Los Angeles chose Eric Garcetti as its first elected Jewish mayor in a number of political contests on Tuesday that reflected the city’s diversity, as well as its numerous variations of Jewishness. (In a historical footnote, one Bernard Cohn served as the appointed mayor of Los Angeles for a few weeks in 1878.)
"Fill the Void,” which won Israel’s equivalent of the Academy Award last year, is a love story unlike any Hollywood fare and it is set in a Jewish community unfamiliar to most Jews.
It’s a long way from Kibbutz Dalia, where Rachel Frenkel was raised, to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, but the mezzo-soprano is completing that journey this week.
Some 20 public events — including lectures, discussions, musical performances, film screenings and bus tours of Jewish Los Angeles — will complement the “Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic” exhibition at the Autry National Center (May 10, 2013, through Jan. 5, 2014). Included are:
W. (Walter) Richard West Jr., the new president and CEO of the Autry National Center, believes that a key job of this country’s museums is to interpret the complexity of the American heritage, and he embodies this mission both in his work and in his personal background.
When Los Angeles was incorporated as a city in 1850, eight Jews, all bachelors, were included on the population rolls. Today, according to the best estimates, somewhere between 600,000 to 650,000 Jews live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, with figures varying depending upon who does the estimating, how they define the geographical boundaries and, indeed, the definition of who is a Jew.
The multinational boycott campaign targeting Israel, aimed at stopping the country’s perceived injustices against Palestinians, has a venerable history, but the movement showed a new spurt of activism this month.
“Paris-Manhattan,” whose respective residents consider their city to be the center of the known universe, is the title of an appealing French movie by a first-time feature film director.
UC Berkeley student senators approved a bill on Thursday calling for the University of California system to divest of stock in American companies that provide technological and weapon support used by the Israeli military in the Palestinian territories.
When Mark G. Yudof arrived at University of California headquarters in Oakland in 2008 to take over as president of the 10-campus system, among the problems awaiting him were charges that administrators on the Irvine campus were not protecting Jewish students against hate speech and intimidation by Muslim student groups and from invited outside speakers.
Mark Yudof, the soon-to-retire president of the University of California system, was born in Philadelphia, the son of an electrician, and during a distinguished career as head of the Universities of Minnesota, Texas and California multicampus systems, has never quite lost his taste for the blue-collar lifestyle, especially when it comes to food.
Among its other benefits, the Israel Film Festival takes even those of us familiar with the country to places and people we know only superficially, or not at all.
Alan Stuart “Al” Franken, satirist, comedy writer, talk-show host and now U.S. senator from Minnesota, was by turns reflective, ethnic and funny as he tackled the topic “Public Service: How the Jewish Tradition Has Influenced One U.S. Senator” during a recent evening at USC.
When Jennifer Thompson left her academic position in Iowa to join the Jewish Studies faculty at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), she encountered two problems.
In a video, a Holocaust survivor remembers how he had to kill the family dog as he faced deportation to a wartime ghetto, where there would not be enough food for humans and none for animals.
If Hollywood were a monarchy, Steven Allan Spielberg would likely be its king.
For people with a palate for intellectual, social and physical nourishment, the annual Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA is a not-to-be-missed event.
Some 65 years after a band of foreign volunteers fought in the skies above Israel to assure the nation’s birth and survival, filmmakers are racing to bring their exploits to the screen before the last of the breed passes away.
One day in 2015, a small Israeli spacecraft will land on and reconnoiter the moon, joining the United States and former Soviet Union in the world’s most exclusive extraterrestrial club.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) will be transplanted, at least in part, from Washington, D.C.’s National Mall to Los Angeles on Feb. 17.
New York Mayor Edward Irving Koch, universally addressed as “Ed,” was a master of timing and promotion.
To help us grasp the enormity of the Holocaust, we have the testimonies of survivors, of liberators, even of bystanders, but what about the perpetrators and, even more, their children, who grew up worshipping Adolf Hitler? “Lore,” the movie, grapples with that complex question from the perspective of the title character, a 14-year-old girl (impressively played by Saskia Rosendahl), daughter of a high-ranking SS officer and his equally fanatical wife.
The long-standing Facebook war of words between pro- and anti-Israel partisans has heated up a few degrees with a petition to remove a particularly offensive “F… Israel” page.
Yossi, the central character in the new eponymous Israeli movie, has changed over the past 10 years, and so have Israel and the world. In 2002, director Eytan Fox introduced him in “Yossi & Jagger,” which became Israel’s highest-grossing film abroad, up to that time.
Dr. David A. Weinstein was working as a resident at Boston Children’s Hospital in 1994 when he encountered his first young patients with glycogen storage disease (GSD). He followed up on these and other cases and was asked to report on his findings at a GSD conference in 1998.
Jonah Pournazarian is a bright, playful 7-year-old at Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School. He has a best friend, Dylan Siegel, loving parents, devoted teachers and an extremely rare genetic disorder.
The Nazis gassed and murdered 1 million prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp complex, but they could not kill the human urge to create and leave behind a sign of their existence for future generations. Some 20 examples of the prisoners’ artistic legacy are on display in the exhibition “Forbidden Art,” continuing through Jan. 31 at UCLA Hillel and the neighboring St. Alban’s Episcopal Church.
Sally Ogle Davis, a teenage television personality in Northern Ireland, chronicler of the famous and powerful in Hollywood, and activist in Jewish arts and synagogue life, died Dec. 11 in Seattle. She was 71.
Professor Moshe Lazar was a Renaissance man and polymath whose studies ranged across the centuries, from medieval Sephardic life and writings to modern Hebrew poetry, according to his colleagues and students at USC.
The long forecast “Holocaust fatigue” among filmmakers and their audiences has not yet arrived, judging by the entries for 2013 Oscar honors by producers and directors in numerous countries.
When Steve Pompan played on the U.S. tennis squad at the last Maccabiah Games in Israel, he was struck by the spectators’ tribal inclination to give advice to the players battling it out on the court.
“The Vote,” the best show in town, opened at 7:45 p.m. on Nov. 29 and, after 23 acts, closed down 60 minutes later. During that one hour, speakers, actors, musicians, singers and dancers commemorated the day, 65 years ago, when the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.
A resolution passed by the UC Irvine undergraduate student council calling on the university to divest from companies that “profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine” has been rejected by the UCI administration. At the same time, leaders of the Orange County Jewish community denounced “the nonbinding resolution, drafted and introduced with no forewarning by a small group of students with a personal agenda and deliberated in the absence of students with opposing views.”
A resolution passed by the UC Irvine undergraduate student council calling on the university to divest from companies that “profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestine” has been rejected by the UCI administration.
Two documentary films, each touching the Holocaust era and celebrating the courage and devotion of non-Jews, are screening in Los Angeles. The first is about Leopold Engleitner, bright-eyed and lucid at 107, who spent 11 years in and out of prisons and Nazi concentration camps, and, after a flight from Vienna to Los Angeles, is ready for his personal appearance tour.
Carmen H. Warschaw, passionate political activist, strategist, financial backer and “Jewish mother” to generations of Democratic office holders, died — fittingly — on Election Day, Nov. 6, after watching the television prognostications on the presidential race. She was 95.
On the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, brown-shirted storm troopers torched and looted hundreds of synagogues and destroyed 7,500 Jewish businesses throughout Germany and Austria in what is known as Kristallnacht, “the night of broken glass.”
The storied Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded as the Palestine Symphony Orchestra 12 years before the rebirth of the Jewish state, and its music-director-for-life Zubin Mehta, will join in concert at Disney Hall on Tuesday evening, Oct. 30.
The history of Iranian Jewry goes back nearly 3,000 years, so Nahid Pirnazar has a lot of ground to cover in her Oct. 21 lecture at the opening of “Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews,” a wide-ranging, five-month exhibition at UCLA’s Fowler Museum.
In the early-morning hours of Sept. 12, this reporter was awakened by a phone call from a Jerusalem newspaper asking for details about a man named Sam Bacile.
The battle for the Jewish vote is in full swing, with Democrats and Republicans deploying their most stentorian spokespersons.
Theodor Herzl was an assimilated Viennese journalist who became the unlikely founder of modern Zionism and a main catalyst for the creation of the Jewish State of Israel.
It took 64 years, with a detour to Israel’s War of Independence, but Mitchell Flint is finally getting to see the London Olympic Games, live and in person.
Fortuitously, Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology's Dr. Avram Hershko, co-winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was recently in Los Angeles, and the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), which supports his work, arranged an interview to provide an expert's view.
On March 19, Mohamed Merah, 23, attacked the Ozar HaTorah school in Toulouse in southern France, killing three students and a rabbi.
For Arnold Spielberg's birthday in the late 1950s, his wife, Leah, gave him a Brownie movie camera. He had little chance to enjoy the present because it was immediately appropriated by his 13-year-old son, Steven.
Back in the 1930s and ’40s, when Diaspora Jews desperately needed a symbol of Jewish strength and pride, the brawny, sunburned kibbutznik became the poster image for the new Jew emerging in Palestine.
Generations of readers, theater patrons and movie goers have been touched and moved by “The Diary of Anne Frank,” but perhaps no one was more astonished by the adolescent girl’s deep inner life – while in hiding from the Nazis – than Anne’s father.
Malka and Abraham Jura faced a Solomonic decision in late 1938, as the Nazis were tightening the vise on the Jews of Vienna. The couple hoped to send their three daughters to safety but were able to wrangle only one place on the Kindertransport ferrying a limited number of Jewish children to London. After much agonizing, the Juras decided to give the spot to 14-year-old Lisa, a remarkable piano prodigy.
Hershey Felder is a prolific performer, writer and composer, but he is setting a new personal record with world premieres of two plays at different Los Angeles venues.
Once upon a time, Marvin Hier, an Orthodox rabbi and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, decided to make a documentary film about the Holocaust.
Judea Pearl, co-founder of the Daniel Pearl Foundation and an internationally renowned expert in computer science, will receive the Turing Award, known as the “Nobel Prize in Computing,” for his path-breaking innovations in artificial intelligence — the discipline probing the partnership between humans and robotic machines.
It’s springtime in Los Angeles, which means raising the curtain on the 26th Israel Film Festival, this year displaying a colorful palette of more than 30 feature movies, documentaries, TV shows and student shorts.
Larry Greenfield, a Los Angeles-area native, has been named national executive director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs in Washington, D.C., JINSA president David Ganz has announced.
Hershel Walfish, a leading Orthodox cantor and survivor of several Nazi concentration camps, died Jan. 24 at 89, following a lengthy illness.
Joseph Cedar has made four movies during his 11-year career, and the first three have represented Israel in the Oscar races for Best Foreign-Language film.
During the past few months, top California State University administrators, who oversee 23 campuses with 420,000 students, were spending a good deal of time wrestling with upcoming draconian state budget cuts and protesting students, yet they set aside some time to consider whether the largest four-year college system in the United States should restart its study abroad program in Israel.
The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery is 130 years old and has survived the kaiser’s imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, and, astonishingly, the Nazi regime.
A man arrives at an airport for a flight, and as he goes through security the agent asks some questions.
Agnieszka Holland, director of “In Darkness,” has always been intrigued by the contradictions and extremes of human nature.
In the run-up to the Academy Awards last year, when not a single domestic or foreign film entry touched on a Holocaust or Nazi-era theme, I speculated that this particular genre had probably run its course.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s constant Holocaust denial is not only a personal obsession, but also part of a larger policy by the Iranian president, according to Yossi Klein Halevi, the influential Israeli-American journalist, writer and commentator. Ahmadinejad’s calculation is that if he succeeds in discrediting the Shoah, “he will undermine the basis of Western support for Israel and that the Jewish state will eventually disappear,” Halevi said.
After arriving by cattle car at Auschwitz, many Jews were handed postcards, with the uniform message thoughtfully prepared by the Nazis.
I met Leon Weinstein, hale and hearty at 101, three months ago and listened to his dramatic recollections as a fighter and survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, one of the bravest chapters in modern Jewish history.
Some 250 veterans of numerous journalistic triumphs and embarrassments gathered on Oct. 18 to relive the brave old days, toast their colleagues and wonder what the future held for their breed.
The architects of the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem have threatened to resign, two weeks before the scheduled start of construction.
Ten months after the end of World War I, a 30-year-old German army veteran wrote a two-page letter in which he explained the Jewish question on what he called a “rational” and “scientific” basis.
David Siegel, Israel’s new consul general for the southwestern United States, along with his wife, Myra, and their three kids, arrived in Los Angeles on a Monday in late August and hit the ground running.
Rather than compose “Porgy and Bess,” what if George Gershwin had instead scored the opera “Dybbuk and Leah”?
In the midst of World War II, when a German general demanded that a noted Jewish radar expert be exempted from deportation to help the Nazi war effort, SS Lt. Col. Adolf Eichmann icily replied that as a matter of principle he could not make any exceptions in ensuring the success of the Final Solution.
Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Leib (I.L.) Peretz died almost a century ago, but the works of the two giants of Yiddish literature live on in film and on stage.
About a dozen years ago, actor Mike Burstyn auditioned in New York for the role of Al Jolson in the national touring company of the musical “Jolson.” While waiting for a decision, he flew home to Los Angeles and on landing at LAX decided to stop by the nearby Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary and visit the grave of the legendary jazz singer.
“The American Jewish community has a problem keeping silent,” says scholar Michael Berenbaum, and he ascribes the “problem” to guilt over our collective failure to speak up during the Holocaust.
In the opening scene of the documentary “Torn,” an official asks an elderly man for his name, and he replies, “Romuald-Jakub Weksler-Waszkinel.”
When Jacob Dayan — along with his wife, Galit, and their three children — arrived in Los Angeles in October 2007 to take up his post as Israel’s consul general for the southwestern United States, L.A. got two activist diplomats for the price of one.
Despite a long life of distinguished writing, it’s not without irony that Sholem Aleichem today is probably known to most people as the guy who wrote the story behind “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“Boyle Heights wasn’t just a geographical term, it was a mind-set.” So says Abraham (Abe) Hoffman, and he should know.
Some theater patrons prefer to switch off their brain cells and watch a light-hearted play, while others opt for strenuous mental exercise.
After he tired of prospecting for gold in his native Canada, Mark Talesnick moved to Israel, where he did exploratory drilling for the proposed Mediterranean-Dead Sea (Med-Dead) Canal project and founded the national ice hockey team.
Baya Benmahmoud, the heroine of the French film “The Names of Love,” gives new meaning to the concept of political activism. A fervent, if rather naïve, left-winger whose guiding motto is, “Make love, not war,” her mission is to convert right-wing politicians to the correct ideology by sleeping with them. “I am a political whore,” she announces proudly when she meets Arthur Martin, a 40-ish, uptight ornithologist, who rambles on about bird diseases when Baya inquires whether they should make love at his or her place.
“An anti-Semitism based on reason must lead to systematic combatting and elimination of the privileges of the Jews… The ultimate objective [of such legislation] must be the irrevocable removal of Jews in general.”
How do you nudge the largest four-year college system in the United States to change its mind and greenlight its students for study at Israeli universities?
The Los Angeles Dodgers will again underwrite the baseball tournament at the Maccabiah games in Israel, according to an announcement from the Maccabiah Organizing Committee. Frank McCourt, though occupied with ownership of the team and a contentious divorce, said, “Our sponsorship hugely enhanced the baseball experience at the 18th Maccabiah Games in 2009, and the Dodgers are proud to continue our close association with the Jewish Olympics.
Murray Schisgal’s comedy “LUV” is, as the alert reader might suspect, about love, even passionate love, but don’t expect any moon in June or till death do us part nonsense. Actually, “LUV” works best as an anti-love play, and, after seeing it, any starry-eyed boy or girl might opt for a celibate life of devotion, if only their parents would let them.
Twelve national and international television crews, plus another dozen photographers and print reporters jostled for positions Tuesday evening May 10 to cover the Israel Independence Day celebration hosted by the country’s Consul General Jacob Dayan in Los Angeles.
For Ira Feinberg, what he calls the "pinnacle of my life's experiences" took place 63 years ago. Feinberg was a 17-year-old New Yorker when he joined the elite troops of the Palmach force fighting in Israel’s War of Independence. “No other experience in my life had such meaning as this period serving in the first army to fight for the Jewish people and for the independence of the State of Israel,” he says in the film, adding that “Nothing comes close to it.”
“The Führer Gives the Jews a City” must rank as the oddest film fragment in cinematic history.
Filmmaker Paul Mazursky will be honored with the Burning Bush Award by the University Women of the American Jewish University (AJU) at the group’s author-artist luncheon on May 3. Sharing the stage at the Beverly Hills Hotel will be Marion Goldenfeld, who will receive the Woman of Achievement Award.
When Israel fought its War of Independence, there were no embedded TV cameramen, and even combat newsreel photographers were practically nonexistent. The newly created state had more important matters to worry about. More surprisingly, there have been hardly any movies celebrating the near miraculous victories of 1948-49, and, later, of the Six-Day War in 1967.
The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival returns to town for the sixth year May 5-12 with a diverse menu of 26 feature movies, documentaries and shorts. “Our films are not just SELECTED, they are chosen,” festival director Hilary Helstein said. Her picks cover such themes as tradition and identity, conflict and issues, history and legacy, and inspiration.
With the introduction of photography in 1839, pioneer practitioners of the nascent medium flocked to the Holy Land, expecting the glorious biblical scenes imagined by Renaissance painters, but finding instead mainly dusty villages and a largely ramshackle Jerusalem.
Branko Lustig, 78, two-time Oscar-winner for “Schindler’s List” and “Gladiator,” will celebrate his bar mitzvah on May 2 at Auschwitz, in front of Barrack 24. He missed his rite of passage as a 13-year-old because at the time he was a prisoner in the very same barrack, having been deported from his Croatian hometown to the death camp when he was 10.
When Israel fought its War of Independence, embedded TV cameramen were unknown and even combat newsreel photographers were practically non-existent. The newly created state had more important matters to worry about. More surprisingly, there have been hardly any movies celebrating the near miraculous victories of 1948-49, and later of the Six-Day War in 1967.
It’s not every Jewish girl whose parents commission a new work by a renowned classical composer for her bat mitzvah, but then Dora Schoenberg’s lineage made a musical tribute all but mandatory.
With the introduction of photography in 1839, pioneer practitioners of the nascent medium flocked to the Holy Land, expecting the glorious biblical scenes imagined by Renaissance painters, but finding instead mainly dusty villages and a largely ramshackle Jerusalem.
Director Sidney Lumet, who started his career as a child actor in the Yiddish theater and whose films examining social justice in America stand as landmarks of his craft, died April 9 of lymphoma at his New York City home. He was 86.
What happens to members of a generation when all the seemingly immutable verities of their childhoods are turned upside down? Suppose you are in your late 30s or early 40s and are suddenly told that everything you learned in school about American democracy and its Founding Fathers was a lie. Such abstract questions seem ready-made for a seminar at an American Psychological Society meeting but come to vibrant life in the documentary “My Perestroika.”
F. Murray Abraham’s performance as Shylock, praised by New York critics as the greatest in memory, owes much to the fact that the actor is almost invariably taken as Jewish. That pardonable error, he says, is central to his portrayal of the much-vilified Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” which opens April 14 on The Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
Though Labor Zionism, at one time Israel’s dominant political force under David Ben-Gurion and a major voice in the American Jewish community, no longer wields its once-muscular power, it is not dead and is even showing signs of revival and rejuvenation.
The protests sweeping the Middle East are driven by a second revolution — the empowerment of Arab women.
Arranging a concert program is like planning a dinner, says Itzhak Perlman, calling from New York. First comes an appetizer, then the main course, and finally something to clear the palate.
Israel’s “The Matchmaker” headlines the sixth annual Santa Barbara Jewish Film Festival, taking place April 7-10. The opening night film, which was also spotlighted on the first night of Los Angeles’ 25th Israel Film Festival in October, has garnered two Ophirs — Israel’s equivalent of the Oscars — for best actor and best actress. But don’t expect a heartwarming shtetl romance or a Hollywood-ish “Father of the Bride” comedy.
“My country, Israel, is full of contradictions and volcanic eruptions. We fluctuate between extremes. One morning you say peace is at hand and all problems will be resolved. The next day, it’s the apocalypse.” The thumbnail description comes from Amos Gitai, who, more than any other Israeli filmmaker, has explored the emotional peaks and valleys of his people in more than 40 feature films and documentaries.
In the opening montage of Sunday’s Academy Award ceremony, hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway played with a dreidel, which proved to be a good omen that a good night awaited Jewish talent.
“The Human Resources Manager” struck out early in the best foreign-language film competition, while the documentary feature “Precious Life” was short-listed among the 15 semi-finalists but didn’t make the final five cut. However, still in the running is “Strangers No More” in the documentary short category.
You have to sympathize with public speakers asked to deliver carefully prepared lectures on the situation in the Middle East, where events have a habit of overtaking incisive scholarly analyses. So it befell Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic, prolific writer and all-around public intellectual, who was the speaker at the ninth annual Daniel Pearl Lecture at UCLA last week.
Is the Holocaust passe for Hollywood and the world’s filmmakers? This is the first year in at least half a century that not a single Oscar or Golden Globe entry has focused on the horrors of the Shoah.
The original title of Jake Ehrenreich’s show-in-the-making was a rather bland “Growing Up in America,” but, fortunately, it will open Feb. 16 at American Jewish University under the more pointed title, “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn.”
How the title change came about is described by his director, Jon Huberth, in the companion book to the show.