Friday, December 30, 2011

End the Year with a Blessing

Start the Year with a Blessing:  It has become Abq Jew's tradition that the last checks written (or online donations entered) for one year and the first for the next year should be charitable donations to organizations, institutions, and causes that Abq Jew supports.

If you are looking for ways to give - or whys - you might wish to look here and here. In any event, here is one new-to-Abq Jew venture: 

Pioneers For A Cure - Songs To Fight Cancer is the largest showcase of cancer charities on the web. Pioneer artists revive pioneer songs to pioneer a cure for cancer.  Music and memories and mitzvot!   Here is how Pioneers for a Cure works:

There are plenty of artists who are taking part in this effort, including Yehoram Gaon, David Broza, Alicia Svigals, Suzanne Vega, and ... Ilanit, who contributes Shir Eress (aka Numi, Numi).

For those of a certain age ... ok, for men of a certain age ... Ilanit, of Ilan & Ilanit 1970's fame, will always be the quintessential female Israeli pop star.  Ilanit twice represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest - in 1973 (the first time Israel participated) and in 1977. She was named Israel's top female singer every year from 1971 to 1977.

For the new year, here are Ilan & Ilanit singing - what else? - Bashanah HaBa'ah:

אילן ואילנית - בשנה הבאה

Next year we will sit on the porch and count the migrating birds
Children on vacation will play catch between the house and the fields
Red grapes will ripen till the evening and will be served chilled to the table
And languid winds will carry to the crossroads old newspapers and a cloud

You will see how good it will be next year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Adrienne Cooper, Yiddish Singer, Dies at 65

But Yiddish Culture Continues:  From The New York Times:
Adrienne Cooper, an American-born singer, teacher and curator of Yiddish music who was a pioneer in the effort to keep the embers of that language smoldering for newer generations, died on Sunday in Manhattan. She was 65.  

The Times obituary continues:
Though the movement Ms. Cooper helped start in the 1970s and ’80s was often described as a Yiddish revival, less sentimental observers acknowledged that a true revival of the spoken language among secular Jews was unlikely, given that people who had learned it in their homes, like Holocaust survivors and children of turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrants, were dying out. But because of the teaching and organizational work of Ms. Cooper and a handful of others, klezmer has become a popular current of the music mainstream and Yiddish courses are given at scores of colleges.

“She was in a way the mother of the revival,” said her friend Alicia Svigals, a klezmer violinist. 
The Times obituary concludes:
While many looked on the revival efforts as quixotic, Ms. Cooper, her daughter said, “was fearless” and was “not burdened by counting numbers.”

“She was interested in people expressing their Judaism through their language and their culture,” Ms. Gordon said. “She taught people how to do that.”
For but one example of what the Jewish world has lost, here is a video of Adrienne Cooper z"l singing with (lehavdil) Sharon Bernstein and Jeanette Lewicki:

But all is not lost - thanks to the work of (among many others) the Yiddish Book Center and its Wexler Oral History Project

In this video, Adrienne Cooper z"l talks about the new generation of Yiddish learners and the importance of the next generation for the survival of Yiddish language and culture. She stresses the role that the next generation will have to play in preserving Yiddish.

May the memory of Adrienne Cooper be for a blessing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Xtreme Komedy Comes to Abq!

Happy New Year!  Come on, do you really want to spend another New Year’s Eve eating microwave popcorn and watching Ryan Seacrest on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve?  Or crammed into a movie theater with all those irritating cell phones going off every two seconds, ruining the film?

Here's a fascinating alternative:

New Year's Komedy Showcase
Embassy Suites Abq
Saturday 31 December 2011
9:00 pm - 1:00 am, whose ownership is 2/3 Jewish, will be producing a professional, clean comedy show on New Year's Eve at the Embassy Suites Hotel. 

The cost for the show itself is only $20, a pittance for professional comedy. An After Party hosted by a DJ, which costs $5, will continue the fun until 1:00 am New Year's Day. 

Doors open at 8:30 pm. The age limit is 18 and over, and alcohol is available for those with proof of being at least 21. 

As part of its commitment to the military, Xtreme Komedy proudly supports the Wounded Warrior Project, and hopes you will, too.

Tickets:  For advance tickets, please call (505) 312-4LOL (4565).  For room reservations and packages, please call Melinda James (505) 353-5381.

Still not convinced? What do you need, a personal invitation?  OK!  Here it is:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sixteen Candles

2 x Ocho Candelikas:  "Eight Candles" is now one of Abq Jew's favorites, which he had never even heard until he joined the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band.

Flory Jagoda
Written by Bosnian Jewish grandmother Flory Jagoda, the song can be played "soft" (as directly below) or "hard" (below that).  Either way, it's a keeper.

KlezmerQuerque 2012 - Presidents' Day Weekend - More details here and here.

16 Candles!
Happy Hanukkah!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Deck Us All

With Boston Charlie:  This has absolutely nothing to do with Albuquerque and little to do with Yiddishkeit.  What it has to do with is honoring one's parents.

In this, Abq Jew's season of yahrzeits, he honors (once again) his father, Richard Yellin, who loved Walt Kelly's Pogo cartoon strip; and his mother, Roselyn Yellin, who loved his father.

Abq Jew also sees it as his responsibility to pass down the tradition.  There is a whole generation of American Jews who have never heard this song.  Enjoy!

The complete lyrics are:
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker 'n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloupe, 'lope with you!

Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarm bung-a-loo!

Dunk us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, woof, woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, goof, goof!
Some background, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Pogo is the title and central character of a long-running daily American comic strip, created by cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913–1973) and distributed by the Post-Hall Syndicate. Set in the Okefenokee Swamp of the southeastern United States, the strip often engages in social and political satire through the adventures of its anthropomorphic funny animal characters.

Pogo combined both sophisticated wit and slapstick physical comedy in a heady mix of allegory, Irish poetry, literary whimsy, puns and wordplay, lushly detailed artwork and broad burlesque humor. The same series of strips can be enjoyed on different levels both by young children and savvy adults. The strip earned Kelly a Reuben Award in 1951.

Probably the most famous Pogo quotation is "We have met the enemy and he is us." Perhaps more than any other words written by Kelly, it perfectly sums up his attitude towards the foibles of mankind and the nature of the human condition.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yiddish Rudolph

Oy Vey!  You know you can find just about everything you're looking for - and plenty you're not - on the Internet these days.  While looking for something else (of course), Abq Jew discovered this Yiddish rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Which is really quite charming and irresistible.  So -
Return to the great Jewish themes of outsider-ness & redemption with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"--- in Yiddish! The greatest klezmer Christmas song ever! A Yiddish "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," performed by San Francisco's Kugelplex. Vocals by Jewlia Eisenberg of Charming Hostess. Yiddish translation by David Rosenfeld, grammatical guidance by Gerry Tenny.

And how about Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen?  What are they - chopped liver?  No - they are the bullies who "never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games."  Abq Jew has always wondered about this verse.  What, exactly, are reindeer games?

After pondering for years, Abq Jew has finally figured this out.

Rudolph was, literally, the odd reindeer out.  He was Number 9.  Bridge partners had been determined long before Rudolph showed up.  Any other reindeer games also paired opponents - with no place for Rudolph.  Even a tennis tournament would have no way to fit Rudolph in.  Unless the other reindeer learned some new games - they could all go bowling! or start their own baseball team! - Rudolph was left out of the fun.

To Abq Jew, this makes Rudolph the Jewish Reindeer.

And - you remember the story? - it turns out that Rudolph has yichus, and he ends up out in front of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen.  Case closed.

You can learn  more than you ever wanted to know about the Elite Eight (and Rudolph) here. Some interesting Rudolph / Reindeer facts:
  • The 1823 poem by Clement C. Moore "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas" or "Twas the Night Before Christmas") is largely credited for the contemporary Christmas lore that includes the eight flying reindeer and their names.
  • In An American Anthology, 1787–1900, Edmund Clarence Stedman reprints the 1844 Clement Clarke Moore version of the poem, including the German spelling of "Donder and Blitzen," rather than the original 1823 version using the Dutch spelling, "Dunder and Blixem."  Both phrases translate as "Thunder and Lightning" in English, though German for thunder is now spelled Donner, and the Dutch words would nowadays be spelled Donder and Bliksem.
  • Rudolph's story was originally written in verse by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores in 1939, and published as a book to be given to children in the store at Christmas time.
  • L. Frank Baum (of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)'s 1902 story "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" includes a list of ten reindeer, none of whom match the names of the versions found in "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Flossie and Glossie are Santa's principal reindeer in Baum's story. Claus gathers eight more reindeer, named in rhyming pairs: Racer, Pacer, Fearless, Peerless, Ready, Steady, Feckless, and Speckless. When the story was remade into a television special in 1985, the television producers scrapped Baum's reindeer and replaced them with those found in "A Visit from St. Nicholas."
What can we learn from this?  Those who celebrate Reindeer have their traditions and stories, some old, some new.  But we Jews? We have traditions and stories - midrash - too, but our traditions and stories are exegesis!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The God Particle

The Higgs ... Oh, Whatever: You may not know this, but, once upon a time, Abq Jew was very good at Physics.  Wave theory was his best topic within the Physics universe.

In fact, Abq Jew and his fellow Physics classmates (we were way too young to be called colleagues) at Marian A Peterson High School in Sunnyvale, California invented and created, yet failed to trademark or patent, the term "dry lab" - to refer to the practice (and we got a lot of practice) of performing wave experiments (while the teacher was out-of-lab) without use of potentially wet water to Physically observe them.

Which is to say - we knew the proper equations and we knew the expected results, so we developed "measurements" to corroborate them.  We were way ahead of our time.

Higgs Boson
And which brings us to the current search for the Higgs Boson, aka The God Particle.  If you want to know what the Higgs Boson looks like - here's a photo.

Actually, it's not a photo.  It's a Physicist / Artist's (never thought you'd see those occupations together, did you?) rendering of what the Scientific Community thinks the Higgs Boson oughtta look like, and where it might be found, if there is such a thing as the Higgs Boson.

Now is probably the right time for Abq Jew to clear up some confusion, primarily his own.

Mr Higgs's Bison
First of all, this is not a photo of the Higgs Boson.

It is, rather, a photo of Mr Higgs's bison.  Mr Higgs lives right here in New Mexico, aka the Land of Enchantment, and let us snap a photo of George while he was ... just standing around.

Mr Higgs, Boatswain
Second, this is is also not a photo of the Higgs Boson.

It is, rather, a photo of Mr Higgs, a boatswain (that's pronounced "bosun", ye landlubbers).  Mr Higgs let us snap a photo of him while he was just cruisin' around, right off the New Mexico coast.

Why, you ask, is the Higgs Boson called The God Particle?  Two reasons:
  1. The Higgs Boson is central to our understanding of the universe, and is the only explanation that makes sense, except for the explanations that do not include the Higgs Boson.  
  2. It sells books (specifically, Leon Lederman's book, The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?).
Lederman said he gave it the nickname "The God Particle" because the particle is "so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive," but jokingly added that a second reason was because "the publisher wouldn't let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing."

Bar Refaeli
And furthermore:  this is all according to what Theoretical Physicists (the best kind) refer to as the Standard Model, which everyone hopes will look like this:

but which so far seems to look like this:

Standard Model

Abq Jew notes that, to date, the existence, location, and credit score of the Higgs Boson have yet to be confirmed experimentally, despite large efforts invested in accelerator experiments at CERN, Fermilab, and Yeshiva University.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Light Up The Night!

Fountainheads Hanukkah: Remember The Fountainheads?  Abq Jew blogged about them just before Rosh Hashanah, highlighting their performance of "Dip Your Apple in The Honey".

The Foutainheads' website says:
The Fountainheads are a group of young Israeli dancers, singers, actors and artists, all graduates and students of the Ein Prat Academy for Leadership, who have have joined forces to create new Jewish artistic content for today's Jewish World. All members of the group have spent time living and studying at the Ein Prat Academy, working to create a new Israeli-Jewish identity and building a strong and diverse community that celebrates Jewish life. The Fountainheads' work has already been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.
Well, in any case - they're back, with "Light Up The Night", a song for Chanukah, Hanukkah, or Khanikeh.  You know - The Festival of Lights.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Boogie Woogie

For Dad's Yahrzeit: This Wednesday evening (19th of Kislev), Abq Jew will observe the fourth yahrzeit of his father, Richard W Yellin, of blessed memory.

LST 273

Dad served in the Navy during World War II, mostly aboard LST 273.  "LST" officially stands for "Landing Ship, Tank", whose job it was to drive right up onto the beach into direct enemy (in this case, Japanese) fire, and deposit its load of tanks, supplies, and troops.

"LST" unofficially stands for "Large, Slow Target".  LST 273 was aka "The Grey Ghost".  But she brought Dad home safe and sound, making "273" the family's lucky number.

From the NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive:

LST 273 off Saipan, 16 June 1944
 From the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships:
LST-273 was laid down on 24 February 1943 at Ambridge, Pa., by the American Bridge Co.; launched on 8 August 1943; sponsored by Mrs. W.H. McComb; and commissioned on 24 September 1943.

During World War II, LST-273 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the following operations: 
    Marshall Islands operation;
    (a) Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, January and February 1944
    (b) Occupation of Eniwetok Atoll, February 1944
    Marianas operation;
    (a) Capture and occupation of Saipan, June and July 1944
    (b) Tinian capture and occupation, July 1944
    Western Caroline Islands
    (a) Capture and occupation of southern Palau Islands, September and October 1944
    Luzon operation;
    (a) Lingayen Gulf landing 9 January 1945
    Okinawa Gunto operation;
    (a) Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, April 1945
Following the war, LST-273 performed occupation duty in the Far East until late October 1945. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned on 12 August 1946 and struck from the Navy list on 8 October 1946. On 3 November 1947, she was sold to the Hugo Neu Steel Products Corp., of New York, N.Y.
Abq Jew recalls his Dad telling him that he was on board LST 273 for the battles of Kwajalein, Eniwitok, and Tinian.

In tribute to Dad, Abq Jew had first considered Benny Goodman's "Sing Sing Sing" - but decided instead on one of his favorite clips:  The Andrews Sisters singing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy", from the 1941 Abbott and Costello film, "Buck Privates".

For those who are too young to remember, here is part of the bio from The Andrews Sisters website:
During a time when teenagers were doing the jitterbug and Uncle Sam was asking young men to enlist, The Andrews Sisters were America’s most popular female singing group. Patty, the youngest sister, was a loud and energetic blond who headed the group with her confident vocals. The middle sister was Maxene, a brunette, whose harmonic range gave the impression of four voices instead of three. Finally, completing the trio was the eldest, LaVerne, a strong willed redhead with a witty sense of humor and an eye for fashion. 
Here's to Abq Jew's mother, Roselyn L Yellin, of blessed memory, a "strong willed redhead" in her own right who waited for Abq Jew's father to come home from the war.  And - here's to you, Dad!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jim Terr for President

There Will Be More: Presidential candidate Jim Terr has informed Abq Jew and other major media outlets that he'll be joining Project White House 2012, although he says he aims to have "a couple of affairs and rehabs between now and January 9."

Never heard of Jim Terr?  Well, first of all, he's Abq Jew's biggest fan, and vice versa, we're sure.  Jim is also a really creative guy, a singer songwriter satirist comedian of the highest order (see Hebrew Nashville, et al).  Abq Jew just loves Jim Terr's work, if you can call it that.

More importantly, Jim is a presidential candidate in the fine tradition of Pat Paulsen, who ran for President way back in 1968 (he didn't win).

Pat's son Monty is apparently also running for President this year - it's become a family tradition. But Jim Terr is from Valley Stream, New York - where Abq Jew is also from - so he gets our vote.

Want to know more about Jim Terr's plan for America?  Of course you do!  So click here.

It's time for new thinking, outside-the-box packaging, fresh paradigms and ripe mangoes. Think about electing Jim Terr. While you're thinking about it, send money. "Give Jim Terr a chance to steal from you." 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Funky Khanikeh Freylech!

Celebrate @ Nahalat Shalom!  Congregation Nahalat Shalom will present its annual celebration of the Festival of Lights, with the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band & Rikud Dance Troupe:

Saturday 17 December 2011
5:38 pm - 8:38 pm

New Mexicans will celebrate Hanukkah the ‘FUNky’ way at Congregation Nahalat Shalom’s popular annual event ‘The Funky Khanikeh Freylekh’ (which translates to “The Funky Hanukkah Joyous Event”)! 

Dance to the exciting music of the 20-piece Community Klezmer band and join the fun and easy dance lines led by Rikud dance troupe. Enjoy special activities and presentations by and for children, and a performance by puppeteer Marc Wunder. 

Beautiful crafts and unique items will be sold by local artists and craftspeople -- including the nationally recognized New Mexico artists Diana Bryer and Diane Palley. There will also be a silent auction, a used book sale, and a raffle. 

“Latkes” - the famous potato pancakes of the Hanukkah tradition will be sold along with other delicious foods and drinks.

Please bring canned food items to donate to Roadrunner Foodbank - and warm blankets and clothing for Project Share’s warm clothing drive.

Congregation Nahalat Shalom is located at 3606 Rio Grande Blvd. NW (between Candelaria and Griegos).

The Funky Khanikeh Freylekh is also a fundraiser for Congregation Nahalat Shalom, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.  Admission is: $2- for over 18, $1-for 18 and under, and FREE if too young to walk.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Marina Zurkow: Mesocosm

Northumberland UK:  Among the delightfully pleasurable activities in which Abq Jew & family engaged during their recent return trip to New Jersey was this - a visit to the Montclair Art Museum.

First of all, the Museum has a very nice collection of Native American Art on permanent display - so we felt right at home (even a bit homesick). According to the Museum's website:
The Native American collection was initiated by Mrs. Henry Lang, one of the founders of the Museum. It represents the cultural development of various peoples from the seven major culture areas in the United States--the Northwest Coast, California, the Southwest, the Plains, the Woodlands, the Southeast, and the Arctic.
With more than 4,000 objects, the collection has particularly distinguished examples of basketry and jewelry. Contemporary artists such as Dan Namingha, Tony Abeyta, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, and Allan Houser are represented as well. Native American artists and artisans are frequent visitors to the Museum, offering talks and demonstrations.
But the Museum has also expanded its collection of Modern and Contemporary Art with a new series called New Directions.  The first artist on the roster is Marina Zurkow, whose Friends, Enemies, and Others digital animations were wonderfully captivating. According to the Museum's website:
Zurkow makes psychological narratives about humans and their relationship to animals, plants, and the weather. These take the form of multichannel videos, customized multiscreen computer pieces, animated cartoons, interactive mobile works, and pop objects. With these works, Zurkow seeks to spur a conversation around the relationship between nativist views toward invasives and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Ms Zurkow talks about her work here:

Ms Zurkow's most interesting work (in Abq Jew's humble and completely unqualified opinion) was a 146-hour digital animation entitled Mesocosm (Northumberland UK).  No, Abq Jew was not able to view the entire 146 hours - but he wishes he could have.  Ms Zurkow's website (where you can view a snippet of the work) states:
Mesocosm (Northumberland UK) is an animated landscape portrait representing one year of real time on the moors of Northumberland. In a 146-hour cycle that unfurls in a choreographed sequence of chance, animated objects are placed on a stage, and code determines the frequency and order of their appearance. No cycle is identical to the last, as the appearance of characters and seasonal weather are determined by a simple probability equation. One hour of world time elapses in each minute of screen time: Seasons unfold, snows fall, days pass, moons rise, animals come and go, and the omnipresent man in the garden (based on a painting of Leigh Bowery by Lucien Freud), both corporeal and a magical source of food, offers his body to nourish the garden feeders. Real, mythical and man-made elements interact as they cross the stage of this British landscape, in an expanded view of what constitutes "nature."
Conceived during a 2009 research residency at ISIS Arts, Newcastle and based on the Northumbrian landscape, Mesocosm (Northumberland UK) will be seen by commuters (or loiterers) in public space, where one might become invested in the fate of the protagonists on a summer’s eve, and be surprised 72 hours later when it’s snowing and the animated field is full of refugees.
Friends, Enemies, and Others will be on exhibition through March 18, 2012.  Although traveling via EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport) is nothing at all like traveling via ABQ - Mesocosm is worth a trip to the Garden State!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Perri Yellin's Art Celebration

@ JFNM Pre-Chanukah Celebration:  The Perri Yellin Art Studio, to which Abq Jew has strong business and other connections, will be showing (and selling) Perri's jewelry and mosaics at the Jewish Federation's

Pre-Chanukah Celebration
Albuquerque Convention Center
Sunday 11 December 2011
12 Noon - 5:00 pm

Come see Perri and her marvelous jewelry -
mixed metals and semi-precious stones
in modern and gutsy styles
to complement casual or dressier attire.
One-of-a-kind fabulous stones combined with hand-made elements creating wonderful, wearable, unique designs.

Perri will also be showing a sampling
of her mosaic art.  
An ancient art form brought into the present!  
You'll find Jewish and secularly themed compositions and sculptures which are stunning: a feast for the eyes and intellect.

Visit for more information about the JFNM Pre-Chanukah Celebration.
Visit for more pictures of Perri's work.

Contact Abq Jew to get & to work for you!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Running in Circles

A Week Without Greyhounds:  Hard to keep track, but Abq Jew & family have just been to New Jersey, celebrating the wedding of Jacky Grossberg and Eric Latzman!

Said wedding finally took place on Sunday, thank God. And we only say "finally" because Jacky and Eric have been "going together" since high school, which was ... several years ago.  It's about time!

To Abq Jew, this meant days, and worse, nights without Henry (left) and Belle (right).

So - here is a video of greyhounds in action, as opposed to greyhounds' inaction, which is what we usually see.  You may not realize it, but greyhounds are the world's fastest couch potatoes.  They can race you to your favorite spot on the couch and beat you every time.  Then, they can stretch out on their backs and take up the entire couch.  You can go find someplace else to watch TV!

See you soon, guys!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Get Ready for Chanukah!

Almost Time to Light the Menorah!  The Jewish Federation of New Mexico's annual pre-Chanukah celebration and gift bonanza will be held this year (for the first time) at the Albuquerque Convention Center.  This year's Chanukah Festival will be the largest gathering of the Jewish community of the year; in fact, for many years.

This year's celebration will feature Jewish foods from around the globe including New York deli sandwiches and kosher hot dogs, scrumptious latkes, falafel on pita, hummus, Mideast salad, sufganiot (jelly donuts, an Israeli Chanukah tradition) and other delicious desserts.

Nonstop entertainment on the stage will include live bands, dancing, a Chanukah performance by Solomon Schechter students and will culminate in a large Menorah lighting. 

Note: The Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band, to which Abq Jew has a strong musical connection, WILL NOT  perform.

More and diverse merchants will be on hand for holiday shopping including Judaica, books, photos, jewelry, skin care, scarves.

Note: The Perri Yellin Art Studio, to which Abq Jew has strong business and other connections, WILL display.

Jewish agencies and organizations will be hosting their own tables to provide information about their resources and services. Children will have more fun than ever with inflatable bouncers, dreidel games, craft activities, face-painting and even a Petting Zoo. A silent auction with stunning gifts will round out the day. 

Info:  Please contact Phyllis Wolf 348-4500 or Robyn Weiner 348-4518.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rabbi Min on Yirah

Awe; Awareness of Something Bigger than Ourselves - Basic Jewish Value #16:  The mission statement of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico reads: “Guided by Jewish values, we offer targeted social services that help preserve and improve the quality of life for New Mexicans.” What are these Jewish values? How do they help guide the day-to-day work that we do at JFS? When new employees join the staff of JFS, they are introduced to eighteen of these basic Jewish values.

The word “yirah,” here translated as ‘awe’ is the same word that is often translated from the Biblical text as “fear”, the source of the concept of being a “G-d-fearing” person.” The original meaning of the word is not “fear” as in being scared or afraid, but “in awe,” as “in wonder,” “astonishment” or “amazement.” The Jewish value of yirah reminds us that our everyday lives, worries, accomplishments and interactions are part of something much larger and more complex. Whether we are among those who have a belief in a Creator or not, whether we experience awe in nature, in personal relationships, in meditation or in a really good dinner, the underlying understanding is the same. To quote part of a poem by Marge Piercy: “We are part of a great web of being joined together.”

At Jewish Family Service, we are reminded every day that we are part of this web of connectedness. One client may be seen by the Care Management team, who might realize that the client could benefit from a Chaplaincy visit. A Health and Wellness staff member might refer a client for Housekeeping/Companion Services. The Senior Transportation drivers might bring their concerns about a client to the Nurse Case Management staff. Volunteers at the Food Pantry keep an eye on repeat clients. Board members keep an eye on overall JFS growth and development, while Administrative staff makes it possible for it all to work together. When we stop and think, we are in awe, recognizing this web of interconnectedness, something larger than each of us, greater than the sum of its parts. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Finlandia for Shabbos

Not Just Vodka:  Nope, can't do it.  Abq Jew simply cannot leave you with his previous post on top of the Abq bloglist.  Not over Shabbos!

Aurora Finlandia

So let's go into Shabbos with Finlandia - in a performance forwarded to us by Abq Jew's good friend, Julian Tepper.  Julian writes:
It is difficult to believe that this is a performance of amateurs that comprise different orchestras and choruses. It is one of the most stirring Finlandias I have ever heard. 
The conductor certainly understood the purpose of the music and demonstrated by his leadership that function need not be at war with inherent beauty. 
I hope that everyone who reads this will share it with others. I admit that at times I had full-body goose bumps. 
Abq Jew says: Enjoy this performance!  Good Shabbos!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dr Norman Finkelstein @ UNM

Visiting UNM On National Tour:  It is Abq Jew 's unpleasant responsibility to inform the Abq Jewish community of the following event, promoted by the University of New Mexico's Students for Justice in Palestine:

Dr Norman Finkelstein
Mon 05 Dec 2011 @ 5:30 - 7:30pm
UNM Student Union Building, Ballroom B

Who, exactly, is UNM-SJP?  The group's website states:
University of New Mexico Students for Justice in Palestine (UNM-SJP) is a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, and community members at colleges & universities throughout the US. Our group is organized according to democratic principles in order to promote justice, human rights, liberation, and self-determination for the Palestinian People.
This sounds OK to Abq Jew, who can see nothing wrong in promoting justice, human rights, liberation, and self-determination for any people.

UNM-SJP says it is committed to "overcoming anti-Semitic sentiments towards both Arabs and Jews in the community."  But the group is also committed to
certain key principles ....   These include the full decolonization of all illegally held Palestinian lands, the end of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.
Not comfortable with that?  Think that "decolonization" and "occupation" are code words for a plan to first delegitimize, then destroy the State of Israel?  Well, you ask, who else is endorsing this event?  How about:
  1. UNM Peace Studies Program
  2. UNM Muslim Students Association
  3. Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions- New Mexico
  4. Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel
  5. Friends of Sabeel Albuquerque
Now, there's a real mix.  #1 seems like it would be OK (Abq Jew really doesn't know).  #5 proclaims itself the "Voice of the Palestinian Christians", and promotes "awareness and understanding".  That sounds promising.  But #2, #3, and #4 sure make Abq Jew nervous.

Who is Dr Norman Finkelstein?  What do we know about him?

Norman G. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University.  For many years he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He currently writes and lectures.  He lives in Brooklyn.

Finkelstein is the author of six books that have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions:
  1. This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and consequences of the Gaza invasion
  2. Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-Semitism and the abuse of history
  3. The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the exploitation of Jewish suffering
  4. Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
  5. A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen thesis and historical truth
  6. The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A personal account of the intifada years
Finkelstein has recently published the pamphlet:
Goldstone Recants: Richard Goldstone renews Israel’s license to kill.  
and is currently working on a new book entitled:
Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish love affair with Israel is coming to an end
Somehow, Abq Jew does not perceive Dr Finkelstein as objective in his judgments, and doubts whether cool, dispassionate discourse could be the mode of the evening.

Or - do Abq Jew and Dr Finkelstein simply disagree?  And if not at UNM, where could a civil, civilized, respectful discussion of The Situation (as Israelis call it) take place?  Hard questions  must be asked, even if - especially if - we don't like the answers.

Here is one possibility (Abq Jew is sure there are others):

On October 19, Professor Jeff Halper, an Israeli anthropologist and the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), kicked off Congregation Nahalat Shalom’s 4th year of Jewish Voices on Peace in the Middle East lecture series.

Abq Jew did not attend - it was Erev Shemini Atzeret.  But: there are good, Jewish reasons to be in favor of demolishing the homes of Palestinian terrorists.  There are also good, Jewish reasons to be against that policy.  This is a discussion we should have.  Reasonable people who believe in the safety and sanctity of the State of Israel can disagree about this.

By all reports, Professor Halper's  lecture was a low-keyed, lightly-attended, serious discussion - the family sitting around the kitchen table.  In contrast, Dr Finkelstein's lecture is anticipated to be the diametric opposite - high-pitched, heavily-attended, inflammatory, and very public.

Abq Jew says: May the evening go well, and may all emerge enlightened.

Rabbi Rosenfeld To Be Installed

Welcome to Duke City!  Congregation Albert formally installs Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld and officially welcomes him to the community as its new Rabbi.  The installation festivities are scheduled to take place:

Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld
Friday 09 December 2011
6:00 pm Shabbat Dinner, $25, RSVP required
8:00 pm Installation Service 
 with guest Rabbi Morley Feinstein,
University Synagogue, Los Angeles
Oneg Shabbat to follow

Congregation Albert's Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld received a Master's degree in Hebrew Letters from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1980, was ordained in 1981, and received the Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa in 2006.

Rabbi Rosenfeld has also pursued course work in the Jewish Studies doctoral program at Spertus Institute of Judaica.  After ordination, he served as Assistant Rabbi in Memphis, Tennessee (1981-1984), Rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom in Anchorage, Alaska (1984-2000), and Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo, New York (2000-2011).

Congregation Albert, Congregation B'nai Israel, Congregation Nahalat Shalom, and the Jewish Family Service of New Mexico (JFS) are partnering to bring you high quality transportation to Rabbi Rosenfeld's Installation Service.

You must pre-register for the Shul Shuttle by December 6, 2011
To pre-register, call JFS at (505) 291-1818

Please register soon. Space is limited, and Shul Shuttle rides will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis!  A $10.00 donation will be requested, and is payable at the time of the ride.

Important!  To help make sure the welcome for Rabbi Rosenfeld is community-wide, both Congregation B'nai Israel and Congregation Nahalat Shalom have canceled that evening's Erev Shabbat services.  Everyone to Congregation Albert on Friday the 9th!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Basya Schechter Sings

The Poems / Songs of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:  Who knew that Rabbi Heschel, of blessed memory, was a Yiddish poet in his younger days?  Basya Schechter did.  Tablet Magazine's Vox Tablet, in the intro to its podcast "Wonderstruck", reports:
Several years ago a fan of the multi-instrumentalist Basya Schechter approached her with a copy of a book of Yiddish poems. The verses were by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who arrived in the United States from Europe in 1940, when he was 33 years old. Heschel was born in Poland and gained renown for his theological works and for his role as a Civil Rights activist. He was far less known for his poetry, written when he was in his early 20s, about intimate relationships—both with God and with people. Schechter’s fan asked her to set Heschel’s poems to music. It took some time for Schechter, who was raised in the Orthodox Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park and who heads the band Pharoah’s Daughter, to take up that challenge. Yet take it up she did, and the result—a melodic mix of Middle Eastern, African, and lesser-known Hasidic influences—can be heard on Songs of Wonder, a new album out from Tzadik.
Here is a preview of the song / poem "My Song":

The YouTube uploader says:
Recorded at the Riverdale Y in NYC. Basya Schechter and her wonderful band (Megan Weeder, violin; Yoed Nir, cello; Uri Sharlin, piano; Rich Stein, percussion) perform a song cycle based on the great religious thinker and human rights activist Abraham Joshua Heschel's early Yiddish poetry.

Cinematography by Steve Brand for his documentary work-in-progress on Heschel, "Praying With My Legs."

For more info, please see the film's website:, where you can sign up for the film's mailing list for updates.

You can also become a fan of the film's Facebook Page. Just go to: and click on "Like."

And please show your support for the film and even make a donation on the film's Facebook Cause page at:

Nutcracker On the Rocks 2011

More Heat, Less Suite:  Just a reminder that this year's performances of Keshet Dance Company's Nutcracker On the Rocks are scheduled for this weekend.  If you've never experienced NOtR - you gotta go!  And if you have - you gotta go again!

Shira Greenberg’s Nutcracker On the Rocks is Keshet Dance Company’s local and national award winning rock-n-roll rendition of the classical holiday tale.

This original modern dance production incorporates the music of James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, and includes the roaring excitement of a Harley Davidson on stage.

The story comes to life with dancers of all ages, experience levels and physical abilities dancing alongside Keshet’s professional repertory dancers and guest artists.

The 15th annual performance of Nutcracker On the Rocks is a show that cannot be missed, it “transforms people’s lives”.

For tickets, please call (505) 724-4771 or visit

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Welcome Home!

The Biggest Travel Day of the Year:  For those of us with freshmen in college, this week is what we've been hoping and and paying for.  And paying for.  And pay ...

What?  Oh, yes.  Abq Jew of course meant praying!  It's Thanksgiving week, and your college kid(s) will, God willing, be coming home.  And if you're a freshman parent, this may be the first time you've seen your kid (not counting on Skype) since before the High Holidays.

As one who's been there - twice - Abq Jew encourages you to enjoy this moment.  The worrying you experienced up until right now will never be more intense.  It's all downhill after this.  By winter break it'll be "Who are you?  And why are you in my kitchen, eating all the food in the house?  When do classes start again?".

So, college kid - Shake Hands With Your Uncle Max!  And welcome home!

A history lesson for the youngsters in the audience:  "Shake Hands" was written and first performed by Allan Sherman (1924-1973), of blessed memory.  This song and a dozen other parodies appeared on the album My Son, The Folksinger, issued in October 1962.

That album became the fastest-selling album in recording history, selling 1,500,000 copies.  Sherman capitalized on Jewish suburban humour by turning folk songs such as Harry Belafonte's "Matilda" into "My Zelda", and the folk song "The Streets Of Laredo" into "The Streets Of Miami".  The French standard "Frere Jacques" became "Sarah Jackman" and the USA patriotic number "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic" was turned into "The Ballad Of Harry Lewis", the story of a garment salesman.

The formula of the first album was repeated on the subsequent My Son, The Celebrity (1962) and My Son, The Nut (1963).  The third album also produced a number 2 single, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)", based on Ponchielli's 1876 composition "Dance Of The Hours".

By 1964 the phenomenal novelty had diminished . . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moo Goo Gai Pan

The 36th Anniversary:  The Bob Newhart Show aired 142 original episodes on CBS from September 16, 1972, to April 1, 1978. Comedian Bob Newhart portrayed a psychologist having to deal with his patients and fellow office workers.

During the show's fourth season (of six), on November 22, 1975, Episode #83, "Over the River and Through the Woods", was broadcast.  But few who watched that episode will now recall the official title. What they will remember is

Moo Goo Gai Pan

The episode starts when Bob balks at going to spend the holiday with Emily's family at a reunion.  He'd rather stay home, he insists.

But Bob's loneliness gets the better of him, and he spends Turkey Day with Howard, Jerry, and even Mr. Carlin - drinking, watching football, drinking, avoiding playing games, and drinking.  Their drunkenness culminates with a now classic scene in which Bob stammers his way though placing a phone order for Chinese food.

That scene has, apparently, been pulled from almost every free Internet video site known to Google - Abq Jew searched and searched!  (It is, of course, available on DVD.)   So - if you're so old that you can't remember, or if you came of age after The Bob Newhart Show, this interview with Bob about Moo Goo Gai Pan sets up the scene (and gives some of it away).

But wait!  Abq Jew's persistence paid off!  So now, on its 36th anniversary, here is the scene that even TV critics say may be the best American sitcom scene ever.  Courtesy of The Daily Beast:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Martin Buber?

Don't Make Me Laugh:  It pleases Abq Jew no end to announce two excellent programs at Congregation Nahalat Shalom this Sunday - one new and hopefully continuing study group that'll make you think, and one continuing club meeting that'll keep you laughing.

First Meeting
Martin Buber Study Group
Congregation Nahalat Shalom
Sunday November 20 @ 12:30 - 1:45 pm

Martin Buber (February 8, 1878 – June 13, 1965) was an Austrian-born Jewish philosopher best known for his philosophy of dialogue, a form of religious existentialism centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship. Buber wrote his famous essay on existence, Ich und Du (later translated into English as I and Thou) in 1923.

Join with Rabbi Brin in her study to discuss Martin Buber and his impact on Jewish life through his philosophy, his writings and his collection of Hassidic stories.

We will start with the book:  God in Our Relationships by Dennis Ross, Jewish Lights Publishing, 2003. Read as much as you can ahead of time, or come anyway and jump right in. Donations are welcome.

Congregation Nahalat Shalom, 3606 Rio Grande Blvd NW (east side of street between Candelaria and Griegos).  To find the study group, go through the first courtyard gate east of the main Sanctuary and enter the office door at the top of the ramp.

Laughter Club
Congregation Nahalat Shalom
Sunday November 20 @ 4:15 - 5:30 pm

Yoga and Laughter?  Why Not? The funny thing is, nothing has to be funny for you to laugh, at least not in Laughter Yoga.

Laughter Yoga is akin to Hatha Yoga in which breathing from the abdomen helps to fuel the body with oxygen, relax the muscles, and circulate the blood.  Not to mention that endorphins released from laughing are known to be mood lifters.

Oh yeah,  and we don't laugh at anyone, we do exercises to stimulate laughter. You don't even have to mean it for the laughter to do its job. But I warn you it is contagious.

So come on and check it out. The laughter will be led by Laughter Yoga instructors Rabbi Deborah Brin and Robin Berman.  Join us!  Questions?  Contact Linda McCormick at (505) 343-8227 or

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In Honor of the JFKs

Just For Kiddush:  Come Shabbos morning, it is just plain hard to get to shul at the beginning of services.  Here in Albuquerque, this is made somewhat easier by the fact that Congregation Albert's Shabbat morning services start at 10:30; Nahalat Shalom's begin at 10:00; and Chabad's begin at 9:30.

Late to Shul, On Time for Kiddush

Abq Jew regularly davens at Congregation B'nai Israel, where (Abq Jew is told) Shabbat morning services begin at 9:00 am.  He is there - if he's coming, which he usually is - by 9:45, enough before the Torah service so nobody gets sick worrying that Torah Reader #1 (often Abq Jew) isn't there.  But almost always after Pesukay D'Zimra, the opening "Verses of Song" that the Rabbis stuffed into the morning service to make sure that those who prefer to sleep late don't miss anything really important.

Abq Jew has written before about Rabbi Marc D Angel of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, which he founded in October 2007.  Previously - since 1969 - Rabbi Angel had served Congregation Shearith Israel, the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York City, founded in 1654.

Rabbi Angel has discovered Jews who arrive at Shabbat morning services even later than Abq Jew  (and a code used by Jewish singles - who knew?), as he writes in The “JFK” Syndrome vs. the Real JFK: Thoughts on Parashat Hayyei Sarah:
I recently learned of a shorthand symbol used in online communications among Jewish singles. It is “JFK”.  For example: “Don’t go out with him, he’s ‘JFK’.”  “He’s not reliable, he’s ‘JFK’.”

“JFK” stands for “Just for Kiddush”.  A person described as a “JFK” is one who skips synagogue services and shows up in time for Kiddush to enjoy free refreshments. Such a person lacks spiritual/religious values (skips prayer services); looks for free food (Kiddush); doesn’t make commitments (shows up for food, but likely isn’t a member of or contributor to the synagogue). A “JFK” mingles with the Kiddush crowd and tries to pass himself off as a respectable member of the community. In pre-computerese language, a “JFK” would be described as a sponge or a moocher, someone looking for a free ride at someone else’s expense.

A “JFK” can’t be relied upon. Such a person lacks a basic sense of personal responsibility, commitment, self-respect. A “JFK” looks out for self, not for others.
Rabbi Angel asks that we remember the real JFK's message as we observe his civil yahrzeit. “Ask not [Abq Jew is paraphrasing here] what your synagogue can do for you; ask what you can do for your synagogue.”

Meanwhile, the Jewish Daily Forward's Lenore Skenazy has an entirely different take on the situation, as she writes in Late to Shul, On Time for Kiddush:
My friend and I go to the same synagogue but almost never run into each other. “How come?” I was musing the other day. 
“Well,” she said. “I only go there to pray.”

Aha! That explains it! When she’s walking out, I’m walking in.
Alright - so what, Abq Jew wants to know, is so bad about sleeping late on Shabbos, moving slowly, and showing up at shul Just For Kiddush?  Ms Skenazy proclaims:
Yes, I’m one of those synagogue goers who arrive pretty much just in time for the “Amen!” as we raise our mini plastic cups of wine before elbowing our way — er, gently sauntering over — to the food. My timing is never quite exact, of course, so there are days when I get there and my fellow congregants are still singing “Adon Olam,” the last song of the service. I’m happy to sing along — in fact, I like it if I’m in time for Kaddish and the announcements; makes me feel very much a part of things. But for shallow, antsy and kind-of-cheap me, going to synagogue means going to lunch with friends, there, in the social hall. 
After all, says says Elliott Katz, author of Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants:
“Kiddush is not just a snack. The word ‘kiddush’ is from ‘kodesh,’ meaning ‘holy’” . . .  “Going just for kiddush is a lot better than not going at all.”
And, adds Gigi Cohen, a Chicagoland mom of three, quoting her cousin the rabbi:
“If you want a one-hour service, come at 11.”
Vermont rabbi (and stand-up comic) Bob Alper reminds us of the quote from writer / publisher / convict / satirist Harry Golden, whose atheist father attended synagogue religiously:
One day he asked his dad why, if he didn’t believe in God, he went to shul. The reply: "Everyone goes to synagogue for a different reason. Garfinkle goes to talk to God. I go to talk to Garfinkle."
As Woody Allen used to say (see Round Round Get Around for more), "Ninety percent of life is just showing up."   Even, Abq Jew claims, if it's Just For Kiddush.