Thursday, January 26, 2023

A Ukrainian Chapter

A Jewish Aid Worker's Memoir of Sorrow: Most of us New MexiJews know - or at least know of - Dr Michael Eli Nutkiewicz. For those who may not - 

Michael Eli Nutkiewicz  (History PhD, UCLA) has taught Jewish history at the University of Missouri-Columbia and at UNM. 
He directed the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, was senior historian at the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, led the Program for Torture Victims in Los Angeles, and managed the refugee resettlement program at Catholic Charities New Mexico. 
He was director of Oasis Albuquerque from 2010-2014. 
Nutkiewicz’s translation of Gumener’s memoir, A Ukrainian Chapter: A Jewish Aid Worker’s Memoir of Sorrow, was published in 2022.

A Ukrainian Chapter

The book makes for fascinating storytelling. Indiana University's Slavica Publishers tells us:
Eli Gumener’s 1921 Yiddish memoir, A Ukrainian Chapter, is a rare historical source about relief work spanning the two most devastating years of the pogroms in the Russian Civil War. 
He concentrates on the collapse of Jewish communities in Podolia, a region in southwest Ukraine. Gumener worked for the major Russian and American organizations that were active in providing aid to Jewish victims during both World War I and the Russian Civil War. 
Thus, he presents a unique perspective on leaders, parties, and institutions struggling to respond to the suffering and dislocation that came with wild episodes of violence. This annotated translation serves as a roadmap for the reader by clarifying the social and political contexts in which the events took place. 
A Ukrainian Chapter is a contribution to the history of pogroms, relief work, and Jewish party politics, through the day-to-day experience of a witness “in the trenches.” 
Born in Marijampole (near Vilnius) in 1886 and trained for the law in St. Petersburg, Eli (Illia) Gumener (1886–1941?) was a representative and investigator for the Committee to Aid Jewish Pogrom Victims (EKOPO) and the Russian Red Cross. 
After the Civil War, he worked on behalf of Jewish war orphans for the American Joint Distribution Committee (AJC) in the Białystok region. 
A Ukrainian Chapter was published in Vilnius in 1921. In 1925 Gumener moved to Novogrudok, Poland (now in Belarus) where he continued to be engaged in communal affairs, including as a city councilman from 1929 to 1934. 
He and his wife and daughter were murdered during the Holocaust in late 1941 or early 1942.
But perhaps more importantly, the family story behind the book - is also intriguing. From the Preface:
Children of Holocaust survivors often sense missing family members who remain abstractly among the living; they are a presence that is not present. 

In my case, one of these lost relatives was my mother’s brother, Elijahu/Ilia (Eli) Gumener (1886–1941?). He was present in my middle name, and he appeared among my mother’s photographs. And he was present in a slim clothbound book that stood virtually unnoticed among hundreds of Yiddish volumes in my parents’ library. 

That unassuming book, entitled A kapitl Ukraine: Tsvey yor in Podolye (A Ukrainian Chapter: Two Years in Podolia), is an account of my Uncle Eli’s experience as an aid worker during the pogroms in Podolia, Ukraine between 1918 and 1920. 
The title suggests that the book is more than a report; it is a lament for the victims. The word kapitl itself brings to mind the Jewish custom of reciting chapters (kapitlin) from Psalms at gravesites. 
My mother, Betty Gumener Nutkiewicz (1908–85), had told me her brother was a lawyer who was murdered in the Holocaust. But she never mentioned that he had been an aid worker in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War. Nor had she mentioned that he had published a book about his experiences. 
This book must have had tremendous meaning for my mother as a physical reminder of her dear elder brother. But as with many survivors/refugees, her sadness made it impossible for her to share his full story with me in her lifetime. 
My discovery of the book after my parents’ death illuminated how little I knew of my family who perished. 
Holocaust Remembrance

Dr Michael Eli Nutkiewicz will be offering (so far, at least) two presentations about A Ukrainian Chapter, his family history, and the very personal work of translating his uncle's memoir. Right here in New Mexico, and via Zoom.

Renesan Institute

The Polish-Ukrainian-Russian
Borderland, 1914-1921

Thursday February 2 @ 10:00 am

OASIS Albuquerque

Witness to Pogroms:
Ukraine 1917-1921

Thursday February 16 @ 10:00 am

NOTE: Dr Ari Barbalat interviews Dr Nutkiewicz
about the book on the New Books in Jewish Studies Podcast.

A Ukrainian Chapter

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Hello? Moe's Pharmacy?

Possible Side Effects: As life would have it, someone Abq Jew is very close to recently (OK ... 18 months ago, but for a long time) had a couple of spots on his forehead. Sorta like the spots that were recently removed from our dear friend, First Lady Dr Jill @FLOTUS Biden.

Not to worry: It turns out that the best way to remove those spots (and the glop that lay underneath) was through something called the Mohs Procedure.

Two Moes

Yeah, that's what Abq Jew thought. So, just so we get our Moes straight -

Moses Harry Horwitz (June 19, 1897 – May 4, 1975), known professionally as Moe Howard, was an American actor and comedian, best known as the leader of The Three Stooges, the farce comedy team who starred in motion pictures and television for four decades.

Moammar Morris "Moe" Szyslak is a recurring character from the animated television series The Simpsons. Moe is the proprietor and bartender of Moe's Tavern, a Springfield bar. His ethnic origin is, to say the least, ambiguous.

Dr F E Mohs

However. The Procedure is actually named after Dr Frederic E Mohs, who developed it at the University of Wisconsin, many years ago. YouTube is just chock full of videos showing all aspects of the Mohs Procedure - including how to perform one on yourself at home. No anesthesia needed. Or permitted - gotta stay alert!

Abq Jew is not providing any links.

Wait a minute

All of that is just background.
What Abq Jew really wants to tell you, his loyal readers, about is


which, through a complicated series of events (familiar to too many) involving Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, and three (3) pharmacies, that someone Abq Jew is very close to actually received a prescription for. 

And filled it.
Whereupon someone Abq Jew is very close to
read* before taking:

Levofloxacin 500mg Tablets

Common Uses: It is used to treat bacterial infections.

This drug has an FDA warning.

This drug may cause severe side effects like irritated or torn tendons; nerve problems in the arms, hands, legs, or feet; and nervous system problems. These can happen alone or at the same time. They can happen within hours to weeks after starting this drug. Some of these effects may not go away, and may lead to disability or death. 

The chance of irritated or torn tendons is greater in people over the age of 60; heart, kidney, or lung transplant patients; or people taking steroid drugs. Tendon problems can happen as long as several months after treatment. 

Call your doctor right away
if you have pain, bruising, or swelling in the back of the ankle,
shoulder, hand, or other joints. 

Call your doctor right away
if you are not able to move or bear weight on a joint
or if you hear or feel a snap or pop.

Call your doctor right away
if you have signs of nerve problems. These may include not being able to handle heat or cold; change in sense of touch; or burning, numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet. 

Call your doctor right away
if you have signs of nervous system problems.
These may include anxiety, bad dreams, trouble sleeping, change in eyesight, dizziness, feeling confused, feeling nervous or agitated, feeling restless, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there), new or worse
behavior or mood changes like depression or thoughts of suicide,
seizures, or very bad headaches. 

Do not take if you have myasthenia gravis.
Very bad and sometimes deadly breathing problems have happened
with this drug in people who have myasthenia gravis

For some health problems, this drug is only for use
when other drugs cannot be used or have not worked.
Talk with the doctor to be sure that
the benefits of this drug are more than the risks.


The actual Levofloxacin Product Information sheet was not, of course,
printed with large, boldface type and color. It was printed more like this.

Someone Abq Jew is very close to opted instead for 


Now, when Abq Jew heard this story from someone very close to him, 

Please Read
Laurie Rosenwald

he (which is to say, Abq Jew) immediately recalled reading something quite similar in - where else? - The New Yorker. In an article that Larry Doyle wrote in January 2007 titled 

Please Read Before Suing

and which speaks, comically, of such possible side effects as

headaches, nausea, vomiting,
vomiting from places other than the mouth,
tiny voices, rapidly cycling hypo- and hypertension resulting in staggering about with protruding eyeballs, cacophonous bowel sounds,
muscle and joint pain that feels like slow roasting,
inability to urinate, inability to cease urinating,
sudden double-jointedness, cottonmouth mouth,
itching in an unreachable location, athlete’s face, knee sap,
extremely offensive odor that smells like strawberries to you,
undead feeling, migrating love handles, reverse vertigo,
cravings for bees and other sweet insects,
Jolie lips, full-body sloughing,
jazz hands, visible bubbles in the blood, eye hair,
abdominal rash that spells “let me out,”
uncontrollable urge to contact attorneys, laughing buttocks,
and a blinding but oddly comforting white light.


Abq Jew and his lawyers wish you
a happy and healthy 2 b'Shevat.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Abraham and Martin

John and Bobby: Twenty-six years after they performed and recorded At the Ryman, Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers reunited to perform the album live for the Ryman's 125th anniversary. PBS recorded the 2017 performance, and Abq Jew recorded it from a PBS broadcast.

At the Ryman

Wikipedia tells us:
At the Ryman is a 1992 live album by Emmylou Harris and her then-newly formed acoustic backing band, The Nash Ramblers, recorded at the one-time home of the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

The concerts' and album's high acclaim are given near-universal credit for the renewed interest in reviving the dilapidated Ryman Auditorium as an active venue after nearly 20 years of dormancy. Soon after, the building was completely renovated and has since become a concert hall.

The album won Harris and the Ramblers a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 34th ceremony. In 2017, At the Ryman was released on vinyl to celebrate 25 years since the original release, Harris reunited with the Nash Ramblers to perform the album in its entirety.
Every now and then, Abq Jew is just in the mood to watch the video and listen to the phenomenal 2017 concert. He did so a few days ago, and was once again (as every time) struck by the beauty, the purity of the performance.

This time, one song stood out. We all know it; we've heard it for years in our heads. As we remember Dr Martin Luther King, Jr this week - the song still reverberates. Here is the original:

Abraham, Martin, and John was originally recorded by Dion in 1968. As Abq Jew wrote in November 2014's I Wonder Why:
In 1968, as a solo performer, Dion [DiMucci] recorded Abraham, Martin and John, written by Dick Holler.  
It is a tribute to social change icons, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr, John F Kennedy and Robert F Kennedy. It was written as a response to the assassination of King and the younger Kennedy in April and June 1968.  
When producer Phil Gernhard initially presented the song to DiMucci, the latter didn't care for it. With the persistence of Gernhard, and Dion's wife Susan, he flew to New York that summer. He recorded the song in just one take.  
Laurie Records released the single in September of that year and it quickly raced up the charts, peaking at number four in December. DiMucci, now a star again, was invited to sing this comeback hit on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, as well as many other top shows.

Didn't you love the things that they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free, someday soon
It’s gonna be one day 

Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers performed Abraham, Martin, and John as the second part of a medley with It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go, another Dick Holler "hit" - which he co-wrote with the late singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith.

It's a hard life
It's a hard life
It's a very hard life
It's a hard life wherever you go
If we poison our children with hatred
Then the hard life is all that they'll know

Dick Holler

For some reason, Abq Jew finds the name Dick Holler ... very interesting. He appears to be (at 88, Ken O'Hara!) alive and kicking. And - to sorta complete the trifecta record - Dick Holler is also the co-writer of the 1966 hit Snoopy vs the Red Baron

Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.

MLK Do Right