November 16, 2018

Modern Jewish Matchmakers Urge Singles to Keep Their Hearts and Minds Open to Love

In Anatevka, fictional young women yearned for a match who, for Papa, should be a scholar and, for Mama, as rich as a king. In 21st-century Los Angeles, matchmaking is different from how it was portrayed in “Fiddler on the Roof,” but is alive and well, bringing single citizens together for serious relationships.

“The best feeling in the world is making a match,” said Jenny Apple of Jenny Apple Matchmaking, who started introducing people in 2013.

“Our clients like that we’re coaches, friends and mentors all rolled up ino one,” said Jessica Fass, of Fass Pass to Love.

Apple, who attended high school in Calabasas, launched her business after years of programming Jewish events. She offers matchmaking, dating consultations and coaching.

Fass, who grew up in Northridge, got into professional matchmaking in 2013 after making three matches on her own, which, according to Jewish legend, earned her a place in the World to Come.

Apple has matched 10 couples who have gotten married or are in long-term relationships. Two of the married couples now have children. Fass, who specializes in international matches, has matched six couples for marriage and two couples who are in a long-term relationship. And through their work, they’ve set up hundreds of first and second dates with local and international singles seeking partners.

Matchmaking isn’t as simple as pairing two single people, Fass and Apple explained in a joint conversation with the Journal. Matchmakers have to get to know their clients really well before they go on a date. Clients fill out a questionnaire, which generally is followed by a personal consultation. (Fass and Apple both focus on matching heterosexual couples; they connect LGBTQ singles to another matchmaker in their network.)

“Singles I’ve met with who are not successful are obsessed with the fantasy.” — Jenny Apple

To understand clients’ goals and outlook, Fass asks where clients see themselves in five years and what they consider a fun date. “Most smart people just say: ‘It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, as long as I’m with good company/the right person.’ That’s the smartest response and the truest in my book,” Fass said.

Fass helps clients plan the date and asks them to write down everything afterward. A few days later, she interviews both parties and provides feedback. Fass noted that attending events with clients helps her see how they interact in person.

Traditionally, making Jewish matches is considered a mitzvah, and only when matches lead to marriage are matchmakers paid. But matchmaking is hard work, and today’s matchmaking professionals want to get paid.

“You orchestrate the date like a producer,” said Fass, who formerly worked in television as an on-set assistant and script manager. “We have to educate people that it’s a service that you pay for up front.”

High-end matchmakers can command fees of $15,000 to $20,000 or even more. Apple and Fass charge about $5,000 for matchmaking services but offer dating coaching and consulting for less.

The matchmakers don’t see dating apps as competition; they’re just part of the dating industry landscape.

“I’m a huge advocate for online dating,” said Apple, who used JDate when she was single and met her husband on JSwipe (now owned by JDate).

Fass echoed Apple’s enthusiasm. “I used to use [JDate] back in the day when there were no apps.” In Israel, she used Tinder and OKCupid, because there, “everyone’s Jewish.” Now, she said, “clients and people I talk to at events say, ‘No one’s on JDate and JDate sucks’ — I believe they [dating apps] all work, you just have to invest time in it. But millennials would all rather be on swipe apps.”

Dating apps make people think “it’s the boyfriend/girlfriend store and there are endless options,” Fass said, but with the apps’ high potential for miscommunication, “we need to just get you on the freaking date.”

Clients should treat app matches like “a hot sales lead,” she added. “If you have time to get on the phone, just talk … you see instant results.” Fass stated a preference for sites like Match.com and eHarmony.com, where people can share and learn more about each other.

In today’s Jewish matchmaking, dating and partner preferences skewer the layers of traditional community expectations, idealized dating scenarios and contemporary realities like financial stability.

Apple noted that entrepreneurs say they want women who are busy, but not too busy for them. Fass said that beyond “Jewish,” her male clients are looking for someone “attractive to them,” for a “nonjudgmental place to land when they come home,” and for partners with some kind of passion, like volunteering. Some want to be the sole breadwinner others understand that many families need two incomes.

The women Fass has seen are looking for men with a good or at least stable, job, a sense of humor, and someone who’s physically attractive to them, but notes that she’s seen attraction grow for women (but less often for men). Women are often picky about height, Apple added, and although women say “sense of humor” is a priority, matchmakers often have to find out what that really means.

“Remember not to judge height, age or location,” Fass said. “There are only so many Jews in the world who have the same religious level as you. You need to cut some things off your list.  Also, Jews like to eat! Our mothers are the best cooks in the world. So stop judging weight.”

One client of Apple’s would accept only dates with oval-shaped faces. “he was not attracted to a round face. I never heard that before.” Fass had one client who insisted that all of his dates wear dresses. “You can’t force someone to wear a dress,” she said.

“Singles I’ve met with who are not successful are obsessed with the fantasy,” Apple said.

While Apple and Fass are not business partners, they often collaborate on events — their next one is on Feb. 11 — and are fiercely committed to singles.

“Being married isn’t the cure and being single isn’t a disease,” Apple said.

Apple added that singles should take a multipronged approach — attending events, or hosting their own singles gatherings, in addition to hiring a matchmaker. She also notes that singles 40 and older is “a growing niche” that needs more programming.

Fass and Apple believe that there’s a match for everyone, with some caveats.

“We are always trying to make our clients happy but make them understand what is a healthy and happy relationship. It’s OK to be picky about things that you want, but do you know what’s important in a long-term monogamous relationship?” Apple said. Negativity toward a match, sometimes even before a first meeting, can be lethal, she said. “Love’s about giving and not taking.

In terms of a match’s potential, Fass keeps it simple: “Could you see yourself kissing them, and do they make you feel good? Then go for a second date.”

No matchmaker can guarantee love. But, Apple said, “we’re there to give you the best options in the most realistic way possible.”

“We can introduce you to your perfect match,” Apple said, “but you have to be open.”

What are They REALLY Saying About Camp Neshama?

Silent Disco under the Stars at Camp Neshama. Photo- Jonah Light

Camp Neshama is summer camp for Jewish young adults, running Sept. 1-4th, 2017, in Running Springs, California, and generously sponsored by The Alevy Family. The retreat may be the best Jewish young professional weekend in America. (Full disclosure – my wife Rachel Bookstein and I started the camp 6 years ago.)

We asked some of the participants of last summer’s camp to tell is what they REALLY thought.

She found the ring in the pudding, in 7 seconds.

These are the unedited comments. The writers are from all kinds of backgrounds and each one had an amazing time. One of them also got married to a person they met last summer – can you guess which one?

I feel sad that it’s over! I’m in USA 1 year and in the first time I had an amazing time that made it so special for me. Spiritual w amazing people and helped me to be connected to my roots w keeping Shabbat and the nature , could not ask more than that. Thanks!

Azy from Encino wrote, “I enjoyed every minute of the retreat! From the food to the participants and activities!!! What a great place to make connections and new friends!”

Julian, from South Africa said, “Super happy that I have many new people in my life!”

A Jewish woman from Reseda, “Sad to leave, looking forward to the next one…It was wonderful. Beyond our expectations. My friends and I had a blast”

Field day competition heating up!

A 33 year old woman who grew up in LA said that, “It was a truly unique, reviving, fun, sweet and soulful experience”

A 29 year-old professional from Newport Beach told us, “I expected to experience spirituality being close to nature and share it with Jewish peers. I felt that I worked on my mind to my breath often during the program, which was easier to do since I focused in it when everyone was doing it during yoga or meditation. I feel that I kept active and attended programs I was interested in without having to wait too long for a program in the day-long agenda to do what I wanted to do.”

Ronen climbing up the tree for the Zip Line

Miriam from LA said, “It was a wonderful experience. The setting is lovely. The retreat center is comfortable, enjoyable, interesting. I loved talking to the young people. They were so open and serious about sharing and being heard. Everything was well planned. The meals were fun and delicious. The staff was efficient and very pleasant. The religious services were meaningful. The Booksteins and the volunteers were very accessible. The talks were interesting. We were observers of the sports events, and that was fun. We want to help in any way we can to make more Shabbatons/Retreats successful.”

Shloyme, an artist and businessman from LA told us, “It’s was so Amazing, Relaxing and got me closer to nature H’Shem and to some people in my community.”

Shante from Tarzana, “One of the most amazing Shabbaton I have ever been to. There was so many different activities at all times. All the staff were really helpful and friendly. The accommodations were great as well. “

Esther, who met her husband on the retreat, told us, “I’m blown away by the positive energy I experienced. Such wonderful people.”

Archery? Yes, archery!

An anonymous participant said, “I had a blast!! Literally the time of my life!”

Judy from LA said, “Expected a relaxing, fun event. The program far surpassed my expectations. It was INCREDIBLE!

Ronen, originally from NY, now in LA, said, “It was a very fun and beautiful experience. I enjoyed all the activities, the people who were there, the atmosphere. All in all it was a really great time. Now that I am back to LA it feels a little weird, however I realize even more that I want to marry a girl who has a strong connection and understanding of Judaism.”

Saar, who came from San Jose, told us, “It was incredible meeting everyone at camp and engaging with them even though I knew only one person prior to coming. I enjoyed having a plethora of activities to chose from at every point in the day. Hope to come to future camps like this.”

Yoga with Yogi Marcus

A participant from Irvine, “I had the best experience of my life. spiritual, socializing, relaxing, meeting new friends and the activities were awesome, and food was delicious. I enjoy the nature around the camp.”

Julia, from LA, had a lot to say. “I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to attend your wonderful Shabbaton! I enjoyed the incredibly kind, thoughtful new friends I met, the beautiful campus, and the wide range of activities that balanced out our spirituality and athleticism 🙂 I thought it was a wise choice to not limit attendance to Singles — this added a pleasant family atmosphere in which one could get to know others in our community without the relationship label. The table decorations and Shira’s flowers made meal-times sweet, and the smartly-paced schedule gave everyone something to do at each hour of the day.”

Spaces are limited for this program, so people interested should apply ASAP!

For more information visit campneshama.org

Photos by Jonah Light

Calendar: May 30–June 5

SAT | MAY 30

AUTOMATIC TOYS FEATURING NACHUM PETERSEIL

Madonna may have said it best: “Music makes the people come together.” Well, at this downtown L.A. interfaith concert, that’s what it will do. This Canadian duo mixes electronic rock with Middle Eastern vibes and encourages a message of peace and acceptance through music. They’ve been gaining steam for a few years now, receiving a title of best new indie band in 2011 and opening for Matisyahu last year. Catch ’em here before they go back on the road. 8 p.m. $15 (online), $20 (at door). Pico Union Project, 1153 Valencia St., Los Angeles. (818) 760-1077. ” target=”_blank”>rubicontheatre.org.

JEWISH SINGLES: COMEDY IMPROV NIGHT

Laughter and love — we’ve always associated the two. Grab a giggle as eligible folks come to watch comedic folks perform. The night features comedian Shelley Pack, a writer and producer who has worked with The Groundlings, Second City, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and the Discovery Channel. The event doesn’t discriminate against anyone looking for love, so if you’re a single parent, a young professional or both, you’ll have come to the right place. 9 p.m. $15 (online), $20
(at door). Social Dashboard, 8631 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. SUN | MAY 31

“A MAD MENSCH AFFAIR”

Just because “Mad Men” ended doesn’t mean we have to stop being swanky. IKAR hosts its annual Night of the Wandering Jew event, and this year’s theme will have you Don Draper-ing and Peggy Olson-ing your way through the evening. There will be a creative (and kosher!) take on midcentury favorites such as fondue, fried macaroni-and-cheese balls, deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms and more! There also will be specialty drinks and great music — a la the 1960s. And if you feel like volunteering a bit, you’re eligible for an entry fee discount. 5 p.m. $175. The Fig House, 6433 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. (323) 634-1870. ” target=”_blank”>israeltenniscenters.org.

THUR | JUN 4

“SERIAL” DECONSTRUCTED: EXAMINING THE CASE BEHIND THE PODCAST

It’s “Law & Order” live — sort of. “Serial,” the most downloaded podcast in history, is coming under the microscope of a panel of criminal attorneys. Loyola law professor Laurie Levenson moderates a discussion between Alan Jackson and Caleb Mason on the investigation and prosecution of Adnan Syed for the murder of his former girlfriend. Panelists will discuss the riveting issues that made us addicted to the podcast and brought this American tragedy into our daily conversation. Hosted by YALA, the program includes food and refreshments. 7 p.m. $15. The Beverly Hills Public Library, 444 N. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills. (323) 761-8000. FRI | JUNE 5

“THE FAREWELL PARTY”

Who knew death could be so funny? In this Israeli film by Sharon Maymom and Tal Granit, which won an Ophir Award for best direction, a group of friends at a Jerusalem retirement home build a machine for self-euthanasia so they can help their terminally ill friend. When rumors of the machine begin to spread, more and more people ask for their help, and the friends find themselves in a dilemma of grave proportions. Screening at the Venice International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, the movie stars Aliza Rosen, Ilan Dar, Levana Finkelstein, Rafael Tabor and Ze’ev Revach. Various times. $9-$12. Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino; Playhouse 7, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (310) 478-1041.

-->

Letters to the editor: Brian Williams, Mashadi Jews, Bibi and more

Take Notes, Brian Williams

Mesmerizing interview [with Itai Anghel] — I had no idea (“The Un-Brian,” Feb. 13; appeared online as “Itai Anghel: The Brave Israeli Interviewing ISIS, Kurdish Fighters in Syria”). It is as surreal for the reader to comprehend the humanity and strength in [Anghel] and the people he meets as it was surreal for him to realize that not all Syrians, non-Israelis and Jews were as he thought.

Blows my mind how he manages to talk to ISIS, to Gazans and to Kurds in such a complicated environment. 

He is the best example of a journalist, someone to emulate. Thank you for bringing us these stories. They matter.

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world, for they are all that ever has.”

Julie Jo Koehler via jewishjournal.com


Negotiating With Dictators

David Suissa is absolutely right (“Why Bibi Should Give the Speech,” Feb. 13). If U.S. President Barack Obama wanted to placate Israel’s fear of his upcoming deal with Iran, he should have put on the negotiating table also: (1) Iran must publicly retract threats against Israel and stop all future threats, (2) Iran must stop supporting Holocaust deniers, (3) Iran must stop all military support to Hamas and Hezbollah, and (4) stop meddling in other countries such as Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. With that, and eliminating the military nature of their nuclear program, will get Iran the gradual removal of all sanctions, based on verifiable milestones. Obama is afraid that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will bring up such logical plans during his speech to Congress. The world expects that the only superpower in the world should be able to negotiate from a strong position, and not capitulate to dictators.

Nahum Gat, Manhattan Beach


Belonging

As a member of the Mashadi Jewish community of New York, I read with great interest Gina Nahai’s article about the Mashadi Jews in general, and the ones living in the Great Neck section in New York in particular (“One Nation is Many Nations,” Feb. 6).

Most of us Jews who grew up in Iran never felt a sense of belonging. We were not considered Iranians, even though we were born and raised there.

Growing up I was always told that we were living in Iran temporarily until we could be ready to move to our permanent home, wherever that might be. At the same time, it was always comforting to know that we belonged “somewhere.” That was the Mashadi community. It was comforting to be among others whose families, just like us, cared about keeping kosher homes, strict moral standards and marrying other Jews.

Things have sure changed a lot since our days in Tehran. Our children feel free to meet and marry others, as long as they are Jews. I myself have welcomed three beautiful Ashkenazi daughters-in-law into my family, and know of many Mashadi families with non-Mashadi additions.

As for “preferring” to marry other Mashadis, Nahai put it best herself during the Q-and-A after the showing of “Saffron and Rosewater” in New York, in which a few of her pieces were presented. When asked, “Why is it that the Jewish Iranians in Los Angeles keep to themselves and don’t want to socialize and marry other Jews?” she responded: “Who says the rest of the Los Angeles people are interested in socializing with and marrying us?”

Rozita Basalely, Great Neck, N.Y.


Giving Up the Chase

Great article (“The Singles Crisis: Let’s Support Singles for Relationship Success)! Being single is OK! But, for those who want a relationship and are still single, there is a way out. I myself was never in a relationship until the age of 30, and then decided to meet my limits and myself. It took me three years to finally figure it out. I am now married with two kids … and know for a fact that every one can find their other part if they use their inner courage.

Dan Timor via jewishjournal.com


Spreading the Love

David Yarus, Founder of dating app JSwipe via jewishjournal.com


More Thanks Are Due

We are deeply grateful to the Los Angeles Jewish Journal for highlighting our efforts at Kfar Zeitim — an Israeli boarding school for Charedi boys that combines Torah education with vocational skills training (“Will Israel’s Achievement Gap Stall the ‘Start-Up Nation?’ ” Feb. 6). We would like your readers to be aware that The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles leads the way in support for Kfar Zeitim. Through its farsighted vision, Federation has fostered Kfar Zeitim’s success. Its leadership in supporting this project has led to the expansion of this program. We are now replicating Kfar Zeitim’s approach in five other schools around Israel.

Edith Everett, Friends of Israel Sci-Tech Schools, President

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Aug. 24-30, 2013

SAT AUG 24

FARED SHAFINURY

This Iranian-American knows a thing or two about uniting sounds. Along with his Texas-based ensemble, Shafinury creates music that not only denies geography, but also time. He combines Iranian, Indian, Mexican and Texan sounds with modern electronic beats and American folk/rock; pinpointing an exact origin might be a challenge — so just sit back and enjoy. Hosted by KCRW DJ Tom Schnabel. Sat. 8 p.m. Free. Grand Performances, 350 S. Grand Ave., downtown. (213) 687-2159. “>cinefamily.org.


SUN AUG 25

“>http://www.fordtheatres.org.

YIDDISH TANGO CLUB

When is the last time you got your Jewish Latin fix? It’s probably been too long. With international backgrounds, a youthful spirit and Latin influences, the Yiddish Tango Club covers lots of bases. Come groove to its contemporary interpretation of the traditional. Sun. Noon and 2 p.m. $10 (general), $7 (seniors, students, children over 12), $5 (ages 2-12), free (members, children under 2). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. “>circlesocal.org.

HENRY JAGLOM

It’s a book signing and film screening all in one. Henry Jaglom — the indie director behind films like “Déjà Vu” and “Eating” — introduces a double feature of Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” and “The Magnificent Ambersons” and signs his new book, “My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles.” Get the inside scoop from a Welles confidante. Sun. 6:30 p.m. (book signing), 7:30 p.m. (screenings). $7-$11. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 466-3456. “>meetup.com/S-KI-Jewish-Singles.


WED AUG 28

ROSH HASHANAH COOKING CLASS

Put on the apron and learn to cook dishes that will impress your guests! YALA and JCC Without Walls sponsor an evening of hands-on culinary instruction from a professional chef. Ages 25-40. 7 p.m. $50 per person. Sur La Table, The Farmers Market, 6333 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (323) 761-8247. “>israeliamerican.org.


THU AUG 29

DENDE & BAND

If your spirit needs lifting, look no further. Under the leadership of master percussionist Dende, this Afro-Brazilian band combines reggae, merengue and basically a lot of joy. A musician since age 14, Dende has honed his craft by playing with artists that range from Mongo Santamaria to David Byrne. KCRW’s Jeremy Sole will spin records in the courtyard starting at 7 p.m. Thu. 8 p.m. Free. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

-->

Calendar Picks and Clicks: March 9-15, 2013

SUN MARCH 10

“ISRAEL IN 3-D”

Explore multiple dimensions of Israel with Arieh Saposnik, director of UCLA’s Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, UCLA political science professor Steven Spiegel, visiting scholars and others during this One-Day University program at UCLA. Activities include panel discussions on policy issues, courses on Israeli history, music, economics and art, and a buffet luncheon. Natasha Mozgovaya, former chief U.S. correspondent for Haaretz, delivers the keynote address, “The Israeli Elections: Deepening the Divide or Renewing the Social Contract?” Sun. 9:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m. Free ($36 for luncheon and keynote address, advance payment required). UCLA Faculty Center, 480 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles. (310) 825-9646. international.ucla.edu/israel.

“THE PSALMS: IN THE PAST, IN OUR LIVES”

The 10th annual Interfaith Symposium of Theology, Art and Music examines the Psalms from multiple viewpoints. A panel discussion, moderated by Valley Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Ed Feinstein, features art historian Jeremy Glatstein, composer, conductor and scholar Nick Strimple and prominent Jewish, Protestant and Catholic clergy. Afterward, Strimple conducts the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Chancel Choir, the Choral Society of Southern California and the Zimriyah Chorale in a performance of music inspired by the Psalms. Sun. 1 p.m. (symposium), 3 p.m. (concert). Free. Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, 505 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. (818) 907-7194 or (310) 271-5194. jewishmusicla.org or bhpc.org.

“DREAMS OF HOPE”

Inspired by the critically acclaimed “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” this Valley Torah High School performance — for women only — combines classical piano, dance and choral numbers to celebrate the power and triumph of the children of the Kindertransport. Sun. 3 p.m., 7 p.m. $25. Salter Family Theater, Beverly Hills High School, 241 Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills. (818) 505-7999. vths.org.

TUE MARCH 12

“JEWS ON THE CHOCOLATE TRAIL”

Rabbi Deborah Prinz’s new book, “On the Chocolate Trail,” draws on her many years spent unraveling religious connections in the early chocolate trade. Find out how chocolate outed the Jews in Mexico after the Inquisition, why Israelis are meshuga for chocolate and more during this reading and signing with Prinz at the Skirball. Tue. 8 p.m. $10 (general), free (Skirball and Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles members). Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. skirball.org.
 
WED MARCH 13

 

DEBORAH LIPSTADT

The Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Lipstadt directs HDOT.org (Holocaust Denial on Trial) and plays a key role in legal and political cases involving Holocaust denial — most famously in a suit brought against her by Holocaust denier David Irving for alleged libel. Tonight, Lipstadt appears at Whittier College to deliver the 2013 Feinberg Lecture. The annual speaker series features major scholars discussing broad historic, religious and political issues encompassed by Judaism and its role in the changing world. Wed. 7 p.m. Free (reservations recommended). Whittier College, Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, 13406 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier. (562) 907-4219. whittier.edu.

 

“THE FUTURE OF HEALTH CARE FOR CALIFORNIA”

Join California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones; Paul Song, board member with Physicians for a National Health Program California; and Molly Tavella, education and outreach coordinator with Physicians for a National Health Program California for a discussion on how the Affordable Care Act will impact consumers, employers and insurance companies. Wed. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Free. NCJW/LA Council House, 543 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 852-8503. ncjwla.org.

JEFF GOLDBLUM

It should be no surprise that the versatile actor (“The Big Chill,” “Jurassic Park”) is also an accomplished jazz pianist. Goldblum and his Mildred Snitzer Orchestra — who played Coachella 2011 — appear tonight at the Rockwell in Los Feliz. All ages welcome. Wed. 9 p.m., 11 p.m. Free (general admission), $15 -$20 (VIP seating). Rockwell: Table & Stage, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 661-6163, ext. 20. rockwell-la.inticketing.com.
 
THU MARCH 14

“PHIL SPECTOR”

Set to air on HBO this month, this new biopic reunites Pulitzer-winning writer-director David Mamet and Oscar-winner Al Pacino, who previously collaborated on the film adaptation of “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Pacino portrays legendary music producer Spector, who was convicted in 2009 for the second-degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson. The film centers on Spector’s murder trial and co-stars Helen Mirren as defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden. Mamet, a Jewish Journal contributor, participates in a post-screening Q-and-A. Thu. 7:30 p.m. Free (reservations required). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-6010. lacma.org/event/phil-spector.
 
FRI MARCH 15

MAROON 5

Hits like “This Love” and “Makes Me Wonder” as well as Adam Levine’s good looks have helped propel Maroon 5 to the top of the Billboard charts. The Grammy-winning L.A. band stops home on its “Overexposed” tour. Neon Trees and Owl City open. Fri. 8 p.m. $29.50-$89.50. Staples Center, 111. S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. (800) 745-3000. staplescenter.com.

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Feb. 16-22, 2013

WED FEB 20

“INTERSECTING PATHS: ART AND HEALING”  

Twelve artists explore personal spiritual healing in the works on display in this new exhibition. Among them is photographer Bill Aron, known for his poetic images of Jews in America and abroad and whose cancer diagnosis led him to change his direction in photography; Carol Es, who creates paper collages and garment patterns that draw on family dysfunction and her Jewish heritage; and Carol Goldmark, for whom art plays an important role in her ability to live with arthritis. Wed. 5-7 p.m (artists’ reception). Free. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Mercaz Gallery, 3077 University Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 765-2015. jewishwisdomandwellness.org/exhibition.

“SACRED SPACES II”

The aesthetics of a house of worship affect the way its congregation prays. A seminar for clergy, professionals and students as well as all those interested in sacred art, design and architecture, “What Makes Space Sacred?” reflects on the use and meaning of sacred space in churches and synagogues. The afternoon of dialogue includes a presentation by Jeff Greene, president and executive of EverGreene Architectural Arts; a panel discussion on the history and theology of sacred spaces featuring William Dyrness, a theology and culture professor at the Fuller Theological Seminary, and Joshua Holo, associate professor of Jewish history at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and dean of the L.A. campus; and commentary by Richard Mouw, president of the Fuller Theological Seminary, and Jonathan Freund, interim executive director at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. Wed. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Free (RSVP required). First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena, 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena. (323) 761-8600. jewishla.org.

“FOUR RABBIS, FIVE OPINIONS”

With news about elections, immigration, settlements and economic woes coming out of Israel nonstop and much being written about the widening gulf between American Jews and Israeli Jews, Rabbis Leonard Beerman (Leo Baeck Temple), Laura Geller (Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills), Yosef Kanefsky (B’nai David-Judea) and Adam Kligfeld (Temple Beth Am) wade through the noise and make sense of it all, sharing their thoughts on current events in Israel and 21st century challenges of Israeli-Diaspora relationships. Wed. 8 p.m. Free. Temple Isaiah, 10345 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 277-2772. templeisaiah.com/lifelong-learning.


THU FEB 21

“TAKE A BITE OUT OF OVARIAN CANCER”

After losing her 20-year-old daughter, Robin, to ovarian cancer, Paulinda Schimmel Babbini — a 2013 Jewish Journal Mensch honoree — founded the Ovarian Cancer Circle. The nonprofit raises money to fund ovarian cancer research and education by hosting community events, including today’s charitable luncheon at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Woodland Hills. All proceeds will go toward finding a cure. Thu. 11:30-1:30 p.m. $40 (includes raffle ticket). RSVP by Feb. 18. Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. (323) 842-8100. theovariancancercircle.org/events.

MUSIC FEST

The Los Angeles Jewish Home becomes eclectic. Singer-songwriter Jude, pop-rock world fusion band HYIM, classic r&b duo Vinyl Playlist, rock ’n’ roll collective the Revolving Doors and others perform at Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging’s Young Women’s Division inaugural benefit concert. The event raises funds for residential and community-based programs that support elderly and needy members of the Los Angeles Jewish community. Thu. 7 p.m. $35 (members), $40 (general). The Mint, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 479-2168. give.laguardians.org/musicfest.

“FROM MOSCOW WITH LOVE”

Stand-up comedian Noah Gardenswartz, who chronicled his European escapades in the Facebook video series “The Adventures of WanderJew,” shares jokes, observations and personal stories with a dry wit that has made him an up-and-comer on the national scene. The show raises awareness for Entwine, the young adults initiative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). A leading humanitarian assistance organization, JDC works in more than 70 countries to alleviate hunger and hardship. Event also features a photo exhibition showcasing portraits of “Righteous Gentiles” in today’s Belarus. Thu. 7-10 p.m. Free. ACME Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 525-0202. globaljewishcomedytourla.eventbrite.com.

NINA STOREY AND THE WELLSPRING

The intimate venue Hotel Cafe hosts performances by singer-songwriter Nina Storey — a grantee of the SEDER Art Micro-Grant Initiative, which funds projects by emerging Jewish artists — and indie band the Wellspring, led by vocalist Dov Rosenblatt. Storey offers up classic soul-pop on her latest album, “Think Twice,” and the Wellspring mixes folk, rock and country. 21 and older. Thu. 8:30 p.m. (the Wellspring), 9:30 p.m. (Storey). $6 (the Wellspring), $10 (Storey). Hotel Cafe, 1623 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 461-2040. hotelcafe.com.


FRI FEB 22

“SILENT WITNESSES”

More than 1 million of the 1.5 million Jewish children living in Nazi-run territories were dead by the war’s end. Playwright, actress and CSUN lecturer Stephanie Satie focuses on child survivors to offer an uplifting take on the children of the Shoah in her new show, “Silent Witnesses.” The one-woman play draws on interviews and conversations with child survivors who are silent witnesses no longer. A reception follows. Fri. 8 p.m. $15. The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 990-2324. brownpapertickets.com

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Jan 5-11, 2013

SAT JAN 5

B.J. NOVAK: “UNCOLLECTED STORIES”

Writer and actor B.J. Novak (“The Office,” “Inglourious Basterds”) shares original pieces of comedic fiction in advance of an upcoming collection. Co-star, writer and producer of “The Office,” Novak has a sensibility that draws on a range of influences, from “Saturday Night Live” and “Monty Python” to Woody Allen and the notable anthology “The Big Book of Jewish Humor,” which was co-edited by his father. Sat. 10 p.m. $10. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, 5919 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 908-8702. losangeles.ucbtheatre.com.

SUN JAN 6

JNF TRIBUTE TO SOUTHERN ISRAEL

Winner of the Israeli version of “American Idol,” Ethiopian Jewish vocalist Hagit Yaso joins Grammy- and Emmy-winning composer Charles Fox for a free concert in support of Southern Israel. Organized by the Jewish National Fund, the concert features Yaso and Fox collaborating on “Killing Me Softly” as well as Fox performing his own music. Roy Firestone (“L.A. Tonight,” “Good Day L.A.”) serves as master of ceremonies. Sun. 6:30 p.m. Free. Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (323) 964-1400. jnf.org/laconcert.

TUE JAN 8

“GUT SHABBES VIETNAM”

A young Israeli couple and their baby set out on a one-way ticket to the Far East to encourage and create a Jewish community in Vietnam. Co-directors Ido and Yael Zand’s documentary follows the challenges facing Chabad emissaries Rabbi Menachem and Racheli Hartman as they encounter an eclectic mix of Israeli expats and Jews from the Diaspora. Tue. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, 11361 Bunche Hall, Room 135, UCLA, Los Angeles. (310) 825-9646. international.ucla.edu/israel.

WED JAN 9

IRAN, AMERICA, ISRAEL AND THE JEWS

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and 30 Years After hold a discussion with an Islamic affairs analyst from ADL’s Center on Extremism, on “Special Report: What the Iranian Government Is Telling Its Own People About America, Israel and Jews,” an expert breakdown on media within Iran’s borders today. Wed. 7:30 p.m. Free (advance registration required). Anti-Defamation League, 10495 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 446-4229. regions.adl.org/pacific-southwest.

“ISRAEL ELECTIONS 2013″

This 90-minute discussion maps out, clarifies and distinguishes between the platforms for the major political parties and players running in Israel’s general election on Jan. 22. Using advance interactive technologies and the most up-to-date information, experts examine how the leaders of Israel envision the future of the Jewish state. Every participant receives “Israel Seminars’ Guide to the Politically Perplexed 2013.” Wed. 7:30 p.m. Free. Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 652-7354, ext. 215. tbala.org/israel.

THU JAN 10

“THE DUDE AND THE ZEN MASTER”

Jeff Bridges’ portrayal of The Dude, the laid-back protagonist in the Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski,” is pop-culture gold. In the new book, “The Dude and the Zen Master,” Bridges and Roshi Bernie Glassman offer a glimpse into conversations between student and teacher, a shared philosophy of life and spirituality and everyday wisdom. The result is a dialogue about life, laughter and the movies as well as a reminder of the importance of doing good in a difficult world. Bridges and Glassman appear in person along with the Rev. Danny Fisher, coordinator of the Buddhist chaplaincy department at University of the West. Thu. 7:30 p.m. $25. Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, The Aratani/Japan America Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St., downtown. (213) 228-7025. lfla.org.

FRI JAN 11

“FREUD’S LAST SESSION”

Starring Tony-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winner Judd Hirsch (“Taxi”) and Tom Cavanagh (“Ed”), Mark St. Germain’s off-Broadway play imagines a late-in-life meeting between Dr. Sigmund Freud (Hirsch), the Jewish atheist father of psychoanalysis, and the philosophical Christian author-professor C.S. Lewis (Cavanagh). The result is a discourse on life’s big questions just weeks before Freud’s death amid the ominous sounds of World War II. Talkbacks follow performances on Jan. 13 and Jan. 17, featuring Jack Miles, a Pulitzer-winner and professor of English and religious studies at UC Irvine, and Morris Eagle, professor emeritus at the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, respectively. Fri. Through Feb. 10. 7:30 p.m. $42-$67. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. (310) 434-3200. thebroadstage.com.

“THE QUARTET”

Dustin Hoffman makes his screen directorial debut with this comic film starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon and Billy Connolly. Set in a home for retired opera singers, an annual charity concert to celebrate composer Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and a resident’s ex-wife. As old grudges re-emerge, it becomes apparent that having four of the finest operatic singers under one roof is no guarantee that the show will go on. Opens Friday. bbc.co.uk/bbcfilms/film/quartet

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Dec. 15-21, 2012

SAT DEC 15

“Voices and Visions” 

Connecting Jewish thought, art and people, this exhibition at the Skirball features artworks that pair contemporary Jewish artists with past and present Jewish thinkers, including Hillel, Maimonides and Susan Sontag. The project aims to inspire reflection, conversation and a deeper connection to Jewish values, as renowned artists and designers Milton Glaser, Arnold Schwartzman, Carin Goldberg and others interpret and graphically transform the words of Jewish luminaries into striking images. Through March 17. Sat. $10 (general), $7 (seniors, full-time students), $5 (children 2-12). Free. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. skirball.org.

 

SUN DEC 16

“El Idish”

Celebrate Yiddish culture in Argentina with an afternoon of film, song, dance and food. The festivities include music by the Modern Yiddish Tango Trio and clarinetist Gustavo Bulgach, a tango demonstration by Karen Goodman, Chanukah empanadas and Argentine wine. Miri Koral, CEO at the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language (CIYCL), introduces “Sowing Wheat — Reaping Doctors,” a multimedia presentation. The event kicks off the CIYCL’s 2012-2013 series on contemporary Yiddish culture. Sun. 4 p.m. $12 (general), $10 (CIYCL and Santa Monica Synagogue members), $5 (students). Santa Monica Synagogue, 1448 18th St., Santa Monica. (310) 745-1190. yiddishinstitute.org.

Chanukah Music Festival

The City of West Hollywood hosts a Chanukah Music Festival at Plummer Park featuring Kol Sephardic Choir and Flamenco Dancers. Including singers from Los Angeles and Orange counties, Kol Sephardic Choir will perform a repertoire consisting of Sephardic Romanceros sung in Ladino and liturgical/religious songs in Hebrew with Sephardic melodies. Sun. 4-5:30 p.m. Free (guests will receive a CD with $20 donation). Plummer Park, Fiesta Hall, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 557-1096. kolsephardicchoir.com.

“Kosher Lust” 

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, television and radio host and author of the international best-seller “Kosher Sex,” opines on one of his favorite topics: relationships. Appearing at the West Coast Torah Center, he examines the importance of building marriage on covetousness, rather than romance. Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, director of Jewlicious Festivals, moderates. Sun. 7 p.m. $10. West Coast Torah Center, 322 N. Foothill Road, Beverly Hills. (310) 277-5544. jconnectla.com.

 

TUE DEC 18

“The Rabbi’s Cat”

Set in 1930s Algiers, this animated adaptation of the beloved series by French comic-book artist Joann Sfar tells the story of a widowed rabbi, his beautiful daughter and a cat that swallows the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. Philosophical, skeptical and lustful, the cat insists he wants a bar mitzvah and, joined by the rabbi, embarks on a journey in search of Jerusalem. Sfar co-directs. French animated feature “The Painting” as well as short films “Dripped” and “Tram” also screen. Sun. 8 p.m. $13 (general), $11 (students). Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 260-1528. americancinemathequecalendar.com.

 

THU DEC 20

OU West Coast Torah Convention

The Orthodox Union’s (OU) West Coast 22nd annual Torah Convention explores “The Quest for Spirituality.” Tonight, Rabbi Jacob Schacter of Yeshiva University delivers the keynote address, “The Quest for Spirituality — Timeless Challenge: Contemporary Solutions,” followed by a panel discussion featuring Rabbi Meyer May, executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and David Suissa, president of TRIBE Media Corp/Jewish Journal. Other events include scholars-in-residence at OU-member synagogues on Shabbat morning, a Shabbat luncheon at Pat’s, and the Dr. Beth Samuels Memorial Lectures on Sunday, featuring Rebbetzin Yael Weil and Rebbetzin Aviva Tessler. Thu. Through Dec. 23. Various times and locations. ou.org/synagogue_services/westcoast

 

FRI DEC 21

“The Guilt Trip” 

An inventor (Seth Rogen) hits the road with his mother (Barbra Streisand) on a quest to sell his latest invention. “The Guilt Trip” is based on a real trip screenwriter Dan Fogelman took with his mother. Co-stars include Adam Scott, Colin Hanks and Brett Cullen. Fri. Various times, prices and locations. guilttripmovie.com.

My Jerusalem 

Blending nice Jewish boy Jeff Klein’s upbringing with his inclination for bruised rock anthems, Austin, Texas-based quintet My Jerusalem recently released its sophomore album, “Preachers,” which songwriter Klein describes as “post-modern Southern gothic soul.” Appearing at Hollywood venue the Fonda Theatre, My Jerusalem opens tonight for L.A. punk rockers X during the famed group’s “X-mas 2012.” Fri. 9 p.m. $32. Fonda Theatre, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 464-6269. fondatheatre.com

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Nov. 3-9, 2012

SAT NOV 3

Good Food Conference/Localicious

LACMA hosts provocative panel discussions exploring issues integral to building organic and sustainable food systems. On Sunday, head to the beach for Good Food’s Localicious fundraiser, featuring signature dishes prepared by 30 of L.A’.s leading chefs paired with 30 farmers from the Santa Monica Farmers Markets. Sat. Noon. $45 (includes museum admission). Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 857-6010. Sun. 6-9 p.m. $125. Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica. goodfoodfestivals.com/la.

“Ripe” 

After the death of a close friend, actress-comedian Wendy Hammers undergoes a transformation. She divorces her husband and re-enters the dating world in this autobiographical one-woman show. Blending dance, humor and confession, “Ripe” recounts the previous 10 years of Hammers’ life and celebrates the wisdom she gains along the way. Sat. Through Nov. 11. 8 p.m. $25. Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 655-7679, Ext. 100. greenwayarts.org.


SUN NOV 4

Mitzvah Day

Synagogues from the San Fernando, Conejo, Simi, Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys pitch in and help out at a combination of on-site and off-site community service projects for kids, teens and adults, including campus beautification, food drives for Thanksgiving, making Chanukah cards, packing lunches for the homeless, writing letters to U.S. military service members, decorating pot holders for women in refugee camps, hiking trail cleanups, visiting seniors and donating blood. Congregations Adat Ari El, Temple Adat Elohim, Temple Ahavat Shalom, Shomrei Torah Synagogue, Temple Aliyah, Temple Judea, Valley Beth Shalom and others participate. Sponsored by The Jewish Federation Valley Alliance. Sun. Various times and locations. Free. Visit synagogue Web sites for additional details.


MON NOV 5

Zion Ozeri

World-renowned photographer Ozeri captures the cross-cultural dimensions of contemporary Jewish life from Bukhara to Djerba, Sana to Brooklyn, Mumbai to St. Petersburg. During “Jewish Identity, Jewish Diversity Through Photography,” Ozeri addresses how his images reflect ritual, spirituality and slices of Jewish life. On Nov. 6, he leads “The Language of Photography, Spring Board to a Social Action,” a workshop that examines the intersection of social action, his Jewish identity and photography. Mon. 4-5 p.m. Free. Pepperdine University campus, Pendleton Learning Center 125. Tue. Noon-1 p.m. Free. Fireside Room, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. (310) 506-4164. pepperdine.edu.

Leonard Cohen 

The oft-covered singer-songwriter and Shabbat-observant JewBu is still going strong. After the release of his 12th studio album, “Old Ideas,” earlier this year, Cohen hit a career high of No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Performing songs of love, desire, hope and redemption, the 78-year-old troubadour appears tonight with his eight-piece band at downtown’s Nokia Theatre. Mon. 8 p.m. $49.50-$279.75. Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, 777 Chick Hearn Court, downtown. (213) 763-6030. nokiatheatrelalive.com.


WED NOV 7

Hélène Grimaud

Born to Jewish parents from Corsica and North Africa, the French classical pianist frequently collaborates with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and is known for boldly reinterpreting works. Appearing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall for an imaginative recital program, the charismatic Grimaud performs Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 8, Berg’s Piano Sonata, Opus 1, Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor and Bartok’s “Romanian Folk Dances.” Wed. 8 p.m. $55.50-$112.50. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown. (323) 850-2000. laphil.com.


FRI NOV 9

Barbra Streisand

The legendary entertainer and eight-time Grammy winner brings Broadway to the Bowl for two nights, concluding a tour of the United States and Canada in support of her new album, “Release Me,” a collection of previously unreleased songs. Streisand performs crowd-pleasing hits that span her entire career, including “The Way We Were,” an homage to the late Marvin Hamlisch, and sings duets with son Jason Gould, half-sister Roslyn Kind and more. Pop-jazz trumpeter Chris Botti and Italian operatic trio ll Volo also appear. Fri. 8 p.m. Nov 11. 7:30 p.m. $70.50-$756.50. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 850-2000. hollywoodbowl.com.

“Cave … A Dance for Lilith”

Theatre Dybbuk and the L.A. Cotemporary Dance Company examine the notion of the outsider and the stranger through Lilith, the primary demon figure in Jewish folklore who is said to be the first woman before Eve. Incorporating Hebrew goddess mythology, kabbalistic concepts of creation and multicultural narratives of oppression and freedom, the multidisciplinary performance features five dancers and two actors whose movements offer multiple layers of meaning. Through Nov. 18. Fri. 8:30 p.m. $20 (online), $25 (door). Diavolo Performance Space, 616 Moulton Ave., downtown. brownpapertickets.com

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Oct. 27–Nov 2, 2012

SAT OCT 27

“Seeds of Resiliency”

Documentarian Susan Polis Schutz’s new film introduces us to 12 diverse people who have survived tragedies and challenges by having hope and helping others, including a Holocaust survivor who believes that “the worst can bring out the best in us,” a man who escaped war-torn Uganda and now assists other refugees, and a Korean professor who became a quadriplegic but does not consider himself unfortunate. Sat. Various times. $5. Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Laemmle’s Town Center 5, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (310) 478-3836. laemmle.com.

SUN OCT 28

“Midrashic Mirrors”

An art exhibition and panel discussion marks the completion of “Midrashic Mirrors: Creating Holiness in Imagery and Intimacy,” a book project developed by a group of female artists and writers at Temple Israel of Hollywood, which illustrates how the creative process animates the nexus between Torah and our personal lives. A wine, cheese and dessert reception kicks off the festivities, followed by a walk-through of the installation. Afterward, Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh facilitates a discussion with the project’s authors and artists. The event concludes with a first-edition book signing and sale, with proceeds benefiting Temple Israel’s education scholarships. Sun. 3-6 p.m. Free. Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 876-8330. tioh.org.

Propositions Party

Are you confused about the propositions? Temple Kol Tikvah holds a nonpartisan forum for California voters to learn about of the issues on the Nov. 6 ballot. Speakers present the pro and con positions on all 11 of the state propositions, which include tax initiatives to fund schools, labeling of genetically modified food, three-strikes reform, an end to the death penalty and increased penalties for human trafficking. Sun. 3-6 p.m. Free. Temple Kol Tikvah, 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 348-0670. koltikvah.org.

“Unbroken Spirit”

Former Soviet refusenik Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich, who at the age of 22 attempted to hijack a plane to the West to raise awareness about the desperate plight of Soviet Jews, discusses and signs the newly released English translation of his memoir, “Unbroken Spirit: A Heroic Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival.” Sun. 7 p.m. Free (reservations required). Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 553-8403. museumoftolerance.com/unbrokenspirit.

MON OCT 29

“Jewish Values and the 2012 Ballot”

IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous and Rabbi Ronit Tsadok, American Jewish University’s Rabbi Aryeh Cohen and leaders of social justice organization Bend the Arc discuss the November ballot initiatives through a Jewish lens, addressing what Jewish tradition says about the death penalty, criminal justice and income equality. Mon. 7:30 p.m. Free. Westside JCC, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 634-1870, (323) 761-8350. ikar-la.org, bendthearc.us/events.

TUE OCT 30

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

Conductor Zubin Mehta leads the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Schubert’s Symphony No. 3, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Brahms’ Symphony
No. 1. Pianist Yuja Wang also appears. Tue. 8 p.m. $47-$156. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 850-2000. laphil.com.

THU NOV 1

“Rita in Concert: A Celebration of My Roots”

Israel’s diva reconnects with her Iranian roots and brings a world-music experience to UCLA as part of her U.S. tour. Rita performs selections from her latest album, “My Joys,” which features contemporary renditions of classic Iranian songs, blending Tel Aviv-inspired club music, pop and gypsy sounds with Farsi lyrics. Sponsored by the Iranian American Jewish Federation. Thu. 7:30 p.m. $35-$200. UCLA campus, Royce Hall, 240 Royce Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 825-2101. cap.ucla.edu

Pete Wilson and Gray Davis

Former Govs. Wilson and Davis discuss Propositions 30 and 38, initiatives on the November election ballots that promise to raise additional money for K-12 education and community colleges. Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles and Journal columnist, moderates. Thu. 7:30 p.m. Free. Stephen S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. wisela.org.

FRI NOV 2

2012 Kindertransport Association Conference

The Kindertransport Association, a nonprofit that unites children Holocaust refugees of the Kindertransport rescue movement with their descendants, hosts “Generation to Generation: Honoring the Legacy, Transforming the Future,” a three-day biennial international gathering. Workshops and speakers explore the legacy of the Kindertransports, a rescue movement that took place on the eve of World War II and saved nearly 10,000 German, Austrian and Czech children. Fri. 7 p.m. Through Nov. 4. $330 (Kindertransport Association members), $370 (general). Includes two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, programs and complimentary shuttle from John Wayne International Airport. Hotel registration: $99 per night (single or double occupancy). Irvine Marriott Hotel, 18000 Van Karman Ave., Irvine. (516) 938-6084. kindertransport.org

Calendar Picks and Clicks: Oct. 20-26, 2012

SAT OCT 20

“Six Million and One”

When Israeli documentary filmmaker David Fisher discovers the memoir of his late father, a Holocaust survivor who was interned in Gusen and Gunskirchen, Austria, Fisher decides to retrace his father’s footsteps. Realizing it’s unbearable to be alone in the wake of his father’s survival story, David convinces his sister and two of his brothers to join him on what becomes an eloquent, intense and surprisingly humorous quest to uncover their father’s past, a journey filled with joking, kibitzing and quarreling between siblings seeking meaning in their personal and family history. Sat. Various times. $11 (general), $8 (children under 12, seniors). Laemmle’s Town Center, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (310) 478-3836. laemmle.com.

 

SUN OCT 21

 

The Jewish County Fair

Join musicians, artists, nature lovers and families for this annual celebration of the fall harvest. Set on 220 wooded acres in Malibu, this day of food, fun and unity offers a Jewish twist on the county fair, featuring food trucks with glatt kosher options, carnival games, wine tasting, live music, nature hikes, children’s activities and more. Co-produced by Craig ’N Co. and Shalom Institute as part of the Big Jewish Tent initiative, which aims to build bridges through community events. Sun. Noon-5 p.m. $6 (online), $10 (door), free (children, 3 and under). Shalom Institute, 34342 Mulholland Highway, Malibu. (818) 889-5500. bigjewishtent.com.

 

“Challenges and Choices in the Jewish Media Today”

Presented by the University of Southern California’s Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life, the 32nd annual Jerome Nemer Lecture examines the role of Jewish media, which serves a community that is more prosperous and powerful than ever before but is also struggling to maintain its Jewishness. Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the Forward and the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish newsweekly, lectures on this evolution of the Jewish community and the editorial choices it demands. Sarah Benor, associate professor of contemporary Jewish studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, adds commentary and reflection on the topic. Sun. 4:30-7 p.m. Free. USC campus, University Park Campus-Davidson Conference Center, Embassy Room. (213) 740-1744. casdeninstitute.usc.edu.

 

MON OCT 22

Harry Shearer

The acclaimed funnyman (“The Simpsons,” “Le Show”) appears in conversation with Grammy Museum executive director Bob Santelli to discuss his versatile career and the making of his latest album, “Can’t Take a Hint.” Shearer also performs selections from his new release, which features musical sketches that pair him with giants of pop, r&b and jazz while tackling issues of the day, including the foibles of celebrity, the Bridge to Nowhere, the cost of war and weather extremes. Mon. 7:30 p.m. $20. Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown. (213) 765-6800. grammymuseum.org.

 

TUES OCT 23

Rami and the Piano

Called Israel’s Elton John and Billy Joel, chart-topping Israeli pop singer Rami Kleinstein performs at American Jewish University as part of his U.S. concert tour. The intimate show will feature a selection of original pieces, including songs about political unrest and love, and covers of American classics. Proceeds benefit educational programs at Keshet Chaim, a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating Israeli culture and Judaism throughout the world. Tue. 8 p.m. $50 (advance), $60 (door), $100 (VIP, includes post-concert reception with Kleinstein). American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (818) 986-7332. kcdancers.org.

 

WED OCT 24

“It’s All for the Breast”

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the City of West Hollywood hold an educational community program that provides breast cancer awareness information for women and men. A panel discussion features breast cancer experts, including breast surgeons Drs. Alice Chung and Jerrold Steiner, radiologist Dr. Steve Frankel, plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Betty Kim, and oncologist Dr. Monica Mita. Moderated by Heidi Shink, the City of West Hollywood’s commissioner for human services. Wed. Noon-2 p.m. Free. NCJW/LA Council House, 543 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 852-8503. ncjwla.org.

 

THU OCT 25

“Triple Art Opening”

A reception at the Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA Hillel celebrates the opening of three art exhibitions, and a musical tribute in memory of late reporter and musician Daniel Pearl takes place as part of Daniel Pearl World Music Days. Presented in conjunction with the Fowler Museum at UCLA’s “Light and Shadows” exhibition, “What Remains: The Iranian Jewish Experience” includes sculptures, photography and a video installation; “Where the Past Meets the Future” features an installation of 140 wooden boxes that depict the history of Poland and its Jews; and “Frozen Music” presents Gil Garcetti’s black-and-white photographic study of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Thu. 7-9 p.m. (opening reception). Through Dec. 14. Free. Hillel at UCLA, 574 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 203-3081, ext. 108. ucla.hillel.org.

My Single Peeps: Altara M.

Altara is an only child, raised in New York. She wants to find a man from the East Coast. And when she wants something, she goes after it. That’s how she got in this column.

“At 27, I bought myself a little Mercedes. I focused on something I was really good at. I sold advertising. Because I had so much success in that, I was able to go to Sundance and become a journalist, do my own radio show, do some acting work. Because I know my pattern of behavior, when I say I’m going to do this as my full-time job, it frees me up to do it.”

She’s 32 now and wants to get her real-estate license and start selling homes. But her passion is entertainment. “When you’re passionate about something, you’ll put all your energy into making it successful because you deem it important.” She tells me about the documentary she’s been working on — “It’s going to be out of this world.”

She’s an only child, and, unlike someone like me — the third of four siblings — she is brimming with self-esteem. She doesn’t seem to have a fear of failure, or any self-deprecation. “A casting director called me in to play the younger version of Barbra Streisand. So when I get things now, they’re pretty big.” I ask her if she got the job. “No. It went to a girl who had her nose and her eyes.”

She takes charge of the interview and asks me, “Do you want to know what I like to do?” I shrug. “Sure.” She says, “Hiking, working out, anything that has to do with working hard and pushing myself. I like to do Bikram yoga when I feel like being really cruel to myself. I hike Runyon [Canyon] five to seven days a week for about an hour and a half per day. I go to the gym for body-sculpting classes and Pilates classes, and I like to use the treadmill and talk to my friends. I love movies, of course. I love to do new things. When I go on a date, I like to do new things. If they do the same thing the last guy did, it’s unoriginal.”

“So, no dinners?” I ask. She says, “It comes down to original conversation. Show me your real personality. Even if it’s just grabbing a bite to eat, if the person is interesting, who cares what we’re doing.”

She wants to meet a man who isn’t on the same page as her — “maybe a little further ahead. Maybe a little older. I’d like to meet someone in the business out here, but I’m not opposed to meeting a doctor.” A Jewish woman looking for a doctor? Shocker.

“I’m looking for the real deal. I’m looking for a soul mate. My parents have been married for 39 years. I think they’re perfect for one another.”

Altara didn’t grow up religious, but she recently started going to Shabbat dinners hosted by a Chabad rabbi. “Everyone I met most recently in the Jewish community is amazing, and it’s like everyone knows each other. I realize I like having that “family” out here. I didn’t realize how powerful it could be. The people I’m hanging out with are amazing, and I guess I didn’t realize that until I needed it.”

She’s decided to start saying yes to more things in life. “I think that’s the moral of the story when it comes to my life. Sometimes you just have to keep moving forward when it comes to doing things. Choose new avenues — and keep yourself open and not be closed off.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

JDate study claims more Jewish marriage matches than its competitors

The Jewish dating Web site JDate recently announced results from a study that claims the site is responsible for facilitating more Jewish marriages than all other dating Web sites combined. The study, commissioned in-house by JDate’s parent company, Spark Networks, and conducted by the research company ResearchNow, reportedly was based on a survey of 948 Jewish Internet users who have married since 2003. Of those surveyed, 52 percent said they met their match on JDate, compared with Match.com, which facilitated 17 percent, and eHarmony, which can claim 10 percent.

Spark Networks released the results of the study on a single-page press release that contained several added statistics to support its claims, but did not provide any additional supporting materials, including how the participants were selected and specific details on what questions were asked. Requests to obtain the full study were denied by Spark Networks and by ResearchNow, which operates under terms of strict confidentiality.

Steven M. Cohen, a research professor of Jewish social policy for Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner, said that while the results of the study may be credible, they are not verifiable.

“The recently conducted study, while promising, doesn’t provide enough of the critical details that we need to assess the validity of its claims,” Cohen said during a phone interview. “It’s like getting an untested product from an unknown manufacturer — it may be a good product, but there could be serious flaws.”

In addition to claiming credit for the majority of Jewish marriages facilitated online, the study also notably claims that 63 percent of all Jewish dates since 2008 were fostered by JDate (up 6 percent since 2003), compared with Match.com’s 19 percent and eHarmony’s 7 percent; that 76 percent of those Jews who used an online dating service used JDate; and more than half the Jews who have married since 2008 report having used an online dating site in their search for a partner.

If true, those are the kinds of claims that JDate, which bills itself as “the premier Jewish singles community online,” should be proud to publicize. So why is the company refusing to disclose the full results of the study?

Cohen wondered whether JDate’s parent company fears subjecting the study to the academic community’s scientific standards. But he also said that it is not unusual for a commercial enterprise to conduct its own research and use select claims in their advertising. “The behavior is not the most admirable, but it is not illegal or unethical,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he sees value in the company regardless of the results, saying that the very existence of JDate promotes Jewish marriage at a time when more and more Jews are marrying later — or maybe not at all — or, alternatively, intermarrying. “Right now we are seeing significant adverse demographic consequences of nonmarriage and intermarriage for the Jewish population in America,” he said. “And JDate promises to promote marriage and probably in-marrying,” and that as long “as we can promote marriage and in-marriage, we can promote the stability, if not the expansion of, the Jewish population in the coming generations.”

My Single Peeps: Michele K.

As soon as Michele sits down with me, she says, “I’m crap at talking about myself.” Hear it with a British accent, and it’s 10 times cuter. I’ve known Michele for years — she’s a friend of a friend — and I realize I don’t know a whole lot about her. She really is crap at talking about herself. She’s a great listener. And unlike the rest of us who moved to Los Angeles because we’re desperate for attention due to getting lost in big, loud families and having dead fathers (just me?), Michele is quietly comfortable with who she is.

Michele grew up in England, in a small Jewish community outside of London. “We grew up kosher, Shabbat, and that’s kind of how everyone was there.” But, she says, “There were very few Jews in my high school.” To counter that, her parents sent her to a Zionist camp, “which was all about Israel. I spent a year in Israel when I was 18 and made aliyah when I was 27. I lived in Israel for seven years. I grew up to be a Zionist.”

She moved to Los Angeles 11 years ago. “Israel’s not an easy place to live. I had the best time, a great life socially, but work-wise and living-wise it’s a tough place. Israelis are tough. Energy’s tough.” 

Michele runs her own business, Mak Designs. “I do design consultancy. I go to homes or events and help people figure out what colors they want. I don’t even need to buy new stuff. I’ll help them organize their house. I do a lot of weddings.”

She’s 43, but is open to dating anyone between 35 and 50. “I want to have a family. I think that’s important. I’m definitely interested in someone who wants to have kids.” She’s also spiritual and looking for someone similarly minded, who’s “not just living in the physical.” Although she wasn’t raised in a spiritual home, it always appealed to her. “I was always interested in angels and going to psychics and meditation, and it just grew and grew. I was always looking for ways to change and ways to grow. I don’t think you can change in this world unless you have some kind of faith, some kind of spiritual path, some kind of connection to God initially.”

I ask her more about being spiritual, and she says, “I don’t want to freak people out. I wouldn’t use the word normal, but I’m a very grounded, practical person. I believe in the physical, I’m grounded, I’m on this planet. I think you have to balance the spiritual and the physical. Some people go off on a mountain and meditate, but what are they actually doing with their lives?”

I wind my way back to the subject of dating and ask her if she works at it. “Oh God, no one can fault me for not trying. I date. I’ve been in lots of relationships. I broke up with someone recently and started dating again. Even though I get to the point of ‘I’m not going on a f—-ing blind date ever again,’ I do. I just think I haven’t met the right guy. I’m not looking for Mr. Regular. I think I’m always looking for something more. And I think those guys aren’t easy to find.” 

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: Benson S.

Benson was born in Canada. “I call it Poland, because the winters are so bad.” He asks me about myself, and when I answer, he lifts his hands in the air and waves his fingers at me. He’s sending me “blessings,” he says. He has this spiritual/guru kind of bent to everything he says, and it’s not my kind of thing but I’m sure some girl reading this will be all over him like soybeans on tempeh. He’s got the charisma of a preacher, and as much as I blush around people who sincerely use the word “chakra,” I find Benson interesting to talk to.

Benson tells me about wanting to find a girl who’s working on herself in therapy. “I work on myself — but in a fun way.” He quotes from a book he’s writing, “Stop trying to be good and start trying to see good.” But when I ask him about how often he sees a therapist, he says, “I did a few years of therapy but I work with a healer all the time. Someone who has a system where she helps you get rid of negative patterns. She started doing sound therapy — it’s really difficult to explain. She’s removing limited belief systems.” “How does she do it?” I ask. “I don’t know … I just breathe.”

I really want to help Benson find someone. He’s genuine about his search, and there are definitely other people who are into this sort of stuff. I’m just not one of them. It’s not Benson I’m annoyed with — he’s a good guy — but industries built around charging people for hocus-pocus. Sound therapy to delete patterns in your brain that aren’t serving you? 

He tells me about being an actor for the past 20 years, and that he’s working on a DVD called “Master Your Audition.” “It even has a section where I look directly into the camera and say, ‘You’re amazing, you’re talented …’ ” He continues, “If God were preparing me for an audition, it has everything I want.” It sounds so odd, but later, when I show my wife a video of him talking about acting on YouTube, she says, “He’s interesting to listen to. He draws you in.”

I shift gears and ask about his hobbies outside of work. “My hobbies turn into my craft. I started painting, and that turned into people wanting to buy it, and putting them in galleries. I just had my second show as an artist.” He gave a painting to a friend of mine, and she says she loves it, so he might be on to something. He also goes to the gym five days a week, takes Pilates two days a week and meditates every morning.

“I keep kosher. I’ll never work on Shabbat or holidays. I just had to turn down a film in Canada because of it. I’ve been really lucky. On one shoot, it went late, and I got in my car, and as soon as it was Shabbat, I pulled the car over and walked home.”

“What do you want to get out of this?” I ask. He says, “To put myself out there, to commit to put myself out there in a bigger way. It’s in my book — shameless contribution …” but as he starts to quote from his book again, I stop typing. I need a break from the feel-goodness of it all and exit the Starbucks. On my way out, I take my plastic cup and toss it in the bin not marked for recycling. I’ve got a real bad temper.

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

My Single Peeps: J Keith

When I first met J Keith, I found his personality really grating. A friend brought him to a softball game my wife and I used to organize every Sunday. He was competitive and started to take over the game. I’m not competitive.  I’m not a huge fan of sports. But I loved our low-key softball games. And this guy was f—-ing them up.

J Keith runs a show called “The Fix Up Show,” “which is a live on-stage matchmaking show where we fix up people on dates with the help of celebrities.” He’s hit me up many times to use “my single peeps” for his shows, and I send them his way. But I know he’s still single. And although I had remembered him being really irksome, I thought I’d give him another chance. So I told him to sit down for an interview with me.

He shows up to meet me looking like a shlump in an old baseball hat, ill-fitting jeans and a sweatshirt. But I quickly notice a nice, tailored dress shirt peeking out of the sweatshirt, as well as an understated dress watch on his wrist. You can sense he comes from money, but it goes back a couple of generations. There’s no need to show it off. “Make me look good,” he says. “Why?” I ask. “Make me look accurate, how about that?” I promise him I will do my best.

J Keith’s last name is Dutch, so people are often surprised to find out he’s “100 percent Jewish.” He was born and raised in Chicago with no religion. “I’m about 96 percent atheist,” he says. His mother was killed in a car accident when he was 2, and his father remarried twice. At 14, he moved to Los Angeles “under great duress.”

He’s a writer/performer. “I’m not a good actor. I’m a good host.” He did a bunch of those VH1 talking-head shows. “I’m good at being quippy that way.” He also writes poetry. And not the cool, hip kind. “It would not work well in a slam. It would work better in a bookstore or a coffeehouse. It’s not contemporary. The best thing about my poetry is that I won’t make anyone read it.” When he discusses it, though, I get a window into his intellectual side, and he lights up as he discusses history. 

He loves art, theater and baseball. “I’m a huge Angels fan, so I’d love someone who’d go with me to games. I also love board games. I’m in a Scrabble club … ladies?” he says with a laugh.

He wants a woman who’s smart, pretty and thin. “Someone who does something creative, even if it’s not their occupation. It’s really important to me that someone does something creative in their life.”

He also wants a woman who works on herself in some way. “I’m very pro-therapy. I think everyone should do therapy. It should be government mandated. We all have our issues, but as long as we’re working on them somehow, it’s very appealing.” 

I ask him about being an artist and if now, at 40, an unstable career scares him. “There was a point where every year was better than the year before, and I thought that will keep happening, but it didn’t. Fortunately, I’ve done well with what I’ve saved, and in many ways I’m a responsible grown-up. I have an IRA, no debt, matching placemats. Luckily I don’t need to worry about money.”

He looks at his watch and excuses himself. “All right, I don’t want to be late to therapy.”

If you’re interested in anyone you see on My Single Peeps, send an e-mail and a picture, including the person’s name in the subject line, to mysinglepeeps@jewishjournal.com, and we’ll forward it to your favorite peep.


Seth Menachem is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. You can see more of his work on his Web site, sethmenachem.com, and meet even more single peeps at mysinglepeeps.com.

Some boo the Hindu that you do so well — others, not so much

Last Friday night at Sinai Temple, Rabbi David Wolpe came off the bimah during services and whispered into my ear. “Interdating?! I bet you got some letters.”

The rabbi was right: Letters, phone calls and a woman at Sinai who followed me down in the elevator and out into the parking garage while she accused me of destroying the Jewish people.

In last week’s column I proposed addressing the pain of Jewish women approaching the end of their childbearing years who cannot find a Jewish mate. One solution, I wrote, would be to encourage them to date non-Jews, and for our rabbis and community leaders to create pathways for inclusion and conversion for the non-Jewish partners.

The idea sparked dozens of responses pro and con, and in fairness to the idea’s detractors (and supporters) we reprint a sample on these pages, with a brief coda by me.

Our Hindu Widows

I am one of those 40-something women that you referred to in your article, “Our Hindu Widows,” (Aug. 10).

Almost all synagogue- (including Orthodox) and Jewish organization-sponsored singles events are for the 21-39 age range. As I said to an Orthodox rabbi a few years ago, “I didn’t choose to be single and in my 40s … it’s just the way things have worked out.”

The synagogues and Jewish organizations make the age range quite clear. Some go as far as to card individuals before allowing them to enter the event.

Your suggestion of interdating is too easy, in addition to being an unacceptable option for me and for many of us. There are single Jewish women in their 30s and 40s, and there are single Jewish men in there 30s and 40s, as well.

Los Angeles is the second largest Jewish community in the United States. Instead of suggesting interdating, why don’t you challenge those rabbis and community leaders in the synagogues and Jewish organizations to sponsor events for those of us who are 40-plus?

Try being part of the solution instead of helping to decrease our numbers.

Name withheld by request

Yesterday I came across your editorial on the problems of 30’s-40’s women finding Jewish men to marry . . . I naturally read it with great interest.

I could identify with all the players in the drama. I had fallen hopelessly in love several times in my teen ‘s and 20’s and would have certainly married the objects of my affection (or was it affliction), if they wold have had me (actually one young woman who I adored was secretly in love with me but her mother pushed her to marry the nice Jewish doctor and never let her know that I was leaving message after message for her … When I was in my 40’s, I was meeting many attractive, eligible women but was no longer falling in love……perhaps what you describe in your piece was true of me….too many options……

The last number of years I have felt ready and have been more open.

I’m open to having a family, and have been dating women much younger than myself. I went to the Oscars this year with one of the young stars of a musical, she’s 22. In the fall I had a serious relationship with a bright young woman of 27 that I thought I had potential, but sadly fizzled. I’m on my way to NY now, where there is a rather attractive model, who is a Stanford grad, also in her 20’s whom I’ve been seeing when I’m in the city. None of these women are Jewish. There is a young woman of 32 who I have dated since she was 19 but stopped seeing recently, a very bright, terrific person, who I suspect has always been in love with me, but sadly that level of Chemistry, hasn’t been there for me. She is not Jewish, but is in the process of converting.

Now what’s ironic here is that when I meet a Jewish woman in her 30’s or 40’s…..that I feel I could develop a serious interest with, most are not interested in a man over 50. Why is that? I only date super intelligent, spiritually evolved women…….the gentile women don’t have a problem with age (I think of my self as a 9 yr. old in an older guy’s body). Maybe some of these spectacular women who are seriously looking for a Jewish “mister right” should just set their sights higher…… age wise.

My vitality level is really higher than most of the guys I know in their 30’s. I’ve never been married and I’ve saved all my alimony for the right woman. Anyhow, you can pass this email along to your 30-40 something desperate to be housewives or career women, if you like……..

Name withheld by request
The week your article “Hindu Widows” was published was also the week that I launched a new venture, Frieda’s Table, focusing on single, eligible Jews in their thirties and forties. As a woman who met my bashert late and had my children just “under the wire,” I am keenly aware that I might not have been so lucky. I also know that many events for Jewish singles are devoid of Jewish content, and that Jewish singles are (still!) treated with condescension. The meet-markets and even singles services can be very alienating. My goal is to create interesting, rewarding, programs in a respectful and caring atmosphere. The worst-case scenario for a singles event should be that someone might say, “That was a great program. I got a lot out of it, and I met some really nice people. Too bad I didn’t connect with anyone I want to date.”

All those “beautiful, brilliant” women you describe can regale you with horror stories of Jewish events that scarred them rather than helped. I don’t think rabbis can responsibly recommend inter-dating until we do our part to promote intra-dating. We need to make showing up as a single person — whether to a singles event or to anything else in the Jewish community — a welcoming, positive experience.

Calendar

MAY 21/SATURDAY

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters: “18 Pockets of Joy” Golf Tournament fundraiser to help send underserved youths to Camp Max Straus. Lost Canyons Golf Club, Simi Valley. (323) 761-8675, ext. 30.

Paramount Classics: “Mad Hot Ballroom,” a documentary that takes you inside the lives of 11-year-old New York City public school kids who journey into the world of ballroom dancing opens this week. Check local listings. www.paramountclassics.com.

Temple Emanuel: 6:30 p.m. ’50s dinner dance and celebration. Dinner, live music and dancing. $180+. 300 N. Clark Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 278-7749.

Ford Amphitheatre: 7:30 p.m. French group Bratsch performs Gypsy, Russian, Armenian and Yiddish songs, as well as their own. $30-$40.

2580 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 461-3673.



MAY 22/SUNDAY

YOM HASHOAH

Temple Ner Maarav: Dinner honoring Holocaust survivors. Jeffrey Mausner of the Department of Justice speaks about prosecuting Nazi war criminals in the United States. Screening of “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust” follows dinner. 17730 Magnolia Blvd., Encino. R.S.V.P., (818) 345-7833.

SHAVUOT

Calabasas Shul: 5-8 p.m. Shavuot cooking class with Chef Levana. Private residence. R.S.V.P., (818) 591-7485.


MAY 23/MONDAY

LECTURES

Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center: 7 p.m. Free Community Education Seminar on “Bariatric Surgery.” Encino Hospital Campus, 16237 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 995-5060.


MAY 24/TUESDAY

LECTURES

Magen David of Beverly Hills: 7:30-

9 p.m. “Self Discovery Through the Eyes of the Kabbalah” series for young adults with Joseph Melamed. Free. 322 N. Foothill Road, Beverly Hills. fouad@ucla.edu.


MAY 25/WEDNESDAY

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Skirball Cultural Center: 7:30 p.m. “On a Note of Triumph.” Dramatic reading of the original V-E Day CBS broadcast of Norman Corwin’s rumination on WWII’s significance. Introduction by Corwin. $10-$15. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.


MAY 26/THURSDAY

LAG B’OMER

Temple Ner Tamid of Downey: 6 p.m. Lag B’Omer Barbecue. $5. 10629 Lakewood Blvd. (562) 861-9276.


MAY 27/FRIDAY

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

South Coast Repertory: Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge” opens tonight and runs through June 26. $19-$56. Segerstrom Stage, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. (714) 708-5555.


SINGLES

MAY 21/SATURDAY

Singles Helping Others: Help today at Virgil Mills School Family Festival (323) 663-8378 or the Venice Art Walk (818) 591-0772. And tomorrow at the Brentwood Garden Tour (310) 820-5581.


MAY 22/SUNDAY

Jewish Singles, Meet (30s and 40s): 10:45 a.m. Trip to the Japanese Gardens. $3. Van Nuys. R.S.V.P., (818) 750-0095.


MAY 23/MONDAY

MOSAIC Outdoor Club: 6:45 p.m. Full- moon hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. www.mosaicla.org.


MAY 24/TUESDAY

Westwood Jewish Singles (45+):

7:30 p.m. Discussion. “Getting Out of a Relationship.” $8. R.S.V.P., (310) 444-8986.


MAY 25/WEDNESDAY

ATID (20s and 30s): 7:30 p.m. “Shabbat: Creating Sacred Space in a Hectic World.” Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 474-1518.


MAY 26/THURSDAY

Ask Dr. Joan (45+): 7 p.m. Pyramid Rotation Dinner. $45. Le Petite Jacque Cafe, Sherman Oaks. (818) 345-4588.

Aaron’s Tent/Chabad, Century City: 8 p.m. Rooftop Party Under the Stars. 9051 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 842-5109.


MAY 27/FRIDAY

Chai Center (25-35): 7-11 p.m. Dinner for 60 Strangers. www.chaicenter.org.

Â

Iceberg Sinks ‘Race’ Menches

Eleven teams. Thirty days. One-million dollars. Zero bagels. That is what 32-year-olds Avi Scheier and Joe Rashbaum tried to face as one of the teams on the sixth season of the around-the-world reality show “The Amazing Race.”

“Race” teams are given clues telling them where to go and what tasks they must perform. At the end of each episode, the last team to reach the “pit stop” is eliminated — the first team to cross the finish line at the end wins $1 million.

This season, Rashbaum had a goal beyond the money — he planned to be the first kosher guy in reality TV history: “I’m committed to staying kosher even in these foreign lands under these extreme conditions.”

Scheier, who teaches in Brooklyn, and Rashbaum, an ad man who lives in Ventura, have similar upbringings, brains, logic and physical ability. The makings of a great team.

Unfortunately, Rashbaum will never find out if kugel is served in Karachi — the “high school buddies” were eliminated in the first leg (which took teams from Chicago to Iceland) after choosing to search a 7 miles of icebergs for a small buoy and getting turned around on the way to the pit stop.

One team that chose the other option — scaling a wall of ice — were L.A. personal trainers Adam Malis, 27, and Rebecca Cardon, 29, who landed in seventh place.

The formerly dating couple met at a spinning class (she thought he was gay) and say they are complete opposites. While Cardon is social, outgoing and spontaneous, Malis, who sported a faded Jewish singles cruise T-shirt in the first episode, isn’t.

“My biggest fear is that Adam and I will kill each other and will not be able to finish the race because we will be dead,” Cardon said.

Let’s hope this team doesn’t need to communicate with the natives too much.

“[I speak] a little Hebrew, but somehow I don’t think that will come in very handy on this race,” Cardon said.

“The Amazing Race” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS.

Damaged Goods

Have you ever noticed how people who buy a newspaper from a coin-operated rack tend to ignore the top paper, and dig down for the second or third copy?

It’s basically an attempt to get a more pristine copy, for fear that the top copy may be damaged or missing something. Many folks grab their fruit from the supermarket pile in the same way.

Such habits can often appear in the dating world, too. Of course, people want someone unmarried and therefore available. But if the person has been unmarried for too long, the doubts creep in: What’s wrong that person?

It’s not an unreasonable question. After all, the usual course of action is to get married in one’s 20s or 30s. And while it’s become more common for people to stay unmarried well into their 40s and beyond (and, of course, some never marry), many people find that hard to deal with.

“I can’t believe you’ve never been married!” is something I’ve heard a number of times lately. The comment does not seem to reflect “You’re such a prize, why haven’t you been snapped up already?” but rather, “That’s so abnormal. What’s wrong with you, anyway?” The unspoken suspicion: Damaged Goods.

There’s no real easy answer. I never expected to be in my late 40s in this way, and am certainly not against being married. In fact, the idea is more appealing now than when I was younger. I’ve had some lengthy relationships, and was even engaged briefly. But the situations weren’t right, with some key differences that weren’t able to resolve to both parties’ satisfaction — in other words, not Happily Ever After — and the various dates along the way were, simply put, not the right people to marry.

I’ve known and dated some fine women, as well as some that were way wrong. It’s the usual slow process of kissing all those frogs (or frogettes) and trying to find the right person — it’s just that more time has elapsed in the process than the norm. It’s easy to begin to feel freakish. My consolation is that in my age bracket there are lots of others in the same boat, and we don’t feel so freakish among ourselves. Usually.

Those of us in our upper 40s to mid-50s came of age at a time of changes in social patterns and expectations, questioning of established habits and confused personal explorations. For example, in my high school class, “The Prom” was looked upon with far more disdain than generations before or after — it was too uncool for the Woodstock era. Dorky, even. Getting married and having babies was even somewhat alarming for those who matured as Earth Day started up and global overpopulation reached consciousness.

About half the women I’ve dated in the last few years are “Never-marrieds.” Almost all of them had the chance — they were either engaged or involved long-term relationships.

Sometimes they regret that they didn’t marry so-and-so. And most of them still like the idea of getting married. But there is comfort in knowing that someone else is also a Never-married, that the insinuations of abnormality from friends and relatives are cushioned by the numbers of other singles in similar circumstances.

All this isn’t to say that the thought, “What’s wrong with you?” doesn’t come up even within Never-marrieds, or that it doesn’t sometimes have merit. There are plenty of mama’s boys, spoiled princesses, neurotics, obsessive-compulsives and so forth. Of course, there are plenty of those types who did get married, too. (Just ask their spouses!)

But there are also many decent singles who simply haven’t found the right person. Maybe their job was unstable, or their career was building. Or their looks won’t get them into any Abercrombie & Fitch ads. Or there was a dependent family member needing caretaking. Or they lived in Palmdale and nobody would date them. Or they saw marriages that ended badly and became gun-shy.

Plus, it’s just so difficult to meet decent people, especially in the West, with so much individuality and car-bound isolation. Many speak of Jewish singles events with dread, full of people either too withdrawn, or too phony and aggressive. JDate? Many people aren’t honest in their online profiles. Synagogues? Not very encouraging to singles. Special-interest groups such as for hiking? Good to meet another hiker, but there’s so much more to finding a soulmate.

Grabbing the wrong person just to say you’ve gotten married might’ve been a course of action a generation ago. But most singles today would rather retain a bit more hope, more money and fewer lawyers — and wait for a better situation. Or a dog.

And so the search goes on. And on. And time goes by.


Steve Greenberg is an editorial
cartoonist and artist in Ventura County who contributes cartoons and
illustrations to the Jewish Journal. His e-mail is steve@greenberg-art.com
.