center: Opening of the exhibit “Driven Into Paradise: L.A.’s European Jewish Emigres of the 1930s and 1940s.” Free. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., LosAngeles. (310) 440-4500.


Colburn School of Performing Arts:
7:30 p.m. Concert composed by Menachem Wiesenberg. Free. 200 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 621-2200.


Nashuva: 6:45 p.m. Nashuva community service-oriented Kabbalat Shabbat. Westwood Hills Congregational Church, 1989 Westwood Blvd., Westwood.” width=”1″ height=”30″ alt=””>

Tu B’Shevat

Saturday, Jan. 29

Congregation Mishkon Tephilo:

12:30 p.m. Seder celebrating the New Year of Trees. PETA’s Aaron Gross speaks on “Kashrut, Religious Values and the Ethical Treatment of Animals.” 206 Main St., Venice. (310) 392-3029.

Sunday, Jan. 30

B’nai B’rith, The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life of Southern California, Jewish Historical Society, JQ International, Nashuva and Temple Beth Israel: 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. A morning of planting and revitalization. Plant trees and shrubs at Temple Beth Israel. 5711 Monte Vista St., Highland Park. (310) 841-2970.

Congregation Kol HaNeshama: Noon-3 p.m. Tree planting at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. All ages. (949) 551-2737.

Westside Jewish Community Center: Noon-4 p.m. Community festival themed, “Old Roots, New Growth.” Games, art, tree planting and live music. Free.

5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles.

(310) 938-2531, ext. 2250.

Beth Shir Sholom: 12:30 p.m. Community Tu B’Shevat celebration.

1827 California Ave., Santa Monica.

(310) 453-3361.


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Singles Helping Others: 9 a.m.-noon. Walk rescued dogs with the Amanda Foundation in Beverly Hills.

(818) 907-2427.

Nessah Synagogue: 1 p.m. Tu B’Shevat celebration for young professionals and college students. $26. 142 S. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 247-1226.

G.E.E. Super Singles (20s-40s):

5:30 p.m. Drinks and progressive dinner. $35. Sportsmen’s Lodge, 12833 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 501-0165.

Conversations at Leon’s: 7:30 p.m. Saturday Night Mixer. $15-$20.

639 26th St., Santa Monica. R.S.V.P.,

(310) 393-4616.

Temple Ramat Zion and North Valley JCC: 7:30 p.m. After New Year’s Bash with live music by “Nightlife” and dancing. $15-$20. 17655 Devonshire Street at Zelzah Ave., Northridge. (818) 366-4801.

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Jewish Outdoor Adventures:
9:45 a.m. Intermediate hike to Strawberry Peak from Red Box. Carpools from West Los Angeles, the Valley and Angeles Crest Highway.” width=”1″ height=”30″ alt=””>

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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.

Project Next Step: 8 p.m. Coffee Talk with coffee and pastries. $7. R.S.V.P., 1399 S. Roxbury Drive, third floor, Beverly Hills. (310) 772-2466.

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Westwood Jewish Singles (45+):
7:30 p.m. Therapist Maxine Gellar leads a discussion on “Involvement With the Unavailable.” $10. West Los Angeles area. R.S.V.P., (310) 444-8986.

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

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Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California (20s-30s): 8 a.m. Monthly meeting open to all members for planning and discussing membership development, programs, conferences and award dinners. University of Judaism,

15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. R.S.V.P., skorin@uj.edu.

Conversations at Leon’s: 7 p.m. Discussion about “What Women Really Want, a Woman’s Perspective.” $15-$17.

639 26 St., Santa Monica. R.S.V.P., (310) 393-4616.

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New Age Singles (55+): 6 p.m. No-host dinner at Nibblers followed by a creative arts Shabbat service at Temple Beth Am. Nibblers, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Temple Beth Am, 1039 La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 838-7459.

Nashuva: 6:45 p.m. Nashuva community service-oriented Kabbalat Shabbat. Westwood Hills Congregational Church, 1989 Westwood Blvd., Westwood.” width=”1″ height=”30″ alt=””>

Upcoming Singles

Elite Jewish Theatre Singles:
6:30 p.m. Attende a no-host dinner social followed by the musical “Chicago” at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. $42.50. R.S.V.P.,
(310) 203-1312.

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Elite Jewish Theatre Singles:
8 p.m. No-host dinner social and
“2-Across” in the Santa Monica area. $19 (prepaid). R.S.V.P.,
(310) 203-1312.

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J-Ski (20s-40s): Taos Ski Trip. $759. R.S.V.P.,

A Boutique With Benefits

Shop for relief this Tuesday, Feb. 1. Beverly Hills boutique outlet Treasure Depot invites Jewish Journal readers to a Shopping Party and Tsunami Relief Fundraiser that offers a 10 percent discount off already 70 percent marked-down high-end shoes, clothes and accessories by Jill Stewart, Marc Jacobs, Sergio Rossi and others. In addition, 10 percent of all sales for the week of Feb. 1-8 will go to American Jewish World Service’s Asia tsunami relief effort.

5:30-8:30 p.m. 9921 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 552-3301.

The Circuit

Triumph of the Technion

Two students and a professor from the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, toured Southern California in a late February fundraising tour for the Haifa school’s new cancer research unit.

A Feb. 26 gathering brought about 20 philanthropists to the Beverly Hills home of Joan Seidel, president of the local chapter of the American Society of Technion. There they listened to an informal talk by engineering student Adi Gurfinkel, cancer researcher Itay Shafat and aeronautical engineering professor David Durban.

When asked if suicide bombings have hurt fundraising efforts, Durban said, “On the contrary, people are now much more willing to give and donate to scientific fellowships, scholarships, research. There’s no question that the Technion is the embodiment of the promise of the Zionist dream and Israel’s hope for the Jewish people.”

Critical problems in Israeli education, Durban said, are due partly to serving the 1990s massive influx of immigrants to the Jewish state, notably from the old Soviet Union.

“Twenty percent of the Jewish population arrived in 10 years,” he said.

Philanthropist Janey Sweet, a co-chair of the fund for Technion’s new cancer institute, said donations to the school go further because Israelis have less administrative costs to cover.

“You really get a lot more bang for your buck in Israel than you do [with U.S. institutions],” she said. “Without the Technion, there wouldn’t be an Israel today.” — David Finnigan, Contributing Writer

The Circle of Friendship

About 200 parents and kids attended a pre-Purim party Feb. 29 for special-needs and emotionally handicapped Conejo Valley children at an Agoura Hills elementary school.

“We wanted to give the children with special needs the idea that Purim is theirs, too,” said Rabbi Moshe Bryski, executive director of Chabad of the Conejo. “Unfortunately they’re always getting lost in Purim. Families stand out. Here the whole environment is theirs.”

The two-hour Purim masquerade party at Willow Elementary School was sponsored by the Chabad’s Friendship Circle, an outreach program that services special-needs children and their parents.

With similar children at the Purim party, the Israeli-born mother of a 6-year-old autistic boy said, “You don’t have to be proper. Everyone here is like us, and you don’t have to look at the ‘weird’ behavior.”

The event appeared to relax stressed-out parents; after one young couple placed their 8-year-old son among the other kids, they grabbed a snack, smiled and kissed each other.

About 10 Agoura High School students volunteered for the Sunday afternoon party of songs, pizza, costumes, finger painting and other activities building on their regular weekly visits to local special needs kids and their siblings.

Agoura High senior Adina Farkash, 17, had spent much of Sunday working on a term paper for her English class. But hanging out among the kids at the nonstressful Purim party, Farkash said, “You get to come out and play around.” — DF

Request Granted

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles announced $100,000 in new grants on Jan. 29. The grants went to the Advocacy for Youth, Business Committee for the Arts Inc., Center for Cultural Innovation, Community Advocates Inc., Community Partners, Exceptional Children’s Foundation, Grand Performances, Homeboy Industries, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, OPCC (Formerly Ocean Park Community Center), Project GRAD Los Angeles, Inc., Puente Learning Center and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Inc.

“These grants exemplify The Foundation’s continued commitment and effort to help the Southern California community,” said Marvin I. Schotland, president and CEO of The Foundation. “The grants reach beyond just secular causes and support a broad range of programs intended to improve the quality of life in the region. In today’s challenging environment, every dollar of these grants plays a crucial role in building our greater Los Angeles community.”

And speaking of grants, the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles received a $450 grant from The Library of America and the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop programs about Isaac Bashevis Singer that will be free and open to the public. The library will also receive the three-volume, authoritative collection “Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories,” which The Library of America will publish in July 2004.

Hillside Views

Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary dedicated the Court of the Matriarchs and the Garden of the Matriarchs — an elegant new garden mausoleum — in early February. The new mausoleum has rotundas on each end, breathtaking city views, is surrounded by a three-level garden with a central fountain and adds 2,854 mausoleum spaces.

Mentoring Man

Joe Berchtold, board chair of Los Angeles Team Mentoring, announced that Michael Hirschfield will be his organization’s CEO.

Previously, Hirschfeld served as executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the public policy and political affairs arm of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Team Mentoring is the largest mentoring program in Los Angeles’ middle schools, and it currently serves more than 1,000 Los Angeles Unified School District students in nine schools. Hirschfeld said he hopes to double the number of students participating in the Team Mentoring program over the next several years through significant expansion.

Ambulances Ahoy

During the High Holidays at Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks, Rabbi Alan Greenbaum appealed to his congregation to raise enough money to donate a $60,000 ambulance for American Red Magen David for Israel. The community stepped up to the plate by raising enough money for two ambulances. In December 2003, Greenbaum led a congregational tour to Israel, and the group got to go Tel Aviv and see their gifts and dedicate the ambulances.

TV Tune In

Even if you know the snaps and don’t know the words, “The Addams Family” theme song is one of those melodies that, once you hear it, you just can’t get out of your head. We have Vic Mizzy to thank for that tune. Mizzy has been composing hit songs since the 1930s, and now, at age 82, he still considers music a very important part of his life.

After hearing that the students had been learning “The Addams Family” theme song as part of their curriculum, Mizzy paid a visit to Woodland Hills Elementary School on Feb. 2 to teach a fourth-grade music class about the finer points of music composition and the lighter side of songwriting.

“Music should be an integral part of every child’s life,” Mizzy said. “If kids are taught from an early age to enjoy and appreciate high-quality music, their lives will be richer and fuller.”

Roth Your World

The American Jewish Committee is presenting Revolution Studios founder Joe Roth with the Dorothy and Sherrill C Corwin Human Relations award on March 31 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

Power of Song Gives Hope to Mourners

A project that began 10 years ago as a tribute to a dead brother has been expanded as a memorial to the victims of terrorist attacks in Israel.

Chayim Frenkel, cantor at Kehillat Israel in Pacific Palisades, conceived “Nishmat Tzedek” (“A Righteous Soul”) in 1993 after his brother Tzvi, 39, died suddenly, the victim of an undetected blood disease.

He commissioned his friend, Meir Finkelstein, then cantor at Sinai Temple in Westwood, to write new settings for the liturgical passages of the Yizkor memorial service. The cycle — set for solo voices, choir and orchestra — filled with soaring melodies and lush harmonies, was first performed in November 1993.

More recently, the current intifada and the pain it has caused spurred the two cantors to revisit their collaboration and produce a new CD “Nishmat Tzedek.”

“Meir and I realized that we needed to make more of an impact than the few dollars we could give to Jews in crisis, using Meir’s talent as a composer and my talents as a chazzan and producer,” Frenkel told The Journal. “It was important to give these families something that would help them on the road to recovery.”

To that end, Finkelstein, currently senior cantor at Congregation Beth Tzedec in Toronto, composed three more movements for what he calls a “choral symphony,” including a setting of “Avinu Shebashamayim,” the prayer for the State of Israel found in most contemporary siddurim.

While pieces such as “Mima’amakim” (“Out of the depths I called”), “Kaddish,” and “Eil Malei Rachamim” are somber in tone, much of the music is optimistic in sound and impact, expressing hope rather than dwelling on the sorrows caused by death.

At the same time, Frenkel and Finkelstein, along with the project’s producer, Ellen Rudolph, decided to make “Nishmat Tzedek” a “multidimensional work.” They created a companion book of poems by local and national figures, including rabbis Steven Leder, Sheryl Lewart, Steven Carr Reuben and David Wolpe, artist Judy Chicago and Elie Wiesel, with the texts translated into Hebrew alongside the English.

“I feel your presence in a hundred comforts/Wrapping me in confidence/I concentrate on staying with you/A continuing act of will,” Lewart wrote in a passage.

The poems are illustrated by photos of Israel taken by award-winning local photographer Eric Lawton, images originally commissioned by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles to honor the 50th anniversary of Israeli statehood in 1998.

Poignantly, the book includes a list of Israelis killed during the intifada from September 2000 to mid-March of this year. The project is dedicated to Frenkel’s mother, Shari, who died last December.

Because they want Jewish communities around the world to be able to perform the music in “Nishmat Tzedek,” the two cantors also prepared a piano reduction of Finkelstein’s score.

The CD, book and sheet music comprise a package that will be sent to the family of every Israeli victim of the intifada.

“From the get-go, the concept was not just to create the CD, the companion book and the music score, but to have them given to the victims’ families,” Rudolph said.

To locate the families, Rudolph got in touch last year with The Federation and the Israeli consulate. A Federation contact led her to Terror Victims Association (TVA), a support and advocacy group, whose Los Angeles staffer, Rachel Harari, happened to meet Reuben and others at Kehillat Israel around the same time and became interested in the “Nishmat Tzedek” project.

While families of terror victims receive financial help from the Israeli government, Harari said emotional support is harder to come by. TVA, founded in 1986, arranges for counseling for victims’ families, brings them together for social gatherings, organizes public memorials and lobbies on behalf of victims. Proceeds from American sales of “Nishmat Tzedek,” once costs are recouped, will benefit TVA.

Harari sees “Nishmat Tzedek” as a gesture that can have some real effect on the families’ spirits.

“They’re never going to be 100 percent,” she said, but “music itself is something that can help … so they’ll be able to get back to life.”

Frenkel said he sees the music, poetry and artwork of “Nishmat Tzedek” as “very universal in [their] healing powers for those who have suffered loss…. The project’s power goes beyond the loss that these families have suffered.”

Harari expressed wonder at how Frenkel was able to take his own grief and turn it into something positive.

“He found a way to express himself and feel something in common with the terror victims,” she said.

“It’s about finding light in darkness,” Frenkel said.

The “Nishmat Tzedek” package is on sale for $50 at
Village Books in Pacific Palisades and through the “Nishmat Tzedek” Web site,
www.arighteoussoul.org. Information about the Terror Victims Association is
available at www.terrorvictims.org .

7 Days In Arts


It’s Memorial Day Weekend, perfect timing for Marc Maron and Roy Zimmerman. The comedians wax patriotic tonight with their show, “Homeland Security.” But flag-wavers be warned — these guys are not in the warm and fuzzy, “God Bless America” camp. Maron, with his biting, neurotic, New York Jewish stand-up, and Zimmerman, with his satirical songs, each honor one of the oldest and most American of traditions — social and political commentary (and criticism).7:30 p.m. (A late show might be added if the first show sells out.) $15. McCabe’s, 3101 W. Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. R.S.V.P., (310) 828-4497.


For a more meaningful Memorial Day, hold off firing up the grill till dinner time, and spend the morning at Home of Peace Memorial Park. They, along with Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel and the Jewish War Veterans, honor fallen soldiers in a special ceremony in front of the cemetery’s Jewish War Veterans Memorial. Speakers will include retired USMC Col. Joseph Smith, director of military and veterans affairs, Los Angeles County; Dr. Edward Feldman, vice-chair of the California Veterans Board of the Department of Veteran Affairs; and Darin Selnick, special assistant to secretary of Veteran Affairs, Washington, D.C.11 a.m. Garden of Maimonides, 4334 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 261-6135.


Take out a few hours to honor the day with “The Pianist,” now available on DVD. Holocaust survivor Roman Polanski’s film about an acclaimed Polish Jewish composer and pianist’s struggle to survive in the Warsaw Ghetto was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three. And while Adrien Brody/Halle Berry smooch footage is, unfortunately, not included, DVD bonus features do include “A Story of Survival,” a 40-minute documentary about the production of the film and Polanski’s personal survival story.$19.98, www.amazon.com.


Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy’s decision to tackle big things after winning acclaim for her debut novel, “The God of Small Things,” becomes the centerpoint for Aradhana Seth’s documentary about the campaign against the Narmada dam project in Northern India. “DAM/AGE” follows the controversial fight that started out political, but became personal, as Roy was sentenced to a symbolic one-day prison term and fined 2,000 rupees ($42) for contempt of court. The documentary screens tonight at Royce Hall and a Q & A with Roy follows.7 p.m. Free (admission), $7 (parking). Royce Hall, UCLA, Westwood. R.S.V.P., (310) 825-2101.


Argentine artist Gustavo López Armentia’s mixed-media works suggest a long history, gray-brown and worn around the edges. Using found objects and a muted palette, he explores the theme of migrants around the world. The world, in turn, has taken note. He has been chosen numerous times to represent Argentina as the country’s official entry in international forums. His art has now arrived in Los Angeles, at galerie yoramgil — a good number straight from the National Arts Museum of Buenos Aires’ recent López Armentia retrospective.10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Tuesday-Saturday), 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (Sunday). Runs through June 12. 319 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 275-8130.


Albert Brooks playing a Jewish podiatrist? Not much of astretch, we realize. True, some of the Jewishy lines have been cut from theoriginal script for “The In-Laws,” in which Brooks plays Jerry Peyser. (Notably:Of Peyser’s invitation list for his daughter’s wedding, his daughter says, “Dad,I don’t know any of these people.” His response: “Sure you do, sweetheart.They’re the same people you didn’t know at your bat mitzvah.”) But we’re told ithasn’t been entirely whitewashed. For those in the mood for some oddcouple-style hijinks, the film (co-starring Michael Douglas as an internationalsmuggler, and Brooks’ foil) may still be a good bet. You can also catch Brooksas a neurotic fish named Marlin and Brad Garrett as temperamental puffer fishBloat in Disney/Pixar’s latest, “Finding Nemo.” Both this week in wide release.www.thein-laws.warnerbros.com;www.findingnemo.com


Woodland Hills welcomes an activist to the regular Shabbat service, as Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt lectures at Kol Tikvah tonight. With her new anthology and memoir, “Behind Every Choice is a Story,” Feldt has brought together first-person accounts by people from every walk of life. Mothers, fathers, daughters, doctors, clergy, politicians and Feldt tell their stories in a collection that promotes the belief in a woman’s fundamental human right to control her own body.7 p.m. 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 348-0670.In what may be one of Santa Monica Playhouse’s last shows, Henrietta Komras performs her one-woman comedic piece, “Henrietta: Born Funny,” tonight only. Part of the “Save the Playhouse” campaign (under the auspices of their Jewish Heritage Program), Komras’ “coming of middle-age story” tells her autobiographical tale of growing up a child of Holocaust survivors and her midlife quest for fame in Hollywood. The Playhouse’s May 31 fundraising deadline to purchase its space gives patrons just enough time to catch Komras’ act and pitch in to help save the theater.8 p.m. $10 (in advance), $12 (at the door). 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. (310) 394-9779.

7 Days In Arts


Big into cantorial music? Is this ever your weekend! Head over to the Pasadena Jewish Temple & Center’s (PTJC) “Cantors in Concert.” (No worries, they’ve probably cleared out all of the Rose Parade mess by now.) Or, for you West Valley-ites, wait till tomorrow and swing by Valley Circle Boulevard (aka Synagogue Row) for The Cantor’s Assembly Western Region’s “Kol Libeinu: The Voice of the Heart” at Temple Aliyah. They’re two variations on a theme, with both concerts featuring cantors Henry Rosenblum, Yonah Kliger, Eva Robbins and Judy Sofer, as well as the PJTC Chamber Choir.

8 p.m. $36-$108. Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, (626)798-1161 or www.pjtc.net.

7 p.m. $10-$20. Temple Aliyah, (818) 346-3545.


PJTC’s got it goin’ on this weekend. Today, it’s the cheapest ticket to the homeland you’ll find. (Good news for those of us whose checkbooks are still recovering from Chanukah.) Actually, it’s a lecture/workshop on the “Music, Poetry and Dance of Modern Israel.” So you can take in some Israeli culture without spending a lot of dough. (And speaking of dough, bagel breakfast is also included.)

10 a.m. $5. 1434 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena. R.S.V.P., (626) 798-1161.


The guy’s worked with everyone from Tom Waits to Norah Jones to Willie Nelson as part of Tin Hat Trio. But this time, musician Rob Burger is going it alone with his debut solo album “Lost Photograph.” Well, almost alone. He does get some accompaniment from bassist Greg Cohen and percussionist Kenny Wollesen on the CD that’s been described as “part klez-soul, part tango groove, part film-music.” The fact that he can play instruments as varied as the accordion, the glockenspiel and the claviola makes us all the more curious to check out this new release.

$15. www.tzadik.com.


Tu B’What? Tu B’Shevat, silly. And if you or your kids aren’t familiar with this holiday, today’s the perfect day to learn. Los Angeles Intercommunity Kollel sponsors “Shalom Time” at Borders in Westwood. The monthly story time features interactive activities including songs, finger plays, puppetry and stories. January’s theme is “Tu B’Shevat: Jewish Arbor Day.” Here’s a hint: It’s all about the trees, people.

1360 Westwood Blvd., Westwood. (310) 441-5024.


Happy Birthday, Elvis! Turns out there are two extraordinary lives to celebrate today. The University of Judaism’s Department of Continuing Education presents “About Anne: A Diary in Dance,” a drama inspired by the diary of Anne Frank. Choreographer Laura Gorenstein Miller and the Helios Dance Theater have been praised by the Los Angeles Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Our suggestion: Take in the show today, then head home for some fried peanut butter ‘n ‘nanner sammiches.

2 p.m. (Also plays Jan. 9, 11 and 12. Times vary.) $30-$35. 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1547.


Non-Jewish playwright John O’Keefe’s bold choice to write about the Holocaust seems to have paid off. “Times Like These” tells the story of a famous Jewish actress banned from the stage in Nazi Germany, and how she prevails with the help of her actor-husband. The play’s first run just ended in November. This weekend, it reopens at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. You can catch a preview tonight.

8 p.m. Runs through Feb. 23. $15 (previews), $20.50-$30 (general). Discounts available. 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 477-2055.


She’s funny, she’s female, she’s Rita Rudner. The Jewish comedienne takes the stage tonight only at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. If anyone’s ever sent you one of those “fabulous female”-type e-mails, chances are you’ve read some of Rita’s lines. She thinks Judge Judy should be president and Barbie should be fattened-up. A stand-up gal, indeed.

8 p.m. $40-$50. 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. (800) 300-4345.

Listening to Needs

When kids from Sinai Temple celebrate Chanukah with the members of Temple Beth Solomon (TBS) in Tarzana on Friday night, Dec. 6, they’ll notice that the service is slower and streamlined, but that the singing is performed with every bit as much gusto as a “Friday Night Live” service. And the kids themselves will be able to join in, having learned how to sign the “Shema” when TBS members paid a visit to Sinai.

Building bridges between the deaf and hearing communities is the goal of programs like those of TBS and the group Our Way, which is aimed at observant Jews. More than ever in history, deaf Jews are looking to connect with their heritage and trying to overcome the frustration of a hearing Jewish community that, while well-meaning, still doesn’t seem to “get it.”

For example, a number of people — like the producers of the “Hallelu” concert held Oct. 20 at the Universal Amphitheatre — are attempting to make their programs more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing by providing interpreters. While the deaf community appreciates the gesture, TBS administrator Jan Seely believes it misses the point.

“You could have someone sign the music but it’s not the same experience,” she said. “There is something in the music you will never get through an interpreter. You’ll get lyrics, you might get rhythm, but you’re not getting the essence.” Not only that, but as TBS lay leader Roz Robinson points out, there is a large constituency of older Jews who missed out on having a Jewish education because they attended residential schools for the deaf. As a result, they lack the basics that most rabbis and teachers take for granted when giving a lecture and are unable to appreciate what is being signed to them in temple services and sermons.

“If the material of the sermon is over their heads and nothing they can relate to, the deaf would be lost even with an interpreter, because an interpreter doesn’t explain anything,” Robinson said. “The interpreter only translates what is being said into sign language. The Hebrew portion of any service is also a problem. Most interpreters will only sign, ‘speaking Hebrew.'”

In general, there are numerous problems for the Jewish deaf, which probably never occur to those who can hear. If you are trying to follow an interpreter and your attention wanders, you may not be able to find your place again in the service. And what if the lighting is poor or there are other visual obstructions? At one Orthodox service that hosted deaf visitors, the mechitza made it almost impossible to follow the service when seated in the women’s section.

Even participating in Jewish communal and social activities presents a challenge.

Robinson, the only deaf person in her family of four, expressed frustration with the fact that she has never been able to fully participate in the sisterhoods at either of the hearing shuls her family joined. Although she is a very animated talker and speaks clearly enough to be easily understood, Robinson said the few times she attended Jewish communal events she never spoke up, fearing that by the time she jumped into the conversation the others would have already moved on to another topic — and she would be left looking and feeling foolish.

“Large group discussions are impossible for deaf people to follow and participate in, even with an interpreter, because people talk in random order and because the deaf are always one step behind whatever is happening,” she said.

“I can’t really see any temple providing full access for the deaf except for our temple, because it is designed by and for deaf people,” Robinson said. “We understand all the pitfalls and can meet individual needs in our small group.” However, TBS is affiliated with the Reform movement. For more observant Jews, Our Way may provide a more fitting alternative, helping its members integrate into hearing Orthodox congregations.

Our Way is a New York-based national organization run by Rabbi Eliezer Lederfeind, the hearing son of two deaf parents who has two deaf daughters among his six children.

When Lederfeind became observant as an adult, he noticed “there were certainly clubs for the Jewish deaf but it was not the same as having a real level of observance and commitment.”

He began working with deaf Jewish teenagers and gradually expanded the program to include family Shabbatons, programs teaching Torah via e-mail and a sports program for deaf children with separate gyms for boys and girls. The organization even has a matchmaking service, the Jewish Deaf Singles Registry (www.jdsr.org).

Lori Moore, a North Hollywood mother of two boys and a teenage girl, leads the Our Way chapter in California. Her sons, Jason, 20, and Andrew, 12, are both deaf. She said the family’s involvement with Our Way has helped her children to integrate better into their community. She recently helped plan a Shabbaton hosted at Shaarey Zedek that drew participants from across the country. “The Shabbaton was a good eye-opener,” she said. “People could see how the deaf are really excluded from the community. Even when we want rabbis to come speak to the Our Way group, they are apprehensive. I really wish, with all the money the shuls raise, that they would give some to Our Way to help people stay in touch with their Judaism.”

Jason Moore, reached in New York, said there have been difficulties (“In middle school, I wasn’t exactly welcomed among my peers”), he wrote in an e-mail, but that there have been certain advantages to having a hearing loss, including the strength of the deaf community.

“It’s amazing how much the deaf look after their own,” he said. “Also, I can shut off my hearing aids when conversations start to annoy me.”

His challenges as a religious Jew who is also deaf are more complex. They include issues like not being able to hear the shofar being blown and questions from others about whether he is “able to be Yoseh under someone else’s bracha” — in other words, whether halachically he is able to perform a mitzvah on behalf of other people, like reading the Megillah, if he cannot hear it and therefore cannot fulfill the mitzvah for himself.

Still, while some deaf Jews remark that they would characterize themselves as deaf first and Jewish second, Jason Moore disagrees.

“I am a Jew; deafness is secondary,” he said. “Deafness only applies in this olam hazeh [this world] whereas being Jewish applies in this world and the next.”

“Being a religious Jew overtakes any ‘defect’ a person might have, because whatever your defect, you are always Jewish,” Moore said.

The Moore family and Robinson, while on very different ends of the religious spectrum, do agree on one thing: hearing and deaf communities should continue to strive for greater inclusion, on both sides.

“TBS is open to all,” Robinson said. “Our services are completely voiced in addition to signed, so that anyone can follow along with us.”

A Dignified Exit

Dr. Robert Kirschner, program director at the Skirball Cultural Center, received the call not long after Bill Graham’s helicopter smashed into a Marin County transmission tower in 1991. The legendary impresario was dead at the age of 60, and his grieving family and friends needed a rabbi to perform the funeral. Kirschner, then the rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco, was a natural choice.

Temple Emanu-El, after all, was the largest synagogue in San Francisco and the site of many memorial services of Jewish celebrities and civic leaders. And Kirschner, a former musician who had worked his way through school by playing in bands, was more than familiar with Graham’s contribution to the popular culture. As a young man, he had frequented concerts by artists such as Santana and The Band at the Fillmore West and the Winterland, another Graham venue.

It was Carlos Santana whom Kirschner approached to perform the musical segment of Graham’s memorial service. The impresario had once convinced Santana to adapt a version of a Yiddish melody, and his performance was “so breathtaking that I said a more beautiful benediction had never before been heard in the synagogue,” Kirschner recalls.

Members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane sat next to the rabbi on the dais and spoke of Graham before a standing-room-only crowd of mourners and journalists.

After the service, the rock stars walked out to the grave site, where they listened to the “Kaddish” and watched the casket lowered into the ground. Kirschner had invited a Chabad rabbi to perform the graveside service, as the organization had been a favorite Jewish charity of Graham’s. Musicians such as Grace Slick and Neil Young placed spadefuls of earth on the grave.

Earlier this week, the Skirball hosted an evening on Graham’s Fillmore East auditorium in conjunction with the new play “Bill Graham Presents” at the Canon Theatre. “When they called me about the event, I immediately knew I wanted to do it,” Kirschner says. “I felt I had such a connection to all of that.”