"Heirs to the Pushcart Fortune" might sound like a documentary about the Israelis currently dominating the shopping mall cart scene, but it's not. Not a bad idea though. "Heirs" is a novel written by Harlem-born Jack Salem about a family of immigrants pursuing that ever-elusive American Dream. It begins with a 16 year old leaving the crumbling Ottoman Empire to journey to New York, and continues through the next two generations experiencing The Great Depression and World War II. The classic tale of hope, courage and determination is one that continues to inspire people to take a chance for a better life in America. Stop by Dutton's this afternoon and you can ask Salem about his inspiration, his dreams and his own immigrant experience.
2 p.m. Free. Dutton's Bookstore, 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood. (310) 476-6263. http://www.duttonsbrentwood.com.
Named "Top Reggae Artist" of 2006 by Billboard, Matisyahu is bringing his energizing blend of reggae, rock and Jewish music to the Southland. Though the famously bearded, black-clad observant Jew has recently broken ties with the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Crown Heights, New York, Matisyahu still draws from the well of Judaism and delivers an original, uplifting performance. He is part of 311's hugely successful Summer Unity Tour 2007 which stretches from coast to coast with 50 shows. Groove to "King Without a Crown (click video to play)" and "Jerusalem (Out of the Darkness Comes Light)" tonight in Irvine.
7 p.m. $15-$37. Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. For tickets, http://www.livenation.com or http://www.ticketmaster.com.
The boundary of a surface. A sharp side. Advance slowly. A competitive advantage. These are all dictionary definitions for the word "edge," a ubiquitous word in today's culture. So how did 36 past and present professors from the CSUN Art Department respond to the challenge of creating a visual interpretation of the word? You'll have to hop on the 405 or 118 to see their wildly diverse paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, ceramics, textiles, photographs, computer graphics, animations, installations and public art. Look for the similarities and divergences of two CSUN generations of artists in "Edge."
Gallery hours are Mon.-Sat. 12-4 p.m., Thurs. 12-8 p.m. Through Sept. 22. CSUN Art Galleries, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. (818) 677-2156.
"It's a restless world out there; nobody can sleep. Even the birds feel the vibrations," said Peter Himmelman, another bright star in the Jewish music galaxy. He is referring to the title of his 10th studio album, "The Pigeons Couldn't Sleep," released last month by his own Himmasongs Recordings label. Ranging from tender to raucous, this latest CD comes with a big bonus: a feature-length documentary, "Rock God," detailing the observant Jewish rocker's journey from Minnesota new wave to children's ballads to "Imperfect World," his last album. Himmelman predicts that "you will laugh your ass off" -- watching the movie, not listening to "Pigeons," which often tackles serious world dilemmas. Join other Himmafans for the record release party tonight at The Mint.
8 p.m. Free admission with R.S.V.P. The Mint, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 954-9400. R.S.V.P. to firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.peterhimmelman.com.
There once was a land where people of all faiths lived together in peace and harmony -- where art and literature and philosophy flourished and pluralism was embraced. Sound like a fairy tale? This land really did exist. Revisit it in "Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain," a PBS documentary airing tonight. Spain in the Middle Ages was home to Muslims, Christians and Jews who lived and worked together in an unparalleled example of interfaith cooperation that was for a few centuries the only bright spot of the Dark Ages. Executive producers Alex Kronemer and Michael Wolfe worked with the nonprofit Unity Productions Foundation to create this film in hopes of promoting peace and a greater understanding between the world's clashing civilizations.
9 p.m. CBS.
The Holocaust produced both horrors and heroes. Most of us know the incredible story of Schindler's wartime heroics, but other tales of selflessness are only now coming to light in the form of educational entertainment. "Buddha and the Devil: The Story of Himmler and His Doctor" is a one-act play by Cliff Johnson about a brave physiotherapist who uses his influence over Heinrich Himmler to save the lives of many Jews during World War II. A dramatic reading of the play will be performed tonight by Arnie Weiss and Joe Allen Price.
6-7:30 p.m. Free. Westwood Branch Library, 1246 Glendon Ave., Los Angeles. (310) 474-1739. http://www.lapl.org.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has been written about, photographed, filmed and chronicled in every medium and seemingly from every angle. What more could there be to say about the most vitriolic dispute of our time? The truth. "Blood and Tears: The Arab-Israeli Conflict" is a documentary by Isidore Rosmarin and Jeff Helmreich that claims to uncover the truth beneath the hype and headlines. Extensive interviews with prime ministers, Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Hamas leaders, mullahs, peaceniks and Middle East scholars are interlaced with historical facts, personal tales of heartache and news footage. Picked up for worldwide distribution by the Academy Award-wining company thinkfilm, "Blood and Tears" has received glowing reviews from the Village Voice, New York Times and Islamic scholars.
Various showtimes. Laemmle's Grande 4-plex, 345 S. Figueroa St., Downtown Los Angeles. (213) 617-0268. http://www.laemmle.com. http://www.bloodandtearsmovie.com.