August 17, 2019

What’s Happening: Celebrate Israel Fest, Lag B’omer

FRI MAY 17

Musical Shabbat
Music and Shabbat go hand in hand at Adat Ari El for “N’ranena,” an upbeat evening featuring an unbroken thread of melodies. Musical participation is encouraged. While the synagogue provides the challah, guests are invited to bring a vegetarian or dairy dinner and a dessert that can be shared with families. A meal may be purchased in advance. 6-8:30 p.m. $10 per purchased meal. Adat Ari El,12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. (818) 766-9426.

SAT MAY 18

“Inherited Memories”
The recent rise of white nationalism, anti-Semitism and hate crimes prompted three Los Angeles artists, all daughters of Holocaust survivors, to come together for “Inherited Memories,” a group show opening Saturday evening. Shula Singer Arbel, Dwora Fried and Malka Nedivi confront viewers at the Castelli Art Space with the power of their memories, transformed into pictures. 6-9 p.m. opening reception. On the show’s final day, May 26, “Artists Talk,” a panel of all three artists, moderated by curator Peter Frank, will be held from 3-5 p.m. Castelli Art Space, 5428 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 204-6830.

“Come to the Cabaret”
Mere mention of the term “cabaret” evokes memories of a long-gone era in Europe, and so it is when Adat Chaverim, Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, holds “Come to the Cabaret, My Friend,” in Sherman Oaks. The band Crinoline heads the lineup of entertainers along with Heather Herington and Avi Gross performing the musical “Meshuganeh.” The evening includes a duet by Maya Day and Herington, among other acts. 5 p.m. $18 (plus an optional $10 for parking next door at the Congregational Church of the Chimes). The Aloha Room, Horace Heidt Estates, 14155 Magnolia Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (888) 552-4552.

SUN MAY 19

“Getting Into the God Zone”
Rabbi Tsvi Bar-David, founder of Qirvah, a multifaith community in Berkeley celebrating sacred ecstatic music and food, leads a two-hour workshop on sacred ecstatic music at Mishkon Tephilo. He calls it “Getting Into the God Zone.” Bar-David said this is done most effectively in a group setting and applies to a community praying together. Participants are encouraged to bring instruments. 2-4 p.m. Free. Mishkon Tephilo Social Hall,
206 Main St., Venice. (310) 392-3029.

Celebrate Israel Festival
Approximately 15,000 community members — the largest gathering of Jews anywhere in Los Angeles — go to Rancho Park for a day of solidarity at the annual Celebrate Israel Festival, commemorating 71 years of Jewish statehood. Presented by the Israeli American Council (IAC) and sponsored by Debbie and Naty Saidoff, the festival leads off with a 1-mile walk that begins an hour before the day’s official opening. Kosher food and rides galore are always popular, along with interactive activities and cultural attractions, including art. Main stage entertainment runs all day. Headliners are Israeli megastar Lior Narkis, Israeli children’s performers Dod Haim and Naama Super Al, and the dance group Re-Vital of Israel. 11 a.m. walk. Noon-7 p.m. festival. $15, $20 in advance, $30 at the door. Rancho Park, 2551 Motor Ave. (213) 254-3162.

“Barrio Boychik” Cemetary Tour
More than 150 years ago, before Abraham Lincoln became president, the Home of Peace Cemetery, the oldest Jewish burial ground in Los Angeles, was founded near the current site of Dodger Stadium. Moved to its present location in 1901, this is where Shmuel Gonzales, the “Barrio Boychik,” opens his East Los Angeles tour of the original Jewish community. Besides the pioneer burial grounds and the Byzantine/Moorish-style chapel and mausoleum, the tour stops at the tombs of famous Hollywood names, including the Warners of Warner Bros., Louis B. Mayer of MGM, and Curly and Shemp Howard of the Three Stooges. Gonzales talks about crypto Jews, Sephardic Jews and Russian Subbotnik converts to Judaism. Noon-3 p.m. Meet at front gates at 11:45 a.m. $25. Home of Peace Memorial Park, 4334 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 902-6953.

Leonard Bernstein Concert
Six cantors and a chamber orchestra at Wilshire Boulevard Temple perform some of the most memorable compositions of the late composer Leonard Bernstein. “A Celebration of Beautiful Sound” features selections from his Broadway musicals, including “West Side Story,” “Candide,” “On the Town,” “Peter Pan” and “Wonderful Town.” Jamie Bernstein, the composer’s daughter and author of “Famous Father Girl,” narrates the program. 4 p.m. $18. Wilshire Boulevard Temple sanctuary, 3663 Wilshire Blvd. , Los Angeles, (213) 388-2401.

“Waltz with Bashir”
The Sephardic Temple’s latest Sunday afternoon movie, the Oscar-nominated, animated and autobiographical 2008 film “Waltz With Bashir,” portrays a former Israeli infantry soldier’s attempt to reconstruct what happened to him in September 1982 during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. Filmmaker Ari Folman, who was 19 at the time of the conflict, interviews fellow veterans, hoping their recollections are clearer than his of the event. 4:30-6:30 p.m. Free. RSVP. Sephardic Temple, 10500 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 475-7000.

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich
Looking ahead to the 2020 election, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Nessah Synagogue community about “Donald Trump, the Most Pro-Israel President Ever.” The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and the Nessah Educational and Cultural Center organized the evening. 6:30 p.m. registration. 7 p.m. program. Free for RJC and synagogue members. $18 for all others (secure.rjchq.org). RSVP required. Nessah Synagogue, 142 S. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 478-0752.

Elan Carr
Elan Carr, the recently appointed U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, speaks with Stephen Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback about “The Rise of Global Anti-Semitism: How We Can Respond.” Carr, who has long been a public figure in the communal pushback against Jew-hatred, analyzes how Jews should fight the current increase in worldwide anti-Semitism. 7 p.m. Free. Stephen Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-8561.

TUE MAY 21

“Jewish Life in Boyle Heights”
Through video interviews, six women remember what Jewish life in Boyle Heights was like in the 1930s and ’40s. The six participants in the video are on hand to relive those moments in the Studio City Branch Library program “Jewish Life in Boyle Heights: An Oral History, Video Screening & Discussion.” Even though the high-profile Jewish dimension of Boyle Heights vanished shortly afterward, the women remember school days, family life and former businesses. 6 p.m. Free. Studio City Branch Library, 12511 Moorpark St., Studio City. (818) 755-7873.

Tabby Refael

The Future of Israel Engagement 
A panel of three journalists appears at Stephen Wise Temple with moderator Rob Eshman, former editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal, to discuss “The Future of Israel Engagement.” Co-organized by the Israel Policy Forum, the Anti-Defamation League and 30 Years After, the evening is part of a national dialogue, “Across the Divide.” Batya Ungar-Sargon, opinion editor of the Forward; Yair Rosenberg, senior writer for Tablet magazine, and Tabby Refael, Jewish Journal contributing writer and co-founder of 30 Years After, are the panelists. Stephen Wise Temple Senior Rabbi Yoshi Zweiback contributes remarks. 7 p.m. Free. Stephen Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-8561.

“Celebration of Jewish Songwriters”
Temple Akiba convenes a pianist, an actress and a journalist for “A Celebration of Jewish Songwriters.” Christina Linhardt is an actress and director who performs at the Magic Castle; Bryan Pezzone is a pianist at home with classical compositions, contemporary music, jazz and even experimental genres; and Paul Zollo was the longtime editor of SongTalk magazine. 6:30 p.m. doors open. 7 p.m. program. Refreshments. $18 suggested donation. Temple Akiba, 5249 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City. (310) 398-5783.

“Clouds of Glory” Lecture 
The Clouds of Glory became famous in the Torah for protecting the Jewish
people while they were fleeing Egypt, and now a scholar visits UCLA to lecture on “Clouds of Glory: Vanishings and Returns.” London-born Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, who made aliyah 50 years ago, is an author and holds a visiting lectureship at the London School of Jewish Studies. 6 p.m. dinner. 7:30 p.m. Dinner and lecture, $40. Lecture
only, $15. UCLA Hillel, 574 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 208-3081, ext. 108.

WED MAY 22

Lag B’omer Beach Bonfire
Grab your acoustic guitar, bongo drum, tambourine, blankets and coats for Pico Shul’s Lag B’omer bonfire and beach picnic. Kick back with a drink (no glass bottles) and enjoy the sunset with friends old and new. 6:30-10 p.m. Free. Bring money for parking. Dockweiler Beach Campground, 12001 Vista del Mar, Playa Del Rey, (424) 777-0999. Exact location to be posted on event’s Facebook page on the afternoon of May 22. 

Lag B’omer Concert and Lecture 
Orthodox Rabbi Mimi Feigelson and local rock group Moshav headline Happy Minyan’s lively Lag B’omer festivities. The evening includes live music, intimate classes, a poolside bonfire, catering from Schnitzly and schmoozing under the stars. 7-10 p.m. $26. Address of private Beverlywood home provided before event.

THU MAY 23 

Frank London

Frank London: Unplugged
Frank London, one of the brilliant, unconventional musical minds behind the Klezmatics, appears at UCLA. A well-known breaker of musical barriers, the Grammy Award-
winning London produces an eclectic concert with the UCLA Jazz Orchestra and Combo and the UCLA Klezmer Ensemble. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Free. Schoenberg Music Building, Room 1343, 445 Chareles E. Young Drive W, Los Angeles, (310) 825-4761.


Have an event coming up? Send your information two weeks prior to the event to ryant@jewishjournal.com for consideration. For groups staging an event that requires an RSVP, please submit details about the event the week before the RSVP deadline.

‘Inherited Memories’ Exhibition Transforms Holocaust Stories

Installation of works by Shula Singer Arbel, Dwora Fried and Malka Nedivi at “Inherited Memories.” Photo by Joshua White

Local artists Shula Singer Arbel, Dwora Fried and Malka Nedivi have very different styles and employ different mediums, but their inspiration for their work is the same. As the daughters of Holocaust survivors, they channel the experiences and trauma of the past to create art that’s relevant in today’s troubled times. In advance of their combined exhibition, “Inherited Memories,” the women shared their stories with the Journal.

Arbel was born in Israel to a Chasidic, Yiddish-speaking mother who survived Auschwitz, and a father who spent the war in the Russian army. She grew up in Los Angeles, hearing about the horrors that haunted her parents. Not surprisingly, she felt an immediate bond with Fried and Nedivi. 

“We shared our stories of growing up with ‘broken’ mothers,” Arbel said. “We found many commonalities, although our upbringing was very different. … I felt our collective voices would create a powerful and emotional exhibition. I feel it is my duty and my legacy to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. In today’s political climate, it is more important than ever.”

Arbel’s paintings are based on photographs from the displaced-persons camp where her parents met. “In spite of the tremendous loss and unimaginable suffering they experienced, this was a time of great hope and optimism for the future, which is why I chose to make art about this little-known period of history,” she said.

Arbel used a limited palette of acrylic paints and described her style as “a fusion of representational, figurative, abstract and dreamlike imagery. My figures are faceless to create a more universal narrative, allowing the viewers to inject their own memories and stories into the painting.”

Although she grew up in a traditional, Zionist, kosher home, had a Jewish education and attended Camp Ramah, Arbel didn’t start expressing Judaism in her art until three years ago. Today, she continues to follow Jewish traditions in raising her family and often visits Israel. “But I’m much less religious than when I was growing up in my parents’ home,” she said. “I feel much freer now to choose what is meaningful to me.”

Fried is the daughter of a Viennese father who moved to Israel before World War II and a Polish mother who survived Plaszow, Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. She uses her art to express what it was like to grow up Jewish, lesbian and the child of Holocaust survivors in post-war Vienna. “As a child, I was always preoccupied about what I would pack in my
little suitcase if we had to suddenly leave,” she said. “Or who of the neighbors in our building would hide me.” 

“I hope the exhibition sheds light on the fact that trauma is passed down generationally.” 

— Shula Singer Arbel

A photographer, collage artist and now an assemblage artist, Fried creates mixed-media tableaux in glass-fronted wooden boxes that “recreate the feeling of what it was like growing up. That feeling of impending doom, not belonging, being an outsider. I inherited a sense of isolation, displacement and an appreciation for the surreal. For this exhibit, I created house-like boxes … what I imagine those abandoned homes were like, what
immigrants felt like in a strange land, what the survivors dreamt about the places
they left behind.”

Nedivi, an only child, was born in Rehovot, Israel, to parents who survived Bergen-Belsen. She grew up with the ghosts of the Holocaust always present. “This felt like a big, black hole that was part of our life all around us,” she said. “It was always there but no one talked about it. I was always escaping to my friends’ homes to get away from the pain I felt at home.”

Her mother became a hoarder and today, Nedivi uses fabric, papers and junk in the collages she creates. “The same things my mom was hoarding,” she said. “I also find myself sewing in my art a lot, and she was a seamstress. I am more and more becoming my mom and I am finally so proud of it — and her. Her soul is always with me in my studio. I feel that my mom is proud of me and that all of our family members that perished in the war are sitting in the Garden of Eden, proud that I am presenting them and their memory.”

The three artists are excited about exhibiting their work together. 

“When I first saw Malka’s sculptures in an exhibit, I recognized the figures: They looked like my family members,” Fried said. “Shula’s paintings, based on old family photographs, could have been taken from one of my family albums. We were meant to have a show together. I am always surprised by visitors’ reactions to my work. I hope they recognize themselves and their own fragility in the world we live in.”

“If viewers feel something, then I have done my job as an artist,” Arbel said. “If I can evoke emotion, connect memories with a viewer, elicit some thought or self-reflection, then I am satisfied. I hope the exhibition sheds light on the fact that trauma is passed down generationally.”

“This exhibition is very important to me because I think it is so important not to forget our history,” Nedivi said. “If we do not learn about it and remember the ones that perished, history might repeat itself. I also feel that I have a strong need to make this art to try to understand my parents better. I think the art explains what words cannot say.”

“Inherited Memories” runs May 18-26 at the Castelli Art Space, 5428 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles. The artists will participate in a discussion at 3 p.m. May 26.

From junk to art

Malka Nedivi is known for her huge sculptures — roughly hewn, sometimes eerie figures that can reach up to 10 feet high — and collage paintings that are made of galvanized metal, chicken coop wire, pieces of old clothing, and fabrics and papers. 

Her choice of material tells the story of her life growing up in the house of a hoarder. As a youth in Israel, Nedivi lived among cardboard boxes and plastic bags filled with clothes and pieces of junk collected by her mother, who appears as the image of an old woman in many of the artist’s mixed-media art.

Malka Nedivi with “Bubbeleh,” mixed media (chicken wire, fabric, paper, acrylic paint and glue on a wood box). Photo by Ayala Or-El

“It’s interesting that all the things that she collected, and I couldn’t stand, are the things I’m using in my art,” she said. “It happened more after she passed away. Somebody told me that I’m one of those people who take a lemon and turn it to lemonade. It’s like taking those things which caused me pain and suffering and turning them into something beautiful. It was very healing.”

Nedivi, of Woodland Hills, said she always was embarrassed by her mother, Tzipora, who was so different from the other “cool” Israeli moms with their modern clothes and stylish hairdos. 

“My mom was a hoarder, and I was very ashamed of her and my house,” Nedivi said from her home studio. “In between the walls [were] piles and piles of boxes and things my mom had collected throughout the years. Anything that ever entered our house never left it. My mom never threw out anything. The children in the neighborhood used to laugh at her, about the way she looked, the way she dressed and how she used to collect things out in the streets. I was very ashamed to bring friends over. I didn’t want them to see how we lived.”

Born in 1952 in Rehovot, Nedivi is the only child of two Holocaust survivors who shared the same room with her until she turned 18. “We had a small house. In the living room, we didn’t have a couch, only some chairs and a TV. We also had a balcony with table and chairs. I used to study there for my finals so I wouldn’t wake up my parents.”

After her service in the military, Nedivi married filmmaker Udi Nedivi and moved to Los Angeles. It was a career move for her husband, but for Nedivi, who studied theater and literature at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, it was a chance to get away from the memories and the shame. She went on to study film at UCLA and work as an assistant editor before getting involved in art, first through ceramics and then through large-scale sculpture and collage paintings. 

 Seventeen years after arriving in the U.S., Nedivi received a phone call from Israel: Her mother’s health was deteriorating and she refused to move into a nursing home. 

“It was hard for her to part with her things … and also the management was not thrilled about having her move in,” Nedivi said. “They were afraid she was going to collect things. … I tried to bring my mom someone to take care of her at home, but none of them lasted long. They all left, one after the other. … I knew I didn’t have any choice but go and take care of her myself.”

By that time, Nedivi was a mother of three children. Her son, Ben, was about to go to college and her daughters were in elementary school and middle school. With the support of her husband, she packed her suitcases and moved back to Israel with her daughters in tow. 

“I knew that if I didn’t take care of her, nobody else would,” she said. “Before I left, my husband handed me a new camera and told me: ‘You can do it. Document your mother.’ He knew that it was going to help me. So I took the camera and filmed 120 hours, which I edited later into a 93-minute film.”

The resulting documentary, “Tzipora’s Nest,” was filmed during the time Nedivi spent in Israel caring for her mother. It tells the story of her mom and the last years of her life, surrounded by endless piles of junk and plastic bags full of different items she collected. 

“At first, when I moved back to Israel, I thought I should film my [older] daughter — how an American girl who studied all her life in an American-Jewish school arrives in an Israeli school — but in the end, I only documented my mom. And while working on the movie, something good had happened. I started understanding her better. I fell in love with her. I rediscovered my mom.”

Nedivi spoke with a psychologist about why her mom collected things. 

“He explained to me that people who went through such a trauma — as she did during the Holocaust, losing her parents and all her family — are left with holes in their heart. She was trying to fill in the holes with the things she collected. Like filling the void in her life.”

That was something she didn’t understand growing up.

“Back then, in those days, nobody talked about this phenomena, no one discussed this problem of hoarding. I didn’t know why my mother collected all these items and why our house didn’t look like the houses of the rest of my friends,” Nedivi said. 

“I remember going to visit my two best friends and enjoying the cleanliness and order in their house. I wanted to have such a house so badly. I begged my mother to turn the balcony to a bedroom, just like the neighbors did, but it never happened. I think that one of the reasons I was so happy to leave Israel and move here to Los Angeles was because I felt free of the shame that followed me back then. I have friends who live in the States and they would like so much to move back to Israel, but I never wanted to. I was always happy to live here; for me, it was a sense of freedom.” 

After her mom’s death, Nedivi began cleaning the small house. “I threw away everything. Till this day, I love throwing out stuff. I can’t have any small stuff at home. Whatever I didn’t use for a year or two, I throw away,” she said.

The experience proved therapeutic — and influential on her art, in which she layers fabric with glue and other torn materials to form large, looming figures. Most recently, she had an exhibition, “Mother and Daughter,” at the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles on Fairfax Avenue, which ended in September.

Although she was eager to please the critics, she said she is also ready to have her art reach the masses.

“There were those who told me in the past that the reason I’m not able to sell my art is because I don’t want to separate from it,” she said. “But now, I felt ready to let go, and suddenly I started selling.”