Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mosquitoes and The Jews

Tiki Torches and the Alt-Right: We have all been monitoring the terrifying events in Charlottesville - and their almost-as-terrifying aftermath.

As Abq Jew and many others (see The Tragedy in Charlottesville) have pointed out, hatred, bigotry, and violence such as we have seen this week - on one side in particular - do not arise naturally. You've got to be carefully taught.

The attention of Abq Jew and of many in the news media has also turned to the Alt-Right's use of store-bought, mass-manufactured, citronella-scented tiki torches in lieu of, shall we say, manlier alternatives - you know, the Indiana Jones type.
A tiki torch is a bamboo torch originating in Tiki culture, but increased in popularity and spread to other places where it is a popular party decoration and can create an island aesthetic to outdoor decorations. 
The common style is to have a bamboo stick with a container of flammable fluid at the top, and then a lit wick drawing from that container. 
The popularity in America rose in the 1930s and further increased in the following decades.The TIKI brand of torches, common in the U.S., was launched in the 1950s; since 2001, the brand's products are made by Lamplight Farms Incorporated, a W. C. Bradley Co. subsidiary based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

The result of the Alt-Right's tiki torch choice (and it is a choice) is the appearance of their hate march and demonstration as something more like a neo-Nazi hate luau.

Which in turn has caused the Tiki Brand to distance itself from those white nationalists who used tiki torches in Charlottesville.

Although the members of the Alt-Right have learned to hate, there are so many things they have never learned: how to love, how to honor, how to respect.

How to get along with one another.

Or how to make a proper torch. Fortunately, the Art of Manliness website offers An Illustrated Guide for How to Make a Torch.

If only the Alt-Rightists could follow simple instructions.

Rabbi David Wolpe, of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, posted on Facebook:
The week has been painful and dispiriting. The single, simple truth is that seeing one's President hesitate, even for an instant, to condemn, anathematize and revile Nazis is soul crushing.
I know this will unleash demons on this page. If you interpret or see this in political terms then your world is too binary and simple.  
Or rather, it is not simple enough. For the simple truth is that anyone, left or right, who equivocates, who "on the other hands" this question, has debased themselves.  
If you love our country, if you are Jewish and love your people, if you care for the decency of our flag and its integrity, if you cherish the remarkable, scarred history of this nation, you have to say 
"This is wrong." 
And you have to call on the President to do what Jews call teshuva - repentance.

Those who are kind to the cruel will end by
being cruel to those who depend upon our kindness.


We as a society cannot tolerate intolerance.

Abq Jew wishes all of us a
Sabbath of Peace, Love, and Understanding

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Tragedy in Charlottesville

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught: Abq Jew has been deeply troubled by last weekend's hate rally / attack in Charlottesville, Virginia - even more than he was by May's attack in Portland, Oregon (see The Tragedy in Portland).

Marianne Rubin’s granddaughter, Lena Schnall,
captured a photo of her grandmother at Sunday’s rally.

The fight against racism in American society - and against the Alt-Right, Neo-Nazi, Skinhead, and White Supremacist groups that promote such racism - is a deeply Jewish fight.

Abq Jew did not fully understand why that should be - until Yair Rosenberg, writing in The Washington Post, explained what happened in Charlottesville and why it happened.

Here is a bit of what happened:
‘Jews will not replace us’: Why white supremacists go after Jews 
When white nationalists descended upon the historic Virginia city to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, their “Unite the Right” rally gathered a veritable who’s who of top neo-Nazis in the United States, including Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and alt-right leading light Richard Spencer, among others. 
They immediately went after the Jews.  
At their Friday night rally at the University of Virginia, the white nationalists brandished torches and chanted anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans, including “blood and soil” (an English rendering of the Nazi “blut und boden”) and “Jews will not replace us” — all crafted to cast Jews as foreign interlopers who need to be expunged. 
The attendees proudly displayed giant swastikas and wore shirts emblazoned with quotes from Adolf Hitler. One banner read, 
“Jews are Satan’s children.”

And here is a bit of why it happened:
This conduct is not incidental to the white nationalist program; it is essential. 
As the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Eric Ward, an African American scholar and activist who has studied the movement for years, recently put it: 
“The successes of the civil rights movement created a terrible problem for white supremacist ideology. White supremacism — inscribed de jure by the Jim Crow regime and upheld de facto outside the South — had been the law of the land, and a black-led social movement had toppled the political regime that supported it. 
How could a race of inferiors have unseated this power structure through organizing alone? … Some secret cabal, some mythological power, must be manipulating the social order behind the scenes. 
This diabolical evil must control television, banking, entertainment, education and even Washington D.C. It must be brainwashing white people, rendering them racially unconscious. 
What is this arch-nemesis of the white race, whose machinations have prevented the natural and inevitable imposition of white supremacy? It is, of course, the Jews. 
Jews function for today’s white nationalists as they often have for anti-Semites through the centuries: as the demons stirring an otherwise changing and heterogeneous pot of lesser evils.” 
For this reason, Jews are the only “white people” obsessively targeted by white supremacists.
Read the full article here

Which brings Abq Jew to Bald Piano Guy.

AKA Alan C Schwartz, a music teacher from Roslyn, Long Island. Who is bald, plays piano, and performs satires and parodies. Rather well, Abq Jew thinks. And who has his own Facebook page and YouTube channel. Of course.

Here is Bald Piano Guy's interpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's You've Got To Be Carefully Taught, from their musical South Pacific.

How do people learn to hate?

South Pacific received scrutiny for its commentary regarding relationships between different races and ethnic groups. 
In particular, "You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught" was subject to widespread criticism, judged by some to be too controversial or downright inappropriate for the musical stage. Sung by the character Lieutenant Cable, the song is preceded by a line saying racism is "not born in you! It happens after you’re born..." 
Rodgers and Hammerstein risked the entire South Pacific venture in light of legislative challenges to its decency or supposed Communist agenda. While the show was on a tour of the Southern United States, lawmakers in Georgia introduced a bill outlawing entertainment containing "an underlying philosophy inspired by Moscow." 
One legislator said that "a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American way of life." Rodgers and Hammerstein defended their work strongly.  
James Michener, upon whose stories South Pacific was based, recalled, "The authors replied stubbornly that this number represented why they had wanted to do this play, and that even if it meant the failure of the production, it was going to stay in."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How Many Roads?

And How Much Wood? Yes, Abq Jew is on the road again! Sorta. He is now sitting in the Kitchen of the Home of the Daughters Who Are Grand on the Island That Is Long. You know - LIRR. ISP. LIE. New York.

Following Tisha b'Av, there are seven prophetic readings of consolation - all from Isaiah - that comfort us after the Black Fast and prepare us, emotionally and spiritually, for the upcoming High Holy Days.

The first of these - Shabbat Nachamu - has already passed. But ICYMI, Abq Jew has thoughtfully prepared something to comfort us for the remainder of the week.

Abq Jew speaks of the recent appearance on The Tonight Show of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick. Who, along with Jimmy Fallon, presented an exemplary "First Drafts of Rock" parody of Peter Paul and Mary singing Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind.

Oh - and BTW -

Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, ninth cousins once removed, have been married since 1988. And their anniversary date is September 4.

And Kyra is Jewish. In fact -
Sedgwick was born in New York City, the daughter of Patricia (née Rosenwald), a speech teacher and educational/family therapist, and Henry Dwight Sedgwick V, a venture capitalist. 
Her father was Episcopalian and of English heritage, and her mother was Jewish. Sedgwick has identified herself as Jewish and has stated that she participates in Passover seders.
Kyra is, of course, perhaps the foundingest member of

But Abq Jew digresses. Here, for your enjoyment, in their latest First Drafts of Rock appearance, is ... are ... Jimmy Kevin and Kyra!

And here, for your introspection, are the lyrics (with appropriate illustrations and incredibly convenient hyperlinks)!

Blowin' In The Wind (First Drafts of Rock) 
How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?
How many rows must a minivan have before it’s a regular van?
How much sand must a beach have before you say, “Hey, that’s way too much sand"? 
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
How blurry must a gorilla photo be to be confused with Bigfoot?
How could you clap without hurting yourself if you were Captain Hook
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
What is your favorite U2 album? My favorite is “Joshua Tree.”
What’s your 2nd favorite U2 album? I think mine is “Achtung Baby.”
What is your 3rd favorite U2 album? Hey Peter, please stop asking me. 
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.
If Train A leaves the station at 10 am, and an hour later so does Train B
Train A’s traveling at sixty miles per hour, Train B’s travelin’ at eighty
Then what is the time at which Train A is passed … by Train B?
The answer, my friend, is 2 o’clock pm.
The answer is 2 o’clock pm.
Want to compare the parody with the original? Here you go!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happy Tu b'Av 2017!

Not The Day Before Three b'Av:  Tu b'Av is the fifteenth day of the month of Av.  In old time Biblical Israel (Abq Jew recalls), Tu b'Av was one of the happiest holidays of the year.

The 2017 celebration of Tu b'Av will begin at sundown on Sunday August 6

It was, in fact, Biblical Israel's Sadie Horowitz Day.  (We call it Sadie Hawkins Day here in suburban America, but in Borough Park ....)  As Wikipedia points out:
An American folk event, Sadie Hawkins Day is a pseudo-holiday that originated in Al Capp's classic hillbilly comic strip, Li'l Abner (1934–1978). This inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins dances, where girls ask boys out.
But in Biblical Israel, Tu b'Av was the real deal.  The Talmud (Ta’anit 4:8) states:
There are no days as festive to Israel as those of Yom Kippur and the fifteenth of Av. The daughters of Israel used to dress in white and go out to the fields to dance and young men would follow after them.
Wait a minute! Yom Kippur - festive?  Yes, in that the afternoon of Yom Kippur is a time set aside for forgiveness.  And what is the topic of the Torah reading for Yom Kippur afternoon?  Forbidden sexual relationships!  Hmmmmm ....

OK, then.  Back to Tu b'Av.  Why is it spelled (בעברית) with a tet and vav, when other teen numbers are spelled with a yud?

Because the number 15 (and, for that matter, 16) would get a little too close to the Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of G-d) for the Rabbis' comfort.  In fact, the 15 combination of yud and hey would spell out one of the common abbreviations for G-d's name, as in the word Hallelujah (literally, Praise G-d).

And now, in the festive spirit of Tu b'Av, Abq Jew proudly presents Linda Ronstadt's rendition of It's So Easy (To Fall in Love) from her 1977 album Simple Dreams.

Did you notice that Abq Jew said nothing about Tetragrammaton being one of the Transformers?
You're welcome!

Monday, July 31, 2017

With Unexpected Reverence

Tisha b'Av 2017: With deep humility, Abq Jew reminds himself and you, his loyal readers, that reverence may arise from many different quarters, and may often arise unexpectedly.

The secular (if there is such a thing) may resonate spiritually, and the simple facts of history may take on meanings far beyond mere personalities, deeds, and dates.

As we approach Tisha b'Av

Last year (see Happy Cats in Av) Abq Jew wrote:

What Happened on Tisha b'Av

The classic 5 calamities:
  1. The Twelve Spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. 
  2. The First Temple built by King Solomon  was destroyed by the Babylonians. 
  3. The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans.
  4. The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt, destroyed the city of Betar, and 
  5. plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem and the surrounding area.
And more calamities:
  1. The First Crusade officially commenced.
  2. The Jews were expelled from England.
  3. The Jews were expelled from France.
  4. The Jews were expelled from Spain.
  5. Germany entered World War I.
  6. The "Final Solution" was approved by the Nazi Party.
  7. The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka began.
And even more calamities:
  1. The AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed.
  2. The Israeli disengagement from Gaza began.
We are Jews, and we continue to have hope. 
Even as we prepare for Shabbat Hazon, A Sabbath of Vision.

This year, as we approach Tisha b'Av, we are not supposed to be joyous or joyful, or even just happy. And we are not supposed to do anything that will make us happy.

For Abq Jew, and for many others, this means no listening to (especially, live) music. But sometimes music doesn't make us happy - it makes us think (see, for example, By the Rivers of Babylon 2015).

Therefore, Abq Jew offers - for your introspection - Western Wall, the title song of the 1999 duet album -

Western Wall: The Tuscon Sessions

Written by Rosanne Cash; performed by Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. The "spare arrangement and delicate harmonies" lend a "wonderful wistfulness" to the song, says Theresa E LaVec in her AllMusic Review.

Western Wall

I stand here by the Western Wall
Maybe a little of that wall stands inside of us all
I shove my prayers in the cracks
I've got nothing to lose no one to answer back

All these years I've brought up for review
Wasn't taught this but I learned something new
And to answer the distance call
At the Western Wall

I've got a heart full of fear
And I offer it on this alter of tears
Red dust settles deep in my skin
I don't know where it start and where I begin

It's a crumbling pile of broken stones
It ain't much but it might be home
If I ever loved a place at all
It's the Western Wall

I don't know if God was ever a man
But if she was I think I understand
Why he found a place to break his fall
Near the Western Wall

May we be comforted among the mourners
of Zion and Jerusalem

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Sad Days of Summer

X-Ray Menachem Av: Abq Jew has a very serious question to ask you, his loyal readers. But first, Abq Jew asks that you examine this photo very closely.

What is wrong with this photo?
Model A: Provocative and sensual

Abq Jew
has a pretty fair idea of what your first response is going to be -

So here is a second photo that illustrates the same flaw. And again Abq Jew asks -

What is wrong with this photo?
Model B: Evocative and thought-provoking

This time, Abq Jew kind of expects you to maybe figure out that -

Both models - A and B - are tilting.

And why, Abq Jew hears you ask, does Abq Jew bring this up? Well, it turns out that - just like the above models, although not nearly as beautifully or as gracefully -

Abq Jew also tilts. And has for weeks now.

Which is to say - he thinks, and his body claims, that he is standing straight up.

But, when Abq Jew looks in the mirror,
he clearly sees that he is not.

This condition - whatever it turns out to be - didn't hurt when it started. But it sure hurts now. So, Abq Jew hears you ask -

Muscle problem?                           
Bone problem?
                           Brain problem?

Thus, a visit to Ye Local X-Ray Machine. Whereupon two (that Abq Jew noticed) very strange happenings happened.

1. Once Abq Jew was laid out on the table, the X-Ray Technician slid the slide from its slot and shook it vigorously a few times. This was, she said, because the entirely digital apparatus likes it when she does that.

2. Having some difficulty focusing the camera on Abq Jew's skeleton, said X-Ray Technician called over the MRI Technician from the next room to help. Said MRI Technician - a he, don't you know - banged the camera a couple times, dropping it a couple inches. The X-Ray Technician, overjoyed, announced that the banging had fixed the focusing problem.

Both happenings were illegal crossings
of the analog-digital border.

Or, perhaps, not. Abq Jew 's current lifestyle choices appear to be -

a) Painful and awake; or b) Pain-free and loopy

Therefore, Abq Jew has resolved himself to taking delightfully large doses of good old Ibuprofen (pain killer), newly accompanied by sleepily slow, low-but-steady doses of Baclofen (muscle relaxant).

So Abq Jew is, generally speaking, loopy.

Nevertheless. We are now into the Nine Days (see Consoling The Father), the saddest week-and-two-sevenths of the Hebrew Calendar. We are not supposed to be joyous or joyful, or even just happy.

And we are not supposed to do anything that will make us happy. For Abq Jew, and for many others - this suggests (there being no hard-and-fast rules) - no listening to music. But sometimes music doesn't make us happy - it makes us think (see, for example, By the Rivers of Babylon 2015).

Therefore and thusly, Abq Jew offers - for your unorthodox introspection, as we progress through the Nine Days (and Tisha b'Av)  - Western Wall, the title song of the 1999 duet album -

Western Wall: The Tuscon Sessions

Written by Rosanne Cash; performed by Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. The "spare arrangement and delicate harmonies" lend a "wonderful wistfulness" to the song, says Theresa E LaVec in her AllMusic Review.

I stand here by the Western Wall
Maybe a little of that wall stands inside of us all

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Remembering Jim Croce, MOT

Jewish Time In a Bottle: Let's get the business part of this blog post over quickly. Then we're on to the really really interesting part.

Time in a Bottle: Remembering Jim Croce
OASIS Instructor: Jane Ellen
Thu 20 Jul 2017 @ 1:00 pm

Jim Croce (1943-73) began his career as an accordionist at the age of five, later claiming to be the "original underachiever." But with three albums released in less than three years and all achieving gold status (containing songs such as "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "One Less Set of Footsteps," and "I Got a Name"), Croce was finally on the road to superstardom when a chartered plane crash took the singer-songwriter's life at the age of 30.

OK, here's the really really interesting part.

Jim Croce z"l was a Member Of the Tribe.

Ridiculous? Absurd? Impossible? No. Not one of these things. True.

Abq Jew is sure of this, for three (3) reasons.

1. First, Jane Ellen told him it was true, and Jane Ellen never lies. At least, not about anything having to do with music.

2. Second, Wikipedia confirms!
James Joseph "Jim" Croce (/ˈkroʊtʃi/; January 10, 1943 – September 20, 1973) was a folk and popular rock singer from USA of the late 1960s and early 1970s. 
Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and singles. His songs "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle" reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. 
Croce was born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to James Albert Croce and Flora Mary (Babucci) Croce, both Italian Americans. 
On November 29, 1963 Croce met his future wife Ingrid Jacobson at the Philadelphia Convention Hall during a hootenanny, where he was judging a contest. 
Croce married his wife Ingrid in 1966, and converted to Judaism, as his wife was Jewish. He and Ingrid were married in a traditional Jewish ceremony
He enlisted in the Army National Guard that same year to avoid being drafted and deployed to Vietnam, and served on active duty for four months, leaving for duty a week after his honeymoon.
Croce, who was not good with authority, had to go through basic training twice. He said he would be prepared if "there's ever a war where we have to defend ourselves with mops".
On Thursday, September 20, 1973, during Croce's Life and Times tour and the day before his ABC single "I Got a Name" was released, Croce and five others died when their chartered Beechcraft E18S crashed into a tree, while taking off from the Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, Louisiana. 
Croce was buried at Haym Salomon Memorial Park in Frazer, Pennsylvania.

3. Rabbi Gary M Gans, recently-retired rabbi of Congregation Beth Tikvah in Marlton, New Jersey, confirms!

Lucy the Elephant lives in Margate, not Marlton
While performing yet another funeral, I spotted the rare breed of a flock of aging flower children wending their way among the graves. 
I was in the Haym Salomon Memorial Park in Frazer, PA outside of Philadelphia. 
The women in flowing dresses wearing granny glasses were not there to visit their dear old Granny! Neither were the guys in tie-died shirts, dying. 
In fact, they were making a pilgrimage to the grave of the rocker, Jim Croce. 
Still, Jim Croce the Italian Catholic, is buried in a Jewish cemetery? 
Well, it seems he converted to Judaism when he married his wife, Ingrid Jacobson, so he had the same right of every Jew, whether Jewish from birth or converted, to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Rabbi Gans claims to be a Charter Member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits. (Abq Jew has not independently verified this.)

The Association of Graveyard Rabbits, in case you're wondering (Abq Jew certainly did), is
dedicated to the academic promotion of the historical importance of cemeteries, grave markers, and the family history to be learned from a study of burial customs, burying grounds, and tombstones; and the social promotion of the study of cemeteries, the preservation of cemeteries, and the transcription of genealogical/historical information written in cemeteries. 
The Association was named for Frank Lebby Stanton's poem, The Graveyard Rabbit. Although the poem is about superstitions associated with graveyard rabbits, Stanton also establishes that such rabbits have a charmingly intimate knowledge of graveyards and a loving association with the dead. These traits are the motivation of the human beings interested in this group.
The Graveyard Rabbit (1898)
by Frank Lebby Stanton

In the white moonlight, where the willow waves,
He halfway gallops among the graves—
A tiny ghost in the gloom and gleam,
Content to dwell where the dead men dream,

But wary still!
For they plot him ill;
For the graveyard rabbit hath a charm
(May God defend us!) to shield from harm.

Over the shimmering slabs he goes—
Every grave in the dark he knows;
But his nest is hidden from human eye
Where headstones broken on old graves lie.

Wary still!
For they plot him ill;
For the graveyard rabbit, though sceptics scoff,
Charmeth the witch and the wizard off!

The black man creeps, when the night is dim,
Fearful, still, on the track of him;
Or fleetly follows the way he runs,
For he heals the hurts of the conjured ones.

Wary still!
For they plot him ill;
The soul’s bewitched that would find release,—
To the graveyard rabbit go for peace!

He holds their secret—he brings a boon
Where winds moan wild in the dark o’ the moon;
And gold shall glitter and love smile sweet
To whoever shall sever his furry feet!

Wary still!
For they plot him ill;
For the graveyard rabbit hath a charm
(May God defend us!) to shield from harm. 

So, while we're not really but still sort of on the subject, let's briefly talk about conversion to Judaism.

Abq Jew's good friend Mary E Carter (see A Non-Swimmer Wins the Prize! and A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah) has approached the topic seriously, introspectively, and very, very personally.

Abq Jew, on the other hand, chooses to approach conversion to Judaism from a very different perspective. A humorous perspective.

Sort of like the current Israeli government.

For those of you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, who wonder

Where does Abq Jew find this stuff?

here is one invaluable source: Thomas Friedman, in his April 26 column On a Par 5 in Dubai, Good Humor and a Respite From All Things Trump.
This threesome is at a public course and the starter comes over and says, “Do you mind if this rabbi plays with you?” They say, “No problem.” The rabbi walks up on the tee with banged-up clubs, a tattered golf bag and a yarmulke instead of a golf hat — but then proceeds to shoot a 69. 
At the end of the round one of the other players asks, “Rabbi, how did you get so good?” 
“You have to convert to Judaism,” he answers. 
So, a year goes by and the same three guys arrange to play with the rabbi again. He shoots another 69, but they all still shoot in the 90s. 
At the end of the round, one says: “Rabbi, I don’t get it. We all converted like you said, but you still shot 69 and we all still shot in the 90s. What’s wrong?” 
“What synagogue did you get converted at?” the rabbi asks earnestly. 
“Temple Beth Shalom,” they answer in unison. 
“Oh no,” says the rabbi. 
“Temple Beth Shalom? That’s for tennis!”

Anyway ... here is Time In A Bottle.