Friday, August 26, 2016

Be Someone Else

The Modern Synagogue: Who, Abq Jew asks you, is the most important person in your synagogue? (Yes, this sort of assumes that you have a synagogue; but, for the purpose of instruction, any non-profit organization will do.)

You may think that the most important person is the rabbi or the cantor. Or the president. Or perhaps the treasurer. Or the office manager.

But Cincinnati's Temple Sholom knows exactly who their most important person is:

Someone Else

Kveller.com Editorial Assistant Joanna Valente recently wrote:
This Hilarious Video Reveals the Most
Important Person in Every Synagogue 
You know you say every year that you’ll get more involved with your synagogue, and then you never do? 
Well, Temple Sholom in Cincinnati has addressed this issue of “doing it tomorrow/next year” in a parody video that is spot on. 
The video is full of tongue-in-cheek, witty humor that is hard not to appreciate, especially considering all of the jokes hit home. 
It’s not mean-spirited in the slightest, but definitely gets at the heart of every busy family’s problem: not making enough time…and then leaving something to “someone else.” 
It turns out that Temple Sholom has produced an entire video series titled The Modern Synagogue - which you can view here and here.

Do you love your synagogue?
Do you hate your synagogue?

Abq Jew strongly recommends that everyone who loves
their synagogue - and everyone who hates their synagogue -
pay attention to what these videos talk about
and how their message is conveyed.


And now: Be Someone Else. But first - let's roll the credits:

Melanie Hartong, Someone Else
Jackie Baker, PR Manager at Cincinnati Jewish Ferderation
Miriam Terlinchamp, Rabbi & Writer
Aaron Max Bilgrad (The BlankPress.com), Writer, Director & Editor

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rubi Ate the Fig

Middle Eastern Infused Mystic Rock: It has come to Abq Jew's attention - thanks to an uncannily timely email from Neal Copperman, Executive Director of AMP Concerts - that Sharon Eliashar and her inimitable band, Rubi Ate the Fig, will be performing at The Cooperage in Albuquerque at the end of the month.


Who is Sharon Eliashar?
Why did Rubi eat the fig?
And why should we care?

Abq Jew hears you ask. Well, in response to the first question:
Born in Jerusalem, raised in the low desert of California, Sharon studied classical composition and ethno-musicology with Joseph Weber, and Middle Eastern percussion with Polly Tapia Ferber and Sauren Bauranian. 
Sharon has incorporated her study of Middle Eastern rhythms into her western songwriting, producing songs with a unique rhythmic bedrock and untimid time changes. 
Sharon has spent much time in the Sinai Desert, a profound source of inspiration for her music and evocative lyrics.

And in response to the second question:
The origin of the band's name is shrouded in mystery. However ...
Rubi Ate the Fig is an original fusion of Rock and Middle-Eastern music with luminous vocals and ecstatic lyrics floating over a driving desert bedrock.  
Featuring accomplished musicians from both genres, Rubi Ate the Fig is produced by founder and composer Sharon Eliashar and band member Marc Mann (Oingo Boingo, George Harrison). Their exquisite theatrical sets and irresistible music transport the listener to another world. 
"Mahavishnu and The Police traveling through the Desert - stopping to have tea with Grace Slick"
But wait! There's much, much more!


In a first response to the third question:

Besides being a musician, Sharon is an award-winning filmmaker. Her most noted and recent film is Return of the Horse.
Return of the Horse is a highly researched scientific and historical documentary about North Americas native horse. 
Spanning over 57 million years, this documentary explores the science and history of the modern horse, it's evolution in America and return with the Spaniards in the 15th century, impact on Native Americans, and finally the Euro-American relationship to the wild horse, from the establishment of America until today.
But wait!
Here's where it really gets interesting!


If, for some crazy reason,  the music and the filmmaking don't capture your attention, here is the best possible response to the third question:

Sharon Eliashar is the first
(and, so far, only) New Mexican
 who has successfully applied for
Spanish citizenship under the
Sephardic Citizenship Law
("Law of Return").

Billy Nader, Abq Jew will discuss this in much greater detail ... real soon. Until then, let's focus on the tea with Grace Slick aspect of Rubi Ate the Fig.


First. please go back and review Jefferson Airplane and the Jews. Wherein Abq Jew noted the Jewish background of several (OK ... two) of the band's key players.

Now, watch and listen to this video of Black Eyes ... and try, just try to tell Abq Jew that Sharon Eliashar is not channeling Grace Slick.


But wait! Santa Fe is calling!

If you can't make it to The Cooperage (and even - especially! - if you can), Rubi Ate the Fig will also be performing in early September at the Scottish Rite Temple in The City Different.


And Abq Jew strongly suggests ... oh, what the heck, let's make this an official recommendation! ... that you take the opportunity to visit the Fractured Faiths exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum. As long as you're in Santa Fe anyway.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Onward, Christian Soldiers!

Mrs Betty Bowers vs Mr Mikey Weinstein: Alas, at last, the Black Fast has passed. And now we return to The Business At Hand.

Abq Jew speaks, of course, of The War Against Christianity. Not, of course, the actual Genocide of Christians by ISIL. That would be much too serious.

Nor, of course, does Abq Jew speak of the Merry Christmas - Happy Holidays Controversy. That would be much too not serious - especially with the dual holiday of Chrismukkah (see Get Your Goat On! and All Ye Faithful) approaching.

America's Best Christian™ Battles America's Toughest Jew

No, Abq Jew has determined by SWAG that he must once again (see Mikey Weinstein to Speak @ B'nai Israel!) tell you about the difficult and dangerous work that Mikey Weinstein, America's Toughest Jew, does every day in defense of our freedoms.
Note: Mikey doesn't call himself America's Toughest Jew. Abq Jew does call him that, because he is.
And Abq Jew must tell you about the new force that has been deployed to fight Mikey - Mrs Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian™.
Note: Mrs Betty Bowers does call herself America's Best Christian™. And Abq Jew also calls her that, because she's trademarked.
First, Mikey.
Mikey Weinstein is the undisputed leader of the national movement to restore the obliterated wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by humankind: the United States armed forces. 
Described by Harper’s magazine as “the constitutional conscience of the U.S. military, a man determined to force accountability”, Mikey’s family has a long and distinguished U.S. military history spanning three consecutive generations of military academy graduates and over 130 years of combined active duty military service in every major combat engagement our country has been in from World War I to the current Global War on Terror.
Reviled by the radical fundamentalist Christian far-right, Mikey has been given many names by his enemies including “Satan”, “Satan’s lawyer”, “the Antichrist”, “That Godless, Secular Leftist”, “Antagonizer of All Christians”, “Most Dangerous Man in America” and “Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan”. 


Mikey is the founder and leader of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit entity dedicated to
ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. 
In case you've forgotten - as so many in the United States Armed Forces appear to have - the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment states:


See? That's not too hard, is it?

Well yes, apparently it is. You can follow Mikey and the MRFFers' (Good name for a band, Mikey! Just sayin'.) trials and travails on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

And while Mikey and the MRFFers' talking points should be just that - instead arrow points, spear points, and bullet points are often directed back at them. You could write a book - and Mikey's wife Bonnie has.



So much for Abq Jew's protagonist. 

Now, Mrs Betty Bowers.

Abq Jew has for some time been meaning to tell you, his loyal readers, about Mrs Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian™.

Now that time has come. Because Abq Jew has just viewed a new video in which
America’s Best Christian™, Mrs. Betty Bowers, rebukes the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, our secular republic’s biggest obstacle to radical, right-wing Christianity using our military to recruit reluctant troops – and provoke End Times.
This rebuke cannot go unchallenged!


A brief bio of Mrs Betty Bowers, from the website of The Landover Baptist Church:
Mrs. Betty Bowers is a founding member of the Ladies of Landover and is consistently Landover Baptist's most reliable financial supporter. 
Upon being graduated from Duke University, Betty sold real estate for Harry Norman Realty in Atlanta, Georgia. After many successful years of showing multi-million dollar mansions in the dogwood speckled glens of Buckhead, Mrs. Bowers decided that she would rather live in opulence, instead of making it available to those less deserving. 
As Mrs. Bowers recounts, "God called me out of pandering to the needs of the inexplicably wealthy and promised that if I devoted my fabulous business instincts to Him, I would one day never have to share a formal, Italianate living room, much less a German SUV, with someone more wealthy than I. Praise the Lord!" 
This calling led Mrs. Bowers to establish her first Christian enterprise -Mrs. Betty Bowers Christian Crack Whore Ministry.

And as for The Landover Baptist Church. Here is a statement of their beliefs.
Who We Are and What We (And God) Believe
Our Policy Against The Unsaved is Based on Scripture!  
As most churches liberalize or modernicate themselves they in turn reject the commandments written by God in the Holy Bible. The Landover Baptist Church continues to do exactly what scripture teaches every Christian to do. And that is to keep the temple of the living God a clean vessel, untarnished by even a hint of fellowship with the unrighteous!
Here is Mrs Betty Bowers' aforementioned video rebuke of Mikey and the MRFF.

Caution: Contains fiery and incendiary language!

You can follow the battles of Mrs Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian™, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

So much for Abq Jew's antagonist. 


Abq Jew must stop right here to make sure that you, his loyal readers, are still with him. Let's review quickly.


For those of you who have been waiting since Pesach for Placido Domingo to appear at Congregation B'nai Israel (see Maestro Rabbenu Placido Domingo):
  1. Mrs Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian™, is an entirely fictional character created and written by Andrew Bradley - and played to the hilt by Deven Green, a Canadian comedian, performer, and musician. Deven is known for her video comedy parodies, as well as for her many, many lines of merchandise.
  2. Mikey Weinstein, Esq, America’s Toughest Jew, is an entirely nonfictional character who has been named one of the 50 most influential Jews in America by the Forward. Mikey is known for his forceful, iconoclastic nature, as well as for his many, many lines of merchandise.
At this point, Abq Jew would like to point out that:
  1. He has great respect for Mikey Weinstein and the important work he does.
  2. He has pretty good respect for Andrew Bradley and Deven Green, and the important and delightful work they do.
  3. He also has many, many lines of merchandise. But more important -
    Abq Jew has The Abq Jew App!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Happy Cats in Av

Bitter and Sweet: The two happiest days of a man's life, the old saying goes, are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it.


And similarly. The two happiest days of a New York Yankee fan's life are (were; will be) the day in 2007 the club acquired Alex Rodriguez from the the Texas Rangers and the day they will release him -

Tisha b'Av 2016

Alexander Emmanuel "Alex" Rodriguez (born July 27, 1975), nicknamed "A-Rod", is an American professional baseball shortstop and third baseman for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). 
He previously played for the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers. Rodriguez was one of the sport's most highly touted prospects and is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. 
During his 20-year career, Rodriguez has amassed a .297 batting average, 696 home runs, over 2000 runs batted in (RBI), over 2000 runs scored, and over 3,000 hits. 
He is a 14-time All-Star and has won three American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, ten Silver Slugger Awards, and two Gold Glove Awards. Rodríguez is the career record holder for grand slams with 25.  
However, he has led a highly controversial career due to signing two of the most lucrative sports contracts in history while incurring criticism from the media for his acts, and use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Or, as Charles Dickens put it
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us ....

The days surrounding Tisha b'Av, we all know, were and have continued to be the absolute worst of times.

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 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.
Nevertheless

We are Jews, and we continue to have hope. Even as we prepare for Shabbat Hazon, A Sabbath of Vision - which this year falls on Tisha b'Av itself.

On Shabbat Hazon we traditionally begin reading Deuteronomy (Dvarim), the fifth and "final" book of our sacred Torah.


Which brings Abq Jew to Cats. The New York Times has recently ... thoughtfully ... announced the opening of the latest revival of the famed musical on Broadway.

Can the true Resurrection of the Dead (see Torah and Talmud and Zombies and The Final Tisch; No Zombies) and The Day That Is All Shabbat be far behind?

Bloggers of The Times of Israel proclaim Why I'm Fasting and Why I'm Not Fasting on Tish b'Av. Abq Jew's approach (see The Three Weeks 2016) is sort of half-fast.

So here, in the meantime, for Shabbat Hazon, is Old Deuteronomy. (Or perhaps here, in case the former disappears from YouTube.)


For Abq Jew's most traditional readers, who will not view this video as we approach The Black Fast: Just wait! Tu b'Av is coming!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

On the Boat to Heaven

Guys and Dolls: Albuquerque's own Landmark Musicals, dedicated to "presenting the classics of the American musical theater since 2008," performed Abq Jew's favorite musical (see A Torah Trifecta), Guys and Dolls, this month.


And Mr & Mrs Abq Jew were fortunate to accompany Great Grand Mama to UNM's Rodey Theater for the show's final performance - just yesterday.

No, that didn't come out right. "Fortunate to accompany" = true. "Fortunate it was the last performance" = not true. But you understood that, Abq Jew is pretty sure.


Especially when Abq Jew tells you that the performance was absolutely fabulous and wonderfully enjoyable. Everyone in it - actors and singers, dancers and musicians - performed excellently. Although some were more excellent than others.

When Guys and Dolls first appeared on Broadway, the "showstopper" was not one of the stars - Robert Alda, Isabel Bigley, Sam Levene, and Vivian Blaine - but Stubby Kaye, playing the role of Nicely-Nicely Johnson.
Bernard Solomon Kotzin (November 11, 1918 - December 14, 1997), known as Stubby Kaye, was an American comic actor known for his appearances in Broadway and film musicals.
Kaye was born Bernard Solomon (or Sholom) Kotzin in New York City on the last day of the First World War, at West 114th Street in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan to first generation Jewish-Americans originally from Russia and Austria (Hungary). 
His father, David Kotzin, was a dress salesman, and the former Harriet "Hattie" Freundlish, was his mother. 
He was raised in the Far Rockaway section of Queens and later in The Bronx, where he acted in student productions at DeWitt Clinton High School and where he graduated in 1936. 

And similarly! In the Landmark Musicals production, Vernon Reza (r), the actor portraying Nicely-Nicely Johnson, stole the show - starting with the Fugue for Tinhorns and culminating in Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat. (Alan Daugherty, playing Benny Southstreet, was also very good.)



But wait! There's more!

The music and lyrics for Guys and Dolls (which won the 1951 Tony Award for Best Musical) were written by Frank Loesser.
Frank Henry Loesser (June 29, 1910 - July 28, 1969) was an American songwriter who wrote the lyrics and music to the Broadway hits Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, among others. 
He won separate Tony Awards for the music and lyrics in both shows, as well as sharing the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the latter. 
He also wrote numerous songs for films and Tin Pan Alley, many of which have become standards, and was nominated for five Academy Awards for best song, winning once, for Baby, It's Cold Outside.
Loesser was born in New York City to Henry Loesser, a pianist, and Julia Ehrlich. He grew up in a house on West 107th Street in Manhattan. His father had moved to America to avoid Prussian military service and working in his family's banking business. 
Ah, Abq Jew hears you exclaim. But was he Jewish? 

To which Abq Jew must respond:
  1. Frank Loesser is listed on the definitive website Jewish Recipients of the Tony Award for Best Musical
  2. 64% of Tony-winning Broadway composers, 68% of lyricists, and 57% of librettists were Jewish. 63% of all Best Musical recipients.
  3. In Abq Jew's "humble" opinion, everybody who lives around and works on Broadway is Jewish, whether they're Jewish or not. This includes Betty Buckley, Nathan Lane, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
And by the way: Landmark Musicals' 2017 season promises to be just as entertaining as 2016's. Or the previous eight's.