Operation Moses, the 1985 mission that airlifted thousands of persecuted Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel, was a turbulent endeavor riddled with cultural, religious and personal conflicts. Families were torn apart, identities questioned and laws rewritten. "Live and Become" is a fictional account of Schlomo, a Christian Ethiopian boy who is smuggled into Israel by a Jewish Ethiopian widow. Once in Israel, Schlomo conceals his identity -- even from the French Israeli couple who adopt him -- and has to face the prejudices of white Jews while embracing a religion and culture not his own. The film, directed by Radu Mihaileanu, was an audience favorite at numerous international film festivals and is coming to Los Angeles for an exclusive run at only four theaters. Opens Fri., June 27. Playing at Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills, Town Center in Encino, One Colorado in Pasadena and Regency's Niguel in Laguna Niguel. For tickets and show times, visit http://www.laemmle.com. For more on the film, visit http://www.menemshafilms.com.
Artist and Santa Barbara native Lawrence Gipe is known for cutting-edge, politically tinged paintings, deriving inspiration from propaganda-emitting advertisements and posters from totalitarian regimes, including those of Hitler and Stalin. Gipe also uses modern-day military recruiting and Web-based corporate "motivational" materials in his work. Look out for his Middle East-themed images, like "Palestine 1946," which depicts two wooden ships packed with European Jewish refugees, and "Saudi Arabia 1948," in which four Americans play golf beside an old oil pipeline in a dusty desert. Gipe's work has been featured in galleries and museums all over the United States, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. Sat. 5-7 p.m. (artist reception). Through Aug. 2. Free. Lora Schlesinger Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., T3, Santa Monica. (310) 828-1133. http://www.loraschlesinger.com.
Eager to flex its social and philanthropic muscle, Magbit Young Leadership is combining comedy and altruism during the group's annual fundraiser, Jokefest 2008. Maz Jobrani, from the "Axis of Evil Comedy Tour," tops the bill in a show that aims to get young professionals supporting Magbit's interest-free college loan program, available to students studying in Israel. In the past, Magbit's party planning has not disappointed -- expect long buffet tables stocked with kosher Persian food, open bars and lots of guests in their 20s and 30s dancing the night away. Sat. 9 p.m. $80-$100. 627 S. Carondelete St., Los Angeles. (310) 273-2233. http://www.youngmagbit.org.
Pop culture scholar Eddy Portnoy will show-and-tell the long and turbulent history of Jews in cartoons. Once the breeding ground for anti-Semitic propaganda, comics began appearing in the Yiddish press in the late 19th century and represented new images of Jewish culture. Attempting to expose the hypocrisy and wrongdoing in Jewish civil society, Yiddish cartoonists used the medium to challenge Jewish paradigms, often using religious references, texts or custom to contrast intention with reality. With a colorful slide show and historic context, "Comic Strip Jews: Cartoons From the Yiddish Press" will examine the Jewish presence in this timeless and beloved medium. Sat. 8 p.m. $5 (suggested donation). The Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 389-8880. http://www.yiddishkaytla.org.
If you're an adventurous music lover who is always eager to discover a fresh sound or a groovy new band, a night at The Mint, where innovative, up-and-coming musicians are featured nightly, should satisfy that craving. Tonight's lineup includes several of our own -- the Israeli band Moshav, a local favorite; RebbeSoul, a Calendar Girls favorite; and newcomers häaut;MAKOR, an energetic Israeli band that mixes rock, electronica and trance with an earthy Jewish message. Sat. 10:30 p.m. $15. The Mint, 6010 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 954-9400.
Itching for a change in scenery, but don't have the time or money to travel across the country? Temple Beth Haverim's Cantor Kenny Ellis has the perfect solution for you with a Catskills-style weekend of entertainment. Ellis, who is also Congregation Am HaYam's scholar-in-residence, is bringing Borsht Belt flavor to Ventura County. Ellis will serenade, entertain and share insights using his powerful voice, piano skills and booming personality during a dessert social and "KCAH: Jewish Radio" breakfast, co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Ventura County. Sat. 8 p.m. and Sun. 9:30 a.m. $18 (suggested donation). Congregation Am HaYam, 4839 Market St., Unit C, Ventura. R.S.V.P required; call (805) 644-2899 or e-mail email@example.com.
West Hollywood will have to take a break from the matrimonial frenzy to pull off its ambitious first Sunset Strip Music Festival, with live performances at famed venues such as the Roxy, Whisky a Go Go, House of Blues and the Viper Room. Besides being a historical mecca of gay pride, WeHo is also a storied musical neighborhood, and this three-day event, which starts Thu., June 26, will pay tribute to the city's past and present with concerts by Everclear, Soul Asylum, B Real of Cypress Hill featuring Slash, Lisa D'Amato and others. One of tonight's special events is free and open to all ages. Not only does it feature acoustic performances by Camp Freddie and Louis XIV, but gamers can challenge rock stars to "Guitar Hero" or other interactive games, 1-9 p.m. at 8755 Sunset Blvd., the former Tower Records parking lot. Rock on WeHo! Thu.-Sat. Free-$27.50. (323) 848-6431. For tickets, acts, locations and times visit http://www.sunsetstripmusicfestival.com.
Get "lei-ed" with an estimated 200 Jewish singles during another spicy Social Circle Group fete. Dance to the greatest hits of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s by Tommy Tassi & The Authentics. Dress beach casual or island chic for a "Hawaiian Dinner and Dance Party" and receive a free dance lesson. Mingle with 45-65ish singles during a buffet dinner that includes wine and dessert. Sat. 7:30 p.m.-midnight. $20-$25. Stephen S. Wise Temple, Hershenson Hall, 15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 204-1240. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commencing with the climactic scene and working backward, the revival of Harold Pinter's 1978 play "Betrayal" focuses on Robert and his best friend Jerry, who is also the lover of Robert's wife Emma. But who is betraying whom in this adulterous triangle? Thu.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 p.m. Through Aug. 3. $25. New Place Studio Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove St., North Hollywood. (866) 811-4111. http://www.theatermania.com.
SUN | JUNE 29
The Los Angeles Festival of Ideas, more commonly known as Nextbook, returns this year with a mix of Jewish intellectuals, writers and artists investigating "Jewish Geography: Place, Design, Memory, Imagination." The all-day fest combines brain food for adults and fun for the kids beginning with a morning family festival and later segueing into heady panel discussions on Jewish identity. Writer and scholar Daniel Mendelsohn, author of "The Lost," appears in conversation with architect Peter Eisenman, who designed the controversial Berlin Holocaust Memorial. Six other panels will feature filmmaker Joan Micklin Silver, photographer Julian Shulman and authors Shalom Auslander and Jonathan Kirsch. For the kids, there is storytelling, music and creating your own mezuzah case or pop-up shtetl. Sun. 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (free family festival runs until 1 p.m.). $10 (students and seniors), $15 (general). UCLA's Freud Playhouse and MacGowan Little Theater, Wyton Drive and Hilgard Avenue. Park in Lot 3 ($8). (310) 825-2101. http://www.nextbook.org.
Israeli-born artist Bibi Davidson paints the expressions of her feminine side in the series "My Girl." The daughter of an Israel Defense Forces general received her education at Avni Institute for the Arts in Tel Aviv before jetting off to explore London's art world. After 10 years working in film editing for her director-husband, the cherry-haired Davidson spends her days stroking brushes at the Santa Monica Fine Arts Studios. Her new exhibition highlights her colorful, feminine energy depicting girly gossip, camaraderie and desire. Sun. 7-10 p.m. (opening reception). Through July 10. Free. The Thought Gallery, 1621 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. (213) 400-7884. http://www.bibidavidson.com.
Throughout the upcoming week, choreographer Stephan Koplowitz brings his award-winning, site-specific new work to water throughout L.A. County. "Liquid Landscapes" explores the historic, cultural and ecological significance of places connected by water. His newly formed touring group of eight dancers, TaskForce, will respond to these unusual or challenging locations: Cal Plaza's Water Garden, the Farmers Market, The Banning Center at the Port of Los Angeles, along with the Los Angeles River and Malibu. The one-week tour of Koplowitz's landscape-inspired choreography begins tonight with a film screening of dances inspired by locations in Roman Polanski's "Chinatown," followed by a viewing of the film. The experimental group will then perform each day through July 6. Tonight's performance 8 p.m. All performances free and open to the public. California Plaza Watercourt, 350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. http://www.taskforceproject.com.
Following the Holocaust, millions of records were salvaged, but many were lost in the chaotic aftermath. The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County has since been dedicated to recovering as much information as possible, tracing the roots of countless Jews. The largest collection of Holocaust victims and survivor records can be found in the International Tracing Service, established in 1955 in Bad Arolsen, Germany. Presenter Peter Landé, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum volunteer, will discuss his strides in creating a database containing the names of all survivors, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Landé will cover topics including what is and isn't in the collection, and how to sift through the 50-million name cards containing information on millions of people. Sun. 3-5 p.m. Free. Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. (818) 889-6616. http://www.JGSCV.org.
The premier event for the Republican Jewish Coalition is attracting some top statesmen to Simi Valley. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) is the featured speaker, along with radio personality Dennis Prager, who will enlighten an agreeable crowd with cheers for Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain. During the afternoon, the program provides for an optional tour of the lavish Reagan Library and Museum followed by the main event -- a kosher dinner with just a tad of politicking for dessert. Sun. 3 p.m. (tour), 5 p.m. (reception). 6:30 p.m. (dinner/program) $180. Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley. (310) 478-0752. http://www.rjchq.org.
At the third installment of Aaron Kemp's triumphal singles-meets-Hollywood showdown JCafeLA, the "Zohan" is in the house. Kemp has rounded up sponsor support from nearly every young Jewish group in town and designated this party to celebrate Israel's 60th. Kemp has already proven he knows how to draw a crowd: start with his several-thousand name e-mail listserv, Aaron's Tent, for the guest list, add a swanky Elton John-has-been-here location in Beverly Hills, and get a big movie studio to throw in exclusive clips of Adam Sandler in his new mojo-role as Zohan. All that's left to do is mix a few cocktails and it's no wonder why, in this atmosphere, several JCafeLA couples are headed down the aisle. Sun. 7-10 p.m. $15-$20. Paperfish, 345 N. Maple Drive, Beverly Hills. For tickets, visit http://www.JCafeLA.com.
MON | JUNE 30
In 1908, New York City Police Commissioner Bingham famously stated that half the city's crimes were committed by Jews. The New York Jewish community was outraged and Bingham quickly retracted his statement, citing incorrect figures; however, the commissioner was not entirely off the mark. Ron Arons, a nationally renowned scholar, writes in the "The Jews of Sing Sing" that thousands of Jewish criminals did time "up the River," including a few notorious gangsters, minor offenders and the only civilians to be executed for treason, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Arons' fascinating research into the history of Jews incarcerated at Sing Sing began with the discovery that his own great-grandfather spent four years at the infamous prison. Arons will discuss his book and the genealogical approach he used to dig up the true stories of Jewish anti-mensches in a lecture sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles and the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles. Mon. 7:30 p.m. Free. Jewish Community Library, 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. R.S.V.P. required, (323) 761-8644.
Jews have long been accused of having a virtual monopoly in Hollywood. Meet one of the men who contributed to this flattering/offensive stereotype. Walter Mirisch is the embodiment of the American dream, having risen through the ranks of Tinseltown from a lowly movie theater usher to one of the greatest producers of our time. In his recently published autobiography, "I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History," Mirisch relays what went on behind the scenes of the movie industry once the director yelled "cut." What cinema enthusiast's career would be complete without having seen the dust rise from the ground as cowboys roamed wild in "The Magnificent Seven" or singing along to "Tradition" while vicariously living the shtetl life in "Fiddler on the Roof"? Come and meet the man who spent most of his life behind the camera as he discusses the virtues and vices of Hollywood. 8 p.m. Free. The Wine Bar at The Landmark, 10850 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 474-6291. http://waltermirisch.com.
TUE | JULY 1
(ISRAEL @ 60)
David D’or has a truly remarkable voice. The Israeli megastar and countertenor alternates between singing in his rich chest voice and his classically trained powerful alto voice. Named Israel’s “Singer of the Year” in 2001 and having performed all over the world, D’or will be the headliner for the One People, One Soul concert extravaganza, “Spirit of Israel in Los Angeles,” at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The evening, which also includes performances by Inbal Aharon and the Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble, celebrates Israel’s 60th anniversary in grand style with a pre-show cocktail hour and a post-show dessert reception. Tue. 7:15 p.m. (reception). 8:15 p.m. (doors open). $250-$1260. Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. For tickets contact Nessah Educational and Cultural Center, (310) 273-2400 ext. 210 http://www.nessah.org.
WED | JULY 2
The Jewish and African American communities have more in common than they have different. The two historically marginalized minorities banded together during the era of Jim Crow to fight for civil rights and against bigotry and anti-Semitism. In an effort to rekindle this alliance, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism Christian Church in partnership with The Jewish Federation of Greater Long Beach and West Orange County are hosting a program, "An Interesting Look at Anti-Semitism and Bigotry," highlighted by a screening of "From Swastika to Jim Crow," a documentary chronicling the communities' historic bond. An open discussion led by Bishop W. Todd Ervin and ADL Orange County Regional Director Kevin O'Grady will follow the film. Wed. 6:30 p.m. (refreshments), 7 p.m. (program). Free. One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism Christian Church, 700 E. 70th St., Long Beach. R.S.V.P. to email@example.com.
FRI | JULY 4
If you've ever attended Temple Emanuel's Shabbat Synaplex, you'll know it is an evening of nonstop activities, prayer and engaging conversation. Kick off your weekend on the first Friday of every month with wine tasting and a selection of delectable cheeses amid other young professionals and temple-goers. Be touched by the musical stylings of Rabbi Jonathan Aaron and Cantor Yonah Kliger in a service presented in both Hebrew and English. Fri. 6:45 p.m. (wine tasting), 7:30 p.m. (Shabbat Unplugged). Free. Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 8844 Burton Way, Beverly Hills. (310) 288-3737 ext. 232. http://www.tebh.org.
Celia Soudry contributed to this article
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