Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sing Along with Joseph!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Sing-Along:  Great news for Joseph fans (and who isn't?)!  There's gonna be not one, but two sing-along events right here in the Land of Enchantment!

Monday March 26            Wednesday April 4
6:00 pm NM Time             7:00 pm NM Time
Synagogues & Jewish Organizations!
Plan Field Trips Now!
NCM Fathom and Omniverse Vision bring Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to movie theaters nationwide in a special LIVE sing-along event!  Here's the promo:
The filmed version of this fully staged production, originally captured during its acclaimed run at London’s famous Pinewood Studios and specially remastered for this in-theater event, stars Donny Osmond playing the title role of Joseph.
Presented in an exclusive never before seen sing-along version with subtitles for audiences to join in, this event also features an introduction with Osmond LIVE from Salt Lake City, plus a never-before-seen animated opening sequence which features an 80-piece orchestral overture.

Following the production, Donny will be back for a LIVE Q&A session, with questions submitted from fans from all over the country.
There have been sing-alongs for The Sound of Music for as long as Abq Jew can remember, which, at his age, isn't very long.  Abq Jew hasn't paid much attention to these, because TSOM is just ... well, not Jewish enough for his taste.  In fact, Abq Jew has never - since 1965! - seen the entire movie from beginning to end.

But Joseph?  Please - just get Abq Jew startedHere is a taste of the sing-along festivities we can look forward to:

Please tell Abq Jew when you're going!  Sing along!

Israel Will Not Attack Iran Until After May 29

Netanyahu Promises:  In a statement of major political and military importance, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged not to launch an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities until after May 29.

The reason: Madonna, the Queen of Pop, is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on that date.


Yet not entirely false! The Israel newspaper Ha'Aretz reports:
Israeli fans beg PM to hold off Iran attack over Madonna show

New Facebook group asks Prime Minister to postpone any plans to a strike of Iran's nuclear facilities until after the Queen of Pop's planned May 29 visit.
Recent verbal exchanges and remarks concerning alleged Israeli plans to attack Iran's nuclear program later this year has Israelis scared, and not for the obvious reasons.

In a newly launched Facebook page, Israeli fans of U.S. pop megastar Madonna are pleading [with] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off any such plans to strike Iran until the Queen of Pop's planned show in Tel Aviv on May 29.

The group, simply and directly enough, is named: "Bibi don't start a war with Iran until after Madonna's show on May 29."
Has Abq Jew mentioned -

Be Happy!!  It's Adar!!
Once Adar begins, our joy increases!

Purim is approaching, and you can make this stuff up.  But this is a true story - Abq Jew read it in the New Jersey Jewish News!  Except for the part where Bibi actually promised ....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

News from Yosl

New England Shalshelet Festival:  Do you remember Yosl (Joe) Kurland from KlezmerQuerque 2011?  Oy, Abq Jew certainly does - what a shayner Yid.  (Visit Tsuzamen Mitn Gelt  if you need a hint.)

Anyhow, Yosl just posted on Facebook that
The Shalshelet Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music will be holding a New England Regional Festival in Wellesley, Massachusetts on Saturday night March 10 and Sunday, March 11.
I will be performing my song, "Der Meshiekh vet ersht kumen" (The Messiah will only come) with the festival choir as the closing number of the Saturday night concert.
Abq Jew went to the Festival's website and looked around, and discovered an amazingly comprehensive biography of Reb Yosl.
Yosl (Joe) Kurland took up violin in second grade in the Bronx and for years played only classical music. Later he learned guitar, singing the songs of Pete Seeger and The Weavers and the Yiddish folk songs he heard on Theodore Bikel’s records. (Little did he know the day would come when he would be singing in Yiddish on the stage of Carnegie Hall with Pete Seeger.)

While in graduate school in Chicago, he began playing for international folk dance and performed with the Balkanske Igre Balkan dance troupe. He was a founder of the Wholesale Klezmer Band in 1982 and composed his first Yiddish song, the title number of the group’s first album, Shmir Me, in 1988. His formal study of Yiddish began only after he turned 40, but he considers Yiddish to be the native language he didn’t learn as a child, a language in which lends itself to speaking intimately with and about God.

Having grown up with traditional cantorial music in the synagogue, he realized that in order to hear it in rural western Massachusetts where he now lives, he would have to learn and sing it himself. He serves as ba’al tfile for High Holiday and occasional Shabbos services at two synagogues near his home. His day job involves printing ketubot and other artwork designed by his wife, calligrapher Peggy Davis, as well as his own photographic work. His songs appear on four albums released by the Wholesale Klezmer Band.
Yosl's Facebook message continues:
At the two previous Shalshelet festivals that I have participated in I was delighted by performances of a wonderful collection of new musical settings for Jewish prayers, texts from Torah, Talmud, and Tanakh, as well as new texts in both Hebrew, English, and my own compositions in Yiddish. Styles ranged from traditional, classical, folk and even rock, and every one was inspiring.
I hope I'll see you there. Please tell your friends.
Zayt gezunt (be healthy) --------------->
Here are the words to Yosl's song, "Der Meshiekh vet ersht kumen"

Der moshiakh vet ersht kumen, az vet men darfn im nisht mer,
Ven der sholem vet hobn zikh farshpreyt, oyf der gantser erd,
Ven dos tsidkes vet shoyn hobn ale rishes farbaytn.
Un es vendt af undz tsu tuen vos vet brengen meshiakhs tsaytn.

The Messiah will only come when he is no longer needed,
When peace will have spread over the whole world,
When goodness has replaced all meanness,
And it depends upon us to do what needs to be done
to bring the time of the Messiah.

In case you were wondering - the word shalshelet means chain in Hebrew. It is a rare accent for the reading of sacred texts that occurs only four times in the entire Torah.

And the lyrics?  From Kafka!
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.

US Jews Support BDS Movement

An Alarming Report:  The Jewish Week of New York reports that 92 percent of American Jews support the BDS movement.
BDS, BVD, whatever:
Most American Jews haven’t been
de-briefed on Mideast lingo.
A new and alarming AJC poll shows that 92 percent of American Jews support the BDS movement, sending worried communal officials into a tizzy.

BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and represents a serious threat to the State of Israel.

Prof. Steven M. Cohen, though, urged Jewish leaders not to panic, pointing out that most of those polled believed that BDS was a men’s underwear company, and thought they were supporting movement within the briefs.

“This reveals the level of Mideast awareness within American Jewry,” said Cohen, who pledged to launch a detailed study on the relationship between U.S. Jews and their undergarments, with an emphasis on the attitudes of young Jews in their 20s and 30s who, Cohen fears, are becoming more distant from their skivvies.

Be Happy!!  It's Adar!!
Once Adar begins, our joy increases!

Abq Jew wishes to apologize, but not entirely sincerely, to anyone who was taken in by the above article, which originally appeared in last year's annual Purim Spoof issue of The Jewish Week.

UNM Students for Justice in Palestine is promoting Israel Apartheid Week.  But they don't stand a chance against us - not during Adar!  Really, UNM SJP - you should check your Hebrew Calendar next time!

OK - if you' really concerned about IAW @ UNM, Tablet Magazine has published an article, Winning the War, that outlines some practical steps that the Abq Jewish community can take to counter the hatred.  But in the meantime - it's Adar!

Remember when this book came out - shortly after the Six-Day War?  (Yes, it helps if you're of a certain age.)  Abq Jew lost his copy many years ago (but is willing to buy yours!), and considers So Sorry We Won one of the happiest, truest books ever.

Be happy!!  It's Adar!!  We'll soon read the Megillah, the Scroll of Esther.  We know the story, and we know who wins in the end.  Be happy!!  It's Adar!! 

Rabbi Min on Jewish Values

Basic Jewish Values - A Summation: 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.

Of the hundreds of Jewish values which guide our lives, I selected eighteen which are particularly relevant to the work of Jewish Family Service. Why eighteen? Because that number is associated with life; the word "Chai" has a Hebrew numeric value of 18.

When new employees join the staff of JFS, they are introduced to these 18 basic Jewish values; they guide our work. We've shown you the following Jewish values are and how they help guide the day-to-day work that we do at JFS:
  1. V'Ahavta l'reyecha c'mocha - Love your neighbor as yourself
  2. B'tzelem Elohim - People are created with spark of the Divine
  3. Shmirat haAdamah (Shabbat; shmita) - Guard the earth
  4. Tzedek, tzedek tirdof - Pursue justice
  5. Rodef shalom - Pursue peace
  6. Pe'ah - Dignified helping the poor
  7. Gmilut chasadim - Acts of loving kindness
  8. Tikkun Olam - Repair the world
  9. Talmud Torah - Study wisdom
  10. Bruchim hagerim - Welcoming strangers
  11. Derech eretz - Be a "mensh"/common decency
  12. Cheshbon ha nefesh - Self reflection
  13. Pikuach nefesh - Take care of yourself
  14. Shmirat halashon - Watch what you say/avoid gossip
  15. Kavod horim umorim - Honor parents and teachers
  16. Yirah - Awe, awareness of something bigger than ourselves
  17. Nedivut - Generosity, expansiveness
  18. Yetzer haTov - Incline toward the good
Learn more about JFS's Eighteen Jewish Values here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Milestone

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  On February 27, 2012, at 12:32 pm New Mexico (Mountain) Time, this Abq Jew Blog achieved 18,000 All Time Page Views.

Thank you!

Rob Tepper, aka Woody Guthrie

Talking Dust Bowl Blues:  Pete Seeger, may he live to 121 (he's 92 now), has always been one of Abq Jew's favorite musicians, philosophers, and political activists.  Despite the fact that Pete and Abq Jew don't seem to have the same opinions about almost anything, they do share a love for the long-necked 5-string banjo.

In fact, it was because of Pete Seeger (and his first of its kind instruction book, How To Play The 5-String Banjo) that Abq Jew began to play the banjo, way back in the 60s.  The 1960s.

Woody Guthrie was Pete's strongest influence.  A musical and political pioneer in his own right, Woody influenced - and continues to influence - generations of folk musicians and creative thinkers.

One of those creative thinkers - who also happens to be both a talented musician and the son of Abq Jew's good friend Julian Tepper of Placitas - is Rob Tepper.

Rob has created Dust Bowl Productions and produced a short film, Been Good To Know Yuh (from the title of one of Woody's best known songs).  Synopsis:
Plagued by a degenerative neurological disease and facing his own mortality, America’s Father of Folk Music, Woody Guthrie, relives a handful of life shaping occurrences while waiting for his closest friend, Cisco Houston, to show up for one last drink.
Rob Tepper is an alumnus of Santa Clara University (CA; not the pueblo), whose Santa Clara Magazine recently published a glowing article about his achievements.

In the article, there's a photo of a few well-known singers that shows Rob Tepper standing next to Pete Seeger.  Someone asked Pete if Rob reminded him of Woody at all.  Pete's characteristically terse reply: "Rob is Woody."

Anyhow, Julian Tepper enjoys kvelling about Rob.  And why shouldn't he?  Here's a piece from a recent JT Facebook posting:
When he was 16, I drove Rob from Bethesda, MD to Indianapolis (a town whose racist school system I had desegregated in the late 60s while with the US Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, so that he could play with his team for the Under-17 National Soccer Championship. On the day that we arrived, we drove around some of Indianapolis's neighborhoods and the schools, including Oscar Robertson's Crispus Attucks High School.

I have seen Rob play the guitar (self-taught) and soccer and football and, well, he is uniquely wonderful at all of them.The route of his journey to do all that he wanted to and could do, has been long, sometimes torturous and, most often, delightful. I don't know where in five years Rob will be along that route, but right now he is on his way to greatness. He is, for the most part, standing right next to Woody in the midst of a land that Woody called his own. It is important, I believe, to understand that Rob does not imitate Woody. Rob is a compelling actor who has invaded and mastered Woody's spirit.
Here's the music video of Woody Guthrie, aka Rob Tepper:

Think Rob does a good Woody Guthrie impression?  So does No Depression: The Roots Music Authority.  Rob has also produced a one-man show, When The Curfew Blows, describing Woody's struggles - with Huntington's Disease and other hard times.

Why does he do this?  Rob says:

Woody’s fight, his stubbornness, and the genius of his music strike me deeply.
His story needs to be told. His songs need to be sung.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Meaningful Discussion

That's What We Want: That's also what we didn't have at Nonie Darwish's lecture at UNM last Thursday evening.  Reasonable people may have different opinions, but Abq Jew says: They should express those opinions reasonably.  Let's take a look at the parties involved.

First, there's Nonie Darwish. Born in Egypt, Darwish is the daughter of Egyptian Army Lt. General Mustafa Hafez, who died while leading covert attacks on Israel from Gaza in 1956 and was called a “shahid” by the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Darwish blames “the Middle Eastern Islamic culture and the propaganda of hatred taught to children from birth” for her father’s actions.

In 1978 she moved with her husband to the United States, and converted to Christianity there. Since September 11, 2001 author and lecturer Nonie Darwish has written three books on women’s rights in the Islamic world, Arab-Israeli reconciliation and other topics relating to Islam. She has spoken at many college campuses in the US and Israel, appeared on TV interviews internationally and has spoken before Congress, the House of Lords and the EU Parliament.

Abq Jew's View:  As he previously reported, Congregation B'nai Israel Sisterhood and B'nai's Rabbi Arthur Flicker withdrew their support for Nonie Darwish's talk beforehand, after they learned about her past statements, judged to be religiously intolerant and hate-speech.

One piece of information considered in that decision was this YouTube video, entitled Nonie Darwish Says Islam Should Be 'Annihilated'.

Considering her background and theme, it is clear to Abq Jew that (at a very minimum) Nonie Darwish has a large axe to grind.  Abq Jew encourages Ms Darwish to grind her axe someplace where others' oxen cannot be gored, and recommends that the UNM Israel Alliance do more due diligence in the future when presenting someone perceived to be a spokesperson for Israel's rights and concerns.

Next, there's the protestors.  The original KOB report said "We're told some of the protestors were from the "UnOccupy" movement."  Here is a statement from UnOccupy:
On February 23rd at 7PM, Three people, including UNM students, were attacked by pro-Israeli members on Wednesday night for mic-checking Nonie Darwish, a self-proclaimed human rights activist who was on UNM campus to deliver a talk on the Arab Springs.

Darwish cast the Arab Spring in a bad light. She argued that democratic revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, such as those in Egypt and Tunisia, would not succeed as long as Islamists controlled them.

A group of people, who were acting in solidarity with the Palestinian people, questioned Darwish's fear-mongering and her unqualified support for Israel. They were shouted down by pro-Israel members in the audience, who assaulted a woman, pulled her hair, and forcibly pushed another person over a row of seats. A third person was punched in the face. Pro-Israel members also destroyed a phone that was used to record the assault.

The protestors, some of whom are UNM students and affiliated with the (Un)Occupy Albuquerque movement, used "mic-checking" as a nonviolent tactic to voice their concern against the Islamophobic content of Darwish's talk. However, they were met with outright violence by members of the audience, who did not want to hear what the protestors had to say. Rather than simply wait for the protestors to deliver their message and leave, as has been the case at similar actions in other parts of the country, the pro-Israel audience members physically forced the protestors out of the auditorium.
It is interesting that the audience members who assaulted the protestors were acting in support of Israel, which claims to be the "most-democratic state" in the Middle East. Freedom of speech is an important part of being democratic, and it is a tragedy that the pro-Israel members did not want to hear what the protestors had to say.

In the original KOB video, the protestors use (Un)Occupy's ingenious and effective "mic-check" technique to shout:

Nonie Darwish speaks for Israeli apartheid ... 
and genocide at the hands of the [Israeli army].

Abq Jew's View:  Although the protestors may be "affiliated with the (Un)Occupy Albuquerque movement", Abq Jew thinks their primary affiliation may lie elsewhere.  One eyewitness reported:
I was there. The protesters identified themselves as a Pro-Palestinian group for Peace and Freedom. They were neither peaceful, nor did they allow Noni Darwish the freedom to speak. They had the option to listen respectfully, and to take issue with her during the question and answer period at the end. They would have been heard, as were others. Instead, they tried to silence her.
A Daily Lobo commenter stated:
 It’s important to note that the anti-Israel protest was not organized by UnOccupy Albuquerque but by the group Students for Justice in Palestine.
Abq Jew has learned that UNM Students for Justice in Palestine is
... participating in this years Israeli Apartheid Week from February 26th to March 2nd. We have a great list of events coming up and would love for you to participate in them! For more information on the schedule you can visit: or
Finally, there, the audience. Abq Jew's eyewitness reported:
I believe in the process of free speech, but what I heard from the protesters was bordering on hate speech. They need to practice what they purport to preach.
Abq Jew's View:  "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."  Communication typically involves both transmitting and receiving.  The protesters were clearly transmitting a message that the audience did not wish to hear.  But more importantly - the protestors were transmitting a message in a way that the audience did not wish to receive any message.

Abq Jew is inclined to believe that the forceful reaction of some of the audience fit the protestors' goals quite nicely.  So what is an audience to do?  One option would have been to let the protestors have their say ... and see if they then left peacefully.  But we Jews have learned a few things over recent years, especially - don't keep silent.  Never keep silent.

Still, Abq Jew abhors violence - on, he must admit, both moral and tactical grounds.  In the words of another Daily Lobo commenter:
Epic PR Fail for the racist UNM Zionist alliance! Elderly men assaulting young ladies is never a good public relations move, especially in the digital information age! The video got over 100,000 hits in 24 hours, way to make the University of New Mexico look good around the world! I prefer the old school tactic of asking questions to get answers, over this new fangled mic check thing, but paid security should have handed evicting these ‘occupiers’ (Ironic) from a public forum on University of New Mexico Property.
The UNM Israel Alliance website provides the full and unedited talk that Nonie Darwish gave, except for the Q & A, which will be added later.  The website states:
The Nonie Darwish talk had a big turnout and most of the attendees were glad they were there, in spite of SJP and the Occupy people getting together to disrupt the talk and prevent the speaker from speaking in the name of free speech and tolerance. Several people in the audience went to chase them out of the lecture hall, in defense of their own free speech rights. The protesters took choice videos, lied about many things and plastered it all around so it would become news. Strange that these protesters were willing to serve as an object lesson and proof of what Nonie Darwish was telling the audience: Criticism of Islam is not tolerated, and following Sharia, others have no rights or freedoms.

This entire, unfortunate episode stands in stark contrast to what Abq Jew has learned about the spirited yet respectful and therefore productive and informative Community Conversation About Israel that was held earlier this month at the Albuquerque Jewish Community Center.

That conversation was moderated by Sam Sokolove, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and publisher of The New Mexico Jewish Link; and featured:
  • 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
Mr Sokolove will be reporting about the Community Conversation About Israel in the March issue of The New Mexico Jewish Link, which should be available on newsstands soon. That's the type of meaningful discussion we should strive for.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Judaic Arts Symposium! Sunday!

Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe:  Pardon the interruption, but Abq Jew just got word that Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe will be holding its first Judaic Arts Symposium and Sale TOMORROW!

Seven Artists, Seven Opinions
The first annual Temple Beth Shalom
Judaic Arts Symposium and Sale

Temple Beth Shalom joins a national movement honoring Judaica artists by showcasing metalwork by Jim Cohen, paintings by Diana Bryer, photographs and block prints by Will Karp, ceramics by Karen Milstein and Lia Lynn Rosen, textile art by Beth Surdut, and sculpture by Ivan Barnett.

The afternoon will begin with a panel discussion moderated by Ellen Zieselman, Director of Education at the New Mexico Museum of Fine Art. A display and sale of these beautiful, handmade Judaic items will follow.

The Judaic Arts Symposium and Sale is free to the public and all are welcome.

Info: Contact Joy Rosenberg at or (505) 982-6161.

Temple Beth Shalom 
205 East Barcelona Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
(505) 982-1376

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nonie Darwish Protest @ UNM

In Case You Haven't Heard:  There was a vocal - some call it violent - protest at last night's lecture by Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian born American human rights activist.

Ms Darwish spoke at UNM on “Why the Arab Spring is Failing and how Israel is Involved”. 

Ms Darwish has written three books on women’s rights in the Islamic world, Arab-Israeli reconciliation, and other topics relating to Islam.

She has spoken at many college campuses in the US and Israel, appeared on TV interviews internationally, and has spoken before Congress, the House of Lords, and the EU Parliament.

Abq Jew has confirmed that Congregation B'nai Israel Sisterhood and B'nai's Rabbi Arthur Flicker withdrew their support for Nonie Darwish's talk after they learned about her past statements, judged to be religiously intolerant and hate-speech.

KOB reports:
It appears things got out of hand at a public lecture at UNM on Thursday night. We got our hands on video overnight that shows what happened - and it's pretty unbelievable.

It started with shouts - and then people got out of their chairs to confront the protestors and things got violent. We're told some of the protestors were from the "UnOccupy" movement. They were there to protest the Israel Alliance event.

Things eventually moved outside and police were called. There's no word on whether any charges have been filed.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Some Assembly Required

Parshat Terumah - A Fast Course in Civil Engineering:  This week's Torah portion, Parshat Terumah, provides a comprehensive set of Do It Yourself instructions to the Children of Israel on how to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

As we all know, the Children of Israel had to do it themselves, since the Holy One, Blessed Be He, declined to get involved.

Abq Jew is glad that building the Mishkan was up to the Children of Israel, because (as with most new gadgets) he is convinced that the adults couldn't have figured it out.

Yes, Children, when you are young, the most important three words are "I love you."  When you get older, the most important three words are "Enclosed find check."

But the most frightening three words at any age are "Some assembly required."

This week the Torah Reader (Abq Jew is reading some at B'nai Israel) gets to sing the DIY instructions to the congregation.  Pay attention!  There's going to be a quiz!

But don't worry - as always, G-dcast has you covered!  They've put out a Cliff's Notes for the parasha, in the form of a cool and wonderfully informative video.
What would YOU build to house your most precious possessions? Who would you hire as the architect? Furniture designer Rafael Kushick helps us understand the divinely architected blueprints for the holiest - and most confusing - building project ever attempted.
This is Episode 19 of the weekly Torah cartoon from Each week, a different storyteller - some musical, some poetic, some just straight-up, tell the story of the current Torah portion ... and then G-dcast animates it.  What a terrific resource!

Many commentators have asked: Why does G-d spend so much time, not to mention ink and parchment, in describing just how things should be done?

The best explanation Abq Jew has heard comes from Rabbi Mark Cooper, currently of Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange, NJ; and formerly of Temple Beth Ahm in Aberdeen, NJ - Abq Jew's shul and home for eighteen years.

Rabbi Cooper's insight is: G-d simply didn't want the Children of Israel - or the adults - to argue about this.  Better they should argue about important things - how to live Jewish lives, how to fix the world - especially, how to fix the world.

The Mishkan?  In the end - it's just a building.


The Pellet with the Poison

The Chalice from the Palace:  Have you been following the Jewish-flavored 50 Plus course offerings at Albuquerque OASIS?  

Then you have undoubtedly noticed that this Friday, instructor Joan Davis will present The Court Jester (1956) as the last film in her three-film Friday Flicks series.

The Court Jester stars Danny Kaye, "Mr Versatility", as a carnival performer who becomes part of a plot to overthrow an evil king.

The cast includes Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury, Mildred Natwick, and John Carradine.

Abq Jew is sure you'll love this film.  All you have to do is remember:

The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!

But wait!  There's been a change: they broke the chalice from the palace!  The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!  Just remember that!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Dona Gracia Project

Honoring a Remarkable Jewish Woman:  Who was Dona Gracia?  She was a 16th century Jewish woman, born a conversa (belonging to a group otherwise known as anousim or Crypto-Jews) who fought to save thousands of Jewish lives during the time of the Inquisition - and also made a significant attempt to start a modern state of Israel.

The Dona Gracia Project was created in the spring of 2010 to commemorate the 500th anniversary year of the birth of Dona Gracia.

It is the mission of the Dona Gracia Project to bring global recognition and honor to the memory of this relatively unknown woman, who is among the greatest women leaders of the Jewish world. Through multi-disciplinary activities, the Dona Gracia Project promotes the legacy of her leadership and business acumen, her commitment to her faith, and her sense of responsibility to those in need.

The Dona Gracia Project's very first worldwide commemoration of Dona Gracia was held on June 6, 2010, at the Brotherhood Synagogue in Gramercy Park, New York. Before an audience of almost 200 people, Project leaders were presented with a proclamation from the City Council of New York declaring that day to be "Dona Gracia Day." A Kaddish prayer was said in her honor for the very first time in 500 years. A year later, on June 12, 2011, a similar festival and proclamation took place at Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia.

Abq Jew was made aware of the Dona Gracia Project through New Mexico's own Sonya Loya, a great storyteller with a great story to tell.  A recent presenter at the Albuquerque JCC's A Taste of Honey, Sonya Loya will be discussing her personal journey of faith at Temple Beth El in Riverside, California, this Sunday.

To learn more about Crypto-Judaism, please visit Abq Jew's Abq & Crypto-Jewry page at

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Abq Jewish Education Events

From Solomon Schechter Day School & NM Jewish Historical Society: Just a quick reminder of three (3) approaching events and one (1) deadline.

First: The Solomon Schechter Day School of Albuquerque will be holding an Information Session TONIGHTAbq Jew (an occasional substitute teacher at SSDS Abq) strongly recommends that you check this out!

In the coming days and weeks, the SSDS Abq will be presenting a two-part Speaker Series: Promoting Literacy at Home on February 23 (Ms Chari Ritchie is a former ATF Teacher of the Year); and The Inner Meaning of Passover on March 25 (Rabbi Stephen Landau is a great teacher and Abq Jewish resource).

Finally (for now), the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society's MARCH 1 DEADLINE for the Rosalia Meyers Feinstein Creative Writing Contest is rapidly approaching.

Abq Jew says:  Don't procrastinate!  There's always time for procrastination tomorrow!  And furthermore: If a lawyer is disbarred, is an electrician delighted?  Just wondering.

Circus of Pain

Zoltan Orkestar:  The city of Albuquerque, in addition to being a home for world-class klezmer music, is also a home for world-class world music.

In addition to the annual KlezmerQuerque, the Duke City also has GlobalQuerque.

In addition to The Rebbe's Orkestra, we also have Zoltan Orkestar - in fact, the two groups shared a stage at the Kimo Theatre not too long ago.

And there's Gergedan (Turkish for rhinoceros), a creative entity of unknown origin, derivation, or any form of address that seems to have produced a series of artistically stunning music videos.

And apparently without, Abq Jew must note, consulting the musical artists involved. Zoltan Orkestar says of this Gergedan video, of their song Circus of Pain:
Wow cool, I just found this on youtube, its a montage someone in Italy did to one of our songs, pretty cool, I'm always flattered by our global following that pops up randomly.
Abq Jew concurs:  Wow, cool.  Abq Jew just found this on Facebook.  It is indeed a montage that Gergedan, whoever he or she or it or they may be, did to Circus of Pain, one of Zoltan Orkestar's songs.

Do you know Gergedan?  Inquiring minds (and minds like Abq Jew's) want to know!
In the meantime, visit GergedanFilKedi's YouTube channel!

Monday, February 20, 2012

For the Angels

The City of Los Angeles:  Well, it's Monday.  A Taste of Honey and KlezmerQuerque have come and gone ... so it's time for Abq Jew to get back to what may be called normal life in the Duke City.

But before we do ... ATOH and KlezmerQuerque brought us many visitors from in-state and from out-of-state, and Abq Jew wishes to recognize those who came from another state entirely - California.  And, in particular, those who came from the wonderland known as El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles (The Town of the Queen of the Angels).  Or, as we call it, L.A.

Just the name "L.A." brings wonderful memories of warm, sunny days at the beach, the water cold enough to freeze your ... self, and the sand whipping and getting into pores and crevices you didn't even know you had.

But mostly, Abq Jew remembers driving around the better parts of L.A. and seeing houses built like the one above.

First of all - this house (and its builders) should be arrested for indecent exposure.  By which Abq Jew means - neighbors and innocent passersby shouldn't have to look at your plumbing.  Couldn't this house (and its builders) do something to cover up its underparts?

And second - how do the occupants of this house (and the house does have occupants) sleep at night?  It is said that there are only two seasons in Southern California: summer, when the houses are on fire; and winter (the "rainy season"), when the houses are sliding down the hillsides.  To which Abq Jew must add a third: earthquake season.  It's always earthquake season in So Cal.

Third - is there a great L.A. song?  Abq Jew immediately thinks of The Streets of Bakersfield, My Darling Clementine (about Sacramento), Talk to Me of Mendocino, Mendocino, To Morro (Bay), and, of course, I Left My Heart in San Francisco.  Is there something similar for the city where the Dodgers went bankrupt?

Abq Jew proudly informs his discerning readers that indeed, yes there is.  Actually, there's a zillion of them, of which The Mamas & The Papas' Twelve Thirty has always been a favorite.  But never mind that now.

First some background, courtesy of Wikipedia:
The La Brea Tar Pits (or Rancho La Brea Tar Pits) are a cluster of tar pits around which Hancock Park was formed, in the urban heart of Los Angeles. Asphaltum or tar (brea in Spanish) has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years. The tar is often covered with dust, leaves, or water. Over many centuries, animals that came became trapped in the tar, and were preserved as bones. The George C. Page Museum is dedicated to researching the tar pits and displaying specimens from the animals that died there. The La Brea Tar Pits are now a registered National Natural Landmark.
And with that - here is Dr Demento's version (amazingly, there are others) of the Felix Figueroa hit, "Pico and Sepulveda."  Named for one of L.A.'s best-known intersections, and with several subtle mentions of the La Brea Tar Pits.

Where does Abq Jew find this stuff?  How does he even know what to look for?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

All About KlezmerQuerque 2012

Klezmer! Nahalat Shalom! This Weekend!  Yes, Abq Jew has mentioned this before. But once again, (maybe) for the last time (until 2013):

KlezmerQuerque 2012
 10th Anniversary
Presidents Day Weekend
Congregation Nahalat Shalom
Joel Rubin
Pete Rushefsky
Steve Greenman
Bruce Bierman

Here is the schedule:

Friday February 17 @  6:30 - 10:00 pm:  FREE & OPEN TO ALL
‘Der Freylekher Shabbes’ (Joyous Shabbat) featuring KLEZ-Q GUEST ARTISTS plus cantorial soloist Beth Cohen, The Nahalat Shalom Community Klezmer Band, Rikud Yiddish dance troupe and The Rebbe's Orkestra. 6:30-Joyous danced & participatory ‘old country’ Shabbat service, 7:15-vegetarian potluck dinner, 7:45-Brief performance by The Rebbe’s Orkestra for dancing. Approx. 8pm: Brief performance by Joel Rubin, Pete Rushefsky & Steve Greenman Trio ‘Concert Form Klezmer’; Followed by more music with The Community Band - dances led by Bruce Bierman & Rikud.

Saturday February 18 @ 10:00 am - Noon: FREE & OPEN TO ALL
Shabbos Koydesh Service - using traditional nusach, nigunnim and joyous melodies... Music led by cantorial soloist Beth Cohen with Alavados Holy Days band & chaverim, with teachings & kavannot given by Rabbi Deborah Brin - Nahalat Shalom’s Rabbi. Service followed by a short Oneg (kiddush & snack).

Saturday February 18 @ 7:00 pm (Doors @ 6:30): TICKET REQUIRED
CONCERT & DANCE PARTY!! Featuring Special GUEST ARTISTS -- plus special opening act @ 7pm: The Rebbe’s Orkestra Klezmer & Judaic ensemble! 7:30pm: An hour-long sit-down concert featuring Joel Rubin, Pete Rushefsky & Steve Greenman Trio (“Concert Form Klezmer”) then break for intermission (& CD / merch / snack sales & pushing some chairs back for dancing), then 45 mins. of music for Dance Party with dancing led by Bruce Bierman.

Sunday February 19 @ 10:00 am - 5:30 pm:  TICKET REQUIRED
THREE 1.5 hour-long workshops in klezmer music & dance featuring GUEST ARTISTS --PLUS a special catered Lunch 'n Learn featuring DR. JOEL RUBIN [The Legacy of Jewish instrumental klezmer music in eastern Europe].

Here are the guest artists:

Joel Rubin has long been considered by many to be the leading performer of Jewish instrumental klezmer music in the world today, earning accolades from sources as diverse as klezmer giants Dave Tarras and Max Epstein, international clarinet soloist Richard Stoltzman, avant garde composer John Zorn, and Nobel Prize Laureate and poet Roald Hoffmann. He studied with Stoltzman and Kalmen Opperman, attended the California Institute of the Arts and received a BFA from the State University of New York at Purchase.

Rubin holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from City University (London) for his pioneering work on improvisation and ornamentation in klezmer clarinet music. He is currently Assistant Professor and Director of Music Performance at the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music. He has concertized throughout Europe, North America and Asia since the 1980s. In addition to appearances with traditional performers such as the Epstein Brothers, Moshe “Moussa” Berlin, Seymour Rexsite and Miriam Kressyn, Leon Schwartz, Sid Beckerman, Pete Sokolow, Danny Rubinstein, Ben Bazyler, and Leopold Kozlowski, Rubin was the founder and clarinetist of some of the most internationally respected klezmer ensembles, including the pioneering revival group Brave Old World. Rubin’s albums Midnight Prayer (Traditional Crossroads), Beregovski’s Khasene (Beregovski’s Wedding), Bessarabian Symphony, Zeydes un Eyniklekh (Grandfathers and Grandsons) and Hungry Hearts are considered to be masterpieces of classical Eastern European and American Jewish music.

His music can be heard in several films, including the recent L’armée du crime (France, 2009), and the award-winning documentary portrait A Tickle in the Heart (Germany/Switz./USA 1996) about the Epstein Brothers Orchestra.

Pete Rushefsky is Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, a New York not-for-profit dedicated to preserving and nurturing the performing arts traditions of immigrant and ethnic communities. He is also a leading revivalist of the tsimbl (small Eastern European Jewish hammered dulcimer), one of a handful of young klezmer musicians to use field and archival research in recreating a performance style for the instrument.

Rushefsky performs and records with some of the leading performers of contemporary klezmer and Yiddish music, including violinists Alicia Svigals and Steven Greenman, flutist Adrianne Greenbaum, clarinetist Michael Winograd, and vocalist Rebecca Kaplan. A popular instructor at KlezKamp and KlezKanada who has performed across North America and Europe, Pete is also the author of a pioneering instructional book on adapting the American 5-string banjo for klezmer.  He is a well-known lecturer on klezmer and other traditional musics and has a number of published articles to his credit.

Steven Greenman is recognized internationally as one of the finest practitioners, composers and teachers of traditional East European Jewish klezmer violin music in the world today.  He has self-produced two landmark recordings documenting his original Jewish and klezmer compositions with Stempenyu’s Dream (2004) and Stempenyu’s Neshome (2010), the latter containing his original Jewish spiritual melodies.

A co-founder of the Khevrisa ensemble with cimbalist and historian Walter Zev Feldman Steven is also co-producer and lead performer of the recording Khevrisa-European Klezmer Music on the Smithsonian Folkways label.  Steven has performed internationally with notable klezmer ensembles Stempenyu’s Dream, Khevrisa, the Joel Rubin Jewish Music Ensemble, the Klezmatics, Budowitz, the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, Kapelye, Di Tsvey (The Greenman/Rushefsky duo) and the Steven Greenman Klezmer Ensemble. 

He has taught klezmer music at KlezKamp, KlezKanada, KlezFest London, Internationales Klezmer Festival Fuerth, Yiddish SummerWeimar and Master Class de Musica Tradicional Santiago de Compostela.  

In addition to klezmer music Steven is an accomplished performer of Hungarian nota, Romanian lautari music and urban East European Gypsy music and is a performer with the ensemble Harmonia. 

As a concert performer Steven has been a guest soloist with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the Canton Symphony and the Akron Symphony performing his own arrangements of traditional East European Gypsy violin music and klezmer music. 

Bruce Bierman:  "Yiddish dance? What's that?" That's what most people ask me when I tell them I lead Yiddish dance for workshops, simchas and festivals around the Bay Area.

And who can blame them? After World War II, Yiddish dance was almost wiped off the map, along with the shtetls in Eastern Europe that danced them. With many of our grandparents yearning to shed their immigrant past, and with the great push to link the community exclusively to Israeli culture and education, Yiddish dance, by the 1960s, was almost completely stuck in the tar pits of nostalgia and relegated to Jerome Robbin's choreography for "Fiddler on the Roof."  
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   
With a newfound passion, I turned my focus to learning more about the rich treasures of Jewish dance that go as far back as Miriam dancing at the shores of the Red Sea. From the ancient dances of the Yemen Jews to the mystical folk dances of the Chassids, from the spunky Yiddish dances of the Ashkenazi to the free-spirited and elegant Israeli folk dances of modern Israel — one thing became clear to me. Jews dance!

Still, it's Yiddish dance that makes me and others laugh for some reason. No one has to worry about getting any steps "right." The dances are all improvised on the spot with a few basic steps — just follow the leader! You dance with community, but you bring your unique self into the circle to shayne. If there is a meaning behind Yiddish dance, that is it.

So with great pleasure, I am happy to announce that Yiddish dance is back and looking marvelous — thanks in part to the tireless fieldwork of Yiddish cultural historians such as Michael Alpert and Zev Feldman and to my own master teachers, Steve Weintruab, Deborah Strauss, Felix Fibich and Julie Egger. Their burning passion to pass on Yiddish dance and culture to the next generation is a gift of spirit, spunk and joy that can never be extinguished.

I hope to see you all out on the dance floor to experience this new ... er ... old dance come alive again.

See you there!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dogs Against Romney

Roof! Roof!  Finally, "99 %-er" dogs have taken to the streets to protest the cruel and inhumane treatment Mitt Romney foisted upon his family's beloved (?) Irish setter Seamus, of blessed memory.

Thanks to the efforts of Rusty, the founder of Dogs Against Romney,  the full story of Romney's "episode" is, at last, being brought to the forefront of the media's attention.

On the home front: Gail Collins, Abq Jew's favorite New York Times columnist, has periodically posted columns about Romney's deed, such as The Politics of Absolutely Everything on February 4.

In response to Romney's misdemeanor, Rusty says:

The Official Site of Dogs Against Romney, founded 2007. Hi, I'm Rusty. Mitt Romney is mean to dogs. Help me get my message out about the Mitt Romney dog on roof story. Putting a dog on the car roof is abuse. Remember Crate-Gate. I ride inside.
Rusty provides an Introduction to the Mitt Romney Dog On Car Roof Story, stating
I have had many requests for a catch-all place for newbies to our cause to get caught up on the back-story behind Mitt Romney's cruelty toward the Romney family dog. Anyone who Google's "Mitt Romney dog" will find literally thousands of articles about it, but here I have collected some of what I consider to be the most succinct. Read these stories if you are new to Dogs Against Romney or, if you are a veteran member, share this link with your friends who don't yet know the truly revolting details of Romney's callousness toward poor Seamus, the Irish Setter.
Questions still remain about Seamus' ultimate fate - questions Romney has so far refused to answer.
And yes, of course there's a Facebook page and a Twitter page - like there wouldn't be?

Dogs Against Romney promoted a street demonstration outside the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which just awarded Best In Show to ... Malachy, a Pekingese.  At least he's got a Jewish name.

Meanwhile, the Greyhound, He's So Fine (a very Jewish name), finished out of the running. Look at him!  He's gorgeous!

Abq Jew reminds those who may have forgotten:

Life Isn't Fair

OK, back to Dogs Against RomneyHere is a CNN video clip about the Westminster demonstration.

You can get your Abq Jew T-shirts here ...
... and you can get your Dogs Against Romney T-shirts here.

Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico

Exhibit @ Abq JCC thru Feb 28:  Abq Jew wishes to remind you that the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society's exhibit of "Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico" is still on display at the Albuquerque JCC - but only through Tuesday, February 28.

New Mexico Jewish Historical Society

Adventure, Adversity & Opportunity
"Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico" Exhibit
Albuquerque JCC ~ through 28 Feb 2012

Some 40 panels of the “Jewish Pioneers of New Mexico” exhibit, originally displayed at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe (2000), are being 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

And don't forget - see you at

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

KlezmerQuerque Is Coming!

KlezmerQuerque 2012 This Weekend!  Surely Abq Jew has mentioned this just a few times, but here he goes again:


KlezmerQuerque 2012
10th Anniversary
Presidents Day Weekend
Congregation Nahalat Shalom


Joel Rubin
Pete Rushefsky
Steve Greenman
Bruce Bierman

Here is just a taste of what you'll experience this weekend :

See you at

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feh! Feh!

If A Seagull Flies Over the Sea:  Were you there when Keynote Speaker Michael Wex gave the Keynote Address at A Taste of Honey 2012?   

Abq Jew was among the crowd - a really nice-sized crowd - and heard almost every word.  (He's sure he missed a few words 'cause he was laughing so hard.)

Much of what Mr Wex said cannot be repeated - you really had to be there.

And some of what Mr Wex said cannot be repeated -  Abq Jew's blog is intended for a family audience (sometimes).

But Abq Jew will tell you this: He will never reach to touch-kiss a mezuzah again without thinking of Michael Wex's definition of the term.

For those of you who were not there - you missed a good one.  Not only was Mr Wex right on target - all the mini-course instructors were, too. 

After presenting his own Tales of Rabbi Nachman, Abq Jew attended Janet Gaines's excellent presentation, The Heart of Ruth.  Which meant he missed Shlomo Karni's 'The Days To Come' and the Messiah in Judaism; Naomi Sandweiss's Jewish Traditions under the Italian Sun; and many, many more. 

Abq Jew wishes to thank the Albuquerque JCC's Phyllis Wolf and Robyn Weiner, and the entire ATOH 2012 Committee (of which he was a very small part), for producing this year's A Taste of Honey.  How come we do this only once a year?
So - if a seagull flies over the sea, what flies over the bay?  A bagel, of course.  (Note: Michael Wex did not tell this old joke.) 

And what does a bagel say? "Feh! Feh!"

But Abq Jew will tell you this: He will never hear a bagel (or a seagull) say "Feh! Feh!" again without thinking of Michael Wex's story.

You really had to be there.