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!