“24 Days” playing Tues. Jan 31 at Temple Judea

Calendar: January 27- February 2


FRI | JAN 27

JOB AND CAREER FAIR

Companies will be looking to fill full-time, part-time and apprentice positions. Candidates of all ages, experience levels and industries are encouraged to attend. Presented by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. Come prepared with resumes and dressed to impress. 11 a.m. Free. La Iglesia En El Camino, 14800 Sherman Way, Van Nuys. (818) 376-4246.

SAT | JAN 28

“SURVIVING SKOKIE”

The new documentary “Surviving Skokie” tells the story of Jack Adler, who survived Auschwitz and then, in 1961, witnessed American Nazis marching down the main street of Skokie, Ill., a Chicago suburb. Jack, accompanied by his son, Eli, returns to his village in Poland for the first time in 65 years. The film follows their journey from turbulent Skokie through Poland, where Jack and Eli find a new understanding of the Holocaust and each other. Discussion with filmmaker Eli Adler and synagogue member Jim Ruxin to follow screening. 4 p.m. Free. To RSVP, call (310) 471-7372. University Synagogue, Gray Family Chapel. 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 472-1255. unisyn.org.

CAROL V. DAVIS: “BECAUSE I CANNOT LEAVE THIS BODY”

Carol V. DavisIn her new poetry collection, Carol V. Davis crosses cultural and geographic boundaries to explore her family’s history as Jews, outsiders and immigrants. Ranging from Los Angeles to Nebraska to Germany to Russia, she probes the boundaries between faith, folklore and superstition. Davis, poetry editor of the Jewish Journal, will read and sign her new work. 8 p.m. $10; $6 children, students, seniors. Beyond Baroque, 681 N. Venice Blvd., Venice. (310) 822-3006.

HAVDALAH AND HOT DOGS

This year’s theme, “reJEWvenation … Be Your Jewish Self,” features crafts, activities and festivities as you enjoy a community Havdalah and hot dog dinner. 5:30 p.m. $7. Temple Etz Chaim, 1080 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. (805) 494-8174. templeetzchaim.org.

“A TRIBUTE IN SONG”

Join in song and story as the legacy of Debbie Friedman is honored. Israeli artist Bat Ella and her band will perform unique interpretations of Friedman’s songs in Hebrew. Other special guests include Craig Taubman, Danny Maseng, Rick Lupert and Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben. 7 p.m. $10; tickets available at tickettailor.com. The Pico Union Project, 1153 Valencia St., Los Angeles. (818) 760-1077. picounionproject.org.

“IN THE COURTYARD OF THE KABBALIST”: AN EVENING WITH RUCHAMA FEUERMAN

Hear a tale of kabbalists and street cleaners, Jews and Muslims, immigrants and natives, prophets and lost souls — all of whom inhabit Jerusalem. Author Ruchama Feurerman will discuss her novel, being made into a movie, which is a tale of personal dignity, ownership, love and the way they overlap. Q-and-A to follow. 7:30 p.m. Free. Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 12800 Chandler Blvd., Valley Village. (818) 763-0560.

SUN | JAN 29

BAGELS & BESTSELLERS: JUDY ZEIDLER

Judy Zeidler, author, food consultant and frequent contributor to the Jewish Journal, will discuss her culinary journey from gourmet Jewish cooking, to cookbooks full of kosher recipes, to international cuisine, to her latest publication, “Italy Cooks.” Ticket price includes a copy of her book along with a light brunch, an author talk, a cooking demonstration and a chance to sample her famous biscotti. 10:30 a.m. $45. Tickets available at jewishwomenstheatre.org. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 315-1400. jewishwomenstheatre.org.

“THE VENICE GHETTO, 500 YEARS OF LIFE”

The Congregation Beth Shalom Film Series presents “The Venice Ghetto, 500 Years of Life.” The film traces its story to the medieval era, told through Lorenzo, a New York teenager sent to Venice to learn about his family’s origins. Learn about the daily life, rituals and architectural landmarks of the Venetian Jewish quarter through Lorenzo’s journey of discovery. Italian lunch and popcorn will be provided. 11:30 a.m. $5. Congregation Beth Shalom, 21430 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita. (661) 254-2411. cbs-scv.org.

“LANGUAGE, LITERATURE AND ‘LUGAR’ (PLACE): WRITING BOYLE HEIGHTS”

Boyle Heights was once home to Jewish, Latino, Japanese, Italian, Armenian, Russian and African-American migrant communities. The neighborhood is emblematic of Los Angeles’ multicultural history. An afternoon of multilingual poetry and prose will feature the works of Yiddish poets such as Hirsh Goldovsky and Henry Rosenblatt (1920s) to Sesshu Foster, Clement Hanami and Veronica Reyes (1970s-80s), all of whom documented life in Boyle Heights. This event is a part of a collaborative series that explores the neighborhood, then and now. 2 p.m. Free. The Paramount, 2708 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles. cjs.ucla.edu. (310) 267-5327.

“SYMPHONY OF THE HEART”

This benefit concert for Save a Child’s Heart features Israeli singing sensation Rita, popular Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester, the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony and 15-year-old pianist, composer and songwriter Emily Bear. American-Israeli contemporary dance ensemble Keshet Chaim will perform with acclaimed young vocalist Liel Kolet. Israeli actress Moran Atias, star of the FX series “Tyrant,” will emcee the event. 7:30 p.m. Tickets starting at $45. Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. (818) 677-8800. valleyperformingartscenter.org.

MON | JAN 30

“CARVALHO’S JOURNEY”

cal-carvalhoThis film is a 19th-century American Western adventure story about Solomon Nunes Carvalho, an observant Sephardic Jew born in 1815 in Charleston, S.C., who, in 1853, traveled with John Fremont’s Fifth Westward Expedition. Living alongside mountain men, Native Americans and Mormons, Carvalho became one of the first photographers to document the far American West. Narrated by actor Michael Stuhlbarg (“Boardwalk Empire”). Q-and-A with filmmaker Steve Rivo to follow. 7:30 p.m. Ahrya Fine Arts, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. It will be screened Jan. 30 and Jan. 31 at locations across Southern California; visit laemmle.com for more information. Q-and-A with photographer Robert Shlaer at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30, Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; and with Rivo at 1 p.m. Jan. 31, Town Center, 17200 Ventura Blvd., No. 121, Encino. (310) 478-1041. laemmle.com.

TUES | JAN 31

“24 DAYS”

Award-winning French film “24 Days” tells the story of the kidnapping, torture and murder of 23-year-old French Jew Ilan Halimi in 2006. Before the screening, the Anti-Defamation League will facilitate a discussion about anti-Semitism in Europe. Film in French, with English subtitles. 7:30 p.m. Free. RSVP to onagel@adl.org or (310) 446-4243. Temple Judea, 5429 Lindley Ave., Tarzana. templejudea.com.

THURS | FEB 2

WINE CLUSTER: OLD WORLD/NEW WORLD

Join Young Adults of Los Angeles’ Wine Cluster for an exploration of the stylistic differences between Old World and New World wines. Is all chardonnay rich and buttery? Can cabernet sauvignon be both earthy and fruity? Get some answers to these questions and more. 8 p.m. $25. Tickets available at eventbrite.com. Vinoteque, 7469 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles. yala.org. 

A wedding in Venice


We were touring the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, Italy, which is commemorating its 500th year, when I struck up a conversation with a lovely couple, Lana Atlasov and David Mednick, from the San Francisco area.

They had heard me testing the synagogue’s acoustics in my loudest cantorial voice, and they asked me if I ever officiate weddings. 

“All the time!” I responded. 

David and Lana told me they were struggling to figure out their wedding plans. They’d met three years ago and were eager to start this new chapter. It would be a second marriage for both.

They loved the idea of getting married in Venice, but their emails to the rabbi there received no response, so they had settled on a wedding upon their return to San Francisco. But two days into their Italy trip, they found out their rabbi at home had mistakenly scheduled their wedding ceremony for Tisha b’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, a day in which a wedding celebration would be unthinkable. So many plans had already been made.

“All I’ve ever wanted was a Jewish wedding!” Lana said with such longing in her voice. Years ago, Lana had escaped the Soviet Union. This was to be the first Jewish wedding in her family since before World War I.

“Then let’s just do this!” David said. 

“Great!” I said.

My parents got into the conversation to help with details, and we made quick plans for a wedding at 9 that evening in Piazza San Marco.

My sister Annette came over, not having heard this conversation.  She has a degree in fine arts. Could she create the ketubah? At first, Annette didn’t understand. “Do they want to commission me?” No, we made it clear, this wedding is happening tonight. She giddily agreed.

We talked through details such as rings, which they ended up buying later in the afternoon on the island of Murano, where they were staying: two white glass rings that fit them perfectly. They found a wine glass to break in the ghetto. As for wine and cups, we had a bottle of Champagne that had come with our room. I bought a kippah for David to wear. I already had the big tallit for the chuppah since I was in Venice to officiate a bat mitzvah service.

Annette told the story to one of the artists on the Grand Canal and asked to buy a piece of heavy art paper for the ketubah. He referred her to the master, who ended up loving the story so much he gave her the paper as a gift.

At 9 p.m., we gathered in the lobby of our hotel. We went over all of the details together. It is amazing how connected we all felt despite having met only that day. My mom and dad had picked up some red roses for Lana to hold during the wedding. I found out later that my dad had bought out the street vendor of all of his roses for the day. We were all dressed up and ready to go — we signed the ketubah in the lobby. My parents, married for 46 years, served as witnesses. Then we headed to Piazza San Marco. Lana told us she wanted to be by the famous clock tower in the middle of the life of the city. We settled on a spot. The ceremony began. 

We held up the chuppah, rings were exchanged, and they said a few vows to each other, although not many words were spoken, as they were so overcome with emotion. Then I sang the Sheva Brachot, the seven wedding blessings, as loud as I could amid the hustle and bustle of Venice’s busiest square. In my concluding words to them, I reminded them that of all the billions of people in the world, and all the billions of people who have ever existed, and all of the billions who ever will, they have found each other, and that is truly lucky. Lana began to cry. Then David stepped on the glass, and we shouted, “Mazel tov!” They kissed. 

Passersby snapped photos. One couple walking by also yelled, “Mazel tov!”  

We heard music playing in the square. Annette suggested to David and Lana that they should have their first dance. David approached the bandleader and requested a tango — they’d first met each other in tango class. They began to dance like we have never seen from ordinary folk. All of the patrons from nearby restaurants came over to watch them. We announced that they were newlyweds. They danced the most romantic and sensual dances of all time. And not just to one song — the band continued and played another tango for them. Tourists video recorded them. They were such a beautiful couple. It was like a movie — that classic Venetian story of romance and kismet, and one that is truly bashert — meant to be.


Todd Shotz is a Jewish educator and film producer. He is the founder and executive director of Hebrew Helpers and often officiates weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs.

In honor of Tu b’Av, the love holiday, this column is the first in our new series, Meant2Be, stories of love and relationships. Do you have a story about dating, marriage, singlehood or any important relationship in your life? Email us at meant2be@jewishjournal.com.

Purim bash combines the holy with the holistic


Reading the advance info for “Dawn: The Open Temple Purim Bash,” which took place on March 24 at the Rose Room in Venice, the 6 a.m. start time might have appeared to be a typo. But it was not. It was also no deterrent for the approximately 100 early risers who flocked to the event, the first Purim party in L.A. of its kind. 

Many in attendance knew going in what to expect. “Dawn” was inspired by the healthy-lifestyle Daybreaker events, a series of early morning raves begun two years ago in Williamsburg, N.Y., by Matthew Brimer and Radha Agrawal as a way to provide the young and young-at-heart with a nightlife-style experience at the crack of dawn — without the booze, the high heels and late-night haze. Daybreaker parties quickly found a big market and now enjoy a global following, including in Los Angeles. The freedom and escapism of a great party should be available to everyone, the founders believed, not just night-owl coeds and bar flies. To that end, Daybreaker offers an alternative path to community, to creating meaning.

Rabbi Lori Shapiro is doing something similar with Open Temple, a congregation she created in 2012 with the help of four families “who sought a contemporary way of ‘doing Jewish’ with a 21st-century vibe that would be inclusive of their interfaith families,” Shapiro said. 

When Shapiro — “an indefatigable networker” as one attendee described her — attended a Daybreaker party in Venice two years ago, she looked around at the hundreds of people dancing in costumes, high on kindred vibrations and celebrating the beginning of a new day, and thought, “This is Purim.” After meeting with local Daybreaker producer Andre Herd, who is Jewish, she got permission to set the wheels in motion to adapt the Daybreaker model for Open Temple’s Purim party. Herd even produced. 

“Daybreaker parties are sober raves where celebration is inspired by getting high on life, yoga, music and community,” Shapiro said. “As one of the mitzvot of Purim is to not be able to tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman (through alcohol), Open Temple’s Purim Bash challenged the reveler to achieve this through dance, celebration, projections of word and image [and] Om Shalom Yoga.”

“Dawn” kicked off with a one-hour yoga session led by Zack Lodmer of Om Shalom Yoga, allowing participants to greet the day by stretching their muscles and centering their chis. A dance party followed. Instead of a traditional Purim spiel, live performances featured aerialists and horn players. A tzedakah box at the front entrance invoked Purim’s commandment to give to the poor by collecting donations for SPY (Safe Place for Youth), which helps homeless youth in Venice. And a massive projector rotated biblical images and different verses from the Megillah behind the DJ booth, as well as messages of world peace and inclusivity reflecting the spirit of Open Temple. Hamantashen the size of bowling balls were free for the taking, along with protein and various other nutrition bars, hot coffee and freshly pressed juices, courtesy of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills’ YoPros, who partnered with Open Temple for the event. 

Rabbi Sarah Bassin of Temple Emanuel said it was the two synagogues’ first official partnership, hopefully the first of many. “We’re both rabbis who share an openness to partnerships and non-territorialism, and creating the best opportunities for people to connect,” Bassin said of Shapiro. “So we were really excited to participate in this and bring our people out.” 

Spoken word and guitar performances rounded out the event, which lasted until about 9 a.m.

Despite the early hour, nobody skimped on costumes — the space was flooded with painted faces, neon spandex and full-body leotards. One girl donned an L.A. Kings getup head to toe. One volunteer, Benny, was dressed as Quailman, Doug Funnie’s alter ego.

“Nice costume!” one woman shouted to him as she walked by. “It’s kind of reminiscent of tefillin — ”

“Yeah, that’s what I was going for, but I ran out of belts!” Benny said. He had attended his first Daybreaker a couple of weeks earlier and had heard “Dawn” would be a comparable alternative. 

“I have a friend who does Open Temple stuff, and she was like, ‘This one’s going on, and if you volunteer, you can get in for free!’ Last time I did it, I was out and sitting in traffic by 8:30 a.m. I took a conference call, and no one had any idea I was sitting in sweaty dance clothes.”

Tribal Podcast: Andrew Feltenstein, Music Producer