Monday, January 25, 2016

The Story of Shabbat 505

Want to Celebrate Shabbat in Albuquerque? Now you've got your chance! Abq Jew proudly announces that

the Rabbinical and Cantorial Association of Albuquerque (RACAA), Congregation Albert, Congregation B'nai Israel, Congregation Nahalat Shalom, Chavurat HaMidbar,
and the Albuquerque JCC 
are sponsoring
the Duke City's first-ever


Here is the general plan:
On Friday night and Saturday morning, the synagogues will hold services as usual.* Then, on Saturday night, the Jewish Community Center will host a Community Havdalah and Dance Party, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. There will be Jewish folk dancing and live music by the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band. 
* sort of. See below.

How, Abq Jew hears you ask,
has this blessed event come about?

Abq Jew must tell you: He doesn't know. Abq Jew is not a member of RACAA - they do not offer membership to Rabbi School Dropouts.  Nor is Abq Jew a Member of the Board of any Albuquerque Jewish organization (or any organization anywhere; don't get him started).

Nevertheless - Abq Jew hears things. And a few weeks ago, he found out that the Albuquerque Jewish community was going to celebrate


Yes, it was originally going to be called 505 Shabbat. There being no publicity materials available, Abq Jew, as is his wont, decided to create some. Well, one - a graphic that he and others could use to promote this worthy community happening.

Where, Abq Jew hears you ask, did Abq Jew get that beautiful image upon which this graphic is based?

From Google, of course! And whence Google? Apparently from the Zazzle Shop of Adela Camille Sutton, of which Abq Jew was not, at the time, cognizant; and who, it turns out, offers a variety of gift items using this same image, which she created.

The above graphic first appeared on the Abq Jew Calendar (of course); and then in the JFNM Upcoming Community Events email of January 4 (yes, it is Abq Jew who sends these).


By the time the January 11 JFNM Upcoming Community Events email came out, 505 Shabbat had been changed to Shabbat 505; Abq Jew had modified the original graphic; and he had cheerfully said YES to various requests to use it.


Here is a story, which you can also read on


Do We Sit? Or Do We Stand? 
A new rabbi comes to a well-established congregation. 
Every week on the Sabbath, a fight erupts during the service. When it comes time to recite the Shema prayer, half of the congregation stands and the other half sits. 
The half who stand say, "Of course we stand for the Shema. It’s the credo of Judaism. Throughout history, thousands of Jews have died with the words of the Shema on their lips." 
The half who remain seated say, "No. According to the Shulchan Aruch (the code of Jewish law), if you are seated when you get to the Shema you remain seated." 
The people who are standing yell at the people who are sitting, "Stand up!" while the people who are sitting yell at the people who are standing, "Sit down!" It’s destroying the whole decorum of the service, and driving the new rabbi crazy. 
Finally, it’s brought to the rabbi’s attention that at a nearby home for the aged is a 98-year-old man who was a founding member of the congregation. So, in accordance with Talmudic tradition, the rabbi appoints a delegation of three, one who stands for the Shema, one who sits, and the rabbi himself, to go interview the man. 
They enter his room, and the man who stands for the Shema rushes over to the old man and says, "Wasn’t it the tradition in our synagogue to stand for the Shema?" 
"No," the old man answers in a weak voice. "That wasn’t the tradition." 
The other man jumps in excitedly. "Wasn’t it the tradition in our synagogue to sit for the Shema?" 
"No," the old man says. "That wasn’t the tradition." 
At this point, the rabbi cannot control himself. He cuts in angrily. "I don’t care what the tradition was! Just tell them one or the other. Do you know what goes on in services every week — the people who are standing yell at the people who are sitting, the people who are sitting yell at the people who are standing—" 
"That was the tradition," the old man says.


So, here we are. The JCC of Greater Albuquerque, may they live long and prosper, developed their own graphic to publicize Shabbat 505.


This is (thinks Abq Jew) a fine graphic that does not, alas, emphasize (OK ... it doesn't mention or depict) the holier aspects of celebrating Shabbat Mishpatim (see Writing Down the Laws).

The JCC prepared and distributed publicity flyers and respectfully requested that the Albuquerque Jewish community use their graphic.


Abq Jew (as is another of his wonts) put a border around it and prepared, for the sake of community unity (sorry; Abq Jew just couldn't resist) to accede to this request.


Here is another story, which you can also read on


Why the Mezuzah is Slanted 
A slanted mezuzah is a great example of a compromise in Jewish law. It might look screwy to you, but it’s actually a demonstration of two legal authorities literally meeting in the middle. 
Way back in the eleventh century, Rashi, a French rabbi and commentator, opined that when you put up your mezuzah, it should be hung vertically (Rashi and Tosafot on Menahot 33a). But then Rashi’s grandson came along. He’s known as Rabbenu Tam, and he wrote that a mezuzah should be affixed horizontally, because the Ten Commandments and the Torah scrolls were kept horizontally in the ark in the Temple. 
A hundred and fifty years later Rabbi Jacob Ben Asher, also sometimes called the Tur, was writing his book of Jewish law, the Arbaah Turim. In it, Ben Asher suggests that the way to hold by the precedents of both Rashi and Rabbenu Tam was to split the difference, and affix your mezuzah at a slant (pointing into the room). (Yoreh Deah 289) 
Three hundred years later this view was codified again by the Rema, an Ashkenazi commentator, who noted that slanting a mezuzah had become the common custom among Ashkenazi Jews. (Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews today still hang their mezuzot vertically.) 
It’s rare to find a Jewish custom that was so clearly developed as a compromise between two different interpretations of one commandment. 
When you put up your mezuzah on a slant, think of how you’re acknowledging the ways multiple voices and perspectives are welcome and encouraged in Jewish life.

So, here we are. As this blog post goes to cloud (blog posts don't really go to press),

  • the JCC of Greater Albuquerque is using their graphic; 
  • some congregations are still using Abq Jew's graphic; 
  • and Abq Jew wishes everybody well. 

Hence Abq Jew's "slanted mezuzah" graphic -


So, Abq Jew hears you ask - 

What is each Albuquerque Jewish organization
doing for Shabbat 505?

Here are the specific plans as currently construed (but better you should check before you go):

Congregation Albert

Friday, February 5
5:05 pm - Tot Shabbat
5:30 pm - Café Shabbat Oneg
6:00 pm - Erev Shabbat Service
6:45 pm - Song Session Jamboree

Congregation Albert invites Jamboree participants to "bring your guitars, ukuleles, mandolins or percussion."

Abq Jew cannot help but notice that banjos and accordions have not been invited.

Congregation B'nai Israel & Chavurat HaMidbar


Congregation Nahalat Shalom

Friday February 5
6:30 pm - Sephardic/Converso/Crypto-Jewish Shabbat Dinner

This service celebrates the connections with our Sephardic Heritage. Sefarad is the Hebrew word for Spain and Sephardic refers to those Jews who once lived in and then were expelled from Spain, and who carried their language and their traditions with them wherever they went.

We share songs and stories, food and conversation.

This is a potluck dinner, so please bring your favorite vegetarian dish to share.

We gather at 6:30 pm, with candle lighting starting promptly at 7:00 pm. Come celebrate New Mexico's oldest Jewish community with us!

Saturday February 6
10:00 am - Reconstructionist Service

Albuquerque JCC

One Shabbat for all of Albuquerque! A community-wide celebration spanning Jewish denominations.

Saturday February 6
7:00 - 9:00 pm at the Jewish Community Center—FREE. All ages welcome.
  • Community Havdalah celebration
  • Jewish folk music and dancing/dance instruction
  • Nosh and schmooze
  • Kids activities


Friday, January 22, 2016

The Song of the Bay

And the Golden Gate: This is the Eve of Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath upon which we who go to shul are privileged to read BeShalach, the Torah portion that includes Shirat HaYam, the Song of the Sea, which Moses and the Children of Israel (along with many of the adults) sang when the Holy One Blessed Be He guided them through the Red (actually, Reed) Sea and saved us from the pursuing Egyptians in their chariots, who had come to reclaim us as slaves.

... and the Israelites went into the sea on dry ground ...

Moses was then able to lead (but not accompany) the People Israel to the Promised Land, the Land Flowing with Milk and Honey, which (of course) turned out to be the Land of Canaan, which (much) later became the Land of Israel.

Not a bad choice, Abq Jew and countless colleagues have emphasized. But if Moses had kept going, he could have brought us all to California.

Instead of Shirat HaYam, we might all be singing I Left My Heart in San Francisco. About which Wikipedia tells us:
"I Left My Heart in San Francisco" is a popular song, written in the fall of 1953 in Brooklyn, New York, by George Cory (1920-1978) and Douglass Cross (1920-1975) and best known as the signature song of Tony Bennett
The song was released as a single by Bennett on Columbia Records as the b-side to Once Upon A Time, peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was later issued on the album of the same name. The song is one of the official anthems for the city of San Francisco. 
The music was written by Cory, with lyrics by Cross, about two amateur writers nostalgic for San Francisco after moving to New York. 
In December 1961, in the famous "Venetian Room" at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, Tony Bennett first sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco". In the audience that night were San Francisco mayor George Christopher and future mayor Joseph L. Alioto. From the 1960s through the 1980s, at San Francisco's premier supper club the "Venetian Room," Bennett sang the city song. 
It became a hit on the pop singles chart in 1962 and spent close to a year on various other charts, achieving gold record status. It then won the top prize of Grammy Award for Record of the Year, as well as for Best Male Solo Vocal Performance. 
In 2001 it was ranked 23rd on an RIAA/NEA list of the most historically significant Songs of the 20th Century.
Now about that photo. Did you know that in May 1987, on the 50th Anniversary of its opening, the Golden Gate Bridge almost (well, not really) came tumbling down? Wikipedia tells us (and you can read more here):
In May 1987, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the Golden Gate Bridge district again closed the bridge to automobile traffic and allowed pedestrians to cross the bridge. 
However, this celebration attracted 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, and ineffective crowd control meant the bridge became congested with roughly 300,000 people, causing the center span of the bridge to flatten out under the weight. 
Although the bridge is designed to flex in that way under heavy loads, and was estimated not to have exceeded 40% of the yielding stress of the suspension cables, bridge officials stated that uncontrolled pedestrian access was not being considered as part of the 75th anniversary on Sunday, May 27, 2012, because of the additional law enforcement costs required "since 9/11".


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sparks of Fractured Faiths

And the New Mexico History Museum: Congregation B'nai Israel is proud to present Sparks of Fractured Faiths, the January installment of the popular Shabbat Sparks series of Friday evening events.

Our guest speaker, Dr Ron Duncan Hart, will speak about the upcoming exhibition Fractured Faiths: Spanish Judaism, The Inquisition and New World Identities, which will open at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe on May 22, 2016.

 Fractured Faiths
Spanish Judaism, The Inquisition,
and New World Identities

Dr Ron Duncan Hart
Friday January 29 ~ 6:30 pm
Congregation B'nai Israel

The exhibition tells the story of Spanish Jewry from the time of the original expulsion edict issued in 1492 through modern times, detailing the struggles of generations of descendants as they ultimately became successful merchants, artists and philanthropists in New Mexico. Some became conversos, others “Crypto-Jews” in their efforts to survive and create new identities for themselves.

Over 100 artifacts will be on display, most never before allowed out of Spain. These artifacts will be coupled with similar documents from the New World, chronicling the history of the Spanish Sephardim in America.

You will have an opportunity to meet Dr Hart at an informal Wine and Lite Bites beginning at 6:30 pm in the social hall.

The cost is $7.00 per person, with RSVPs and payment due by January 26th

There will be a lay-led service beginning at 7:30 pm in the Sanctuary. Dr Hart will speak during the service. Everyone is invited to attend the Oneg following services, where you will have further opportunities to visit with Dr Hart.

Dr Hart is a cultural anthropologist and former university vice president and dean.


He is the publisher and editor of Gaon Books, located in Santa Fe. Gaon Books is particularly interested in publishing works of Jewish non-fiction and works that feature women’s voices. Its focus is on history, spirituality and Sephardic traditions.

Dr Hart is an active member of the board of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, serving as Program Chair for four years. He earned his PhD in cultural anthropology from Indiana University, and went on to do post-doctoral work at Oxford University in Jewish studies, focusing on Sephardic figures from Medieval Europe.

This is one Shabbat Sparks event
you definitely won’t want to miss! 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Get Intro'd to Judaism

Want to Be Jewish? Now you've got your chance! Abq Jew proudly announces that

the Rabbinical and Cantorial Association of Albuquerque (RACAA), Congregation Albert, Congregation B'nai Israel, Congregation Nahalat Shalom and the Albuquerque JCC
are sponsoring an Introduction to Judaism class for those
who are interested in a journey toward Judaism
or who are already on their Jewish journey. 


YES! There will be tuition! And the tuition will be $54 plus books.

YES! There will be required reading! And the required reading will be:
  • Essential Judaism by George Robinson
  • Living Judaism by Wayne Dosick
  • Jewish Holidays by Michael Strassfeld
  • JPS Tanach (provided by Rabbi Kantrowitz) 
YES! There will be suggested reading! And the suggested reading will be:
  • Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
  • Settings of Silver by Stephen Wylan 
  • Essential Judaism by George Robinson
  • Choosing Judaism by Lydia Kukoff
  • Lovesong: Becoming a Jew by Julius Lester  
  • Finding God: Selected Responses by Rifat Soncino & Daniel Syme 
YES! There will be a schedule of classes and a list of who's teaching what! And the class schedule and instructor list will be:
  • January 27 – Perspectives on Conversion; Who is a Jew & What is Judaism (All RACAA) 
  • February 3 – God & Faith (Rabbi Flicker)
  • February 10 – Jewish Texts: TaNaCh (Rabbi Kantrowitz) 
  • February 17 – Jewish Texts: Talmud, Midrash (Rabbi Rosenfeld)
  • February 24 – Talking to God: Prayer, Communal Worship, Tour of Facility & worship space (Cantor Finn)
  • March 2 – Life Cycle: Birth, Education, Bat/Bar Mitzvah, Wedding (Cantor Finn)
  • March 9 – Life Cycle: Death & Mourning, Kashrut, Mezuzah (Rabbi Kantrowitz)
  • March 16 - The Jewish Year: Chanukah, Tu Bishvat, Purim, Tisha B’Av and the Jewish Calendar (Rabbi Brin)
  • March 23 – Celebrate Purim at the Congregation of your Choice!
  • March 30 - The Jewish Year: HHD & Festivals (Rabbi Brin)
  • April 6 – Shabbat (Rabbi Carp)
  • April 13 – Comparative Judaism, Judaism & Other Faith Traditions, Chanukah & Christmas (Rabbi Carp)
  • April 20 – Emancipation & Jews in Europe (Rabbi Flicker)
  • April 27 – Anti-Semitism and the Shoah (Rabbi Rosenfeld)
  • May 4 – Zionism and the State of Israel (Rabbi Rosenfeld)
  • May 11 – A Practical Guide & other questions (Cantor Finn) 
And YES! There will be a way to register! And the pathway to registration will be:

To register, 
contact Susan @ (505) 883-1818
or education@congregationalbert.org


Students! You will soon learn that Judaism is not all laughter and singing. Some of it is dancing! And some of it is tragedy. Nevertheless, in spite of it all -

Or as we Jews sometimes (not often enough) say

אַלע ברידער  Ale Brider!
All of us are brothers!
even those of us who are sisters


Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Story is Enough

The Rebbe's Orkestra! Abq Jew is happy to announce (OK ... it's been up on the Abq Jew Calendar for weeks ... and there's even a Facebook Event page) that The Rebbe's Orkestra will present


The Story is Enough
A special pre-KlezmerQuerque concert celebrating
Judaic music passed down through the generations 
Saturday January 23 ~ 7:30 pm
The Historic San Miguel Chapel

The Facebook Event page tells us:
The 6-member nationally recognized ensemble, founded in Albuquerque in 1996, will tell the story through ballads, folk songs, romances, chants, coplas, nigunnim, and even a Benny Goodman piece – all in the languages of Hebrew, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), Yiddish, and English – plus one song each in Hungarian, Greek, Romany and Arabic. 
The Rebbe's Orkestra's instrumentation includes accordion, violin, Bb and Bass clarinets, bowed psaltery, guitar, bass, mandolin, tenor banjo, Macedonian tamburas, pennywhistle, and percussion instruments such as the daide, riq, tar drum, tupan, cymbal, snare drum, woodblocks and Turkish wooden spoons. Several klezmer instrumental tunes for which the band is famous, will also be incorporated into the program.


And why, Abq Jew hears you ask, is this concert called The Story is Enough? Here is the story:
When the founder of Hasidic Judaism, the great Rabbi Israel Shem Tov, saw misfortune threatening the Jews, it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to meditate. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and the miracle would be accomplished and the misfortune averted. 
Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Maggid of Mezritch, had occasion for the same reason to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say, "Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer." Again the miracle would be accomplished. 
Still later, Rabbi Moshe-leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more, would go into the forest and say, "I do not know how to light the fire. I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient." It was sufficient, and the miracle was accomplished. 
Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhin to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his armchair, his head in his hands, he spoke to God, "I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer and I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient." 
And it was sufficient. 
For God made man because he loves stories.



A Few Notes

1. If you just can't wait to see and hear The Rebbe's Orkestra, they are also appearing this Friday at the N4th Theater.


2. Did you miss The Rebbe's Orkestra at N4th? Wow! What a great concert! What a great audience!


So - if you want to hear even more of The Rebbe's Orkestra and even more fine klezmer music, KlezmerQuerque 2016 is coming!


3. If you want to listen to more fine klezmer music but really prefer not to wait until KlezmerQuerque 2016, Di Kavene Kapelye will be performing at the UNM Hillel House. It's a fundraising concert for KlezmerQuerque 2016.


4. If you want to play - or learn to play - klezmer music right here in Albuquerque, you should talk to Beth Cohen (of Congregation Nahalat Shalom and The Rebbe's Orkestra) about joining the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band.

They'll be performing at the Community Havdalah and Dance Party at the Abq JCC on Saturday night, February 6.


5. Or you can join in at one of the fortnightly Klezmer Jam Sessions held at the UNM Hillel House.


6. If you like stories - and especially Jewish stories - Abq Jew is building a website, Oy! Kreplach!, just for such. Not quite ready for prime time - but feel free to take a look. Click here if you want to know why the website is called Oy! Kreplach!.


7. If you want to hear klezmer right now, or perhaps just before Shabbos - Abq Jew strongly recommends the Shabbos hymn Shalom Aleichem, performed LIVE! by the incomparable duo David Grisman and Andy Statman,


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Milestone - 400,005 Page Views

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  On January 12, 2016, at 1:44 pm New Mexico (Mountain) Time, this Abq Jew Blog achieved 400,005 All Time Page Views.


We achieved 360,000 All Time Page Views
on August 27, 2015 - about 5 months ago.
That's about 290 Page Views per Day.
Plus 3,660 Facebook Likes; 10,000 Weekly Post Reach;
and 1,900 Twitter Followers.
Thank you!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Blessing for Bezalel

A Bracha for Bernstein:  When Mr & Mrs Abq Jew and his wife recently attended a live and in person performance by the wonderful pianist (and Congregation B'nai Israel landsman) Elias Axel Pettersson, they were both so moved that they were tempted to recite a bracha (blessing).


But they couldn't recite a bracha - because they couldn't figure out which bracha to recite.  In fact, the whole experience raised a profound (OK, to Abq Jew) question:

Does Judaism even have a blessing for artistic talent?
For a beautiful (abstract, of course) sculpture?
For an outstanding musical performance?
For a great night of theater?

Oh - if you've never had the pleasure of hearing Elias play live and in person or otherwise, here is a brief introduction from his website:
Hailed for his “breathtaking virtuosity and an intelligent sense of precisely what brings music to life” (Albuquerque Journal), Swedish-American pianist Elias-Axel Pettersson is quickly establishing himself as a formidable soloist and chamber musician. 
The late Ralph Berkowitz wrote “…he is a rare musician who can project his ideas from the piano directly into the hearts and minds of his audience.” 
Pettersson is a Mason & Hamlin Concert Artist and has garnered prizes on the national and international level. He has been heard on national (USA) radio through KHFM and KUNM. 
Which brings us back to our question:

What brachas for the senses are in Judaism's repertoire?


As it turns out, there are plenty.

Blessings for Sight
The standard siddur (Jewish prayerbook) lists brachot for these seeing events:
  • Upon seeing lightning, falling stars, lofty mountains, or great deserts: one recites "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has made the creation (עשה מעשה בראשׁית)."
  • Upon seeing the ocean: one recites " ... who hast made the great sea (שׁעשה חים הגדול)."
  • Upon seeing beautiful trees or animals: one recites " ... who has such as these in his world (שׁכּכה לו בּעלמו)."
  • Upon seeing trees blossoming: one recites " ... who has withheld nothing from his world, and has created in it beautiful creatures and goodly trees for the enjoyment of mankind. (שׁלא חסר בּעולמו דבר וברא בו טובות ואילנות טובים להנות בּהם בּני אדם)"
  • Upon seeing a rainbow (this is one of Abq Jew's favorites): one recites " ... who remembers the covenant, is faithful to your covenant, and keeps your promise (זוכר הבּרית ונאמן בּבריתו וקים בּמאמרו)."
So much for seeing nature.  How about for seeing people?
  • Upon seeing a sage distinguished for his Torah knowledge: one recites " ... who has imparted of his wisdom to those who fear him (שׁחלק מחכמתו ליראיו)."
  • Upon seeing a wise man distinguished for other than Torah knowledge: one recites " ... who has given of his wisdom to flesh and blood (שׁתן מחכמתו לבשׂר ודם)."
  • Upon seeing a non-Jewish king: one recites " ... who has given of his glory to flesh and blood (שׁתן מכבודו לבשׂר ודם).\
  • Upon seeing a Jewish king: one recites " ... who has given of his glory to those who fear him (שׁתן מכבודו  ליראיו).
Blessings for Hearing
The standard siddur lists brachot for these hearing events:
  • Upon hearing thunder: one recites " ... whose strength and might fill the world (שׁכּחו וגבורתו מלא עולם)."
  • Upon hearing good news: one recites " ... who is good, and who does good (הטוב והמטיב)."
  • Upon hearing bad news: one recites " ... the true Judge (דין האמת)."
  • Upon hearing the shofar: one recites " ... and who commanded us regarding listening to the sound of the shofar (וציונו לשמוע קול שׁופר)."
Blessings for Smell
The standard siddur lists brachot for these smelling events:
  • Upon smelling fragrant fruits: one recites " ... who gave a fragrant scent to fruit (אשׁר נתן ריח טוב בּפּירות)."
  • Upon smelling fragrant woods or barks: one recites " ... who created fragrant woods (בּורא עצי בסמים)."
  • Upon smelling fragrant plants: one recites " ... who created fragrant herbs (בּורא עשׂבי בסמים)."
  • Upon smelling fragrant spices: one recites " ... who created various kinds of spices (בּורא מני בסמים)."
Blessings for Touch
The standard siddur lists brachot for these touching events:
  • Upon washing (lifting) the hands: one recites " ... and who commanded us regarding the lifting of the hands (וציונו על נטילת ידים)."
  • Upon lifting the lulav: one recites " ... and who commanded us regarding the lifting of the lulav (וציונו על נטילת לולב)."
Blessings for Taste
The standard siddur lists brachot for more tasting events (you know - eating) than Abq Jew can easily list. But the most important are:
  • Before eating bread: one recites " ... who brings forth bread from the earth (המוציא לחם מן הארץ)."
  • Before drinking wine: one recites " ... who creates the fruit of the vine (בּורא פּרי הגפן)."
  • Before eating almost anything except bread or drinking almost anything except wine: one recites " ... who with his word created everything (שׁהכּל נהיה בּדברו)."


But all those brachot, as beautiful and as meaningful as they might be, do not answer Abq Jew's quest or question. What Abq Jew is looking for is something more like this quote from the 1984 movie Amadeus:
Antonio Salieri: [reflecting upon a Mozart score]  
Astounding! It was actually, it was beyond belief. But they showed no corrections of any kind. Not one. He had simply written down music already finished in his head! 
Page after page of it as if he were just taking dictation. 
And music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall. It was clear to me that sound I had heard in the Archbishop's palace had been no accident. 
Here again was the very voice of God! 
I was staring through the cage of those meticulous ink-strokes at an absolute beauty.

Abq Jew has been forced over the years to concede that The Holy One, Blessed Be He, is, was, and will be neither a musician nor an artist.

He is, was, and will, however, be, an architect (and a fashion designer). Most importantly, He recognizes talent when He sees it - as in the case of Bezalel:
Exodus Chapter 31 
1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: 
2 'See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 
 וָאֲמַלֵּא אֹתוֹ רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים בְּחָכְמָה וּבִתְבוּנָה וּבְדַעַת וּבְכָל-מְלָאכָה
3 and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 
4 to devise skillful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 
5 and in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all manner of workmanship.



So, Abq Jew hears you ask: Where is the bracha?

That doesn't come until the very last verse of Exodus Chapter 39 -  the story of the Golden Calf (oy!) intercedes.
Exodus Chapter 39 
43 And when Moses saw that they [Bezalel and Oholiab and other artist union members] had performed all tasks - as the Lord had commanded, so had they done - Moses blessed them.
"Thanks for the work, boys!" - that's it?


Abq Jew searched the Internet but could not find a video of Elias-Axel Pettersson performing Frederic Chopin's Twelve Etudes Opus 25 Number 5 in E Minor, Wrong Note. (Elias performed all of the Twelve Etudes at the concert, but Abq Jew was particularly taken with Number 5.)

So here instead is another talented Jewish pianist, Evgeny Kissin.

About Opus 25, Wikipedia tells us:
Chopin's second set of Études was published in 1837, and dedicated to Franz Liszt's mistress, Marie d'Agoult, the reasons for which are a matter of speculation.