A German expressionist film miraculously melds a Halloween mood with a talmudic rabbi and the Prague ghetto. "Der Golem: Wie Er in die Welt Kam" ("The Golem: How He Came Into the World") tells the legend of a clay figurine created by a rabbi to save the Jewish people of the Prague ghetto, who suffered from the tyranny of Rudolf II. In a tragic twist of fate, the intended hero betrays its creator and purpose. The digitally restored print will screen in sync with a live score of improvisation and computer electronics by renowned contrabassist Tom Peters. Who knew Halloween could have such Jewish connections? Sat. 8 p.m. $25. Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. (626) 683-6883. http://www.bostoncourt.org.
Jewish violinist Ilia Korol will make his debut as guest concertmaster at the opening of the new season for "Musica Angelica," California's premier baroque ensemble. Internationally acclaimed music director Martin Haselblock will lead the orchestra through performances of Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and the U.S. premiere of Graun's "Double Concerto." Recording virtuoso Marion Verbruggen and gambist Vittorio Ghielmi will round out the lineup of outstanding soloists. Audience members are also invited to attend a pre-concert lecture, which begins 40 minutes prior to the first performance. Sat. 8 p.m. $39-$55 (general); $15 (students). Zipper Concert Hall, Colburn School of Performing Arts, 200 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. Also, Sun., Oct. 26, 4 p.m. Same prices. Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. (310) 458-4504. http://www.musicaangelica.org.
When Hava Volterra lost her father, her mourning took her on a journey she never envisioned. Along with her 82-year-old aunt, the L.A. resident embarked on a trip to Italy to explore her Jewish-Italian ancestors. Throughout the autobiographical documentary "The Tree of Life" audiences witness the duo relentlessly traveling from city to city, studying ancient manuscripts and speaking with quirky scholars in an attempt to trace their family's history. In the process, Volterra's aunt feels compelled to find the family who helped her and her loved ones escape the Holocaust. The film has been called "utterly hilarious and emotionally gripping," and is playing in Los Angeles for one week only. The Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 274-6869. http://www.thetreeoflifemovie.com.
Unlike those of us who took up an instrument as a teen then promptly gave it up, Israeli saxophonist Gilad Ronen never stopped playing music, diligently practicing ever since. Now considered one of the top 12 jazz saxophonists in the world, Ronen will be competing in the "Thelonius Monk International Jazz SaxophoneCompetition Semi-Finals," an event judged by an accomplished bunch: Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Heath and Greg Osby, among others. Competition finals will be held the next day as part of the "Blues and Jazz: Two American Classics" benefit concert at the Kodak Theatre. Proceeds from the concert will go to supporting public music education in Los Angeles, New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta. Sat. 1-5 p.m. Free. UCLA, Schoenberg Hall, 445 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 284-8200. http://www.monkinstitute.org.
SUN | OCTOBER 26
As part of a special tribute dedicated to musicians affected by the Holocaust, Da Camera Society is bringing the Berlin-based Jacques Thibaud Trio to Los Angeles to play the rarely heard works of Jewish composers: Paul Ben Haim, Erwin Schulhoff, Gideon Klein and Leon Levitch. The New York Times has hailed the trio as "spontaneous and commanding" and as "the first string trio in some time to have a major career." Flutist Eugenia Zukerman, who the Washington Post has called "an absolute marvel of sensitivity," will join the group; she will also interview Levitch before the performance about his experience fleeing Europe in 1944. Sun. 4 p.m. $52. Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus, 11661 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 477-2929. http://www.DaCamera.org. Also with pianist Leo Marcus, Wed., Oct. 29. 7:30 p.m. $15-$20. The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-2007. http://www.circlesocal.org.
Get ready for some relief from the seriousness of the political debates. The Capitol Steps -- the comedy troupe made up of former congressional staffers -- are back by popular demand, skewering the politicians who once employed them. Republican? Democrat? It doesn't matter. No one is safe from their caustic yet hilarious barbs. Sun. 4 p.m. $45. American Jewish University, Brandeis-Bardin Campus, 1101 Peppertree Lane, Brandeis. (310) 440-1246. http://www.ajula.edu.
It's the 100th anniversary of the National Council of Jewish Women's Los Angeles chapter, and they are celebrating in style. The 2008 Hannah G. Solomon Awards Gala will honor luminaries like artist Phyllis Cohen, education activist Sophie Greenstadt and children's book author Janet Schulman. KPCC's Special Correspondent Kitty Felde will host the event, while singer Lisa Wanamaker and guitarist Adam Lebowski will provide musical accompaniment. Sponsored by Sempra Energy, Clear Channel Outdoor and Irene Perer. Sun. 5 p.m. $175. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 852-8512. http://www.ncjwla.org.
Friends of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl are in the midst of an annual three-week concert tour. Pearl, who was also a musician, believed in the power of music to bring people together. "FODfest" aims to ensure Pearl's vision lives on by inviting people from all walks of life to partake in the free concert series. Angelenos get their chance to participate when the peace-spreading duo SONiA & disappear fear, singer-songwriter Todd Mack, indie star Lauren Adams, Mexican artist Judith de los Santos and many others hit the stage. Sun. 8 p.m. Free. Hotel Cafe, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 461-2040. http://www.fodfest.org.
Aaron Kemp keeps the fires flaming on his flagship singles parties known as JCafeLA. Kemp started the social endeavor just after the High Holy Days in 2007 and now he has eight of Los Angeles' largest Jewish organizations behind him as he celebrates the group's first anniversary. With free-flowing cocktails, carefully themed entertainment, kosher hors d'oeuvres and ample networking opportunities, this has become a scene for young professionals in their 20s and 30s. Get in on the action co-sponsored by Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters, Jewlicious, ATID LA and others. Sun. 7-10 p.m. $15-$20. Kula Sushi Bistro, 10351 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City. (310) 282-8870. http://www.jcafela.com.
UCLA's Center for Jewish Studies is pondering Sephardic life in the Balkans. In conjunction with an exhibit containing first-hand accounts of Balkan Sephardim (thanks to the work of Centropa.org, an oral history project combining pictures and stories), "Images of a Lost World" features a symposium discussing this unique historic experience, followed by the opening reception of the multimedia exhibit. Sun. 2-4 p.m. (symposium). Free. UCLA, 314 Royce Hall. 5-7 p.m. (exhibit opening). Free. UCLA Hillel, Rose and David Dortort Gallery, 574 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. (310) 825-5387. http://www.cjs.ucla.edu.
TUE | OCTOBER 28
Listen to the sweet sounds of one of Israel's most important and influential music institutions when the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra makes their UCLA debut. Under the direction of Leon Botstein, the orchestra has organized a program meant to explore the American Jewish Diaspora. They will perform Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" suite, along with Bernstein's Symphony No. 2 and Copland's Symphony No. 3. Violin soloist Robert McDuffie has made a name for himself and earned a Grammy nomination along the way. Tue. 8 p.m. $34-$90. UCLA Live, Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 825-4401. http://www.uclalive.org.
Can you imagine what it might be like to be one of 42 million displaced persons living in a refugee camp? Fleeing ethnic hatred? Famine? Civil War? Probably not, which is why Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres is creating "A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City," where Angelenos are invited to experience firsthand the traumas and challenges of life as a refugee. Aid workers will guide visitors through the challenges of building shelter, finding food and water, and discarding waste -- the most essential elements for survival in a camp. There will also be tours of a health clinic, a vaccination tent and cholera treatment center with actual materials aid workers use in Sudan, Colombia and Somalia. Tonight, former international president of the organization, Dr. James Orbinski, humanitarian, author, and the subject of the film, "Triage: Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma," will reflect on his experiences. Tue. 7:30 p.m. Free. Fine Arts Theatre, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. To register, visit http://www.townhall-la.org. Refugee camp open Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, Santa Monica Pier, Parking Lot 1 North. (800) 490-0773. http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/refugeecamp.
During a conversation in a corridor, a few LMU professors pontificated on the "golden age" of religious tolerance in medieval Spain, a time when "Christian architects used Islamic motifs in their buildings. Muslim and Jewish philosophers kept alive the works of Aristotle in Arabic commentaries and translations. Mosques were used as synagogues on Saturdays and churches on Sundays," or so says their Web site. The era was defined as a bridge culture, an idea mimicked in modernity by the multicultural hotbed of Los Angeles. Thus bore the concept of LMU's "Bellarmine Forum 2008 -- religion.identity.life. CONVIVENCIA," a meeting of religious minds to flesh out the commonalities among different faiths. One of many panels and events (see Web site), today's highlight focuses on the diversity of Jewish identity in Los Angeles: "What's a Nice Jewish Person Like You Doing in a Place Like This?" features a panel of rabbis, including Ed Feinstein (Valley Beth Shalom), Aaron Katz (Beth Shalom of Whittier) and Haim Ovadia (Kahal Joseph Congregation) and Saba Soomekh, professor of theological studies, who specializes in the Iranian Jewish community of Los Angeles. Tue. 3-4:15 p.m. Free. Through Nov. 1. Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, Ahmanson 1000, Los Angeles. (310) 338-2700. http://www.lmu.edu/bellarmineforum.
WED | OCTOBER 29
It's a scary thought, but it's true: there are more than 3 million active "swingers" living in the United States (and by swingers, we don't mean Vince Vaughn). These are ordinary Americans, living everywhere from Mahwah, N.J., to Pleasanton, Calif., and they like to expand their sexual horizons by swapping partners now and then. Naomi Harris, a photojournalist who has published work in some of the most prestigious publications in the world, including the New York Times Magazine and Newsweek, spent five years documenting this culture. She traveled to 38 "conventions, parties, camp-outs and holiday dinners of the swinging variety" armed only with her camera to chronicle this underground phenomenon. The result is the celebrated "Naomi Harris: America Swings" exhibition, also being released as a TASCHEN book, which she'll launch with Heeb Magazine at TASCHEN's shop in Beverly Hills on Oct. 30. Wed. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Tue.-Sat.). Free. Through Dec. 6. M+B, 612 N. Almont Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 550-0050. http://www.mbfala.com.
THU | OCTOBER 30
Acclaimed Israeli writer Etgar Keret is on his way up. With his directorial debut, "Jellyfish," a film he directed with his wife, Shira Geffen, Keret received the coveted Camera d'Or prize for best first feature at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. The auteur and Tel Aviv University lecturer will get in deep with journalist and fiction writer Ben Ehrenreich on the topic, "Is Reality Overrated?" Can we say "yes" or do you need to go to the lecture to hear it? Thu. 7 p.m. Free. ALOUD at Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles. (213) 228-7025. http://www.aloudla.org.
FRI | OCTOBER 31
(BOOK FAIR) Christopher Hitchens, everyone's favorite atheist, will pair off with Rabbi David Wolpe as part of the grand finale to this year's San Diego Jewish Book Fair. The authors of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" and "Why Faith Matters" (respectively) will no doubt have plenty to say to one another, but there is much, much more at this year's fest that is not to be missed: NBC News' Tel Aviv bureau chief Martin Fletcher, award-winning playwright and mystery writer Jesse Kellerman, and Evan Handler ("Sex and the City," "Californication") are just a few of the other big names dropping in on the two-week fest. And this book fair isn't just for grown-ups. On Nov. 9, children's book authors will be ready to entertain and delight, encouraging young readers to keep turning those pages. Fri. First author lecture and lunch at 12 p.m. $8.50-$22. Through Nov. 16. Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla. (858) 362-1348. http://www.lfjcc.org/bookfair.
We think you should be completely politicked out by Nov. 4, and so do leading Democrat and Republican activists in Los Angeles., evidenced by their citywide "Jewish Vote Forums" taking place almost every other night at a different synagogue. McCain-Obama, Larry Greenfield-Andrew Lachman. Can't we all just get along? Maybe that's the point. Here are three options worth a hiatus from CNN: Shaarey Zedek Synagogue is hosting the two aforementioned gentlemen with Paul Kujawsky moderating. Sun., Oct. 26. 7 p.m. Free. 12800 Chandler Blvd., Valley Village. (818) 763-0560. http://www.valleyshul.com; and Valley Beth Shalom is hosting Greenfield and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys) with Journal editor-in-chief Rob Eshman serving as moderator. Thu., Oct. 30. 7:30 p.m. Free. 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (310) 478-0752. http://www.vbs.org.