Friday, April 29, 2011

G-dcast on Parshat Kedoshim

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself: What If Leviticus Rhymed? asks Elana Jagoda, cantorial soloist at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo, California.  Elana is a music educator, performer, and composer who brings soul and innovation to Jewish music.

Elana released her first solo album, Zum Gali Gali, last year. She revamped classic Jewish family songs with a funky-modern flavor. It was a smash hit, and Zum Gali Gali was selected as one of seven CDs to be distributed nationally to families with young children through the PJ Library program.

If you want to sing along - and Abq Jew knows you will want to - here are the lyrics:

Kedoshim Lyrics
Written and performed by Elana Jagoda

In the chapters of Leviticus
These sacred words you shall not miss
Holy actions are the theme
In Parshat Kedoshim

Commandments you shall know indeed:
Leave some harvest for those in need
Idols should be far away
Be sure you keep the Sabbath day

Always welcome in the stranger
Take action if someone's in danger
Take care not to impede the blind
Do not wear cloth of threads combined

It does no good to bear a grudge
Your duty to be a fair judge
Don't mix species of two kinds
Do pay workers in good time

Don't sleep with the bride chosen for another man
Or you must offer up a ram
Please do not falsely swear
Follow the rules when you trim your hair

Don't subject your daughter to prostitution
Don't solve disputes through retribution
Forbidden is a new tree's fruit
Don't go after your neighbor's loot

Don't insult the deaf although they cannot hear
Your mother and father you shall revere
Help another if you are able
No meat with blood at your table

God's sanctuary you shall venerate
With ghosts do not communicate
In ways of magic do not prophesize
Before your elders you must rise

On your skin, no tattoos
And love the body Hashem gave you
Some may say above all else
Love your neighbor as yourself

In the chapters of Leviticus
These sacred words you shall not miss
Holy actions are the theme
In Parshat Kedoshim

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are You Jewish?

Greetings From 770: This video, from The New York Times (!), is dedicated to Abq Jews who have never visited Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and who have never seen a Chabad Lubavitch Mitzvah Tank on Central Ave.

Abq Jew has been privileged to attend Shabbos services at 770, walking all the way from Midwood (this was, ahem, a few years ago) to see and hear the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Warning:  Sit tight! There's a 15-second commercial before Are You Jewish? starts.

And Abq Jew has been ... annoyed by those Mitzvah Tankists while trying to make his frantic way across Manhattan.  But we remember:  מצוה גוררת מצוה, mitzvah goreret mitzvah, one mitzvah brings another (Pirke Avot [Ethics of the Fathers], Chapter 4, Mishna 2)

And who knows - perhaps the Holy One, Blessed Be He, is waiting for just one more mitzvah before he sends Moshiach to redeem us all!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Coke & The Jewish Question

Things Go Better With:  Samuel G Freedman, writing in The New York Times, offers A Passover Toast to a Kosher-Product Innovator.
Rabbi Tuvia Geffen, of blessed memory, was born in Lithuania in 1870 and educated in the renowned Slobodka yeshiva. In the wake of a pogrom, he immigrated to New York in 1903, and seven years later he moved to Atlanta to become the rabbi of Shearith Israel, a tiny and struggling Orthodox congregation meeting in the battered remnant of a Methodist church. 
Rabbi Geffen z"l was a man of many achievements - including standing by Leo Frank during that dark episode, fighting immigration restrictions that "slammed shut the gates of the country before the wanderers, the strangers, and those who walk in darkness from place to place", warning of the danger of Nazi Germany, and advocating for agunot - Jewish women who were being denied religious divorce decrees by vindictive husbands.
But all those achievements are not why we invoke the name and memory of Rabbi Geffen today, more than 40 years after his death. No, we come to honor his least likely yet most enduring contribution to the Jewish people and his adopted nation:
Kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola

You can read Rabbi Geffen's Coca-Cola teshuva here, and the entire Freedman article here.

Now, Abq Jew never did find Kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola in Abq, but he wasn't looking too hard.  Did you?  For the honor of Yom Tov and the enjoyment of your fellow Yidden - please let Abq Jew know where!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Is Tonight Funnier Than All Other Nights?

An Orange On The Seder Plate:  From setting crumbs on fire to the awkwardness of eating a matzoh-and-salami sandwich, illustrator Vanessa Davis recounts her family’s weird and wonderful Passover traditions in Tablet Magazine.

Why should there be an orange on the seder plate?  For a very good reason, Abq Jew thinks.  Elias Lieberman comments (again, in Tablet Magazine), citing as his source:
In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist Haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (there’s as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate).
Heschel felt that to put bread on the seder plate would be to accept that Jewish lesbians and gay men violate Judaism like chametz violates Passover. So, at her next seder, she chose an orange as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. She offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out – a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the homophobia of Judaism.
While lecturing, Heschel often mentioned her custom as one of many feminist rituals that have been developed in the last twenty years. She writes, “Somehow, though, the typical patriarchal maneuver occurred: my idea of an orange and my intention of affirming lesbians and gay men were transformed. Now the story circulates that a MAN said to me that a woman belongs on the bimah as an orange on the seder plate. A woman’s words are attributed to a man, and the affirmation of lesbians and gay men is erased. Isn’t that precisely what’s happened over the centuries to women’s ideas?”
Yidden!  It's Pesach!  We're free!  Everyone to the table!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

One Little Goat

Chad Gadya:  As sung by Yehoram Gaon, in beautiful, clear Ladino, with views of old time Jewish life in Morocco.  Yehoram Gaon is one of the major proponents of Israeli culture and entertainment, and Israel's all time most popular singer.

In the early 1960's, Gaon studied acting under the famous Utta Hagen at the Herbert Berghof Studio in New York, and graduated with honors from the RCA Institute for TV Production. He returned to Israel to play the starring role in the musical Kazablan, which became an immediate hit. After more than 600 performances, Gaon also starred in the movie version of the musical, which became one of the classics of the Israeli movie industry.

In 2004, Yehoram Gaon was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for his contribution to Culture and Hebrew Song.  You can learn more about Yehoram Gaon here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jewish Family Service Does Good

JFS Gets You There: Jewish Family Service of New Mexico is a non-profit, non-sectarian agency, offering their services to anyone in need. Whether providing transportation for an older adult, assisting a family in transition, or working with referring social service agencies, the Jewish value of tikkun olam (repairing the world) guides their work.  They are here to offer support, comfort, and hope.

Michael Gemme, Executive Director of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico, posted this video on Facebook.  Michael said:
Dear FB Friends, check out this 5 minute video. It tells a wonderful story of how a community can come together to make the world a better place. There is great power in caring. Personally, it tells part of my own Jewish Family Service LOVE story! Thank you!

Senior Transportation is just one way that JFS takes care of the Abq community.  To learn about all the other ways, visit the Jewish Family Service web site - or see Abq Jew's Jewish Family Service page.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Kind of Jews Are There in Abq?

Sholem Aleichem:  One of Abq Jew's favorite Sholem Aleichem stories, Tit for Tat,  is actually two stories in one.

In the first story, a traveler running late on a Friday afternoon is invited to spend Shabbes with a friendly Jewish homeowner and his family, after which ... the traveler is presented with the bill.  The traveler complains and takes his complaint to the town's rabbi - who agrees with the baal habayis!  When the enraged traveler starts to pay, the baal habayis says "No, I never meant you to pay.  I just wanted you to see what kind of rabbi we have in this town."

In the second story, a traveler deposits all his money with the town's rabbi as Shabbes approaches.  The rabbi calls in the town's leaders, who witness the deposit.  After Shabbes - you know the story? - the rabbi says "What money?" - and calls in the leaders of the town, who agree with the rabbi.  When the disappointed traveler starts to leave, the rabbi says "No, I  never meant to take your money.  I just wanted you to see what kind of leaders we have in this town."

So - let's look at this picture and see what kind of rabbis and leaders and everyday Jews we have here in Abq.

Over the weekend, an executive of our local Jewish Federation posted this picture on Facebook and offered a discounted subscription to our freely-available local Jewish newspaper to the first person to identify exactly what that was in his car.  (There was conjecture that it was actually his wife's car, but that's neither here nor there.)

Bookshelves; keyboard; autoharp; surfboard?  Someone finally guessed; and one Chevre Kaddisha leader recused herself - a dead, you should forgive the expression, giveaway.  It turns out this is a picture of a coffin - a plain pine box - which, Abq Jew has reason to believe, said executive was transporting from the JCC, where it had been stored, to a local funeral home, where it was to be ... put to use.  (Monday was, alas, a busy day in the Abq Jewish funeral business.)

But why, you ask, was this coffin stored at the JCC?  To which Abq Jew must respond:  Why not?   Someone at the Federation spotted two plain pine boxes at a great price at a local burial co-op that was going defunct (yes, you read that correctly) and decided to pick them up for anyone in Abq who needed a plain pine box but could not afford one.  The Federation's offices are in the JCC.  So ....

As it says in The Good Book:

And among ourselves, we get along perfectly well.
Of course, there was the time
when he sold him a horse, but delivered a mule,
and when he endowed a school, but the money went to a shul,
but that's all settled now.
Now we live in simple peace and harmony ....

But Abq Jew will tell you this:  We've got a community Chevre Kaddishe in this town (as there are, not incidentally, throughout New Mexico).  And volunteers from all sectors of the Abq Jewish community participate - Federation executives, presidents of local Jewish organizations, retired doctors, and motorcyclists.  That says something very good about us.  Here in Albuquerque, we take care of each other.

By the way - that was the second co-op coffin that was used on Monday.  So if you're shopping on eBay ....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

They Came To Play

Goddess of Arno Rocks The House:  OK, it ain't exactly Jewish, but it is Albuquerque, and it is freylech.  In case you were wondering:  The Arno is a river in the Tuscany region of Italy, the most important river of central Italy after the Tiber. announced last Saturday's gig thusly:
Shake your tail feathers this Saturday [April 9th] to some traditional tunes from locales like Albania, Macedonia and Greece at Goddess of Arno’s 14th Annual Spring Balkan Dance Party. The award-winning six-piece band combines classic Balkan and Rom (Gypsy) instrumentation and singing with its own playfulness and improvisation. Think hand drums, violin, saxophone and tamboura—a funky lute—combined with guitar and electric bass. A master folk-dancer will lead traditional Balkan line dances, with a crash course for novices at the top of the party. Footwork instruction starts at 7:15 p.m., official party at 8 p.m.
The short Abq Jew version:  Ya gotta watch these videos.  Most, but not all, Goddess of Arno musicians are also members of the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band, which see.  And Beth Cohen, featured in the first video, is our leader!

They Came To Serve

Proof They Were Here:  At last, the FBI has released a memo that proves, without any shred of doubt, that three circular spaceships, with three beings inside each, were indeed recovered in New Mexico in 1947.

To view the memo:
Go to;
click Unexplained Phenomenon
in the lower right;
then click Guy Hottel.
Here is what you'll see:

Click here for the PDF version.

It is obvious to Abq Jew that these nine beings were, in fact, Jewish.

The first clue: there were nine of them.  To any Jew who frequents weekday religious services - whether to, alas, say Kaddish, or for spiritual fulfillment - it is as clear as a New Mexico sky (although today it's cloudy) that they were looking for a 10th being for a minyan.

The second clue: they traveled three to a spaceship.  To any Jew who eats at kosher restaurants - it is as clear as ... well, whatever ... that they always had a mezuman, so they could say a proper Birkat HaMazon (Grace After Meals) after eating.

The third clue, as if another were needed: they were dressed in "metallic cloth of a very fine texture." Mylar!  Everyone know that Jews travel with polyester.

Abq Jew felt compelled to write about this in order to dispel the rumors that have circulated from time to time about the ultimate intent of our heavenly visitors.

One particularly unfortunate rumor was portrayed in the Twilight Zone episode To Serve Man, which aired on March 2, 1962. summarizes:
An alien race, the Kanamit, have come to earth. Mankind is overjoyed when they discover these visitors from another universe are well intentioned and kind. They provide great knowledge to cure disease, end war, and produce cheap power. After a meeting at the United Nations, a Kanamit accidentally leaves a book behind, and mankind seizes the opportunity to learn the Kanamit language. Michael Chambers, a U.S. decoding expert, immediately begins the long and laborious effort to translate the alien tongue. Countless hours later, Mr. Chambers is thrilled to discover the title of the book reads, "To Serve Man." The human race rejoices in the revelation that the Kanamits are here to serve them. Mr. Chambers, along with thousands of other humans, book trips to visit the Kanamit's home planet. Just as Mr. Chambers is about to board the ship, his assistant breaks through the crowd and begs him not to board. She has discovered the true intention of the book: It's a cookbook! Mr. Chambers is shoved onto the ship as the title, "To Serve Man" takes on a whole new meaning. 

So let Abq Jew be, um, clear about this:  Kanamits are nine feet tall, and they eat human people.  Our New Mexico visitors were three feet tall (first generation immigrants!), they came looking for a minyan, and that's all we need to know.  It is not true that there was a fourth spaceship containing a synagogue that none of the nine would attend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Are You Protesting Against Israel?

Don't Confuse Me With Facts:  Israel is many things to many people, but an "apartheid state" has never been, is not now, and, God willing will never be one.

It bothers Abq Jew tremendously that he cannot be considered a true "progressive" - as that term is currently understood - because of his unconditional love for Israel and his deep respect for almost all the decisions Israel has made on behalf of its citizens and the Jewish people.

Abq Jew feels strongly that when the choice is between more freedom and ... anything else, we must choose more freedom.  It hurts Abq Jew that those who share that feeling feel differently when the topic is Israel.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G-dcast on Parshat Metzora (PG-13)

It's Not Leprosy: G-dcast (via Rabbi Steven Greenberg, well known adult Jewish educator and Director of the CLAL Diversity Project) has animated the weekly Torah portions.  Here is an example, featuring Metzora, this week's parashah.  A hint: no, it's not about leprosy.

Great Inventions That Changed The World

Using Matzoh!  But you knew that ....  Here's a video from Project Reconnect, a project of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.
Project Reconnect seeks to reconnect alumni of USY, Atid, Koach, Nativ, the Conservative Yeshiva, Camp Ramah, the Solomon Schechter schools, the Leadership Training Fellowship, and other Conservative movement programs. Whether you’re in Israel, North America, or anyplace else, this program is for you.

College students!
Click here if you're looking for a seder!
Kol Dichfin 2011 will once again ensure that college students, unaffiliated young adults and Movement Alumni have a place to go for Passover Seder. Project Reconnect is proud to work in partnership with NAASE (North American Association of Synagogue Executives), Women's League For Conservative Judaism and KOACH (USCJ's College Outreach Project) to achieve this important goal.
Synagogues in North America, Israel, Europe, South America and Central America will once again open their doors to host guests from all over the globe to fulfill the great Passover commandment "Kol Dichfin"- 'All who are hungry, let them come and eat!'

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fun At The Seder, Laptop Included

3 Reasons To Bring Your Laptop To The Seder: For the first time in 30 years, neither of Abq Jew's kids will be home for Pesach. Skyping them home is the #1 reason Abq Jew may bring his laptop to the seder.

The #2 reason is 300 Ways to ask the Four Questions.  The result of a quest by two friends (Murray Spiegel and Rickey Stein) passionate about Judaism, Passover and languages, this book shows translations of the Seder's Four Questions into hundreds of languages spanning the globe. Theodore Bikel raves that he "takes great delight in this book."

What a hoot! Where else can you read and hear (via accompanying CD & DVD) the Fir Kashas translated into Urdu, Mongolian, Klingon, and Valley Girl?  Click here to visit the authors' web site ( - of course!) and order directly from them.  Or click here to order from Abq Jew's Amazon Store.

The #3 reason to bring your laptop to the seder is this terrific video from Google "Exodus" To Get Out Of Egypt!

A Zissen Pesach!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adopt A Greyhound This Month!

April is Adopt-A-Greyhound Month:  So do it! 
Visit to find out where!

It is likely that a still photograph of a racing greyhound will just not convince you.  So here is Cal, to speak with you in person!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Best Seder In The USA

Oh My Gosh ... Passover Is Coming:  Jewish Treats reports:
The intensive physical and emotional preparations for Passover come from one seemingly simple commandment: "Seven days you will eat only matzah, but on the first day you shall have put away chametz from your houses..." (Exodus 12:15). Therefore, by the beginning of the holiday of Passover, no chametz whatsoever may be in one's possession.
What is chametz? Chametz is defined as leaven, any product in which wheat, oat, barley, spelt or rye come in contact with water for 18 minutes or longer (without kneading or manipulating). To be considered chametz, the food must be edible (defined as something that a dog would eat).
Click here to continue reading.  And they've got their Passover video.  Let the cleanup begin!