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  • The Ultimate Enigma

    By Rabbi Steven Weil

    July 6, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Zot chukat haTorah begins this week's parsha, telling us that the subject of the Red Heifer is the chok of the Torah. A chok is a law that is simply incomprehensible. It makes no sense to us whatsoever.

    When I tell you that a person who had become ritually defiled by close contact...

  • Spectator - The Woman Who Fought the Tigers

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    July 6, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Helene Klodawsky remembers how her survivor mother and girlfriends stayed up all night, laughing and crying as they recounted their Holocaust experiences over cigarettes and coffee.

    "I became consumed with questions about women and war," the 50-year-old Canadian filmmaker said.

    Her...

  • Iranian Colored Band Report Discredited

    By Karmel Melamed

    May 25, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    When the renowned exiled Iranian journalist Amir Taheri reported in a Canadian newspaper last week that Iran had just passed a law requiring Jews to wear yellow bands on their clothing, the world reacted with shock. The story, which also outlined required colored bands for Christians...

  • Real Danger in Myth

    By David Klinghoffer

    May 18, 2006 | 8:00 pm

     

    The film version of author Dan Brown's bestseller, "The Da Vinci Code," premiered this week amid a cacophony of unhappy historians and theologians who hoped to reach the horde of curious moviegoers seeking a good diversion -- which is also what prompted many readers to...

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  • Shlub to Hero: Film Sketches Gehry Life

    By Morris Newman

    May 18, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    "He starts out with that," says Barry Diller, alluding to a squiggle-like drawing in the new documentary, "Sketches of Frank Gehry," and "he ends up with this," pointing to a model of the InterActive Corp. (IAC) Building, currently under construction in Manhattan. Although made...

  • Search for Similarity in Aliyah Tales

    By Sandee Brawarsky

    May 11, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    "Aliya: Three Generations of American-Jewish Immigration to Israel" by Liel Leibovitz (St. Martin's Press, $24.95).

    When the Pilgrims were making their way to the land that would become America, Liel Leibovitz's German ancestors were moving to the Holy Land. A cultural writer for...

  • 7 Days in The Arts

    By Keren Engelberg

    May 11, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Saturday, May 13

    The beat goes on today at the annual Santa Monica Festival. Head down to participate in a drum circle; hear multicultural music, including a concert by Bucovina Klezmer; and enter the Eco Zone. The city steps up its commitment to environmental responsibility...

  • Life More Ordinary

    By Rabbi Lisa Edwards

    April 27, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    I recently visited a congregant in the hospital and was surprised to find a doctor crying in the hallway. I told her I was a rabbi and asked if I could help. The doctor immediately apologized for her tears.

    "It's been a hard week," she said, "I'll be OK."

    She told me she had just...

  • Three Madelehs of the Written Word

    By Sandee Brawarsky

    April 27, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Jewish women have prominent roles in several new novels this season, penned by young Jewish writers with impressive track records -- Ayelet Waldman, Allegra Goodman and Lara Vapnyar. The three have written urban stories, focused on relationships, and the books are closely observed...

  • Tommywood - Unanswered Questions

    By Tom Teicholz

    April 20, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    On April 7, 1944, Rudolf Vrba escaped from Auschwitz, one of very few to do so; he died last week at age 81, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Vancouver, British Columbia. Vrba once said that he spent 95 percent of his life on science and 5 percent on the Holocaust. It...

  • Death by Fire

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    April 20, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    The Torah sometimes gives us verses that shock us. You know, the kind that wake us up, make sure we are paying attention. This week, in Parshat Sh'mini, we find such a verse. The story of Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron who die a tragic death at the hand of God for supposedly...

  • Food for Thought

    By Rabbi Daniel Greyber

    April 13, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Vica is tall, blonde and Jewish. She is my interpreter.

    It's February 2005 and I am in Vilna, Lithuania, at the Baltics Limmud Conference. I am here as part of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles' strategic partnership with the Baltics communities to teach subjects as...

  • ‘Voodoo’ Jew Finds Love, Truth in Haiti

    By Sandee Brawarsky

    April 6, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    "Madame Dread: A Tale of Love, Voodoo and Civil Strife in Haiti" by Kathie Klarreich (Nation Books).

    According to a Creole proverb, truth is like oil in water; it always comes to the surface. Kathie Klarreich's first book, a memoir of her years in Haiti, is a tale of truths --...

  • Humor in ‘Eat’ an Acquired Taste

    By Sarah Price Brown

    April 6, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    When Rabbi Mordecai Finley, leader of the nondenominational congregation Ohr HaTorah, saw the new Passover comedy "When Do We Eat?" -- he loved it.

    "I laughed and laughed and laughed," he said. He saw the movie three more times, and each time he liked it better.

    Hap Erstein, the film...

  • Tommywood - Grossman Revealed

    By Tom Teicholz

    March 30, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    The recent publication of "A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman With the Red Army, 1941-1945" (Pantheon) brings attention to a writer who deserves to be better known and whose personal story illuminates the tragic dimension of Russian Jewry during the Communist era.

    Grossman (1905-1964)...

  • Let My People Watch TV

    By Tom Tugend

    March 30, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    The story of the Exodus from Egypt makes for great cinema and stunning visual effects, as Cecil B. DeMille and Charlton Heston proved half a century ago.

    Now a new version of "The Ten Commandments," with its timeless themes of slavery and freedom, faith and doubt, adultery and...

  • Where in the World Is ‘Paradise’?

    By Tom Tugend

    March 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    When the controversial film "Paradise Now" is introduced at the March 5 Oscars ceremony, the live and television audiences may wonder not just whether it will win, but exactly where it came from.

    In the listing by countries of the five nominees for foreign language film honors, the...

  • 7 Days in The Arts

    By Keren Engelberg

    March 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Saturday, February 25

    Havdallah includes a redemption song tonight. Following services at Beit T'Shuvah, con man turned rabbi Mark Borovitz talks to Rabbi Ed Feinstein about his story, as outlined in his bestselling book "The Holy Thief," newly released in paperback.

    5:30 p.m....

  • Feminist Desktop Revolution

    By Carin Davis

    February 23, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Don't have time to shlep to a museum? Too tired to remember if the free museum day is the first or second Tuesday of the month? Want to conquer a large, overwhelming exhibit in small, 15-minute intervals? Then bring the museum to your desktop and browse at your own pace.

    The Jewish...

  • Director Pays Price in Making ‘Capote’

    By Robert David Jaffee

    February 23, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Truman Capote, the legendary writer and subject of the eponymous Sony Pictures Classics release that has been nominated for five Academy Awards, spent six years writing "In Cold Blood," the book that would cement his literary legacy while also leading to his spiritual downfall.

    If...

  • Spectator - Fiddle Dee Dee and Oy Vey!

    By Gaby Friedman

    February 2, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Like any good Southerner, Brian Bain eats moon pies and punctuates his sentences with "y'all." But Bain is also Jewish, which colors his experience as a third-generation Southerner in a unique way.

    In his documentary film, "Shalom Y'all," Bain set out to explore exactly what being...

  • First Person - A Love Story

    By Rabbi Mark S. Diamond

    January 19, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    This is the story of my friend Valerie, whom I first met just last year. Valerie sent me an e-mail introducing herself as Shira, a Jew-by-Choice who worked as a flight attendant. She wondered if I was the same Rabbi Mark her fiancé Glenn knew from his synagogue's high school youth...

  • Moses and King

    By Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater

    January 19, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    This past week, we observed the birthday of a great leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was able to move his people from seeing and believing his great vision to acting, responding and persevering in the face of violent opposition. In this way, King was like Moses in this week's...

  • Fight of the Century

    By Tom Teicholz

    January 5, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Joe Louis' boxing match against Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium in 1938 remains one of the great sporting events of the 20th century -- even though the fight in front of nearly 70,000 spectators lasted all of two minutes and four seconds.

    Some 67 years after that fateful night of...

  • The Lost Words

    By Esther Hecht

    November 24, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    "Yitgadal v'yitkadash shmei." Three words into Kaddish, the mourner's prayer, Yoni stumbled on an unfamiliar vowel. Then, again and again, as he continued reciting the traditional prayer at his mother's funeral in Jerusalem, he twisted and mangled the words. He frowned in...

  • Tommywood - Tale Still Compelling

    By Tom Teicholz

    November 24, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    Forty years ago this Oct. 15, Houghton Mifflin published "The Painted Bird" by Jerzy Kosinski. The book was immediately acclaimed as a must-read text on the Holocaust and the nature of human cruelty.

    In the years leading up to and following Kosinski's 1991 suicide, his reputation...

  • Rice Weaves Rich Tale of a Young Jesus

    By Gabriel Meyer

    November 24, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" by Anne Rice (Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95).

    Biblical fiction is a perilous business. Having committed not one but two such indiscretions in my time -- a 1993 novel titled, "In the Shade of the Terebinth," and a year later another called, "The Gospel of...

  • Why a Novel?

    By Alan Zweibel

    November 24, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    "The Other Shulman" by Alan Zweibel (Villard, $23.95).

    I write. This is what I do. I'm a professional comedy writer. My job is to sit in a room with my vocabulary, select words and put them in an order that will not only hold your interest but also, hopefully, make you laugh. It's...

  • Revelation Led Rice to Pen Jesus Novel

    By Naomi Pfefferman

    November 24, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    Late into the night throughout 1993, Gothic novelist Anne Rice sat in a study in her shadowy New Orleans antebellum mansion, poring over stacks of books on ancient Babylon and Samaria.

    The scene could have been lifted from one of Rice's best-selling novels about erotically charged...

  • Spectator - Movie for ‘Rent’

    By Keren Engelberg

    November 17, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    More people can afford "Rent" this month, thanks to Revolution Studios. The production company brings a film version of the Jonathan Larson rock opera to movie theaters this week, directed by Chris Columbus and starring most of the original Broadway cast.

    Set against the backdrop of...

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