It was a gorgeous spring afternoon in Woodland Hills, and I was sitting at a table in the outdoor courtyard of a small food court waiting for one of my friends to arrive from the city for a lunch date.
Stacy London is famous for transforming slovenly, dowdy and otherwise style-impaired women into color-coordinated, accessorized and age-appropriately dressed ladies on TLC’s popular show “What Not to Wear.” In November, she shared her expertise at Westfield Topanga’s Style Tour, hosting a fashion show featuring apparel from Westfield’s own stores – Forever 21, H&M, Bebe and Macy’s, to name a few – highlighting the season’s hottest fashions in wearable, affordable outfits.
Larissa Shebroe’s military jacket is decked out with colorful patches, braided ropes, shiny pins, ribbons and dangling medals. The decorated battalion commander of the Van Nuys High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) Wolf Pack is ranked second in Los Angeles, from among more than 4,000 cadets, earning her the prestigious title of All City Deputy Colonel for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
So you’ve used up your free ride to the Jewish state through Taglit-Birthright Israel and you want to go back. Maybe you miss careening down the Jordan River or those warm nights strolling down the Tayelet Haas Promenade in Tel Aviv, or you want to spend more time exploring the Old City in Jerusalem.
Once you start looking for packages, however, it’s not unusual to encounter sticker shock: the average 10-day visit to Israel runs about $3,000, according to Israel’s Tourism Ministry. That cost can leave many young professionals feeling priced out of a return trip.
Speakers came out swinging during the second annual Israeli Leadership Council (ILC) gala at the Beverly Hilton on May 12, voicing unwavering support for the Jewish state in light of Iran's nuclear ambitions and the crisis over housing construction plans in East Jerusalem. The serious tone at the sold-out gathering, which drew influential local Israeli Americans, stood in stark contrast to last year's jubilant, dance-filled inaugural gala.
Signs posted at the entrance to the 62nd Israel Independence Day Festival at Woodley Park on April 25 apologized for a last-minute increase of entrance fees — from $5 per person to $8. Even so, the increase was not enough to cover the cost of an unexpected $43,000 bill from the City of Los Angeles for police, fire and other city services — expenses provided at no cost to the festival for the past 19 years. The city’s current budget crisis forced a policy change, and organizers of the annual festival, which this year drew approximately 20,000 attendees, got the bill three weeks before the event.
Ori Dinur, 44, founding editor of Anachnu B’America, was let go from the Los Angeles-based Hebrew-language magazine this month for financial reasons, she said.
For the first time in its history, the City of Beverly Hills has named a street in commemoration of a historic Jewish leader. On May 2, marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Herzl, the man who first envisioned a modern Jewish state, the 300 block of North Clark Drive, in front of Temple Emanuel, was renamed Herzl Way. The renaming was marked with a street celebration that included speeches, musical performances, dancing and the official unveiling of the street’s sign.
Young professionals in Los Angeles, dressed in white, commemorated Yom HaZikaron at the Museum of Tolerance on April 18 with a ceremony marked by personal stories of fallen soldiers and victims of terror. The evening, which united various young leadership organizations under the direction of Dor Chadash, was attended by a capacity crowd of 300 young American Jews and Israelis, who sat through a somber hour-long ceremony devoid of applause and chatter. In one of the night’s most poignant moments, Israeli Leadership Council Executive Director Shoham Nicolet recounted, in a voice quavering with emotion, the night he and his Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unit carried out a mission in southern Lebanon in 1999. The screen on stage displayed a photograph of the unit hours before the mission. “I’m standing in the middle of the group,” Nicolet said. “The soldiers on either side of me did not return alive.” Nicolet then played an audio recording of the gun battle that took the lives of three IDF soldiers that night. In another touching moment, Oran Schachter addressed a fellow fallen soldier: “I’m sorry I was not there to take the bullet instead of you Ari, because I miss you,” Schachter said. Sniffling could be heard throughout the auditorium as a montage of photographs showed IDF soldiers and Israelis carrying coffins draped in the Israeli flag, weeping at gravesites, huddling together on the battlefield and carrying bleeding comrades on stretchers. The evening ended on a note of hope, with a reading of kidnapped solider Gilad Shalit’s children’s story, “When the Shark and the Fish First Met,” a story of natural enemies coming together to live side by side in peace, and the singing of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah” (The Hope).
On April 19, one day after commemorating those who lost their lives defending Israel, the Jewish community in Los Angeles turned out for “Promised Wonderland,” an elegant evening of entertainment and celebration to mark Israel’s 62nd Independence Day, as well as the grand opening of the newly dedicated Cheryl and Haim Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles hosted the event and invited nearly 2,000 guests to attend, compliments of the consulate and private donors, the Sabans, Paul and Herta Amir, and David and Fela Shapell.
In Israel, every fatal car accident makes the national news. When four people were killed in an accident in the Negev in March, the entire country was abuzz about the tragedy. A comment posted on a Ynet article reveals the prevailing mindset in Israel: “Is this a ‘cultural’ given and can the ‘culture’ of driving in Israel be significantly altered?”
The Stein family communicates in music. Birthday parties were always marked by jam sessions. Instead of playing geography on family road trips, the Steins would play “repeat that harmony.”
Dinners inevitably turned into a cappella performances. And a severe blackout during a spring storm became the impetus for the formation of a family band, The Rolling Steins.
Jews, Mexicans and Japanese celebrate their common heritage in the East L.A. neighborhood.
Former “Blossom” star Mayim Bialik discusses her involvement in the Holistic Moms Network on an 11 a.m. panel at the Go Green Expo, which features innovations in energy-efficient products, seminars with experts in green living, a career fair, film screenings, free yoga classes, organic food tastings and more. Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $5-$10 (weekend pass). Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall J, 1201 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. gogreenexpo.com.
All is quiet early on a January morning at a bridal boutique in the San Fernando Valley. Racks of wedding gowns line the walls: eggshell-colored lace, fluffy tulle, shimmering satins, extravagant beading. Spotlights cast a warm glow where brides-to-be will soon stand, gazing at their reflections in a three-way mirror draped with garlands of pink roses. A jazzy female version of “The Way You Look Tonight” plays in the background, setting the mood for Hollywood-style wedding visions.
Archaeologists and biblical scholars examine how monotheism has shaped our current religious landscape in a Whizin Center program, “What Do We Mean When We Say Monotheism?” The panel includes Steven Fine of Yeshiva University New York, Ziony Zevit of American Jewish University, Jeffrey Tigay of University of Pennsylvania and others. Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $55 (lunch included). AJU Familian Campus, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1246. ajula.edu.
David Mamet directs the infamously reclusive magician in a production that offers a rare glimpse into Ricky Jay’s life and career. “Ricky Jay: A Rogue’s Gallery — An Evening of Conversation and Performance” includes Jay’s renowned sleight-of-hand illusions and a fair amount of audience interaction. Tue. 8 p.m. Through Jan. 10. $65-$125. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood Village. (310) 208-5454
A giant 15-foot, 1,000-pound menorah will light up Universal CityWalk for the annual Chabad Chanukah festival, with live Israeli and Jewish performances, appearances by Jewish community leaders and menorah lightings from around the world, broadcast on a huge screen. Sat. 7:30-11:30 p.m. Free. CityWalk, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. (818) 758-1818. chabadofthevalley.com.
Sinai Akiba Academy and Hoover Street Elementary School are located about 9 miles apart from one another, but the distance could just as well be 9,000 miles. The children who attend these schools — Sinai is located at Wilshire and Beverly Glen and Hoover at Wilshire and Hoover — come from two distinct communities, different in cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, religions and life experiences.
Steven Spielberg receives the Anti-Defamation League’s top honor — America’s Democratic Legacy Award — presented by ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman at the organization’s annual dinner celebration. Spielberg joins the ranks of previous recipients, including former presidents Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower, Colin Powell, Eleanor Roosevelt, Justice Earl Warren, Cardinal John O’Conner and others. “American Idol” finalist Adam Lambert sings the U.S. national anthem and Israeli singer-songwriter Noa Dori sings the Israeli national anthem. Wed. 6:30 p.m. $500. Beverly Hilton Hotel, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 446-4263. adl.org/spielberg.
“Mary Poppins.” The world-famous nanny sweeps across the theater stage in this vivacious production that combines P.L. Travers’ stories and the classic 1964 Walt Disney film with the Academy Award-winning music and lyrics of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Additional new songs, music and lyrics, as well as lighting and special effects adapt this family favorite into a live show. Tue.-Sun. Through Feb. 7, 2010. $25-$150. Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 628-2772. centertheatregroup.org.
Leading advocates of Darwinism and intelligent design go head to head in “The Origins of Life Debate,” featuring Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and editor of Skeptic.com; Donald Prothero, a geology professor at Occidental College and lecturer in geobiology at CalTech; Stephen Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute; and Richard Sternberg, research scientist at the Biologic Institute and a research collaborator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Sponsored by the American Freedom Alliance. Mon. 7:30 p.m. $10 (students), $20 (general). Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (323) 655-0111. www.americanfreedomalliance.org.
Venezuelan playwright Moisés Kaufman brings the historical drama surrounding fallen English playwright Oscar Wilde to the stage in “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde.” Using transcripts and real quotes from Wilde’s infamous trials, as well as newspaper articles and the personal accounts of those involved, Kaufman chronicles how the darling of Victorian England was shunned for “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons.” An L.A. Theatre Works audio performance, recorded live without sets or costumes, to be broadcast on public and satellite radio nationwide. Sat. 2:30 p.m. Also, Sun. at 4 p.m. $40-$48. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 827-0889. latw.org.
The latest film out of Israel to generate enormous buzz is the country’s official submission for the 2010 Academy Awards. “Ajami,” which won a special mention during the Camera d’Or competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, zooms in on the Ajami neighborhood within the Israeli city of Jaffa, a gritty jumble of cultures, religions and factions struggling for power and control. Co-directors, producers and writers Scandar Copti, a Palestinian resident of Ajami, and Yaron Shani, an Israeli Jew, used local amateurs, not trained actors, and guerrilla filmmaking that blurred the lines between documentary and fiction. This screening, part of AFI Fest, which runs Oct. 30-Nov. 7, is the first opportunity for Angelenos to see this provocative film. Sun. 10:30 p.m. Free tickets can be reserved online or over the phone. Mann Chinese 6, 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood and Highland Center, Hollywood. (866) 234-3378. afi.com.
The hot ticket in town last week was the local debut of Israel’s burgeoning fashion industry at Downtown L.A. Fashion Week.
Local musical collective Fool’s Gold perform their blend of Western pop, African melodies and Hebrew lyrics as part of KCRW’s Sounds Around Town series of free concerts at Westfield Century City’s outdoor terrace. Thu. 7-9 p.m. Free. Westfield Century City, Dining Terrace, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City. kcrw.com/events/sounds-around-town. myspace.com/foolsgold.
“Women Rabbis: Trailblazers and Innovators,” a public discussion sponsored by The Jewish Journal and Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary, will feature Rabbi Sharon Brous from IKAR, Rabbi Denise L. Eger from Congregation Kol Ami, Rabbi Laura Geller from Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, Rabbi Zoë Klein of Temple Isaiah, Rabbi Naomi Levy of Nashuva, Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh of Temple Israel of Hollywood, Rabbi Debra Orenstein of Makom Ohr Shalom and Susan Freudenheim, The Jewish Journal’s managing editor, as the moderator. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to SOVA. Wed. 7:30 p.m. $10 (presale), $15 (at the door). Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (213) 368-1661, ext. 251.
When two Israeli girls, Maya Wind and Netta Mishly, graduated high school, they didn’t move into a college dorm room. They didn’t travel to India or Europe or the Philippines. They didn’t get a job. They didn’t start a career. They went to jail for more than a month.
Calendar Picks and Clicks for October 3–9, 2009
One thousand, one-hundred, sixty-nine days, 17 hours, 36 minutes and 22 seconds. That’s how long Gilad Shalit had spent in captivity as of Sunday night, Sept. 6, as 250 members of the Los Angeles Jewish community gathered at American Jewish University (AJU) to mark the soldier’s 23rd birthday.
Even faced with the worst of circumstances — war, poverty, illness and hunger — children make use of what’s around them to create toys. “The Power to Play — From Trash to Treasure” is a new ChildFund International and Museum of Tolerance exhibit that displays this indomitable spirit, showcasing more than 200 toys handmade by disadvantaged children around the world, using scraps of metal, discarded bottles and other waste to entertain themselves. Former Miss USA, Shauntay Hinton, who was sponsored by the same organization — ChildFund — as the young toymakers, will share her inspiring story. Children will also have the chance to create their own toy from recycled materials. Sun. 1:30-4 p.m. Through Dec. 31. Free. Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (804) 756-8987. childfund.org.
Shelley Berman, the first stand-up comedian to appear at Carnegie Hall and the first to win a Grammy for best comedy album, will star in the Celebrity Staged Play Reading of “Keep the Two Dollars,” by Bill Barnett. The comedy’s plot involves an expensive bracelet, a mystery man, a suspected love affair, an insurance company and a British bride. Produced and directed by Alexandra More. A Q-and-A with the playwright will follow the performance.
Ana Laguna and Mikhail Baryshnikov: Three Solos and a Duet. Two legendary dancers join to perform works by three of today’s most heralded contemporary choreographers: Swedish choreographer Mats Ek; Alexei Ratmansky, currently the artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre; and Benjamin Millepied...
The Jewish Artists Initiative has organized three concurrent exhibitions in Los Angeles for the first time in its history. “Fresh Voices of Contemporary Jewish Artists” (through Dec. 31) will be on display at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and will feature artists such as Carol Es, Josh Abarbanel, Marcie Kaufman and others; “Big Questions new works by: Gilah Yelin Hirsch and Elizabeth Bloom” (through Nov. 8) will be held at the University of Southern California Hillel;
DJ AM headlines this year’s Justice Ball, an evening of music, dancing, socializing and fun benefiting Bet Tzedek-The House of Justice, which provides free legal and social services primarily in the areas of housing, health care and employment for Los Angeles’ most vulnerable. The theme is “Justice in LaLa Land,” and the event will be hosted by KTLA’s Jessica Holmes at the newly renovated Hollywood Palladium. Sat. 9 p.m. $50 (general), $150 (VIP). Hollywood Palladium, 6215 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. thejusticeball.org.
Calendar Picks and Clicks for June 20–26, 2009
The Israeli Leadership Council turned the glitzy Beverly Hilton International Ballroom into a rockin’ Israeli dance club at their inaugural gala Wednesday, May 13. The fledgling ILC, barely two years old, has quickly sprouted into an Israeli community powerhouse, a sort of unofficial Israeli Federation that funds various programs and initiatives with the goal of empowering and uniting sabras living in L.A.
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian obstetrician and gynecologist whose three daughters and niece were killed by Israeli fire during the recent Gaza war and who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last month, came to Los Angeles not to talk about peace, but to encourage kavod (respect) and shivyon (equality).
Picks and Clicks for April 18–April 24, 2009
“You can’t do that, Son,” a father dressed in a red bathrobe says to his son, who came home from school with a note saying he stole money from a classmate. “Why, if you want something, you have to earn it ... where do you think we got this house from?
Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician, wrote and commissioned “Fitna,” a 2008 short film that argues that Islam encourages terrorism, anti-Semitism and Islamic universalism. Banned from entering the United Kingdom and embroiled in various legal battles for his fierce anti-Islam rhetoric,
Picks and Clicks for March 21–27, 2009
Itzik Hagadol knows how to “open up a table,” as they say in Israel.
The restaurateur, whose real name is Itzik Luzon, has a reputation in Tel Aviv for lavishing his guests in Middle Eastern style — serving up an abundance of food that includes heaping platefuls of salads. After 14 years of booming business in Yaffo, Luzon has brought his popular restaurant, Shipudei Itzik Hagadol (Big Itzik’s Skewers), to the Encino Commons with help from his son, Amos, and their business partner Michael Fainman. Itzik Hagadol Grill opened its doors to a parking lot thronged with people on March 3.
"At the beginning, I didn't understand what that meant to have a syndrome," Manor said, speaking in Hebrew. "Until then, I just thought of myself as a short girl."
Yaron Amitai was the oldest soldier killed in the Second Lebanon War. At 45, he was past the required age for army reserve duty. Amitai nevertheless volunteered to serve as a combat medic in the Paratroopers Brigade scheduled to go into Lebanon
My fiance, David, cheerfully agreed to designate groomsmen to accompany my green-clad friends down the aisle (another ceremonial tradition not done in Israel -- there, only the bride and groom walk down the aisle). However, despite showing them how lovely matching bridesmaids and groomsmen look on David's Bridals' Web site, we could not convince his three brothers to wear matching suits.
In honor of Israel's 60th Birthday, we thought you should learn a few key words and phrases in Hebrew that will bring you closer to Israel's people and culture. This vocabulary will be useful on your next trip to Israel-- or on your next trip to Ventura Boulevard. Delight your Israeli friends, teach your kids or impress a date. What better way to mark this milestone in Jewish history than to do a very Jewish thing: learn!
The first song Ya'akov Shimoni ever wrote was called, "Genesis." The lyrics -- in English, Hebrew and French -- were about pollution, global warming, Mother Earth and the destruction of Israel's natural resources. It was 1997 -- long before "An Inconvenient Truth" became a blockbuster and the green movement reached an unprecedented level of hipness.
Rami Kleinstein music video 'Winds of War' ( Hebrew)
In planning the May 10 celebratory "Israel at 60" megaconcert for Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, the producers went down the A-list of Jewish celebrities, requesting their presence at what is hoped to be the grandest celebration in Los Angeles of Israel's 60th year of independence.