Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Yosemite to Jerusalem

50 Years Ago: On this day, Jews all over the world celebrate. For on this day, fifty years ago, Jerusalem, the Eternal Capital of Israel, was reunited.

Video art was projected on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City on May 21, 2017,
during the ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification
during the 1967 Six-Day War       
Photo by Hadas Parush/FLASH90

In the days leading up to the Six Day War, in California's Yosemite Valley, about the only way to find out what was happening in the world was to read the daily newspapers that were trucked in from San Francisco. 

Radio didn't reach, and TV? - fuggetaboutit. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, apparently didn't think anyone at Yosemite should do anything but look at the natural wonders all around them.

But things were happening.

On May 16, Egypt moved its army into the Sinai
and demanded that UN peacekeepers withdraw.
On May 18, UN Secretary General U Thant acceded to the Egyptian demand.
On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.
On May 26, President Johnson warned Israel not to attack first.

On Monday May 29, the United States observed Memorial Day. 

Abq Jew and his parents z"l spent the entire weekend at Yosemite National Park, doing what Jews all over the world were doing - watching, waiting, worrying.

Dr Yitzhak Yifat, Tzion Karasenti, and Chaim Oshri
May 2017, and in David Rubinger's iconic 1967 photograph

We all know how the war turned out - thanks to men like Dr Yitzhak Yifat, Tzion Karasenti, and Chaim Oshri, and many more who gave their lives so that the State of Israel might continue to live.

Remember this book?  (Yes, it helps if you're of a certain age.)  Abq Jew lost his copy many years ago (but is willing to buy yours!), and considers So Sorry We Won one of the happiest, truest books ever.

The website The Six Day War tells us about the aftermath of the war.
After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel was — in Defense Minister Moshe Dayan's famous phrase — "waiting for a telephone call" from Arab leaders. Israelis expected to hear that now, at last, their neighbors were ready to talk peace. 
Having escaped not only feared annihilation, but also winning a seemingly miraculous victory, Israel's leaders did two things: They vowed not to return to the vulnerable armistice lines of 1948 and '49 or to a divided Jerusalem, and yet to be "unbelievably generous in working out peace terms," as Foreign Minister Abba Eban put it. In direct talks with Arab countries, "everything is negotiable," he said.
What actually happened? The Khartoum Declaration.
Finally, the leaders of thirteen Arab states gathered at a summit conference in Khartoum, Sudan from August 29 to September 1. 
There they pledged to continue their struggle against Israel. 
Influenced by Nasser, "their conditions were quite specific: no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and 'maintenance of the rights of the Palestinian people in their nation.' 
And after that? Fifty years of history. Some things changed, but some things didn't. Abq Jew is sure you know all about it.

But back to The Paratroopers. Andrew Tobin, writing in The Forward, tells us -
Between June 5 and 15, in honor of the Six-Day War’s 50th anniversary, the three former paratroopers, now in their 70s, will re-create Rubinger’s photo in their first-ever tour of the United States — with stops at Jewish communities and other locations in the Cleveland, Detroit, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and Baltimore areas. They will also recount some of the sacrifices that were made in the battle for Jerusalem.
And of the Battle for Jerusalem, and The Photograph, Mr Tobin writes -
The paratroopers rushed forward amid sniper fire from remaining Jordanian soldiers and rammed their way through the Lions’ Gate of the Old City. From there they made their way through narrow stone alleys and up to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. 
“The Temple Mount is in our hands,” Gur reported. 
Religious and secular paratroopers alike were awed by their return to the heart of the ancient Jewish homeland. 
“I didn’t realize where I was until I saw the Israeli flag flying above the stones, said Karasenti, an observant Jew. “I started to cry. Everyone was emotional. The whole nation of Israel was in ecstasy, euphoria. You can’t even imagine what it was like.” 
While Yifat, Karasenti and Chaim Oshri were walking along the wall, Rubinger, who died in March at 92, lay on the ground and snapped the photo that would make them — and him — famous. Within days, the image had appeared in newspapers around the world.

And The Song!

Old City walls decorated for Jerusalem Day, May 2017
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90

Monday, May 22, 2017

Little Shop of Dentistry

A Tribute to Orin Scrivello, DDS: Was it only last week that Abq Jew was under the care of one (1) dentist and one (1) oral surgeon? Abq Jew has been under so much sedation that he has lost all track of time.

On Motzei Shabbat, Abq Jew celebrated a rare period of consciousness by watching one of his favorite Jewish movies, 1986's Little Shop of Horrors.
Little Shop of Horrors is a 1986 American rock musical horror comedy film directed by Frank Oz. It is a film adaptation of the off-Broadway musical comedy of the same name by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman about a nerdy florist shop worker who raises a vicious, raunchy plant that feeds on human blood. 
Menken and Ashman's Off-Broadway musical was based on the low-budget 1960 film The Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Roger Corman. 
The 1986 film stars Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, and Levi Stubbs as the voice of Audrey II. The film also featured special appearances by James Belushi, John Candy, Christopher Guest, and Bill Murray. 
It was produced by David Geffen through The Geffen Company and released by Warner Bros. on December 19, 1986.

How, Abq Jew hears you ask, could a film that depicts (some might say glorifies) the Noahide (which is not to mention halachic) prohibition of ever min hachai (eating flesh of a living animal), be considered a Jewish film?

Well ... 
  1. First, follow the links that Abq Jew has thoughtfully provided only for the Jews involved in the production of this happy-go-lucky film.
  2. Then, consider the name of the flower shop's owner - Mushnik. Does this name sound Italian to you?
  3. And while we're on the subject, do (did) any Greeks named Krelborn name their sons Seymour?
  4. Finally, consider that "dentist" was considered a wonderful profession for a nice Jewish boy who couldn't be a "real" doctor or a lawyer.

For those too young to have seen this epic film or too old to remember anything about it - here is how the story begins.
Seymour Krelborn and his colleague, Audrey, work at Mushnik's Flower Shop in a run-down, rough neighborhood referred to as "Skid Row" in the slums of New York City. They lament that they cannot escape the neighborhood. 
Struggling from a lack of customers, Mr. Mushnik decides to close the store, but Audrey suggests he may have more success by displaying an unusual plant that Seymour owns. Immediately attracting a customer, Seymour explains he bought the plant, which he dubbed "Audrey II", from a Chinese flower shop during a solar eclipse. 
Attracting business to Mushnik's shop, the plant soon starts dying, worrying Seymour. Accidentally pricking his finger, he then discovers Audrey II needs human blood to thrive. 
Audrey II continues to grow rapidly and Seymour becomes a local celebrity. Seymour soon attempts to ask Audrey out, but she turns him down because she has a date with her sadistic, mean-spirited dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello. 

Two Fun Facts
  1. The film's Storyline in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) was written by Hannah Montaniwitz.
  2. Ellen Greene's father was a dentist.

Truly, to be a dentist is to be a health provider. To which The History of Dentistry proudly attests. But please excuse Abq Jew, as he is off to take another pain pill.

In the meantime - enjoy this video!

About Drugs and Their Potential Abuse

Following last Tuesday's dental procedure, wherein two-thirds of the hopeless prognosis tooth were removed, Abq Jew's dentist prescribed Ibuprofen for mild pain; the antibiotic Clindamycin; and, for severe pain, Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen - generic Vicodin (16 pills, no refills).

Following last Thursday's oral surgery, wherein the final third of the hopeless prognosis tooth was removed, Abq Jew's oral surgeon - without referring to the List of Medications that Abq Jew had provided - prescribed the antibiotic Amoxicillin; and, for severe pain, Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen (30 pills, no refills).

Abq Jew does not recall questioning the oral surgeon's Rx duplication. In fact, Abq Jew does not recall anything between the time he stepped into the surgery room (perhaps 10:30 am) and the time (don't worry; Mrs Abq Jew was driving) he woke up in his bed (5:30 pm).

Was that much anesthesia really needed? Was a double dose of antibiotic really called for? These questions bother Abq Jew a little.

But not nearly as much as this -

Within two days, Abq Jew's pharmacy - without question - filled two separate prescriptions for a controlled medication that the pharmacy keeps in a time-locked safe.

This is how the opioid epidemic sustains itself.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Borrowed Cholent Pot

The Tooth and Nothing But: Oy. As it turns out, Abq Jew will be visiting his favorite dentist this afternoon, and expects to return home minus one hopeless prognosis tooth. Oy. And after the novocaine wears off, who knows if posting a blog will be a good idea?

So here is a simple story - an old Yiddish folk tale - that may have some bearing on the times in which we are fortunate to live.

Once upon a time ... 

Jared and Ivanka (names randomly chosen) lived in a tiny shtetl in - where else? - Russia, a land they all loved, even (some say especially) before the Revolution.

Ivanka's father, who just happened to live next door to the happy couple (Ivanka's parents had been divorced for years) dropped by one Friday morning and asked to borrow Ivanka's cholent pot for Shabbos.

What could Ivanka do? She and Jared and the kids (did I mention the kids?) would be spending Shabbos with their friends in the shtetl three down and one across. So Ivanka gave her father the cholent pot, so he could have hot food for Shabbos.

"Be careful with this, Papa," Ivanka said. "It's the only cholent pot we've got, and we can't afford another."

Shabbos came, and Shabbos went. 

On Sunday afternoon, Ivanka's father stopped by to return the cholent pot he had borrowed.

"Papa, the handle has broken off and the pot is cracked!" Ivanka exclaimed. "And I asked you to be especially careful with it! Now what will we do?"

"Before you blame me," said Ivanka's father, "there are three things I must tell you in my defense."

"First - I never borrowed your cholent pot." 

"Second - I have returned the cholent pot in good condition, just as when I borrowed it." 

"Third - the cholent pot was broken when you lent it to me."

And for those of you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, who were unable to attend Nikitov's Santa Fe performance - here is an encore from their 2004 album, Amulet.

Now, to the dentist!

Tooth Fairy Update
Two-thirds of the hopeless prognosis tooth were removed on Tuesday, and the final third was removed on Thursday. Don't ask; you really don't want to know.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nikitov Buying A Fisbank in Himl

A Songbird Who Sings: If you thought Yiddish was dead, think again! Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven. It makes Abq Jew wonder.

Which is one more reason why Abq Jew is happy to report that Niki Jacobs and her Dutch musical group Nikitov, now touring the United States, will make a stop at Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe on Monday May 15.

Temple Beth Shalom, Sana Fe
Monday May 15 @ 7:00 pm
Click here for Nikitov's USA tour schedule

Nikitov has performed throughout Europe in Amsterdam, Munich, and Vienna (et al). Their US tour will include San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, Bristol, Sommerville, Philadelphia, and New York.

Niki Jacobs’ hauntingly beautiful voice and her group’s outstanding interpretation of new and traditional Yiddish songs combined with the expressive quality of the Yiddish language makes this music unforgettable.

In her show, Mameloshn, Niki presents not only classic melodies, but also brings a variety of beautifully translated pop songs to life in an ancient language.

This concert is underwritten by the Shulman Family Charitable Fund in honor of their daughter Rebecca’s wedding. There is no charge for admission, but donations are welcome.

Nikitov features vocals by Niki Jacobs backed by violist Ro Krauss, double bass player Edwin Wieringa, cellist Emile Visser, and accordionist Peter van Os.

Here is more info from the Nikitov website:
The sophisticated European jazz / pop arrangements and musicianship of the Dutch band Nikitov are balanced by their loving embrace by the lead singer, Niki Jacobs, of her Yiddish roots. 
The result is a hip, sexy, heartfelt yet unsentimental sound that integrates the mellifluousness of the Yiddish language with the contemporary artistry of this wonderful ensemble. 
Performing in Dutch, Yiddish, English and German, Niki’s voice and performance style are pure and loving. Nikitov is comprised of double bass, trumpet, violin, cello and, of course, Niki’s moving voice.
Jacob's Ladder  ~  Marc Chagall

We Jews, it turns out, know a lot about Stairways to Heaven, starting with Babel's City Tower and continuing with our patriarch Jacob's Ladder.

And then there's the timeless song A Fisbank in Himl, perhaps a bit better known as Stairway to Heaven -
"Stairway to Heaven" is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released in late 1971. 
It was composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant for the band's untitled fourth studio album (often called Led Zeppelin IV). 
It is often referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time. 
The song has three sections, each one progressively increasing in tempo and volume. The song begins in a slow tempo with acoustic instruments (guitar and recorders) before introducing electric instruments.  
The final section is an uptempo hard rock arrangement highlighted by Page's intricate guitar solo accompanying Plant's vocals that end with the plaintive a cappella line: 
"And she's buying a stairway to heaven."
What, Abq Jew hears you ask, could be more Jewish than singing about a Stairway to Heaven? Abq Jew's answer -

Singing Stairway to Heaven in Yiddish!

A Fisbank in Himl is just one of the songs in Nikitov's repertoire, but it's the one that really caught Abq Jew's attention. Want the old version? Click here. With the lyrics! As if any of us don't already know them!

Nikitov Temple Beth Shalom Santa Fe Monday May 15 7:00 pm
And it's whispered that soon, if we all call the tune, then the piper will lead us to reason.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Walking to Jerusalem

Going to Graceland: The exultation of Israel's Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day), immediately preceded by the sorrow of Israel's Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day), are now behind us.

And while it is meaningful and wonderful to observe these days in Albuquerque and throughout the Diaspora, Abq Jew must tell you (as if you don't already know) -

Whoever has not celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut in
the Land of Israel has never felt pure joy in his life.

And Abq Jew need not point out that 6,484000 Jewish Israelis live in Israel. Or that, out of the 14.3 million Jewish people in the world, 43% reside in Israel.

Or that we are here, wherever we are, in Exile, and that we only dream of living in Israel after we are dead (see Torah and Talmud and Zombies). Perhaps long after.

Which brings us to La Puerta Natural Burial Ground, which Abq Jew has been thinking about since his recent "visit" (see Opening La Puerta del Cielo).

Others more qualified than Abq Jew have also been thinking about La Puerta, and have even come up with a Preliminary Plan for dividing up part of the 40-acre territory into 341 10 ft x 15 ft burial plots for future Jewish use.

Details are still (of course) to be worked out, and the Preliminary Plan may certainly be extensively modified or even replaced. But Abq Jew finds it of particular interest that, unlike ... those who dwell ... in the Greater New York cemeteries with which he is familiar -

Everyone at La Puerta will face East.

Why is that? Chabad (of course!) answers that question -
I too have found that in many cemeteries graves face different directions, though the graves in a given section mostly face the same direction. After some research, I have found that there is no absolute rule regarding how the graves in a cemetery should be aligned. 
However, there could be several reasons that graves face the same direction in each section of the cemetery. Practically, it saves space. Another reason might be the general rule that tombstones should not be designed to be larger than the other tombstones in the same section. Therefore it is suggested that the graves be placed in an orderly way so as not to bring any attention to any one grave over another. 
While researching this topic, I found an interesting responsum in Jewish law from Rabbi Moshe Sofer, known as the Chatam Sofer (from the name of his volumes on Jewish law). 
He says that, while Jewish law does not require all graves to face any particular direction, in anticipation of the ultimate redemption and the messianic era, when all will be resurrected, there was a custom that evolved in many communities: 
  • In many cemeteries, the bodies are buried with their feet facing the entrance to the cemetery, to symbolize that they will leave the cemetery at the time of the resurrection of the dead.
  • At the time of the resurrection, everyone will head to the Land of Israel, and therefore some cemeteries are set up so that the feet of the dead face the direction that one would take to travel to Israel.

Because of all this, Abq Jew started thinking again. Which raised the question -

When we Albuquerque Jews face East, where are we looking?

Where else in the World, in other words, is the latitude pretty much exactly the same as Albuquerque's -

35.110703 degrees North

It turns out that the only Major World City at more or less that exact latitude (which is to say, directly and somewhat precisely East of Albuquerque) is

Memphis, Tennessee

So when we Albuquerque Jews turn to the East, we are indeed facing

The King @ Graceland

Abq Jew has checked his sources, and it turns out that the latitude of the Holy City of Jerusalem is 

31.771959 degrees North

Which puts, according to this handy calculator, Albuquerque about 230 miles North of Jerusalem. And about 9,800 miles West.

Way back in the Olden Days, Abq Jew recalls, one could only find out where he was by a) asking for directions, which men (even then) never did; or by b) checking his good old Astrolabe (not, as it turns out, a Labe invented in Houston).

But today, Abq Jew has been informed, we have the Global Positioning System, aka GPS. And at La Puerta, the exact GPS location of each ... permanent resident ... is recorded and archived.

Which means, suggests Abq Jew, that -

We now have the technology to accurately point
our dead feet directly toward Jerusalem.
Or we could just tilt them slightly South of East and call it a day.

Ah, but back to Memphis.

Lots of song writers have written songs about Memphis, and lots of song singers have sung them. For example - Chuck BerryJohnny Rivers, Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band, Marc Cohn, and Hoagy Carmichael.

And (of course) Paul Simon.

But I've reason to believe 
We all will be received 
In Graceland 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Summer 2017 @ OASIS Abq

Great Courses @ OASIS:  Abq Jew is pleased to inform you that

OASIS Albuquerque has just announced
their Summer 2017 line-up of classes!
Registration opens on
Wednesday May 3
but you can Wish List your selections now.


The mission of OASIS (as stated on the organization's website) is

To promote healthy aging through a three-fold approach: lifelong learning, healthy living
and social engagement. 
OASIS Albuquerque Executive Director Kathleen Raskob continues (as always) to work enthusiastically to bring you new and interesting class offerings, and continues to make sure there are plenty of courses of Jewish interest. This session's courses and instructors include but are by no means limited to:

Hallelujah: The Life & Times of Leonard Cohen
Tue 16 May 2017 @ 1:00 pm - #59
Instructor: Jane Ellen
What It Is: Singer, songwriter, musician, poet, novelist -- there appeared to be no limit to the talents of Leonard Cohen (1934-2016). A man of remarkable complexities and seeming contradictions (a devout Jew and an ordained Buddhist monk, for example), his work was intelligent and evocative, exploring the definitive issues of human life. A recording artist for 50 years, he released a trilogy of albums during the last four years of his life, including 2016's "You Want It Darker."

Spies in Los Alamos During World War II
Fri 19 May 2017 @ 10:30 am - #109
Instructor: Richard Melzer
What It Is: The project to develop the world's first atomic bomb was to be the most secure operation of World War II. It was not. This presentation describes how security at Los Alamos was supposed to work but soon failed, leading to easy access for three spies: David Greenglass, Klaus Fuchs, and Ted Hall, and their Communist handlers. Using autobiographies, oral histories, and previously classified information, Richard Melzer tells this absorbing story, complete with anecdotes and ironic humor.

The Opposite of Comfortable
Fri 26 May 2017 @ 10:30 am - #9
Instructor: Sharon Nir
What It Is: No matter what prompts the need to shake a life, it is always possible to reposition or rejuvenate yourself. Yet the ability to succeed is strongly and positively correlated with the ability to overlook every concept you lived by that cannot fit into your new reality. Follow Sharon Nir's journey through the baffling and grueling process of professional immigration in the United States. Struggling through difficult and rapidly changing circumstances, she eventually found fulfillment, balance, and happiness.

Life Under Two Dictatorships
Wed 7 Jun 2017 @ 1:00 pm - #43
Instructor: Evy Woods
What It Is: It was unbelievable for assimilated German Jewish families that their birth country, a great cultural center, would threaten their very lives. After all, their grandfathers had fought bravely in the trenches during the Great War for the Kaiser. This is the personal story of an assimilated German Jewish family and their terrifying flight from Hitler's Final Solution, followed by liberation and three-year detention by the advancing Russian Army.

Memoir Writing: How to Tell Your Story
Tue 13 Jun 2017 @ 1:00 pm - #84
Instructor: Norma Libman
What It Is: Everyone has a story to tell, and now is the time to tell yours. In her memoir writing workshop, Norma Libman shows you how to retrieve memories you thought were forgotten, how to get them written down, and how to organize them into your own life story. Whether you want to record your story for your children and grandchildren, just for yourself, or even for publication, this class gets you started. Bring paper and pen for writing and Norma promises you will have written a start to your memoir when the workshop is over.

Soul On Fire: The Work of Elie Wiesel
Thu 29 Jun 2017 @ 10:30 am - #56
Instructor: Paul Citrin
What It Is: The late Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, storyteller, and voice for a decent human future, was a prolific writer, teacher, and "rabbi to humanity." Examine some of his writing, his commitments and his message to us. His life and work bear witness to the human capacity for evil and to our much greater strength to affirm life, justice and hope.

Pope Pius XII: Hitler's Pope or Friend of the Jewish People?
Thu 27 Jul 2017 @ 10:30 am - #91
Instructor: Christopher Zugger
What It Is: Recent research challenges 30 years of presumptions of Pope Pius XII, Nazis, the Holocaust, and what is often called The Silence of Pius. Examine Pius, the Catholic Church as it was in the late 1930s, and how Hitler and Mussolini themselves viewed the Church and its Pope. See what Stalin did post-War to crush the Catholic Church in Soviet-ruled Europe and a special campaign against Pius himself.

The Korean War & Its Aftermath
Wed 2 Aug & Wed 9 Aug 2017 @ 10:30 am - #47
Instructor: Noel Pugach
What It Is: The Korean War broke out in June 1950 and has been coined as the "forgotten war." But it transformed American involvement in East Asia after World War II. This course examines the causes of the war and US participation in it as well as its very important consequences. We then survey America's continuing relationship with North and South Korea over the following decades.

Remembering Lenny: The Life of Leonard Bernstein
Mon 21 Aug 2017 @ 1:00 am - #72
Instructor: Jane Ellen
What It Is: Composer, conductor, and perhaps most importantly, a born teacher, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a unique voice in American music of the 20th century. His creative energies appeared boundless, encompassing Broadway, symphonic works, film scores, ballets, opera, chamber music, and concerts designed for children. He gave lectures and authored books, famously helped define jazz alongside Louis Armstrong, and gave of himself as a philanthropist as well as a political and social activist.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Remembering the Iasi Pogrom

A MyHeritage Journey: In March (see The Dutch Jews at Sobibor) Abq Jew wrote about the branch of his family in or from the Netherlands.

And back in December (see Starting With Aunt Bea), Abq Jew wrote about his Aunt Bea, her friend Ronnie Gilbert (of Weavers fame), and - as it turned out - our mutual relative, Donna Korones.

And how we had all been brought together by Cousin Eleanore, Ronnie's memoir, MyHeritage.com, and Great Grand Mama's printout of the Oring Family Tree.

MyHeritage has now helped Abq Jew build out his Family Tree - from his father's (z"l) original 646 people to now more than 5,700.

This evening, we begin our observance of
יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה Yom HaShoah viLaGevurah
(Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day).

Let's continue our journey with Great Grand Mama, Abq Jew's beloved mother-in-law. Who had in her possession a Family Tree for her father's family, the Orings, built by her grandfather's half brother's granddaughter Linda Lou Samuels z"l, who (alas) passed away in 2011.

Great Grand Mama's Family Tree included two entire branches that were heretofore unknown. The first branch was in Romania, but made its way to Israel in the 1970s. The second branch was also in Romania, but never left.

The fate of the second Romanian branch is largely unknown. The fate of other members of Abq Jew's family in Europe, however, is.

Gmina Oświęcim, Oświęcim County,
Lesser Poland Voivodeship, Poland

Sobibór, Włodawa County, Lublin Voivodeship, Poland

Terezin/Theresienstadt, Czech Republic

And then there are Rachel and Etti Oring, Mrs Abq Jew's first cousins twice removed, who appear on the Family Tree with a shared year of death and no descendants. Their fate was

Died in Pogrom, Iasi, Roumania

It was a bit of a shock for Abq Jew to see those words printed so clearly on Great Grand Mama's Family Tree. He had not been aware of the Oring family's Romanian roots (neither had Mrs Abq Jew); and he had not known of the Iasi pogrom.

So Abq Jew looked it up. Yad Vashem tells us
Jews first settled in Iasi, located in the Moldavia district of Romania, in the late fifteenth century. The majority of Jews in Iasi earned a living from local commerce and as artisans. Iasi became an important center of Jewish life, and approximately ninety synagogues once existed there. 
In 1930, Jews made up thirty percent of the city’s population, totaling 35,465 persons.  
On Saturday evening, June 28, 1941, Romanian and German soldiers, members of the Romanian Special Intelligence Service, police, and masses of residents murdered and plundered the Jews of Iasi. Thousands were killed in their homes and in the streets; additional thousands were arrested by patrols of Romanian and German soldiers and taken to police headquarters.  
Lazar Rozin, who was only fourteen years old in June 1941, describes, “They entered our house, screaming and pillaging all of our belongings. They ordered us all out of the house, also my mother and my sisters. We walked to the police station and on the way we saw how people were beaten and bodies of dead Jews were strewn in the streets.” 
The next day, “Black Sunday,” Romanian soldiers shot thousands of Jews who had interned in the police headquarters yard.
Approximately 4,000 Jews, rounded up from all parts of town, were packed into freight cars and vans. The “death trains” were sealed and moved back and forth between railway stations. 2,650 of them died of suffocation or thirst, and others lost their sanity. 
Lazar Rozin states, “They piled us into the train…we did not know what was going to happen…we thought that they would not want to set the cars ablaze only because they did not want to destroy the locomotive itself … For five days we suffocated in that crowded train. Most of the people died in the car… we slept on dead bodies.” 
During the pogrom, the Romanian authorities, together with German soldiers, not only murdered thousands of Jewish residents of Iasi, but also sought to destroy an entire community that had existed for more than 300 years.

And what became of those who perpetrated this atrocity? Wikipedia tells us
The Romanian People's Tribunals were conducted in 1946 and a total of 57 people were tried for the Iaşi pogroms: eight from the higher military echelons, the prefect of Iaşi county and the mayor of Iaşi, four military figures, 21 civilians and 22 gendarmes. One hundred sixty-five witnesses, mostly survivors of the pogrom, were called to the stand. 
The majority of those sentenced under war crimes and crimes against peace (article 2 of Law no. 291/1947), 23 people (including generals and colonels), received life sentences with hard labor and 100 million lei in damages. One colonel received a life sentence in harsh conditions and 100 million lei in damages. 
The next-largest group, twelve accused, were sentenced to 20 years hard labor each. Sentences of 25 years hard labor were received by seven accused. Smaller groups received a 20-year harsh sentence and 15 years hard labor, and one accused was sentenced to five years hard labor. Several accused were acquitted.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Becoming Animated

The Log Driver's Waltz: We New MexiJews, along with Jews all over the world, have (in most cases) made it through another delightful Passover holiday. Eight full days (here in חו״ל) of eating, sleeping, singing, reading, praying, and eating some more.

So now it must be time to dance!

On Sunday evening, April 9 (Mrs Abq Jew's birthday!), Turner Classic Movies (TCM) was pleased to present (says Animation World Network) "a primetime program of screenings and interviews on animated short films produced by the National Film Board of Canada."

And, as The Solute tells us -
On Sunday Night, TCM is showing a variety of these films through the decades from the abstract works of McLaren to 1988’s Academy Award-nominated cartoon The Cat Came Back. The evening tackles a wide array of subjects from nuclear war (The Big Snit) to mid-life crisis (Bob’s Birthday which would become the series Bob and Margaret) to our ubiquitous dependency on cars (What On Earth!) to the microscopic wonders of the world (Zea). Many of the films have been nominated or won Academy Awards for best Animated Short. 
You don’t have to have TCM to watch these films. Most (if not all) of these films are available on the internet, through either NFB’s website or NFB’s YouTube Channel. (I highly recommend the website as it has much better organization, but they both have a fantastic amount of videos and NFB’s YouTube will take you down a rabbit hole).

Abq Jew's favorite animated film was The Log Driver's Waltz, based upon a Canadian folk song written by Wade Hemsworth (here sung by Kate & Anna McGarrigle and the Mountain City Four).

Released in 1979 as part of its Canada Vignettes series, the song
. . . celebrates the profession of log driving, a practice in the lumber industry which involved transporting felled timber by having workers walk or run on the logs as they floated down rivers. This occupation required a great deal of strength and physical agility, and Hemsworth was struck by how much the sight of log drivers at work resembled dancing. 
The song's chorus is: 
For he goes birling down a-down the white water
That's where the log driver learns to step lightly
It's birling down, a-down white water
A log driver's waltz pleases girls completely. 
The lyrics are often misheard as "whirling" or "twirling" instead of "birling". "Birl" is an old Scots verb meaning "to revolve or cause to revolve", and in modern English means "to cause a floating log to rotate by treading". Today, birling survives as a competitive sport. 
The song also contains considerable double-entendre, beginning with the sentiments of the opening stanza: 
If you ask any girl from the parish around,
What pleases her most from her head to her toes;
She'll say, "I'm not sure that it's business of yours,
But I do like to waltz with a log driver."
Yes, Abq Jew is fully aware (and you should be too) that today marks 74 years since the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

And that יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה Yom HaShoah viLaGevurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day) will be observed this coming Monday, with many communities offering special programs this Sunday April 23.

But until then - let's waltz!

A log driver's waltz pleases girls completely!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

More About the Four Sons

After the Seders: Surely, says Abq Jew, we all recall the Four Sons of the Passover Haggadah - the Wise Son, the Evil ("Contrary") Son, the Simple Son, and the Son Who Doesn't Know What to Ask.

And if not - surely we all met them again during the Seders.

We New MexiJews who know how to watch KENW - Public Media [PBS] for the High Plains, based at Eastern New Mexico University (whose mascot is the Greyhound!)

were also treated to

a new documentary by Allen Oren, the man who brought us

a few years back. Many others across the country were also fortunate to have their local PBS station(s) carry this wonderful film.

As the Southwest Dutchess Daily Voice reports -
As Jewish faithful gather to celebrate traditional Passover Seders this April, many households will read a short fable of family, faith and tradition, a story passed down for centuries. The tale, known as "The Four Sons," has inspired countless spin-offs and alterations over generations. 
Allen Oren, a communications professor at Pace University, examines this timeless tale in his upcoming documentary, The Four Sons And All Their Sons: A Passover Tale, which will air nationally on PBS. 
An Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, Oren received critical acclaim for his first faith-based film, 18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre, which was released in 2011. The documentary explains the sacred ancient chant and discusses its importance in the Jewish tradition. 
In his newest film, Oren explores one of the oldest, most well-loved Passover stories, sharing more than thirty versions of the tale in art, music and words.

Abq Jew thinks that - depending on how much you may or may not have contributed to PBS this year - you may or may not be able to watch at least a preview of The Four Sons by clicking here. Or maybe here.

But Abq Jew is sure that you can watch three clips from the film at The Four Sons website. Or by clicking here and here and here. Or by scrolling down!

Happy Passover from Abq Jew!