Art Shulman has been called "the Neil Simon of the San Fernando Valley." "Misconceptions," the newest work from the playwright of "The Rabbi and the Shiksa," revolves around a series of misunderstandings in a town where things aren't always what they seem. Produced by J.E.T. Productions-West, "Misconceptions" promises to be serious, humorous and full of unexpected twists. Sat. 8 p.m. $16. Through Nov. 23 (Fri., Sat. 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.). The NoHo Actor's Studio, 5215 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 309-9439. http://www.thenohoactorsstudio.com.
SUN | NOVEMBER 2
A group of artists and entrepreneurs dramatically improved the lives of HIV-positive women in South Africa by teaching them how to make and sell art. Drawing inspiration from their example, Sophie Alpert launched Piece by Piece, an organization that helps downtown Los Angeles' poor and homeless by teaching them how to create saleable works of mosaic art. "Pieces of Hope" will showcase the organic artwork this community has created from recycled materials, including pottery, serving dishes and small furniture. Proceeds will go to the artists. You'll also have the opportunity to meet Alpert, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and the artists themselves at the opening. Sun. 2-5 p.m. (opening). Free. Through Dec. 1. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. (Mon.-Thu.); 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (Fri.-Sun.). Alpert Jewish Community Center, Pauline and Zena Gator Gallery, 3801 E. Willow St., Long Beach. (562) 426-7601, ext. 1421. http://www.alpertjcc.org; http://www.piecebypiece.org.
Even as adults, most of us could plead guilty to relishing a favorite children's book. "Once Upon a World Children's Book Award Festival" honors a fresh breed of children's book authors, and this year the Museum of Tolerance's new Youth Action Lab will recognize Ellie Crowe ("Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku") and Gretchen Woelfle ("Jeannette Rankin: Political Pioneer"). Gala attendants will also have the opportunity to make a surfboard bookmark, create a campaign button, and listen in on Ina Buckner-Barnette, "The Sunshine Storyteller." Ah, to be a kid again. Reservations are required for this special event where a sign language interpreter will be on hand to provide assistance. Sun. 1 p.m. Free. The Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 772-7605. http://www.museumoftolerance.com.
Squeeze in some holiday shopping while participating in Mitzvah Day by attending the Finegood Art Council's First Art Boutique. Exotic, unique works from artists and vendors will be featured, and all proceeds support the nonprofit Finegood Art Galley. The public is also invited to see the opening of "Tools of Art" at the gallery, starting at 2 p.m. Sun. 12-4 p.m. Free. The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance, Bernard Milken Community Campus, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (818) 464-3218. http://www.jewishla.org.
Some of the biggest names in Jewish music will take the stage during "Voices From the Heart," benefiting United Synagogue Youth programs. Debbie Friedman, Moshav, Theodore Bikel and Craig Taubman will rock the afternoon away at a concert honoring Temple Aliyah's Cantor Mike Stein and Alan Weissman, outgoing president of the Pacific Southwest Region. You already know all the words, so come and sing! Sun. 4:30 p.m. $36 (children), $72 (adults). Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 986-0907. http://sinaitemple.org.
Sephardic Jewish culture is known for its distinctive style. With exotic instruments and flashy flamenco, "The Lost Soul of Spain: Music and Dance of the Sephardic Jews" aims to capture those sensibilities with the Hebrew and Ladino music that sets it apart. Featuring Oscar-winning composer Yuval Ron, Israeli Tunisian singer Smadar Levi and Israeli Moroccan dancer Maya Karasso, this performance, sponsored by Nashuva, blends the sacred music of Morocco, Andalusia, Bosnia and Israel with travel stories and kabbalistic interpretations of the life and culture of Sephardic Jews. Sun. 7 p.m. $20. Brentwood Presbyterian Church, 12000 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or click http://www.yuvalronmusic.com.
Erin Einhorn thought she knew all about her family's tragic past. Her grandparents had been sent to concentration camps; her mother Irena was spared and taken in by a Polish woman. But when Einhorn traveled to Poland to learn the details of her family's story, she learned "that memory is not always the same as truth." Einhorn, a reporter with the New York Daily News and a contributor to "This American Life," will be on hand to discuss her book "The Pages In Between: Unearthing the Hidden Legacy of Two Families, One Home." At the event, sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles, Einhorn will reveal the shocking way her grandmother may have died and her struggle to keep a decades-old promise. Sun. 2 p.m. Free. Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills. (818) 464-3300. http://www.jccatmilken.org.
Several synagogues' young professionals groups -- including Stephen S. Wise Temple's W Group and Sinai Temple's ATID -- will be making a difference on Mitzvah Day by volunteering at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters' Camp Max Strauss. Volunteers will participate in an information session and tour of the camp, provide mentorship to children ages 7-12 and launch a special "Guinness World Records" event. This is your chance to pitch in and help, while making friends with like-minded Jews who really care. Sun. 11-3 p.m. Free. Camp Max Strauss, Glendale. Specific directions will be given after registration is confirmed. (310) 889-2230. Register at http://www.wisela.org.
MON | NOVEMBER 3
Brooklyn-born Jerry Kirschen moved to Israel in 1971, changed his name to Yaakov and started drawing the daily cartoon strip "Dry Bones." Now in its 35th year of publication at the Jerusalem Post, Kirschen (nicknamed -- surprise, surprise -- "Bones") will appear in Los Angeles to present his politics and his oft-quoted cartoons at an event hosted by CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America). Mon. 7:30 p.m. $8. Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega, Los Angeles. (310) 652-7353. http://www.drybonesblog.blogspot.com. http://www.camera.org.
Wanna communicate with your Israeli friends in their native tongue? Bnei Akiva of Los Angeles and the Israel Aliyah Center is giving those of us who need help keeping up with our Hebrew-speaking friends some much-needed relief. This comprehensive Hebrew Ulpan class for adults starts soon, so don't wait to sign up. Mon. 7:30 p.m. (beginning), Wed. (advanced). $300 for 10 classes. Beth Jacob, 9030 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills. (310) 248-2450 or (310) 892-9821. http://www.bethjacob.org.
Don't think Jewish studies can be provocative? Here's a scintillating lecture topic that will prove you wrong: "How an Erotic Dream Led Me to an Understanding of the Sacred Tongue." Ilan Stavans, a Mexican American intellectual, essayist and cultural commentator has a passion for lexicons and it's reflected here as he recounts the throes of mid-slumber eroticism that inspired his exploration of (presumably) Hebrew. Who knew the language of the Bible could be so hot?! Mon. 6 p.m. Free. UCLA, 314 Royce Hall, Los Angeles. (310) 267-5327. http://www.cjs.ucla.edu.
Couture and charity go hand in hand at Brandeis National Committee's Fashion Show and Luncheon. The San Fernando Valley Chapter of the committee will be holding a designer fashion show to help raise money for medical research. The event will bring us one step closer to curing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's disease. Mon. 10 a.m. $75. Marriott Hotel, 21850 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills. (818) 347-4786. http://www.marriott.com.
WED | NOVEMBER 5
Eat. Drink. Mingle. Mitzvah. Celebrating their second anniversary, the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles's Young Leaders group is gathering for "Martinis & Mitzvahs For a Cause II," a social event for young professionals interested in supporting the organization. Last year the event was held at the swanky Celadon; this year, guests can enjoy the cool vibes of Bar Lubitsch. Wed. 7 p.m. $20 (or $10 if you bring canned food, toiletries or cereal to donate to JFS's food and shelter program). Bar Lubitsch, 7702 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. (323) 761-8800, ext. 1220. http://www.jfsla.org.
Rachel Whiteread, a sculptor, was the first woman to win the Tate gallery's Turner Prize, the most prestigious art award in Britain. Although she isn't Jewish, she designed the controversial Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial in Vienna, a steel and concrete slab of books built over a medieval synagogue that was burned down in 1420. With her family, she also lives and works in a former synagogue in East London, and she will speak about her life and art prior to an upcoming exhibit of her work at Los Angeles' Gagosian Gallery. Wed. 7 p.m. Free. The Hammer Museum, Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 825-0557. http://www.art.ucla.edu.
THU | NOVEMBER 6
When Eliza Jane Schneider got her hands on a second-hand ambulance, she decided to embark upon a 317,000-mile journey across America for her world arts and cultures senior thesis at UCLA. Schneider has since adapted her research of
American regional dialects -- drawn from 1,000 interviews -- into a one-woman show, "Freedom of Speech." In what the New York Post called "Captivating! A vivid aural photo album of America," Schneider brings you more than 30 different characters, each as candid as the next, but with little more in common than their nationality, as she reveals the spectrum of personality and perception throughout our nation. Thu. 7 p.m. (Fridays at 8 p.m.). $20. Through Nov. 28. Sidewalk Studio Theater, 4150 Riverside Drive, Burbank. (818) 558-5702. http://www.elizaschneider.com
FRI | NOVEMBER 7
A startling Holocaust drama with an ending you won't soon forget reaches theaters today. Based on the book by Irish novelist John Boyne, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" tells the story of two 8-year-old boys who meet through the barbed-wire fence of Auschwitz. Bruno is the son of a Nazi commander who sneaks away from his countryside estate and stumbles onto the camp where he befriends Shmuel, who is hiding behind slabs of wood. Their two worlds collide in that private corner of the camp, where they exchange stories, play checkers and try to understand what divides them. Soon, they plan an adventure that will bring them together on the same side of the fence. Opens today at The Landmark Theatre and Arclight. http://www.landmarktheatres.com, or click http://www.arclightcinemas.com.
-- Lilly Fowler contributed to this article