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.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Onomatopoeia and The Jews

Say That Again?  An onomatopoeia (or onomatopœia, from the Greek ὀνοματοποιία), is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes.

Common occurrences of onomatopoeias include animal noises, such as "oink" or "meow" or "roar".

Animal names - especially bird names - are often onomatopoeic. For example: Winnie the Pooh got his name from the sound he made when trying to blow a bee off of his nose.

The turkey's name, however, is not onomatopoeic - although he onomatopoeically says"gobble, gobble".  At least in English.  There are several opinions as to what a turkey says in Turkey.

But speaking of turkey - it's time to get ready for Thanksgiving!  For some of us this means lining up a kosher bird from Trader Joe's, which goes great with kosher pareve stuffing from Natural Grocers.  But that's only for those of us who eat meat.

Now, there are several good, Jewish reasons not to eat meat.  Humans were, before all, intended to be vegetarians.  It was only after Noah and the Flood that God allowed us to eat meat.  And even kosher animal slaughter is still - well, the slaughter of animals.

On the other hand, how's this for onomatopoeia:  m-m-m-m-m-m-meat!

But what to do if there are vegetarians in your family who will be at your Thanksgiving table?   Or worse - vegans?  (Abq Jew apologizes for claiming that vegans are from a planet orbiting the star of that name.  That was wrong, and ... insensitive.)

But how's this for onomatopoeia:  TO-FU!

Oops!  Insensitive again!  And speaking of insensitive - here is the famous (well, Abq Jew remembers it) Tofu Turkey Thanksgiving scene from Everybody Loves Raymond.

The Tofu TurkeyHappy Thanksgiving! Feast on 3 hours of Everybody Loves Raymond tomorrow at 9/8c!
Posted by Everybody Loves Raymond on Thursday, November 27, 2014

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kinky Friedman @ Santa Fe Sol

Hanukkah Tour 2011:  Oh, you better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout.  Abq Jew is telling you why:

Kinky Friedman
with Special Guest
Anthony Leon "Unchained"

is Coming to Santa Fe!

Saturday December 10
7:30 pm - Doors open @ 6:00 pm
Santa Fe Sol Stage & Grill
37 Fire Place
$25 General Admission
$35 VIP Seating

For Tickets
Call the Box Office (505) 988-1234
Buy Online at

Kinky Friedman
The Hanukkah Tour

The Jewish Troubadour

Lighting Candles For America
City By City

Kinky Friedman of the Texas Jewboys, dozens of best-selling books and Texas politics, is back on the road this holiday season, with his Hanukkah Tour of 2011. Taking time off from working on a book with Billy Bob Thornton, and formulating one with Willie Nelson, KInky will be visiting fourteen cities, midwest, west and southwest, starting on November 29th. The Kinkster will hit Santa Fe for his first appearance there in decades on Saturday, December 10th, as TCubed Productions and The Process host him at Santa Fe Sol.

The Kinkster, who first hit the limelight with his outrageous Texas Jewboys and later toured with the Bob Dylan Rolling Thunder Review, has won international acclaim for his series of detective novels, in which he is the detective, and subsequent novels filled with his offbeat humor and dazzlingly beautiful remembrances from his colorful life. He has recently been buying back his novels from his publishers, re-releasing them on line and in audio form. Of course, the Kinkster prefers reading his books, himself, so the audio books are very hot right now. Oddly, and poetically, Kinky eschews the computer completely and considers the internet "Satan's work." He still spits out his works on his Underwood portable electric typewriter.

Kinky will be performing solo, singing all the tunes for which he is famed, including 'They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore,' and 'Ride 'Em Jewboy,' and, naturally, he will continue his long-running commentary on current politics and the state of the union, as well as give a reading from one of his recent books.

And like any good Jewish troubadour, Kinky will be selling his latest book, hawking tour posters and touting the impending arrival of perhaps the kinkiest of new Kinky products, high grade, top shelf tequila. An official signing party will occur after the performance, at which Kinky vows he "will sign anything but bad legislation." Rumor has it Kinky's favorite Kinky product, his Kinky cigars, will also be available for purchase.

For further info on the Hanukkah Tour, visit

Thursday, November 10, 2011

¡Celébrate! more in New Mexico

¡Celebrate! The Jewish Experience in Spanish-Speaking Countries:  The third year of ¡Celébrate! The Jewish Experience in Spanish-Speaking Countries, organized by the New Mexico Anti-Defamation League.

An unprecedented week+ of film, music, exhibits and lectures highlighting the extraordinary historic and contemporary journey of the Jewish people after their expulsion from Spain in 1492.

Click here for the complete schedule.  Events are taking place in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, continuing with:

Thu 10 Nov @ 7:00 @ Cong Albert Abq: Lecture: Mexico…A Legacy of Refuge for Jewish Immigrants:  Enrique Chmelnik of the Memoria y Tolerancia Museum in Mexico City.

Fri 11 Nov @ Noon @ UNM Abq: Lecture: Mexico…A Legacy of Refuge for Jewish Immigrants:  Enrique Chmelnik of the Memoria y Tolerancia Museum in Mexico City.

Fri 11 Nov @ Abq: Sephardic Sabbath Services:  Jewish congregations in Albuquerque will conduct Friday night Sabbath services in English, Spanish and Ladino.  Cong Albert: 6:00 pm.  Cong B’nai Israel: 6:00 pm.  Nahalat Shalom: 7:00 pm.

Fri 11 Nov @ 7:30 pm @ Cong Beit Tikva SFe: Lecture: Mexico…A Legacy of Refuge for Jewish Immigrants:  Enrique Chmelnik of the Memoria y Tolerancia Museum in Mexico City.

Sun 13 Nov @ 2:00 pm @ NHCC Abq: Lecture: From Expulsion to Shakespeare...the Spanish Jews of 16th Century Europe:  Lecture and book-signing.  Author Sandra Toro tells the sweeping story of the most important Sephardic family of the sixteenth century from Portugal to Istanbul. By Fire Possessed is the life of Dona Gracia Nasi, one of the most important women of her day. Princes, Popes and Pirates tells the life story of Joseph Nasi, her nephew and heir who had the power to move empires and challenge popes.
Sun 13 Nov @ 2:00 pm @ Cong Beit Tikva SFe: Film: The Last Sephardic Jew:  This award-winning Spanish film traces the journey of a young Rabbi who searches for his Sephardic roots from Jerusalem to the Caribbean to Spain, looking to keep his culture alive.

Tue 15 Nov @ 7:00 pm @ NHCC Abq: Concert & Lecture: The Figueroa Family and its Jewish Roots; a Journey through Music: A concert presentation with music, stories and photographs with Guillermo Figueroa, violin, and Ivonne Figueroa, piano.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Global Day of Jewish Learning

Shema Yisrael:  This community-wide learning event will be held on Sunday November 13, and is sponsored by and will feature clergy from Congregation Albert, Congregation B’nai Israel, and Nahalat Shalom.

Hosted by Congregation Albert, this Global (well, All Abq) Day focuses on the quintessential Jewish prayer - the Shema - the unifying text of the Jewish people.  For the Jewish people, the Shema is a call, a slogan, a sign of identification and an expression of great emotions. It is a declaration of bond, principles and identity. Shema Yisrael, "Hear O Israel," has been with us from the very beginning of our history.  

These words have accompanied our people for thousands of years - in its homeland and in exile, in times of peace and war, in the gas chambers and along with the cries of triumph. This was our "password"; it is how Jews recognized each other - despite geographical, linguistic and cultural differences.

Centered on our theme, the Global Day Curriculum will offer topics, source materials and questions for conversation.  Classes will be drawing from the Talmud, as well as from other primary texts (everything will be available in both Hebrew and English), and are meant to spark provocative and thought-provoking conversations.

09:30 - 10:00         Family T'filah - Students visit school wing for art Shema activity
10:00 - 10:15         Adults ~ snack & coffee/tea in social hall
10:15 - 10:25         Welcome and overview
10:25 - 10:35         Musical interpretations of Sh'ma
10:35 - 11:20         Discussions with the Rabbis Brin, Flicker and Rosenfeld
11:20 - 11:30         Parents visit classrooms
11:30 - 12:00         Israeli  dance in the social hall

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Importance of Banjo

Steve Martin & PBS: The banjo's been called America's quintessential instrument, perhaps because its long and contested history has encompassed so many popular musical forms, from black folk styles and the 19th century minstrel show, to blues, ragtime, early jazz, old time folk and bluegrass.

Could there be anything more important than the banjo?  Abq Jew doesn't think so.

Neither does Steve Martin - yes, that Steve Martin, the comedian and writer, famous again, this time for his banjo work with the Steep Canyon Rangers.

And neither does PBS - yes, that PBS, home of Masterpiece Theater, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, and Nova.

You, too, will undoubtedly be thrilled to learn that PBS, The Banjo Project, and Steve Martin have combined to produce

Give Me the Banjo!
The Story of America's Instrument

Narrated by Steve Martin, Give Me the Banjo brings together contemporary players - including Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Mike Seeger [of blessed memory], Don Vappie, Abigail Washburn and The Carolina Chocolate Drops - with folklorists, historians, instrument makers and passionate amateurs to tell the story of America's instrument in all its richness and diversity.

You can view the entire program (you know you'll want to) right here.  But, Abq Jew suspects, some of you may be asking - is the banjo good for the Jews?  See below.

YES, the banjo is good for the Jews!

In fact, the banjo has been very, very good for some Jews - such greats as Bob Yellin, Pete Wernick, and Eric Weissberg (Dueling Banjos) immediately spring to what's left of Abq Jew's mind.

And there's more!  Timothy Josiah Morris Pertz wrote his 2005 BA(!) thesis about "The Jewgrass Boys: Bluegrass Music's Emergence in New York City's Washington Square Park, 1946-1961".  And received Harvard's (yes, that Harvard's) Hoopes Prize for his work.  Pertz writes:
The biggest names in the park in the late 1950s were Eric Weissberg, Marshall Brickman [yes, that Marshall Brickman], Tom Paley and, last but not least, Roger Sprung—all banjo players.
For those who still do not believe that the banjo is a Jewish instrument, I offer but one example of MOT proficiency: Russian Around, by Bob Yellin of the Greenbriar Boys. As it turns out, Bob and Abq Jew are not related - but boy, was he a powerful influence on Abq Jew's banjo playing!  When he heard Abq Jew play (at Kibbutz Ein Dor in Spring 1971), Bob right away gave Abq Jew the best advice he ever received from a fellow musician:

"Don't give up your day job."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Importance of Language

The Importance of Listening:  As announced here earlier this week, there was a special Shabbos afternoon study session at Congregation Albert yesterday, presented through the efforts of Dr Gordon Bronitsky and members of CA's Navajo-Jewish Dialogue.

Jews and Navajos in Dialogue
Medicine Man Johnson Dennison & Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld

Abq Jew (and about 50 others) was privileged to attend this Dialogue, which Dr Bronitsky says he has wanted to create since 1987.

We must point out that Dr Bronitsky - who has been "providing quality cultural experiences that inspire, educate and entertain audiences and participants around the world" for almost 20 years - is no stranger to dialogue. 

Nor is Rabbi Rosenfeld (or his wife, Michele Hope), who particularly fostered dialogue during their stint with the Frozen Chosen in Anchorage.

Mr Dennison and his colleague, Frank Morgan - a translator and primary authority on Navajo language - also did not disappoint.

In fact, Abq Jew found that everyone involved in this Dialogue - especially including the audience - listened with respect, spoke with humility, and was actively engaged.

One of Abq Jew's "take-aways" from this Dialogue - aside from the need for more! - was the importance of language to both the Jewish and the Navajo communities.  Rabbi Rosenfeld was asked about this directly: Aren't Jews allowed to pray in the vernacular? 

His response (as Abq Jew recalls): Yes, but ... we lose something when we eliminate the Hebrew, even if we do not understand the words.  Sometimes the sounds of the words are even more important than their meanings.  Mr Dennison (and Mr Morgan) also conveyed the transcendent nature of the Navajo language, which, they fear, is being drowned out by the dominant culture.

Abq Jew remembers that there was, at one time, a movement in Jewish education that claimed that the Hebrew language was "all" that needed to be taught to Jewish children - that if Hebrew was taught, all of Jewish civilization would be transmitted along with it.  We're not sure where this movement went - Abq Jew has lost touch - but the point is well taken, and certainly applies to the Navajo "Living In Two Worlds" as well.

Continuing in that vein - the organization United with Israel has created a Facebook page (from which our Aleph is taken), United with Hebrew.  United with Israel says, "Whether you're a beginner or a pro, if you LOVE Hebrew, this Page is for you."  Abq Jew agrees: this is a low-stress, pleasant way to learn Hebrew!

And continuing about the Dialogue - the Dialogue should be continued (and expanded)!  This first meeting was long on areas of agreement - entirely appropriate for a first meeting.  But, as Rabbi Rosenfeld has pointed out, examining our differences may be more fun - and more productive.  On to the next Dialogue!

Friday, November 4, 2011

¡Celébrate! in New Mexico

¡Celebrate! The Jewish Experience in Spanish-Speaking Countries:  The third year of ¡Celébrate! The Jewish Experience in Spanish-Speaking Countries, organized by the New Mexico Anti-Defamation League.

An unprecedented week+ of film, music, exhibits and lectures highlighting the extraordinary historic and contemporary journey of the Jewish people after their expulsion from Spain in 1492.

Click here for the complete schedule.  Events will take place in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, starting with:

Sun 06 Nov @ 5:00 pm @ Hotel Andaluz Abq: ¡Celébrate! with Flamenco, tapas, wine, salsa lessons, silent auction, and fun!  The Board of Directors of the New Mexico Anti-Defamation League Invites you to Celebrate our third year of ¡Celébrate! The Jewish Experience in Spanish Speaking Countries in New Mexico, and its National Launch in 2012!

Wed 09 Nov @ 6:00 pm @ NHCC Abq: Opening Night Exhibit: Visas for Freedom .. Spanish Diplomats and the Holocaust: The little-known story of how Spanish diplomats saved Jews during the Holocaust.  This fascinating exhibit from Spain documents the little-known history of Spanish Diplomats stationed at embassies, legations and consulates in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria who at great personal risk in the face of German hostility and the vacillation of the Franco government, saved thousands of Jews leading up to and during the Holocaust.

Wed 09 Nov @ 7:00 pm @ NHCC Abq: Opening Night Film: Visa al Paraiso (Visa to Paradise):  The story of Mexican Diplomat Gilberto Bosques, often called “The Mexican Schindler ” who saved 45,000 lives during the Holocaust.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Remember Me?

Holocaust Museum Tells Orphans' Stories:  Tonight's CBS Evening News ended with a touching piece, Holocaust Museum Tells Orphans' Stories.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum project "Remember Me?" is poring over portraits of orphaned children displaced by Nazi persecution in hopes of telling their stories and reuniting them with surviving families.
Children. They are the most vulnerable victims of war and genocide. Between 1933 and 1945, millions of children were displaced as a result of persecution by the Nazis and their collaborators. After World War II, relief agencies photographed some of the children who survived to help find their families. Now, more than 65 years later, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is working to discover what became of these young survivors. Will you help us find them?
Here is Salomon Goldberg's story:
This photograph of Salomon Goldberg was taken in December 1945 at the home for Jewish children at Wezembeek, during the second of his two stays there.
Salomon was born in Belgium to a Jewish family that had emigrated from Poland. They lived in Antwerp, where Salomon’s father had a butcher shop. Salomon and his older brother, Michel, were the youngest of the family’s four boys.
In October 1940, after the first German ordinances regarding the Jews were issued in Belgium, the butcher shop closed its doors. Less than two years later, in August and September 1942, Salomon’s oldest brother, Henri, aged 19, and his parents were deported one at a time. That marked the beginning of Salomon and Michel’s life in the children’s homes, which lasted for two and a half years for Michel and another two years for Salomon after their father returned from the deportation. He was one of the rare survivors of the 1942 deportations.
Salomon twice avoided deportation after being taken during a roundup. The first such escape took place in September 1942. The family had already avoided capture during a raid on their neighborhood on August 15, 1942. On September 12, 1942, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Salomon and his parents were captured and taken to prison en route to the transit camp Malines (Mechelen). Thanks to his father’s efforts, Salomon, who was ill, and his mother were freed with a group of Jews who were eligible to be released because they were of Belgian nationality. His mother then found a non-Jewish friend to take Salomon and his brothers Michel and Adolphe to hide with her younger sister in Brussels. Their mother was taken in early October 1942, and they never saw her again.

The children were admitted to the home in Wezembeek because they were under 16 years old and had been left alone after their parents were deported. According to Salmon’s brother Michel, the Jewish children who met those criteria were classified as “Alleinstehendekinder” (solitary children). The home was administered by the Jüdische Vereinigung, or the Association of Jews in Belgium (AJB), which was created in 1941 to administer the segregation of Jews and “promote” emigration.

In October 1942, Salomon evaded deportation for the second time. On October 30, the SS burst into the children’s home. The children and staff were put in a truck and taken to Malines. They were to leave on the 16th transport, which was due to depart very soon. However, due to an escape by other prisoners who were to be deported, the train was delayed by six hours. This six-hour delay was welcomed and allowed discussions between the AJB and the authorities on which it depended.

The discussions concluded during the night. Not only were the children freed and sent back to the children’s home, but they also managed to save six younger children, who had been brought to Malines from a nursery, by smuggling them out under their capes. That same night, the Nazis raided the Jewish section of a hospital in order to fill the train that was about to leave.

Later, in April 1943, Salomon and Michel had to leave Wezembeek. They were given false names and became hidden children in an institution that cared primarily for the children of Belgian prisoners of war. The move was organized jointly by the Jewish underground and the AJB to save the children.

Today, Salomon and his wife, Betty, live in Brussels. They have a son, Olivier, and a grandchild, Arnaud. Salomon is retired from a career with multinational chemical companies.

Rabbi Judd Kruger Levingston Visiting Abq

Jewish Educational Initiative Presents:  Rabbi Judd Kruger Levingston, PhD, this year's scholar-in-residence of the Jewish Educational Initiative of Albuquerque, will be sharing his insights at two Shabbat services this week in Albuquerque.

Congregation Albert
Erev Shabbat Services
Friday November 4 @ 6:00 pm

Congregation B'nai Israel
Kiddush After Morning Services
Saturday November 5 @ 1:00 pm

Rabbi Levingston is the author of Sowing the Seeds of Character: The Moral Education of Adolescents in Public and Private Schools.  Amazon says:
Sowing the Seeds of Character: The Moral Education of Adolescents in Public and Private Schools is a book for all teachers and parents. It rests on the premise that the moral education of students falls within the purview of schools, whether they assume responsibility for it or not ... 
Judd Kruger Levingston draws many lessons and examples from his extensive research and teaching experience in Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, public, Quaker, and Chinese schools. He argues that teachers should become proficient in directing role-playing simulations of moral decision-making as morally complex topics arise within the standard curriculum.
Rabbi Levingston is the Director of Jewish Studies at Barrack Hebrew Academy in Philadelphia. He has just released his second book, When Will They Ever Learn? How Families and Schools Can Nurture Positive Moral Choices in Adolescents and Young Children.  A graduate of Harvard, Rabbi Levingston was a Wexner Fellow of the Jewish Theological Seminary. His November 4-6 visit is made possible by the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (505) 821-3214.

If you'd like a preview - here is Part One (of Two) of Rabbi Levingston's book talk at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in which he discusses themes from Sowing the Seeds of Character.

Rabbi Min on Kavod Morim uHorim

Honoring Parents & Teachers - Basic Jewish Value #15:  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 Jewish value of honoring parents and teachers derives, originally, from the Ten Commandments. Honoring parents however, extends beyond those who gave us life or brought us up. It extends to all who act as parents toward us, teaching us about how to live a meaningful, moral, productive and compassionate life. Those influential adults model good behavior, while being available to counsel and guide us. In Jewish tradition, we also explicitly honor our teachers with a special prayer, recognizing that each generation of teachers depends on those who taught them. By extension, we honor all elders, recognizing that each of them has something to teach, if only we provide the opportunity for that teaching to occur.

At JFS, where the vast majority of our clients are seniors, it is clear that while staff members are providing services to those clients, we are also receiving gifts from them. Gifts of wisdom and experience, gifts of stories and songs, gifts of smiles and laughter. In Hebrew, the word “Kavod” “Honor” also means “heavy”, not only in terms of what the scale says, but in terms of what kind of people we are. We refer to people whose opinions we do not value as “light-weights”, while those who influence us are, in the vernacular, called “heavy duty”. The Jewish value of Kavod horim umorim reminds us that parents, teachers and elders are weighty influences on our lives, that we respect them, and that we hope to emulate their ideals in our own lives. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Living In Two Worlds

How Do We Keep Our Balance? There's a special Shabbos afternoon study session at Congregation Albert this week, presented through the efforts of Dr Gordon Bronitsky and members of CA's Navajo-Jewish Dialogue.

Jews and Navajos in Dialogue
Medicine Man Johnson Dennison & Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld
Saturday  November 5th @ 4:00 pm

Johnson Dennison is a Practicing Navajo traditional Medicine Man (Wind Way, Blessing Way, Protection Way, Healing Way) who works with other medicine people to provide integrated care with Western based hospital medicine.  He has held positions as Coordinator of Office of Native Medicine, Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility, Chinle, AZ; and Dean of Instruction, Diné College,Tsaile, AZ.  For a taste of Dennison's insights, you can watch an extended PBS interview with him here.

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. He 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).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sholem Aleichem: More Chances

Laughing in the Dark:  Did you miss Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness when it was presented as the second of five films in HaMakom's Jewish Film Festival?  Well, good luck (and excellent planning) are with you!.  The film is being presented at the CCA Cinematheque in Santa Fe, and will be presented at the Guild Cinema in Abq.

CCA Cinematheque
1050 Old Pecos Trail (505) 982-1338
Tuesday November 1 - Thursday November 3 @ 5:30 pm
Friday November 4 - Sunday November 6 @  5:30 pm & 7:20 pm
Tuesday November 8 - Thursday November 10 @ 3:40 pm & 5:30 pm

Guild Cinema
3405 Central Avenue NE (505) 255-1848
Sunday November 27 to Thursday December 1
4:00 pm - 6:00pm -  8:00 pm
A riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Plumbing the depths of a Jewish world locked in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, he captured that world with brilliant humor. Sholem Aleichem was not just a witness to the creation of a new modern Jewish identity, but one of the very men who shaped it.

Using rarely seen photographs and archive footage, the voices of actors Peter Riegert and Rachel Dratch, and interviews with leading experts and the author’s own granddaughter, author Bel Kauffmann, the film brings to life as never before Sholem Aleichem’s world and his timeless stories.