Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcome to "J" University

Jewish Response to College of Cardinals: Today is Rosh Hodesh Nisan, the first of all the months in the Jewish year. And, as they infrequently do, the College of Cardinals is conclaving to select a new Pope from among themselves.

What would happen, Abq Jew wondered, if a Drasha of Rabbis (see A Murder of Crows) met in sacred convocation to elect, say a new Chief Rabbi? What would you call it?

Why, a University of "J"'s, of course! And the color they should wear, of course, is blue.

Which raises the question: why is Abq Jew thinking about the Pope at all?   

Because Abq Jew has at last come to Albuquerque. Where, on Sunday, he visited the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Where, upon entering, he saw in the center hall the statue of Popé.

Who was Popé? Abq Jew hears you ask. The IPCC website tells us:
Popé was born around 1630 in Ohkay Owingeh [formerly known as San Juan Pueblo], in what is now the state of New Mexico; his given name was Popein (pronounced bó -bein), which means "ripe squash" in the Tewa language.  In his life’s journey and commitment to his people, he became a religious leader and was responsible for traditional religious activities. In his role as a religious leader, time passed, and was aware of his people’s suffering under Spanish settlers. Pueblo people were forced to provide labor, food and other items to support the growing Spanish communities. The Spaniards also pressured the Pueblo People to convert from Pueblo religion and way of life…to adopt Christianity - those Pueblo people found practicing their traditional Pueblo religion were tortured and in some instances, executed.

In 1675, Popé and 46 other Pueblo leaders were convicted of “sorcery” and he was among those who were flogged, while others were executed. In 1680, Popé organized the Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish.  It has been said that this was the first successful revolution against an oppressor on North American soil.
What you don't see in this photograph of the statue - or in any other photo on the IPCC website - is the item that is laid just to the right of Popé: a smashed crucifix.

Which started Abq Jew down the long road of What If:
  • What if the conversos who made up a noticeable portion of the Spanish colonists had revolted, too? 
  • And what if these conversos had joined with the Pueblo Indians and thrown the Catholics out of New Mexico?
Abq Jew claims - with no historical backing whatsoever - that this scenario is not so far-fetched. Judaism and Pueblo religions were not entirely incompatible. The Pueblo Indians were not, has vishalom, Canaanites - they did not have Astarte fertility cults or throw their firstborn sons into Moloch's fire.

What if a pro-Jewish and certainly non-Catholic modus vivendi could have been found? Well - since you asked:
  • Acoma Pueblo would celebrate Shushan Purim. Wait a minute! They already do! See Acoma Celebrates Shushan Purim!
  • Pueblo pottery would be even more expensive - because everyone would need four sets! One for milchigs, one for fleishigs, and of course a special set of each just for Pesach.
  • Chabad would be incredibly busy putting up mezuzahs!
  •  Mel Brooks would be proven correct - after all these years!

What were we talking about? Oh yes - Rosh Hodesh Nisan, the first of all the months in the Jewish year. How do we know this? Because G-d Himself tells us in Exodus:
And G‑d spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: This month shall be to you the head of months—the first of the months of your year.
Wait a minute! Abq Jew hears you cry. How about Tishrei? Nu - it turns out that the Rabbis of the Talmud had the same problem.
Rabbi Eliezer says: The world was created in Tishrei . . . Rabbi Joshua says: The world was created in Nissan.
Chabad.org says in the article Our Other Head:
We know that the Jewish year begins on the first of Tishrei - a day we observe as Rosh Hashanah, “the Head of the Year” - and ends twelve (or thirteen) months later, on the 29th of Elul. But if the head of the year is on the first of Tishrei, why does the Torah ... refer to Tishrei as the seventh month of the year? And why is the month of Nissan, occurring midway through the Tishrei-headed year, designated - in the very first mitzvah commanded to the Jewish people - as “the head of months, the first of the months of your year”?

[Because ...] the Jewish year has two “heads” or primary points of reference, each of which is equally its beginning. Our annual journey through time is actually two journeys—a Tishrei-to-Elul journey, and a Nissan-to-Adar journey. Every day on the Jewish calendar can be experienced on two different levels, for it simultaneously exists within these two contexts.
. . .

The first of Tishrei is the anniversary of G‑d’s creation of the universe, particularly His creation of man. On this day we reaffirm our commitment to G‑d as our Creator and King, and ask that He inscribe us in the book of life.

But if the first of Tishrei is the first day of human history, the month of Nissan marks the birth of Jewish time. 

And there you have it. Pesach is coming! Pesach is coming! The first seder is Monday March 25 - two weeks from last night!

Remember: You can keep track of this - and keep your eye out for Pesachdik food in Albuquerque - at

Happy Nissan, everyone! 

And BTW, the month after Nissan is not

Nope. The month after Nissan is

Purim 'til it's Pesach!

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