Circuit; Fine Thing for Feinstein; The Stem Cell Circuit; A Visit from The Rebbe; In Memory of Hindy; A Dance for Barbara; Baby Love.
Daniel Handler looks like a character in one of his own "Lemony Snicket" novels. At a breakfast interview with The Journal at a New York café, he wears a pinstriped suit with a handkerchief in the pocket -- reminiscent of something the bumbling Mr. Poe might wear when he deposits the unfortunate Baudelaire orphans at the home of a relative who wants to kill them and collect their fortune. In repose and in photographs, Handler's face turns dole, as if, like Snicket, he is turned melancholy by the events he narrates.
In his keynote address at the Orthodox Union West Coast Torah Convention last weekend, Judge Daniel Butler told the crowd of 300 the harrowing tale of the difficult but celebrated life of his son, Mikey.
"Mikey's sign-off line was 'Day by glorious day,' said Butler, describing how Mikey spent his truncated life in and out of the hospital, coughing up phlegm in his lungs from cystic fibrosis.
Before he died earlier this year, at age 24, from lung transplant complications, Mikey graduated from Yeshiva University, where he was vice president of the student body. He was also a counselor at Camp HASC (a New York camp for children with special needs), a drummer in a band -- and his story inspired hundreds of Orthodox communities across the United States to pray and do good deeds in his merit.
On any given day, Wilshire Boulevard Temple's Audrey and Sydney Irmas Campus in West Los Angeles is a hub of activity. Built seven years ago for $30 million, the campus attracted new members like a magnet. They came flocking to enroll their children in day school or religious school or attend the many other activities the campus offered.
Now it wants to repeat its success in a part of town that is far less congruous with Jewish life than the Westside: Koreatown. The temple is planning on spending $30 million to revamp its Wilshire Boulevard property and to turn it into a major Mid-City Jewish destination.
Jacob Joshua Falk was home studying Talmud when a nearby gunpowder factory exploded. Trapped beneath debris with no escape route in sight, the 22-year-old Pole made a vow to God: if saved, he would study Talmud diligently. He immediately spied a clearing and crawled out of the rubble only to find that his entire family had been killed.
On Yom Kippur, as his congregants at B'nai David Judea were fasting and praying for the year ahead, Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky asked them to think not about themselves, but about people being killed in Darfur, Sudan.
"I asked people to make a contribution to one of the relief organizations in the amount of what they would have eaten themselves were in not Yom Kippur," Kanefsky said. "Sudan is calling to us for immediate attention."
Eugene Yelchin painted his "Section Five" series using his fingers instead of brushes. In the earthy, orangy-brown tones and thick, rounded strokes of paint, the faces he painted emerge blurred somewhat with the background, as if the artist didn't want them to be seen clearly.
In 1979 two tiny pieces of cracked and deteriorated silver found in a tomb outside of the Old City of Jerusalem proved to be one of the most important archeological discoveries of the century.
Davi Cheng had some trepidation when she went to Hillel for the first time. She tried to feel comfortable, but she couldn't understand the language of the services and the liturgical rituals were confusing.
Then she spied something unfamiliar on a bookshelf that made her feel right at home: a shofar.
Shmuel and Rivkah Klein have all the hassles of being new parents. Their twins don't sleep through the night, and with all the feedings, baths and diaper changes, they have difficulty finding time for themselves.
But the Kleins have an added challenge: They are both paralyzed, and they need to care for 8-week-olds Yosef Netanel and Yaakov Aryeh from the confines of their wheelchairs.
The set is a converted garage in Pico-Robertson. Eight Hollywood hopefuls dressed in T-shirts and cargo pants, holding shovels and frying pans, are waiting for the camera to start rolling.
A boom mike looms overhead and a klieg light shines in their faces, but for screenwriter Shlomo Heimler, these things matter less than the fact that for him this shoot, which advertises volunteering in Israel, is one with soul.
"This is the most meaningful work I have ever done," the 38-year-old former advertising art director said. "When you go to work, there are typically no emotions involved, but this is all heart and soul, for everyone."
Borat is a fictional Kazahkstanian reporter distinguished by his utter lack of social propriety who allegedly films segments on American culture for Kazakhstan television. Like the spectacularly stupid pseudo black rapper Ali G and the unashamedly vapid gay Austrian fashion reporter Bruno, Borat is a creation of British Jewish comic Sacha Baron Cohen. And, like the other characters, Borat uses his lack of shame to expose people's darker sides by asking them uncomfortable questions.
News from the Circuit.
The street was made famous by the TV show "Melrose Place," and for years, scores of tourists have trawled Melrose Avenue every day, hoping that some Los Angeles stardust will rub off on them.
In the new "Body Worlds" exhibit at the California Science Center, a plastic man called "Chess Player" sits at a table with his back hunched forward and his hands cupped under his chin. His lips pursed, his eyes stare intensely at the chess board.
Vicki Hulbert wants to change kosher weddings: She would like people to start thinking about wedding cakes a little more seriously.
It's Friday night at Young Israel of Santa Barbara, and an enthusiastic chorus of seven men and eight women sing Shabbat prayers while banging on the tables in rhythm to the melody.
At least two of the 15 in this Orthodox storefront shul are not Jewish, but that doesn't appear to be issue enough to dampen their enthusiasm for davening or the in-shul Shabbat meal that follows.
At Jewish Family Service's Freedom Seder, participants read from a haggadah that was just a little bit different. Instead of reading of the four sons, those at the Freedom Seder read about the "four community members."
"The wise community member asks, 'How can we, as individuals, and a community, address domestic violence?'"
Amid the kosher restaraunts, Judaica stores and storefront synagogues on a particular stretch of Pico Boulevard, a littleÂ piece of Brooklyn has just been built.
OK, the new three-story, 47,000-square-foot brown-brick building is hardly little, but it is straight out of 770 Eastern Parkway, the Crown Heights address that houses the central Chabad center and the headquarters of their former spiritual leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, otherwise known as "the Rebbe."
While Israeli artist Avner Moriah was creating "Haggadat Moriah" (Moriah Haggadah), his wife, Andy, was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for leukemia.
"I sat next to her when the chemicals were dripping in," said the 50-year-old artist, in Los Angeles this week for an exhibit opening of his work at the University of Judaism. "In Israel everyone davens and says 'Tehillim' when someone is sick, but I came up with images for the haggadah. When I started, the images were really small but as she got healthier, they became more colorful and more lively. When I finished [and Andy recovered] I realized that I had painted my own journey from Egypt."
When Julien Bohbot and Jacob Levy opened Delice Bakery on Pico Boulevard two years ago, they had one goal in mind: introducing the kosher community in Los Angeles to authentic French-baked goods that adhered to the highest standard of kashrut without sacrificing taste or quality. So during the year, that meant that Bohbot and Levy were paying three or four times as much as other bakeries for ingredients so that they could use cholov yisroel (milk that has been supervised), butter and cream to make Delice's flaky croissants. But at Passover time, the two men faced a greater challenge to make Passover cakes that tasted as good as year-round cakes and make the cakes affordable -- or almost affordable -- despite the high cost of kosher-for-Passover ingredients.
JDate is the largest Jewish singles site, but for those interested in swimming in smaller ponds, below is a sampling of some of the other offerings on the web.
In 1947, a young Bedouin scrounging around some caves about 15 miles from Jerusalem came across some sealed clay urns and unearthed one of the most important archeological discoveries of the century -- the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls are 2,000-year-old fragments of Hebrew manuscripts written on parchment, leather and copper. Some are transcriptions of Torah portions, others contain commentaries on the Torah, and still others contain records of a separatist Jewish sect in the mid-Second Temple era that established itself high on the hills of Qumran, where the scrolls were found.
Hinda Leah Scharfstein sees the Torah as more than just the original source of halachah, Jewish law, and the earliest telling of our nation's birth.
"The Torah takes a holistic look at the individual, and it does tend to have a sort of healing effect on people," said Scharfstein, the executive director of Bais Chana Women's International, a New York-based nonprofit. "I attended my first holistic Torah retreat 20 years ago, and I have been involved on a professional and personal level with it ever since, and since then I have definitely felt better. My thinking has become healthier, and I feel more whole."
On Waring Avenue, west of La Brea Avenue, Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad is undergoing a $5 million expansion. Under construction is 35,000 square feet of dormitories and study rooms, including a light and airy beis midrash (study hall) that will double as a synagogue.
If you're looking for one of the world's newest centers for Judaism, then look no further than at a perverse example of garish excess seen in the past year: one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. Comedian Al Franken lit Chanukah candles in the palace in an illuminative snub of the dictator, who proudly displayed large painting of Scud missiles hitting Israel and gold chairs bearing inscriptions that crow about "victory over the Zionist entity."
Singer-songwriter Diex sees himself as an ambassador, a bridge between the unlikely worlds of the prayer filled synagogues and the groove-shaking beats of J Lo, Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin.
It was two years ago that Yocheved Rosenthal of Hancock Park heard that a family of young Orthodox children had been placed in a non-Jewish, Spanish-speaking foster home.
Larry King is as known for sitting hunched over a microphone, schmoozing with everyone who is anyone, as he is for wearing big black glasses and suspenders over shirt sleeves. But as the TV icon approaches the big 7-0 (his birthday is Nov. 19), he's increasingly wearing something else on his sleeve: his Judaism.
"My work was driven by a sense of imminent loss," writes Frédéric Brenner in the introduction to his new book, "Diaspora: Homelands in Exile." "Two thousand years of history were about to vanish. I felt a desire and a responsibility to document these permutations of survival in exile before they disappeared.... As I began my journey, I realized how much loss had already taken place."
The woman in the cover illustration is called "Mother Palestine." Inside, articles by controversial Israeli historians Benny Morris and Avi Shlaim, and Palestinian historian Nur Masalha, tell the tale of a bellicose colonial Israel that displaced innocent Arabs from their homes in 1948, and from then on prevented peace by provoking and murdering Palestinians.
t is Tuesday night at the University of Judaism (UJ) and lecturer Rami Wernik is going around the room asking his students what they think is the biggest concern of the Jewish community today. The answers vary -- some think it is the cost of Jewish education; others, the threat of assimilation.
Dan, a teacher at Milken, feels that non-Orthodox Jewish education is lacking.
During High Holiday services at Sinai Temple this year, Rabbi David Wolpe stood in front of his congregation with a pledge card, and encouraged everyone to make a pledge. Instead of there being dollar amounts to be folded down, this pledge card had months and the words "I care. And I'm going."
It wasn't money that Wolpe was looking for, but a commitment to go to Israel.
When you cut open a pomegranate, first removing its turreted crown, then scoring its red, leathery skin, before breaking it apart under water (so the juices won't squirt and stain your clothes), you are presented with sacks of glistening, abundant garnet fruit caviar.
It's official. The Kabbalah Centre has usurped the Church of Scientology's status as Hollywood's hottest creed of choice. These days, it seems like every celeb looking to add meaning to his or her glittering but empty life of fame and fortune is joining the red-string-wearing, holy-water-selling, quasi-Jewish group.
Mariah Edry, sits on a wooden garden swing in the hot Israeli sun, lazily watching her three children on the playground of Beit Canada, a Jerusalem absorption center.
Yochai, one of her 2-year-old twins, chases a gray cat, while his sister, Emunah, climbs the slide ladder, crying for her bottle. Although the temperature has topped a sweltering 100 degrees, Edry, a newly arrived immigrant from North Hollywood, is happy that her children are outside.
They need to talk more! They are being too quiet!"
That was the frantic, whispered assessment of Beverly Pomeranz, casting director for the new A&E series, "Makeover Mamas," as she watched the reaction of Ross and Jennifer Misher upon seeing their newly redecorated living room for the first time.
Actress Renee Taylor sat down at Nate 'n' Al's to interview a rabbi who was aspiring to produce her new play, "Golda."
Carole Levine had been a member of Temple Israel of Hollywood for 28 years. During that time, she attended temple only during the High Holidays. Recently, Levine has started going to temple more often. As a flautist for The Chai Tones, a 10-piece temple band, Levine finds herself at the temple now at least once a month, playing jazzed-up versions of the regular synagogue melodies.
It's 10 p.m. on a Wednesday, and Yaelle Cohen, a Pico-Robertson mother of five, is about to leave the house to run an errand. No -- she's not going to pick up milk. Someone called offering her some used bed linen and towels, and Cohen thinks they might be good for one of the many families she helps, so she is going to pick them up. The linen will join the clothes, shoes and other sundry items that Cohen keeps in an ever-growing pile in the corner of her living room. These items will all be sorted through and assessed by size and quality, and then distributed to families in need.
Talking and fish are two words that never seem to be seen together, until now. On Jan. 28 at a kosher fish store in New Square, N.Y. (an upstate Chasidic enclave), Ecuadorian worker Luis Nivelo was preparing carp to sell for Shabbat, when he heard a voice. Nivelo looked around to see where the sound was coming from, and when he saw that there was no one there, he realized that the piscatorial wonder he was about to chop up and make into gefilte fish -- was talking.
Attention Jewish Angelenos: now you can become more beautiful and help Israeli victims of terror at the same time. Two programs, Smiles in Spite of Terror and StandWithUs tooth whitening campaign, donate half the fee from your teeth bleaching sessions goes to help fix the teeth of terror victims.
The Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles is reaching out to the Latino community -- but not with ordinary diplomacy. In addition to usual programs it uses to rally communal support for Israel, the consulate last week unveiled its new strategy for community relations. This being Los Angeles, that strategy is, of course, connected with Hollywood.
When M.R.S President Molly Stern was growing up in Los Angeles and attending Yeshiva University of Los Angeles High School, she felt out of place. "I fancied myself a tomboy, if you will," said the 30-year-old designer of the M.R.S label. "And I never really felt comfortable with my body, being a curvy, short woman in Los Angeles."
Rabbi Sherwin Wine of Birmingham Temple in Detroit founded Humanistic Judaism in 1963. Today, there are over 30,000 Jews involved with Humanistic Judaism in North America, including 1,000 in the greater Los Angeles area.
For all the deli eaters out there who feel frustrated that the highfalutin French waters normally found at delis are simply not idiosyncratic or funny enough to hold up to their pastrami and rye sandwiches, former entertainment executive Jane Kaplan has come to the rescue with a water that is sure to quench your thirst and tickle your brain.
The Los Angeles Superior Court confirmed on Wednesday a controversial beit din (Jewish court of law) arbitration award that ruled that properties controlled by the Living Judaism Center (LJC) should be taken over by Chabad of California.
"You got any 'swaps'"? The question was asked as a greeting by a couple of middle-aged women dressed in forest-green suits, who encountered some other women in forest-green suits in the parking lot of the Long Beach Convention Center, where the National Girl Scouts Convention was being held.
Madonna doesn't like to explain her music videos, but in her newest one, "Die Another Day" (the title track for the soon-to-be-released James Bond movie), while wearing a dirty, white tank top she sneeringly sings to the camera, "Analyze this, Analyze this." So we will.