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Lectures and Discussions

Post-Holocaust Lithuania: Poet and former Lithuanian dissident Tomas Venclova speaks on life after the Holocaust in contemporary Lithuania. Venclova, who came to the United States in 1977 and is a professor at Yale University, has worked for Lithuanian-Jewish reconciliation and has urged his countrymen to confront their history of collaboration with the Nazis. Venclova will also read from his essay collection “Forms of Hope.” The event is sponsored by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which was founded in 1925 in Vilna, Lithuania. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W. 16th St.; Nov. 25, 7 p.m.; free, reservations suggested. (917-606-8200 or

Life’s Limits: Leon Kass, chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, speaks on the topic of “L’Chaim and its Limits: The Moral Challenges of Bioethics.” Kass, who most recently was the author of “The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis,” is a leading thinker on the profound moral questions raised by revolutionary breakthroughs in biotechnology and medicine. 92nd St. Y, 1395 Lexington Ave.; Dec. 1, 8:15 p.m.; $20. (212-415-5500 or


Food, Neuroses and Drama: The protagonist of Mark Zeller’s play “Schmaltz” confronts a mid-life crisis and yearns for the Jewish comfort foods of his childhood: gefilte fish on challah, egg creams and chicken-fat sandwiches. Oy! 78th St. Theatre Lab, 236 W. 78th St.; through Dec. 21, Wed.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m.; $15. (Tickets 212-868-4444 or, info

The Joy of Starch: “Broadway Sings the Odd Potato,” a Chanukah musical, tells the story of how a potato inspires a family to reconnect with the holiday spirit it had lost when its matriarch died. The Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway; Nov. 24-Nov. 30, $20-$39. (212-864-5400)


Giving Thanks: University Synagogue and Irvine United Congregational Church host an interfaith Thanksgiving service to celebrate 15 years of sharing a building. The service features the church’s and synagogue’s choirs. University Synagogue, 4915 Alton Parkway, Irvine; Nov. 26, 7:30 p.m.; free. (949-553-3535 or

Sino-Judaica: The Skirball Cultural Center presents a slide-illustrated talk on the history of the Chinese Jewish community of Kaifeng. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles; Nov. 26 and Dec. 24, 1 p.m.; $8 museum admission, $6 seniors and students, free members and children under 12. (310-440-4500 or

Jesus for Jews: Lehrhaus Judaica sponsors a three-session course on “The Historic Jesus,” examining his identity and how his followers have influenced Judaism. The course is taught by Rabbi Andrea Berlin. Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit St., Oakland; Dec. 2, Dec. 9 and Dec. 16, 8:20 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; $40. (510-845-6420 or


Authorial Assemblage: The Leah Cohen Festival of Books and Authors brings together Jewish scribes of all stripes to discuss their latest works. Writers featured at the festival include former State Department official and leader of Holocaust restitution efforts Stuart Eizenstat; Sue Fishkoff, author of “The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad Lubavitch”; Sherri Mandel, whose book “The Blessing of A Broken Heart” focuses on the aftermath of her 13-year-old son’s murder by Palestinians, and Michael Shapiro, who with his “The Last Good Season” has penned a paean to the Brooklyn Dodgers’ final pennant race before they broke the heart of a borough by moving west. Mizel Center for Arts and Culture at the JCC, 350 S. Dahlia St., Denver; Nov. 30-Dec. 21; $5 per event. (303-316-6360 or


Afro-Judaica: The Afro-Semitic Experience brings its fusion of the musical traditions of the African and Jewish diasporas to Middletown. The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main St., Middletown; Dec. 1, 8:30 p.m.; $3 suggested donation. (860-347-4957)


Irrational Evil: The Florida Holocaust Museum hosts “Indifference: The Sur-Rational Paintings by Fritz Hirschberger.” In the paintings displayed at the exhibit, the now 92-year-old San Francisco artist explores the Holocaust, borrowing from German Expressionism and Renaissance painting. Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. South, St. Petersburg; through Feb. 15, 2004, Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-5 p.m; $8, $7 seniors and college students, $3 students under 18, free children under 6 and members. (800-960-7448 or


Wood on Bellow: Noted literary critic James Wood speaks on “The Meaning of Saul Bellow’s Prose” in a pair of appearances sponsored by Nextbook in the renowned author’s hometown. Wood, a senior editor at The New Republic, is the editor of a new Library of America edition of Bellow’s early novels. Skokie Public Library, 8215 Oakton St., Skokie; Nov. 30, 3 p.m.; free. (847-673-7774 ext. 2196) Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago; Dec. 1, 7 p.m.; free. (312-747-4074 or


Brodsky Briefing: Ludmila Shtern reads from her forthcoming book “Joseph Brodsky: Personal Memoir,” about the late Russian-born poet and Nobel laureate. Shtern, a lifelong friend of Brodsky, is a resident scholar at Brandeis University’s Women’s Studies Research Center. Brandeis University, Women’s Studies Research Center, Epstein Building, Waltham; Nov. 25, 12:30 p.m.; free. (781-736-8100 or


Tragic Ties: The New Jewish Theater presents Barbara Lebow’s play “The Left Hand Singing.” The play focuses on the parents of a racially and religiously mixed trio of college students who disappear in 1964 while volunteering with the civil rights movement. The play examines the impact on the students’ parents of their shared tragedy and follows their relationships over the next several decades, touching upon issues such as identity and black-Jewish relations. Sarah and Abraham Studio Theatre in the JCC, 2 Millstone Campus Drive, Creve Coeur; through Dec. 7; $16-$20. (314-442-3257 or


Cantors in Concert: Garden State cantors descend on Tenafly for an afternoon of song. The concert’s theme is “Songs of Our People.” It will feature traditional cantorial music, as well as lighter fare. JCC on the Palisades, 411 E. Clinton Ave., Tenafly; Nov. 30, 2 p.m.; free. (201-569-7900 or


‘The Nanny’ Does Chanukah: Fran Drescher, television’s nasal-voiced “Nanny,” hosts an hour-long tribute to the Jewish Festival of Lights, airing on PBS stations across the country. Produced by the Jewish Television Network, “A Chanukah Celebration” features an explanation of the holiday by the host of public television’s “Simple Wisdom with Irwin Kula,” cooking with chef Jeff Nathan, decor tips from Teresa Strasser and Chanukah songs performed by Craig Taubman. PBS stations across the country; starting Dec. 1. (818-789-5891 or check local listings)

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TORN: The young Ethiopian protagonist of ‘Caravan 841’ finds himself caught between two very different role models: a rabbi and a jazz musician.

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