Monday, April 6, 2020

It's Pesach 5780!

Passover Is Almost Here: A time when we used to gather with friends and family, to celebrate our Holiday of Freedom.

This year, Pesach will be different.

Abq Jew's friend Jacob Richman (formerly of Brooklyn, now of Ma'aleh Adumim) reminds us:

The coronavirus is a serious matter,
but sometimes humor can relieve the stress.
Refuah shleima (get completely well)
if you have the virus or are in quarantine.

In spite of everything - what would Passover be without videos? Abq Jew here thoughtfully provides seven (7) of the newest - made especially for 5780's Days of Matzah (aka Pesach). And one more (maftir), just for luck.

OK ... some of them were just made for "this season" - but they can help cheer us as we approach our holiday.

Want to see Abq Jew's three (3) classics? They're here too!

1. A family from Kent who shared a video of their living room performance of a lockdown-themed adaptation of a Les Misérables song have become a sensation online. Ben and Danielle Marsh and their four children changed the lyrics of One Day More to reflect common complaints during the Covid-19 lockdown. They say the video, which has gone viral, was intended to give friends and family a laugh during this stressful time.

2. The Sound of a Pandemic! Don't worry, Maria and the Von Trapplings know how to deal with it! The song is not intended to be taken seriously - I made it to humour myself and am quite blown away at the following it's got over such a short time. No, wine is not a cure for the virus. Neither is whinging or blobbing (real words.) No, they're not good at social distancing in the video - it was released in 1965. Stay safe and in your bubbles - greetings from New Zealand.

3. The Fab Four have "come together" to remind us that CLEAN HANDS SAVE LIVES! To learn when and how to wash your hands, click here.

4. More Beatles - Yesterday (Lockdown A Capella Version)

5. Stayin' Inside - Corona Virus Bee Gees Parody. Stay inside and wash your hands! Hope everybody is staying safe, and staying inside!

6. When life hands you lemons ... what do you do? Well, the obvious answer is: Record, shoot, mix and edit a full cover for the Friends Theme Song with new and funny lyrics that matches the current situation!  So everyone, let's all make some lemonade!

7. We’re All Home Bound- the Corona Virus Song

8. Now for something completely different: Vin Scully calls Kirk Gibson's full at-bat that finishes with a legendary walk-off homer during Game 1 (October 15) of the 1988 World Series. Ah yes, Abq Jew remembers it well.

Good things can happen, even in the darkest of times.
We just have to wait for the right pitch.

As promised - Abq Jew here thoughtfully provides three (3) of the classics. You're welcome!

1. Google Exodus: Best. Passover. Video. Ever.

2. Passover Rhapsody: Second. Best. Passover. Video. Ever.

3. The Passover Prank. Best. Passover. Prank. Video. Ever. For parents who (especially) miss their kids on Pesach. Who know that Skype and Zoom are never enough.

As the Seders approach, Abq Jew must remind us all (he must! he must!) that Good News, Salvation and Comfort are just one (1) Pesach visitor away.

?אחד מי יודע
Tonight Could Be The Night!

At our Pesach seders
we Jews have been opening our doors to Elijah for thousands of years.

We still believe that Elijah the Prophet will return tonight
and announce the Coming of the Messiah.

When that happens, our first question will be:

Did Elijah remember to send out a press release?

If he did — you may learn the Good News in a few days or weeks.
But you can always hear about Salvation and Comfort at &
Your guide to Jewish life in Albuquerque and beyond

A Zissen Pesach, Albuquerque!
Chag Kasher veSameach, New Mexico!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

This Year, Pesach

Will Be Different: In the old days - last year, and every year before that most of us can remember - Passover was a time to gather with friends and family, to celebrate our Holiday of Freedom. That's the way it always used to be.

This year, Pesach will be different.

But, as Rabbi Sue Fendrick tells us:

Sue Fendrick is a writer, editor, rabbi, spiritual director
and humorist who lives and works in the Boston area.

You Are Allowed to Have a Shvach Seder

You do not need to set up a multi-media, multi-layered presentation on Zoom. You do not need to cook 17 dishes that remind you of all the family members you are not gathering with. You do not need to do all the cool things that people are suggesting for small seders.

You do not need to go out on your mirpeset/porch at 11 pm and sing Chag Gadya with your neighbors. You do not need to compile an “in these times”-themed haggadah or seder supplement.

You are living through an international pandemic. For all of the support you have, for all of the jokes people are making, for all of the new Torah that is being are experiencing a collective trauma as an individual, within the daled amot/delimited space of your own home and your own life.

You may be managing others’ experience of that trauma. You are dealing with challenges you have never faced before. You may feel scared, angry, depressed, or lost.

If you want to and can do any of the above for a maximalist seder night, great. But if you don’t want to and/or can’t, it is totally fine to cook a modest meal, throw together a seder plate at the last minute, get up to make salt water when it’s time for karpas because you forgot to do it before, make decisions on the fly about how much to talk about each step of the seder and what to read and not to read.

Light the candles. Bless the wine/grape juice and the holiday. Eat the symbols. Be together. Talk about some things. Read some things. Be energized, or be tired. Do things you never did before because “what an opportunity to have an intimate seder”, or do the minimum. Go to sleep knowing you have fulfilled your obligation.

You do not need to make up for the seder
you are not having, or the seder
you wish you could have.

Do this year’s seder(s) however that works for you this year. Do your best to keep yourself and your family healthy. Connect to the themes of Passover—getting out of narrow places, celebrating life, gratitude, remembering our obligations to each other and to all others.

Dayeinu. That is more than enough.
Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick, copyright 2020,
permission to share granted liberally with attribution

To give himself - and you, his loyal readers - hope that yes, this too shall pass, Abq Jew returns to 2016's The Walk of Life Project. Which posited, and then proved, that

is the perfect song to end any movie.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A New Yorker's Bedtime

National Doctors' Day: It turns out that yesterday - Monday March 30 - was National Doctors' Day. Who knew? Probably not doctors - or other healthcare workers - who were too busy at work to notice.

This "cartoon" by Mike Luckovich tells the whole story. This is where we are, and these are the people we are depending upon.

And yes, they are people. People with homes and families - all of whom are now at risk in a way that they were not before this coronavirus pandemic.

This year's Health Issue (April 6, 2020) of The New Yorker arrives in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic. The magazine’s cover, "Bedtime," is by Chris Ware, who wrote to The New Yorker about how he conceived the image.
As a procrastination tactic, I sometimes ask my fifteen-year-old daughter what the comic strip or drawing I’m working on should be about—not only because it gets me away from my drawing table but because, like most kids of her generation, she pays attention to the world. So, while sketching the cover of this Health Issue, I asked her. 
'Make sure it’s about how most doctors have children and families of their own,' she said. 
Good idea. And a personal one: one of her friend’s parents are both doctors; that friend, now distilled into a rectangular puddle of light on my daughter’s nightstand, reported that her mom had temporarily stopped going to work, pending the results of a covid-19 test. 
The last real job I had was delivering blood to hospitals, in the early nineteen-nineties. A beeping pager would drag me out of bed to groggily pilot a white Ford Escort to local emergency rooms, where I got to know the tired but determined lab techs and nurses. 
While they signed the requisite paperwork, we’d small-talk about what recent movies they might’ve seen, or they’d tell me about their families. Then I’d drive home, embarrassed by my thin ambition to be an artist but grateful that at least I could go back to sleep. 
While some of us fret about what Netflix shows to watch, an unnerving onslaught of articles, essays, and interviews with physicians describe the front they face in the coming weeks. 
Hospitals are almost sure to be overwhelmed by patients. Well-meaning folks are sewing homemade masks to make up for the lack of protective equipment. 
Doctors are sequestering themselves from their homes to avoid infecting their families. These seem like details in a bad movie script. 
What sort of nightmare are we waking up to?

Thankfully, neither Abq Jew nor The Washington Post's Alexandra Petri is an epidemiologist, but . . . Ms Petri writes -
Let me start by saying: I am not an epidemiologist. I do not know anything about diseases. Am I a doctor? Is an online certificate from the Universal Life Church a medical degree? 
Does owning a tiger make you a doctor, automatically? 

But not yet! Right now -

Thursday, March 26, 2020

How-To: A Socially Distant Seder

New Rules for Passover 5780: So - are we living in 'interesting times,' or what? It was only a week ago that Abq Jew asked (see Passover On Our Own):

Is it still Passover
if we seder by ourselves?

Alas, that is exactly what many of us are facing this year. Few family members, even fewer friends. No groups, large or small.

And then there's the bad news about Elijah the Prophet.

Remember when Malachi (3:24) the Last of the Prophets, in his Final Prophecy, told us

Behold, I send you the prophet Elijah.
And he will return the hearts of the fathers
to their children, and the hearts of the children
to their fathers.

Abq Jew is extremely sorry to inform you, his loyal readers, that Elijah will not personally be handling - or even supervising - heart returns this year. Abq Jew is sure this comes as a shock to many of us.

Who will drink the wine from Elijah's cup?

As with returning the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers -

We'll just have to take charge ourselves.

Passover is clearly going to be
a very different holiday for us this year. 

Here is a brief update on the precautions Mr & Mrs Abq Jew's friends are taking in light of the COVID-19 situation, so that they can make this Passover as safe as possible for their guests.

They have been instituting enhanced cleaning
and hygiene practices in their home. 

They have also been consulting with the CDC, the World Health Organization, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New Mexico's Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham - so that they are up to date on the latest recommendations, given the ever-changing situation.

Here are the instructions they've sent to their prospective seder guests.

Artist couple Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre made this viral animation
illustrating the importance of social distancing in stopping the spread of coronavirus.
Photo courtesy of Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre.

We will not panic,
but neither will we fail to prepare. 

So that you are prepared, we want to let you know about some changes in the Passover 2020 celebration:

1. To maintain social distancing, only two people will be allowed to attend at a time. We will be metering entry. We will be sending a Google doc so that you can sign up for your preferred portion of the seder in 15 minute shifts: The Four Questions; The Four Kinds of Children, Dayenu, The 10 Plagues, Elijah, and the Afikomen. We anticipate a lot of interest in the Plagues section, so we will have to make some hard choices. (NOTE: if you have children under 5 who can only attend with their parents, as long as they are entirely wrapped in plastic, you can bring them; no need to sign them up).

2. Some Seder practices and traditions will have to be modified. For example, the family style servings of haroset, matzoh, horseradish, and salt water will have to go. Each guest will receive a pre-packaged box of the essential ceremonial items, plus a bowl of matzoh ball soup. You should be able to cry your own salt water tears.

3. The ceremonial hand washing, however, will be emphasized. Everybody will wash their f*!@#!g hands every f*!@#!g five minutes.

4.  We inquired with the Almighty about the four glasses of wine limit and proposed raising it to eight. She said no problem at all. So there's that.

5. Elijah has advised that due to COVID-19 restrictions in his own organization, he will not be able to attend in person. He is learning to use Zoom (like the rest of us) and we are hopeful that he will be up to speed by then.

6. The 10 Plagues section will be modified to focus on the one obvious plague. The other plagues don't seem that relevant. The kids are hard at work making custom COVID-19 plague masks. The design will be reminiscent of a dog cone. The good news is that they won't mess up your hair! (And we are obviously not sticking our pinkies in our wine and placing drops on our plate and then drinking the wine!!)

7. For the Afikomen, we have determined that having children with grubby hands engage in a hunt all over the house for a small piece of matzah split between all the guests will not work. We will conduct the Afikomen ceremony ahead of time, wearing our N-95 masks and gloves, and apportion it in separately wrapped pieces.

We thank you for your understanding and cooperation. 

If, despite these changes, we are not able to hold the seder in person, don't worry. We will send everyone a Zoom link and it will be like you're actually there! If Zoom does not work, we will proceed by group text, or group sext depending on how we are feeling.

You will be hearing more from us as we navigate this unprecedented situation together. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns.

No, Abq Jew did not write these Seder 5780 instructions.
They've been circulating around the Internet, authorship unknown.
May they provide a bit of solace in these troubled times.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Eric Weissberg, 'Dueling Banjos' Musician, Dies at 80

What A Banjo Player! Even if you never knew his name (although every banjo player and Americana musician surely did), you certainly knew his work.

Or at least what he was most famous for. Bill Friskics-Warren writes in The New York Times:
Eric Weissberg, a gifted multi-instrumentalist whose melodic banjo work on the 1973 hit single “Dueling Banjos” helped bring bluegrass music into the cultural mainstream, died on Sunday in a nursing home near Detroit. He was 80. 
Juliet Weissberg, his wife of 34 years, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease. 
Though the theme songs to the film “Bonnie & Clyde” (1967) and the CBS sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” both recorded by Flatt and Scruggs, preceded “Dueling Banjos” in exposing wide audiences to bluegrass, neither made it to the pop Top 40. 
“Dueling Banjos,” which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1972 movie “Deliverance,” fared far better, rising to No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart. 
The soundtrack to “Deliverance” was also certified gold, for sales of more than 500,000 copies. 
But Mr. Weissberg — who also played fiddle, mandolin and guitar — produced much more than a one-hit wonder. 
More than a decade before “Dueling Banjos,” he had distinguished himself as a member of two popular folk groups, the Greenbriar Boys and the Tarriers, and as an in-demand session musician in New York.
As a session player he appeared on Judy Collins’s “Fifth Album,” contributing guitar to her 1965 version of “Pack Up Your Sorrows.”
He played banjo on John Denver’s 1971 Top 10 pop hit, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” 
His fretwork was heard on albums like Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” (1974), Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (1973) and the Talking Heads’ “Little Creatures” (1985). He collaborated with jazz musicians like Bob James and Herbie Mann as well.
Mr. Weissberg married Juliet Savage in 1985. In addition to her, he is survived by his son, Will, and two grandchildren. 

Oh yes, there's more. Here is a piece of what's on Wikipedia.
Weissberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Cecile (Glasberg), a liquor buyer, and Will Weissberg, a publicity photographer. 
He attended The Little Red Schoolhouse in New York's Greenwich Village and graduated from The High School of Music & Art in New York City. He went on to the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Juilliard School of Music. 
From 1956 to 1958, Weissberg frequently joined Bob Yellin, John Herald and Paul Prestopino at Washington Square Park to play on Sundays from 12-6pm. Public folk-singing in that park was forbidden by the city except for Sunday afternoons. 
John Herald the lead singer played guitar. Bob Yellin played guitar and 5-string. Weissberg usually played 5-string but also fiddle. Paul Prestopino played mandolin. 
Weissberg joined an early version of the Greenbriar Boys (1958–59), but left before they made any recordings. He joined the Tarriers, replacing Erik Darling
At the time, the Tarriers had had a hit with "Banana Boat Song"; Harry Belafonte's version, released soon afterward, became a bigger hit. 
On March 22, 2020, Weissberg died at the age of 80 from Alzheimer's disease at a nursing home near Detroit, Michigan. 
Steve Mandell, the “Dueling Banjos” guitar player, died on March 14, 2018.
Abq Jew believes that The Holy One, Blessed Be He, has a special place in Olam HaBa (The World to Come) for Jews who play bluegrass.