If you lost your brother in combat, would you enlist in the army? If your father was killed on the battlefield, would you sign up for the same unit? The 28 IDF soldiers who will be guests of honor at a luncheon today did exactly that. Required to get written consent from a parent or guardian to serve as kravim (combat soldiers) because an immediate family member was killed in battle, these courageous fighters are willing to risk their lives for their country despite already having sacrificed so much. Hear each one of these active-duty soldiers' remarkable life stories at "An Unforgettable Afternoon Luncheon With 28 IDF Combat Soldiers," sponsored by Nessah Israel Young Professionals, LeDorVaDor and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. A portion of the proceeds from this event goes to Friends of Israel Defense Forces. Sat. 1 p.m. $50. Nessah Synagogue, 142 S. Rexford Drive., Beverly Hills. Tickets may only be purchased online at http://www.nessah.org
Get your holiday sizzle on at the OC Young Leadership Division's "Latkes & Vodkas" Chanukah party. Aside from rhyming, latkes and vodkas sound like a delectable pairing. But food and drinks (of which there will be plenty at the open bar) are not the only appealing aspect of this bash. Themed "Hanukkah in Hawaii," this party at a lush private estate will include desserts, dancing, entertainment and a chance to do good -- bring gift cards to donate to families in need through Jewish Family Service. Singles on the prowl and couples looking for a good time are all welcome, but you must be between the ages of 21 and 45 to attend. Sat. 8 p.m. $36 (advance), $40 (at the door). Private home, 11611 Arroyo Ave., north Tustin (call for directions). (949) 435-3484. firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.yldoc.org.
The twisted and farcical plot of the musical, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," involves a scheming slave in ancient Rome, a house full of courtesans for sale, a man in search of his long-lost kidnapped children and a whole lot of unexpected complications that make this comedy of errors one of the most delightful productions to stage. With such an amusing storyline, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and the fact that every actor who has opened in the lead role of Pseudolus the slave on Broadway (Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers and Nathan Lane) has won the Tony for best actor, it's no wonder the aspiring thespians at Hamilton Academy of Music are sinking their teeth into this one. The performing arts magnet school is renowned for its superb theater productions and considers itself "one of the best entertainment deals in town." Sat. 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. $10-$20. Hamilton High School, Norman J. Pattiz Concert Hall, 2955 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 280-1477. http://www.hamiltonmusic.org.
For women only: a concert starring Julie Geller (described once as "Ani DiFranco meets Deepak Chopra") and artist Barbara Keller. Other women to be featured in the concert include: Cathy Heller, Enny Wax, Joni Krevoy -- and you! Join along in a magical night of singing in "Lend Your Voice and Unite the Light," all in support of the "Happy Minyan," whose motto is: It's a great mitzvah to always be happy. Sat. 8 p.m. $15. The Happy Minyan, 9218 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. http://www.happyminyan.org.
SUN | DECEMBER 14
Michael Wex, author of the best seller, "Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods," which The New York Times called "wise, witty and altogether wonderful," is the main feature at the Blumenthal Library annual Jewish Book Month Breakfast. Learn how performer and author Wex has helped bring Yiddish back into the mainstream, all while making people laugh. Co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, the library's annual used book sale will follow the program, giving holiday shoppers a fantastic way to stock up on favorite reads. Sun. 9:30 a.m. $25. Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 481-3217. http://www.sinaitemple.org.
Dan Gillerman, Israel's former ambassador to the United Nations, has been actively pushing for economic development and cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis. He also came down hard on former President Jimmy Carter for meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. A veteran politician who has held many positions in Israel's private and public sector and dexterously navigated the thorny road that is Israeli politics, Gillerman will be the keynote speaker at the "StandWithUs Festival of Lights: An Evening to Remember." More than 1,000 people attended last year's event, where Ehud Danoch was honored. This year marks the sixth time StandWithUs is hosting this holiday gala -- a highlight of the organization's year-round Israel-centered programs. Sun. 5:30 p.m. (reception), 6:30 p.m. (dinner and program). $325 (per person). Tables, sponsorships and ads are also available. Century Plaza Hotel, 2025 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles. (310) 836-6140, ext. 0. http://www.standwithus.com.
The Skirball's Chanukah Family Festival is loaded with activities for children of all ages. The daylong celebration will include extraordinary balloon twisters, interactive musical puppet shows exploring the history of the festival of lights, workshops where kids can make sand-filled Chanukiahs and custom dreidel game kits, an energetic performance by the Stein Brothers and holiday treats like latkes and jelly donuts. In addition to all this fun, you and your family can also enjoy the "Lights of Hanukkah" tour in the museum and take a stroll through the Skirball's current exhibits, including "Visions and Values: Jewish Life From Antiquity to America" and "Becoming American: Teenagers and Immigration." Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. $7 (seniors and students), $10 (general), free for Skirball members and children under 12. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4657. http://www.skirball.org.
Get yourself and your children geared up for the holidays at an event the whole family can enjoy. Chanukah Rocks will be serving up delicious sufganiyot and latkes, offer unlimited Wii playing and a rock band tournament, face painting and crafts to make and buy. But wait! There's more: Children's guitarist HaMo'Robyn is also set to perform. Sun. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. $5 (ages 2-12), all others free. Alpert Jewish Community Center, 3801 E. Willow St., Long Beach. (562) 426-7601. http://www.alpertjcc.org.
Seeking relief from all those Yuletide ditties blaring while you shop? Look no further than the Yiddish Culture Club, which is presenting a concert of favorite Yiddish songs, featuring Cantor Herschel Fox from Valley Beth Shalom. So sit back, relax and let music take you to a very different winter wonderland. Sun. 2-4 p.m. $8-$10. Los Angeles Yiddish Culture Club, 8339 W. Third St., Los Angeles. (310) 454-3687.
Well, you've probably heard of Lollapalooza. But have you ever heard of Hanukkahpalooza? It's happening here in Los Angeles, featuring a puppet show, kosher lunch, boutique, Israeli dancing and a concert with Naom Katz -- called one of the most exciting new voices in contemporary Jewish music. In short, the perfect weekend event for the whole family. Sun. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. $10-$15. University Synagogue, 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 472-1255. http://www.unisyn.org.
MON | DECEMBER 15
The last time Heeb Storytelling made an appearance in Los Angeles, novelist Emma Forrest (photo, above) did a startling striptease to Craig Taubman's "L'cha Dodi," as beau Colin Farrell and friends Natalie Portman, Kate Beckinsale and Rose McGowan watched in amusement. Who knows what will come off and who'll be wearing a Star of David, as Irish Catholic Farrell did, at this next installment of "the biggest, baddest, sexiest Jewish storytelling series on the planet." The Heeb happening, which is quite realistically expected to sell out, will be hosted by Brett Gelman and will feature seven-minute Jewish-themed stories by Rebecca Adelman, Iris Bahr, Samm Levine and others. Mon. 9:30 p.m. $10 (food and drink minimum). M Bar, 1253 Vine St., Los Angeles. (323) 856-0036. http://www.heebmagazine.com.
Violinist Lindsay Deutsch and pianist Tanya Gabrielian are set to perform in an exciting concert featuring music from Gershwin, Brahms, Block and Williams. Sponsored by the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles, Deutsch, whom the L.A. Times has already hailed as having the potential for a big career, is sure to light up the stage at the young age of 23. Reception to follow the performance. Mon. 7:30-9:30 p.m. $15 (advance), $20 (at door). R.S.V.P. by Dec. 14. Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 788-6000. http://www.jmcla.org.
WED | DECEMBER 17
Millions of couples worldwide encounter complications related to infertility. Are you one of them? Bonei Olam is an organization that provides funds and services to couples who are having difficulty conceiving a child. According to Bonei Olam, to date more than 1,200 Jewish children have been born thanks to its help. Services the charity organization offers include: fertility medication, genetic diagnostics, high-risk pregnancy care, among others. If you'd like to learn more, attend "Miracle of Joy." Wed. 8 p.m. Free. Home of Chavi Hertz, 525 N. Hillcrest Road, Beverly Hills. (718) 252-1212. http://www.boneiolam.org.
THU | DECEMBER 18
Last year, bagelicious Chad Lehrman represented the Tribe in the Coexist? Comedy Tour, which pits the world's major religions (in the form of stand-up comedians) up against one another in a battle of sarcasm, self-ridicule, bigotry-bashing and warm-and-fuzzy tolerance. This year, the ensemble added another faith, Buddhism, to the lineup, but was "between Jews" throughout the fall tour, until Moshe Kasher came to the rescue to represent the people most desperate for peaceful coexistence. The just-added comedian will have to make up for lost time on the stage, but from what we've seen on his myspace page, the dance-happy Heeb will do well in representing us. Thu. 8 p.m. $14. Hollywood Improv, 8162 Melrose Ave., Hollywood. (323) 651-2583. http://www.coexistcomedy.com.
FRI | DECEMBER 19
Valley Ruach -- a Jewish summer camp meets a young professional Carlebach niggunim community -- likens its fun, casual and brief Shabbat services to a hot air balloon ride for your soul. If you've never given Ruach a whirl, tonight's Pre-Hanukkah Shabbat Celebration is as great a time as any to meet the young (20s and 30s) members of this innovative, song-filled and intimate congregation. The guitar-led service will be followed by a kosher Shabbat dinner, where you can swap tales from Camp Alonim, discuss hip Valley living and rediscover the ruach -- Hebrew for both spirit and wind -- in religion. Fri. 7:30 p.m. Service are free. $10 (dinner). Adat Ari El, 12020 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village. http://www.valleyruach.org.
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