Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rahel Varnhagen @ A Taste of Honey

Reason, Assimilation, and Identity:  Rahel Levin Varnhagen (1771–1833) occupied a unique place in German intellectual history.

She is known for the salon she initiated in Berlin, which became a center for intellectuals and artists of various social classes - especially for writers of the Romantic and the Young Germany schools.

Sarah Egelman, of the Communications, Humanities, and Social Sciences Department at CNM, introduces us to Rahel Varnhagen in her upcoming class at A Taste of Honey.

Through the lens of Rahel Varnhagen's life, the class will explore Jewish assimilation and examine this particular time and place in Jewish history.

If you do not find this topic fascinating - there are 24 other classes to choose from - plus Michael Wex!

See you at  

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Community Conversation

About Israel:  Join us for a conversation about the American Jewish community’s connection and responsibility to Israel.

Thursday, February 2, 2012
7:00 pm
Albuquerque JCC

Ashkelon's Marina
The conversation will be moderated by Sam Sokolove, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and publisher of The New Mexico Jewish Link; and will feature:
  • Jeremy Ben-Ami (Los Angeles), author of A New Voice for Israel and founder of J-Street
  • Rabbi Brad Hirschfield (New York City), author of You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism 
  • Robert Efroymson (Santa Fe), Chair of the New Mexico-Israel Business Exchange 
Tickets are $10.  Please contact:  Robyn Weiner  (505) 348-4518   robynw@jccabq.org

A Taste of Honey 2012

Get With The Program!  A Taste of Honey, the Jewish community's annual, exciting, social, cultural, and educational event, is scheduled to take place at the Albuquerque JCC on Sunday, February 12th.

Sign Up By January 31st for Early Bird Price!!!

The 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.

Michael Wex will be speaking on the topic "Oy Vey!! Jews, Humor and Yiddish".  We’ll look at how humor has informed Jewish life from the Exodus from Egypt right up to the present day. We’ll examine some common Yiddish idioms to see how humor of a particularly ironic kind has embedded itself in the Yiddish outlook on the world. We’ll also see the effect that such an outlook has had on the speaker’s life, both as a native Yiddish-speaker and as someone who has been doing research into Yiddish for the past three decades.

Click here for the brochure and sign-up form.
For more information, contact Phyllis Wolf at phyllisw@jccabq.org or (505) 348-4500. 


And what to do the night before?  Join us for "A Tribute to Four Centuries of Jewish Composers", a performance by the Santa Fe Men's Camerata.

The Santa Fe Men’s Camerata will perform works by Samuel Cohen, Felix Mendelssohn, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Rodgers & Hart, Lerner & Loewe,  Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon.

$15 / JCC members & A Taste of of Honey participants. $20 / nonmembers.
Register online at jccabq.org, or by calling 348-4518.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Countdown Begins!

A Taste of Honey & KlezmerQuerque!  Yes, the two most fun, most fascinating, and most fun - did Abq Jew mention the fun? - events in the Albuquerque Jewish Event Calendar are now on the horizon.  So sign up, then Go Do!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Remembrance: Morro Bay, California

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day:  Morro Rock, the "Gibraltar of the Pacific", is an extinct volcanic peak rising 576 feet above the ocean. First charted by Juan Cabrillo in 1542, it is now a protected home for the endangered peregrine falcon.

Many, many years ago, Abq Jew and his parents, Richard and Roselyn Yellin, of blessed memory, spent a wonderful, long weekend at Morro Bay.  We rented a cabin that looked out over the bay, and Abq Jew recalls spending a lot of time just gazing at Morro Rock.

Abq Jew hadn't thought about Morro Bay for a long time - until Jeff Wheelwright, author of The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess, mentioned (when he spoke and signed books at Bookworks) that he lives there.

Many years ago, Abq Jew and his wife and his parents drove down from Sunnyvale to Morro Bay, to have dinner at the half-way point with our dear friends, Mike and Jean Schuster of Los Angeles, of blessed memory, whose twin daughters Laurel and Carol - talented musicians who would be about Abq Jew's age - are also, alas, of blessed memory.

Mike and Jean were about the most wonderful people Abq Jew has known.  Both Laurel and Carol predeceased them.  Laurel was lucky enough to marry and have a child, a son (now a musician in Victoria, BC).  Carol was fortunate to find a partner; but no children.

Who will remember the wonderful Schuster family once Abq Jew is himself of blessed memory?

Binim Heller asked himself the same question - only it was about his sister Khaye, who was among the many, many murdered in the Holocaust.  His answer was a poem, "Mayn Shvester Khaye."

Israeli singer Chava Alberstein was born (1947) in Szczecin, Poland.  Her family moved to Israel when she was only four years old, and she grew up hearing Yiddish.  She knew fellow Pole Binem Heller (1906-1998) personally.

Ms Alberstein set "Mayn Shvester Khaye" to music.  In 1998, she recorded it, with the Klezmatics, in the album "The Well."

The words (see below) of Binim Heller's poem alone are enough to bring Abq Jew to tears.  When combined with Chava Alberstein's melody - the song breaks Abq Jew's heart every time he hears it.  Who will remember?

Mayn Shvester Khaye by Binim Heller

My sister Khaye, with the green eyes
My sister Khaye, with the black braids -
The sister Khaye, who raised me
In the house on Smotshe Street with tumble down steps.

Mother left the house at dawn
When there was hardly light in the sky.
She went off to the shop, to earn
A wretched penny's worth of change.

And Khaye stayed with the brothers,
She fed them and watched over them.
And she would sing them pretty songs
At nightfall, when little kids get tired.

My sister Khaye, with the green eyes
My sister Khaye, with the long hair –
The sister Khaye, who raised me
She wasn't even ten years old.

She cleaned and cooked and served the food,
She washed our little heads
All she forgot was to play with us --
My sister Khaye with the black braids.

My sister Khaye with her eyes of green
Was burnt by a German in Treblinka.
And I am here in the Jewish state:
The very last one who ever knew her.

It's for her that I write my poems in Yiddish
In these terrible days of our times.
To God Himself she's an only daughter,
In heaven she sits at his right hand.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reb Zalman Meets Solomon Schechter

Day School of Albuquerque, That Is:  Abq Jew is very pleased to announce (thanks, Paula & Rabbi Landau!) that arrangements have been made to simulcast

Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Sunday January 29th @ 4:00 pm
Solomon Schechter Day School of Albuquerque

Thanks to Rabbi Stephen Landau and Gaon Press, SSDS Abq will show the simulcast along with our friends at Gaon Press and HaMakom.

We will view the simulcast and hold a discussion following it for those who wish to remain. Please arrive by 3:45 pm.  Entry to SSDS is at the back of the building, not through the JCC Lobby. If you wish to bring food with you, it must be Kosher & Dairy.
Questions?  Please call Rabbi Stephen Landau (860) 690-7374.

Here is the Abq Jew "Go Do" announcement at http://www.abqjew.com/godo.php:

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi @ HaMakom (St Bede's) Santa Fe & SSDS Abq  
@ Sun 29 January 2012 @ 4:00 pm 
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Reb Zalman is one of the most important Jewish scholars today, and he draws from his studies with Rabbi Schneerson (the Rebbe) of Chabad as well as from the Brastlav movement (Rabbi Nahman of Breslav) to describe his understanding of Judaism and mysticism.

Reb Zalman, the teacher, and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the singer, have been the twin pillars of the twentieth (and twenty-first) century movements that brought Hasidic Judaism to mainstream America. 

They were both sent out as young emissaries by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the 60s to connect with young Jews who were exploring other forms of spirituality.
What It Is: Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (known as Reb Zalman to his students and followers), a leading scholar of Kabbalah and founder of the Jewish Renewal movement will do a live, interactive video conference on Jewish mysticism:
Sunday, January 29, 2012
4:00 pm
HaMakom at St. Bede’s
(1601 South St Francis)
Simulcast @
Solomon Schechter Day School!

Thanks to Rabbi Stephen Landau and Gaon Press, SSDS Abq will show the simulcast along with our friends at Gaon Press and HaMakom. 

We will view the simulcast and hold a discussion following it for those who wish to remain. Please arrive by 3:45 pm.  Entry to SSDS is at the back of the building, not through the JCC Lobby.

If you wish to bring food with you, it must be Kosher & Dairy.

Questions?  Please call Rabbi Stephen Landau (860) 690-7374.
A Hidden Light
All Breathing Life

Reb Zalman will discuss his most recent teachings from the books A Hidden Light: Stories and Teachings of Early HaBaD and Bratzlav Hasidism and All Breathing Life Adores Your Name: the Interface between Prayer and Poetry.

Both books were published by the Santa Fe publisher, Gaon Books.

This is an unusual opportunity to interact with Reb Zalman in New Mexico, since he travels infrequently. This talk is sponsored by HaMakom, the Place for passionate and progressive Judaism (the Jewish Renewal congregation in Santa Fe) and Gaon Institute.

Info: Seating @ St Bede's is limited.  For more information, please email hart.gaon@gmail.com or call (505) 920-7771.
Yiddishkeit (First Meeting) Before Reb Zalman:  Are you interested in delving into the rich world of Yiddish language and literature, exploring the joy and pathos of Yiddish music and theater, or learning more about other aspects of Yiddish culture and life? 

HaMakom is starting a new Yiddishkeit group that will meet monthly. We invite you and your friends to join us as we create ways to study and enjoy this vibrant culture. 

Join us Sunday January 29th at 2:00 pm at HaMakom.

If you want to be notified about future meetings or just to chat, contact Rhea Bertelli at (505) 992-2775 or rheabert@yahoo.com.
Chagall Blue Violinist

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Like, The Three Little Pigs

Al "Jazzbo" Collins:  Now that the San Francisco 49ers have called it a season ....

Abq Jew is able to relax and remember the good old days in Sunnyvale, close to the City By The Bay, when he and his father, Richard Yellin, of blessed memory, would drive up to Candlestick Park listening to Al "Jazzbo" Collins on KSFO.

And just who was Al "Jazzbo" Collins?  Wikipedia explains:
Albert Richard "Al Jazzbo" Collins (b. January 4, 1919, Rochester, New York[1] — d. September 30, 1997, Marin County, California) was an American disc jockey, radio personality and recording artist who was briefly the host of NBC television's Tonight show in 1957.

The name "Jazzbo" derived from a product Collins had seen, a clip-on bowtie named Jazzbows. Just as Martin Block created the illusion that he was speaking from the Make Believe Ballroom, Collins claimed to be broadcasting from his inner sanctum, a place known as the Purple Grotto, an imaginary setting suggested by radio station WNEW's interior design ....
Here is one of his classics - the "beat" version of The Three Little Pigs:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess

Jeff Wheelwright @ Bookworks:  Albuquerque, in case you didn't know,  has a large community of Crypto-Jews - descendants of Jews who fled the Spanish Inquisition.

As Abq Jew has stated:
In the beginning, there were only stories.  Someone whose grandmother lit candles every Friday night.  Someone whose family never ate pork.  Someone whose mother cleaned the house on Friday afternoons.  Or someone whose mother had whispered: "We are Jews.  Don't tell your brothers I told you."
At first, these stories were treated as - well, unbelievable, except by a few scholars like Dr Stanley Hordes of the University of New Mexico.  Then, in the 1990s, records of the Spanish Inquisition became open to the public - and the truth behind the stories became clearly possible.

Any remaining doubts were even further diminished in the 2000s, when DNA research and DNA testing became available.

Continuing this vital and incredibly interesting discussion - Bookworks, one of Abq Jew's favorite (and local, and independent!) bookstores, will be presenting author

Jeff Wheelwright
The Wandering Gene and the Jewish Princess
Race, Religion, and DNA

4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW
Thursday 26 Jan 2012
7:00 pm
The Wandering Gene is a " brilliant and emotionally resonant exploration of science and family history."

A vibrant young Hispano woman, Shonnie Medina, inherits a breast-cancer mutation known as BRCA1.185delAG. It is a genetic variant characteristic of Jews. The Medinas knew they were descended from Native Americans and Spanish Catholics, but they did not know that they had Jewish ancestry as well.

The mutation most likely sprang from Sephardic Jews hounded by the Spanish Inquisition. The discovery of the gene leads to a fascinating investigation of cultural history and modern genetics by Dr. Harry Ostrer and other experts on the DNA of Jewish populations.

Set in the isolated San Luis Valley of Colorado, this beautiful and harrowing book tells of the Medina family's five-hundred-year passage from medieval Spain to the American Southwest and of their surprising conversion from Catholicism to the Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1980s. Rejecting conventional therapies in her struggle against cancer, Shonnie Medina died in 1999. Her life embodies a story that could change the way we think about race and faith.

Click here to read more from the author's blog.

And if you can't make it to Bookwordk - Jeff Wheelwright will also be speaking in Santa Fe at the New Mexico History Museum on Sunday January 29th.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Consuelo Luz Lights Up B'nai Israel

Songs of the Sephardim:  Last night, the lucky attendees of Congregation B'nai Israel's "Big Event" were treated - and Abq Jew means treated - to a wonderful, spellbinding performance by noted singer / songwriter Consuelo Luz, who appeared in trio with Joaquin Gallegos (guitar) and Nelson Denman (cello).

To quote from Ms Luz's web bio:
Through song, an exploration of history from the Sephardic (Judeo-Hispanic) perspective and with her own rich, personal history, Luz brings to life an expanded view of our world and the political, cultural and spiritual forces that have brought us to this perilous and exciting time of transformation.
Abq Jew must also report: the dinner was excellent in its preparation and exquisite in its service; the wine was outstanding; and the dessert (from all reports) was of sufficient chocolate to make it ... really good.  In fact, there was no aspect of the evening that was not superlative.

And Abq Jew must also say a word about flamenco guitarist Joaquin Gallegos:  WOW!

To console those who missed this gala, and to again reward those who attended - here is a video clip of Consuelo Luz in concert at the Lensic Theater, singing Mar de Leche.  Ms Luz is accompanied by guitarist Joaquín Gallegos and percussionist Camilo Quiñones.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Isaac and the Dynamics of Reconciliation

Rabbi Paul Citrin @ OASIS:  You know about OASIS, right?  OASIS (as stated on the organization's website) is
... a unique educational program for adults age 50-plus who want to learn, grow and explore new ideas. We promote successful aging through lifelong learning, health programs and volunteer engagement.
OASIS  Albuquerque's 2012 courses are just getting started, and today's class, Biblical Personalities: Isaac and the Dynamics of Reconciliation was a gem.  The OASIS course syllabus (reprinted by Abq Jew here) states:
Fixing broken relationships is one of life's greatest challenges. Coming to terms with failures or misguided choices and re-shaping our future can expand our humanity. 
The biblical character Isaac is a role model for reconciliation with others and for renewing the self. Though he is not portrayed as a creative genius like his father, Abraham, or the activist like Jacob his son, Isaac can be considered a spiritual paradigm for building human relations. 
The course was developed and delivered by Rabbi Paul Citrin, a former rabbi at Albuquerque's Congregation Albert and Temple Beth El in Las Cruces.  Rabbi Citrin called Isaac "among the most fascinating of Biblical personalities".  Why?

Because, Rabbi Citrin explained, Isaac's character is subtle.  We tend to view Isaac as passive; things (some good, others terrible) happen to Isaac, we say, but Isaac doesn't actually do anything.

Rabbi Citrin doesn't buy that.  Instead, he pointed to the difficulty of Isaac's role as Successor to Abraham and cited the Genesis sources that show how Isaac ultimately fulfilled that role - as Isaac reconciles with his past, with an enemy, and, most importantly, with himself.

A great, thought-provoking presentation - as everyone who knows Rabbi Citrin would expect.  Couldn't make it?  Didn't know about it?  Well!  You should check out Abq Jew's "Fifty Plus" page for more OASIS offerings!

As it turns out, Rabbi Citrin will be teaching one more course at OASIS this season:

Life in 3-D: Diversity, Debate, Dissent @ Thu 02 Feb 2012   POSTPONED!
What It Is:  The breakdown in civil political dialogue and the polarity of cultural values are hallmarks of contemporary life in the United States. Ideological divisions fray the fabric of the nation. Is there any hope for creating a more rational, respectful, and productive public exchange? Some answers may lie in Jewish texts - from the Talmud to modern writings. Studying selections from these texts, we will examine how competing truths may co-exist in balance.

But wait!  Rabbi Deborah Brin, of Albuquerque's Congregation Nahalat Shalom, will be teaching a course:

The Book of Esther Through a Modern Lens @ Fri 09 Mar 2012
What It Is:  A close look at the Book of Esther reveals some interesting things they don't teach in Sunday School! Set around 400 BCE, the story depicts life in Ancient Persia, with Queen Esther as a main character. God is never mentioned in this story which is the basis for the Jewish holiday of Purim. We will use a traditional rabbinical teaching style that includes everyone in a reading of this short but powerful text. 

And there's more!  Abq Jew must bring to your attention that the Executive Director of OASIS Albuquerque is Dr Michael Nutkiewicz, a distinguished scholar in his own right.  So - he will be teaching, a course, too: 
Martin Buber: His Life and Philosophy @ Tue 06 Mar 2012 @ 10:30 am - #76
What It Is:  Martin Buber (1878-1965) was a leading twentieth century German-Jewish philosopher. His "philosophy of dialogue"--found in his 1923 book I and Thou--made Buber one of the most widely regarded spiritual thinkers in the West, who influenced the fields of religion, psychiatry, and education. Buber also brought the teachings of Hasidism to the general public through his translations (and re-writing) of Hasidic tales. We will learn about his life and thought. 

Not too shabby!  And OASIS is but one (important) venue for adult education in the Duke City.  Abq Jew is continually amazed at just how much Albuquerque and New Mexico have to offer.  Go & doGo & learn!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

KlezmerQuerque 2012 is Coming!

Just a Reminder:  Congregation Nahalat Shalom, the Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band, and Nahalat Shalom’s Yiddish dance troupe Rikud present KlezmerQuerque 2012!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Consuelo Luz! Sunday Night!

Congregation B'nai Israel 
invites you to make your reservation now for

an evening with
Consuelo Luz
Songs of the Sephardim
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Dinner, Concert & Dessert @ 6:30 pm 
 Concert & Dessert Only @ 8:00 pm

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a full-course family dinner prepared under the direction of Chef Chris Buchalter. The menu includes Moroccan chicken (vegetables in a puff pastry), wild rice medley, fresh vegetables and salad.

During the dinner hour, the B'nai Israel Pre-school will sponsor a Silent Auction to raise money for the renovation of their classrooms with new carpeting and freshly painted walls. Fine jewelry, weekend mountain retreats, and many more items will be available for the auction.

In addition, raffle tickets for a $500 Visa gift card and a luggage ensemble will be sold during the evening.

Tickets:    $57.72     Dinner (Moroccan Chicken or Vegetarian), Concert & Dessert
                $36.00     Concert & Dessert Only
                $50.00     Patron Add-On (Autographed CD & Reserved Concert Seating)

Info:  Please call Congregation B'nai Israel at (505) 266-0155 or email CBI President Harvey Buchalter at hcbuchalter@gmail.com.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another Catch! The 49ers Win!

My Son, Grandmama, The Catch:  The San Francisco 49ers defeated the New Orleans Saints yesterday, 36-32, in an exciting game that featured four lead changes in the closing minutes.

The win was capped by an impeccable catch by 49er tight end Vernon Davis of a perfect pass from  quarterback Alex Smith.  The 49ers website calls the game at Candlestick Park an "instant classic", saying:
After a memorable postgame scene that saw many 49ers get emotional after the win, sportswriters and players were scrambling to name the play which rivaled Joe Montana’s touchdown pass to Dwight Clark, which took place in the opposite end zone 30 years ago.
Abq Jew remembers exactly where he was when Dwight Clark made The Catch.  He was in his car, exiting Highway 101 at the San Francisco airport - just around the bend from Candlestick Park - on his way to pick up Grandmama, who was flying in from New York to join Abq Jew & family as we celebrated the first birthday of our son, Dov Israel Yellin.

Thirty years later ....

Dov, you may recall, was married in September to Dr Jessica Robin Schnur, a now licensed (passed the boards!) general surgeon who makes her living by cutting people up as they sleep.

And Dov just celebrated his 31st birthday as he & Jessica took their honeymoon to Chile, where, reportedly, it is summer. (They just got back this morning.)

Grandmama, in case you were wondering, is still around (87, kayna hara) and in reasonably good health, especially after getting her pacemaker replaced a few weeks ago.

Abq Jew remembers: all of a sudden everyone started honking their car horns, and a general sense of a) relief and b) jubilation took over the entire known world (which is to say, Northern California).

To those of us who had lived through the days of 49er pain and agony played out in Kezar Stadium under quarterbacks John Brodie and Y A Tittle (yes, the former NY Giant), The Catch was just short of The Coming of the Messiah.

In case you missed it - or if you want to relive it - here is the entire drive that culminates in The Catch and the now largely forgotten PAT, which won the game.


To Abq Jew's father, Richard W Yellin, of blessed memory, forever a 49er fan...
and to Abq Jew's mother, Roselyn Yellin, of blessed memory, who loved him.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Stranded Bridegroom

The Real Housewives of New Jersey:  In November, on the eve of Shabbat, Avraham Adler, a yeshiva student from Passaic, was driving to Aberdeen [Garden State Parkway Exit 177A; former home of Abq Jew & family!] to celebrate his engagement.
After Avraham Adler spent
an unscheduled Shabbat in Elizabeth,
he and his new wife, Shana,
have become friends with community members.
But traffic on the Garden State Parkway slowed his progress, and he found himself at Exit 138, 28 miles [sic; actually 21 miles] from his destination, as the sun was about to set. Forbidden to drive on the Sabbath, Adler made a decision that would demonstrate, as one observer put it, “the innate good in people.”
When Renee Krul of Elizabeth heard the story of the Stranded Bridegroom, she knew she had to share it with a reporter.  The reporter she shared it with is Elaine Durbach, who wrote 'Wandering Avraham' is welcomed in Elizabeth for The New Jersey Jewish News. The article is subtitled "Orthodox community opens its arms, homes to stranded groom".
“We too often have to read about unfortunate events and stories about bad decisions and behaviors,” Krul, a member of the Jewish Educational Center, told NJJN via e-mail. “This shows the innate good in people. I believe that any Jewish community would have opened their doors in the same way given the opportunity. Elizabeth was blessed to have had the chance to do the mitzva this time.”
Dave and Jessica Savitt, who found
a stranded kollel student and groom-to-be
on a recent Shabbat evening, housed him
and provided him with an impromptu aufruf party.
What happened?  How did it all turn out?  You can read about it here, but the short version is - Avraham Adler made a ton of new friends, Dave and Jessica Savitt (et al) did a wonderful mitzvah, Shabbos was observed, and an aufruf and wedding were held. 
As for Adler, he said he has not only made new friends, he has seen for himself the bond that exists between Jewish people even when they’re total strangers.

“The Savitts were awesome,” he said, “and the Elizabeth community was so warm and welcoming and generous. When I told my friends what happened, they started joking that they should pretend to be getting married and also go and get stuck there!”

Jessica agreed with her sons “that it was some sort of miracle that on the Shabbat when we read about Avraham avinu [our father] traveling from his home to an unknown place, here was a young man named Avraham who was a ‘stranger in a strange land,’ so to speak.”
A wonderful story!  Good Shabbos, Albuquerque!  Shabbat Shalom, New Mexico!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sofia's Drawings

The Tricklock International Theatre Festival: Proudly presents an amazing theater piece from Israel - the Galilee Multicultural Theatre's production of

Sofia's Drawings
Rodey Theatre
(next to Popejoy Hall)
Tuesday January 24, 2012
8:00 pm

The play is based on a series of drawings made by Sofia, a 16 year old girl; Sofia made these drawings in Holland while she was hiding from the Nazis during the war. By making use of the drawings through various visual techniques, the play tells Sofia’s life story during that period.

Click here for a preview of this prize-winning play:

Sofia was the daughter of Clara Asscher-Pinkhof, a known children’s author. Before Clara was sent to concentration camps and Sofia went into hiding, they published a series of children’s stories – written by Clara and illustrated by Sofia – together. These stories were published in the weekly Jewish newspaper in Amsterdam. Sofia, in time, became a painter.

Efrat Hadani, an actress, puppeteer and sculptress, and Sofia’s daughter, acts in the play and relates her mother’s story. The play, a result of meetings between Efrat Hadani and Pablo Ariel, the director and an actor in the play, uses a special language and allows a meeting of three generations of creative women. The play, which is mainly visual and hardly uses any words, is accompanied by a translation into various languages, allowing it to be performed in front of multi-lingual audiences.

This show is appropriate for audience members aged 13 and up.  

Tickets: $18 general, $15 students / seniors.  UNM Box Office: (505) 925-5858 or unmtickets.com.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Songs of the Sephardim

Consuelo Luz @ Congregation B'nai Israel:  Congregation B'nai Israel invites you to their celebration of Sephardic Culture in New Mexico.

an evening with 
Consuelo Luz
Songs of the Sephardim
in trio with
Joaquin Gallegos & Nelson Denman

Dinner, Concert & Dessert
@ 6:30 pm

Concert & Dessert Only
@ 8:00 pm

The concert will be preceded by a delicious Moroccan Chicken (or vegetarian) dinner complete with hors d'ouvres, wine, and dessert, prepared by master chef Chris Buchalter.

Maestra of Sephardic song in Spanish, Ladino, and Hebrew, Consuelo Luz performed to overflow audiences last year at both the Albuquerque JCC and the National Hispanic Cultural Center. 

PREVIEW!!!  Here is just a taste of the musical delights that await!

Raised in Greece,Spain, the Philippines, Italy and Peru by Cuban/Chilean parents, Consuelo's performances reflect her multicultural Crypto Jewish journey, including personal stories of her path from a Cathlic upbringing to returning to her Jewish roots in New Mexico. She has recorded six albums of both Sephardic and original music.  

HOT NEWS!!!  In addition to everything listed above, Congregation B'nai Israel will offer two raffles - one for a $500 VISA Card, and another for a set of custom luggage!  

Tickets:    $57.72     Dinner (Moroccan Chicken or Vegetarian), Concert & Dessert
                $36.00     Concert & Dessert Only
                $50.00     Patron Add-On (Autographed CD & Reserved Concert Seating)
Info:  Please call Congregation B'nai Israel at (505) 266-0155 or email CBI President Harvey Buchalter at hcbuchalter@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Message from PBS

Pearls Before Swine:  This comic strip, by Stephan Pastis, caught Abq Jew's eye this past Sunday in the Albuquerque Journal.  Actually, it was this morning, when Abq Jew got around to reading the Sunday paper ....

This is a fine pun ... but not the greatest pun. No - as mentioned in Abq Jew's blog post Rejoicing Again of October 23, 2011 -  that would be The Greatest Pun Ever Told, which Abq Jew did indeed tell at (no pun intended) Tel Ashdod in the Summer of 1968.

Abq Jew is still checking with his legal team and his agents, and will share this with you - just as soon as the trademarks and copyrights are secured and the book and movie rights are nailed down.  Yes, it's that good.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Adventure, Adversity & Opportunity

Reception for "Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico":  The New Mexico Jewish Historical Society invites you to a Cocktail Reception: viewing of the pioneer panels, short program to present educational curricula, and a chance to meet representatives of pioneer families and the organizations making this exhibit and future programs possible. 

Cocktail Reception
Albuquerque JCC

Sun 15 Jan 2012
3:00 pm

Please join the NMJHS at the opening reception, for an exhibit of ‘Immigration and Occupations of our early New Mexico Jewish Pioneers’.

Some 40 panels of the “Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico” exhibit, originally displayed at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe (2000), will be shown as part of a pilot educational program for middle school students and future traveling  exhibits around New Mexico.

Info: Please contact the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society at (505) 348-4471 or visit the NMJHS on the web at www.nmjewishhistory.org.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

NMJHS Announces Creative Writing Contest

Rosalia Myers Feinstein Creative Writing Contest for New Mexico Youth:  The New Mexico Jewish Historical Society (NMJHS) invites New Mexico youth (ages 9-14) to participate in an essay contest that offers cash prizes and the opportunity for publication. 

Topics are up to the writer, but they must focus on the history and culture of Jewish New Mexico. Submissions should be between 500 and 1000 words and show evidence of creativity, historical accuracy, and use of available resources. 
Formats may include any of the following: essay, research paper, fictional diary, poem, genealogical history of a family, individual histories of ancestors, oral history or Power Point presentation. 
Submissions will be judged anonymously by a panel of NMJHS judges. The top three winnerswill receive cash prizes, and their essays will be published in Legacy, the quarterly newsletter of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society.
The essay contest is named in honor of Rosalia Myers Feinstein (1940-2009), a researcher and author of family history and NMJHS member who considered Albuquerque her hometown. 
Deadline for submissions is 5:00 p.m. on March 1, 2012
Please submit original materials to: Creative Writing Contest, New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, 5520 Wyoming Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.
Submissions should include the individual’s name, address, phone number, email, name of school, and grade.
For further information, please contact Naomi Sandweiss at sashisand@aol.com.xxx

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Elias-Axel Pettersson Performs in NM

Pianist to Perform Concerts & Recitals:  Noted pianist and Albuquerque native Elias-Axel Pettersson will perform a series of concerts and recitals during his annual return to the Land of Enchantment.

Elias-Axel Pettersson
Born in Sweden and raised in New Mexico, Elias-Axel Pettersson began playing piano and violin at an early age. He studied piano and violin at the Eastman School of Music. He received a M.M. from the University of Maryland, and a Doctorate of Music (DM) from the Université de Montréal.

In 2008, Mr. Pettersson formed Duo Giocoso with French violinist Roland Arnassalon.  Their first album, released in 2011, features works by Beethoven, Janáček, and Franck. Mr. Pettersson has also collaborated with violinists David Felberg, Guillaume Tardif, Nune Melikyan, violist Henk Guittart, and Cantor Josh Perlman.

Mr. Pettersson’s doctoral thesis on Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is the foundation for a publication and performance edition. Mr. Pettersson has released two solo albums: a CD with works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Janáček, Musorgsky, and Scriabin (2007); Momentum (2010) featuring Liszt, Schubert, and Vine.  

Performance dates are:
Thursday January 5, 2012 @ 6:00 pm      Albuquerque Academy Alumni Concert
Sunday January 8, 2012 @ 10:30 am       Sunday Chatter (Church of Beethoven)
Saturday January 14, 2012 @ 7:00 pm     Robertson & Sons Violin Shop
Sunday January 15, 2012 @ 10:30 am     Sunday Chatter (Church of Beethoven)
Sunday January 15, 2012 @ 7:00 pm        Robertson & Sons Violin Shop
Sunday January 22, 2012 @ 3:00 pm        St John's College of Santa Fe

In the unlikely event that you are saying to yourself "Who is Elias-Axel Pettersson, and can he really play the piano?" - here is what Ralph Berkowitz (pianist and accompanist for Piatigorsky, and former Dean @ Tanglewood)  had to say about Mr Pettersson's skills:
"Pettersson is one of those rare musicians who can project his ideas from piano directly into the hearts and minds of his audience.  He possesses formidable technique and the marks of a genuine artist."
Just to nail this down, here is some audial and visual evidence, an excerpt from Mr Pettersson's final doctoral recital on September 21, 2011 in Salle Claude-Champagne (Université de Montréal).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Classical Music Moment of 2011

Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves:  Va, pensiero (Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate - Fly, thought, on wings of gold, also known as the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves) is a chorus from the third act of Nabucco (1842) by Giuseppe Verdi, with words by Temistocle Solera, inspired by Psalm 137 (Al Neharot Bavel - By the Rivers of Babylon).

Known as Verdi's "Jewish" work of art, it tells the story of Jewish exiles from Judea after the loss of the First Temple in Jerusalem. The opera, with its powerful chorus, established Verdi as a major composer in 19th century Italy.

The opera - and the chorus - still speak to us, sometimes in surprising ways.  Last spring, they sparked a conversation about the importance of culture, the arts, and the teaching thereof.

Composer and director Raphael Mostel writes in The Jewish Daily Forward of the Best Classical Performances of 2011:
The chorus of Hebrew slaves ... from Verdi’s opera “Nabucco” (Nebuchadnezzar) has become Italy’s unofficial national anthem. It is spontaneously sung at soccer games, and all sorts of other occasions.

The moment of the year came this past spring when conductor Ricardo Muti, in an almost unprecedented gesture, halted his performance of “Nabucco” at the Rome Opera after an audience member shouted “Viva L’Italia!” during the tumultuous standing ovation which followed the chorus. Completely breaking with tradition, Muti turned around and directly addressed the audience: “Yes, I am in accord with that ‘Viva L’Italia!’ When the chorus sang ‘Oh mia patria si bella e perduta!’ [“Oh, my country so beautiful and lost!:], I thought to myself that, if we slay the culture on which the history of Italy is founded, truly our country will be beautiful and lost.” He then conducted the audience in a repeat of the chorus (you can watch the video here) and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Finance minister Giulio Tremonti, who had instituted drastic cuts in the cultural budget, thus prompting Muti’s impromptu speech, had been quoted as saying, “You can’t eat culture.” Berlusconi’s government backed down in the face of this Rome opera sing-along. Muti is reported to have marveled that everyone in the audience knew all the words!

                Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves

Va, pensiero, sull'ali dorate;        Fly, thought, on wings of gold;
va, ti posa sui clivi, sui colli      go settle upon the slopes and the hills,
ove olezzano tepide e molli           where, soft and mild, the sweet airs
l'aure dolci del suolo natal          of our native land smell fragrant!
Del Giordano le rive saluta,          Greet the banks of the Jordan
di Sionne le torri atterrate.         and Zion's toppled towers...
Oh, mia patria sì bella e perduta!    Oh, my country so beautiful and lost!
Oh, membranza sì cara e fatal!        Oh, remembrance so dear and so fatal!

Arpa d'or dei fatidici vati,         
Golden harp of the prophetic seers,
perché muta dal salice pendi?         why dost thou hang mute upon the willow?
Le memorie nel petto raccendi,        Rekindle our bosom's memories,
ci favella del tempo che fu!          and speak to us of times gone by!
O simile di Solima ai fati            Mindful of the fate of Jerusalem,
traggi un suono di crudo lamento,     give forth a sound of crude lamentation,
o t'ispiri il Signore un concento     or may the Lord inspire you
                                                     a harmony of voices

che ne infonda al patire virtù!       which may instill virtue to suffering.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Legendary Israeli Singer Yafa Yarkoni Dies at 86

Singer of Israel's Wars:  From HaAretz:
Venerated Israeli singer Yafa Yarkoni died at the age of 86 at Reut Medical Center in Tel Aviv on Sunday, after years of suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Yarkoni, who was known as the singer of Israel’s wars, entertained Israeli troops beginning in 1948 and was one of Israel’s most acclaimed artists. In 1998, Yarkoni received the Israel Prize for Hebrew song.

Yarkoni leaves behind three daughters, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Her funeral date has yet to be decided, but she will be buried beside her late husband, Shaike Yarkoni in Kiryat Shaul cemetery in central Israel.
For you youngsters out there - and for us old folks, too - here is a video clip:

May the memory of Yaffa Yarkoni be for a blessing.