Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lights in the Forest

Rabbi Paul Citrin, Editor: A cross-section of rabbis respond to questions under one of three categories: 1) On God; 2) On Our Humanity; 3) On the Jewish People.

Their responses include thoughtful, personal essays about God, ethics, humanity, suffering, evil, the soul, after-life, interfaith dialogue, and more.

Rabbi Paul Citrin, editor of this important work, will be speaking at Bookworks on Rio Grande on Tuesday December 2 at 7:00 pm.

Rabbi Citrin will also be offering a course on the book at Congregation Albert and at Congregation Nahalat Shalom in February-March 2015 (not as far off as it may seem!).


Lights in the Forest
Rabbis Respond
to Twelve
Essential Jewish Questions

Rabbi Paul Citrin, Editor
Bookworks
4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW
Tuesday December 2
7:00 pm

Download the Study Guide and prepare for Rabbi Citrin's course at Congregations Albert and Nahalat Shalom in February-March 2015.


The intention of the contributors of this volume is to expand the knowledge and understanding of the readers in Jewish life, practice, and identity.

They strive to encourage further study and ongoing questioning. Judaism's intellectual and spiritual tools are presented as a means for leading a life of purpose and commitment.

In an interview for RavBlog, Rabbi Citrin stated
A volume that made a large impact on me was something published by the American Jewish Committee in the mid-60s called The Condition of Jewish Belief
It was a symposium compiled by editors of Commentary magazine where 38 rabbis from all of the streams of Judaism responded to five theological concerns. I found it to be tremendously interesting and helpful as an undergraduate student in Los Angeles. 
It recently dawned on me that there was nothing like that on the market today. I looked at 12 different publishers that produce Jewish books and there was nothing that came close to it, by which I mean a collection of essays by various contributors not targeted for either children or graduate students in philosophy. 
The questions in the book are stimulated by real questions that congregants ask their rabbis. I find that there is a core of Reform and Conservative Jews who want to be well-grounded in Jewish tradition. 
Their Jewish knowledge and identity is a central part of who they are, even if they don’t have all of the formal education they may desire. This volume will help strengthen that serious commitment.
Want to learn more? You can purchase Amazon's Kindle edition here, or purchase the paperback edition from CCAR Press here.

And don't miss the opportunity to hear Rabbi Paul Citrin speak in person!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Onomatopoeia and The Jews Again

Say That Again?  First posted on November 14, 2011, Onomatopoeia and The Jews has become an Abq Jew Thanksgiving classic for everyone who remembers it.

For those of you dear readers who don't, and for those of you who were inexplicably or even explicably not yet following Abq Jew - here it is again! You're welcome!


An onomatopoeia (or onomatopœia, from the Greek ὀνοματοποιία), is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes.

Common occurrences of onomatopoeias include animal noises, such as "oink" or "meow" or "roar".

Animal names - especially bird names - are often onomatopoeic. For example: Winnie the Pooh got his name from the sound he made when trying to blow a bee off of his nose.

The turkey's name, however, is not onomatopoeic - although he onomatopoeically says"gobble, gobble".  At least in English.  There are several opinions as to what a turkey says in Turkey.

But speaking of turkey - it's time to get ready for Thanksgiving!  For some of us this means lining up a kosher bird from Trader Joe's, which goes great with kosher pareve stuffing from Natural Grocers.  But that's only for those of us who eat meat.

Now, there are several good, Jewish reasons not to eat meat.  Humans were, before all, intended to be vegetarians.  It was only after Noah and the Flood that God allowed us to eat meat.  And even kosher animal slaughter is still - well, the slaughter of animals.

On the other hand, how's this for onomatopoeia:  m-m-m-m-m-m-meat!

But what to do if there are vegetarians in your family who will be at your Thanksgiving table?   Or worse - vegans?  (Abq Jew apologizes for claiming that vegans are from a planet orbiting the star of that name.  That was wrong, and ... insensitive.)

But how's this for onomatopoeia:  TO-FU!

Oops!  Insensitive again!  And speaking of insensitive - here is the famous (well, Abq Jew remembers it) Tofu Turkey Thanksgiving scene from Everybody Loves Raymond.


Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Evening with Kinky Friedman

One Texas Jewboy: Abq Jew is really, really happy to announce (if you haven't seen it before on the Abq Jew Go Do! Page or the Weekly Abq Jew Blog Update) that

Kinky Friedman is Coming to Albuquerque!


An Evening with Kinky Friedman
Albuquerque JCC
Saturday December 6 ~ 7:30 pm

Legendary humorist, writer, and musician Kinky Freidman will deliver an evening of song, social commentary, and irreverence at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque on Saturday December 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm.  

All proceeds from this event will benefit the JCC's Jewish Arts and Culture program and the Jewish Federation's 2015 Annual Campaign.

Described as a cross between Mark Twain, Groucho Marx, and Johnny Cash, in the early 1970's Friedman achieved international notoriety with his band, Kinky Friedman & the Texas Jewboys, which resulted in an invitation to the Grand Ole Opry.

Meanwhile, his songs  "Ride 'em Jewboy"; "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore"; "Shield Of Abraham"; and "Something's Wrong With The Beaver" and his now-classic albums - Sold American, Lasso from El Paso, and Old Testaments & New Revelations - mixed biting satire with knowing empathy on such issues as the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and the other side of the American dream. In 1999, Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, and Lyle Lovett covered his music for  the tribute album Pearls in the Snow: The Songs of Kinky Friedman.

As an author, Friedman has written for Rolling Stone and Texas Monthly magazines and, most famously, has become a writer of unique and outrageous mystery novels such as Greenwich Killing Time, A Case of Lone Star, and The Mile High Club, which feature a Jewish country singer turned private eye named Kinky Friedman.

This event will also include a live auction of Kinky Friedman memorabilia. For more information call (505) 821-3214.


Based on the above bio, one might think that The Kinkster is all hat and no cattle. But that would be selling Kinky short. Let's start with a little yichus, or, as the goyim say, genealogy. From Wikipedia, of course.
Richard Samet "Kinky" Friedman (born November 1, 1944) is an American Texas Country singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist, politician and former columnist for Texas Monthly who styles himself in the mold of popular American satirists Will Rogers and Mark Twain. 
He was one of two independent candidates in the 2006 election for the office of Governor of Texas. Receiving 12.6% of the vote, Friedman placed fourth in the six-person race. 
Friedman was born in Chicago to Jewish parents, Dr. S. Thomas Friedman and his wife Minnie (Samet) Friedman. The family moved to a ranch in central Texas a few years later. 
Friedman had an early interest in both music and chess, and was chosen at age 7 as one of 50 local players to challenge U.S. grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky to simultaneous games in Houston. Reshevsky won all 50 games, but Friedman was, by far, the youngest competitor. 
Friedman graduated from Austin High School in Austin, Texas in 1962 and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966, majoring in Psychology. 
He took part in the Plan II Honors program and was a member of the Tau Delta Phi fraternity. During his freshman year, Chinga Chavin gave Friedman the nickname "Kinky" because of his curly hair. 
Friedman served two years in the United States Peace Corps, teaching in Borneo in Indonesia with John Gross. During his service in the Peace Corps, he met future road manager Dylan Ferrero, with whom he still works today. 
Friedman lives at Echo Hill Ranch, his family's summer camp near Kerrville, Texas. He founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, also located near Kerrville, whose mission is to care for stray, abused and aging animals; more than 1,000 dogs have been saved from animal euthanasia. 

Here is a animated video that Michael Fallik made for one of Kinky's most famous songs, "They Ain't Making Jews like Jesus Anymore."

Abq Jew must warn you that the language and animated action are coarse. But neither is directed at the audience; and both accurately reflect the verisimilitude of the times.

Which brings Abq Jew (and you, if you're still with him) to author Hyam Maccoby; and to the topic "Jews Like Jesus."

For those who are unfamiliar with Hyam Maccoby's work, Wikipedia tells us:

Hyam Maccoby (1924–2004) was a British Jewish scholar and dramatist specialising in the study of the Jewish and Christian religious tradition.
Maccoby was librarian of Leo Baeck College in London. In retirement he moved to Leeds, where he held an academic position at the Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Leeds. Maccoby was known for his theories of the historical Jesus and the historical origins of Christianity. 
Maccoby also wrote extensively on the phenomenon of ancient and modern Anti-Semitism. He considered the Gospel traditions blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus and especially the legend of Judas Iscariot (which he believed to be a product of the Gentile Pauline Church) as the roots of Christian antisemitism. Other topics of Maccoby's scholarship include the Talmudic tradition and the history of the Jewish religion.
One of Kinky's lines in "They Ain't Making" is

We don't turn the other cheek, the way we done before.

Aside from the poor diction, Hyam Maccoby would take strong issue with the theology that underlies the verse: that Jesus, a Jew, had adopted acquiescence as the proper response to evil.

Maccoby instead makes the case that Jesus, a Pharisaic Jew and a rebel against the Roman occupation of Judaea, would have resisted Roman evil at every turn and with all means available.

So where did the doctrine of "the other cheek" come from?

From the writers of the New Testament, Maccoby claims, who lived many years after the death of Jesus, in a world (and with a worldview) that was dominated by Rome; and who wrote what they wrote for the Gentiles, and with little knowledge of or regard for Jews and their homeland.

There will be more about Hyam Maccoby and Revolution in Judaea: Jesus and The Jewish Resistance (and Billy Nader) later. In the meantime ----


And even though it's only Thursday ...
Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rabbi Cantor Angela Buchdahl

One of The Forward's 50: For the last 20 years, the Jewish Daily Forward has published a list of  "the 50 American Jews who have had the most impact on our national story."


This year, the Forward asks:

Could This Be the Year of the Jewish Woman? 

Never in the 50's history has the number of women on the list been this high — 26 in all, including four of the top five.

The Forward states:
Even we were surprised at the final tally. While women have yet to be accepted (and paid) on an equal footing with men in organized Jewish communal life, they are taking leading roles in influencing national policy, cultural norms, religious practice, literature, political advocacy, the performing arts and the ever-fraught conversation about Israel. 
The effect on our society is broad and growing deeper ....
Abq Jew is honored to introduce one of these remarkable women to you.


Of Rabbi Cantor (yes, as you will see, she is both) Angela Buchdal, the Forward says:
As senior cantor at New York’s Central Synagogue, Angela Buchdahl was known to team up with one of her colleagues to perform a “mash-up” — an artful blending of two thematically linked but musically distinct songs. Hatikvah was woven into America the Beautiful. For Passover, the two cantors combined Dayeinu with the spiritual Oh, Freedom.
The unusual pairings are emblematic of Buchdahl herself, who seems to effortlessly embrace her many dual identities and heritages: rabbi and cantor; Korean Buddhist and Ashkenazi Jew; a person who has shattered glass ceilings and quietly works to uphold tradition; who sends her three children to Jewish day school and puts kimchi on her Seder plate. 
Her rising star within the Reform movement was catapulted even further this year when she became the first woman to be named senior rabbi at Central, a huge, fancy and immensely popular and influential synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. 
“She’s a once-in-a generation leader.” 
said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union of Reform Judaism and her mentor when both were at Westchester Reform Temple.
Here, in the Forward's video, Rabbi Buchdahl speaks about her new leadership role:



Let's take a short break here and talk about Central Synagogue, whose website proclaims

Central is transforming the way people experience Jewish life, cultivating ongoing exploration, and pursuing a powerful vision for the role of Judaism in the world.


Wikipedia provides a succinct history of the historic synagogue. (The Central Synagogue website provides a much more detailed history here.)
The Central Synagogue (Congregation Ahavath Chesed) is located at 652 Lexington Avenue on the corner of E 55th Street, Manhattan, New York City, New York. 
Built in 1872 in the Moorish Revival style as a copy of Budapest's Dohány Street Synagogue, it pays homage to the Jewish existence in Moorish Spain. It has been in continuous use by a congregation longer than any other in the city. The building was designed by Henry Fernbach. 
The dramatic style of the building was the subject of much debate during the construction. Some felt its excess would inspire envy and stand in the way of assimilation. 
It is among the oldest synagogue buildings still standing in the United States. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on May 15, 1975. On Wednesdays at 12:45 pm a docent conducts a free tour, which begins at the front entrance. 
The building was restored by 2001 in the original style after an accidental fire in August 1998. The roof and its supports were destroyed as a result of the fire. During this fire, the firefighter's sensitivity for the building saved all but the central pane in the rose window that dominates the eastern (Lexington Avenue) wall. 
The marble plaques on the north wall of the foyer honor the firefighters of the 8th Battalion of the New York City Fire Department. 
Via a LinkedIn connection to Central's Director of Operations & Events, Abq Jew has learned that Central Synagogue:

  • Has an operations and events staff of 26, plus 100 "additional" employees.
  • Hosts up to 1,250 annual internal, congregant and non-profit events.
  • Has over 8,000 congregants (2,300 households).
  • Has an operations and events budget of $3 million.

Earlier this year, the Central Board voted to allow associate members to become full members, and to discontinue the associate status.

Instead, once Central reaches its new capacity of 2,300 households, prospective members will be placed on a simple waiting list and offered membership as space becomes available.

Can't wait to join? Daven there from here! Central live-streams

  • Friday Night Shabbat Service @ 4:00 pm NM Time
  • Saturday Morning Shabbat Service  @ 7:30 am NM Time

Double your Shabbat celebration! Daven at Central, then daven at your favorite New Mexico synagogue or alternative prayer forum!


Back to Rabbi Cantor Angela Buchdahl. The Forward (via Haaretz) asks the question:

What's Unnerving About Angela Buchdahl? 
What has made some people nervous about Angela Buchdahl becoming the senior rabbi at Central Synagogue – one of the two largest Reform synagogues in New York and one of the biggest in the United States – is not that she’s the first Asian-American rabbi. 
It’s not that she’s a woman or, at 41, so young to lead a congregation whose membership will soon number 2,400 families. It’s not that she’s been working primarily as a cantor for most of her career. It’s not even that she’s the mother of three young children, though that has given some in her congregation pause, Buchdahl said. 
No, it’s because she talks about God.
“We become very nervous talking about God in the Jewish community,” Buchdahl tells Haaretz. “I made people on the search committee a little nervous about it.”
And about that live-streaming thing, Rabbi Buchdal says:
“You always worry that people aren’t attending their local synagogues” if they’re live streaming, Buchdahl says. “But in most cases, it’s a choice between watching us or doing nothing.” 
Other Jewish communities are not reaching them. “I have a friend in Laramie, Wyoming, who watches us and said, ‘You are our Jewish life,’” Buchdahl reveals. 
Even where brick-and-mortar congregations exist, “unfortunately, synagogues are not supporting people’s needs.”
Here, for your enjoyment and fascination and education, is The Hope - the sermon that Rabbi Cantor Angela Buchdal delivered at Central Synagogue on Yom Kippur 5775.

Abq Jew must tell you: The Hope is 25 minutes and 34 seconds in duration. The time will fly by. Pay full attention, and stay till the end. Your reward will be great.


We are, after all, and above all, a people of hope.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

From the Peak of Mount Scopus

Peace To You, Jerusalem: As Abq Jew is sure you are aware, there have recently been "increasing tensions" concerning the Temple Mount - known in Hebrew as Har haBáyit (הַר הַבַּיִת), and in Arabic as Haram al-Sharif (الحرم القدسي الشريف‎), the Noble Sanctuary.

When Israel regained political control over all of Jerusalem in 1967, General Moshe Dayan (others: Prime Minister Levi Eshkol) gave control of access to the Temple Mount to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.

At the time, this seemed to many like the right thing to do. The Chief Rabbinate had forbidden any Jew from ascending to the Temple Mount before the Messiah came to guide the way. And in the meantime - we had the Kotel.

But since then, all we've had is tsuris. Disaster, debacle, catastrophe, and near-disaster. And now, there are Jews who wish to ascend to the Temple Mount for prayer.

Reasonable people with an abundance of good will can agree - or learn to agree - to share. But in the absence of reason and good will, Abq Jew has a plan.

Let's turn the Temple Mount into a Senior Center.


Actually, Israel has already tested this plan. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary was - for one day - only open to those over the age of 50.

Since most of the trouble comes from those under the age of 50, this plan successfully reduced the overall level of violence in the area - for one day.

Abq Jew proposes that the Temple Mount Senior Center plan be adopted immediately and sent out for bid.
  1. Access to the Senior Center would be granted only to those with a valid IIIARP (International Israeli and Islamic Association of Retired Persons) card.
  2. The entire Temple Mount would be made wheelchair- and walker-accessible, and would be upgraded to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar international measures.
  3. The outside areas would be covered with greenery, shrubbery, walkways and tennis courts - as well as an urgent care center, drinking fountains, and public restrooms.
  4. The Dome of the Rock would go GREEN - and be transformed into an indoor swimming pool, complete with a delightful water-flowing-over-rock sculpture. Electricity to keep the water warm would be provided by a series of high-tech solar panels (see Abq Jew's idea of how this might look).

Just kidding.

Abq Jew threw in the "Just kidding" because citizens and aliens who land in the Land of Enchantment have been forced to jettison their sense of, and appreciation for, sarcasm - before they are permitted to set up shop here.

Abq Jew prays that Jerusalem will again be the City of Peace, and the Temple Mount a House of Prayer for All Nations.

Which brings Abq Jew back to Yehoram Gaon.


For those of you too young for IIIARP, please see Iran, Shmiran and One Little Goat. In addition, the Yehoram Gaon website tells us:
Yehoram Gaon is considered one of the major proponents of the Israeli culture and entertainment worlds. As Israel's all time most popular singer, gifted actor, TV and radio host, writer, poet and publicist, Gaon has a long list of performances on stage and screen in both movies and on television. He has produced and directed plays and movies and written and edited books on Israeli culture and tradition.
Yehoram Gaon was born and grew up in Jerusalem. One of his (many) famous songs is Me'al Pisgat Har HaTsofim - From the Peak of Mount Scopus - whose translated lyrics you can view here.

The song ends with the words
Jerusalem, Jerusalem
I won't move from here,
Jerusalem, Jerusalem
the Messiah will come, will come.

And even though it's only Thursday ...
Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Global Day of Jewish Learning

The Jewish World Learns: Congregation Albert School of Jewish Studies will be joining over 500 communities worldwide in 40 countries on 6 continents for the Global Day of Jewish Learning.


The Global Day of Jewish Learning brings the Jewish people together once a year to celebrate our shared Jewish texts through community based learning. The guiding values of the Global Day of Jewish Learning are: fostering Jewish unity, empowering individuals through increased Jewish knowledge, and creating meaningful shared experiences.

The Global Day of Jewish Learning's 2014 theme is

Heroes, Villains, Saints and Fools:
The People in the Book

Each curricular unit will explore a biblical character and use a variety of Jewish texts. Biblical characters provide an accessible entry point to Jewish texts for the beginners in your community and represent a deep well of wisdom for all.

What do the heroes and villains of our stories have to teach us about ourselves, today? Focusing on biblical characters will allow you to explore topics like human nature, family dynamics, and leadership.


Here in Albuquerque we'll have three classes:

Rabbi Min Kantrowitz
Abraham: Journey into the Unknown
We meet Abraham as he embarks on a journey. The command “go forth” presents him with numerous challenges and opportunities. What does it mean to go forth? Why is the destination unknown? This session explores what Abraham’s journey reveals about his character and how it inspires us to stride boldly into the unknown. 
Eve: Separation and Wholeness in the Garden of Eden
Explore the creation of human beings through the story of Eve and how she came about through an act of splitting. This session will look at how the first people became independent, separate beings with conflicting desires, and the resulting quest for wholeness.
Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld
Balaam: To Bless or To Curse
Balaam is known as a villain – a prophet hired to curse the Children of Israel in the desert. There is more to his story, however, and the complexity leads us to significant questions about power, ability and how we choose to act. In this session we explore Balaam’s motivations and prophetic ability to understand how one can use – or misuse – one’s talents. 
Abq Jew strongly encourages you, the Jewish Community of Greater Albuquerque, to

Support Your Local Rabbis

But if you suffer from the Paseo / I-25 Interchange Project, illness (refuah shleyma!), a general inability to get your act together, or even None of the Above -----


You can still participate in the Global Day of Jewish Learning through


24 x 24 is a series of about 24 People in the Book topics presented by around 24 noted Jewish scholars, educators, rabbis, and miscellaneous interesting people at various times over a 24-hour period.

This year's lineup includes, but is by no means limited to, such distinguished personalities as:
  • Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz, a teacher, philosopher, social critic and prolific author who has been hailed by Time magazine as a “once-in-a-millennium scholar”  - and the founder of the Global Day of Jewish Learning.
  • MK Dr Ruth Calderon, one of Israel’s leading figures spearheading efforts to revive Hebrew Culture and a pluralistic Israeli-Jewish identity (see There Is A Future). 
  • Arthur Kurzweil, a writer, teacher, and magician.
  • Sarah Lefton, the founding Director of G-dcast, a Jewish new media studio the press calls “the Schoolhouse Rock for Jews"(see G-dcast on Parshat Ki Teitzei, et al).
  • Salvador Litvak, who blogs as the Accidental Talmudist!
  • Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, the Senior Educator off the San Francisco Bay Area's renowned Lehrhaus Judaica.
As he explained this year’s theme, Rabbi Steinsaltz said,
The men and women of the Scriptures are more than mere life portraits: they continue to live and function long after their deaths in this world.  
These are not ordinary historical figures but archetypes; as such, their lives are carried on and continue not only in literature and philosophy but in the lives of their descendants throughout the generations.
 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kristallnacht Remembrance 2014

Night of Broken Glass: The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico invites you to remember Kristallnacht, "The Night of Broken Glass", which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938.


Kristallnacht Remembrance
Congregation Albert
Sunday November 9 ~ 2:00 pm

Experts and speakers will be on hand to lead discussions and Q&A sessions.

  • Keynote speaker Lecia Brooks from the Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Holocaust survivors Frank Hess and Werner Gellert,
  • Bonnie Weinstein from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation
  • Jerry Small of the Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico. 

Music and a reception will also be provided.

Lecia Brooks leads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s outreach efforts on key initiatives and social justice issues.

As outreach director, she frequently gives presentations around the country to promote tolerance and diversity.

She also serves as director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Ala., an interpretive center designed to provide visitors to the Civil Rights Memorial with a deeper understanding of the civil rights movement.

She joined the SPLC staff in 2004 as director of Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a Teaching Tolerance program designed to help break down racial, cultural and social barriers in schools.

Previously, she worked for 12 years in a number of capacities for the National Conference for Community and Justice in its Los Angeles office. She is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University.