Calendar: October 5-11



Shalom Hartman fellow Yossi Klein Halevi serves as Beth Jacob Congregation’s Shabbat scholar in residence. Author of the new book “Like Dreamers,” which explores the story of the soldiers who reunited Jerusalem and divided a nation, Klein Halevi will give the Shabbat morning drash and speak during a community lunch-and-learn as well as during a Melava Malka at a private residence. Thu. 9 a.m. (services), 11 a.m. (lunch), 8:30 p.m. (Melava Malka). RSVP required for lunch-and-learn: $35 (adults), $25 (children). Beth Jacob, 9030 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 278-1911.


The door is always open. Even if you missed Gary Baseman’s retrospective at the Skirball earlier this year, you’re still in luck. The painter, illustrator, performance artist, toy designer and TV/movie producer brings an extension of that retrospective to Venice. With a playful and dark aesthetic, Baseman pays homage to his family and creates wonder for his viewers. Through Dec. 14. Sat. 7-9 p.m. (opening reception). Free. Shulamit Gallery, 17 N. Venice Blvd., Venice. (310) 281-0961.



Aggravated with Congress? Well, laugh at its expense! This improv troupe has been mocking our elected officials for more than 25 years, and they know what they’re talking about — they’ve all been staffers for the politicians they satirize. With 30 albums to their name and past venues like NBC, CBS and NPR, the group has a handle on clever comedy. There will be song parodies, costumed skits and some good old-fashioned stand-up. Sun. 4 p.m. $45. American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-1547.



A book launch party has never tasted so good — and so informative. Join Mozza’s Nancy Silverton, Midtown Lunch’s Zach Brooks and pastrami scholar Lara Rabinovitch as they discuss New York Times’ Allen Salkin’s new book. A panel discussion on the history of the Food Network and the Hollywoodization of cuisine includes Susan Feniger, Bruce Seidel and Karen Katz. Sat. 7 p.m. Free. The Border Grill, 445 S. Figueroa St., downtown. RSVP to

THU | OCT 10


Once upon a time, a 19-year-old started as a member of Disney’s creative team. And then he worked happily ever after. Come listen to highlights from five decades of magic-making in Sklar’s new memoir “Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms.” Serving as Walt Disney’s right-hand man, and eventually becoming the creative executive of Walt Disney Imagineering, Sklar will guide attendees through the reality behind the whimsy. A Q-and-A and book signing follow the program. Thu. 8 p.m. Free (reservations recommended). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.


Do yourself a favor and join the more than half-million people who have listened to Raichel’s music. The Israeli singer-songwriter has transformed the idea of music as a universal language into something tangible. Singing in Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic, Amharic and Swahili, Raichel truly blends and binds nations and peoples. Named Musical Group of the Decade in Israel in 2010, The Project promises to deliver. Thu. 8 p.m. $30-$75, $15 (UCLA Students). Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 825-2101.


It’s four days of the best Jewish-themed films from around the world! Opening night kicks off with a reception and screening of “Hava Nagila (The Movie).” Other films include the documentaries “The Flat” and “God’s Fiddler,” indie comedy “Putzel” and World War II drama “Süskind.” Through Oct. 13. Thu. 6:30 p.m. (reception), 7:30 p.m. (screening). $10. Alpert Jewish Community Center, 3801 E. Willow St., Long Beach. (562) 426-7601, ext. 1021.

FRI | OCT 11


It is a rare revival of a groundbreaking collaboration. Philip Glass and Robert Wilson joined forces in 1976 to create one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century. Unconventional, non-narrative and fully visual with the help of choreography by Lucinda Childs, it will help viewers understand that knowing what you’re looking at isn’t as important as simply taking a look. Through Oct. 13. Fri. 6:30 p.m. $83-$312. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown. (213) 972-8001.


Alexis Rodriguez Fish finds her life to be a little bit of a disaster after the recent death of her cheating husband, so she decides to spend some time with her zany Latino-Jewish family. With an overbearing mother, encouraging father and quirky sister, Alex re-engages with her roots in an effort to grow. Writer/director Nicole Gomez Fisher creates a relatable and poignant visit home for all of us. The screening is part of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. Fri. 7 p.m. $13. TCL Chinese Theatres, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 446-2770.

El Al to honor cheap tickets to Israel from glitch

El Al Airlines said it will honor all tickets purchased during a glitch that had thousands of round-trip tickets selling for as low as $330.

The airline also announced Thursday that those who purchased tickets three days earlier at the hugely discounted fare would be given the opportunity to convert their tickets to a direct flight provided by El Al for an additional $75 each way rather than fly with a codeshare partner with a connecting flight in Europe.

“Although a review of this occurence has not been finalized, a decision was made to accommodate El Al passengers who purchased these low fares because we value our reputation of offering excellent customer service,” said Danny Saadon, El Al’s vice president of North America, in a statement released Thursday. “Hopefully we have provided an opportunity to many first timers to visit Israel as well as reconnect family and friends.”

A full refund without penalty also will be offered to passengers who wish to cancel their ticket.

The glitch was the result of a third party subcontracted by El Al to post the Israeli airline’s winter promotional fares online. According to El Al, the discounted airfares were the result of the subcontractor failing to add the fuel surcharge to the total price.

In an interview Thursday with JTA, Saadon took credit for pitching the idea to honor the fares to El Al President and CEO Elyezer Shkedy, but said the decision for the direct flight add-on was Shkedy’s.

“If we’re honoring passengers’ tickets, let’s also offer them an opportunity to fly with El Al, and make life easier for families that might lose baggage and lose a connection,” Saadon said in explaining the company’s rationale behind the add-on offer.

On Tuesday, the day after the glitch set off a three-hour buying frenzy, an El Al spokesperson told The New York Jewish Week that the status of tickets purchased during the frenzy was “unclear.” The position was reinforced Wednesday by a follow-up statement posted to the company’s Twitter feed.

“Thanks for your patience,” the tweet read. “Details/decisions re incorrect fares that were briefly sold on Monday are not finalized.”

The wavering was in contrast to two separate Twitter posts on Monday afternoon that pledged to honor the tickets. Saadon in the JTA interview acknowledged that the company’s posts via Twitter on Monday may have been a contributing factor in the decision to honor the tickets.

“Once we said it, we may as well follow our word,” Saadon said.

The decision to honor was “mainly to save face with El Al,” he said. “We’re talking about thousands of passengers. Most are customers anyways, they just took advantage of a ticket that was available at a low price. We’d rather keep them flying with El Al without disappointing them.”

To minimize exposure to similar glitches in the future, Saadon said that El Al will review fares before they are posted online and maintain a buffer of two hours before the process is finalized.

“I’m very pleased with the decision we made,” he said. “Our customers are very important to us and we want them to fly El Al.”

Biden’s the one

Sen. Joe Biden is a first-class vice presidential choice for Sen. Barack Obama.

If Biden didn’t exist, Obama would have to invent him.

Biden is just naturally what the Democrats used to be, the party of lunch- pail-carrying working people, not politically correct, prone to saying inappropriate things, but with a great credibility.

Sometimes Obama reminds me of Adlai Stevenson, the first politician to inspire me as a child. Obama is more dynamic, and has a spectacular organization, but also has some of Stevenson’s elevated tone. It has taken Democrats a few generations to realize how successfully Republicans have painted Democratic candidates just as they did Stevenson; the “egghead” they called him.

But Republicans have never had a good answer to a different type of Democrat, neither smooth nor inspirational, but tough as nails, and that’s Harry S. Truman. In fact, in David Halberstam’s great book on the Korean War, “The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War” (Hyperion, 2007), he traces the bitter anger of the Republican Party today to its failure to defeat the feisty and apparently doomed Truman in 1948. Obama’s choice of Biden suggests that he knows that it’s time to morph from Stevenson into Truman if he is to win this election, and before Sen. John McCain turns himself into a Trumanesque underdog.

I would hazard a guess that Biden is the one person Republicans did not want Obama to select. He fills the key gaps for Obama; he’s a major leader in foreign policy; he’s very popular with Jews and a staunch supporter of Israel; he has a working-class background and a great and touching life story. And, most of all, he’s full of beans and ready for a fight. When is the last time you could say that about a Democrat? When President Bush addressed the Israeli Knesset and associated Obama with Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler, Democrats were “disappointed.” Biden called it “bull—-.”

You can understand a lot about how Jewish voters are looking at this election by thinking about Stevenson and Truman. Stevenson’s greatest appeal was to educated voters, particularly Jews. He did not, of course, have Obama’s appeal to African Americans, a formidable combination that even the vaunted Clinton machine could not overcome. But for older Jews, and for those who are less drawn to an intellectual style of politics, there was nothing like Harry Truman. Imagine if a number of recent Democratic candidates had adopted Truman’s aphorism about politics: “Carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don’t ever apologize for anything.”

If FDR was the crafty politician who could be all things to all people, Truman was exactly what he appeared to be, no more and no less.

The Democratic Party today is an uneasy mixture of several different constituencies: minority voters, African American and Latino; upscale and upwardly mobile whites, often well educated; working-class and often struggling whites (“downscale Democrats,” in pollster Stan Greenberg’s formulation), and elderly whites, often Jews in key states like Florida. Democrats keep thinking if they win an extra state or two, then all will be well. But it’s not just about states, except in the final count of electoral votes. It is about types of people and how hard it is to keep them in the same tent even when their “interests” coincide. As George Lakoff has written: “People do not necessarily vote in their own self-interest. They vote their identity.”

Sometimes these blocs pull together, especially in congressional elections, but more often than not in presidential elections Republicans succeed in playing them against each other. Sure race is part of it, but not all of it. Much of it is about culture and other values. And there’s also the resentment of elitism, of sophistication and worldliness, of political correctness. FDR was such a massive force that he could bridge the differences, but he was at heart an aristocrat. Truman was the genuine middle- class, upwardly mobile article. At first he resisted full U.S. commitment to Israel. But when we decided to take that position, he meant it without guile and with heart.

Older voters do not see the world the same way as younger voters. Young voters are usually ready to take a chance, to take a risk, while older voters see risks and downsides to great change. For younger Democrats, especially Jews, Obama is a great find, and many are pumped and ready to go along for the ride. Older voters, including many Jews, worry that Israel’s security may not be in experienced hands, that Obama represents a risk, that he is a strong and different flavor. Once Hillary Clinton was seen that way, as a risk, but in time she came to seem safe. To have picked Tim Kaine or Evan Bayh or any of the other new faces on the scene would have been to assume that the desire for change that seems to be driving Americans would mean the same thing to each of those pieces of the Democratic Party. Get a state or two. Forget the idea that Obama needed to reinforce the image of change.

Instead he picked the exact opposite of the kind of change he offers: an older, white haired guy with a history of support among older voters, among Jews, and among downscale whites. He misspeaks and goes on too long. But he has heart. How many politicians would say, as Biden did, that he is a Zionist?

As great a choice as Biden is, there is no guarantee that it will lead Obama to victory. The key is whether Obama and Biden have found something in each other that elevates the game of each. Obama’s strengths are truly remarkable, and Biden can draw on them. And for Obama, it’s not enough to have a Truman with you; you’ve got to be a bit of a Truman, too. If that is what this choice means, that is good news for the Democrats.

Raphael J. Sonenshein is a political scientist at Cal State Fullerton. Read Sonenshein’s blog on the Jewish vote and the presidential campaign,

Pre-Honeymoon Blues

When my boyfriend popped the question five months after we met, I thought it was extremely fast. It turns out he was too late. By the time we started to book our honeymoon to Italy for the middle of summer, departing a year to the day after he proposed, it seemed like we were out of luck if we wanted to use frequent flier miles.

“You can book up to 331 days in advance,” one mournful Delta customer service agent told me over the phone, when I called at 1:03 a.m., hoping to snag one of those reservations that time out at midnight Central Time and get put back in the system.

“He hadn’t even proposed 331 days ago,” I said wearily, not just because of the hour, but because it was the third week of my middle-of-the-night calls.

With fares to prime destinations in Europe for the summer nearing $1,000 a ticket, the Euro at an all-time high against the dollar and frequent flier seats at a big low, we were going to end up driving to Niagara Falls if we had to pay cash for our airfare. So I got busy on the phone trying to find us flights during my fiancé’s two-week school vacation that started at the end of June.

To complicate matters, he had 50,000 miles on Delta, good for one basic ticket to Europe, but I had only 3,000. I did have 49,250 miles on Continental, and lucky for us, Delta and Continental are air-mile partners, so I could fly on Delta or we could fly together on any of the partners they share in common, like Northwest and KLM.

If we each had 100,000 miles we would have had more options for dates. If we both had Delta miles, we could have flown on Alitalia, which has more flights to Italy than most other carriers. But this was what we had: his Delta miles, my Continental miles, fixed dates at the height of the summer travel season, five months to plan and very little budget.

My first two calls yielded nothing. A Delta agent told me I was too late and should give up. Continental told me I was too early.

On my third try in five days, I struck out on Delta, and then dialed up Continental. Much to my surprise, the agent found something. She came up with a flight on Delta from Newark to Atlanta to Milan on one of the dates we wanted to leave.

“So we can get to Italy, we just can’t get back?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

My fiancé was thrilled, but my mother preferred that we return to this country eventually.

I called and called and called. A week went by. Then another. We got on a wait list for two flights direct from Milan to JFK. We found one flight on Alitalia for my fiancé that went from Milan to Washington, D.C., but I would have had to pay for a full ticket to join him.

“We can come back from anywhere,” I told all the agents.

I figured that we could fly from Rome to Frankfurt on a discount carrier to get a flight home if it came to that.

The agents checked every city in Italy, then all of Western Europe, and then some in Eastern Europe, too. Venice, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, London, even Split in Croatia. Nothing at all.

One agent with a thick accent put me on hold and then came back on the line breathless.

“I think I found something,” she said, then flipped me on hold again. “Belize City,” she said, coming in for a second, then going out again.

She came back on the line.

“Do you mean the Belize City in Central America?” I asked. “I know I said anything, but I don’t think that’s actually going to work for us.”

About a month into the process, we found a flight home from London-Gatwick to Atlanta to Newark. It cut our trip short a few days, but we’d still have nine full days in Italy. We were able to book my fiancé on Alitalia from Rome to London-Heathrow for miles, but I had to buy my segment for $196. We’d have to sweat a two-hour transfer between London airports, but our reservations were going to run out if we didn’t book something.

With taxes, fees, my Alitalia ticket and the 1,000 additional miles I needed to buy from Continental, our grand total was $346. The same tickets would have cost us $2,965 in cash.

Some Hints on Snagging Hard-to-Get Tickets With Your Airline Miles

•Plan Ahead — You can book up to 331 days in advance, and you should. The earlier, the better.

•Call Often — People make reservations and then change their travel plans, especially with frequent flier miles, so seats open up sporadically. If you call enough and get lucky, you might be able to get the seats you want.

•Travel anywhere — Flights to prime locations fill up fast, but there are cheap ways to get from a secondary airport to a major one on either end of your journey.

•Get more miles — Higher reward levels have fewer restrictions and the set-aside seats tend to fill up less quickly.

•Give up and go another time — If you just can’t get a flight when you want, go a different time when seats are available.

Beth Pinsker writes about film for The New York Daily News and The Boston Globe, among other publications.

But Officer, It’s Yontif!

Worried about getting a parking ticket while you’re praying for your soul? Don’t fret. You can take as long as you want in synagogue this Rosh Hashanah, because Los Angeles’ normally overzealous traffic cops will be off your back.

City Councilman Jack Weiss has used his diplomatic muscle to have all parking restrictions in the 5th District relaxed over the high holidays to accommodate synagogue-goers. The relaxed parking laws will be in effect from 4 p.m, Friday, Sept. 26 to 11 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 28; from 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 5 through to midnight, Tuesday, Oct. 7; from 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 10 through to 11 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 12; and from 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 17 through to 2 a.m., Monday, Oct. 20.

For more information or to check whether your synagogue’s street is in the 5th District, you can call Field Deputy Adeena Bleich on (310) 289-0353.