Café Danssa opened for business in December 1965 on a nondescript block of West Los Angeles on Pico Boulevard. The name of the business was a morphing of the first three letters of Dani Dassa's first name and the last three letters of his last name.
A radio DJ might not be your idea of an innovative storyteller, but who can't relate to the desire to inflict your own personal interests onto the greater Los Angeles listening public? DJ Jimmy Kay does just this every Sunday night from 9 p.m. to midnight on KKGO 1260AM, where he hosts the program "Sunday Night Folk."
7 days in the Arts
"Eve of Destruction" by P. F. Sloan.
"Sovereign Threads: A History of Palestinian Embroidery". "Threads" offered a different window into the region: a rare opportunity to view Palestinian embroidery, considered among the finest in the world, in what is perhaps the first show of its kind in Los Angeles.
There was a time when Jews dominated the ranks of American orchestras, and superstars like Leonard Bernstein and Isaac Stern were musical ambassadors to the world. The fact that today's master Jewish musicians tend to have proteges with names like Yo Yo Ma, Kyung-Wha Chung and Lang Lang is one hint that for many Jews, classical music is no longer a top priority.
Now, 40 years later, The Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble (Sommer died in 1969) is no longer dancing in basements or clicking their heels to accordion music. The nonprofit troupe is run by a board of directors and has a full artistic staff, including costume designers, choreographers from Israel and Argentina, and a technical team that ensures that Sommer's Israeli folk-dancing vision stays alive. The troupe itself now numbers 47 -- including eight vocalists, nine musicians and 20 dancers. They perform in large venues all over the world.
Robb Zelonky is scheduled to appear in Irvine after a two-month tour of California, bringing a special show with songs tailored to Jewish culture. He has also produced four secular CDs.
Some years ago, folk diva Chava Alberstein discovered the rundown immigrant neighborhood around the south Tel Aviv central bus station. For the Israeli superstar, the area became a refuge, a place to stroll or sip coffee unmolested by fans. The residents were foreign workers from countries such as China, Thailand, Nigeria and Romania.
But as their numbers swelled to replace Palestinians after the intifada, Alberstein -- considered Israel's Joan Baez -- saw conditions deteriorating.
"These people are brought to Israel, their passports are confiscated so they can't go anywhere and they're forced to live in the worst situations," she said. "You see people crawling out of the most unbelievable hovels. It's bothered me for a long time."
It may have been a silent film, but Paul Wegener made an international noise with "Der Golem." The 1920 German Expressionist classic -- screening April 21 at the Skirball Cultural Center -- remains a popular incarnation of the Golem.
Maybe the post-apocalyptic parking situation was a tip-off. The overcapacity of automobiles surrounding Woodley Park seemed to confirm that this year's Israeli Independence Day Festival outdid itself in terms of spectacle and attendance. An estimated 50,000 attended, festival director Yoram Gutman confirmed, making this year's festival the biggest yet. As Gutman told The Journal, "There are so many Israelis who live in the Valley, so maybe that has something to do with it. I never saw so many Persian Jews and American Jews."