When the social season demands just the right outfit, you’ll find a surprising number of fashions and accessories at NU4U Thrift Shop, which is a project of Chabad of Rancho Mirage and under the inspirational guidance of Rabbi Shimon Posner. Opened in 2009 with 1,400 square feet, this lavish thrift shop expanded within three years to 7,200 square feet. Shirley Shapiro said, “Our designer boutique is brimming with labels from Escada to Stuart Weitzman.” She and her husband, Lou Shapiro, run this immense thrift shop with departments for home furnishings, framed art, lamps, books, glass and bric a brac galore. It’s like shopping at Harrod’s Department Store in London on a smaller scale!” said Marilyn Will, an avid shopper who holds a degree from Stephens College in fashion studies. It’s no accident since Shirley Shapiro calls Liverpool, England, home and speaks the Queen’s English perfectly. The news is NU4U’s designer boutique has been remodeled and expanded, yet every item still has to pass Shirley’s scrutiny before it is tagged for sale. Check it out at 69-550 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage; (760) 770-7786.
You know when the season debuts in the desert because your calendar flashes philanthropic galas, prestige speakers, house and garden tours and fundraisers, many benefiting Jewish charities.
This season Jewish Family Services of the Desert is taking art lovers in a new direction, literally. The organization has chartered a bus to take guests on a “Hi-Desert Experience” exploring the “other desert.”
The one-hour drive to Sibi Dabah’s eight-acre Joshua Tree Sculpture Ranch is a rare opportunity to meet the artist known throughout the desert for his unmistakable metal sculptures “rising up out of the Joshua trees and yucca bushes.” Dabah’s mesmerizing sculptures capture the essence of the high desert spirit and are prominent along Highway 62, a scenic route that passes through the Yucca Valley. This dramatic route that eventually takes one to Joshua Tree National Park, stops short of that as lunch has been planned at the “off the beaten path” Roadside Café in Yucca Valley before a personalized tour of Dabah’s outdoor studio.
Michelle Anstadt, director of JFS, said, “Every dollar spent on art is donated to JFS camperships.” The event is Friday, November 9, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $100 per person. For reservations, call (760) 325-4088 or visit www.jfsdesert.org. Visit the artist at www.simidabahsculptures.com.
Turning the corner from rustic art to royal is an event organized by Women’s Philanthropy. Another day devoted to art, this is the exhibit “Faberge: Imperial Jeweler to the Tsars.” The private docent-led tour reveals the story behind this 200-piece Faberge Collection at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. The event takes place Friday, October 26, departing from the Desert at 8:30 a.m., returning to the Jewish Federation of the Desert’s office in Rancho Mirage by 4:15 p.m. The entrée is $90 per person, of which $36 is contributed to the Jewish Federation’s Tzedakah Fund. Your contact is Barbara ben David at (760) 324-4737 or www.JFedps.org
The Tolerance Education Center in Rancho Mirage is always on the cutting edge when it comes to educating our youth and adults in issues concerning religious and cultural tolerance. Melisse Banwer, center director, has touched the lives of many who find the programs and library a source of enlightenment. Focusing on bigotry and intolerance on a global scale, the center invites the public to events year round. Coming up is a short film that is part of the Para Todos Los Ninos: Fighting Segregation Before Brown, and the exhibit, which opens Thursday, October 4, at 5 p.m. The filmmaker will present a Q & A followed by a reception. It Is Not a Dream, a documentary revealing Theodore Herzl’s lifelong commitment to Zionism will be screened on Tuesday, December 6, at 5 p.m. with a Q & A and reception following.
A dinner honoring Earl Grief, TEC’s founder, is planned for March 2, 2013, featuring Michael Barenbaum of the U.S. Holocaust Center in Washington, D.C. That’s an admirable schedule for one of the desert’s smaller centers (4,000 square feet) with a big heart.
Remember that song “Nice and Easy Does It Everytime”? You’ll hear that mid century music and more performed at “Palm Swings, a Tribute to Frank Sinatra.” This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Frank Sinatra Concert that helped to build Temple Isaiah’s magnificent sanctuary. “Palm Swings” takes place on Thursday, November 15, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. with Luca Ellis entertaining guests with Frank Sinatra favorite songs at Twin Palms, Frank Sinatra’s residence in Palm Springs. Tickets are $125 per person; contact Temple Isaiah at (760) 325-2281 or www.templeisaiahps.com for reservations.
Ending on a high note, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performs at the McCallum Theatre on Sunday, October 28, at 7 p.m. featuring Zubin Mehta, conductor, and Yuja Wang, piano soloist. For information, contact The Friends of the Philharmonic (www.PSFP.org; 760/341-1013).
These events are merely a warm-up to a stellar calendar that makes the desert, whether you refer to it as the Palm Springs Oasis or the Coachella Valley, a world class oasis. Welcome to a world of Jewish-inspired events with a splash of culture, mid-century glam, entertainment, theatre, fashion and philanthropy.
Pamela Price is the co author of 100 Best Spas of the World, www.globepequot.com.