An Argentine gaucho lounges near his horse. A Bombay bride displays her upturned palms, filigreed entirely with henna. An Ethiopian boy lights candles with a classmate. A woman poses stiffly in her kitchen in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. What unites these disparate images is that the people depicted in them are Jews, all of them captured in black and white by Israeli-born photojournalist Zion Ozeri.
In the Valley suburb of West Hills, a small bit of history is being made: It's home to the first and only all-Jewish lacrosse team at any school in the country.
Not Just For Kids
For the past three years, in meetings that often go toward midnight, a handful of local parents, educators and community leaders have been coming together to plan Los Angeles' next non-Orthodox Jewish high school.
Now it has come to pass. Late last month, the Core Group, as the parents call themselves, announced the September 2002 opening of the New Community Jewish High School in the West Valley.
Put off by the embattled public school system and intrigued by a combined secular-Jewish program, parents with very young children are opting for private Jewish schools in increasing numbers. This is no longer news. While the majority of non-Orthodox kids still receive their Jewish education "after school," it's a well-documented fact that the Jewish community has undergone a day school boom. And, it's not just in large cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Houston, but in Jewish communities like St. Louis, Milwaukee, Miami and even Orange County.
In our hardwired global village, the old curse "May you live in interesting times," has particular resonance. For local educators, the recent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians have made these past few weeks interesting times indeed. As events continue to unfold thousands of miles away, the conflict has been an ongoing topic in Southern California's Jewish day schools.
When painful loss occurs in our lives, we want to make some sense of it: Why did she get so sick? Why did I lose my livelihood? Why can't we conceive a child? Why did he die? In his new book, "Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times" (Riverhead Books, $23.95), David Wolpe, author and rabbi of Sinai Temple in Westwood, begins by asserting that during periods of great pain, we tend to ask the wrong questions. Whether consciously or not, we search in vain for an answer to the plaintive "why" in order to gain some measure of control over what has made us so powerless.
A play with both wit and heart is a compelling combination, and it's one that playwright Donald Margulies' pulls off in his mostly rewarding "Collected Stories."
"Stories" drew critical praise and a 1997 Pulitzer Prize nomination following it's world première at Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory. Happily, in director Gilbert Cates' current Los Angeles production at the Geffen Playhouse, the play's intelligence and emotional power remain intact.
In these scandalous times, is there anything left to say about sex?
TV offers us All-Monica all the time. The globally accessible Internet offers its own virtual red-light district. Surrounded by wall-to-wall visuals and 24-hour media blather, we're inundated with sexual information. Ultimately, inevitably, it has become boring, degenerating into vaguely provocative background noise.
It's a sunny Santa Monica afternoon, and Ruth Seymour, station manager and program director of KCRW, is sitting in the Rose Cafe, neatly turned out in a dark pant suit.
Paula Vogel's "How I Learned to Drive" has come to the Mark Taper Forum, and one wonders if it has lost something in its trip across country. Despite an arresting performance by Brian Kerwin, its male lead, this Los Angeles production doesn't live up to the high expectations that preceded its arrival. The play received critical acclaim during its New York run, culminating in the 1998 Pulitzer Prize. (Vogel is wowing New York critics once again this season with the debut of her latest play, "The Mineola Twins.")
Some of the best recent American documentaries are nonfiction, highly subjective narratives that explore the Sturm und Drang of family relationships.
It isn't as though you exactly need a reason to visit the Getty Center. But for those in search of one, we can recommend a gem of an exhibition: the display of works by the famous Russian Jewish artist El Lissitzky (1890-1941).
The Israeli Film Festival, now in it's 15th year, has, in many ways, come of age -- in subject matter, directorial style and sensibility.
A few years ago, at the age of 24, Brooklyn-born Danny Hoch got the kind of phone call most struggling actors dream of. It was his agent, telling him that the people from "Seinfeld" had called: they wanted Hoch to get on a plane the next morning to tape a guest-starring role on the hit television series.
For those Angelenos looking for a respite from million-dollar hype and "Happy Meal" tie-ins to studio blockbusters, late autumn is also a time when a flurry of small, offbeat film festivals grace local movie screens. Among them is the modest but engaging, Cinema Judaica: The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival.
For those Angelenos looking for a respite from million-dollar hype and "Happy Meal" tie-ins to studio blockbusters, late autumn is also a time when a flurry of small, offbeat film festivals grace local movie screens.
Started in June as a once-a-month event, "Friday Night Live" has become a happening, of sorts. The most recent service easily drew 800 people.
Attorney Gerry Schubert may be a relatively familiar face in Orange County; alongtime resident of Yorba Linda and a member at Mission Viejo's Congregation Eilat, Schubert is actively involved in Jewish Federation projects. But, soon, he may become better known for the release of his second musical CD, "Life in the Moment" (GalleryRecords).
The mood in the Jewish state may not be one ofcelebration at the moment, but plans to commemorate the country'supcoming 50th birthday continue, both in Israel and right here in LosAngeles. One of the more unique cultural offerings to be presentedlocally will be "Jerusalem -- A Mystical Journey," a newdance-theater piece to be performed by the Keshet Chaim DanceEnsemble on Feb. 21 and 22.
Abraham Joshua Heschel said that he prayed for one thing: the gift of wonder. He prayed for astonishment, for the capacity to be surprised. As he wrote, "I try not to be stale. I try to remain young. I have one talent, and that is the capacity to be tremendouslysurprised at life and at ideas. This is to me the supreme Chassidic imperative."
In the company of his friend, fellow world traveler and photographer Maxime du Camp, French novelist Gustave Flaubert visited Jerusalem in 1850. The urbane and sophisticated Flaubert was decidedly unimpressed with this crumbling backwater of the Ottoman Empire: "Jerusalem stands as a fortress; here the old religions silent rot away. One treads on dung; ruins surround you wherever your eyes wander -- a very sad and sorry picture."
That same year, a Rev. George Wilson Bridges also made his way tothe Holy City. An English cleric and an amateur photographer, Bridges and his young son traveled through Palestine as part of a seven-year journey around the Mediterranean and the East. Bridges undertook the journey as a form of solace: He had just buried his wife and daughter in Jamaica -- victims of a tropical fever they contracted while the reverend was there doing missionary work. Steeped as he was in grief and religious conviction, Bridges found that Jerusalem's atmosphere of melancholia and desolation suited him. "What sight," he observed after witnessing Jews praying at the Western Wall, "even in this wondrous city, so touching, so impressive as this -- Jews mourning the ruins of Jerusalem...."
Abraham Joshua Heschel said that he prayed for one thing: the giftof wonder. He prayed for astonishment, for the capacity to besurprised. As he wrote, "I try not to be stale. I try to remain young. I have one talent, and that is the capacity to be tremendously surprised at life and at ideas. This is to me the supreme Chassidic imperative."
Like some of his Jewish contemporaries to the south, Canadian novelist Mordechai Richler has mined a literary career from the fertile terrain of assimilationist Jewish culture, most notably inbooks such as "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" and "Joshua Then and Now."
By deciding to introduce meat products into its formerly all-dairy outlets, Noah's Bagels has provoked a strong response from observant Jewish noshers
If Los Angeles is the nation's undisputed film capital, in recent months it also seems eligible for the title of the Jewish film capital, and that is largely because of the efforts of the Laemmle Theatres organization. Laemmle's played host to the recent Israeli Film Festival and to its own screenings of independent films of Jewish interest throughout the year.
Combine ancient laws of kashrut with the finest chefs from Europe and the United States. Mix well. Stir in a couple of Israeli mashgiachs and a liberal splash of French artistic temperament.Season to taste with Hebrew, English and Italian.
Before Carl Reiner invented the "Dick Van Dyke Show" and thetemperamental, toupee-clad Alan Brady, before Mel Brooks was aYiddish-spouting Indian chief in "Blazing Saddles," indeed, beforethe dawn of Christianity, there was The 2000 Year Old Man.
Apples and honey, a spinning dreidel, a Red Sea parted -- all thevivid highlights in the Jewish holiday cycle -- get their due in thislively assemblage of poems, fables, stories, traditional songs andbrief forays into history and custom.
Once-sleepy Haifa is now a tourist mecca, and MayorAmram Mitzna is spreading the word
When you think of "art books," a thick, slickly produced tomecomes to mind -- the kind of immovable slab meant to sit on anexpensive coffee table. "Artist books," however, are somethingaltogether different, as visitors to the Finegood Art Gallery of theJewish Federation/Valley Alliance will see when "Women of the Book"opens on Nov. 23.
Polish Jewry before the war is the subject of a powerfulphoto exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance
This earthy, lyrical film by writer-director Ali Nassar is easilyone of the festival's brightest highlights.
Acme Comedy Theatre's Skit and Miss
With the May 4, 1999, deadline for the end of the Oslo process looming, the Clinton administration is now pushing hard for incremental agreements intended to buy more time for the faltering negotiations to get back on track.
The Geffen Playhouse's new season opens on a memorable note withJon Marans' intelligent and bittersweet two-character drama, "OldWicked Songs," a finalist for the 1996 Pulitzer Prize.
During the last days of summer, I confess that our most focused family activity seems to be the annual pilgrimage to Target for new lunchboxes. All of that changes when September hits. From Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to Sukkot, then Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, the month of Tishrei is to the Jewish holiday cycle what the decathlon is to Track and Field Day.The kitchen table rapidly piles up with day school holiday projects-- cardboard shofarot, handmade New Year's cards, drawings of lulavim and the countless apples, made from every conceivable non-toxic medium known to teachers.
It's only in recent decades that "children'smusic" has mushroomed into a separate growth industry, complete withits own concert tours, TV tie-in shows and recognizable stars.
Even without the immediacy of the telephone, the fear, wearinessand anguish that Israelis are feeling is as close to us as thenightly newscast or the morning paper.
Liss, a veteranscreenwriter with a long list of credits, including theHolocaust-themed TV film "Hidden in Silence," has been to hell andback on an odyssey filled with more risk and drama than a paperbackthriller.
As Israel nears its 50th birthday, events have shifted attentionaway from the stalled peace talks. What dominates the headlines nowis the warlike rhetoric among Jewish factions -- both within Israeland in the Diaspora -- as they clash over the issue of religiouspluralism.
Sure, the children's shelves at bookstores are crowded with schlocky merchandising tie-ins and humorless "P.C." stories that groan under the weight of their own environmental and multi-culti lessons. But look a bit more carefully; you'll find the kinds of books that create those magical moments between adults and children.
Among Jews, the subject of black-Jewish relations inevitably brings to the surface two impassioned, if not unrelated sentiments: a liberal nostalgia for the integrated social activism of days gone by and an embittered cataloguing of the latest anti-Semitic soundbites to come out of the mouths of black leaders.
As a writer, Frankiel is co-author of the recently published "Minding the Temple of the Soul," as well as "The Voice of Sarah," an elegantly written response to the notion that traditional Judaism is the sound of only men talking.
Paintings from Terezin are on exhibit at the Jewish Federation Building
In July 1947, a Chesapeake Bay steamer loaded with 4,500 Holocaust survivors was attacked by the British navy on its way to Palestine. The ship was called Exodus 1947, and its aborted voyage galvanized world opinion in support of the struggle to create a Jewish state.
Chances are, there are not many singer-songwriters whose oeuvre contains subjects as disparate as the "Shecheyanu" and a visit to the dentist. But such is the nature of Craig Taubman's career.
After the countless ads, fluff pieces and an advance press packet thick enough to choke a horse, the question hung in the celebrity-studded lobby of the Shubert Theatre last Sunday evening: Could "Ragtime" pull it off?
Joel Grishaver. The Bible is rich in stories of passion, plagues, miracles and betrayals, but what about good parenting? "In truth, there is no good fathering in the Bible," said author and Jewish educator Joel Grishaver.
If you didn't know that David Rose was one of our priceless assets, proceed to his pen and ink drawings on exhibit at the University of Judaism's Platt Gallery. A look at this lively body of work suggests that virtually everywhere 20th-century Jewish history was being made, David Rose was there.
Like the uneven romantic fortunes of a veteran dater, "Sex" plays like a series of disparate encounters that range from memorable to better-off-forgotten.
Back in the heyday of the self-made Jewish movie moguls, the studios were, to a certain degree, family businesses.
Wendy Collins (left) plays a legal secretary for Madonna Magee (right), who plays a Jewish attorney defending the free speech rights of a man who denies that the Holocaust took place, in "Denial," an Actors Alley production, at the Storefront Theatre in North Hollywood.
Marcia Seligson is the prime mover and shaker behind Reprise, a new theater organization determined to mount local, first-class revival productions of Broadway musicals.
Little girls at a San Fernando Valley Jewish preschool report for circle time in midriff tops and lipstick. In Hollywood, a teen-ager acquires a tattoo, a designer backpack and a baby within a year of her arrival here from rural El Salvador. A "soccer mom" at a park in Van Nuys chats blithely about buying her 17-year-old daughter breast implants for her birthday. "This is the real world," she says in response to my look of disbelief.