Beyond the tattooed and patchouli-scented bohemian excesses of the Venice boardwalk, tucked into the hidden walkways of the city's quieter neighborhoods, bloom exquisite little gardens that most of the year are off-limits to the likes of us. But not today. The Venice Garden Tour offers a sneak peak at residents' unique landscaping designs, while raising money for the Neighborhood Youth Association's Las Doradas Children's Center. Word has it these green thumbs incorporate everything from art and recycled materials to exotic plants into their gardens. Judge for yourself whose grass is greener. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $50 (adults), free (children under 12). Self-guided tour begins at the Las Doradas Children's Center, 1016 Pleasant View Ave., Venice. (310) 577-6668.
Near East and Far East meet tonight as the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity presents a screening of the 2002 Tel Aviv production of the classic Jewish play, "The Dybbuk." The modern production adapts S. Ansky's 1922 script by infusing Japanese theater aesthetics, biblical texts, poetry by Chaim Nachman Bialik and a musical score by Ofer Ben-Amots that merges Jewish and Japanese influences. 6:30 p.m. Free (general), $180 (patron reception). Writers Guild Theatre, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills. (323) 658-5824.
The National Foundation for Jewish Culture and UCLA Hillel's Dortot Center for Creativity in the Arts summons the experts today to gaze into the proverbial crystal ball and offer their readings on "The Future of Jewish Culture in America." David Biale, Gina Nahai, Aaron Paley, Leonard Nimoy and David Brandes are just some of the mavens debating whether our culture lies in peyos and sheitels or lox and bagels. 9:45 a.m.-5 p.m. $65 (in advance or at door if available). UCLA Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life, 574 Hilgard Ave., Westwood. (310) 825-3201.
If tacos and body shots at the local cantina have lost their appeal of days past, there are, we assure you, more cerebrally stimulating Cinco de Mayo alternatives. Our pic: Zacalo -- and not just 'cause we're co-sponsoring the thing. The cultural forum that debuted last month attempts to introduce more diverse intellectual discussion into our city. Today brings the second segment in the series. Mexico City-based journalist and author Sam Quinones discusses "In Search of the Other Mexico: Stories From an Emerging Democracy." 7 p.m. Free. Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St., downtown. (213) 228-7025.
Mainstream movie, it's not. But for book lovers everywhere, Mark Moskowitz has made a film that may speak to you as much as your favorite read ever did. Because that's exactly what "Stone Reader" is about -- Moskowitz's yearlong quest to track down the author of his favorite book. Forego the stadium seating in favor of the Nuart tonight and this quirky little picture. 4, 7, and 9:50 p.m. (daily), additional 1 p.m. show (Saturday and Sunday). Runs May 2-May 8. $6.75-$9.25. Landmark's Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 478-6379.
Television viewers who'd voted early on for an Israeli American Idol might have been disappointed when Hadas Shalev didn't make it to the top 12. But tonight they get another opportunity to see her perform. Head to the 55th Israeli Independence Day Block Party at UCLA for a live serenade by Shalev, plus lots of booths, kosher food and music spun by DJ's Moshiko and Shu-Ki. 7-11 p.m. Free. Corner of Weyburn and Glendon avenues, Westwood. (310) 208-3081, ext. 110. www.israelemb.org/la/blockparty.htm
Seems even mothers of Jewish lesbians just want to see their daughters happily settled with a Jewish mate. Hence Rachel Rosen's predicament when she falls for a girl named Christine in "A Family Affair." Showing tonight at the Laemmle Fairfax theater, the film screening benefits Cedars Sinai Teen Line. After-party and Q-and-A session with filmmakers and cast at Here Lounge follow. 7:30 p.m. $15. 7907 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 466-3393.
Henry Bean's provocative and disturbing film about a Jewish Neo-Nazi was hailed by critics and took home the grand prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. "The Believer" is now available on DVD -- your chance to see it for yourself, or see it again. $24.99. www.lionsgatefilms.com