January 16, 2019

Skirball Hosts Passover Festival

At noon on Sunday the Passover Posse will tromp through the lobby of the Skirball Cultural Center.

Also known as Alan Eder and Friends, the 20-member reggae band and West African drumming ensemble will beat atsimevu drum and axatse rattle to lure patrons of the Skirball’s premiere outdoors Passover Festival.

On the courtyard stage, the Posse, of “Reggae Passover”-CD fame, will belt out Bob Marley songs relating to the Exodus. They’ll perform a “Dayenu Suite” to African bobobo music, then segue to a rap version as Ghanian dancers in traditional garb groove.

That is only part of the multicultural festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 21, says Jordan Peimer, Skirball’s associate program director. Acclaimed African-American storyteller Sybil Desta, accompanied by the string base, will weave tales of slavery and redemption in West Africa and the West Coast. A multi-ethnic photography exhibit, “Young Ambassadors of Harmony,” will be on display in an adjacent gallery.

“The story of Jews and Passover is the story of the struggle for freedom, which is a universal theme, and a fundamentally American theme,” Peimer says.

Of course the Passover Festival, which comes on the heels of successful Skirball fests for Chanukah and Sukkot, offers plenty that is traditionally Jewish. The emphasis is on Pesach how-tos: The idea is for children and parents to learn holiday ditties with sing-a-long artists Caren Glasser and Wally Schachet-Briskin; to create an afikomen bag out of funky wallpaper; or inquire how to invent a customized Haggadah from Elie Gindi, author of “Family Haggadah,” who will be on hand for a book-signing.

There will also be kosher-for-Passover veggie lasagna made with eggplant instead of traditional pasta and a time set aside for children to search for the afikomen in the archeology dig sandbox.

For viewing there is also the Larry Rivers triptych, “History of Matzah: The Story of the Jews.” The winners of the Skirball’s Passover dessert recipe contest will be announced at 3:30 p.m. Time has been set aside to meet contest judges Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s “Good Food;” chef Judy Zeidler; Nancy Silverton, owner of La Brea Bakery and Campanile; and The Jewish Journal’s Managing Editor Rob Eshman, co-author of two cookbooks.

The festival’s goal is simple, says Skirball Assistant Program Director Amina Sanchez. “We want people to learn how they can celebrate Passover themselves,” she says. “And we hope that people will take home new ideas and new ways of enjoying the holiday.”

Festival parking is free in the lot across from the Skirball, or at Stephen S. Wise Temple, with frequent shuttle bus service to the Skirball. Tickets are $8 for adults; $6 for students and seniors; and free for Skirball members and children under 12. For advance tickets, call (323) 660-8587. For information, call (310) 440-4500.

Passover Inspires

Film Series

Passover is the impetus for the Skirball’s current film series, “Flights of Freedom,” which continues March 30 with the acclaimed 1991 Russian film “Get Thee Out.” The movie tells of a shtetl milkman, less complacent than Tevye, who chooses to fight rather than flee the pogroms. “Madman” (1978), which screens April 20, stars Sigourney Weaver and F. Murray Abraham in this true story of a former Soviet Jew bent on revenge against his Russian oppressors. “Life is Beautiful,” which shows on May 18, is Roberto Benigni’s Holocaust fable about a charming buffoon who invents a game to protect his son in a concentration camp. All screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for Skirball members and $4 for students.