Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Joseph Dreams

Of Real Estate: According to the polling website FiveThirtyEight, a person in the United States is expected to move 11.4 times in his lifetime. Abq Jew doesn't know who that person is. But - so far - Abq Jew has moved 12 times. 

This number, of course, doesn't include Abq Jew's first move from Coney Island Hospital to 70th Street in Brooklyn. And it also doesn't include Abq Jew's last prospective move to Shaar Hashomayim (not the synagogue in Montreal). 

Unless the Messiah comes ... pretty soon.

We are now in the Biblical month of December, where Torah aficionados rejoice at all the stories about our man Joseph's dreams. Joseph dreams of cattle and wheat, which is not to mention bread and wine. And maybe - according to the musical, anyway - he dreams of the Land of Israel.


Too bad. Just a little bit farther, and he (and Moses, of course; plus all the Children of Israel) could have done some California Dreamin'. Abq Jew's parents, of blessed memory, dreamed about both.

Downtown Sunnyvale

And, in 1963, wound up, with pre-Bar Mitzvah Abq Jew, in ... well, not beautiful downtown Sunnyvale. But the beautiful edge of Sunnyvale (Santa Clara was just over our back fence), in a brand new tract housing development. 

That replaced old, old orchards.

And that was a long drive (even in those days) from the wealthier, established Jewish strongholds of Palo Alto (to the north) and San Jose (to the south). 


As it turns out, Abq Jew's ancestral home in Sunnyvale, California, was just sold - for the first time since Abq Jew's father sold it in 1997, a few years after Abq Jew's mother left this world. And on the 14th civil yahrzeit of Abq Jew's father's passing.

Just Sold

Hone Sold


November 29, 2021

3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
1,753 square feet
$1,141 per square foot

Last sold in 1997
$219 per square foot

First built & sold in 1963
$13 per square foot

Home Sold Sunnyvale

Yes, indeed. Abq Jew grew up (as much as anyone in California can) in a 2 million dollar home. Of course, Abq Jew's parents bought it for somewhat less - perhaps as much as $24,000. Perhaps.

And - what Abq Jew always finds so perplexing. Which is not to say unnerving. 

The house is nothing special.

It's relatively small - 1,753 square feet. Yes, it has heating of some type - but no A/C. Not even a swamp cooler. And no basement - just a crawl space. And that's after the now-previous owners upgraded the property (turned the garage around to face the street, not sideways) according to California's weird tax laws. 


Eighty-three (83) is the number of times the house appreciated in value in the 58 years between 1963, when Abq Jew's parents bought the house, and now. Or maybe it's eighty-two (82) times. Abq Jew is not sure of how the math works.


That's an annual appreciation rate of 8%. And yes, Abq Jew is sure. Nationally, annual house appreciation rates are typically around 3.7%. Which proves the oft-stated point that the three things that matter most in real estate are:


Which brings us to beautiful, uptown Goshen. As in the Bel Air of Egypt (not the village in New York. Or Indiana. Or wherever.)

Goshen Uptown

And, Abq Jew must tell you, to the joke hidden carefully in Vayigash, this week's Torah portion. Please allow Abq Jew to paraphrase the relevant verses of Chapters 46 and 47 of Genesis.
Joseph tells his mishpocha: When you go visit Pharaoh, he's going to ask you,"What do you guys do for a living?" You gotta tell him,  
"We're cattlemen, and always have been."  
"Xnay on the sheepnay! Egyptians don't like shepherds. If they find out you're really shepherds, they won't let you live in Bel Air Goshen."
Sheep Cattle
So what happens? The brothers go visit Pharaoh, and sure enough, Pharaoh asks them, "So what do you guys do for a living?" 
And sure enough, the brothers answer, in loud unison,

"We're shepherds, and always have been. 
How do we get to Bel Air Goshen?" 

What is Pharaoh's response? Pharaoh says unto Joseph,
"Oy, am I glad they're your family, not mine."
Glow Sheep

And speaking of sheep and cattle (we were, weren't we?), surely you are now aware that Sheep Wars (or Sheep and Cattle Wars) have been fought since there were sheep. Or cattle. Which goes back to Day 6 of Creation.

If you're thinking that no, that was Day 5 - well, you're wrong. The Bible tells us that Day 5 was devoted to fish and birds. You know, the evolutionary ancestors of the land creatures that God created on Day 6. 

Welcome to Ashkelon

And finally, as long as we're talking about Abq Jew's parents, of blessed memory, and (lehavdil) property values and real estate - let's talk about our 1970-72 ancestral flat on Simtat HaSneh in the truly beautiful city of Ashkelon. 

The JTA's Linda Gradstein just published:
A major Israeli city is just 9 miles from Gaza. Some Americans are choosing to move there anyway.

ASHKELON, Israel (JTA) — When people ask Nechama Greenfield why she and her husband chose to move just nine miles from Gaza in June, less than a month after Israel’s latest conflict with Hamas, she usually jokes that they were looking for a little excitement. 

But the potential for dark humor isn’t what drew her to Ashkelon, a burgeoning Israeli city that was bombarded with hundreds of rockets from the coastal strip earlier this year, killing two people. Greenfield, a retired physiotherapist with two sons in Israel, says her family appreciates Ashkelon’s communal feel. And she isn’t fazed by the prospect of violence, which poses a risk of some kind to almost every part of the country.

That attitude is common among Ashkelon’s English-speaking immigrants, whose numbers appear to be slowly growing despite the violence. When Rabbi Matt Futterman, who used to lead Ashkelon’s Conservative synagogue, arrived in 1986, he estimated that the city had only a few dozen English-speaking immigrants, referred to in Israel collectively as “Anglos.” Thirty-five years later, that number has risen to around 500.

Ashkelon still isn’t a main draw for the thousands of Americans who move to Israel each year. Just 75 Americans have moved from the U.S. to Ashkelon since 2017, according to statistics from Nefesh B’Nefesh, a nonprofit that manages American immigration to Israel. 
That’s compared to more than 1,000 American immigrants, in total, who have moved in the same period to the central Israeli cities of Raanana and Modiin — both of which have historically been popular with Anglos. The statistics do not include American immigrants who have moved to Ashkelon from another city in Israel. 

And a bit later:

To the Anglos living in Ashkelon, the intimacy of the city’s English-speaking community is part of its appeal. After serving at the Conservative synagogue’s pulpit, Futterman and his wife decided to move back to the U.S. to care for aging parents. But when it came time to retire, they returned to Ashkelon.

Says Rabbi Futterman:

The city is small and gorgeous, and you can get from one end to the other with no traffic. There are good schools and good restaurants. A lot of English speakers are social workers, psychologists and teachers.

And how about real estate and property values?

Ashkelon’s overall population has exploded in recent years. When the Futtermans came in 1986, there were about 50,000 people living here. Today the population has tripled to nearly 150,000, making it Israel’s twelfth-largest city. 

The population boom came in part due to the launch of a direct, hourlong train line between Ashkelon and Tel Aviv in 2013, which made the city more accessible to those who work in Israel’s economic capital but want less expensive housing. 

A three-bedroom apartment in Ashkelon costs less than half of what it would in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. 

But, to be fair - that's not saying much. In one building, two years ago four-bedroom apartments in Ashkelon were going for about $420,000. Today they have jumped to $750,000. That's an annual appreciation rate of about 33%.

Tel Aviv

And finally, finally - ICYMI - Gad Lior of Mosaic Magazine tells us:
How Tel Aviv Became the Most Expensive City on Earth

Tel Aviv was not planned to be the heart of a metropolis, numbering almost five million people, from Netanya to Gedera. Tel Aviv itself is actually a small city, with only 400,000 inhabitants, whose land reserves are running out. 
So it is no wonder that a three-room apartment in Tel Aviv is rented out for 8,000 shekels, [about $2,500], and in Berlin, a similar apartment will be rented out for 600 euros [about $680]—and rent cannot be hiked up beyond a limited rate stipulated by law, while no such law exists in Israel.
Location, Location, Location.
And a lot more.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Joyous Maccabees

Win! A Torah Trifecta! Abq Jew must tell you that this Shabbat, Shabbat Miketz, is not an ordinary, run-of-the-mill Shabbat, For not only is it Shabbat Miketz - it is also Rosh Hodesh Tevet, and it is also Shabbat Hanukkah. Which means -

Torah Trifecta

For us Jews, Shabbat is approaching - and it's still Chanukah! In fact, this very Shabbat we will have the rare treat (and fulfill the extra mitzvot) of reading from ... not one; not two; but three (3) Sifrei Torah -

One for the regular weekly portion (Miketz); one for Rosh Hodesh (Tevet); and one for the holiday (Hanukkah)!

Miketz Darius Gilmont

Three (3)! Yes, three (3)! How often, Abq Jew hears you ask, do we read from three (3) Sifrei Torah? Oddly enough (not really), Chabad.org has the answer.

Every year on the holiday of Simchat Torah, three different portions of the Torah are read during the morning service. a) V'zot Haberacha, the last portion of the Torah; b) the holiday maftir reading, discussing the day's Temple service; c) Bereishit, the first portion of the Torah.  
If a synagogue has three Torah scrolls, then each of these portions is read from another scroll. If not, then one of the scrolls is quickly rolled from one portion to the next between readings. 
There are three other times during the course of a year when, if various calendric variables fall in place, three portions of the Torah are read on the same day: 
1. When Rosh Chodesh Tevet is on Shabbat [like this week]. Since the month of Tevet always begins during the holiday of Chanukah, in such a case there would be three readings: a) The weekly reading. b) The reading for Rosh Chodesh (head of the month). c) The holiday reading. 
2. When the month of Adar (or the second month of Adar in a leap year) begins on Shabbat [not this year]. The extra portion of Shekalim is always read on the Shabbat immediately preceding the month of Adar, or on Rosh Chodesh Adar itself when it falls on Shabbat. On such a week we would read: a) The weekly Torah portion. b) The reading for Rosh Chodesh. c) The Shekalim reading. 
3. Same thing when the month of Nissan begins on Shabbat [yes this year - on April 2]. The extra portion of Hachodesh is read on the Shabbat immediately preceding the month of Nissan, or on Rosh Chodesh Nissan when it falls on Shabbat. On such a Shabbat, the weekly Torah portion is read, in addition to the Rosh Chodesh and Hachodesh readings. 
In any of these cases, three Torah scrolls are taken out of the Ark, if the synagogue has that many.

But what happens if the synagogue doesn't have that many Torah scrolls? Then the congregation gets to meet

Tircha D Tziburah
Tircha D. Tzibura

Tircha D. Tzibura is known throughout the Jewish world, even (especially?) Abq. Some say she has always been here; others, that she just arrived from the Coast. With her flaming red curls, sensible shoes, and half-asleep expression, she is easy to spot.

OK ....  Tircha d'tzibura ("a burden on the congregation") is a Rabbinic / Talmudic expression that denotes an activity that takes longer than most people can bear, and that, therefore, should be avoided. While some claim that tircha d'tzibura cannot apply to shul on Shabbas - after all, where else ya gonna go? what else ya gotta do? - others are sure that it does.

The classic example: the many occasions during the year when we take two (or three!) Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) from the Ark, so we don't keep the congregation waiting while we roll the scroll back and forth to find the next reading.

Abq Jew must point out that the correct phrase is
"Sifrei Torah," and not the often-heard "Torahs." 
There is only one Torah.

The Klezmatics

Happy Joyous Hanukkah

Hanukkah Brooklyn

Shabbat Shalom!
Happy Rosh Hodesh!
Cheery Chanukah!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Tale of Two Revolts

Judah Maccabee Meets Popay: Right around this time of year, Jews worldwide remember the revolt that Judah and his brothers - the Maccabees - won against the Seleucid Empire, who had taken over our land and desecrated our Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The resulting Hasmonean Jewish Kingdom lasted about 100 years.

You know - Chanukah.

For those who may not know, Wikipedia tells us (the short version):

Hanukkah (Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה‎), also known as the Festival of Lights (Hebrew: חַג הַאוּרִים‎), is a Jewish festival commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE.

And the longer, traditional version:

When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.

Antiochus's actions provoked a large-scale revolt ... By 164 BCE, the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. 

The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event. Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud (Shabbat 21b),

For when the Greeks entered the Sanctuary, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they made search and found only one cruse of oil which lay with the seal of the kohen gadol (high priest), but which contained sufficient [oil] for one day's lighting only; yet a miracle was wrought therein, and they lit [the lamp] therewith for eight days. 

The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival with [the recital of] Hallel and thanksgiving.

And YES! - you are correct in assuming that the real story is more than just a bit more complicated. But anyway -

About 1,845 years later,  Popay - the Tewa religious leader from Ohkay Owingeh (renamed San Juan Pueblo by the Spanish during the colonial period) - and most of the Pueblo people of the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México revolted against their Spanish colonizers.

Popay and the Puebloans won, and managed to govern themselves for twelve years (1680-1692) before the Spaniards reconquered the territory.

Pueblo Revolt
You know - the Pueblo Revolt.

For those who may not know, the above paragraphs, paraphrased, are the short version that Wikipedia tells us. And YES! - you are correct in assuming that the real story is more than just a bit more complicated. But anyway -

What we've got here are

Judah Popay
Judah                      Popay
Two successful revolts by indigenous peoples
against the tyranny of invaders,
each led by a powerful figure who changed history.

Two Kingdoms

And YES! - Abq Jew strongly believes - as he hopes you, his loyal readers do - that we Jews (that is, Judeans from the territory of Judah) are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel. Indigenous - as, something or someone who is native to an area or who naturally belongs there.

Or, as Pat Boone (yes, Pat Boone) wrote it:


"This land is mine. God gave this land to me."

Which brings us to Zioness's celebration of Indigenous Resistance, presented to close Native American History Month with an uplifting Hanukkah event -

Celebrating our shared histories as Indigenous Peoples
in the pursuit of collective liberation. 

Indigenous Resistance

So, Abq Jew hears you ask: 

Who is Zioness?
And what, pray tell (exactly!) is the Zioness movement? 

According to their website, Zioness is a a coalition of Jewish activists and allies who are -


Which makes them OK in Abq Jew's blog. Anyway - leading the celebration of the two revolts will be

Mahrinah Shije
is an Entrepreneur and Global Development Professional.

As a Partner with Zia Impact, Mahrinah provides consulting and strategic planning services with a focus on Tribal Infrastructure and Economic Development.

She also serves as the CEO and Board Chair of the NGO Pueblo Development Commission and is an appointed member of the Legislative Committee for the 20 Pueblo Indian Nations of New Mexico and Texas.

Additionally, Mahrinah is an Associate Fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute and an Israel Policy Forum 2021 Charles Bronfman Convener. She is an impassioned advocate for Indigenous rights, leadership and visibility as a Tewa and Sephardic woman.

Jon Ghahate
is from the Pueblos of Laguna and Zuni, of the Turkey and Badger Clans.

He currently serves as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Museum Cultural Educator in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His responsibilities are to develop and present an authentic and respectful historical narrative of the culture, heritage, and legacy of New Mexico’s Pueblo communities.

His diverse professional background includes: a health care practitioner, a public middle school and high school math and science educator, an athletic coach for the public school system, a journalist for a national radio talk program, and a community volunteer for a variety of community conscious organizations. He is a Vietnam Era Veteran.

Jon has received a number of community, military service related, and professional commendations. He was a fellow of the Kellogg National Leadership Foundation Program.

He is a lifelong resident of New Mexico and his tribal nations and a parent and father of 2 children.


And therefore, in conclusion -

Abq Jew's Facebook friend Hebrew Calendar Facts reminds us of Thanksgivukkah in 2013, when Chanukah began on Wednesday night, Erev Thanksgiving, and the first day of Chanukah was also Thanksgiving Day.  

This year, when Chanukah begins on the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend, is not that. However, Chanukah beginning during any part of Thanksgiving weekend is still unusual enough to be notable.  

FYI - the next semi-true Thanksgivukkah will be in the year 2070, when  the first night of Hanukkah will be Thanksgiving Night (Thursday November 27). Followed by Thursday November 28, 2165.

Read Mahrinah Shije's article

Beyond the myths,
Thanksgiving and Hanukkah share stories of resistance

The First Thanksgiving

The real story of The First Thanksgiving 1621 also
turns out to be more than just a bit more complicated
than what we (of a certain age) learned in school.
This 1995 painting by Karen Rinaldo gets it mostly right.