Jewish Journal


September 4, 2008

Calendar Girls picks and clicks for Sept. 6–12: Hip hop art, veggie Jews, string theory & laughs


Kanye West
Painting by Alex Melamid

Kanye West
Painting by Alex Melamid


They're being called the "Divas of Domesticity." Three PTA-parents-turned-girl-group prove dishes can't diminish a desire for artistic creativity. "It's The Housewives," a rock-musical by husband/wife songwriting team Laurence and Hope Juber of "A Very Brady Musical" and Ellen Guylas, features 19 songs with titles that will make you chuckle: "In Sink and at Your Disposal," "Ironing Bored" and "Reynolds Rap." Sat. 8 p.m. $40. Through Oct. 12. The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (323) 960-5563. http://itsthehousewives.com.


The Backwoods Barbie herself, Dolly Parton, is back in the limelight, crooning about the injustices of working a thankless 9-to-5 job. Adapting the hit 1980s flick to the stage, the seven-time Grammy -winner penned 20 original songs for "9 to 5: The Musical," starring Allison Janney ("The West Wing") and Stephanie J. Block and Megan Hilty (who charmed audiences as Elphaba and Glinda, respectively, in "Wicked"). Hilty takes on the role of secretary Doralee played by Parton 28 years ago. The show will play at the Ahmanson for more than a month, but tonight you get to turn your evening of entertainment into a mitzvah. Vista Del Mar, a social service agency that focuses on children, is hosting an evening to raise funds for their many social, educational, behavioral and health programs. What a way to make a livin' -- and what a way to make a difference. Sun. 4 p.m. (cocktails), 5 p.m. (dinner). Call for prices. Center at Cathedral Plaza, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles. 6:30 p.m. (show). Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 836-1223, ext. 274.

"String theory is a still-developing mathematical approach to theoretical physics, whose original building blocks are one-dimensional extended objects called strings. String theory is the first candidate for the 'theory of everything,' a way to describe all the known natural forces and matter in a mathematically complete system." Perhaps art can explain better than Wikipedia. In "String Theory: Works by Gary Frederick Brown and Baila Goldenthal," the abstract artists contemplate "the sub-microscopic dimensions" of human relationships with the divine, trying to get at the invisible threads that link them. At this artists' opening reception, USC professor Solomon Golomb will address the science of string theory in connection with the exhibit. Sun. 3-5 p.m. Free. USC Hillel Art Gallery, 3300 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles. (213) 747-9135.

Interested in supporting gay and lesbian rights, but not sure how? Start by visiting a moving-art exhibition, "The Shepard Cycle: Prints and Drawings by Nomi Silverman," at the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring's A Shenere Velt art gallery. Silverman will present prints, studies and drawings relating to gay college student Matthew Shepard, whose hate-motivated murder in Wyoming 10 years ago has inspired a variety of artistic endeavors. The gallery will donate 50 percent of the sale price from each Silverman piece to the campaign to defeat Proposition 8, the measure that aims to ban same-sex marriage in California. Congregations Beth Chayim Chadashim and Kol Ami, Progressive Jewish Alliance and Jews for Marriage Equality are co-sponsoring this exhibition. Sun. 3-5 p.m. (opening reception). Through Oct. 3. Free. 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-2007. http://www.circlesocal.org.

I'll bet you're wondering what Obama and McCain have to do with the "Miss Jewish Princess Pageant," an annual mock-pageant that doubles as a kooky variety show. Producer Paul Ryan, a TV-host veteran, has inaugurated a series of such performances including "Miss Plus Size," "Miss Playmate" and "Miss Drag Queen." But tonight is special, with mock presidential candidates -- out to court the Jewish vote -- serenading the lil' princesses, crooning to the likes of "Fiddler on the Roof" favorites. There's really no business like show business. Sun. 8 p.m. $18. The Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. (818) 788-2190. http://www.paulryanproductions.com.

When L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa visited Israel earlier this summer, he was deeply moved by the plight of those living in Sderot. Over breakfast, several senior members of his delegation will discuss their experiences in the town that is being barraged daily by Palestinian terrorist rocket attacks. Under the auspices of AMIT, a religious education and social services organization that supports Israeli youth, and the Jewish Free Loan Association, Los Angeles city officials will bring the realities of the tragedy home during "New Perspectives -- A Report from Sderot: A Lox and Bagel Breakfast and Panel Discussion." Sun. 9-11 a.m. $20-$40. Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 859-4885. http://www.amitchildren.org.

If JCafeLA's mission is to play matchmaker, then the recurring mega-mixer is in business: two couples who met at previous JCafeLA events are now engaged. But Aaron Kemp's social brainchild is not just another singles meat market. JCafeLA, now co-sponsored by eight big-name Jewish organizations, is a constantly changing and evolving scene with live music, performances, raffles, ice breakers (they actually work in getting people to mingle!), networking and Hollywood tie-ins. This end of summer blowout will feature representatives from "Project Runway," who are looking to cast a new reality television show -- "Project Kosher" -- so this could be your chance to meet Mr./Ms. Right and become a TV star, too. Sun. 7-10:30 p.m. $15 (in advance), $20 (at the door). Kula Sushi Bistro, 10351 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. http://www.jcafela.com.

Just in time for the High Holy Days, the Lehkeeroov Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) wants you to know that if you eat meat, you're sinning and you should probably repent on Yom Kippur for every steak and chicken thigh you've devoured this year. In "The Messianic Vision: Vegetarian or Not?" an intensive exploration with Orthodox rabbis and other authorities, the JVS will debate the religious and moral implications of being a carnivore as well as the ethics of using animals for clothing, experimentation and sacrifice (guess that rules out kapparot, the ancient ritual of transferring sin to a chicken and then killing it). Aiming to raise awareness of the cruel and unusual waste of factory farming, JVS hopes to get you into fruits and grains this new year. Sun. 2-4 p.m. Free. Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (310) 358-9941. http://judaism.meetup.com/166.


You probably know more Yiddish than you think, thanks to "Seinfeld," Heeb magazine and Jewish screenwriters, who made words such as shlep, klutz, nosh, shlimazel (remember the "Laverne and Shirley" hopscotch theme song?) and shmooze household lingo. If pop culture catchphrases aren't satisfying your hunger for Yiddish vocabulary, then consider taking one of the Yiddish classes offered by the Workmen's Circle. There's a beginning class for those who know bupkes, an intermediate class for people with a bisl more knowledge and an advanced course for the Yid maven -- bet you didn't know that word was Yiddish. Classes start Sep. 8 and run for 18 weeks. $160-$325. Some scholarships are available. To register, call (310) 552-2007. http://www.circelsocal.org.

Omer Bartov, a professor at Brown University, set out to investigate the history of his mother's hometown in eastern Galicia, and now he is telling the public about what he discovered. During the course of his research, he came face to face with the region's ethnic conflicts, historic anti-Semitism and complex political development. Bartov also reveals a newly independent country that ethnically cleansed its own history, wiping out nearly all traces of the vibrant Jewish communities that once thrived in the region. Hear the details of the professor's fascinating study in a community lecture sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Jewish studies program at California State University, Northridge, "Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine." Mon. 4:30-6 p.m. Free. California State University, Northridge, Oviatt Library Presentation Room, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. (818) 677-2957 or (818) 677-4724. http://www.csun.edu.

What does the IRS have to do with your rabbi's sermon? A lot, if that sermon violates the rules of political advocacy. In this hot election season, many religious leaders may be inclined to lace their speeches with political talk and hence the importance of knowing the laws governing religious and nonprofit organizations. "Politics and the Pulpit: Free Speech, Advocacy and the IRS" is a workshop that will detail the guidelines for speaking about candidates, lobbying within the rules, IRS penalties and advocating for certain causes. Tax attorney Dave Ritchie and the ACLU's Isabelle Gunning will lead the information session, which will be offered on three dates, Sep. 8, Sep. 18 and Sep. 25. Mon. 10-11:30 a.m. Free. Westside JCC, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P. (213) 977-5292. http://www.aclu-sc.org.


It's easy to focus on the horrors that religion has inspired, especially since the conflicts raging around the world today are so heavily infused with talk of holy missions, God's will and martyrdom. Rabbi David Wolpe spends more than 200 pages doing the exact opposite in his much-talked-about new book, "Why Faith Matters." Wolpe can be expected to deliver an impassioned defense of the importance of faith in today's world at the American Jewish University Women's opening program and membership drive, also titled "Why Faith Matters." Wolpe will be tour extensively this fall to promote his seventh tome, but the real work will be countering the reason-based secularists, antitheists and atheists who argue, for example, that "religion poisons everything," as Christopher Hitchens subtitled his famed critique of faith, "God Is Not Great." Your stomach, as well as your soul, will be pleasantly full since the program also includes a continental breakfast buffet. Tue. 9:30 a.m.-noon. Free (members), $15 (guests). American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. R.S.V.P. by Sept. 5. (310) 440-1283. http://www.ajula.edu.


Balkan Beat Box may be based in Brooklyn, but their colorful music draws influence from all around the world: Israel, Bulgaria, Morocco, Spain and the Balkans. Israeli-born Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat co-founded the group and now collaborate with musicians from different countries to produce a unique blend that has been labeled at various times gypsy punk, world music, fusion and electo-folk. The Box calls itself a "natural reaction of musicians who wanted to erase political borders." Their raucous live performances are described as "quasi-circus events," complete with horns, electronic elements and Mediterranean melodies. At tonight's concert, organized by JDub records and KCRW, the Box will be playing alongside Sephardic indie rock band DeLeon, which is making their Los Angeles debut. Tue. 8 p.m. $17.50. El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 936-6400. http://www.theelrey.com.

Can the Middle East help California solve its environmental problems? Friends of the Arava Institute, an environmental teaching and research program in the Middle East, are actively exploring the possibility. Experts from the institute will be sharing the ways Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have worked together to try to solve the region's many environmental woes. The seminar will also focus on how the quest for alternative energy sources and environmental strategies used to combat water scarcity, industrial waste and pollution could be adapted to our state. "In many ways, these two regions that are at opposite ends of the planet have very similar problems. Our hope is that our experiences from the Middle East may have relevance to similar issues in the Western United States," said Clive Lipchin, research director of the Arava Institute and one of the featured experts at the panel discussion. Tue. 5 p.m. Free. UCLA School of Law Auditorium, 385 Charles E. Young Drive East, Los Angeles. (866) 312-7282. http://www.friendsofarava.org.


Certain foods just taste like a certain place: The cheesesteak is forever linked to Philly. And deep-dish pizza can only be from Chicago. But what food comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles? In a city that has some of the country's freshest ingredients and finest restaurants, it's still somehow better known for exporting California Pizza Kitchen and Koo Koo Roo than anything else. And with so much food fusion happening in Los Angeles, do local flavors get lost in global palettes? During this discussion put on by Zócalo public lecture series, moderator and Pulitzer-winning L.A. Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold will ask local chefs Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Evan Kleinman (Angeli Caffe) and a slew of others "Is There Such a Thing as L.A. Cuisine?" Wed. 7 p.m. Free. The Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 403-0416. http://www.zocalola.org.

Still undecided about your presidential pick in November? Come listen to Andrew Lachman, president of Democrats for Israel, and Larry Greenfield, regional director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, talk about why their respective candidates should be the next commander-in-chief at "Election 2008: The Jewish Vote -- A Debate." You might still be undecided when you leave, but at least you'll be more informed. Wed. 7-9 p.m. (refreshments served). Free. Temple Etz Chaim sanctuary, 1080 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. (805) 497-6891. http://www.templeetzchaim.org.

Pisher [peesh-ehr], a Yiddish-English term, meaning, politely, "a little squirt." The story goes ... two new Jewish mothers, Chloe Brakha and Jackie Deutsch, became as fashion-obsessed on behalf of their newborns as they were for themselves. Thus, a shopping-exclusive for Moms entitled, "Rich Lil Pishers," a one-day, one-stop shop for women to indulge their wallets and get pampered. And since most Jews fancy a steep bargain, the "momtrepreneurs" are amalgamating designer maternity and children's wear at a 70 percent discount with a portion of ticket sales benefiting Baby2Baby, an organization providing children's items to Los Angeles families in need. Wed. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. $25. Smashbox Studios, 8538 Warner Drive, Culver City. (310) 339-1558. http://www.richlilpishers.com.


In a modern-day twist on the Old Master portraits of distinguished cardinals and popes, Russian-born Jewish painter Alex Melamid has created 12 life-sized paintings of hip-hop legends such as Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Kanye West. "Holy Hip Hop!" depicts these powerful moguls and influential pop culture icons in much the same way that ecclesiastical heavy weights were portrayed by Velasquez and Rembrandt: as compelling, assertive, larger-than-life figures. Melamid, who first made a name for himself as a revolutionary artist in Soviet Russia with longtime collaborator Vitaly Komar, was introduced to the hip hop elite by his son, a music video director. Having escaped Soviet harassment, the artist has continued to dissect contemporary culture and plans to follow this with two additional series, of 12 religious figures and 12 Russian oligarchs. Fri. 7-9 p.m. (opening reception). Tue.-Sat. Through Nov. 1. Free. Forum Gallery, 8069 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 655-1550. http://www.forumgallery.com.

If you were given carte blanche to be as irreverent, cruel and crass to Adolf Hitler as you could be, what would you say? A band of comics whose work is aptly themed "Comedy Noir" take on some of history's most powerful and cunning figures in "The Hitler Roast." The talented cast, hailing from a hit run in San Francisco, will inhabit myriad personas of Hitler, George Bush, The Marquis de Sade -- even Joan Rivers -- in a sarcastic skewering of history's most hated. Fri. 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. $12. Through Sept. 27. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 960-7753. http://www.plays411.com/hitlersroast.


The Malibu Times wrote, "Four hundred and 11 years after Shakespeare published 'Romeo and Juliet,' the bard is alive and well." This declaration was referring to the film "David & Fatima," a love story involving a young Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim girl who not only face their family's opposition to their romance, as the star-crossed lovers of yore did, but also the intense hostility of their respective cultures -- feuding families on a much, much larger scale. We can't say if David and Fatima's fate mirrors that of Romeo and Juliet's, but we can safely reveal that this film by Alain Zaloum is full of the same heart-pounding passion, riveting drama and inevitable danger. Opens in theaters today. Check local listings for locations and show times. http://www.davidandfatima.com.

-- Lilly Fowler contributed to this article

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