Thursday, April 30, 2015

J Street Visits Indian School Road

Congregation B'nai Israel Hosts: Amos Buhai, Southwest Regional Director of J Street, will speak at Congregation B'nai Israel on the topic "Challenges and Opportunities for Pro-Israel Advocacy Today."


Amos Buhai has a strong and varied background in the political, public and private sectors.

He has served as a field organizer for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign in Wisconsin, worked as a Field/GOTV Director and Legislative Director for New York City Council Member Jessica Lappin, and he managed Steve Warnstadt’s successful 2006 campaign for the Iowa State Senate.

He honed his fundraising and communication skills during Obama’s primary campaign for president, serving as a high-donor fundraiser and the New York State Director for DraftObama, a grassroots organization promoting an Obama presidential candidacy.

Amos was the Director of Business Development for the LA-based start up Saysme.tv, which created an online platform for self-serve TV ad placements.

He most recently worked as a consultant for the Personal Democracy Forum, an organization that studies how technology is changing politics, government, and civic engagement. He holds a BA in History from The George Washington University, and is a fifth-generation Los Angeles native and a staunch supporter of the LA Clippers.


As Jefferson Airplane (see Jefferson Airplane and The Jews) might say

"It's No Secret"
First Single, First Album
Click here to listen

that J Street and the American Jewish establishment often seem to be more adversaries than colleagues. Nevertheless - the J Street website states that
J Street is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans, who want Israel to be secure, democratic and the national home of the Jewish people. Through our work in American politics and the Jewish community, we advocate for policies that advance shared US and Israeli interests and Jewish and democratic values.

We support the people and state of Israel, their right to defend themselves and to live in peace and enduring security. 
We believe in Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people, a vision that demands an end to the occupation and achievement of a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinian people. 
Resolution of the conflict is not only an Israeli national interest; it is an American national interest. Further, it is essential to our Jewish and democratic values. 
Being pro-Israel means speaking out for policies that promote Israel’s interests and align with our values and against those that don’t, irrespective of the present government’s policies. As supporters of Israel, we have not only the right but the obligation to speak out when we think the policies or actions of the Israeli government damage those interests or run counter to our values.
While this may sound wonderful to some, Abq Jew and others have chosen to approach J Street with caution. Still others have chosen not to approach J Street at all.

Nathan Guttman's March 25 article in the Forward makes J Street's new (?) "combative" approach exceedingly clear -
J Street, Newly Combative, Takes On the Jewish Establishment 
J Street, the dovish Israel lobby, crossed the Rubicon in March, effectively defining itself as an outright opponent of the Jewish establishment rather than as its dissenting adjunct. 
The fateful step, taken after years of wavering, came at the group’s national conference in Washington, marking an end to J Street’s earlier efforts to fight for its place in the Jewish communal mainstream. 
The decisive victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s elections March 17, and Netanyahu’s shift away, on any practical level, from a two-state solution, has, in a sense, liberated J Street from the constraints to which it previously hewed. 
At its conference, held from March 21 to March 23 at the capital’s huge Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the group put a newly pugilistic approach on display, stepping up its rhetoric against both Israel’s leadership and the Jewish establishment.
And JJ Goldberg's April 28 opinion piece in the Forward - How To Love Israel — While Fighting Like Cats and Dogs About What That Means - effectively portrays the emotions and the political logic involved. Mr Goldberg notes
J Street, the self-described “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, often finds itself unwelcome at synagogues and in campus Hillel houses where donors threaten to yank their gifts if the liberal group’s representatives are allowed to speak. 
Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut famously canceled a speech in March to several hundred students at J Street’s national conference in Washington, on the pretext that he hadn’t realized critics of Israel — specifically Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat — would be present. 
The actual reason, according to sources close to Hillel International, was a threat by donors to withdraw if he spoke. “Eric Fingerhut is a casualty of the culture war,” said NYU panelist Yona Shemtov, executive director of the Israel-based Encounter organization.
Congregation B'nai Israel ~ 4401 Indian School Road NE
Looks like we'll have a lot to talk about.
Come join the discussion!
Monday May 4 ~ 7:00 pm

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Abq Jew Blog Wins 1st Place!

Thank You, New Mexico Press Women! Abq Jew is happy to inform his readers that the Abq Jew Blog has won 1st Place for Corporate or For-Profit Blogs in this year's New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest.


Abq Jew Blog       1st Place
Blogs - Corporate or For-Profit
New Mexico Press Women
2015 Communications Contest

A complete list of New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest winners is now posted by category here.

Diane J Schmidt, Chair of the Contest (and herself a multi-award winner) says:
94 entrants submitted 260 entries in 100 categories (64 main and 30+ subcategories). 64 First Place winners entries will go on to compete in the National Federation of Press Women contest, results to be announced later this summer and at the National conference in Alaska this fall.  
The New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest is now the most competitive and fastest growing communications contest of all affiliates of the NFPW in the 50 states, and New Mexico Press Women is the largest affiliate.
With great humility, Abq Jew congratulates all the winners, who include: Gloria Abella Ballen (see The Power of the Hebrew Alphabet); Norma Libman (see Speaking Out in Closed Societies); Dianne Layden; Marsha Lichtenstein; Claudette Sutton; Anna Redsand; Dede Feldman; and (as mentioned above) Diane J Schmidt.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jefferson Airplane and The Jews

The Appointed Time Is Come: In fulfillment of his "promise" (Billy Nader) made last week (see No Komo Muestro Salvador) Abq Jew will now speak more about כי בא מועד Ki Ba Moed (The Appointed Time Is Come).

You recall, of course, that, in speaking of the hymn Ein Kelohenu, Abq Jew noted that our Sephardic brethren and sestren have a more exciting ending than we Ashkenazim - Psalms 102:14.


It will come as no surprise that "The Singing Rabbi," Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z"l, had a wonderful tune for this verse, which you can listen to here.


Of course, Reb Shlomo had a wonderful tune for every verse. Wikipedia tells us:
Carlebach began writing songs at the end of the 1950s, primarily based on verses from the Tanakh or the Siddur set to his own music. Although he composed thousands of songs, he could not read musical notes. 
Many of his soulful renderings of Torah verses became standards in the wider Jewish community, including Am Yisrael Chai ("[The] Nation [of] Israel Lives"—composed on behalf of the plight of Soviet Jewry in the mid-1960s), Pitchu Li ("Open [for] Me [the Gates of Righteousness]") and Borchi Nafshi ("[May] My Soul Bless [God]"). 
The New York Times reported in its obituary of Carlebach that his singing career began in Greenwich Village, where he met Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and other folk singers who encouraged his career, and helped him get a spot at the Berkeley Folk Festival in 1966. 
But Carlebach was actually recording well before this and was invited to the festival by one of its organizers after she heard a recording of Carlebach.
It was, in fact, at the 1966 Berkeley Folk Festival that Abq Jew first met Reb Shlomo. And that's where Jefferson Airplane comes into the story.


The 1966 Berkeley Folk Festival's catalog of performers was an eclectic bunch, but many of them either were Jewish or had Jewish connections. Some (like Reb Shlomo) were Jewish and had Jewish connections.

But let's start with Jefferson Airplane.


Abq Jew here speaks with reverence of the original Jefferson Airplane. When Signe Toly Anderson was the lead singer.

Before they released their first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (click here to listen.) When they performed roots-based rock for an audience that recognized their roots.

Before Grace Slick. Before Surrealistic Pillow, White Rabbit, and all the psychedelic rock stuff.

And as for the Jewish stuff, we have -

Marty Balin (third from left), founder and lead vocalist:
Marty Balin (born Martyn Jerel Buchwald; January 30, 1942) is an American musician. He is best known as the founder and one of the lead singers of the psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane and its spin-off Jefferson Starship. 
Balin was born ... in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Catherine Eugenia "Jean" (née Talbot) and Joseph Buchwald. His paternal grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe. His father was Jewish and his mother was Episcopalian. Marty attended Washington High School in San Francisco, California.
Jorma Kaukonen (on the right), lead guitarist:
Jorma Ludwik Kaukonen, Jr. (born December 23, 1940) is an American blues, folk, and rock guitarist, best known for his work with Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. 
Born in Washington, D.C., the son of Beatrice Love (née Levine) and Jorma Ludwig Kaukonen, Jorma Kaukonen had Finnish paternal grandparents and Russian Jewish ancestry on his mother's side.
There has been a slew of articles about Jorma in the Jewish press recently. For more about his Jewish background, click here and here and here.

Now, one might have thought that that was about it vis-a-vis the Jewish thing. Except if one thought that Grace Slick's maiden name (is this term even used any more?) must have been Glick (it was Wing).

Reb Shlomo, on the other hand, married Elaine Neila Glick, a teacher, in 1972. They had two daughters, Nedara (Dari) and Neshama. Neshama Carlebach is a songwriter and singer in her own right, basing herself on her father's style and name.

But wait! There's more!

,

In March 2013, The Atlantic published Jeffrey Goldberg's article, Six Degrees of Sally Oren, about the connection between former Ambassador Michael Oren's wife and the San Francisco music scene of the 1960's.
Scholars of Middle East politics and students of the San Francisco–centered psychedelic-rock movement of the 1960s have for years asked the same vexing question: Just how many degrees of separation exist between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia? 
The answer, it turns out, is one. The person who connects Benjamin Netanyahu directly to Jerry Garcia—and Shimon Peres to Jim Morrison, and, for that matter, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Janis Joplin—is Sally Oren, the wife of Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. 
Oren, who today is in her early 60s, plays the role of diplomat’s spouse with distinction and grace. She hosts embassy functions and speaks at Jewish communal gatherings; she wears elegant gowns and attends White House parties. Forty-five years ago, however, she played Frisbee with the Grateful Dead and served as Jefferson Airplane’s muse.
Yes, Young Girl Sunday Blues (a later Jefferson Airplane song) was written (by Marty Balin and Paul Kantner) about Sally Oren.
By the Summer of Love, in 1967, Oren, then 16, was seeing every band worth seeing—Cream, the Doors, the Who. “I didn’t meet Jimi Hendrix, but he was fantastic.” She had only a nodding acquaintance with other artists. “With Jim Morrison it was sort of a ‘Hi, hi, how are you?’ sort of thing,” she said. 
She knew and loved Jefferson Airplane best. After the first Human Be-In, in January 1967, Jorma Kaukonen, the Airplane’s lead guitarist—“a Finnish Jew,” Oren noted—drove her home, where she served him milk and cookies. And she had a schoolgirl crush on Marty Balin, one of the group’s main songwriters. 
“I always wanted to position myself so that I would run into Marty. So one day I see him, and he says, ‘Hey, Sally, we just wrote two songs about you.’ I probably turned purple from embarrassment.” 
The first song, “Sally, Sally,” was never recorded. The second, “Young Girl Sunday Blues,” would appear on the group’s third album, After Bathing at Baxter’s.
But back to Berkeley. Or, as we locals called it back then, Berserkeley. (It turns out the name still fits.)

One might think that the young long-neck 5-string banjoist Abq Jew would have been a big follower of Pete Seeger. And he was. Also of the Greenbriar Boys and their banjo player, Bob Yellin (no relation). Also (of course) of Jefferson Airplane.

But what Abq Jew remembers most of the 1966 Berkeley Folk Festival is this (click here for an historical account):

Everyone followed Shlomo.

By which Abq Jew means: Everyone. Jews, not-Jews, young, not-young, everyone. Followed him around. All day. Listening to his songs, his tales. 1966. We knew.

כי בא מועד Ki Ba Moed. Here are the words (transliterated). And here is a delightful bluegrass version (by Cantor Adam Stotland and friend of Shaarey Zion in Montreal), from which the guitaristically observant may glean the chords.

But here is Shlomo, who started it all.


Happy Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel!
כי בא מועד Ki Ba Moed
The Appointed Time Is Come!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Yom Limmud 2015 in Santa Fe

A Day for Northern New Mexico: The Jewish communities of Northern New Mexico gather at Santa Fe Community College for Yom Limmud: A Day of Jewish Learning, Arts, and Culture.


Yom Limmud
Santa Fe Community College
Sunday May 3 ~ 1:00 pm

Modeled after similar events around the country, this celebration will begin with a keynote by visiting scholar Dr Andrée Aelion Brooks, speaking on "Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean."

Dr Brooks is a journalist, author, lecturer and former columnist for the New York Times. An Associate Fellow at Yale University, Dr. Brooks specializes in Jewish history. Her books include a biography of Doña Gracia Nasi, The Woman Who Defied Kings (currently in pre-production for a TV mini-series), Maimonides: Man vs. Myth, The Ancient Roots of Cultural Judaism, and Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean.

Following the keynote, attendees may choose two workshops from the sessions listed below. The afternoon will include light refreshments and time to schmooze.

  • The Silver Lining: Contemporary Judaica, from Revolution to Today (Jim Cohen)
  • Was She or Wasn't She? Dona Teresa versus the Inquisition (Victoria Erhart)
  • The Pew Foundation's Portrait of Jewish Americans (Dr. Bette Novit Evans)
  • Ruth: Royalty and Loyalty (Naomi Israel)
  • Moon Landing and the Holocaust: The Lost Letters Connection (Melinda Hess)
  • Timeless Inspiration, Guidance and Strength from the Women of the Bible (Sara Novenson)
  • Legendary Klezmorim (Steven Ovitsky)
  • Poetry of the Daughter of New Mexico Conversos (Isabelle Sandoval)
Come one, come all for a special
Jewish afternoon in Northern New Mexico! 


Yom Limmud is sponsored by the Gaon Institute for Tolerance Studies, with partial support from the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.

Tickets for the program are $12 in advance or $18 at the door. Click here to purchase. Early registration closes April 26.

For more information, email yomlimmud2015@gmail.com.

Burqueños! 
Can't make it to the City Different?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Non Komo Muestro Salvador

Ein Kelohenu: For those of you who are still waiting for Placido Domingo (see Placido Domingo Comes to B'nai Israel) to come to Congregation B'nai Israel - your wait is over!


Which is to say - he's not coming. As many (those of you who read past the headline) but not all of you know, that was a Purim 'til it's Pesach PURIM SPOOF.

Alas, this year, too, Elijah the Prophet (lehavdil) did not appear to appear at Abq Jew's seder to announce the coming of the Messiah - although one never knows.

The wine in Elijah's Cup had disappeared by morning.

Where is the Messiah now? As Abq Jew has blogged (see If You Build It, He Will Come):
And - in case you were wondering - Abq Jew knows exactly where the Messiah is at this exact moment - although he, all Israel, and indeed, the whole world still do not know when he will undertake his sacred mission.  From the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a: 
Rabbi Joshua ben Levi asked Elijah, "When will the Messiah come?" "Go and ask him himself." "Where is he sitting?" "At the gates of Rome." "What will identify him?" "He is sitting among the poor lepers. While all of them untie all their bandages at once, and re-bandage them together, the Messiah unties and re-bandages each bandage one-by-one, saying 'I might be needed, so I must not be delayed.'" 
Speedily, dear G-d, in our days!


For those of you who are still waiting for Ahuva Batz (see Ahuva Batz Comes to B'nai Israel) to come to Congregation B'nai Israel - your wait is also over!

Which is to say - she came, she sang, she conquered.

What did Ahuva sing? Yom Tov Hallel. Yom Tov Musaf. Eighth Day Haftorah. But the standout was her Hebrew + Ladino rendition of Ein Kelohenu.

Of Ein Kelohenu, Wikipedia tells us:
Ein Keloheinu ("There is none like our God") is a well known Jewish hymn. 
Ein Keloheinu is sometimes chanted at the end of the morning service (shacharit). In the Ashkenazi tradition outside of Israel, it is only said at the end of Shabbat and festival services, towards the end of the Mussaf service, immediately before a Talmudic lesson on the making of the Temple incense.  
However, in the Land of Israel, as well as in all Sephardi weekday morning prayer services it is said daily. In some other regional traditions it is used elsewhere in the liturgy, but it seems to be known worldwide. 

Now, it turns out (one YouTubes, one learns) that Ahuva's Hebrew + Ladino version of Ein Kelohenu did not originate with her. But it was nevertheless absolutely delightful.

Here are the Ladino lyrics, which Abq Jew took from a text provided for Nisim Behar's May 2014 Bar Mitzvah at Keter Torah Synagogue, in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
Ein Kelohenu 
Non komo muestro Dio, Non komo muestro Senyor,
Non komo muestro Rey, Non komo muestro Salvador. 
Quien komo muestro Dio, Quien komo muestro Senyor,
Quien komo muestro Rey, Quien komo muestro Salvador. 
Loaremos a muestro Dio, Loaremos a muestro Senyor,
Loaremos a muestro Rey, Loaremos a muestro Salvador. 
Bendicho muestro Dio, Bendicho muestro Senyor,
Bendicho muestro Rey, Bendicho muestro Salvador. 
Tu sos muestro Dio, Tu sos muestro Senyor.
Tu sos muestro Rey, Tu sos muestro Salvador. 
Ein Kelohenu in Ladino Nissim Behar’s Bar Mitzvah Keter Torah Synagogue West Bloomfield, MI, Parashat Behar,  May 10, 2014
But wait! There's more!

We Ashkenazim usually end our singing of Ein Kelohenu with the semi-verse

אתה הוא שהקטירו אבותינו לפניך את קטרת הסמים
You are the one before whom our fathers burned the incense of spice

Abq Jew has always found that ending ... somewhat lame. He was therefore thrilled to discover (one Googles, one learns) that Sephardim have a different, way more exciting ending - Psalms 102:14.


Abq Jew will (Billy Nader) speak more of The Appointed Time is Come in a future blog.


But for now, let's enjoy the Hebrew + Ladino Ein Kelohenu performed by Lika Eshkenazi & Dulce Canto (which inexplicably does not close with the אתה תקום verse).

Note: One Googles, one learns.
But in this case, Abq Jew was unable to find out much about Lika Eshkenazi -
except that she lives in Sofia and performs (with Dulce Canto) in Hungary,
Italy, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Israel. And there is this bio,
which Abq Jew can only partially translate.
Do you know more? Let Abq Jew know!


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Inspiring Shefa Gold

New Mexico's Rabbi: As you may recall from Lost Jewish Tribe Discovered and other seminal Abq Jew blog posts, there are just about twenty-four (24) ordained rabbis who currently reside in the Land of Enchantment.

Of those rabbis who bless our state with their presence, one and only one has been recognized by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of America's Most Inspiring Rabbis.


Mazeltov, Rabbi Shefa Gold!

In January, Abq Jew (see Mishkan Chants Shefa) said:
When it comes to Hebrew chant, no one can beat Rabbi Shefa Gold.
And on her website, Rabbi Shefa said:
Chant is a path for all of us who lead with our hearts, who are determined to seek out the truth that is buried deep beneath the ground of our lives, and who have made a commitment to live that truth, from moment to moment, breath to breath, ‘one little bit at a time.’
In the March 27 issue, Forward Editor Jane Eisner said of the entire group of 33 Men and Women Who Move Us:
These stories of inspiring rabbis could not come at a better time. In the few short months since the dawn of 2015, the Jewish world has been stunned by terror, torn apart by partisan bickering, confronted with resurgent anti-Semitism in some communities and a seeping apathy in others. 
Read these stories, and that troubling present melts in the face of genuine spiritual leadership and grace. Thanks to hundreds of nominations by our readers, we’ve identified 33 of the most inspiring men and women from North America who are defining and redefining what it means to be a rabbi in the 21st century.
The Forward cited Shelley Goldberg's words in their appreciation of Rabbi Shefa's work:
I completed a two-year chant leadership program called Kol Zimra with Rabbi Shefa Gold in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her unique style allowed me to connect with Hashem (God) and the divine essence within myself. 
Through repetition of sacred text, chanting took me to a place where I could reframe and recontextualize my life’s experiences so as to live a more balanced and rich life. Rabbi Gold’s ability to treat each student as an individual and want the best for them is a rare gift. 
Thanks to her, I have made chanting an ongoing part of my daily life and have shared it with others.



Sometime toward the beginning of Pesach, Abq Jew (wearing his eLink Webmaster's hatreceived a modest note from Rabbi Shefa. The note humbly said:
I am a rabbi living in Jemez Springs. I have recently been named one of the 33 most inspiring rabbis in America by The Jewish Forward. I teach all over the world. I'll be teaching a meditation retreat this summer in Jemez Springs and would like NM Jews to know about this. 
Abq Jew did take note of this note; he immediately thought, "That's nice." But it was Pesach, and the news got lost in the Pesachdik sauce. But as we say,

כִּי בָא מוֹעֵד
The appointed time is come

So here is some information about Rabbi Shefa's Ecstatic Meditation Retreat.

Ecstatic Meditation Retreat
A week of Hebrew Chant and Deep Silence
with Rabbi Shefa Gold    •    August 10–16, 2015
in the Fitzgerald Center in beautiful Jemez Springs, New Mexico


The essence of faith is an awareness of the vastness of Infinity.   — Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

The Jewish practice of Devekut inspires us to open to the vastness of the Infinite, while releasing the content of thought, moment to moment. During this week of chant and silence we will connect to the Divine through the Earth, Water, Fire and Air in the glorious setting of the Jemez Mountains.

The retreat will take place at the Fitzgerald Center in beautiful Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Easily accessible from both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. All participants will enjoy private accommodations.

Questions? Contact Shefa@windstream.net
And once again -

Mazeltov, Rabbi Shefa Gold!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Walk of Life

Dire Straits in Jewish Mode: Farblunget, farmisht, farklempt, Farxiga, farshimmelt, fartik. Yes, Abq Jew knows you've seen the Farxiga commercial.


And Abq Jew hears you cry, "What the heck is that song?" And Abq Jew answers:


Walk of Life   Dire Straits   1985

And Abq Jew further hears you cry, "What does this song Walk of Life mean?" And Abq Jew hears your pain and answers: No one is entirely sure, and everyone has a different explanation. Therefore, let us examine the text we have received.


Abq Jew says

Whoever has not explained
the following symbolic lyrics
(on Passover or whenever)
has not fulfilled his duty.


Oldies, goldies

One opinion states that "oldies, goldies" must refer to Golda Meir, of blessed memory, and lehavdil Goldie Hawn. Here the term "lehavdil" (to distinguish between; to separate) is used as shorthand for "to separate the dead from the living," which, according to Jewish custom (minhag Patchogue) we must always do.

In fact, it is Jewish custom not to hang pictures of living friends and relatives on the same wall as pictures of those who have already left the building. What to do when one of a pair of photos in one frame (see above) has departed, while the other has not?

The majority opinion states that "better you should just remove the picture from the wall until the time that G-d will choose."  Abq Jew has (he believes) resolved this issue with a black, squiggly line.

Be-Bop-A-Lula

Be-Bop-A-Lula is, says Wikipedia, a rockabilly song first recorded in 1956 by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps.
The writing of the song is credited to Gene Vincent and his manager, Bill "Sheriff Tex" Davis. Evidently the song originated in 1955, when Vincent was recuperating from a motorcycle accident at the US Navy hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. 
"Be-Bop-A-Lula" has been covered by numerous and varied artists. The Everly Brothers released a version only two years after Vincent's, on their 1958 self-titled debut album, and they included it as part of the setlist at their Royal Albert Hall reunion concert in 1983. English rocker Cliff Richard covered the song for his own debut album, Cliff, in 1959. Vincent's rockabilly colleague Jerry Lee Lewis recorded it for the 1971 album Monsters, and Carl Perkins offered his own take in 1996 on the album The Man & The Legend
The Beatles played the song regularly during their early years, and a raucous live version (complete with guest vocals) can be heard on Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962. John Lennon later recorded the song for his 1975 album Rock 'n' Roll, and it was used as the B-side for the Apple single release of "Ya Ya" in Germany later that year. Paul McCartney performed an acoustic version on the 1991 live album Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)
What I Say

What I Say is an American Rhythm and blues song, by Ray Charles released in 1959.
As single divided into two parts, it was one of the first Soul songs. The composition was improvised one evening late in 1958 when Charles, his orchestra, and backup singers had played their entire set list at a show and still had time left; the response from many audiences was so enthusiastic that Charles announced to his producer that he was going to record it.
I Got A Woman

I Got A Woman is a song co-written and recorded by American R&B / soul musician Ray Charles and released as a single in December 1954.
The song builds on "It Must Be Jesus" by the Southern Tones, which Ray Charles was listening to on the radio while on the road with his band in the summer of 1954. 
He and a member of his band, trumpeter Renald Richard, penned a song that was built along a gospel-frenetic pace with secular lyrics and a jazz-inspired rhythm and blues (R&B) background. 
The song would be one of the prototypes for what later became termed as "soul music" after Charles released "What'd I Say" nearly five years later.
I Got A Woman has been covered by many artists, including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Anneke van Giersbergen, and Ricky Nelson.

Down in the tunnels

The peshat (simple explanation) is that this is a reference to, as the British say, busking in the Underground. Or, as New Yorkers say, panhandling in the subway. But there is a remez (hint), a derash  (metaphor), and, perhaps, a sod (secret) as well, as Abq Jew will soon explain.

The song about the sweet loving woman

"My Sweet Lovin' Woman" is a song written by American blues musician Robert Nighthawk (1909-1967) under his given name, Robert McCollum.

The song about the knife

Mack the Knife or "The Ballad of Mack the Knife", originally "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer", is, Wikipedia tells us,
a song composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht for their music drama Die Dreigroschenoper, or, as it is known in English, The Threepenny Opera
In the best known English translation, from the Marc Blitzstein 1954 version of The Threepenny Opera, which played Off-Broadway for over six years, the words are:
Oh the shark has pretty teeth dear,
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack-knife has Macheath dear
And he keeps it out of sight.
Blitzstein's translation provides the basis for most of the popular versions we know today, including those by Louis Armstrong (1956) and Bobby Darin (1959; Darin's lyrics differ slightly), and most subsequent swing versions. 
Weill's widow, Lotte Lenya, the star of both the original 1928 German production and the 1954 Blitzstein Broadway version, was present in the studio during Armstrong's recording. He spontaneously added her name to the lyrics, which already named several of Macheath's female victims. 
Abq Jew notes with sadistic pleasure the ubiquity of happy, upbeat sweetheart murder ballads involving knives.

Banks of the Ohio, Pretty Polly, Tom Dooley, or one of their ilk may be the song referenced; but Abq Jew has loved Mack the Knife since he went with Peterson High's CSF (California Scholarship Federation) to a performance of The Threepenny Opera at a way-off-off-Broadway theater on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf in 1968.

And although "Banks of the Ohio" is a great tune for Adon Olam, Abq Jew thinks "Mack the Knife" is better.


Although many of Walk of Life's remaining lyrics are clear and understandable, there remain two important but unanswered questions.

1. Who is "Johnny"?

There is strong support for the conjecture that "Johnny" is anybody - any musician struggling to do what it takes to make a living, make a life, and / or make a statement. Which includes just about any musician who has been or will be born.

But one Walk of Life exegete has promoted a different interpretation. In his view, "Johnny" is none other than John Lennon.

In this interpretation, "Down in the tunnels trying to make it pay" refers to the early days of the Beatles - the Cavern Club in Liverpool, and the Kaiserkeller ("Cellar") in Hamburg. And yes, in those days the Beatles' repertoire included songs listed above.

2. What is the message of "Walk of Life"?

Here is a deep and multifaceted question to which Walk of Life provides a simple answer:
And after all the violence and double talk
There's just a song in all the trouble and the strife
You do the walk, you do the walk of life
Mark Freuder Knopfler was born on 12 August 1949 in Glasgow, Scotland,
to an English mother, Louisa Mary, and a Jewish-Hungarian father,
Erwin Knopfler ... His father was an architect and a chess player,
whose anti-fascist sympathies and Jewish parentage forced him
to flee from his native Hungary in 1939 ....

Abq Jew firmly believes that Mark Knofler (who wrote the song) is entirely within the Jewish teaching first expressed in Deuteronomy 30:19 -
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed
1985

1993

2006

Especially on Pesach ...
G-d wants us to sing & dance!


Hag Sameach, New Mexico!
Good Yontif, Albuquerque!
A Zissen Pesach, World!