Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodnight, Irene

I'll See You In My Dreams:  There is still a wedding in Abq Jew's future - but an aufruf in Abq Jew's past!  The aufruf of Dr Jessica Robin Schnur & Mr Dov Israel Yellin was celebrated yesterday at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, where our machetonim are members.

Here's another picture of the happy couple:

Dr Jessica Robin Schnur & Mr Dov Israel Yellin
An explanation of aufruf from Wikipedia:
Aufruf (Yiddish: אויפרוף ofrif,oyfruf, ufruf/ifrif or אויפרופן ofrifn), which in Yiddish, means "calling up", is the Jewish custom of a groom being called up in the synagogue for an aliyah, i.e., recitation of a blessing over the Torah. In the Ashkenazic Jewish community the aufruf ceremony is held on the Shabbat before the wedding ....

After the Torah reading, the congregation sings a congratulatory song and the women throw candies at the groom. In non-Orthodox congregations, the bride and groom may be called up to the Torah together. It is customary for the family of the groom to invite the congregation to a festive kiddush after the services.
And an explanation of machetonim from Rabbi Julian Sinclair of The Jewish Chronicle:
Machatonim is a word that, so far as I know, has no equivalent in any language except Hebrew/Yiddish. The parents of the people your children marry are your machatonim (the male is your mechuten, and the female your machatonister).

They have an official status. Theyre not just the couple who happen to be the parents of the boy/girl your child happened to marry, whom you will only see at the grandchildrens britot and weddings, if then.

They are people with whom you enter into a lifelong relationship that is dignified by a title by virtue of your respective childrens union. Surely, theres something very Jewish about that.

Machatonim is derived from chatan which means bridegroom or son-in-law. Chatunah is the Hebrew word for wedding. Chatan also has the connotation of guest of honour, or star of the day as in chatan Torah and chatan Bereishit, the people honoured to be called up at the end and the beginning of the Torah on Simchat Torah.

The verb chatan, means to tie, connect or covenant. (Jastrows Dictionary says that it is related to the Assyrian word chatanu meaning to protect).

We can see from this etymology the sense of a marriage being, not just a holy covenant between two people, but also an alliance between two families, a meaning that is preserved in the endurance of the word machatonim until today.
We are, right now, at our hotel in West Orange, New Jersey, spending the day riding out Hurricane Irene.  The worst of her seems to have passed through last night, while we were sleeping.  Which brings to mind, of course, the famous recording by The Weavers (Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman, and Pete Seeger):

CAUTION!:  Abq Jew's selection of Goodnight, Irene has absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming wedding, and should not be interpreted in any way as either a pre-history of Dov & Jessica's marriage or a guide to the marriage adventure.  Sometimes a hurricane is just a hurricane, and a great song is just a great song.

Abq Jew's blog-posting time may still be be somewhat limited - so here, once again, is that truly ... awesome! ... animation of Squirrel and Penguin playing that old favorite, Dueling Banjos.
Click here to play!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dueling Banjos!

Deliverance & More:  There is a wedding in Abq Jew's future!  No, not his own - that happened a long time ago, in a land far away - you know, New York in the 1970s.

Here's a picture of the happy couple:

Dr Jessica Robin Schnur & Mr Dov Israel Yellin

This means, among other things, that, for the next few weeks, Abq Jew's blog-posting time may be somewhat limited.  Also his banjo-playing time.  Also his plain old time.

To help you get through this Abq Jew-limited time, Abq Jew has rediscovered, after years of not thinking about it at all, this truly ... awesome! ... animation of Squirrel and Penguin playing that old favorite, Dueling Banjos.  Really - Abq Jew had thought this gem was lost forever.

Click here to play!

The great thing about this animation of Dueling Banjos is that you can watch it again and again and again.  It just gets better and better.  It'll certainly keep you going until Abq Jew returns from the East Coast whence he came and wherce said wedding is to take place.

But just in case you need something more: here is comedian Martin Mull's famous 1973 ... interpretation ... of Dueling Banjos, Dueling Tubas.  From the Warner Bros record promo.

Who played banjo and guitar in the 1972 movie Deliverance?  Why, them was none other than the now famous Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell, two good old country boys from the southern part of ... Brooklyn.  You know the type - real Jewish rednecks.

Yes, Abq Jew is aware that Squirrel and Penguin are unstoppable.  You're welcome!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ralph Branca, Jew

We Knew It All Along: This October will be 60 years since Ralph Branca, the Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, threw Bobby Thomson, the New York Giants slugger, the pitch that became "the shot heard round the world."  And yesterday, we learned something new about Ralph Branca, the man.

Ralph Branca with his parents in 1947

As Joshua Prager of The New York Times reported in For Branca, an Asterisk of a Different Kind, Ralph Branca is a Jew.  And he never knew.

A Hungarian genealogical group researched Branca's mother, Kati, and discovered:
  • The 1884 marriage of Ignatz Berger and Antonia Gipsz, a ceremony at which Jakob Friedman, a rabbi in Sandorf, had officiated.
  • The births of the couple’s eight children over the next 12 years: Kati, the eldest, and Miksa, Sandor, Irma, Fanni, Sandor, Moricz and Jozsef. (The first Sandor died as a toddler.)
  • The mohels and sandeks who performed each bris and held each boy during the circumcisions.
  • The arrival of Kati in the United States. On Nov. 17, 1901, a gatekeeper at Ellis Island categorized her as single, Hungarian, a seamstress, white, literate and “Isr”— Israelite, signifying a Jew. 
Several of Branca's relatives were murdered during the Holocaust.  And he never knew.  But when Prager told him, Branca uncharacteristically responded:
“Maybe that’s why God’s mad at me — that I didn’t practice my mother’s religion,” he said. He was smiling but sincere, a Job wondering about the root of his suffering. “He made me throw that home run pitch. He made me get injured the next year. Remember, Jesus was a Jew.”
Prager points out that
In 1951, one of every three Brooklynites was a Jew, and many held as fast to their chosen team as to their inherited religion.
and wonders how his landsmen will react when they learn that
... the great goat was doubly  chosen — that the baseballer most identified with victimhood was born to a Jewish mother ....
And how has Branca reacted?
Branca had to find room for his Jewishness in his life story, and quite literally. His autobiography, A Moment in Time, was due out in September. He inserted two sentences.  
Abq Jew was one year old, and remembers exactly where in the Polo Grounds (seating capacity: 56,000) he and 56 million others stood at 3:58 p.m. EST on October 3, 1951, when Bobby Thomson broke our hearts.

Here is Abq Jew's reaction to Ralph Branca's Jewishness:  We knew it all along.

Happy Tu b'Av!

Not The Day Before Three b'Av:  Tu b'Av is the fifteenth day of the month of Av.  In old time Biblical Israel (Abq Jew recalls), Tu b'Av was one of the happiest holidays of the year.

It was, in fact, Biblical Israel's Sadie Horowitz Day.  (We call it Sadie Hawkins Day here in suburban America, but in Borough Park ....)  As Wikipedia points out:
An American folk event, Sadie Hawkins Day is a pseudo-holiday that originated in Al Capp's classic hillbilly comic strip, Li'l Abner (1934–1978). This inspired real-world Sadie Hawkins dances, where girls ask boys out.
But in Biblical Israel, Tu b'Av was the real deal.  The Talmud (Ta’anit 4:8) states:
There are no days as festive to Israel as those of Yom Kippur and the fifteenth of Av. The daughters of Israel used to dress in white and go out to the fields to dance and young men would follow after them.
Wait a minute! Yom Kippur - festive?  Yes, in that the afternoon of Yom Kippur is a time set aside for forgiveness.  And what is the topic of the Torah reading for Yom Kippur afternoon?  Forbidden sexual relationships!  Hmmmmm ....

OK, then.  Back to Tu b'Av.  Why is it spelled (בעברית) with a tet and vav, when other teen numbers are spelled with a yud?  Because the number 15 (and, for that matter, 16) would get a little too close to the Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of G-d) for the Rabbis' comfort.  In fact, the 15 combination of yud and hey would spell out one of the common abbreviations for G-d's name, as in the word Hallelujah (literally, Praise G-d).

And now, in the festive spirit of Tu b'Av, Abq Jew proudly presents the Curio Cowboys' rendition of And The Angels Sing, featuring vocalist Jordan Ripley.  Yesterday, the angels sang a Whiskey Lullaby.  They're much happier today.

Did you notice that Abq Jew said nothing about Tetragrammaton being one of the Transformers?  You're welcome!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alison Krauss: Like Hate Love

The Challenge: From Dr Randi Thompson, Abq Jew's friend and bandmate in the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band:  Pick three songs performed by Alison Krauss. One that you like. One that you hate. One that you love.

Song That I Like:  This turned out to be relatively easy, since Abq Jew likes just about anything AKUS (that's Alison Krauss & Union Station) does.  Picking just one was the only hard part.  Man of Constant Sorrow was right up there - but that's Dan Tyminski singing, not Alison.  Then there was Please Read The Letter, Alison's duet with Robert Plant. And The Lucky One. But Abq Jew finally settled on Oh Atlanta, for no reason other than that it's just a fun song.

Song That I Hate:  Although Abq Jew likes just about anything AKUS does, there is one (and only one) song he just doesn't like.  He didn't even have to think about this one: Let Me Touch You For A While.

Song That I Love:  This turned  out to be remarkably easy.  Whiskey Lullaby is one of the best songs Abq Jew can recall (which, of course, leaves the door open for songs he can't recall).  As the inimitable Web resource Wikipedia says:
"Whiskey Lullaby" is the title of a country song composed by Bill Anderson and Jon Randall. It was first recorded by Brad Paisley as a duet with Alison Krauss on Paisley's 2003 album Mud on the Tires ... The song won the 2005 Country Music Association Song of the Year award. It is one of Paisley's three songs certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America ....
You can listen to Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss perform Whiskey Lullaby live here.  But please don't - because the song was interpreted - by actor / director Rick Schroder - into one of the best  (country) music videos ever made.  Yes, folks, that's the same Ricky Schroder who starred in Silver Spoons - wasn't that just yesterday?

The full length music video is set in the World War II era, and features Rick Schroder and Marisa Petroro.  It was filmed on June 6 and 7, 2004, in Nashville, and  premiered on June 30, 2004.  The little girl in the video is played by Rick Schroder's daughter.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lucy Kaplansky Performs in Abq!

Summer Nights @ Abq BioPark::  What a treat!  Abq Jew is extremely pleased to announce the upcoming performance of PhD psychologist and singer / songwriter

Lucy Kaplansky
Abq BioPark
Thursday 18 August 2011
6:00 - 9:00 pm
Click here for tickets

Originally from Chicago, Lucy Kaplansky decided -  right after high school - not to go to college.  Instead, she moved to New York City and became involved in the city's folk music scene, particularly around Greenwich Village.

A few years later, she decided to become a psychologist.  She earned a PhD in clinical psychology from Yeshiva University, set up a private practice, and become a staff psychologist at a New York hospital.

But Lucy's first love was music.  She eventually gave up the psychology thing and began performing full time, appearing with such folk music icons as Shawn Colvin,  Suzanne Vega, Nanci Griffith, and John Gorka.  Her best-known collaboration was with Richard Shindell and Dar Williams, in the 1998 one-album supergroup Cry Cry Cry.

Lucy's father was the noted mathematician Irving Kaplansky.  Lucy sometimes performs songs composed by her father (who was also an accomplished pianist) on mathematics-related themes.  Here is the Song About Pi:

"A truly gifted performer with a bag full of enchanting songs."
The New Yorker

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Get Ed-JEW-cated!

Congregation Albert Lifelong Learning:  Congregation Albert's Adult Education Offerings for First Semester 5772  have just been announced, and Abq Jew's got 'em!  Right here!  (OK - so does Congregation Albert's Adult Education web site.)

Classes offered include Hiking and Yoga: The Sequel; Chai Tech: Tools for Teaching & Learning in the Jewish Classroom; Living Ethics: An Investigation of Reform Halachah Through Case Studies; and Jews of Albuquerque with Naomi Sandweiss.

Info & Registration:  
Tammy Kaiser, Director of Lifelong Learning

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

DVora Project To Sponsor Film Screening

Crime After Crime:  As noted in Important Jewish Film Comes To NM:  This film tracks the journey of an Orthodox Jewish attorney who joins a small pro bono legal team to fight for the freedom of an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence. 

Center for Contemporary Arts ~ Santa Fe
Thu 11 Aug @ 7:15 pm

Guild Cinema ~ Albuquerque
Fri 12 Aug - Thu 18 Aug 2011 @ 5:30 pm

The DVora Project of the Jewish Family Service of New Mexico, a Jewish support group and voice in the fight against domestic violence, is pleased to present the screening on 
Sunday 14 Aug 2011
to raise awareness about the devastation that domestic abuse can inflict upon our lives, our children, and our community.  Please call (505) 821-3214 for more information. 
Click here for reduced admission of $4 per seat.

The film has been shown at major Jewish and non-Jewish film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival, the New York Jewish Film Festival, and the Toronto Jewish Film Festival.  Now the film is finally arriving in Albuquerque (Guild Cinema) and Santa Fe (Center for Contemporary Arts).

The producer and director of Crime After Crime is Yoav Potash, a filmmaker who makes his home in Santa Fe.  He is scheduled to appear in person at the Guild Cinema's Saturday & Sunday shows.  Click here to see the trailer, and click here to read the review in New York's The Jewish Week.

Burnt Books

Rabbi Nachman & Franz Kafka:  In 1990, Tibet's Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, invited eight Jewish delegates to Dharamsala, India, to ask them, "What is the secret of Jewish spiritual survival in exile?"

Rodger Kamenetz is the author of The Jew In The Lotus, the acclaimed account of that meeting - as well as several other works of poetry and prose.  Abq Jew is happy to report that Kamenetz, recently retired from his position as LSU Distinguished Professor and Sternberg Honors Chair Professor, has recently written yet another thoughtful, provocative, intelligent book.

Burnt Books is about two of the most celebrated mystical masters and storytellers of our time: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810) and Franz Kafka (1883-1924).

In the Introduction to Burnt Books, Kamenetz writes:
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka. A nineteenth-century rebbe. A twentieth-century literary master. Two Jewish souls. When I hear the voice of one, I can't help but hear the other. Kafka is thoroughly secular and Rabbi Nachman is deeply religious. Kafka is a master of irony and Rabbi Nachman is a master of faith. Yet I feel a secret conversation between them and want to know how this can be.
I find a clue in something the scholar Gershom Scholem once said. To understand kabbalah in our time, first we would have to read Franz Kafka.
Separated by more than a century of political, social, and, most importantly, religious upheaval - what unites these two?  Kamanetz answers:
Both died of tuberculosis, tragically young. 
And each, at the very end, asked a close friend to burn his books.
Kamenetz later says:
These two men are also united by fire.  At the very beginning of his real life in writing ... Kafka discovered within him a "great fire" and he never forgot it.  At the end of his life, as Rabbi Nachman was leaving Breslov for Uman where he knew he would soon die, he told his closest followers, "My fire will burn until the coming of the Messiah."
Many years ago, Abq Jew acquired Arnold Band's Nahman of Bratslav: The Tales, still considered one of the best translations available.  He has read and reread The Tales many times since then - and still does not understand them.

Is each tale an allegory? Is each character a symbol, each action a metaphor?  Abq Jew has come to the conclusion that - The Tales must be taken simply, even though these are not simple tales. Too much should not be read into them.  But one can never read too much into them.

And Kafka? These days, everyone knows Kafka - he is all around us; we live with him. As Kafka writes in his parable Before the Law:
Before the Law stands a doorkeeper.  A man from the country comes to the doorkeeper and requests admittance to the Law.  But the doorkeeper says that he can't grant him admittance now.  The man thinks it over and then asks if he'll be allowed to enter later.  "It's possible," says the doorkeeper, "but not now."
And finally:
"Everyone strives to reach the Law," says the man.  "How does it happen, then, that in all these many years no one but me has requested admittance?"  The doorkeeper sees that the man is nearing his end, and ... roars at him, "No one else could gain admission here, because this entrance was meant solely for you.  I'm going to shut it now."
Yes, we know Kafka.  And when will our waiting end?  Kafka once said:
The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary; he will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but on the very last.
When will that day be?  Rabbi Nachman tells us in The Seven Beggars, his final and most renowned tale: When the seventh beggar, the legless dancer, appears at the Wedding Feast.

And not until then.

Bring Dem Bums Home!

C'mon, Mr Selig!  Do What's Right!  Tablet Magazine's Marc Tracy offers A Modest Proposal Regarding the Dodgers: How Commissioner Bud Selig can remake his legacy and cement his Jewishness, calling for - you guessed it - the return of the Dodgers from their temporary Los Angeles exile to their permanent home forever - Brooklyn!

Mr Tracy writes to Mr Selig:
You’re retiring at the end of next season. Your last big move as commissioner of Major League Baseball . . . will likely be your recent takeover of the Los Angeles Dodgers
Mr. Selig, you are also a Jew, and therefore probably have an intuitive grasp of the connection the American Jewish community feels to this franchise. 
. . .
Mr. Selig, if you want to be remembered as a hero, you have one obvious move left: Move the team back to Brooklyn.
All those years in Sunnyvale (no, Buffy fans, not Sunnydale) just south of San Francisco - Abq Jew was forced, against his will, to root for the Giants (also traitors to NYC).  Finally, will the universe right itelf?

Abq Jew strongly supports Mr Tracy's principled stand.  Even though he is farther away from Brooklyn now than ever, he is closer to the Dodgers than ever - his Albuquerque Isotopes are the Dodgers' AAA farm team.  And besides - this issue transcends mere geography.  There are moral principles involved!

Monday, August 8, 2011

By The Rivers of Babylon

There We Sat; There We Wept:  As we prepare to begin our observance of Tisha b"Av, there are many web sites that offer lists of the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish People on this day and explanations of why these terrible things have happened.

Here is what Abq Jew has learned over the years, from many different sources: The reason for the destruction of the Second Temple was sinat hinam - causeless hatred; and the only thing that can bring the Messianic Age is ahavat hinam - causeless love.

Until then, we mourn - for the way things are, for the way things might have been.  And each of us mourns in his or her own way - even with music.  No, music is not the Tish b"Av tradition.  But if one needs music to mourn, J.J. Goldberg of The Jewish Daily Forward has a playlist.  Goldberg says:
The first number couldn’t be anything but “Al Naharot Bavel,” By the Waters of Babylon. The words are from Psalm 137 and tell of the exiles weeping after the destruction of the First Temple on the ninth of Av, 586 BCE: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea we wept when we remembered Zion.” This is the classic version many of us remember, performed by Basya Schechter.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Under The Big "W":  For some reason known to very few, Abq Jew and family receive their very own copy of Architectural Digest magazine every month. 

This month, in  addition to one feature about Will & Jada Pinkett Smith's ginormous house and another feature about a 25,000 square foot home with three bedrooms and six-and-a-half bathrooms (how many bathrooms can one person use at a time?), AD has an article about the innovative designs of  Bjark Ingels, an "upstart Dane with global commissions galore" who "thinks very far outside the box."

Abq Jew is - surprise! - a big fan of thinking outside the box.  In fact, Abq Jew is one of the cognoscenti (you can be one, too!) who knows where the phrase "outside the box" comes from.  Hint: it has nothing to  do with potty-training cats. Or elephants.

Anyway, here is a rendering (not a photo! not built yet!) of one of Ingels' designs: a prize-winning housing proposal for Prague.  Do you see the box?  No, Abq Jew didn't think so.  Ingels has left the box far, far behind.

When he saw this ... picture, and found out that this ... structure is to be built in the mystically Jewish city of Prague, Abq Jew's first reaction was: Of course!  It's

A Big שׁ!

But Abq Jew has since recanted.  Upon further reflection, it is clear that this ... apartment house (who could live here? how could they sleep at night?) is, in fact,  

The Big W!

For those of you below a certain age: IMDB helpfully provides this synopsis of  It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the 1963 screwball comedy (with a list of characters and cameos 200 miles long):
Somewhere in the desert. A car speeds like crazy along the roads. Suddenly, the driver loses control and sails off a cliff. Four other vehicles are near, they stop to help. The dying man narrates the drivers of a fortune in cash, $350,000, which he has hidden below a giant "W" in Santa Rosita, some 200 miles away. The four drivers and their respective passengers can't decide on how to share the future fortune, and suddenly a wild race to Santa Rosita develops. While one party manages to rent a plane (from 1916), the others face different problems like tire damage, untrustworthy lifts, deep water, drunken millionaires, a British adventurer, little girl's bicycles, and last but far not least a mother-in-law from hell and her imbecile son. While the folks slowly travel towards the goal, they are being watched. Who ever said that nobody else knew about the fortune? 
To help refresh your memory (which, if you are above a certain age, may not need refreshing; Abq Jew can still sing - and has, at Passover seders - all the words of the entire [UC Davis] Cal Aggie Drinking Song he learned in ... well, a few years ago, but where are the car keys he just put right here 15 minutes ago?), here is a (not the) trailer for the movie:

Did ya see the way he just sailed out there?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kol BeRamah Comes To Abq

Sephardic New Mexico, Partners in Torah, Too:  Two major events coming up fast, both sponsored by Kol BeRamah, Sephardic New Mexico, and Partners in Torah -

BBQ & Carlebach Sing-Along
Albuquerque JCC
Thu 11 Aug @ 6:00 pm  

Community Shabbaton
Sheraton Uptown Hotel

Fri 12 Aug & Sat 13 Aug 2011
Info & Reservations
Please call Alana (718) 744-3854

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Important Jewish Film Comes To NM

Crime After Crime:  This film tracks the journey of an Orthodox Jewish attorney who joins a small pro bono legal team to fight for the freedom of an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence. 

Center for Contemporary Arts ~ Santa Fe
Thu 11 Aug @ 7:15 pm

Guild Cinema ~ Albuquerque
Fri 12 Aug - Thu 18 Aug 2011 @ 5:30 pm

The film has been shown at major Jewish and non-Jewish film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Festival, the New York Jewish Film Festival, and the Toronto Jewish Film Festival.  Now the film is finally arriving in Albuquerque (Guild Cinema) and Santa Fe (Center for Contemporary Arts).

The producer and director of Crime After Crime is Yoav Potash, a filmmaker who makes his home in Santa Fe.  He is scheduled to appear in person at the Guild Cinema's Saturday & Sunday shows.  Click here to see the trailer, and click here to read the review in New York's The Jewish Week.

Note To Nonprofits: Nonprofits, synagogues, and other groups are eligible to book group movie theater tickets at a discounted price.  Large groups can arrange to host a screening and/or use the screening as a fundraiser, with the opportunity to introduce the film and moderate a Q&A after the screening.   If you’d like to know more information about how your organization can get involved and help present a screening, please contact

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Homemade Shabbat Dinner & Oneg

Warm & Welcoming:  Beginning this Friday (August 5) evening @ 6:45 and continuing until no longer necessary (with the exception of August 26), a wonderfully generous member of the Abq Jewish community invites anyone without family or a place to go

to share Shabbat Dinner and Oneg at a private 87122 home. 

Please call (505) 238-9750 or (505) 856-7195 to RSVP.

There is no cost, but please bring (at least) one can of food for the homeless.

Rabbi Min on Heshbon HaNefesh

Self-Reflection - Basic Jewish Value #12:  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.

Jewish tradition emphasizes the importance of self reflection every day. Part of the daily bedtime prayer includes an opportunity to examine the day, evaluating our actions and our interactions. We ask ourselves whether we have been the best people we could be, reviewing the highlights of the day. We forgive ourselves for any way we’ve messed up and pledge to try to improve in the future. We forgive others whom might have slighted, angered or antagonized us in any way. Each month, at the new moon, there is a tradition of asking for forgiveness, as we do each year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. All of these practices are designed to help us keep in touch with our inner selves, hoping to be our best.

It is this attitude of self examination which guides our work at JFS as well. Through staff meetings and supervision sessions, the staff has many opportunities to analyze and improve the quality of our work. Through actively soliciting feedback from clients, partner organizations and the community, we try to appraise our own work and work toward improvement. Self reflection, for JFS, is not only a value, it is also a constant individual and an organizational activity.

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Taste of Honey: Call for Course Proposals

A Taste of Honey 2012:  The Jewish community’s annual, exciting, social, cultural, and educational event is scheduled take place

Sunday 12 Feb 2012 @ Albuquerque JCC

A Taste of Honey 2012 will offer an opportunity to savor Jewish life at its best and to explore our understanding of Judaism and the Jewish experience.

The ATOH 2012 Keynote Speaker will be author, songwriter, and Yiddishist Michael Wex, who is (perhaps) best known for his New York Times best-selling book on the history and development of Yiddish, Born to Kvetch.

The follow-up, Just Say Nu, took up where Kvetch left off - providing vocabulary for those wanting to try out their Yiddish.

How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck), Wex's latest non-fiction book, is a manual for pursuing happiness while still acting with integrity, honor, and compassion.

Two sets of mini-courses will follow Michael Wex's Keynote Address, covering  such areas as Jewish Culture; Religious Ideas and Practices; Jewish Communities Around the World; Crypto-Jews / Conversos; Current Events; Israel / Mideast; History; Humor; Food; Spiritual Practices; Music; Art; Holocaust; Yiddish; Dance / Movement; and Jewish Life Events / Holidays.

If you would like to present a mini-course, please contact

Phyllis Wolf      (505) 348-4500