Monday, August 14, 2017

The Tragedy in Charlottesville

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught: Abq Jew has been deeply troubled by last weekend's hate rally / attack in Charlottesville, Virginia - even more than he was by May's attack in Portland, Oregon (see The Tragedy in Portland).

Marianne Rubin’s granddaughter, Lena Schnall,
captured a photo of her grandmother at Sunday’s rally.

The fight against racism in American society - and against the Alt-Right, Neo-Nazi, Skinhead, and White Supremacist groups that promote such racism - is a deeply Jewish fight.

Abq Jew did not fully understand why that should be - until Yair Rosenberg, writing in The Washington Post, explained what happened in Charlottesville and why it happened.

Here is a bit of what happened:
‘Jews will not replace us’: Why white supremacists go after Jews 
When white nationalists descended upon the historic Virginia city to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, their “Unite the Right” rally gathered a veritable who’s who of top neo-Nazis in the United States, including Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and alt-right leading light Richard Spencer, among others. 
They immediately went after the Jews.  
At their Friday night rally at the University of Virginia, the white nationalists brandished torches and chanted anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans, including “blood and soil” (an English rendering of the Nazi “blut und boden”) and “Jews will not replace us” — all crafted to cast Jews as foreign interlopers who need to be expunged. 
The attendees proudly displayed giant swastikas and wore shirts emblazoned with quotes from Adolf Hitler. One banner read, 
“Jews are Satan’s children.”

And here is a bit of why it happened:
This conduct is not incidental to the white nationalist program; it is essential. 
As the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Eric Ward, an African American scholar and activist who has studied the movement for years, recently put it: 
“The successes of the civil rights movement created a terrible problem for white supremacist ideology. White supremacism — inscribed de jure by the Jim Crow regime and upheld de facto outside the South — had been the law of the land, and a black-led social movement had toppled the political regime that supported it. 
How could a race of inferiors have unseated this power structure through organizing alone? … Some secret cabal, some mythological power, must be manipulating the social order behind the scenes. 
This diabolical evil must control television, banking, entertainment, education and even Washington D.C. It must be brainwashing white people, rendering them racially unconscious. 
What is this arch-nemesis of the white race, whose machinations have prevented the natural and inevitable imposition of white supremacy? It is, of course, the Jews. 
Jews function for today’s white nationalists as they often have for anti-Semites through the centuries: as the demons stirring an otherwise changing and heterogeneous pot of lesser evils.” 
For this reason, Jews are the only “white people” obsessively targeted by white supremacists.
Read the full article here

Which brings Abq Jew to Bald Piano Guy.

AKA Alan C Schwartz, a music teacher from Roslyn, Long Island. Who is bald, plays piano, and performs satires and parodies. Rather well, Abq Jew thinks. And who has his own Facebook page and YouTube channel. Of course.

Here is Bald Piano Guy's interpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's You've Got To Be Carefully Taught, from their musical South Pacific.

How do people learn to hate?

South Pacific received scrutiny for its commentary regarding relationships between different races and ethnic groups. 
In particular, "You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught" was subject to widespread criticism, judged by some to be too controversial or downright inappropriate for the musical stage. Sung by the character Lieutenant Cable, the song is preceded by a line saying racism is "not born in you! It happens after you’re born..." 
Rodgers and Hammerstein risked the entire South Pacific venture in light of legislative challenges to its decency or supposed Communist agenda. While the show was on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing entertainment containing "an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow." 
One legislator said that "a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life." Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work strongly.  
James Michener, upon whose stories South Pacific was based, recalled, "The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How Many Roads?

And How Much Wood? Yes, Abq Jew is on the road again! Sorta. He is now sitting in the Kitchen of the Home of the Daughters Who Are Grand on the Island That Is Long. You know - LIRR. ISP. LIE. New York.

Following Tisha b'Av, there are seven prophetic readings of consolation - all from Isaiah - that comfort us after the Black Fast and prepare us, emotionally and spiritually, for the upcoming High Holy Days.

The first of these - Shabbat Nachamu - has already passed. But ICYMI, Abq Jew has thoughtfully prepared something to comfort us for the remainder of the week.

Abq Jew speaks of the recent appearance on The Tonight Show of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. Who, along with Jimmy Fallon, presented an exemplary "First Drafts of Rock" parody of Peter Paul and Mary singing Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind.

Oh - and BTW -

Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, ninth cousins once removed, have been married since 1988. And their anniversary date is September 4.

And Kyra is Jewish. In fact -
Sedgwick was born in New York City, the daughter of Patricia (née Rosenwald), a speech teacher and educational/family therapist, and Henry Dwight Sedgwick V, a venture capitalist. 
Her father was Episcopalian and of English heritage, and her mother was Jewish. Sedgwick has identified herself as Jewish and has stated that she participates in Passover seders.
Kyra is, of course, perhaps the foundingest member of

But Abq Jew digresses. Here, for your enjoyment, in their latest First Drafts of Rock appearance, is ... are ... Jimmy Kevin and Kyra!

And here, for your introspection, are the lyrics (with appropriate illustrations and incredibly convenient hyperlinks)!

Blowin' In The Wind (First Drafts of Rock) 
How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?
How many rows must a minivan have before it’s a regular van?
How much sand must a beach have before you say, “Hey, that’s way too much sand"? 
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
How blurry must a gorilla photo be to be confused with Bigfoot?
How could you clap without hurting yourself if you were Captain Hook
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
What is your favorite U2 album? My favorite is “Joshua Tree.”
What’s your 2nd favorite U2 album? I think mine is “Achtung Baby.”
What is your 3rd favorite U2 album? Hey Peter, please stop asking me. 
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
If Train A leaves the station at 10 am, and an hour later so does Train B
Train A’s traveling at sixty miles per hour, Train B’s travelin’ at eighty
Then what is the time at which Train A is passed … by Train B?
The answer, my friend, is 2 o’clock pm.
The answer is 2 o’clock pm.
Want to compare the parody with the original? Here you go!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy Tu b'Av 2017!

Not The Day Before Three b'Av:  Tu b'Av is the fifteenth day of the month of Av.  In old time Biblical Israel (Abq Jew recalls), Tu b'Av was one of the happiest holidays of the year.

The 2017 celebration of Tu b'Av will begin at sundown on Sunday August 6

It was, in fact, Biblical Israel's Sadie Horowitz Day.  (We call it Sadie Hawkins Day here in suburban America, but in Borough Park ....)  As Wikipedia points out:
An American folk event, Sadie Hawkins Day is a pseudo-holiday that originated in Al Capp's classic hillbilly comic strip, Li'l Abner (1934–1978). This inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins dances, where girls ask boys out.
But in Biblical Israel, Tu b'Av was the real deal.  The Talmud (Ta’anit 4:8) states:
There are no days as festive to Israel as those of Yom Kippur and the fifteenth of Av. The daughters of Israel used to dress in white and go out to the fields to dance and young men would follow after them.
Wait a minute! Yom Kippur - festive?  Yes, in that the afternoon of Yom Kippur is a time set aside for forgiveness.  And what is the topic of the Torah reading for Yom Kippur afternoon?  Forbidden sexual relationships!  Hmmmmm ....

OK, then.  Back to Tu b'Av.  Why is it spelled (בעברית) with a tet and vav, when other teen numbers are spelled with a yud?

Because the number 15 (and, for that matter, 16) would get a little too close to the Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of G-d) for the Rabbis' comfort.  In fact, the 15 combination of yud and hey would spell out one of the common abbreviations for G-d's name, as in the word Hallelujah (literally, Praise G-d).

And now, in the festive spirit of Tu b'Av, Abq Jew proudly presents Linda Ronstadt's rendition of It's So Easy (To Fall in Love) from her 1977 album Simple Dreams.

Did you notice that Abq Jew said nothing about Tetragrammaton being one of the Transformers?
You're welcome!

Monday, July 31, 2017

With Unexpected Reverence

Tisha b'Av 2017: With deep humility, Abq Jew reminds himself and you, his loyal readers, that reverence may arise from many different quarters, and may often arise unexpectedly.

The secular (if there is such a thing) may resonate spiritually, and the simple facts of history may take on meanings far beyond mere personalities, deeds, and dates.

As we approach Tisha b'Av

Last year (see Happy Cats in Av) Abq Jew wrote:

What Happened on Tisha b'Av

The classic 5 calamities:
  1. The Twelve Spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. 
  2. The First Temple built by King Solomon  was destroyed by the Babylonians. 
  3. The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans.
  4. The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt, destroyed the city of Betar, and 
  5. plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem and the surrounding area.
And more calamities:
  1. The First Crusade officially commenced.
  2. The Jews were expelled from England.
  3. The Jews were expelled from France.
  4. The Jews were expelled from Spain.
  5. Germany entered World War I.
  6. The "Final Solution" was approved by the Nazi Party.
  7. The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka began.
And even more calamities:
  1. The AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed.
  2. The Israeli disengagement from Gaza began.
We are Jews, and we continue to have hope. 
Even as we prepare for Shabbat Hazon, A Sabbath of Vision.

This year, as we approach Tisha b'Av, we are not supposed to be joyous or joyful, or even just happy. And we are not supposed to do anything that will make us happy.

For Abq Jew, and for many others, this means no listening to (especially, live) music. But sometimes music doesn't make us happy - it makes us think (see, for example, By the Rivers of Babylon 2015).

Therefore, Abq Jew offers - for your introspection - Western Wall, the title song of the 1999 duet album -

Western Wall: The Tuscon Sessions

Written by Rosanne Cash; performed by Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. The "spare arrangement and delicate harmonies" lend a "wonderful wistfulness" to the song, says Theresa E LaVec in her AllMusic Review.

Western Wall

I stand here by the Western Wall
Maybe a little of that wall stands inside of us all
I shove my prayers in the cracks
I've got nothing to lose no one to answer back

All these years I've brought up for review
Wasn't taught this but I learned something new
And to answer the distance call
At the Western Wall

I've got a heart full of fear
And I offer it on this alter of tears
Red dust settles deep in my skin
I don't know where it start and where I begin

It's a crumbling pile of broken stones
It ain't much but it might be home
If I ever loved a place at all
It's the Western Wall

I don't know if God was ever a man
But if she was I think I understand
Why he found a place to break his fall
Near the Western Wall

May we be comforted among the mourners
of Zion and Jerusalem

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Sad Days of Summer

X-Ray Menachem Av: Abq Jew has a very serious question to ask you, his loyal readers. But first, Abq Jew asks that you examine this photo very closely.

What is wrong with this photo?
Model A: Provocative and sensual

Abq Jew
has a pretty fair idea of what your first response is going to be -

So here is a second photo that illustrates the same flaw. And again Abq Jew asks -

What is wrong with this photo?
Model B: Evocative and thought-provoking

This time, Abq Jew kind of expects you to maybe figure out that -

Both models - A and B - are tilting.

And why, Abq Jew hears you ask, does Abq Jew bring this up? Well, it turns out that - just like the above models, although not nearly as beautifully or as gracefully -

Abq Jew also tilts. And has for weeks now.

Which is to say - he thinks, and his body claims, that he is standing straight up.

But, when Abq Jew looks in the mirror,
he clearly sees that he is not.

This condition - whatever it turns out to be - didn't hurt when it started. But it sure hurts now. So, Abq Jew hears you ask -

Muscle problem?                           
Bone problem?
                           Brain problem?

Thus, a visit to Ye Local X-Ray Machine. Whereupon two (that Abq Jew noticed) very strange happenings happened.

1. Once Abq Jew was laid out on the table, the X-Ray Technician slid the slide from its slot and shook it vigorously a few times. This was, she said, because the entirely digital apparatus likes it when she does that.

2. Having some difficulty focusing the camera on Abq Jew's skeleton, said X-Ray Technician called over the MRI Technician from the next room to help. Said MRI Technician - a he, don't you know - banged the camera a couple times, dropping it a couple inches. The X-Ray Technician, overjoyed, announced that the banging had fixed the focusing problem.

Both happenings were illegal crossings
of the analog-digital border.

Or, perhaps, not. Abq Jew 's current lifestyle choices appear to be -

a) Painful and awake; or b) Pain-free and loopy

Therefore, Abq Jew has resolved himself to taking delightfully large doses of good old Ibuprofen (pain killer), newly accompanied by sleepily slow, low-but-steady doses of Baclofen (muscle relaxant).

So Abq Jew is, generally speaking, loopy.

Nevertheless. We are now into the Nine Days (see Consoling The Father), the saddest week-and-two-sevenths of the Hebrew Calendar. We are not supposed to be joyous or joyful, or even just happy.

And we are not supposed to do anything that will make us happy. For Abq Jew, and for many others - this suggests (there being no hard-and-fast rules) - no listening to music. But sometimes music doesn't make us happy - it makes us think (see, for example, By the Rivers of Babylon 2015).

Therefore and thusly, Abq Jew offers - for your unorthodox introspection, as we progress through the Nine Days (and Tisha b'Av)  - Western Wall, the title song of the 1999 duet album -

Western Wall: The Tuscon Sessions

Written by Rosanne Cash; performed by Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. The "spare arrangement and delicate harmonies" lend a "wonderful wistfulness" to the song, says Theresa E LaVec in her AllMusic Review.

I stand here by the Western Wall
Maybe a little of that wall stands inside of us all