Jews have lived in Poland for more than a thousand years. Once the largest Jewish community in Europe, Polish Jews contributed immensely to the development of that country. Unfortunately, the only thing the world tends to remember about Polish Jews is how they perished in the Holocaust. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, a $130 million complex currently being built in the heart of the former Warsaw Ghetto, will tell the story of how Jews in Poland lived, thrived and shaped the society around them. This important project needs additional support, and tonight's benefit could provide much of that assistance. Dinner, a concert of Polish Jewish music and an informative presentation by Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland Tad Taube will round out the night, which will also include a commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Sat. 6 p.m. $175. Private Beverly Hills residence. R.S.V.P. required, (310) 271-5739.
Patrick Swayze's recent cancer diagnosis reminds us that even the most idolized actors are subject to grave illnesses. Carla Zilbersmith, a solo artist and singer stricken with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is being celebrated and honored by close friends Jeannine Frank of Parlor Performances and Danna Hyams and Gary Blumsack of the Hayworth Theatre in "Carla-bration: A Special Variety Night." Even during her difficult ordeal, Zilbersmith continues to create insightful, honest works, channeling her feelings into humorous and inspiring essays. All proceeds from the two-night fundraiser, which features cabaret artists and musical humorists Ray Jessel, Betsy Salkind and others, will provide additional assistance and quality of life services not covered by insurance. Sat. 8 p.m. $25 (suggested donation). Steinway Hall, Fields Piano, 12121 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 471-3979. Also April 14, 8 p.m. Hayworth Theatre, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (800) 838-3006. http://www.quiltmamas.com/dmc/.
Wagner and erotica make strange bedfellows in Terrence McNally's "Prelude and Liebestod." The main character is an egomaniacal conductor who wields his baton to the classic sounds of Wagner, while allowing his thoughts to wander (much to the audience's amusement) from joy at being a conductor to criticizing Wagner to admonishing the soprano. His personal thoughts, woven into his conducting, come to a climactic end with a sensually detailed sexual encounter. Peppered with homoerotic uncensored language, "Prelude and Liebstod" is not for the prim of mind. Sat., 5 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m. Through May 18. $15. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 700-4878. http://www.lcgrt.com.
Writer Mitch Watson brings the existential comedy, "Klub," to the stage with 10 dysfunctional performers attempting to escape from a play in which they are all trapped. Don't miss out on a revival of The Actors' Gang's 1992 hit show directed by Michael Schlitt. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Through May 11. $15-$25. The Actors' Gang, Ivy Substation, 9070 Venice Blvd., Culver City. For tickets, call (310) 838-4264 or visit http://www.theactorsgang.com.
With a stellar cast and a brilliant comedy writer, "The Sunshine Boys" is a play that will keep you riveted all evening long. In this Neil Simon play, veteran performers Hal Linden and Allan Miller depict two aging ex-vaudeville stars who can't stand one another, to put it mildly. Watch the characters duke it out as they reluctantly team up for a "History of Comedy" network special. Sat. 8 p.m. Through June 1. $25-$30. Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 477-2055. http://www.odysseytheatre.com.
SUN | APRIL 13
Longtime Israel champion and green advocate, the Jewish National Fund, is recycling its annual "Walk for Water" event and putting it in a whole new package. The GoNeutral Walk is greener and greater, focusing on eliminating our carbon footprints and contributing to a healthier future for our planet with renewed fervor. Help support JNF's efforts while enjoying a sunny day in the park with live entertainment, Israeli folk dancing barefoot-on-the-grass style, children's activities and kosher food. Sun. 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Free (under 18), $18 (general). Paramount Ranch, 2813 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills. (818) 704-5454. http://www.walkforwater.org.
Join hundreds of green-savvy young Jews in a day of environmental community service at Project Green Day L.A., organized by J-Serve, which promotes tikkun olam, or repairing the world, through action and service. Learn about pressing environmental issues while gaining hands-on experience made possible by PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values and the Jewish Coalition for Service. Local Jewish organizations will also be participating, including BBYO, USY, NCSY, Jewish Student Union, Jewish National Fund, the Shalom Institute and Sulam: The Center for Jewish Service Learning. Sun. 2-5 p.m. Free. Shalom Institute, 34342 Mulholland Highway, Malibu. (818) 464-3366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an early celebration of Earth Day, Sinai Temple's ATID will host an adventurous Earth Day Field Trip, intended to inspire awareness (in case you haven't already jumped on the eco-friendly wagon) and increase appreciation for our natural environment. Join ATID's Green Social Action Team for a bus tour of Malibu that will include a visit to an organic farm and a kosher picnic at Zuma Beach. Get your hands and feet dirty for a cause that will benefit everyone. Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $12 (members), $15 (nonmembers). Meet at Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. For tickets, call (310) 474-1518 or visit http://www.sinaitemple.org.
The Jews of the Balkan Sephardic Diaspora have a fascinating tale to tell. "Centropa -- Witness to a Sephardic Century 1875-2005" is a unique project that brings to life the experiences of this group of people with 35 posters of family photographs and stories in Spanish and English. The exhibition will be accompanied by lectures and symposia discussing the lives of Sephardic Jews in 20th century Europe. 7 p.m. Free. UCLA Hillel, 574 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. (310) 208-3081, ext. 108.
Never is the art and importance of storytelling more visceral than on Passover. Each year, the Exodus story draws us back to the seder table, retelling and recounting a pivotal experience (or metaphor) that brought us not only to the Holy Land but to our Jewish peoplehood. Mesmerize your children with fascinating stories about the Passover holiday at "Children's Jewish Storytime Celebrating Passover." Very few things beat making and eating charoset, but this family-oriented storytelling with a craft-making activity and yummy snacks can be a close second. Sun. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Free. Congregation Am HaYam, 4839 Market St., Unit C, Ventura. (805) 236-7484. http://www.amhayam.org.
TUE | APRIL 15
(SEX AND SCIENCE)
Mary Roach's bio on the ALOUD at Central Library Web site says that the author has always gravitated toward the "peculiar": Eskimo food, flatulence, vaginal weight-lifting, carrot addiction and amputee bowling leagues. Her New York Times bestseller, "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers," has been translated into 16 languages. In Roach's most recent book, the comedy-tinged science writer takes on a less eccentric subject: sex. Roach will be conversing about "Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex" with multitalented writer-performer Beth Lapides, who is sure to douse the exchange with her own offbeat humor. Tue. 7 p.m. Free. Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, Fifth and Flower streets, Los Angeles. Reservations strongly recommended. (213) 228-7025. http://www.aloudla.org.
Billy Collins has been criticized for being too popular a poet and not quite highbrow enough for the literati -- or for the prestigious title of U.S. Poet Laureate, to which he has twice laid claim. Certainly one of America's most beloved poets, his accolades also include New York State Poet and the Poetry Foundation's Mark Twain Award for humorous poetry. "An Evening With Billy Collins" will reveal why poetry lovers flock to this earthy, everyman's poet when he reads from his various collections, including "Questions About Angels," "Sailing Alone Around the Room" and "The Trouble With Poetry." A few stanzas and you'll know why his work is poetry's equivalent of a theater blockbuster. Tue. 7:30 p.m. $8-$15. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 440-4500. http://www.skirball.com.
WED | APRIL 16
With the success of her graphic novel, "Persepolis," and its subsequent film adaptation, Marjane Satrapi made a name for herself with her irreverent, feminist critique on the politics of both pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. Azar Nafisi is the best-selling author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran," who established herself as a gender advocate on behalf of a country that restricts its female population. Both rebellious and subversive, Nafisi and Satrapi will join their feminist voices at UCLA Live to discuss the confused values of a nation and how their roots have influenced their artistic output. Wed. 8 p.m. $15-$38. UCLA, Royce Hall, 405 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. (310) 825-2101. http://www.uclalive.org.
In line with the Jewish theme of the few versus the many, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky wasn't afraid to challenge the Los Angeles Police Department for its "excessive use of force and intelligence gathering policies" when he served on the Los Angeles City Council, bringing a similar approach to fiscal, health care, transportation and environmental matters. True to form, he says his rich Jewish heritage has deeply influenced his political orientation. During the keynote address at the 10th annual Carmen and Louis Warschaw Distinguished Lecture at USC, as part of the Casden Institute's ongoing investigation of the Jewish role in American life, Yaroslavsky will relate "From the Plains of Czarist Russia to Los Angeles: How Three Generations of Russian Jewish Idealism Informed My Life and My Politics." Budding leaders and concerned citizens will benefit from Yaroslavsky's personal, religious and political history. Wed. 7:30 p.m. Free. USC Davidson Conference Center, 3415 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. (213) 740-3405. http://www.usc.edu/casdeninstitute.
THU | APRIL 17
Tonight is double-David night, as Mamet is spotlighted in both an American Cinematheque retrospective and a production of his 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Glengarry Glen Ross." This brilliant work, about four real estate agents willing to do anything to make their commissions, delves into the seedy underworld of unethical real estate transactions and seems more relevant than ever given today's subprime mortgage crisis. The dark drama features equally sinister language, as a Curtain Up reviewer once noted: "There's no one who cusses more creatively than David Mamet ... according to one recorded tally, the F word is used 152 times." Don't let that scare you off though -- the opening-night gala tonight is especially worth attending, as it benefits the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, founded by Steven Spielberg. Opening Night: Thu. 8 p.m. $108. Regular show times: Thu.-Sun. 8 p.m. Through May 25. $35. Macha Theatre, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood. (323) 960-4412. http://www.plays411.com/glengarry.
Schmuley Boteach brought us "Kosher Sex." But what about "Kosher Comedy"? The folks at the Laugh Factory think they have it figured out, and they're raising the curtain on a monthly series of "Kosher Comedy" events featuring some of L. A.'s Jewish comedians. Following the tradition of Jewish comic legends Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld, to name a few, the "Kosher Comedy" newbies will attempt to raise, or at least meet, the bar on Jewish humor. Host Sunda will usher in special appearances by Elon Gold, Modi, Jordin Rubin and others who think their schtick don't stink. Thu. 8 p.m. $20. Laugh Factory, 8001 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 656-1336, ext. 1. http://www.laughfactory.com.
Author, essayist, playwright and screenwriter, the incomparable David Mamet is not only an original force in American theater and cinema, but a serious chronicler of Jewish identity politics. How fitting then that just as we recall the Exodus story and ask the question posed by the Wicked Son (also the title of Mamet's controversial 2006 book), "Why does this matter to you?" We might be able to discern the answer during the "David Mamet in Person Retrospective" or at least, ask him ourselves. Programmed by the American Cinematheque, the series of screenings presents the diversity of Mamet's art, from large-scale action films to nuanced comedies to suspenseful dramas, and includes "Glengarry Glen Ross," "American Buffalo" and "Heist." Tonight, Mamet himself will host a sneak preview of his soon-to-be-released movie with Sony Pictures Classics (title to be announced) and entertain a Q and A afterwards. Don't miss this comprehensive look at what makes Mamet one of Hollywood's most valuable Jewish talents. Thu. 7:30 p.m. Through April 23. $7-$10. The Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (323) 634-4878. http://www.americancinematheque.com.
Hip, hip happy hour! The chic and contemporary W Group of Stephen S. Wise Temple is pairing revelry and philanthropy once again. The young professionals crowd is invited to Happy Hour at X-Bar, Century City's superhip lounge where you're also asked to bring canned goods to support the SOVA food pantries, which provide food to low-income and needy families. Join the cause by socializing your way into contributing a little social welfare. Thu. 7 p.m. Free entry. Hyatt Regency's X Bar, 2025 Avenue of the Stars, Century City. (310) 476-8561, ext. 2230. http://www.wisela.org.
FRI | APRIL 18
Immerse yourself in the romantic and daring French culture during the 12th annual City of Lights, City of Angels Film Festival. The Franco-American Cultural Fund presents the West Coast Strand Releasing of "A Secret," written and directed by leading French director Claude Miller. Adapted from Philippe Grimbert's best-selling novel, the film uncovers a story of deep passion and even deeper guilt during the troubled times of World War II. A young French teen discovers the truth about his parents' past and his father's illicit love affair and struggle to stay alive in Nazi-occupied France. Fri. 4 p.m. (Happy hour talk and wine and cheese reception), 6 p.m. (screening). $5-$10. Directors Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 289 5346. http://www.colcoa.org.
Most Jewish boys become men at the age of 13. Hal Ackerman became a man much later in life -- when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In his poignant and often humorous play, "Testosterone: How Prostate Cancer Made a Man of Me," the legendary UCLA screenwriting professor and author of several books tackles the meaning of masculinity and mortality through the lens of a painful personal experience. Ackerman wrote and also stars in this play. Fri. and Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 4 p.m. Through May 10. $15 (students, seniors and cancer survivors), $20 (general). The Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 Second St., Santa Monica. (310) 396-3680. http://www.powerhousetheatre.com.
Why is this Passover seder different from all other seders? Because at any other seder, you drink four cups of wine, but at this feast, Elijah's callin' for grape juice. That's right, it's a Sober Seder, celebrating freedom from bondage and the oppression of an alcohol addiction. Ubiquitous grape juice makes it a pretty safe bet for the kiddies, too, so gather your loved ones and trade brut for sweet. With Chabad's famous generosity, you can be sure no one will be turned away if this is the experience they desire. Sun. April 20. 8 p.m. Suggested donation for an individual is $18 or $50 for a party of four. Westside JCC, 5870 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. http://www.sharingthewarmth.com/ soberseder.
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