Sunday, August 29, 2010

Free High Holiday Services

Rosh Hashanah Sept. 8-10
Yom Kippur Sept. 17-18

High Holidays at PicoEgal
PicoEgal will be hosting free High Holiday services for Erev Rosh Hashana (Thursday Sept. 8) and both mornings of Rosh Hashana (Friday Sept. 9 and Saturday Sept. 10), as well as all of the services of Yom Kippur (Friday Sept. 17 and Saturday Sept. 18). Free; RSVP required. For more information, contact Childcare is available through Beth Am. Reservations are due by August 27.

Get High on the Holidays (Save the Date!)
Join JConnectLA for an inspiring, delicious & friendly Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur experience. Enjoy a friendly, joyous, participatory, celebration of the High Holidays with meaning, melody, and humor. Services led by Rabbi Yonah Bookstein with many special guests. Includes New Year’s Kabbalistic Feast, Neo-traditional & Alternative services, Special break-out sessions & classes. All levels and backgrounds welcome. Hebrew reading skills not required. Delicious Kiddush following services. Additional Shofar Services. Morning coffee and honey cake. Registration required – Space limited. Excellent play-care for children available. Free for full-time students; graduate students half-off. Adults: $50 for both High Holiday services, $36 for one service.

Chabad of the Conejo
To join Chabad of the Conejo for the High Holidays is to enjoy an inspiring synthesis of delights for body and soul. Held at the elegant and spacious Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel, the atmosphere is as
physically comfortable as it is spiritually warm and inviting.  Services are not only about prayers and rituals, but moreover about celebrating one’s Judaism as a dynamic and enriching community experience; an experience harmoniously shared by Jews of any and allbackgrounds. Whether you’ve joined Chabad at the Westlake Hyatt for High Holidays past or whether this is your first time celebrating with us, you and your family can look forward to ushering in the New Year enveloped by the uplifting spirit of joy, discovery and solidarity that is the hallmark of this unique program.
Rosh Hashanah: September 8th; evening.
Yom Kippur: September 17th; evening. 818-991-0991.

Whether you are bored every year… and go for family, guilt, or nostalgia…or haven’t gone for years, give it one more chance. (OK, at least show up at 9PM for our annual “New Years Eve Singles Party” following services & you’ll get the Mitzvah of making your Jewish mother happy!). Services are in English with meaning, melody, & humor by Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz & Olivia. Books Provided. All services will take place at The Writers Guild THEATER of America (WGA)  135 South Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.
- Rosh Hashanah Services: Wednesday, September 8, 2010, 7:00 - 8:30 PM.
- Candle lighting for the FIRST night of the year: 6:53 PM.
- Largest Jewish New Years Eve Party: 8:30 - 10:30 PM.
- Services: Thursday, September 9, 2010: 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM .
- Shofar - 12:30 PM.
- Yom Kippur Services: Friday, September 17, 2010, 7:00 - 8:30 PM.
- Services: Saturday, September 18, 2010: 11:00 AM - 2:30 PM.
- “Stump the Rabbi”. This is our very popular and well attended
program intensely animated bcz 100’s of ppl are bursting with Q’s
they’ve had stuck in their Kishkehs since age 12 or 13 etc. and now
they get their chance: 3:00 PM - 5:30 PM
- The very moving “Closing of the gates” prayer (“Neila”): 5:30 - 7:34
P.M. (when the fast ends)
- Free Suka Party: Wednesday, September 22, 7:00 - 10:00 PM.
(310) 391-7995.

[Hollywood, CA] – The Laugh Factory, L.A.’s premiere comedy club, ushers in the Jewish New Year with its joyous gift to the Jewish community – free High Holiday services.  This will be the 28th year the Laugh Factory will open its doors to the Jewish community for the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Reform Jewish tradition, Rabbi Bob Jacobs.  Rosh Hashanah will be celebrated on Thursday, September 9th from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm with refreshments to follow.  The following week, Yom Kippur will begin with the Kol Nidre service on Friday, September 17th from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm.  The services will continue on the morning of Saturday, September 18th at 11:00 am until 1:00pm, concluding with Neilah service at 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm.  A “break-the-fast” will follow.  No contributions are accepted and tickets are not required. 8001 Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, two blocks west of Fairfax.

Community High Holy Days services free. A service of the heart with tradition, inspiration, music, poetry and spoken word to bring about harmony and peace through the spirit of friendship and unity. 323-653-7420

Temple Ramat Zion
Free Erev Rosh Hashanah Tickets
Northridge, Calif. (Aug. 24, 2010) – Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge is offering free tickets for the Erev Rosh Hashonah service on Wednesday, September 8. Tickets must be picked up in person at the temple office and contact information is required. For more information, call the temple office at 818-360-1881.  There is open seating and ticket supplies may be limited. The temple is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Erev Rosh Hashanah services begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be led by Rabbi Ahud Sela and Cantor Paul Dorman.  The community is also invited to attend the temple’s open house on September 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Temple Ramat Zion, the North San Fernando Valley’s only conservative temple, is located at 17655 Devonshire St., Northridge, CA, 91325. It is a full-service synagogue featuring Shabbat and holiday services, an on-site pre-school, a fully accredited religious school, an award-winning USY youth chapter as well as educational and social programming for all ages. For more information, contact the temple at 818-360-1881 or visit the Website at

- Jewish Journal

Friday, August 27, 2010

Johnny Mathis Sings Kol Nidre.

Johnny Mathis got up from the mah-jongg table where he was conducting an interview at his Los Angeles home to answer the telephone: “We’re discussing my career as a cantor,” he quipped.
The 74-year-old Mathis — who has recorded more than 130 albums and has cracked the Billboard charts upward of 60 times — is best known as the crooner of iconic back-seat make-out ballads such as “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “It’s Not for Me to Say.” But on Aug. 19 at the Skirball Cultural Center, he will be honored by the New York-based Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation for his surprising contribution to Jewish music: a soaring version of the Yom Kippur prayer, “Kol Nidre,” recorded for his 1958 album of religious music, “Good Night, Dear Lord.”
The founders of the Idelsohn Society — including scholar Josh Kun — discovered Mathis’ “Kol Nidre” courtesy of a 7-inch disc, backed by the Percy Faith Orchestra, that arrived in a battered box of donated albums some years ago. The single, they learned, was a European release from the 1958 “Good Night” album, which featured renditions of “Ave Maria” and black spirituals as well as “Kol Nidre,” the Hebrew-language poem “Eli, Eli” and the Yiddish favorite “Where Can I Go?” 
“But it is Mathis’ ‘Kol Nidre’ which blew us away,” the founders wrote in the liner notes of “Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations,” which was inspired by Mathis’ passionate “Kol Nidre.” His rendition also appears on the Idelsohn CD, which will be released Sept. 14. While much has been written about how black music has influenced Jewish artists, “Black Sabbath” is perhaps the first to spotlight African Americans covering Jewish songs — Billie Holiday singing “My Yiddishe Momme,” for example, and The Temptations doing a “Fiddler on the Roof” medley. 
So why did the African American Mathis, then 23 and at the zenith of his career, choose to record the Aramaic Jewish prayer so crucial to the Jewish Day of Atonement? Settling back down at the mah-jongg table, Mathis traces the endeavor to his childhood in a tolerant, multiracial neighborhood of San Francisco, where his friends included Jewish buddies from the school track team who occasionally took him to shul. He also heard Jewish music courtesy of his music teacher Connie Cox — who took on the talented 13-year-old in exchange for his completing odd jobs around her house — and who introduced him to the cantors-turned-opera singers Robert Merrill and Richard Tucker.
Prominent American Jews helped shape Mathis’ career once he gave up his chance to participate in Olympic trials as a high jumper to record jazz for Columbia Records at age 20. The young artist was “floundering,” in his words, a year later when he was summoned to the offices of Mitch Miller, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who had become one of the most influential forces in American popular music. 
“Mitch said, ‘I’ve heard what you do, and I don’t like it,’ ” Mathis recalled of that meeting — his memories flowing all the more since Miller had died, at 99, the day before the interview. “Mitch said, ‘I like your voice, but I don’t like the way you’re singing, and I don’t like what you’re singing. ... I’d like to record you, but I want you to sing what I want the way I want it.’ ” 
In fact, Miller stood beside Mathis in the recording booth, tapping his shoulder to make sure the young artist didn’t improvise. But even if Miller could be “very strong,” as Mathis puts it, he credits the producer for guiding him to the romantic ditties that would make him a superstar. 
Mathis went on to record his first No. 1 hit, the dulcet “Chances Are”; to become one of the most prolific American singers of all time, selling more than 180 million albums worldwide; and to set a number of precedents in the music industry. His 1958 greatest-hits album virtually invented that genre and spent almost a decade on the Billboard top albums chart — a feat recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. Mathis’ 1982 album, “Friends in Love,” featured a title duet with Dionne Warwick that became Mathis’s fourth Top 40 single hit in four decades. More recently, Mathis has sung for Presidents George H. W. Bush and Clinton, performed with top symphony orchestras and next month will release a collection of country standards, “Let It Be Me: Mathis in Nashville,” a tribute to his father, who was born in Texas and taught the young Johnny to sing. 
The spiritual music of “Good Night, Dear Lord” was meant as an ode to Mathis’ devout mother; he personally chose the album’s black spirituals from songs he recalled from his childhood African Methodist Episcopal church. But he turned to the prominent bandleader Percy Faith — another son of Jewish immigrants — to advise him on the Jewish selections.
“Kol Nidre” appealed to Mathis, in part, because of the opportunity to showcase the operatic side of his voice, rather than the honeyed tones for which he had become famous. “My interpretation of the song was a mixture of the Muslim call to worship and the [biblical] Jews wandering, lost, in the desert, when their faith was all they had,” he said.
“Recording it was very emotional,” he added. “I lost all of my inhibitions.”
When the Idelsohn Society approached him about his “Kol Nidre,” he said, “I was over the moon.” The album had sold only a moderate number of copies: “Every performer has a little gem, a little pearl they have done that nobody pays much attention to,” he explained. “And then one day, somebody does recognize it, which is so gratifying.” 
But don’t expect Mathis to sing the prayer when the society honors him Aug. 19, timed approximately to the 50th anniversary of “Kol Nidre” and the artist’s 75th birthday, on Sept. 30 — part of the society’s concert program, the “Jews on Vinyl” revue.
“My singing now is more limited,” Mathis said; he will no longer sing the rigorous melody in public. Rather, he will perform a song, “One God,” that reflects his attitude about humankind. 

“Many are the paths winding their way to one God,” he quotes from that song. “So many children calling to Him by so many different names.”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Liz Taylor's Conversion to Judaism

Liz Taylor and her Jewish Audacity
In the new book, Furious Love, about the fervent, stormy romance between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton that has been optioned for film, the lovers have a quarrel about Judaism.
In one scene, the joint biography by Sam Kashner, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and Nancy Schoenberger, an author, depicts Taylor and Burton having one of their usual, theatrical spats—over who was more “Jewish.”
The authors write:
Burton had referred to the Welsh as “the Jews of Britain”, a comment on their self-identity as the outsiders of the United Kingdom. [Note: Burton was Welsh]
“You’re not Jewish at all,” he told Elizabeth in one of their very public fights, “If there’s any Jew in this family, it’s me!”
“I am Jewish,” she answered, “and you can fuck off!” 
Taylor, the irreverent and dazzling actress was raised a Christian scientist, but converted to Judaism at age 27. Though some say the decision was motivated by marriage to her third husband, Mike Todd—born Avrom Goldbogen, the grandson of a Polish rabbi, according to Time Magazine—Taylor famously denied it, insisting she had always been interested in Judaism. In her book, Elizabeth Takes Off, Taylor tried to set the record straight, and according to Wikipedia wrote: “[Conversion to Judaism] had absolutely nothing to do with my past marriage to Mike [Todd] or my upcoming marriage to Eddie Fisher, both of whom were Jewish. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time.”
Divas do things on their own terms. When she finally decided to convert, Taylor did so at Temple Israel of Hollywood, under the tutelage of then-rabbi Max Nussbaum. According to Time, who reported on Taylor’s conversion in April 1959, Rabbi Nussbaum developed a special curriculum for the actress that included: the Bible, and the books—A History of the Jews, by Abram Leon Sachar, What Is a Jew?, by Morris Kertzer, and Basic Judaism, by Milton Steinberg. Afterwards, “[T]hey discussed the ancient traditions and modern problems of the people of Israel,” Time reported.
At her conversion ceremony, Taylor was given the Hebrew name Elisheba Rachel Taylor (Elisheba being the Hebrew version of Elizabeth and Rachel being the actress’s biblical heroine). Time described the ritual in detail:
[The] ceremony took place in the chapel of Temple Israel in the presence of Convert Taylor’s parents. Facing the open Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Scrolls, she answered the ritual questions put to her by Rabbi Nussbaum. Among them: “Do you promise to cast in your lot with the people of Israel amid all circumstances and conditions?” “Do you agree to rear your future children according to the Jewish faith?”
Then Elisheba Rachel Taylor repeated the pledge: “I, of my own free will, seek the fellowship of Israel . . . I believe that God is One, Almighty, All-Wise and Most Holy . . . I promise that I shall endeavor to live, as far as it is in my power, in accordance with the ideals of Jewish life . . . Most fervently, therefore, do I herewith pronounce the Jewish confession of faith: Shma yisroel adonoy elohenu adonoy echod [Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One]. Boruch shem kvod malchuso I’olom voed [Praised be his name whose glorious kingdom is for ever and ever].”
Taylor channeled her defiant Jewish spirit into almost everything - even her marriage. Director Mike Nichols is reportedly attached to direct Furious Love, the movie—which should be interesting since Nichols directed Taylor and Burton in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, the 1966 film that the public came to view as a window into the couple’s real marriage. For those who haven’t seen the film—first of all, you should—but just in case, this line from the New York Times review of the book aptly sums up their relationship: “In their prime, the Burtons made ‘married love’ seem ‘glamorous and sexy,’ ‘even dangerous,’ the authors write. They also made it seem deranged and codependent,” Times writer Ada Calhoun notes. “There’s a lesson here for couples: marriage doesn’t have to be a partnership of equals. It can be a bodice-ripping, booze-soaked, jewel-bedecked brawl that survives even death.”
Imagine reading that on your ketubah.
-Danielle Berrin, Jewish Journal

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Register for Fall Classes!

The Fall semester begins September 20, 2010. Register here.

August 21 - Wine and Pasta Party!

Wine and Pasta Party - Havdalah Evening
August 21, 2010, 7:00pm
Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive Penthouse
360 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills
$40.00 per person
Register by Wednesday, August 19

A great way to meet new people, spend time together and enjoy your Saturday night! Join us.
Register here.

August 13 - Shabbat Dinner and Friday Night Live!

Shabbat Dinner and Friday Night Live
August 13, 2010, 5:45pm
Sinai Temple
10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
$40.00 per person

Join Rabbi Neal Weinberg as he leads a traditional Shabbat dinner for those considering Judaism and those who have embraced Judaism. After dinner, a musical Shabbat service, complimentary Kiddush and Israeli dancing!
Register here.

New Fall Semester Starts September 20!

Register for our new Fall classes at:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Los Angeles Jewish Symphony Presents Cinema Judaica

The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony celebrates contributions of Jewish composers to film history with its annual concert program, Cinema Judaica, on Sunday, Aug. 8, at 7:30 p.m., under the stars at the Ford Amphitheatre.  The orchestra, led by Founder and Artistic Director Noreen Green, pays tribute to Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Steven Schwartz, Danny Pelfrey, Charles Fox, Yuval Ron and other major composers. Guest artists include Ron, percussionist Jamie Papish, and Israeli-born pianist Andy Feldbau.
Learn more.

Best Deli's in Los Angeles

Langer's Delicatessen-Restaurant
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Barney Greengrass
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Factor's Famous Deli