In the Jewish tradition, books are central to life: The urge to study the world is ingrained among families, generation to generation, and a well-stocked bookshelf provides the impetus to learn in many Jewish homes. But while the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture's annual Leah Cohen Festival of Books and Authorsfocuses on books about Jewish concerns by Jewish authors, it's certainly not an exclusive club. If you love books, you'll love this event, which combines a holiday book sale with author events, many of which hold universal appeal.Presentations begin tomorrow at 7 p.m. when Stuart Eizenstat, the U.S. statesman who fought in the 1990s to reclaim stolen assets of World War II victims and Holocaust survivors, discusses his book Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of WWII; other special events include a Hanukkah reading by children's author Sylvia Rouse (Sammy the Spider) at 11 a.m. on December 7 and a Take Me Out to the Ballgame luncheon with Michael Shapiro, the author of a new Brooklyn Dodgers salute, The Last Good Season, at noon on December 21. Admission to these and other scheduled presentations is $5 to $10.
And what's hot at this year's sale? Shapiro's baseball tome tops the list with its blend of nostalgia and top-notch sportswriting, as does Eizenstat's account. Other winners include Jay Cantor's novel Great Neck, in which a group of Jewish '60s-era sixth-graders from Long Island make connections between the horrors faced by Holocaust victims and freedom fighters murdered in Mississippi, and another novel, Jane Austen in Boca, by Paula Marantz Cohen, a romantic comedy in the Austen tradition. Popular-culture fanatics will have a field day reading Lawrence Epstein's The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, a sweeping and hilarious history that covers a gamut of names too long to print, from the Marx Brothers to Jerry Seinfeld. And anyone who loves to eat will appreciate the New York Times Jewish Cookbook, which features more than 800 tested and time-honored kosher recipes, with text by Times food doyenne Mimi Sheraton. Don't you get hungry just thinking about it?
The fest begins today in the Boettcher Foundation Lobby of the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 South Dahlia Street, and continues daily except Saturdays through December 21; for information or reservations, call 303-316-6360 or log on to www.mizelcenter.org. -- Susan Froyd
Arvada Center provides a mall antidote
On your mark, get set, shop!
Maybe you don't need track shoes to compete on this, the busiest shopping day of the year. But if you're looking to avoid parking-lot road rage and the generic mall-gift marathon, search out one-of-a-kind goods at the Arvada Center's 24th annual Holiday Craft Fair.
"Each one of the items is handmade," says Arvada Center spokeswoman Valerie Hamlin. "You'll find things here that you can't find anywhere else."
The gala, held today and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is expected to lure over 5,000 browsers to peruse items created by 120 regional and national artists, including jewelry, pottery, photography and stained glass. Proceeds from the juried show will benefit Arvada Center programs.
"This is our biggest revenue-generating fundraiser of the year," notes Hamlin. But if you miss this weekend's extravaganza, there's always the center's Art Market, which begins its seventeenth run next Friday, December 5, and features original artwork and contemporary crafts by Colorado artists. The Art Market will run daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through December 14.
The Arvada Center is at 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard. Admission to the craft fair is $5 at the door for the general public, free for Friends of the Center. For details, call 720-898-7200 or visit www.arvadacenter.org. -- Julie Dunn
How you decorate your Christmas tree provides a window into your personality: Do you choose over-the-top gaudiness or classic, tasteful accoutrements?If you're undecided and looking for inspiration, head to the 25th annual Festival of Trees.
"There is something here for everyone, from cute, cuddly trees to elegant, smart ones," says Tracey Blustein, executive director of ArtReach, which sponsors the festival as its annual fundraiser.
Held this year at the Wildlife Experience, the fir-out event features over 120 professionally designed Christmas trees, wreaths and holiday centerpieces. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sunday, November 30 (closed Thanksgiving Day).
Tickets are $3 to $6 at the door; children four years old and under are admitted free. Families can also have their pictures taken with the man himself at "Breakfast With Santa" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning from 9 to 11 a.m. Tickets for the breakfast are $12 for kids and $18 for adults.
The Wildlife Experience is at 10035 South Peoria Street in Parker. For more information, call 303-433-2882 or visit www.artreachdenver.org. -- Julie Dunn
Schnitzel und Tinsel
Christkindl Market creates Old World charm
If you're feeling nostalgic for strolling carolers, roasted chestnuts and holiday boughs, you're in luck, because the Christkindl Market is back in town -- downtown, that is, on the 16th Street Mall. The Denver Pavilions is hosting the European holiday festival, which is teeming with international vendors peddling wares such as blown-glass ornaments, hand-carved toys and an army of nutcrackers. Also available are freshly baked gingerbread, stollen and pots of hot cider and glühwein (mulled wine). Christkindl's Deutschland-styled huts and Old World treats have always been simply wunderbar. But this year, the Market's fifth, organizers have closed Glenarm Place between 15th and 17th streets to transform the entire extravaganza into an outdoor winter village.
Beginning today and continuing through December 21, Christkindl Market will feature live music on two stages, a forty-foot twinkling tannenbaum, an antique carousel, and the man of the hour, Kriss Kringle. Revelers can visit the St. Nicholas Haus and pose for a Polaroid with the jolly ol' man; proceeds from the snaps will benefit the Colorado Ballet, whose annual Nutcracker production opens tomorrow in its interim digs across the street at the Paramount Theatre.