December 7, 2006
A Chanukah for the party people
On the first night of Chanukah my true love gave to me...social justice?
That's the theme of one of the hottest parties of the Chanukah season, "Vodka Latka: The Festival of Rights," sponsored by the Progressive Jewish Alliance (PJA), JDub Records and Reboot on Dec. 13 at the El Rey Theatre in Mid-Wilshire.
PJA, the local social justice action committee, is partnering with the Jewish record company and the network for Jewish innovation to host their sixth annual "Festival of Rights" party, which last year garnered some 500 people -- mostly singles -- at the Knitting Factory.
PJA's "Festival of Rights" merged last year with The Jewish Federation's "Vodka Latka" holiday party celebrated for the last 10 years. The Federation supports "Vodka Latka: Festival of Rights" and will also have its own Young Leadership Chanukah Bash on Thursday, Dec. 14 at Smashbox Studios.
This year's Festival of Rights at the El Rey features comedian/rapper Eric "Smooth-E" Schwartz, folk-punk rockers "Golem," a Chanukah sketch comedy featuring Heaping Hannukah and Jill Soloway (executive producer and writer for "Six Feet Under"), and, as they do every year, a social justice candlelighting ceremony, where community leaders and activists light candles in honor of causes. Among those lighting this year are Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR; Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor; Michael John Garces, Artistic Director, Cornerstone Theatre; Eric Garcetti, President, Los Angeles City Council; Mitch Kamin, Executive Director, Bet Tzedek Legal Services; Edina Lekovic, Communications Director, MPAC; Mayor Antonio Villairagosa, Mayor of Los Angeles and Kent Wong, Director, UCLA Labor Center; and Daniel Sokatch, Executive Director, Progressive Jewish Alliance (MC).
Is it too much of a buzz-kill to talk human rights at a party?
"There's no reason why pop and politics, the serious and the inspirational, can't mix," Sokatch said. "The nexis of art and politics is always an area we're fascinated in. It's not just a tool to get people in the door -- Jewish history and Jewish culture and Jewish politics are inseparable."
Vodka Latka - Festival of Rights. Dec. 13. 8 p.m. The El Rey, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. $12 (in advance), $15 (at the door). www.theelrey.com.
The Federation Young Leadership Development party will be held Dec. 14 at 7 p.m., at Smashbox Studios, 8538 Warner Drive, Culver City. $36. Sign up before Dec. 11 and get drinks, food and valet parking free. Contact Lillie Perry at (323) 761-8372 or LPerry@Jewishla.org.
-- Amy Klein, Religion Editor