Monday, November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

Happy Thanksgiving: This Thanksgiving week, let's be happy.

Thanksgiving Turkey

And let's give thanks - to God, to the Fates, or to Fortune - for who we are, for where we stand, and, yes, for what we have.

And let us pray that hard times - poverty, war, destruction, disease, or random events that just seem to happen in the world - come again no more.

Here is the song Hard Times Come Again No More, written by Stephen Foster in 1854, performed by Kate & Anna McGarrigle and friends: Rufus Wainwright (son of Kate), Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, and Rod Paterson.

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh! Hard times come again no more.

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh! Hard times come again no more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Or, as we say in Yiddish:
Only Simchas!

Alex Jake
Alla famiglia

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Before the Law

Sits a Gatekeeper: Yes, there will be much, much more about that gatekeeper in just a bit. But first, Abq Jew would like to say yasher koach to ... let's keep him anonymous, for now. 

For emailing Abq Jew the Zoom link to Monday's Motion Hearing for Bernalillo County Case D-202-CV-202105917, which, Abq Jew is sure you'll recognize, is one of the cases in which the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico is, to an extent still to be determined, "involved."

Soccer Kick

What a kick!

Abq Jew has mentioned, as he is sure you'll recall, that Abq Jew is not a rabbi, even though he did, for a time, attend Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (see May 2011's Wanna Be A Rabbi?).

In addition to not being a rabbi, Abq Jew is proud to say that he is also not a) a lawyer; or b) a Latin scholar. Which is why it was a special treat for him to attend Monday's hearing and hear all about the legal concept of

Ultra Vires

Ultra Vires. Which may or may not be a factor in the JFNM case being ... heard. Just don't ask Abq Jew - who, as previously and proudly stated, is neither a) lawyer; nor b) a Latin scholar. 

Besides, when Abq Jew heard "Ultra Vires," all he could think of was Ultra Violet for Sixteen Minutes, the remarkable film that his son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor, was honored to edit. Way back in 2011!

So let's talk about gatekeepers. The Chief Gatekeeper at Monday's Motion Hearing was, of course, the Judge. Alas, not current free agent Aaron Judge - that would have made it much more lively. Judge Joshua A Allison.

Other speakers at the hearing included Renni Zifferblatt, Esq, Attorney for the Plaintiffs; and Charles J Vigil, Esq, Attorney for the Defendants. Ms Zifferblatt is credited in IMDb for the 2007 film Garbage Warrior; an IMDb search yields no results for Mr Vigil or Judge Allison.

There were lots of silent observers at Monday's hearing, which was expected by many to produce the Final Answer(s) to the question(s) raised in last week's Train Wreck at Federation.

However -

No Final Answer was produced. No Final Answers were produced. But more questions were raised! What could Abq Jew do, before the law? He turned to Before the Law, a parable contained in Franz Kafka's novel The Trial.

Hockey Goalie Black

Before the Law

Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in later on. 

“It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.” 

At the moment the gate to the law stands open, as always, and the gatekeeper walks to the side, so the man bends over in order to see through the gate into the inside. When the gatekeeper notices that, he laughs and says: 

“If it tempts you so much,
try it in spite of my prohibition.
But take note: I am powerful.
And I am only the most lowly gatekeeper.
But from room to room stand gatekeepers,
each more powerful than the other.
I can’t endure even one glimpse of the third.” 

The man from the country has not expected such difficulties: the law should always be accessible for everyone, he thinks, but as he now looks more closely at the gatekeeper in his fur coat, at his large pointed nose and his long, thin, black Tartar’s beard, he decides that it would be better to wait until he gets permission to go inside. The gatekeeper gives him a stool and allows him to sit down at the side in front of the gate. 

There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be let in, and he wears the gatekeeper out with his requests. The gatekeeper often interrogates him briefly, questioning him about his homeland and many other things, but they are indifferent questions, the kind great men put, and at the end he always tells him once more that he cannot let him inside yet. 

The man, who has equipped himself with many things for his journey, spends everything, no matter how valuable, to win over the gatekeeper. The latter takes it all but, as he does so, says, 

“I am taking this only so that you do not
think you have failed to do anything.”

During the many years the man observes the gatekeeper almost continuously. He forgets the other gatekeepers, and this one seems to him the only obstacle for entry into the law. He curses the unlucky circumstance, in the first years thoughtlessly and out loud, later, as he grows old, he still mumbles to himself. He becomes childish and, since in the long years studying the gatekeeper he has come to know the fleas in his fur collar, he even asks the fleas to help him persuade the gatekeeper. 

Finally his eyesight grows weak, and he does not know whether things are really darker around him or whether his eyes are merely deceiving him. But he recognizes now in the darkness an illumination which breaks inextinguishably out of the gateway to the law. 

Now he no longer has much time to live. Before his death he gathers in his head all his experiences of the entire time up into one question which he has not yet put to the gatekeeper. He waves to him, since he can no longer lift up his stiffening body.

The gatekeeper has to bend way down to him, for the great difference has changed things to the disadvantage of the man. 

“What do you still want to know, then?”
asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.”

“Everyone strives after the law,” says the man, “so how is it
that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?

The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him, 

“Here no one else can gain entry,
since this entrance was assigned only to you.
I’m now going to close it."

What Abq Jew

The talking and the hearings will continue. Decisions that affect Abq Jew and the New Mexico Jewish Community will be made - they will have to be. In the meantime, Abq Jew continues to support the community -

The complete Community Calendar is still
available on Abq Jew's website, right here.

Abq Jew Community Calendar

Please support Abq Jew!

Abq Jew Ko-fi

Monday, November 7, 2022

Train Wreck at Federation

Hope For The Future: As many of us New MexiJews recall, January 28, 2013 was not a good day for the Jewish Family Service of New Mexico (JFSNM). And it was a terrible day for the New Mexico Jewish Community. That was the day that the JFSNM Board announced that the organization would soon cease operations.

As many of us New MexiJews recall, January 13, 2015 was not a good day for the Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences. And it was a terrible day for the New Mexico Jewish Community. That was the day that the Jewish Academy Board announced that the school would soon cease operations.

Train Wreck

But now, as many of us New MexiJews are suddenly aware, November 4, 2022 - last Friday - was not a good day for the Jewish Federation of New Mexico. And it was a most terrible day for the New Mexico Jewish Community.

Worse than the closing of the Jewish Family Service of New Mexico (JFSNM). Worse than the closing of the Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences. 

The absolute worst.

Last Friday, many of us New MexiJews received this email letter from Robert Efroymson, President of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM).

Dear members of the New Mexico Jewish Community,  

 I am proud to have recently been elected President of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico by its board of directors. The Federation has played an important role in the life of Jewish New Mexico for decades. However, I must be blunt: my tenure will be a short one. The main task we face is an orderly shutdown of the organization. 

There have been news articles and rumors aplenty, so I will be brief, and make only a few points. We are almost out of money. We have no employees. Critical insurance has been canceled. We cannot fulfill the purposes for which the organization was founded. 

 You might ask if we can recover. Surely, we can raise money again, hire new employees, get another insurance carrier? That might be true, but we must be honest. Decisions made by the prior leadership of the organization have placed us in a very poor position.  It is regrettable that it has been months since the former Executive Director sent his “report” to the community.  It is also regrettable that it was sent. 

I would like to say more about how we came to this pass. The truth is that there is much we still don’t know. One of the chief tasks the board has undertaken is to conduct an independent accounting review so we can report to the community what has happened.   

 In the meantime, I would ask members of the community to continue the charitable activities which the JFNM has historically facilitated. The Jewish Care program is now under the auspices of the Jewish Community Center, and money to support it can be directed to them. Organizations like UNM Hillel and others that previously were supported by JFNM can accept contributions directly.  

 There are many other charities that we have supported, both locally and internationally, over the years. You will have your favorites among them, and I urge you to look up the best way to give. Now is an excellent time to contact the Jewish Community Foundation about setting up a Donor Advised Fund.  

 I know this is not the news you wanted to hear. We will communicate further as we have more information. 

Robert Efroymson
President, JFNM 

Many of you have known for months that things were not good at the Jewish Federation. But many of you may not have been informed, may not have read about it, and therefore may not have known. 

And now, the Big Question seems to be

What's Going On Here

The first thing you may have noticed is that the Jewish Federation of New Mexico's website is down, and has been down for a while.

JFNM Website

One immediate effect of JFNM's "temporary maintenance" period is:

 The Jewish New Mexico's Community Calendar of events and classes,
which is powered by Abq Jew and shared with the Jewish Federation,
appears to be unreachable.

Therefore, let Abq Jew assure you:

The complete Community Calendar is always
available on Abq Jew's website, right here.

Abq Jew Community Calendar

But that, as we are now all aware -

Tip of the Iceberg

was just the tip of the iceberg.

Where JFNM?

The Jewish Federation of New Mexico
was in trouble. Deep trouble.

JTA Logo

To begin to understand what has happened and (at least, to some extent) why, Abq Jew points you, his loyal readers, to a series of three articles written by JTA's Asaf Elia-Shalev.

Sephardic citizenship bids at risk amid ‘implosion’
of New Mexico’s Jewish community leadership
March 30, 2022

Read More

New Mexico’s Jewish federation is on brink of collapse
with no staff or funding for programs
September 19, 2022

Read More

New Mexico’s cash-strapped, lawsuit-plagued
Jewish federation announces closure
November 4, 2022

Read More

At this point, Abq Jew is sure that many of you are asking -

What, Abq Jew hears you ask, is gonna happen next? To which Abq Jew can only reply, in the now-famous words of Tevye der Milkhiker -

Don't Know

However -

In the past few weeks, a new JFNM Executive Board has taken office, and some progress has been made.

Want to help your favorite programs?
Please contribute to them directly.

  • And, as stated above, 

The complete Community Calendar is always
available on Abq Jew's website, right here.

Abq Jew Community Calendar

Abq Jew chooses to conclude with the hopeful words of Shelly Prant, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque - as reported by JTA's Asaf Elia-Shalev in his September 19, 2022 article. 

... she believes the community will rally to ensure essential programs will continue and that her organization and others are prepared to pick up any slack created by the problems at the federation.

“There’s a core group of people in Albuquerque and around the state that are really caring, passionate and philanthropic,” Prant said. 
“And they’re really taking all this very seriously and trying to help, and so at the end of the day, we’ll be okay even though right now, it is challenging.”
OK In The End