Bevy of Jewish-Directed Films
They're hot, they're Jewish, and they all have new movies out this weekend. At your local cineplex, you'll find four films directed by Jewish filmmakers: There's "Requiem for a Dream," the latest from stylish filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, a bleak, controversial drama about a Jewish family descending into drug addiction. Picture Ellen Burstyn as a Coney Island widow spiraling into a diet-pill funk.
Israeli-born Rod Lurie, previously the meanest film critic in L.A., is the director of "The Contender," which answers the question, could a female politician survive a Lewinsky-like scandal?
Mimi Leder, whose dream project is a film about her parents' post-Holocaust romance, has "Pay It Forward," her tribute to the Jewish concept of tikkun olam .
And the brilliant, 30-something director James Gray is back with "The Yards," his Godfather-like treatise on New York greed and graft, starring James Caan, Mark Wahlberg and Ellen Burstyn.Bottom line: Go see a movie this weekend. - Naomi Pfefferman, Entertainment Editor
How do Jews actually practice their religion, in contrast to what rabbis tell us we ought to do?
In researching his book "Being Jewish: The Spiritual and Cultural Practice of Judaism Today," Columbia University Professor Ari Goldman came across some real pearls, he recently told a UCLA audience. For example, on Shabbat observance:
"I don't floss my teeth on Shabbat."
"I don't eat shellfish on Shabbat."
"I drive, but not on freeways."
Some other quirky observations:
"I keep kosher, but only within 50 miles of my home."
"I keep three sets of dishes - for meat, dairy and Chinese food."
Said Goldman, "I love these responses; they say so much about American Jews, who try to find their own comfort level in their practice of Judaism." - By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
The Islamic Center of Southern California was targeted by vandals twice during the last week, though in one instance the perpetrator apparently mistook a mosque for a synagogue.
In the first act of vandalism, the front of the combined mosque and community center on Vermont Avenue was defaced on Oct. 26 with a swastika and the words, "Jew, Go Home."On Sunday evening, a large rock shattered the front glass door of the center while worshipers were praying inside.
In response, the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission called a news conference Monday, with the participation of Muslim and Jewish members.
Joe R. Hicks, the commission's executive director, said in a subsequent interview, "It is especially heinous when a house of worship is singled out. We must react any time it happens, even, as in the case of the graffiti, the bigot may be stupid or ignorant or mentally deranged."
Police had no leads on possible suspects, Hicks said.
Salam Al-Marayati, vice president of the commission and a leading Arab Muslim spokesman, said that whenever tensions rise in the Middle East, "We [Muslims] always get the backlash; we are scapegoated." He added that he was disappointed that the local media had largely ignored the attacks on the mosque.Howard Welinsky, past chair of the Jewish Community Relations Committee, attended the news conference representing The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
"It is important that the Jewish community react when any place of worship is targeted," he said.As for the graffiti painter, Welinsky said, "He must be the dumbest bigot in town." - Tom Tugend, Contributing Editorn