Tuesday, January 23, 2018

And Sarah Steinway Laughed

As In Piano: The Emperor Tides have risen, and the world - except for New Mexico, we being High Desert - is under water. Way under water. Under lots of water.

The Mary E Carter of Placitas, New Mexico (see A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah and A Non-Swimmer Wins the Prize!) has returned to her soggy roots in her first novel, I, Sarah Steinway, a Quarter Finalist for the 2017 BookLife Prize.

The underlying premise of I, Sarah Steinway holds water. Which is to say, it is not as far-fetched as one might wish. The Washington Post recently reported -

A study has found that rising sea levels would threaten iconic places
such as the Jamestown settlement in Virginia.

(Timothy C. Wright for The Washington Post)
Rising seas may eventually submerge some important U.S. historical landmarks 
Sea-level rise this century may threaten Jamestown in Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas; the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which launches all of NASA’s human spaceflight missions; and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States, a new study finds. 
These iconic locales are some of the more than 13,000 archaeological and historical sites on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts that rising sea levels will endanger this century, researchers in the new study said.

Goodbye, Charleston, South Carolina! Fare thee well, NOLA! This we expect. But Oakland, California? We're going to lose Oakland?

Alas, yes. There will be no there there.
But we'll always have Mt Tamalpais and Mt Diablo.

BookLife tells us
Seventy-five-year-old Sarah Steinway - as in piano - survives a catastrophic rise in sea levels and subsequent flooding of the entire San Francisco Bay Area during The Emperor Tides. 
She survives by retreating to her treehouse, high in the branches of a California Live Oak on the edge of the San Pablo Bay seasonal wetlands. She makes a life in her treehouse, alone, for almost five years, battling intruders and illness and hunger and boredom. 
She is strong, resourceful, and forcefully opinionated. She turns to Torah, somewhat sheepishly, as a secular Jew, and raises her fist to God with the eternal question: “Why me?” 
She records life in her treehouse on her Underwood typewriter. Passing visitors: a cat, a dog and two learned rabbis wash up at the treehouse. Later another unexpected guest arrives at her treehouse, and her life takes an unexpected turn. 
She lives, on and on and on, embodying the notion that she is, and will remain forever, a stranger in this strange land.

Someday, Billy Nader, Abq Jew will need to read How to Write a Compelling Book Blurb for Fiction. But happily, that day is not today.

That's because the one and only - the inimitable -

Rabbi Jack Shlachter, PhD
The Physics Rabbi

has already written what Abq Jew IHHO considers an exceptionally unsurpassable blurb for Mary E Carter's new book.

Imaginative technique of Midrash (homiletic expansion
on the primary text) to make her points.

Apocalyptic novels may not be your cup of tea (or glass of Chateau Lafitte in the case of this book’s eponymous character), but I, Sarah Steinway is yet another example of excellent, witty, and thought-provoking writing by Mary E. Carter.  

Water featured prominently in her previous work, A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah, and Carter returns to water, this time of the flood variety, in her latest novel.  

Our heroine is quite a character and knows just how to use the imaginative technique of Midrash (homiletic expansion on the primary text) to make her points from a Jewish perspective.  

And while Sarah spends the bulk of her time alone in a treehouse, we are eventually introduced to a pair of “out-of-this-world” rabbis.  

Each chapter of this book cites a passage from the classic ethical Jewish treatise, Pirke Avot, so I suggest you drink in Carter’s words thirstily (Pirke Avot 1:4) and put on your galoshes for a wild ride with Sarah Steinway.

To which Abq Jew can only add ~

There is good writing being done in Placitas, New Mexico.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Kosher Kishka Comes to Querque!

Ah, Kishka! Yes, Abq Jew is old enough and Northeastern enough to remember kishka - but he hasn't had it for years, even (why? don't ask) on his occasional visits to the Old Country. And certainly not during his years in the Land of Enchantment.

Things are different now.

For those too young or too Southwestern to remember -
'Kishka or kishke (Slovene: kašnica; Belarusian кішка, kishka; Polish: kiszka / kaszanka; Romanian chişcă; Yiddish קישקע; Lithuanian vėdarai; Hebrew קישקע; Russian кишка; Ukrainian кишка) refers to various types of sausage or stuffed intestine with a filling made from a combination of meat and meal, often a grain. 
The dish is popular across Eastern Europe as well as with immigrant communities from those areas. It is also eaten by Ashkenazi Jews who prepare their version according to kashrut dietary laws. The name itself is Slavic in origin, and literally means "gut" or "intestine."
And in Jewish cuisine -
Kishke, also known as stuffed derma (from German Darm, "intestine"), is a Jewish dish traditionally made from flour or matzo meal, schmaltz and spices. In modern cooking, inedible synthetic casings often replace the beef intestine. Kishke is a common addition to Ashkenazi-style cholent. 
The stuffed sausage is usually placed on top of the assembled cholent and cooked overnight in the same pot. Alternatively it can be cooked in salted water with vegetable oil added or baked in a dish, and served separately with flour-thickened gravy made from the cooking liquids.
Things are different now.
Abq Jew is happy to introduce ~

Eurozone Food Distributors
3700 Osuna Road NE ~ Suite 515 
(corner of Academy Pkwy)
Albuquerque, NM 87109
(505) 980-2648

Eurozone Foods NM is committed to bringing more food options to New Mexico.

Owner Devon Day can quickly order and/or have in stock your favorites from ~

A&H, Barton's, Batampte, Breakstone, Dagim, Eden, Elite, Empire, Gal il, Gefen, HaOlam, Kedem, Lieber's, Migdal, Osem, Paskesz, Rokeach, Season, Streit's, Telma, Tradition
... and many, many others.

Now, Abq Jew firmly believes that the kosher Jewish communities of New Mexico should support any and all food outlets that ... well, that support us.

But with Eurozone, we're not talking onesies twosies here. We're talking whatever you want. Right now, Eurozone needs three (3) weeks notice just to be sure. But Billy Nader we're talking whatever you want!

Abq Jew is so happy he could do a ... polka!
Here's Ed Goldberg and the Odessa Klezmer Band!

And as long as we're talking klezmer, don't forget ~

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Jews and Guns

A Modern View: When did modern Jewish history begin?

Abq Jew believes that the first day of modern Jewish history was April 19, 1943. That is the day that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Yiddish: אױפֿשטאַנד אין װאַרשעװער געטאָ‎; Polish: powstanie w getcie warszawskim; German: Aufstand im Warschauer Ghetto) was the 1943 act of Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's final effort to transport the remaining Ghetto population to Treblinka. 
The uprising started on 19 April when the Ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block, ending on 16 May. 
A total of 13,000 Jews died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. German casualties are not known, but were not more than 300. 
It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.

We've come a long way since then.

At least when we consider the Israeli view of Jews and guns, i.e., necessary to save life. When we consider the American view of Jews and guns ... well, there's this:
A couple of [Jewish] hunters are out in the woods of the Upper [Peninsula] when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing; his eyes are rolled back in his head. 
His friend whips out his cell phone, calls 911, and gasps to the operator, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" 
The operator, in a calm soothing voice says, "Just take it easy. I can help. First, lets make sure he's dead." 
There is a silence ... then a shot is heard. 
The voice comes back on the line, "OK, now what?"

My Jewish Learning tells us:
Jews, particularly American ones, have a longstanding aversion to guns. 
According to a 2005 American Jewish Committee study, Jews have the lowest rate of gun ownership of among all religious groups, with just 13 percent of Jewish households owning firearms (compared to 41 percent for non-Jews) and only 10 percent of Jews personally owning a gun (compared to 26 percent). 
And furthermore ...
Most authorities say it is not permissible to hunt for sport.  
Two sources are generally cited in this regard. 
The first is Rabbi Isaac Lampronri, who wrote in his work Pahad Yitzhak that it is forbidden to hunt animals because it’s wasteful. The 18th-century rabbinic authority Ezekiel Landau added that recreational hunting is forbidden on the grounds of animal cruelty and because of the risks to the hunter
Neither of the two biblical figures known to be hunters — Esau and Nimrod — are held up as role models. All the biblical patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), as well as Joseph, Moses and King David were herders — nurturers of animals, not their pursuers. 
Hunting for food is, in principle, not objectionable. However land animals must be ritually slaughtered by hand to render them kosher, which would make hunting them for food with a firearm impermissible. 
Some American Jews do, nonetheless, hunt for sport.

Wait a minute ...
Risks to the hunter?

Not being a hunter, Abq Jew never thought seriously about the risk of injury or death that hunting presents. To the hunter. (The risk to the hunted is pretty clear.)

He still hasn't. But Abq Jew has recently become aware of one big reason why hunters often have a really bad day.

Hunters fall out of their tree stands.

Tree stands, Abq Jew discovered, are open or enclosed platforms used by hunters. The platforms are secured to trees in order to elevate the hunter (16 feet, as pictured) and give him (or her) a better vantage point.

Strangely, Abq Jew finds that the use of tree stands levels the playing field. But, Abq Jew hears you, his loyal readers, ask

Why do hunters fall out of their tree stands?

Well, as Benjamin Disraeli is reputed to have once said, "There are lies. There are damned lies. And there are statistics."

Statistics you can find here and here and here and here (did you know September is Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month?) and here and here and here.

But Abq Jew is gonna help you out here. Let's cut to the chase! Of hunters who fall out of tree stands, approximately

  • 40% fall while climbing up.
  • 40% fall while climbing down.
  • 10% fall while shooting their weapon.
  • 10% fall while sleeping.

Really. You could look it up.
Fifty-four patients were identified. Ninety-six percent of patients were male with a mean age of 47.9 years (range 15-69). The mean Injury Severity Score was 12.53 ± 1.17 (range 2-34). The average height of fall was 18.2 feet (range 4-40 feet). All patients fell to the ground with the exception of one who landed on rocks, and many hit the tree or branches on the way down. A reason for the fall was documented in only 13 patients, and included tree stand construction (3), loss of balance (3), falling asleep (3), structural failure (2), safety harness breakage (3) or light-headedness (1). The most common injuries were spinal fractures (54%), most commonly in the cervical spine (69%), followed by the thoracic (38%) and lumbar (21%) spine. Eight patients required operative repair. Head injuries occurred in 22%. Other systemic injuries include rib/clavicular fractures (47%), pelvic fractures (11%), solid organ injury (23%), and pneumothorax or hemothorax (19%). No patient deaths were reported. The average hospital length of stay was 6.56 ± 1.07 d. Most patients were discharged home without (72%) or with (11%) services and 17% required rehabilitation.

But back to our main topic, Jews and Guns. 

Did you know that there is an organization called Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership? Says Wikipedia:
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of gun rights in the United States and "to encourage Americans to understand and defend all of the Bill of Rights for everyone". 
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership takes the position that an armed citizenry is the population's last line of defense against tyranny by their own government. The organization is noted for producing materials (bumper stickers, posters, billboards, booklets, videos, etc.) with messages that equate gun control with totalitarianism. 
Which, Abq Jew assures you, only goes to show:

Two Jews > Three Opinions

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Get More Into Judaism in 2018!

A Potpourri of Jewish Questions: Aha! Abq Jew happily announces that

The JCC of Greater Albuquerque
is sponsoring a Potpourri of Jewish Questions class
for those who have questions about Judaism
they want answered (i.e., all of us),
and Rabbi Paul Citrin will be the instructor.

Here is the relevant info:

Semester I
Tuesdays, 1:30 - 3:00 pm, January 16, 23, 30; February 6 & 13

  • How Is God Viewed in Jewish Tradition?
  • What Really Happened at Sinai?
  • How Do Jews Read the Bible?
  • What is The Structure of the Ten Commandments?
  • Why Does God Need the Jews?
  • How Do Jews Create History?

Semester II
Tuesdays 1:30 - 3:00 pm, March 6, 13, 20, 27; April 3 & 10

  • What Does the Shofar Mean?
  • What is the Torah of Silence?
  • Is Community as Important as the Individual?
  • What Are Jewish Sources for Prayer & Healing?
  • What Questions Does Jewish Sovereignty Raise?
  • What is the Connection between Jewish Values, Personal Political Philosophy, and Social Justice

Click here for more information.
Click here to download a PDF.

And just in case you don't already know:
Rabbi Paul J. Citrin was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1973. He was graduated from U.C.L.A. with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1968. The focus of his rabbinate has always been in congregational life. His passions are education, Israel, and social justice. 
He is the author of a children’s novel, Joseph’s Wardrobe, a coauthor of Gates of Repentance for Young People, Ten Sheaves, A Collection of Sermons,  Addresses and Articles, and of Lights in the Forest: Rabbis Respond to Twelve Essential Jewish Questions
He is married to Susan Morrison Citrin. They have four children and eight grandchildren. Rabbi Citrin is currently serving as the rabbi of the Taos Jewish Center. 

There's always more. In this case - here's yet another version of

אַלע ברידער  Ale Brider!
All of us are brothers!
even those of us who are sisters

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Get Intro'd to Judaism in 2018!

Want to Be Jewish? Now you've got your chance! Abq Jew proudly announces that

the Rabbinical and Cantorial Association of Albuquerque (RACAA) is sponsoring an Introduction to Judaism class
for those who are interested in a journey toward Judaism
or who are already on their Jewish journey. 

YES! There will be tuition! And the tuition will be $54 plus books.

YES! There will be required reading! And the required reading will be:
  • JPS Tanach by ... well, you know
  • Essential Judaism by George Robinson
  • Jewish Holidays by Michael Strassfeld
  • Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
  • Lights in the Forest by Rabbi Paul Citrin et al
  • Finding God: Selected Responses by Rifat Soncino & Daniel Syme
YES! There will be suggested reading! And the suggested reading will be:
  • A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah by Mary E Carter  
  • Settings of Silver by Stephen Wylan 
  • Choosing Judaism by Lydia Kukoff
  • Lovesong: Becoming a Jew by Julius Lester
YES! There will be a schedule of classes and a list of who's teaching what! And the class schedule and instructor list will be:
  • January 17 – Perspectives on Conversion; Who is a Jew & What is Judaism (All RACAA) 
  • January 24 – God & Faith (Rabbi Rosenfeld)
  • January 31 – Jewish Texts: TaNaCh (Rabbi Citrin) 
  • February 7 – Jewish Texts: Talmud, Midrash (Rabbi Citrin)
  • February 14 – Jewish Ethics: Pirke Avot (Rabbi Citrin)
  • February 21 – Jewish Ethics (Rabbi Citrin)
  • February 28 & March 1 – Celebrate Purim at the Congregation of your Choice!
  • March 7 – Talking to God: Prayer, Communal Worship, Tour of Facility & worship space (Cantor Finn)
  • March 14 – Life Cycle: Birth, Education, Bat/Bar Mitzvah, Wedding (Rabbi Rosenfeld)
  • March 21 – Life Cycle: Death & Mourning, Kashrut, Mezuzah (Cantor Finn)
  • March 28 - The Jewish Year: Chanukah, Tu Bishvat, Purim, Tisha B’Av and the Jewish Calendar (Rabbi Carp)
  • March 30 ~ April 7 – Celebrate Pesach at the Congregation of your Choice!
  • April 4 - The Jewish Year: High Holy Days & Festivals (Rabbi Rosenfeld)
  • April 11 – Shabbat (Cantor Finn)
  • April 18 – Comparative Judaism, Judaism & Other Faith Traditions, Chanukah & Christmas (Rabbi Carp)
  • April 25 – The Making of Modern Jews (Rabbi Carp)
  • May 2 – Anti-Semitism and the Shoah (Rabbi Rosenfeld)
  • May 9 – Zionism and the State of Israel (Rabbi Rosenfeld)
  • May 23 – A Practical Guide & other questions (Cantor Finn) 
And YES! There will be a way to register! And the pathway to registration will be:

To register, 
contact Rachel @ (505) 883-1818
or education@congregationalbert.org

Students! You will soon learn that Judaism is not all laughter and singing. Some of it is dancing! And some of it is tragedy. Nevertheless, in spite of it all -

Or as we Jews sometimes (not often enough) say

אַלע ברידער  Ale Brider!
All of us are brothers!
even those of us who are sisters