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Jewish Journal

Have a Holly Jolly Schmooz-fest

by Keren Engelberg

December 18, 2003 | 7:00 pm

Chinese-food-and-a-movie faces strong competition in our city once again this year. This Christmas Eve, on a night that would otherwise be distinguished by what we aren't celebrating, Stu and Lew Productions brings Jewish cheer with its "Schmooz-a-Palooza" party. Going on its 10 year, the annual event for under-40 Jews has practically become an institution.

"We were the first, I think, great party that came to L.A.," said Lewis Weinger, the "Lew" behind the name. This year, the party again takes place at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, and Weinger expects the 1,200-some tickets will sell out, as usual.

It began 10 years ago with two friends, Stuart Wax and Lewis Weinger, and an idea to create a new way for Jewish singles to meet.

"I think what prompted me to start was that I felt there's a real need in the community to create a fun, hip place for young people to get together and to party and hopefully date and marry within the faith," said Weinger, a self-described ba'al teshuvah (returnee to Jewish observance). 

While people typically think of "Schmooz-a-Palooza" as a singles event, it's evolved over the years. Today, Weinger runs the operation without Wax, and the feel of "Schmooz-a-Palooza," which this year falls on the sixth night of Chanukah, has become more party than mixer. People come in couples or in groups of friends, and schmooze, dance and mingle, or not, as they choose.

"It's become this networking, reconnecting, 'Wow, we went to camp together 10 years ago [sort of event],'" Weinger said. "From that whole energy, I think there have been countless relationships, not only getting married, but friendships and business connections."

And realizing that not everyone loves a dance party, Stu and Lew experiments this year with a chill alternative in the form of the loungey House of Blues Foundation Room. A pricier VIP ticket grants guests entree to the smaller penthouse room usually reserved for members -- complete with couches and a fireplace.

"I'm not looking to provide an exclusionary kind of atmosphere," Weinger said, "yet they said this room is small. We can only sell a limited amount."

In other words, plan ahead, or risk a night of take-out and overpriced popcorn.

8 p.m.-2 a.m. $25 (general), $40 (VIP). House of Blues, Los Angeles. www.stuandlew.com .

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