Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Happy Thanksgiving: This Thanksgiving week, let's be happy.

And let's give thanks - to God, to the Fates, or to Fortune - for who we are, for where we stand, and, yes, for what we have.

And let us pray that hard times - poverty, war, destruction, disease, or random events that just seem to happen in the world - come again no more.

Here is the song Hard Times Come Again No More, written by Stephen Foster in 1854.

The song is here performed (as part of The Original Transatlantic Sessions) by Kate & Anna McGarrigle and friends: Rufus Wainwright (son of Kate), Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, and Rod Paterson.

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh! Hard times come again no more.

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh! Hard times come again no more.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Or, as we say in Yiddish:
Only Simchas!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Victory for Religious Freedom

The Pastafarian Tradition: Just like you, Abq Jew has been watching the news this week. There has been a lot of news, and, as we all know, most of it has been bad.

But some of it has been good, and Abq Jew is eager to tell you about it. But first -

The Flying Spaghetti Monster

During his many years at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America (see Wanna Be A Rabbi? and Rabbi School Dropout), during his subsequent years studying the religious traditions of the world, Abq Jew not once (to his failing memory) encountered the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

You know - the Pastafarians.

Wikipedia succinctly explains:
The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarian), a social movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. 
Although adherents describe Pastafarianism as a genuine religion, it is generally seen by the media as a parody religion.
And the media - what do they know about religious truth? (Or any truth, for that matter.) Wikipedia continues:
The "Flying Spaghetti Monster" was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.\ 
In that letter, Henderson satirized creationism by professing his belief that whenever a scientist carbon-dates an object, a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs is there "changing the results with His Noodly Appendage."
Henderson argued that his beliefs were just as valid as intelligent design, and called for equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution. 
After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. 
Lindsay Miller of Lowell, Mass.

Which brings us to Lindsay Miller of Lowell, Mass. - a courageous Pastafiarian who insisted upon and achieved her right to be photographed for her Massachusetts driver's license with a colander (that's a spaghetti strainer, by the way) on her head.

Ms Miller (says the New York Daily News) was previously denied a license renewal in August under Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles policy that does not permit hats or head coverings except for religious reasons.
"They were kind of laughing at me," Miller told the Boston Globe
"I thought of other religions and women and thought that this was not fair. I thought, 'Just because you haven't heard of this belief system, [the RMV] should not be denying me a license," she said. 
"The fact that many see this is as a satirical religion doesn't change the fact that by any standard one can come up with our religion is as legitimate as any other. And *that* is the point,” according to a posting on the church’s web site.
So you want to join the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster yourself and become a Pastafarian? Well, you can start with the entertaining and informative WikiHow article How to Become a Pastafarian.

Or you can visit the Church's website and view this entertaining and informative video:

And then there's the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, led by New Mexico's own Mikey Weinstein, which actually fights for religious freedom in the US military. But only because it has to.

The MRFF's latest victory involves this sign at a Hawaii Army base -

which the MRFF strongly suggested should be taken down - that it's an affront to the Muslims who are our friends (and members of the US Army) as well as an unnecessary provocation to the Muslims who are our enemies.

Plus offensive to Jews (who remember the Crusades differently than Muslims or Christians) and plenty of others.

The sign was taken down.

New Jersey Jets vs Buffalo Bills

And that brings us to Abq Jew's final entry in this week's What Were They Thinking? competition - the game between the "New York" Jets and the Buffalo Bills played last Thursday - November 12 (Rosh Hodesh Kislev!) that The New York Times even wrote about.

The Jets (Gang Green) wore their usual plain green uniforms, with two white stripes down the leg, two white stripes at the shoulder, and white helmets.

The Bills, for the NFL's Color Rush promotion, wore red uniforms, with one white stripe down the leg, two white stripes at the shoulder, and white helmets.

To the colorblind (8% of males, 0.5% of females), the game was in good old black and white. As The Times reported:
“It was just a shock to my system,” [E. J. Arnold] said. 
Arnold is among that subset of the population with red-green colorblindness, and the all-green uniforms worn by the Jets and the all-red ones of the Bills turned the viewing experience into headache-inducing misery. 
The Jets’ green looked green to Arnold. But so did the Bills’ red. To him, everyone looked like a Jet, even though they were never penalized for having too many men on the field. 
On punts, he did not know who was blocking whom. When a pass was caught, he did not know if it was a reception or an interception. 
“I’d watch for three, four minutes and then I’d just say, ‘I can’t figure it out’ and change the channel,” said Arnold, the special teams coordinator at Division II Northwood University in Midland, Mich. 
“If the graphics from the NFL Network weren’t on the bottom of the screen, I couldn’t tell if the Jets or the Bills had the ball.”
It was not what he had expected when he turned on the television after putting his three children to bed. He said he asked his wife, Mandy, to watch “to make sure I wasn’t going crazy."
Last Thursday seems like a long time ago.

This Thursday we again stand with Israel.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Moses On The Mesa On Demand

Acoma Pueblo Governor: Acoma Pueblo, the oldest inhabited community in the United States, has an unusual tie to Judaism - Solomon Bibo, about whom Abq Jew wrote in Moses On The Mesa.

As it turns out, the current Acoma Pueblo Governor, Fred S. Vallo, Jr. will be the featured guest at Congregation Albert Brotherhood’s monthly brunch on Sunday November 22.

Vallo will speak about Acoma Pueblo’s history, as well as the pueblo’s current concerns with rural electrification, gaming contracts, energy development and water concerns.

Back in August 2012, Abq Jew wrote:
Every Jew in New Mexico (claims Abq Jew) knows the story of Solomon Bibo, the German-Jewish immigrant who came to the Land of Enchantment in the 1800s, married a NAP (Native American Princess), and became a real macher in Acoma, his wife's pueblo.  
No Jew outside New Mexico (claims Abq Jew) knows the story. But (claims Abq Jew) they will soon. That's because a team led by Paul Ratner (and including his wife, Petra Ratner; noted NM actor Ron Weisberg; and Abq Jew's son,Dov Yellin the Film Editor) are about to release ... wait for it ...
Moses On The Mesa
The Ballad of Don Solomono 

Abq Jew may have mentioned the fact that the Film Editor for Moses On The Mesa (you can look it up on IMDb!) is his son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor.

Well, here is some great news - for those who have seen the film, and (especially!) for those who have not:

Moses On The Mesa
is now available on

Says the film's website,
Moses On The Mesa is inspired by the real life of a man named Solomon Bibo. He was a Jewish boy from Germany who came to the Wild West in the late 1800s. He learned how to ride a horse, how to shoot a gun, how to play poker with the outlaws and make friends with the "Indians" from his grandpa's tall tales.
He married a pueblo beauty, battled against crooked government agents and became the governor of the oldest settlement in North America. Life threw him many curves after that - he fought for progress but lost to tradition, his friends turned against him, great earthquakes and great depressions wiped him out, but he always fought back... and always remained a Jew... a Moses on the Mesa.
You can learn more about Solomon Bibo from Wikipedia. Or from Solomon Bibo: Jew and Indian at Acoma Pueblo, an article by Abq's Gordon Bronitsky

But Abq Jew strongly encourages you to take a long look at the Moses On The Mesa website, which is beautifully done and provides interviews, history, and more.

And then there's the CA Brotherhood Brunch.

To rent or purchase Moses On The Mesa, click here. Or click here to watch the trailer.