Jewish Journal


January 16, 2009

Picks and Clicks for Jan. 17-23, 2009


Laura Wolfe

Laura Wolfe


Many young Jews today describe themselves as “culturally Jewish.” If they knew the definition of humanistic Judaism, they might identify with this fifth branch of Judaism. Adat Chaverim is a humanistic congregation that celebrates Jewish history, culture and ethics minus the praying part, and this weekend’s educational seminar is a ripe opportunity for secular Jews to explore an alternative Jewish community. Rabbi Adam Chalom will lead “The Evolution of Judaism: From Tribe to Tradition to Community and Culture” with various sessions covering the development of Judaism throughout the ages. Check out one discussion or all. Sat. 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m. $60 (all three sessions), $30 (single session). American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (818) 623-7363. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). www.humanisticjudaismla.org.

When Fred Astaire did his first screen test in 1933, the studio review was bleak: “Can’t act. Slightly bald. Also dances.” Astaire went on to become an idol to many, including Laura Wolfe, a LAUSD teacher by day and singer by night who was inspired by Astaire’s humble beginnings and named her second and latest album, “‘...also dances’ (A Tribute to the Great Dancers on Film).” Wolfe will be singing and dancing favorites from the likes of Astaire, Ann Miller and Sammy Davis Jr., as well as performing her own interpretations of songs by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Burton Lane in two upcoming Los Angeles performances. Sat. 8 p.m. Also, Jan. 23. $10. Serra’s, 12449 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 760-1002. www.laurawolfe.net.

Palm Springs is gearing up for Oscar season with an International Film Festival, which includes Israeli films well worth checking out. Ari Folman’s critically lauded documentary, “Waltz with Bashir,” joins “The Little Traitor,” based on Amos Oz’s novel, “Panther in the Basement,” about a precocious 11-year-old Israeli boy and the friendship he forms with a British officer, and “Zrubavel,” the first Israeli feature-length drama created by Ethiopian Israeli filmmakers. For show times, visit www.psfilmfest.org.

For more than 30 years, clarinet and mandolin master Andy Statman has created a unique fusion of klezmer, bluegrass and jazz. The New York Times has called his work the “music of Jewish mystics, but interpreted not as a tradition to be preserved but as a spiritual path to be followed in as personal a manner as possible.” Statman is set to perform as part of Getty’s influential music series Sounds of L.A., a free concert series now in its 12th season. Reservations are required. Sat. 7:30 p.m. (Also Sun. 3 p.m.) Free. Harold M. Williams Auditorium, Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-7300. www.getty.edu.

On Feb. 7, 2007, Etan Doronne did what many of us only dream of — he embarked on a yearlong solitary backpack journey through rural India. Some of the villages he visited had never seen foreigners. Back in the States, the world traveler is inviting the public to share “My India, Where Every Village Is Home.” Sat. 4 p.m. Free. Encino-Tarzana Branch Library, 18231 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. (818) 343-1983.


The accomplishments of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are particularly poignant this year — the image of King’s daughter overwhelmed with emotion on the night Barack Obama won the election reflects our nation’s painful progress. And what institution knows pain and progress better than the Museum of Tolerance? The museum is hosting two days of programming in honor of King, with performances of “Living Voices: The Right to Dream,” screenings of “Mighty Times: The Children’s March” — a film about the children of Birmingham who took to the streets to challenge segregation in 1963 — art activities, storytelling and a reading corner. And taking its cue from President-elect Obama, MOT is requesting that attendees bring nonperishables to donate to food banks as part of the National Day of Service that Obama has called for. Sun. and Mon. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission to museum: $15 (adults), $12 (seniors), $11 (children 5-18). Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 553-9036. www.museumoftolerance.com.

“Wicked” may have flown the Pantages coup, but Stephen Schwartz, the composer of the megahit musical, is still around and crooning. Schwartz will star in a revue of his award-winning songs from “Wicked,” “Pippin,” “Enchanted,” “Prince of Egypt,” as well as other Broadway shows and movies in “Defying Gravity: Stephen Schwartz and Friends.” Joining the Hollywood Walk-of-Famer will be veteran vocalists Debbie Gravitte and Scott Coulter. Sun. 5 p.m. $45. Smothers Theatre, Pepperdine University, 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. (310) 506-4522. www.arts.pepperdine.edu.

Combining world-class orchestral music with a charming seaside locale, the Laguna Beach Music Festival is a delightful excuse to head to the beach this chilly winter. The weeklong festival, presented by the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and Laguna Beach Live!, will spotlight American classical cellist Lynn Harrell in several concerts, along with gifted young musicians and special guests, pianist Victor Asuncion, soprano Frances Young and the String Quartet from The Colburn School of Music. The intimate affair also offers a meet the artists salon, several educational events and master classes open to the public. Sun. through Jan. 25. Various times and locations in Laguna Beach. (949) 553-2422. www.lagunabeachmusicfestival.com.

To get the most out of an organization, you can join it or you can run it! Jewish Singles Meeting Place, for singles in their 40s and 50s, is welcoming anyone who wants to get more involved in the group’s event planning. Had enough mixer dinners and worn out your knees from singles hikes? Come with fresh ideas for programming and present them at the Open Board Meeting; if you’re really itching to get behind the wheel, stay after the meeting to interview for the two open board positions. Sun. 11 a.m. Private home in Chatsworth. (818) 750-0095. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Join Zalmen Mlotek, artistic director of Folksbiene, the longest-running professional Yiddish theater company in America, as he presents a “Musical History of the Yiddish Theater.” Celebrating Jewish music in American theater, attendees will hear Yiddish tunes transformed to Irving Berlin and George Gershwin jazz numbers and learn how the Lower East Side became a hotspot for Yiddish acts. Produced by Yiddishkayt L.A. and the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language. Sun. 9:30 a.m.-noon. $8-$10 (includes bagel breakfast). Valley Cities Jewish Community Center, 14701 Friar St., Van Nuys. (310) 745-1190. www.yiddishkayt.org.


If the expectations Americans have of Barack Obama are high, so are the next president’s expectations for his fellow citizens. Days before he is inaugurated, Obama is calling on all Americans to serve their country on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which he has designated as a national day of service. There are a myriad of ways to participate locally, including donating winter clothing to Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s drive, giving blood at Cedars-Sinai, helping unemployed people create resumes with StreetWise Partners and in a simple, yet grand gesture, fostering a stronger community by just going out and shaking hands with your neighbors in Beverly Hills (Alissa’s Event, Jan. 19). For a list of opportunities to participate from Jan. 17-19, visit www.usaservice.org.


Why does a book with a female protagonist automatically get classified as a “beach read”? Do only women with ample free time to lounge on a towel read books featuring women? The popularity of the “chick lit” genre shows the enthusiasm for books written by and about women, but there is a demeaning overtone to the label that also points to a troubling gender divide. “Writing Like a Girl,” part of the Zocalo cultural forum series in partnership with the Skirball, will address this issue in a discussion moderated by author and Los Angeles Times columnist Meghan Daum. The panel will include two New York Times best-selling authors: Elisabeth Robinson, who produced such films as “The Lover” and “Braveheart,” and Laura Zigman, who wrote “Animal Husbandry,” the basis for the romantic comedy “Someone Like You,” as well as three other novels. Wed. 7:30 p.m. Free. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 403-0416. www.zocalola.org.

As the fierce battle between Israel and Hamas rages in Gaza, we are left to wonder what it will take to stop the cycle of violence. Peace starts with understanding one another; working toward that goal, Temple Beth David has assembled a panel of speakers to address the issue of “Understanding Our Muslim Neighbors: Judaism and Islam — Children of Abraham.” Voices in the discussion will include Temple Beth David’s Rabbi Nancy Myers; Elliot Fein, director of education at Temple Beth David; Sheikh Sadullah Khan, imam of the Islamic Center of Irvine; Maria Khani, member of the Huntington Beach Interfaith Council, and moderator Charlie Niederman. This is an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts about the conflict in a constructive manner. Wed. 7-9 p.m. Free. Temple Beth David, 6100 Hefley St., Westminster. (714) 892-6623. www.templebethdavid.org.

January not only marks the beginning of a new year but also Los Angeles Art Month. The monthlong celebration coincides with the 14th annual Los Angeles Art Show, showcasing 175 galleries from around the world and including an array of art for sale, from Rembrandt to Ruscha. Taking place for the fifth time at the Convention Center, the show also partners with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the USC film school for the inaugural “Films on Art Documentary Film Series” screening at USC and featuring the short film, “Chagall,” about the Russian artist Marc Chagall, his life in the U.S. during WW II and his creation of the stained-glass windows for the Synagogue of the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem. For more information, visit www.laartshow.com.

As a Wall Street Journal reporter, Geraldine Brooks reported on crises in Somalia, Bosnia, the Balkans and Africa. It was while covering the Bosnian war that she first learned about the Sarajevo Haggadah, a beautiful 600-year-old Jewish manuscript that became the inspiration for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “People of the Book.” In the novel, the reader travels back in time to explore the many people and places behind the manuscript, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, in what NPR called an “erudite but suspenseful novel” and “one of the most successful and popular works of fiction in the New Year.” Brooks is celebrating the paperback release of her novel with a lecture and book signing. Thu. 6 p.m. Free. UC Riverside, 900 University Ave., Riverside. Contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information. www.geraldinebrooks.com.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s harsh words about Israel continue to haunt many Americans, which is why the work done by Elliot Brandt, Western states AIPAC director, is of such keen interest. Hear Brandt, who lobbies Congress for Pro-Israel legislation, speak about his hopes and concerns for 2009, the new administration and Iran in “Israel, Iran and Our New Congress.” A Shabbat dinner gives attendees the opportunity to probe Brandt face-to-face. Fri. 6:15 p.m. Talk and Shabbat services are free, dinner is $25 (members), $30 (non-members) and $12 (for children under 13). Congregation Ner Tamid of South Bay, 5721 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes. (310) 377-6986. www.nertamid.com.

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