Just 34 shopping days left till Chanukah eve. Those looking to spruce it up with a new menorah, or seeking that perfect Judaica gift ought to check out the Festival of Jewish Artisans at Temple Isaiah. Thirty crafty Jews sell their wares this weekend. Think whimsical spice boxes and elegant Miriam's Cups. Tonight, singer-songwriter Mark Bloom kicks off the festivities with a concert titled "Brooklyn Roots." An artists reception and preview sale follow. Tomorrow, shop all day, breaking of course for Bloom's family concert, "Funky Punky Holidays." 8 p.m. $15-$18 (general), $50 (reserved patron seating). 10345 W. Pico Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 277-2772.
Shy types be forewarned. Terrie Silverman's Life Stories' Performance Party looks hilarious, but also interactive. In this retrospective of tales from the past four years of her Life Stories Performance Workshop, we've been promised monologues on subjects including "growing up in Nazi Germany, unaware of being Jewish; fear of having sex, convinced the 'private part' was broken after running into a post at 11; and discovering being pregnant is horrible and hysterical." Then (cue doomsday music) there's the creative writing exercise that some people will be asked to read on stage.... Still, in exchange for overcoming your stage fright, you could win a free workshop session, a writing consultation, clothes from the evening's performers and best of all, the grand prize of a matzah brie breakfast with Silverman and her mother. 7:30 p.m. $7. Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice. (310) 822-3006.
November come they will. Old friends (albeit estranged, occasionally) Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunite in Los Angeles for two nights of live and unabashed nostalgia starting this evening at Staples Center. Of course, some of that nostalgia might be directed at ticket prices of yore. But with the duo's rocky past, we still suggest shelling out the dough this time rather than counting on another reunion. 8 p.m. $55-$250. Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. (213) 742-7340.
Arnold may have won the war, but you can still hear Arianna Huffington sound off on issues like Enron and the state of our state this evening. Valley Cities JCC welcomes the author of "Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America," and "How to Overthrow the Government" for the kickoff of its Provocative Speakers series. Patrons will get to schmooze with Huffington prior to a talk, Q-&-A session and book signing. 6 p.m. (patron reception) 7:30 (program). $20-$25 (general), $100 (five-speaker series), $150 (patrons). 13164 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 786-6310.
A better L.A. perk than open-toed shoes in November? How about a free screening for a film that won't be released to film festivals till 2004? Tonight, Michael Birnbaum invites one and all to the world premiere of "They Looked Away" at the UJ. Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" narrates the documentary that investigates what the Allies really knew about Auschwitz before they got involved in the war. It includes never-before-seen aerial imagery, intelligence on German defenses and Allied bombings in the Auschwitz region, along with interviews with survivors, World War II pilots, bombardiers and photo interpreters directly involved in Allied missions over Auschwitz and Buchenwald. 7:30 p.m. Free. 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. R.S.V.P., (310) 440-1222.
Three cantors, 18 great Jewish songs, one beautiful venue. And while you weren't invited to the live show in Amsterdam's Portuguese Synagogue, you can have the next best things: the CD and DVD of the event. "Cantors: A Faith in Song" features cantors Naftali Herstik of the Great Synagogue, Jerusalem; Benzion Miller of Young Israel Beth-El of Borough Park, Brooklyn, and Alberto Mizrahi of Anshe Emet Synagogue in Chicago. The three are backed up by a 16-voice choir and 40-piece orchestra. The Jewish tenors move easily from "Mayn Yiddishe Mama" to "Sunrise, Sunset" to "Kol Nidre," performing an eclectic mix of classic Jewish and Yiddish music, Israeli folk songs and prayers. The DVD features bonus tracks and interviews from the original PBS program that aired on Sept. 22. $17.98 (CD/VHS). $19.98 (DVD). www.thecantors.com
Doing your banking has become a little less dreary at Encino's Bank Leumi. Currently perking up their walls are the paintings, collages, etchings and tapestries of Israeli-born artist Roni Cohen. Today's your last chance to see her 22 displayed works, many of which portray the sites of Jerusalem's Old City. Making a deposit never looked so good. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Exhibit ends today. Free. 16530 Ventura Blvd., Level "L," Encino. (818) 379-2707.
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