Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wanna Be Our Interim Rabbi?

Just Answer These Five Three Questions: As many of us in the Albuquerque Jewish community recall, Rabbi Arthur Flicker of Congregation B'nai Israel stepped down at the end of June 2016.

B'nai Israel then established a search committee that identified and secured the services of a "new" rabbi.

Not as well as we all had hoped.
As many of us in the Albuquerque Jewish community also recall.

There is a new B'nai Israel search committee now, that has just posted what used to be known (way back, when Abq Jew was very, very young) as a Help Wanted ad on the website RabbiCareers.com.

Yes, amazingly (or perhaps not), there is such a website.
The goal of RabbiCareers.com is to continue helping connect rabbis with opportunities for paid work anywhere (full-time, part-time, or even one-time): pulpit work, nonprofit, Hillel, school, or a new kind of venue. 
Rabbis Without Borders is a program of CLAL- The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

You can read the full ad right here. It begins
Seeking Interim Rabbi in the Land of Enchantment 
Congregation B’nai Israel, a vibrant Conservative egalitarian Jewish community in Albuquerque, New Mexico, seeks an experienced interim rabbi for 1-3 years to serve our spiritual, communal, and educational needs in the heart of the Southwest.  
After a few years without consistent rabbinical leadership, our community seeks an individual to guide our lay membership. We are looking for a steady hand who can help us heal from past divisions and guide us toward a unified future.

Which of course brings to Abq Jew's misfiring mind the glorious flick Monty Python and the Holy Grail
And his 2016 classic Wanna Be Our Rabbi?

What are the questions that Abq Jew would like to ask each candidate? Abq Jew joyfully recalls (as he is sure you also do) The Bridge of Death. As every Monty Python fan knows, the first two questions are always

What is your name? What is your quest?

The third question, we surely recall, varies, with distinctly varying outcomes. Here are some of Abq Jew's possibilities. You're welcome!
1. How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man? Yes and how many roads must a woman walk down before they call her a woman? Are these numbers the same? Discuss. 
2. You live in T or C. You are a guest at a Sunday wedding that will inexplicably take place at a megashul in downtown Pittsburgh. You are staying the weekend at the Steeler Stele, a 42-storey architectural wonder that offers self-directed elevators and electronic room keys. Your room is on the 27th floor. The Friday night Oneg Shabbat runs a bit late, and you stay at shul for the Hashkama Minyan on Saturday. Describe where, when, how, and why you take your Shabbos nap. 
3. You are the new rabbi in a a well-established congregation. Every week on the Sabbath, a fight erupts during the service. When it comes time to recite the Shema prayer, half of the congregation stands and the other half sits. The people who are standing yell at the people who are sitting, "Stand up!" while the people who are sitting yell at the people who are standing, "Sit down!" Should the congregation stand or sit for the Shema? What is the tradition? 
Hint: The Story of Shabbat 505
4. According to some (but, of course, not all) commentators, the purpose of performing mitzvot is to guide us in living good lives, being good people, and doing good things in the world. Describe in discrete mathematical terms the exact correlation between performing mitzvot and being a good person. Carefully but completely explain why there is a need for kosher food in our prison system.
5. Your local JCC offers excellent facilities for exercise and very good Jewish programming. It also offers no pleasantly functional performance space ("theater") and no kosher food service (although pescatarian fare is available). Your synagogue currently offers a beautiful sanctuary (with comfortable seats, good sight lines, and superb acoustics) and full meat and dairy kosher food service. How can your synagogue work with the JCC to provide a magnificent performance space, outstanding kosher dining, and terrific Jewish programming? 
6. Your new synagogue has a strong tradition of congregational singing during worship services, often with instrumental accompaniment. You are not comfortable with this arrangement. If the instrumentalists promise not to tune their instruments, will this ameliorate your concerns? If not, describe the concrete steps (or earthen ramp) you will take to transform the choir into a powerhouse a capella group (like Pizmon or, lehavdil, the Maccabeats) suitable for weddings and b'nai mitzvah.
7Who wrote the Five Books of Moses? Who wrote the Book of Mormon? Who wrote the Book of Love?
Maftir. If and only if the candidate responds both earnestly and meaningfully to the above questions, he or she may be entitled to attempt the tie-breaker. Which is (Abq Jew's favorite!)
Define the universe. Give three examples.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sunday in the Park

Art Institute of Chicago: “Bedlam,” “scandal,” and “hilarity” were among the epithets used to describe what is now considered Georges Seurat’s greatest work, and one of the most remarkable paintings of the nineteenth century, when it was first exhibited in Paris.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, Georges Seurat

Abq Jew is proud to announce that he has just learned that the website of the Art Institute of Chicago has recently been redesigned.

Actually, Abq Jew is just thrilled to announce that he is capable, at his advanced age, of learning anything. But Abq Jew digresses.

Famed art blogger Jason Kottke informs us that, as part of their first website design upgrade in 6 years -
The Art Institute has placed more than 52,000 high-resolution images from their collection online, available to all comers without restriction.
Which means that you can see La Grande Jatte - depending on your device, of course - at a resolution of 1692 x 1127, instead of the above 468 x 312.

Of La Grande Jatte, the Art Institute tells us
Seurat labored extensively over A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, reworking the original as well as completing numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches (the Art Institute has one such sketch and two drawings). 
With what resembles scientific precision, the artist tackled the issues of color, light, and form. Inspired by research in optical and color theory, he juxtaposed tiny dabs of colors that, through optical blending, form a single and, he believed, more brilliantly luminous hue. 
To make the experience of the painting even more intense, he surrounded the canvas with a frame of painted dashes and dots, which he, in turn, enclosed with a pure white wood frame, similar to the one with which the painting is exhibited today. 
The very immobility of the figures and the shadows they cast makes them forever silent and enigmatic. Like all great master-pieces, La Grande Jatte continues to fascinate and elude.
The Touch, Linda Apple

Which, for better or for worse, reminds Abq Jew of a story ....
A young couple, Wilbur and Kay, were exploring the exhibits at the Art Institute of Chicago one Sunday afternoon, when they came upon George Seurat's masterpiece of pointillism, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte-1884.

Wilbur, excited to experience this famous painting up close, immediately called his wife over and exclaimed -
Kay, Seurat! Seurat!

More impressed with the Art Institute's other collections, she took one bored look at the painting and replied -
Whatever, Wilby, Wilby.

Abq Jew would like to apologize to everyone he has offended with this old, obscure reference to old, but hardly obscure, Doris Day. And her famous song.
"Que Será, Será (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)", first published in 1956, is a popular song written by the songwriting team of Jay Livingston (born Jacob Harold Levison) and Ray Evans (born Raymond Bernard Evans). 
The song was introduced in the Alfred Hitchcock film The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), starring Doris Day [born Doris Mary Kappelhoff on April 3, 1922, and still going strong, Ken O'Hara] and James Stewart (born James Maitland Stewart)in the lead roles.

To show how Abq Jew's mind works these days - when it works at all ....

Abq Jew learned about the Art Institute of Chicago's web redesign etc from Jill Wine-Banks (born Jill Wine and raised in Chicago, where her father was a CPA), whom he follows (@JillWineBanks) on Twitter.

ICYMI - She is a United States lawyer who was one of the prosecutors during the Watergate scandal, and is now an NBC News and MSNBC Contributor. Who tweeted -
The Chicago Art Institute has a great treasure trove of beauty that I have enjoyed from childhood to today. Thanks [Pleasantville (@watercooler13)]for sharing this link so you don't have to be in Chicago to see the collection. It's one of the best museums in the world.
This turns out to be a very Jewish story ....

Sunday, December 2, 2018

From Darkness to Lights

Hanukkah Lights, That Is: Alas, Mr & Mrs Abq Jew are just now standing up after a non-traditional yet solemn week of sitting shiva for Great Grand Mama.

Only to discover that light will tonight overtake the darkness, as we and Jews all over the world begin our celebration of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights.

There is a story in the Talmud of two processions – a wedding procession and a funeral procession – that meet at an intersection too narrow to allow both to pass. One of the processions will need to step aside to allow the other to progress; but which one should go first? 
The rabbis concluded that the wedding procession should get the right of way. Why? Because hope and optimism about the future (as represented by the bride and groom) should always take precedence over the past. We are a people who believe in the future – even in the face of sadness.

And thus we celebrate!

1. Lior Zalzman of Hey Alma reminds us that 
Gal Gadot as a Singing Mermaid is the Best Hanukkah Present 
Ten years ago, a Hanukkah miracle took place. I would’ve gone my whole life without knowing about it, but then I put “Hanukkah” and “Gal Gadot” into Google (don’t ask), and my life changed forever, through one glorious music video of… 

This song is from the Festigal, Israel’s most theatrical event for kids: Parents pay the big bucks for their kids to attend this musical theatrical event, which takes place once a year, always during Hanukkah. It features a bunch of Israeli celebs (not all professional singers) all singing songs on one theme, which is how I discovered that… 
This song is from 2008: Looking back at the themes of Festigals through the years, the 2008 one had a nautical theme. It was titled “Tfos Ta’Festigal” which is a play on words on the Hebrew saying “tfos ta’gal” which means to catch a wave. Or catch a Gal — a Gal Gadot! (That’s right, Gal Gadot’s first name literally means wave, and Gadot is riverbanks, so she was obviously born for this!!!)
And BTW - Hey Alma is "for ladies with chutzpah. A new place for women to talk about working, dating, TV-binging, yummy eating, bat mitzvah reminiscing, quasi-adulting, and the world around us." Abq Jew knows quite a few such ladies. Many, blessedly, in his own family.

2. Students at the Technion shows us
Lighting the Hanukkah Menorah the Hard Way at Technion 
Happy Hanukkah from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Students from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering don't take the the easy way out when lighting the menorah this year.

3. Jewish a capella group Six13 presents
Bohemian Chanukah 
Is this just fantasy? No, it's our Chanukah tribute to one of the greatest and most epic songs of all time. Ready, Freddie? Kindle the lights, remember the Maccabees, and rock on. CHAG SAMEACH!

According to other faith traditions, the month of December may (or may not) bring a variety of non-Hanukkahish holidays. In recognition thereof, yet knowing that once you see this you cannot unsee it, Abq Jew presents -

Monday, November 26, 2018

Glorified and Sanctified

Farewell, Great Grand Mama: More, Abq Jew hopes, to follow. But for now -

1991 | Grandma Fran; Great Aunt Lil; Great Grand Mama | Together Again

Glorified and sanctified 

be God’s great name throughout the world
which He has created according to His will.

May He establish His kingdom
in your lifetime and during your days,

and within the life of the entire House of Israel,
speedily and soon; 
and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted,
extolled and honored, 
adored and lauded be the name
of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond

all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations
are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life,
for us 
and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights,
may He create peace for us and for all Israel;
and for all who dwell on Earth;

and say, Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Onomatopoeia and The Jews III

Say That One More Time?  First posted on November 14, 2011, reposted on November 24, 2014, Onomatopoeia and The Jews has become an Abq Jew Thanksgiving classic for everyone who remembers it.

For those of you dear readers who don't, and for those of you who were inexplicably or even explicably not yet following Abq Jew - here it is again! You're welcome!

An onomatopoeia (or onomatopœia, from the Greek ὀνοματοποιία), is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes.

Common occurrences of onomatopoeias include animal noises, such as "oink" or "meow" or "roar".

Animal names - especially bird names - are often onomatopoeic. For example: Winnie the Pooh got his name from the sound he made when trying to blow a bee off of his nose.

The turkey's name, however, is not onomatopoeic - although he onomatopoeically says"gobble, gobble".  At least in English.  There are several opinions as to what a turkey says in Turkey.

But speaking of turkey - it's time to get ready for Thanksgiving!  For some of us this means lining up a kosher bird from Trader Joe's, which goes great with kosher pareve stuffing from Natural Grocers.  But that's only for those of us who eat meat.

Now, there are several good, Jewish reasons not to eat meat.  Humans were, before all, intended to be vegetarians.  It was only after Noah and the Flood that God allowed us to eat meat.  And even kosher animal slaughter is still - well, the slaughter of animals.

On the other hand, how's this for onomatopoeia:  m-m-m-m-m-m-meat!

But what to do if there are vegetarians in your family who will be at your Thanksgiving table?   Or worse - vegans? 

(Abq Jew apologizes for claiming that vegans are from a planet orbiting the star of that name.  That was wrong, and ... insensitive.)

But how's this for onomatopoeia:  TO-FU!

Oops!  Insensitive again!  And speaking of insensitive - here is the famous (well, Abq Jew remembers it) Tofu Turkey Thanksgiving scene from Everybody Loves Raymond.

Happy Thanksgiving, New Mexico!