It's the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, but the island nation is also focused on recovering from recent hurricanes. Join other concerned Angelenos as they provide much-needed disaster relief through a "Potluck Dinner: Hurricane Relief Party for Cuba," organized by Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring. Music, dancing, food, raffle and art auction will all be part of the festivities. All funds raised will be channeled to Cuba through Jewish Solidarity, an organization founded in support of the Jewish community in Cuba. Sat. 7:30 p.m. $5-$10, plus a potluck contribution for 8-10 people. Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-2007. http://www.circlesocal.org.
SUN | JANUARY 4
Belva Gaertner, who inspired Velma Kelly in "Chicago," was one of the two real-life women acquitted of murdering their lovers in Chicago in 1924. What's the true story behind the musical? Ron Arons, author of "The Jews of Sing Sing," will recount the infamous tale at "The Musical 'Chicago' and All That Genealogical Jazz." Sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County and Temple Adat Elohim, Arons' vivid storytelling will offer insight into the methods of tracing an individual's family history and personal past, as he did with Gaertner -- who is, by the way, not Jewish. Sun. 1:30-3:30 p.m. Free. Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. (818) 889-6616. http://www.jgscv.org.
MON | JANUARY 5
Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity is universally known. Not as well known is the Nobel-winner's passion for humanitarianism, especially toward his fellow Jews. Before and during World War II, Einstein ran what he termed his own "immigration office" where he wrote affidavits recommending United States visas for European Jews trying to flee Nazi persecution. Beverly Hills Public Library is currently showcasing "Einstein, An Exhibition of Original Letters in Support of His Brethren," which features 18 original letters -- some handwritten, some typed by Einstein -- that reflect the famed scientist's fervent commitment to the survival of Jewish people. Located in the lobby of the library, the exhibition is presented by Profiles in History and The Benjamin Shapell Family Manuscript Foundation. Mon.-Thu. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Through late Jan. 16. Free. Beverly Hills Public Library, 444 N. Rexford Drive, Beverly Hills. (310) 288-2220. http://www.beverlyhills.org/services/library.
WED | JANUARY 7
Rabbi David Wolpe, who recently took on sharp-tongued atheist Christopher Hitchens in a debate on the existence of God, is often featured as an expert on biblical subjects for the History Channel and as a commentator for CNN and CBS news. Wolpe, it's safe to say, has excelled in the craft of public speaking. Is it a natural ability or a learned skill? Hear directly from the master in "The Art of Public Speaking, With Rabbi David Wolpe," where Newsweek's No. 1 pulpit rabbi in America will offer insight into what makes a person a compelling orator and how proficiency in speech can be an invaluable tool. This event, though fascinating for people of all ages, is sponsored by ATID and Dor Chadash and is therefore exclusively for those between the ages of 21 and 39. Wed. 7 p.m. (dinner), 7:30 p.m. (program). $8 (members), $12 (guests with advance R.S.V.P.), $15 (at the door). Prices include dinner. Sinai Temple is located at 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 481-3244. http://www.sinaitemple.org/events/ATID/Speaking.
Marriage is like a plant -- it needs to be tended to and cared for on a regular basis. American Jewish University offers Making Marriage Work, seminars for couples who are talking about marriage, are engaged or are recently married, as a foundation for a strong, long-lasting union. Led by professionals in various fields, the 10-session course is a rare chance to focus entirely on your relationship and includes meetings with licensed clinical therapists, rabbis, certified financial planners and counselors. In these sessions, you will learn communication skills, conflict-resolution techniques, time management and family planning; discussions will include topics such as the meaning of commitment, the effect of personal histories on the relationship and how to incorporate in-laws, friends and children into the union. Winter seminars begin on four separate dates: Jan. 7, Jan. 20, Jan. 25 and Mar. 5. $420. American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel-Air. (310) 440-1566. http://wcce.ajula.edu (click on Making Marriage Work on the left-hand sidebar).
How will the new president and Congress affect the United States' relationship with Israel? That's the million-dollar question Murray Tenenbaum is asking (and attempting to answer) at American Jewish University's class series, "The Changing Dynamics of U.S.-Israel Relations." Tenenbaum is the former national director of government relations for the Zionist Organization of America. He also once served as foreign policy consultant to former U.S. Sen. Pete Wilson. And he was the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. In short, Tenenbaum is someone well worth listening to on this crucial topic. Continuing education credit units are available. Wed. 8:30.-10 p.m. $146 (all eight Wed. sessions). Through Feb. 25. American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel-Air. (310) 440-1246. http://www.ajula.edu.
THU | JANUARY 8
A profile in The New Yorker once referred to Hugh Hewitt as "the most influential conservative you have never heard of." Now the Republican Jewish Coalition and the David Horowitz Freedom Center are teaming up to offer the public a chance to find out more about this unsung hero of the conservative world at a signing of his latest book, "The War Against the West." A former ghostwriter for Richard Nixon, a law professor at Chapman University, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, "The Hugh Hewitt Show," and executive editor of Townhall.com, there is a lot to learn about this respected evangelical Christian who has been making waves in certain circles for years. Thu. 11:30 a.m. $50. Fairmont Hotel Newport Beach, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach. R.S.V.P. at (818) 849-3470 ext. 209 or 213, or e-mail email@example.com. http://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org.
(ARTS & CULTURE)
The New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend began in 2001 as a celebration of the newspaper's 150th anniversary. In a generous gesture toward its readers, The Times organized a range of arts and entertainment activities and collaborated with cultural institutions to offer free admission, reduced prices and special programs during that week. The annual event is now an international celebration, and in our city the specials are plentiful. Here is just a sampling of what the 2009 Arts & Leisure Weekend has to offer: two-for-one admission to MOCA, the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Skirball Cultural Center and the Blitzstein Museum of Art in the Fairfax district; also, two-for-one tickets to Center Theatre Group's "Minsky's" and "Bubby Basketball" by Art Shulman at Secret Rose Theatre, Los Angeles Opera's "The Magic Flute," several UCLA Live performances in January and February, as well as IMAX at the California Science Center. To take advantage of these offers, clip the Arts & Leisure Weekend Access Pass from The New York Times Sunday Magazine or print it from the Web site. Thu. Through Jan. 11. For full list, visit http://www.artsandleisureweekend.com.
Who better to teach a Jewish music history class than a cantor who has been immersed in Jewish music since the age of 8? Nathan Lam, who has led the Stephen S. Wise congregation in holy song for 32 years and has a long list of accomplishments in the cantorial field, will be teaching a six-part series of classes titled, "Jews & Poland: 1,000 Years of History, Music and Culture," at American Jewish University. Using a variety of materials, including rare film footage, the series will present the musical legacy of Polish Jewry through the ages, as well as the modern development of a new Polish Israeli alliance. A unique opportunity to briefly return to the days of riveting college courses, this continuing education seminar was organized by University Women, a volunteer organization that supports and supplements AJU's programs. Thursdays, Jan. 8-Feb. 12. 10:30 a.m.-Noon. $75 (members) $90 (non-members), $18 (single class). AJU, small Berg Dining Room, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Bel Air. (310) 440-1283. http://wcce.ajula.edu (click on University Women on the left-hand sidebar).
Jennifer Rosvally runs a full practice in psychotherapy in addition to caring for her three children; she is in her 50s. Her mother, Dr. Shura Saul, is a college professor and social worker, in addition to being a mother of three and grandmother of eight; she is in her 80s. Learn how the two have aged together gracefully, as well as the obstacles they've encountered, at a presentation of "Mother Daughter Duets -- Relationships in Counterpoint," named after the book they worked on together and recently published. Saul is a pioneer in the field of gerontology and, along with her daughter, is sure to have plenty of sage advice to offer. Thu. 6-9 p.m. $18. Valley Beth Shalom, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 530-4000, ext. 3. http://www.vbs.org/sisterhood.
FRI | JANUARY 9
Join Rabbi Mike Comins, founder of TorahTrek Spiritual Wilderness Adventures, for an inspiring weekend getaway dubbed, "Judaism on the Wild Side: Explore the Power of Nature Within a Jewish Context." The program will start out with a Friday night lecture, "How Did Jews Lose Nature and Why Do We Need to Get Her Back?" and continue the next day with a spiritual wilderness hike in the San Gabriel Mountains. The event will end with a Saturday night Havdalah service, dessert and a talk, "Listening for God: Elijah and the Still, Small Voice." The Rabbi Henri E. Front Scholar-in-Residence Program at Temple Beth David is sponsoring the uplifting two-day program. Fri. 8 p.m. Temple Beth David, 6100 Hefley St., Westminster. R.S.V.P. at (714) 892-6623. http://www.templebethdavid.org.
Paying homage to the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and demonstrating the still existent bond between the Jewish and black communities, Friday Night Live is going Interfaith for the fourth year. Rabbi David Wolpe and Craig Taubman will be joined by the Rev. Mark Whitlock, pastor of Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church, and the church's award winning gospel choir. The music-filled once-a-month Shabbat service is invariably uplifting, but the annual Interfaith Friday Night Live is particularly raucous and packs the pews of Sinai Temple every year. The Jewish Television Network will be shooting the event for broadcast on the Network's Web site later this month. Fri. 7:30 p.m. Free. Sinai Temple, 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 481-3244. http://www.sinaitemple.org.
What do Jewish women over 60 do for fun besides play mahjong? They shoot hoops. Perhaps your bubbe in Riverside doesn't, but the ladies in Art Shulman's play, "Old Broads Can't Dunk," sure do. They're part of The Yentas, a team in the Women Over 60 Basketball League, and they're having some trouble with their tyrannical coach, Sister Mary Margaret, who was kicked out of her convent for breaking the vow of silence. With so many high-spirited, opinionated women on one court, there's bound to be some foul play in this show, produced by Fire Rose Productions, who brought you "The Rabbi and the Shiksa" and "Sex Is Good for You." Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. Through Feb. 22. $10 (students), $18 (seniors), $20 (general). Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 288-7312. http://www.secretrose.com.