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 ....

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