Think you've never heard of Yitzak Asner? Think again. Like so many in Hollywood, Yitz went with his middle name, Edward, to succeed in showbiz. And though Ed Asner dropped the Yitzak, he never dropped Judaism. Tonight and tomorrow night, the politically minded actor stars in a celebrity staged play reading of "Bitter Friends," the story of a Jewish American accused of spying for Israel. 7:30 p.m. $100 (patrons), $10 (members), $12 (nonmembers), $2 (senior and student discount). Valley Cities JCC, 13164 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks. For more information, call (818) 786-6310. (Sunday show is at the Westside JCC, 2 p.m.)
For those of you unfamiliar with Ladino, the easiest definition is that it's the Sephardic equivalent of Yiddish. But, more importantly, those of you unfamiliar with Ladino music or stories really ought to visit the Autry Museum's Heritage Serenade this afternoon. Celebrating and commemorating the Jewish and Spanish settlers of the Southwest, Ladino artistas break out the castanets as Flor de Serena (Siren's Flower) performs Ladino music, stories and dance. 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Free with the price of museum admission. Heritage Court, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles. For more information, call (323) 667-2000.
"I can't see nothin', so where's the somethin'? Yeah, it's comin', man, it's comin', and it's gonna be great. It's the genesis, genesis, the genesis, genesis, the genesis, genesis...." "Genesis, Revisited," that is -- a new, two-CD set that tells the great stories of Genesis, complete with rap interludes (from which the above lines are taken). Other rap songs include one about Lot's wife, titled, "Miss Sodium Chloride," and one about Abraham's second son, aptly titled, "Call Me Ishmael." The raps are actually pretty catchy. Try playing them to keep the kids quiet on that next family road trip to Great-Aunt Shirley's house in Palm Springs. Also available in audio cassette. To order, call (800) 794-1912. For more information, visit www.genesisrevisited.com
Relax, men. You don't have to be Don Juan to sweep your lady off her feet. If you're looking to bring some romance back into the relationship, Craig Taubman may have your answer. He's just released his latest CD, called, "Celebrate Jewish Love Songs" ($14.98). So you can ditch the Barry White and help Stella get her groove back, Jewish-style. Plus, 50 percent of the proceeds will benefit Magen David Adom West. For more information, call (800) 627-2448.
The Jewish New Year is right around the corner, which means it's time to be thinking about getting a new Jewish calendar. Now, sure, you could wait for your freebie from Chevra Kadisha in the mail. But here's a prettier option: Women of Reform Judaism-The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods puts out an annual art calendar. This year, artist Karla Gudeon's whimsical dry-point engravings of biblical themes are featured. The cover design, "Generation to Generation" is also used for the organization's High Holy Day greeting cards. So besides getting a set for yourself, you've got no excuse for showing up empty-handed to Rosh Hashana dinner. $14 (calendar), $9 (10 New Year's greeting cards). To order, call (212) 650-4060.
While the peace process is ostensibly in the hands of the politicians, true peace may only come from the Israeli and Palestinian people, themselves. The conflicts and tensions that divide them became the subject of the PBS 1988 documentary, "Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land." Fourteen years later, the filmmakers revisit some of the people interviewed in the first documentary, focusing on the issues that today seem the most difficult to resolve: the right of return, the holy city of Jerusalem and the West Bank Jewish settlements. In doing so, they create "Arab and Jew: Return to the Promised Land." The film airs on KCET tonight at 10 p.m. For more information, visit www.kcet.org
In the mood for some understated British (is that redundant?) drama? Celebrated Brit playwright Harold Pinter is known for subtle, intelligent dialogue and depictions of complex human relationships. The Hudson Backstage Theatre presents two Pinter one-acts tonight -- "The Lover" and "The Collection." Both of these pieces deal with sexuality, possessiveness and deception, which sounds like good fun to us. 8 p.m. (Thursdays-Saturdays), 7 p.m. (Sundays). Runs through Sept. 29. $20. 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. For reservations, call (323) 856-4200.