Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Passover Rhapsody

From!  Remember last Pesach's Google Exodus?  Well, Abq Jew's friends at have just released a new video for Pesach 5772!

You may recognize the tune -
it's Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody -
according to some (but not Abq Jew -
see Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road),
the Greatest Song Ever Written.

All right - Abq Jew hears you!  In case, by some crazy chance, you missed last year's Google Exodus - here it is again!

A Zissen Pesach!


 Pesach Watch is getting serious!
Where did you find Pesach food?

 Gourmet to Go is offering Good Eats for Passover!
Order by Friday!

 The Deborah Calkin Agency is offering a Hebrew-Speaking Nanny!
Available in Albuquerque!

 Number The Stars is coming up at Congregation Albert!
Danish Resistance: Bravery Despite Fear!

 And don't forget - Joseph!
Come sing along!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Number The Stars

Congregation Albert Student Theatre (CAST) Presents:  Number the Stars tells about the Danish Resistance secretly smuggling Jews to safety in neutral Sweden after surrendering to Germany in 1943. 

Congregation Albert
Thursday March 29
Saturday March 31
Sunday April 1
7:00 pm

The heroine is a young girl discovering bravery despite her fear. The saga became an award-winning book, movie, and now a musical.

Lois Lowry wrote Number the Stars in 1989, based on stories told to her by a friend who grew up in Copenhagen during the German occupation.  The book won a Newbery Medal in 1990.
"How brave are you, little Annemarie?" Uncle Henrik asks his ten-year-old niece. It is 1943, and to Annemarie Johansen, life in Copenhagen is a complicated mix of ordinary home and school life, food shortages, and the constant presence of Nazi soldiers. Bravery seems a vague virtue, one possessed by dragon-slaying knights in the bedtime stories she tells her younger sister, Kirsti. Too soon, she herself is called upon for courage.

As the German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark, the Johansens take in Annemarie's best friend, Ellen Rosen, and pretend she is part of the family. Ellen and Annemarie must think quickly when three Nazi officers arrive late one night and question why Ellen is not blond, like her sisters.

Through Annemarie's eyes, we see the Danish Resistance as they manage to smuggle almost the entire Jewish population, nearly 7000 people, across the sea to Sweden. In this tale of an entire nation's heroism, Lois Lowry reminds us that there is pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.
Tickets: On sale at the door. $10 / adults. $5 / students 6-18. Free / children under 5.

Please call (505) 883-1818.

Monday, March 26, 2012

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Perfect Design:  Among Abq Jew's dearly held beliefs is this:  That of all the perfectly designed creatures the Holy One, Blessed Be He, created, there are three whose design is even more than perfect: the greyhound; the horse; and the giraffe.

The greyhound and the horse, of course, are perfectly and elegantly designed - to run.  That is what they do, speedily, gracefully, seemingly effortlessly.  And the giraffe?  Perfectly designed to show us all that God, at least occasionally, has a sense of humor.  But not right now.

As a greyhound adopter and advocate, Abq Jew was certainly aware that they shoot greyhounds.  After a life of rough kennels, harsh treatment, poor food, and little medical care, those racing dogs who are not adopted out to a rescue organization are often euthanized - usually by gas or injection, but sometimes by the cheapest means available.

Abq Jew had thought that greyhounds were disposed of because they were cheaper to replace than to repair.  But horses?  Horses are expensive to acquire and expensive to maintain.  If greyhounds are a commodity, horses are an investment.  Surely, Abq Jew thought, horses receive better treatment than greyhounds.

But Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape, Dara L Miles, and Griffin Palmer point out in The New York Times article Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys - that what Abq Jew thought was true is simply false.

A 2-year-old quarter horse named Teller All Gone broke a front leg in a race
on Sept. 3 at Ruidoso Downs Race Track in New Mexico and was euthanized.
His body was then dumped in a junkyard next to an old toilet at Ruidoso,
a short walk from where he had been sold at auction the previous year.

Instead, say the authors,
The new economics of horse racing are making an always-dangerous game even more so, as lax oversight puts animal and rider at risk.
Do you find the picture above hard to look at?  Abq Jew did.  The article is accompanied by two videos.  Abq Jew was not able to view either video start-to-finish. 

Abq Jew is particularly upset that much of Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys deals with the business of horse racing as practiced right here, in the Land of Enchantment.
At 2:11 p.m., as two ambulances waited with motors running, 10 horses burst from the starting gate at Ruidoso Downs Race Track 6,900 feet up in New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains.
Nineteen seconds later, under a brilliant blue sky, a national champion jockey named Jacky Martin lay sprawled in the furrowed dirt just past the finish line, paralyzed, his neck broken in three places. On the ground next to him, his frightened horse, leg broken and chest heaving, was minutes away from being euthanized on the track.
Judaism stands firmly for the ethical treatment of animals.  In her article in My Jewish Learning, Rabbi Jill Jacobs makes it clear that "the concept of Tzaar Baalei Hayim demands that we take animal suffering seriously."
Beyond simply prohibiting cruelty to animals, Jewish tradition associates care for animals with righteousness. Within the Torah, the commandment to send a mother bird away before taking eggs or chicks from her nest is one of the few commandments that promises long life to those who fulfill it. The book of Proverbs comments that, "A righteous person knows the needs of his beast, but the compassion of the wicked is cruelty." 
The Times analyzed racing records from 2009 through 2011, and discovered that "during those three years the rate of incidents for horses in the United States was 5.2 per 1,000 starts."  And here in New Mexico? 
According to the analysis, five of the six tracks with the highest incident rates last year were in New Mexico. All are casino tracks, commonly called “racinos.” Ruidoso, where Jacky Martin was injured, topped the list in 2011 with 14.1 incidents per 1,000 starts. 
Drugs, money, and lax regulation - especially here in New Mexico - are killing horses and injuring jockeys.  Jockeys can refuse to ride (and some have); owners can refuse to race injured, at-risk horses.  But the horses are unjustly at our mercy.

Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys states:
New Mexico’s racing industry — the tracks and their regulators — has been unusually slow in responding to the safety alarms.

Four of the state’s five racetracks, including Zia Park and Ruidoso, are unaccredited, and the track where Mr. Martin’s injury occurred does not report accidents or positive drug tests to groups that monitor such events.
And even giraffes.  Remember Kashka, the beloved Rio Grande Zoo giraffe who was injured, then euthanized - and then dismembered and placed in a trash bin, just two years ago?

An entirely different situation, certainly.  Kashka received good medical care during her lifetime, and gave birth to six calves while in zoo custody.

Standard procedure would have had Kashka buried in a landfill.  And we Jews recite many times on Yom Kippur, "Cast us not away in old age; when our strength is gone, do not abandon us."

Abq Jew believes, with cautious optimism, that we can do better than this.  We are the caretakers and caregivers of the earth, not its owners!  And when the True Owner asks us how we have treated His creatures, how shall we answer?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Abq Jewish Lifecycle Announcements

Abq Jew Announces Abq Jewish Lifecycle Announcements:  It is Abq Jew's honor and privilege to announce that he sometimes listens when revered rabbis speak.

In this case, the revered rabbi is Rabbi Harry L Rosenfeld of Congregation Albert, and the thing of which he spoke - and recommended -  is an

which Abq Jew has just spent a day ... "implementing", as we say in the IT biz.

Abq Jew knows - you've got questions!  What kinds of Lifecycle Events does Abq Jew have in mind? - for example.  Abq Jew has broken down All of Life into categories:
  • Birth - Bris - Simhat Bat
  • Bar Mitzvah - Bat Mitzvah
  • Engagement - Wedding - Anniversary 
  • Death - Funeral - Shiva - Unveiling 
  • Announcements of Everything Else
And how, you're dying (chas vishalom) to know, can you announce to Abq Jew what you'd like to announce to the Abq Jewish community and the world?  That's simple - you just fill out a form!

And where can you find this form?  One place is on the page for Abq Jewish Living, where you'll see these two iconic images:

The image on the left will take you right to the Abq Jewish Lifecycle Announcement FormAbq Jew has thoughtfully scattered these images all over the Abq Jew website.

The image on the right will take you to the aforementioned page for Abq Jewish Lifecycle Announcements.

Abq Jew has done his best to make this as easy as possible.  Moreover, to launch Abq Jew's Lifecycle Announcements, this service is currently offered at no charge.

Otherwise, meanwhile, and nevertheless - please, please consider making a non-tax-deductible donation to help keep Abq Jew going!


More Visibility for Abq Jew's Advertisers

In the old days - last week - Abq Jew's readers had to browse to the Products Made Well page or the Services Done Right page to view advertisements from Abq Jew's supporters.

But - that is no longer true!   Advertisements now appear on the Abq Jewish Event Calendar page, the Abq Jewish Lifecycle Announcements page, and next to the Abq Jewish Lifecycle Announcement Form.

A better deal for advertisers, and better deals for the Abq Jewish community.

Come grow with us!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Sacred Society

The Chevre Kaddisha of Greater Albuquerque: In Abq Jew's view, there are three institutions whose presence within a Jewish community makes that community whole and purposeful: a Free Loan Society; a Sacred Society; and a Free Burial Society.

The Albuquerque Jewish community is already blessed with the first two, and we're working on the third.  The "we", of course, through whom these institutions have been and are being developed, is the Jewish Family Service of New Mexico.

The fifty-or-so members of the Albuquerque Chevre Kaddisha - Sacred Society - perform the mitzvah of traditional, ritual preparation for burial, known as tahara (purification), free of charge for any member of the Jewish community. 

Chevre Kaddisha members prepare, wash, and dress deceased Jewish people in burial garments in preparation for burial, acccording to traditional Jewish practices.  Participation in the Chevre Kaddisha is a mitzvah, an act of lovingkindness.

The Albuquerque Chevre Kaddisha, led by Rabbi Min Kantrowitz, performed 36 taharot - ritual purifications - in 2011 and the first two months of 2012.  Of these 36 taharot:
  • 20 were men; 16 were women.
  • 8 were from Congregation B'nai Israel; 5 were from Congregation Albert.
  • 23 were not affiliated with any Albuquerque synagogue.
  • 24 were performed at French's; 11 at Daniels; others at Riverside and Direct.
More volunteers - especially men! - are always welcome and always needed. 

Why would someone choose to join the Sacred Society?  First of all - it's a mitzvah.  Second - it's considered a chesed shel emet, an act of lovingkindness that cannot be repaid.  And beyond these two - there are as many reasons as there are volunteers.

Please contact Rabbi Kantrowitz if you're thinking about volunteering.  And while you're thinking, here are some resources to guide you:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yeshivish As She Is Spoke

Back To Rebbetzin RLZ:  But the big shayla by this video (see Pesach As She Oughtta Be) is: What language is Rebbetzin Rivkah Leah Zelwig speaking?  It sounds sorta like English - but it's not.  It sounds sorta like Hebrew - but it's not.  And sorta like Yiddish - but it's not.

The teshuva: Rebbetzin RLZ is takeh speaking a toned-down, feminine version of Yeshivish.  She, after all, did not go to yeshiva - her husband did!

And what is Yeshivish?  Wikipedia answers:
Yeshivish (Yiddish: ישיבֿיש), refers to a sociolect of English spoken by yeshiva students and other Jews with a strong connection to the Orthodox yeshiva world.
Well, that clears it up!  Fortunately, the Forward's Philologos has published an article, How To Understand Yeshivish, that mamash does clear it up.

Here is one example of Yeshivish as she is spoke:
The lechatchila time for shacharis is neitz. B’dieved, if a person davened from amud hashachar and onwards he is yotzei. In a shas hadchak he may daven from amud hashachar and onwards lechatchila…. After chatzos it is assur to daven shacharis. One should wait till after mincha and then daven a tashlumin. The possibility for a tashlumin doesn’t exist for someone who was bemaizid.
This passage is entirely understandable to those who have had the privilege to spend time in yeshiva - who have sat and studied Talmud as if it were the most important thing in the world. 
Here is the translation (thanks, Philologos!):
One should plan to say the morning prayer no earlier than sunrise. After the fact, if a person unknowingly prayed earlier, starting with the break of dawn, he is considered to have performed the commandment. If he has no choice [because he will not have time after sunrise], he may knowingly pray starting with the break of dawn…. After midday, saying the morning prayer is forbidden. One should compensate [for having missed it] by waiting for the afternoon prayer and repeating that a second time. Such compensation, however, is unacceptable in the case of someone who acted deliberately [in skipping the morning prayer].
For more examples of everyday Yeshivish, Abq Jew refers you to The Yeshiva World News.  Bet you didn't know that was out there, did you? 

But here's a great video example from the kiruv organization Oorah.  Enjoy!

Pesach As She Oughtta Be

With Rebbetzin Rivka Leah Zelwig:  Way back around a week and a half ago, Abq Jew had the chutzpah to write (in Pesach Watch Begins!):

Homemaker's Hint:  If you believe what you're saying - and you should - your efforts to clean the house before Pesach need not go beyond the reasonable and customary! 
Well.  Eye Doc Randi Thompson jumped all over that statement!

To show Abq Jew how to clean for Pesach mamash the right way, EyeDoc Randi sent along a link to this YouTube video from Rebbetzin Rivkah Leah Zelwig ("Rebbetzin RLZ"), a - no, the renowned authority on Pesach cleaning - she's takeh a rebbetzin!

Please note that: a) there can be no true cleaning for Pesach without extensive use of power tools; and b) Rebbetzin RLZ is wearing protective eyewear.  Follow her example.

But the big shayla by this video is: What language is Rebettzin RLZ speaking?  It sounds sorta like English - but it's not.  It sounds sorta like Hebrew - but it's not.  And sorta like Yiddish - but it's not.

Stay tuned!  Abq Jew explains everything in the next chapter (see Yeshivish As She Is Spoke) of this saga!

And BTW: Rebbetzin Rivka Leah Zelwig is apparently someone by the name of  Danielle Jacobs.  No further information about Ms Jacobs is available at this time.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Inner Meaning of Passover

Solomon Schechter Day School Speakers Series:  SSDS Abq presents the closing event in its Spring Speakers Series, a talk by Schechter's Rabbi Stephen Landau on "The Inner Meaning of Passover."

  Sunday March 25
3:30 - 5:00 pm in the Library
Solomon Schechter Day School

At Passover, we are required to view ourselves as if we, personally, went out from Egypt. Passover is thus a festival of personal liberation as well as the liberation of our People. In this discussion we will reinterpret some of the symbols and rituals of Passover and seek to discover what they offer us in the light of personal spiritual liberation. 

Rabbi Landau is a traditionally trained, spiritually oriented rabbi. He is pluralistically oriented although he has been involved in and taught at a Conservative religious school. 

Rabbi Landau brings skills and talents to Schechter that includes pastoral counseling, cantorial skills, and carpentry.

Rabbi Landau recently moved back to New Mexico after several years in Connecticut as the Rabbi at a small Conservative synagogue.  He is involved in a number of interesting projects in Jewish New Mexico.  Stay tuned!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Journey of Questions and Faith

A Passover Haggadah by Anne McGoey:  Based on her book, published in January 2010, Anne McGoey will examine how the format of the Seder also corresponds to stages in a process of change that we unconsciously incorporate in our lives year-round. 

Sunday March 25
10:00 am - Noon
Congregation Albert

By becoming aware of these stages, Ms McGoey says, we can deliberately apply the model of the Seder as a sacred process for facilitating change and easing transitions in our daily lives. 

Abq Jew does not know anybody else who has written his or her own Haggadah.  Do you?  As he stated in his blog post A Haggadah Revue:

Anne McGoey grew up in a family that was active in the Presbyterian church in the small community of Aztec, New Mexico.  She was introduced to Judaism in 1995 while studying for a masters degree in social work, and converted in 1998.  Ms McGoey states:
Having created a situation in which I was the only Jewish person in my family, I wanted a Haggadah that would be meaningful to both my family and my Jewish friends.  Unable to find a Haggadah that had everything I was looking for, I decided to create one.
Journey of Questions and Faith is the result of that effort.  Mostly in English, with some Hebrew and Aramaic sprinkled in, JQF is not for the tradition-bound.  But JQF is poetic and moving - a still, small voice that deserves a place at anyone's - everyone's - Seder.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nose Job Love Song

The Trouble with Groggers: JTA - one of Abq Jew's most reliable sources of Jewish news - has reported that Dr. Michael Salzhauer, of Miami's Bal Harbour Plastic Surgery Associates, is in trouble with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Why is the good doctor in trouble?  Because, says JTA, he
hired The Groggers, a Jewish punk-rock band, to write a song and make a music video that encourages plastic surgery in a bid to connect to a younger audience, ABC reported. Salzhauer, who is also known as "Dr. Schnoz," performed rhinoplasty on the band's lead singer, L.E. Doug Staiman.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons called the promotion "offensive and inappropriate," the Huffington Post reported.
Apparently, the music video has raised questions about the Jewish plastic surgeon's ethics.  In his defense, Dr Salzhauer says
I wanted to create something no other plastic surgeon has done before. Rhinoplasty is my favorite and most desired procedure. I found a way to incorporate my work into a fun and creative way to attract more patients.
Abq Jew believes that adhering to ethical standards is, generally speaking, a pretty good idea.  And he takes no position whatsoever either for or against rhinoplasty, or most other activities involving rhinos.  Or plasty.

So - can't we just take it easy and have a bit of fun here?

Good Shabbos, Albuquerque!  Shabbat Shalom, New Mexico!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scientist Discovers Plaid in the Spectrum

Plaid Patent Approved:  Goodbye, Roy G BivAbq Jew sheepishly announces another way to tell that Pesach is coming: the Purim issue of the Forward arrives in the mail.

This year's Backward (as the Purim section is called) includes the title article, provided by Abq Jew in its entirety, with the understanding that you will click here to read the other Purim pieces; these range from the mildly amusing to the truly hilarious.

Scientist Discovers Plaid in the Spectrum

Organic food stores, children’s book publishers, LGBT groups and leprechauns have been thrown into turmoil by the discovery by Noah Obadiah, a professor at the Technion in Haifa, of an extra color in the rainbow. Although he discovered the color nestling between blue and indigo several months ago, he was waiting for the patent application to be accepted before announcing the news publicly.

Long believed to consist of only red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, the visible rainbow has been revealed to contain an aesthetically pleasing blue-and-white plaid that Obadiah has named Rebekkah after his daughter.

Aaron Shibling of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory commented that with the computer-aided development of catatonic chromatography scientists have been expecting to find, “another color between blue and violet. ‘Indigo’ was always a way of saying, ‘we don’t know what’s in the dark zone.’”

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Haggadah Revue

For Your Consideration: Do we really need new editions of the Passover Haggadah?  The traditional Hebrew and Aramaic text hasn't changed in ... well, a few years.

Even if we were wise, even if we were all men and women of understanding, even if we were all conversant in Hebrew and Aramaic, just like our three forefathers and our four foremothers - even so, Abq Jew believes we would still need new translations, new interpretations, and new insights.

How did we get started, making new Haggadot all the time?

The original Haggadah - the one Moses used - was the one published by Maxwell House.  When Abq Jew was growing up, all the Children of Israel used this version.

Amazingly, that first Maxwell House Haggadah had an English translation, in spite of the fact that English hadn't been invented yet.  England hadn't even been invented yet.

But Abq Jew's parents, of blessed memory, were free radicals in the Israelite camp.

So Abq Jew's family used the New Revised Edition of the Passover Haggadah by Rabbi Nathan Goldberg.  The NRE was published by Ktav and first copyrighted in 1949 (by Asher Scharfstein); based on the "Haggadah by Rabbi Z Harry Gutstein"; and promoted as "A New English Translation and Instructions for the Seder."

Abq Jew and family still use the NRE at our Seders, and we've got the wine stains to prove it.  The NRE does indeed translate the traditional Hebrew and Aramaic text into what may euphemistically be called "New English."  Or Spanish, as in the case of Rabbi Jose the Galilean.

But all that is ancient history.  In addition to the zillions (that's a SWAG) of Haggadot published since Abq Jew was a lad, there are a couple of newer Haggadot that merit consideration.

The first one is entitled New American Haggadah - imagine that! - and is destined to become a blockbuster.  That's because it is edited by Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), with a new translation by Nathan Englander (For the Relief of Unbearable Urges).

The NAH features a striking design by Oded Ezer; a timeline created by Mia Sara Bruch;  and thoughtful, timely-but-timeless commentaries by Nathaniel Deutsch, Jeffrey Goldberg, Rebecca Newberger, and, yes, Lemony Snicket.

The publisher (Little, Brown and Company) proclaims that the New American Haggadah
is an elegantly designed work of art that will spark new insights into and conversation about this age-old work. A dazzlingly beautiful and inspiring book of prayer, argument, and contemplation, the NAH is both a meaningful gift and an arresting addition to a home library. Informed by the piercing intelligence and linguistic fluency that has marked Foer’s and Englander’s fiction, it is a reinvention of the old, a reinvigoration and revelation.
New York's 92nd Street Y concurs.  In fact, the Y will be offering A New Passover Experience on March 22.  The Y says
Join pre-eminent Jewish storytellers Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander to explore how they orchestrated a new way of experiencing and understanding one of our oldest, most sacred stories in their unique and absorbing New American Haggadah.
Abq Jew almost concurs, except for two points: L, B and Co (and / or Oded Ezer) - you couldn't have made the typeface 2 points larger? For the Second Printing (may it come speedily, in our days), Abq Jew reminds you that
  • Many older people - those most likely to be conducting the Seder - need eyeglasses to read anything.
  • Half the Haggadah must be recited after the meal and after at least two cups of Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga.
Which brings us to Journey of Questions and Faith: A Passover Haggadah.  JQF was written by Anne McGoey, a member of Albuquerque's Congregation Albert, with illustrations by CA's Arthur Sussman, of blessed memory.

And Abq Jew must also mention that there's a Foreword by Rabbi Joseph Black and a Backword (it's on the back cover; what else would you call it?) by Rabbi Paul J. Citrin - both former rabbis of Congregation Albert.

Whereas the New American Haggadah is big and bold, Journey of Questions and Faith is small and quiet.

Designed for interfaith groups - but not only for interfaith groups - JQF is entirely non-traditional yet entirely engaging.
The JQF website states
For centuries Jewish people have celebrated their liberation from slavery in Egypt with Passover Seders. This contemporary version provides new meaning and insight to this tradition. Through poetic text, rich illustration, and song, Journey of Questions and Faith delivers this ancient story to Jewish or interfaith groups in understandable and relevant words.

Starting from the traditional usage of four cups that correspond to four promises, this Haggadah also links the four questions of How? What? Where? and When? to the four promises. The pattern of the past, present, and future, which the ancient rabbis had created, has been highlighted with special attention being placed on the future. New and thoughtful ways of interpreting the tradition are woven throughout this Haggadah.
Anne McGoey grew up in a family that was active in the Presbyterian church in the small community of Aztec, New Mexico.  She was introduced to Judaism in 1995 while studying for a masters degree in social work, and converted in 1998.  Ms McGoey states:
Having created a situation in which I was the only Jewish person in my family, I wanted a Haggadah that would be meaningful to both my family and my Jewish friends.  Unable to find a Haggadah that had everything I was looking for, I decided to create one.
Journey of Questions and Faith is the result of that effort.  Mostly in English, with some Hebrew and Aramaic sprinkled in, JQF is not for the tradition-bound.  But JQF is poetic and moving - a still, small voice that deserves a place at anyone's - everyone's - Seder.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Avner Dafni To Launch Israel Today!

Congregation Albert Announces Israel Today! Lecture Series:  Congregation Albert of Albuquerque is proud to announce the creation of the Israel Today! lecture series.
Modern Israel is a diverse, multicultural, multi-religious, multi-racial country flourishing in the Middle East.  Israel Today! will introduce New Mexico audiences to speakers reflecting the diversity of Israel. Audiences will get beyond the “headlines” in the media so they can understand what day-to-day Israeli life is really like.
Avner Daf
The 2012 speaker for Israel Today! will be Avner Dafni.  He is the executive director of Israel Gay Youth (IGY), the primary national gay youth organization in Israel.

Israel Gay Youth operates forty-two social and support groups in twenty-one cities and towns throughout Israel that serve as the organization’s core activity.

These groups, which meet on a weekly basis and are divided according to age groups, provide a safe and welcoming environment where teens and young adults can freely express thoughts and feelings regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

The younger groups (ages 15-18) cope with coming-out and school environment issues, while the older groups (ages 18-23) struggle with issues concerning military service, leaving home and personal independence.

IGY also operates a number of national programs which meet monthly and cater to specific segments of the GLBT community.

Mr Dafni has served as IGY's executive director since 2007.  During his tenure, IGY has enjoyed an unprecented period of growth and expansion.  Today, IGY is recognized both nationally and internationally as a leading voice within the GLBT community.

Mr Dafni will be speaking at several events open to the public, and Congregation Albert invites you to attend.

Sat 17 March @ 4:00 pm     Congregation Albert
Sun 18 March @ 10:30 am    Metropolitan Community Church
                              1103 Texas NE - Albuquerque
Sun 18 Mar @ 3:00 pm       Congregation Albert
Mon 19 Mar @ 12:00 Noon    LGBTQ Resource Center Atrium
                              UNM Student Union Building

Congregation Albert, Jerry Ginsburg, and American Veterans for Equal Rights sponsor Mr Dafni’s visit.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pesach Watch Begins!

How Can You Tell When Pesach is Coming?  If you're thinking "Pesach is coming when the flowers begin to blossom" - nope, not in this age of Global Warming.  Flowers began doing their thing weeks ago.  And if you're thinking "Pesach is coming when the winds finally die down" - nope, the winds are still blowing.

Well, Abq Jew is here to tell you that Pesach is indeed coming!  How can he tell? 

Here are a few signs that Pesach is coming:

1.  The first Albuquerque sighting of Pesach food is reported.  This year, it was Congregation B'nai Israel reporting on February 27 that Pesach food had been sighted at the Sunflower at Lomas and San Mateo. That's before Purim and almost as early as the ShopRite in Livingston, New Jersey, which raises Abq's Pesachdikity a few points.

2.  The Mother Lode of Passover Food begins to congregate at the Smith's at Constituion and Carlisle, thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Arthur Flicker of Congregation B'nai Israel.

3.  Abq Jew opens up his Pesach Watch page.

4.  You wake up on Shushan Purim with a terrible headache.

5.  The hamentaschen that Whole Foods on Wyoming ordered for Pesach finally arrive.  (Abq Jew was there just before Purim; hamentaschen weren't; this was the explanation offered.  The Whole Foods on Carlisle did have hamentaschen - but only raspberry.  We gotta fix this next year - and visit Gourmet to Go and Dee's Cheesecake Factory.)

6.  There's a Kosher Wine Tasting in Santa Fe.  Whoopee!

7.  We set the clocks forward one hour, so we can start the Seder even later than ... we used to in the good ol' days, when there was at least a chance that Daylight Saving Time wouldn't begin until after Pesach.

Maftir.  The best sign that Pesach is coming?  It's when Mesifta Beth Shraga's Bedikas Chametz Kit arrives in the mail!

Haftorah.  What, you may ask, is a Bedikas Chometz (Search for Chometz) Kit?

Well.  First - you do know that all chometz (food products that just might contain even a smidgen of leaven or leavened bread) must be removed from your house and / or no longer owned by you, right?

So, after all the cleaning with blunt instruments has been completed, the night before the first Seder we get down to tachlis.  What do we need?
  1. A candle - so we can see into every nook and cranny to make sure there's no chometz there.
  2. A feather - so we can reach into every nook and cranny and eradicate any chometz.
  3. A wooden spoon - so we've got something with which we can transfer the chometz we find.
  4. A burnable bag -  so we've got something into which we can place the chometz we find before burning said chometz and bag the next morning.
  5. A petek - with the right legal formulae (let's not call them prayers) to absolve us of all guilty ownership of any chometz we didn't see.
Viola!  Or another stringed instrument!  Here's your Bedikas Chometz Kit!

The petek traditionally has a couple slightly different versions of the statement
All chametz, leaven and leavened bread, that is in my possession which I have not seen, removed, or is unknown to me, should be annulled and considered ownerless like the dust of the earth.
Homemaker's Hint:  If you believe what you're saying - and you should - your efforts to clean the house before Pesach need not go beyond the reasonable and customary!

Which is to say, you don't have to drive yourself crazy.  Abq Jew knows - for some of us, we don't have to drive.  We can walk!   It's not that far ....

Friday, March 9, 2012

Can You Read Hebrew?

Hebrew Reading Class for Adults:  Why study Hebrew?  Boston University's Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature offers many reasons.
Among them:
  • Hebrew is the language of the Bible, which is both a religious and cultural foundation of incalculable influence and – especially read in the original language – one of the world’s most dazzling literary achievements.
  • Hebrew is unique: after 2000 years when nobody spoke it as a mother tongue, it was resurrected into full and vigorous life.
  • Hebrew is the language of Israel.
  • Learning Hebrew is fast-moving and fun. The Hebrew alphabet is only a small hurdle. The grammar is systematic, built around three-letter roots, and it’s not complicated.

It is Rabbi Stephen Landau's pleasure to offer (at his home, via Congregation Nahalat Shalom) this Hebrew reading class for adult beginners.

Wednesday Evenings 6:30 - 7:30
March 14, 21, 28  +  April 4, 18, 25
$50 for six sessions

Why is Rabbi Landau offering this class?  Because reading Hebrew is fun!  Not knowing Hebrew is boring and frustrating, especially in synagogue. And Hebrew is the most fascinating language on earth.

We will begin again from Alef, and students will master the skill of reading prayerbook Hebrew and gain a simple vocabulary of biblical and prayerbook Hebrew.

The class will be given in 6 week blocks and will continue as long as there is interest–or until everyone masters Level I, whichever comes first!

Rabbi Landau teaches from what he believes is the very best adult literacy curriculum available, and says that teaching Hebrew literacy to adults is one of the most rewarding things he does.

Come share the fun, and finally crack the Hebrew barrier! 

Registration is required

To register, please contact Judy Brown


Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shlomi: Following up on Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi’s live conversation on Skype last January, Rabbi Deborah Brin of Congregation Nahalat Shalom is making available a series of DVDs of Reb Zalman, called Davenology.

Sunday March 11 @ 2:30 pm
Congregation Nahalat Shalom

We will watch a DVD of  Reb Zalman’s  in which he tells stories and teaches us about how to pray, how to daven, how to develop creative new forms of meaningful prayer.   All are welcome.

Reb Zalman is the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, a leading authority on Kabbalah, Hasidic life, and Jewish mysticism.  He is Professor Emeritus of Psychology of Religion at Temple University, a profound and moving teacher.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Encountering God: Worship and Rituals

Interfaith Spring Colloquium:  Jewish Catholic Dialogue of New Mexico presents the19th Annual Interfaith Spring Colloquium.  Rabbi Arthur Flicker and Monsignor Leo Gomez will present a a discussion of Encountering God: Worship and Rituals.

Congregation B'nai Israel
Tuesday March 13
7:30 am - 3:00 pm

The purpose of worship is to encounter and interact with God, our source and destination, who gives meaning to our lives, in the context of community.

How does what we do and what we use in the synagogue or church assist us in coming close to and even meeting God?

Whether you are a worshiper or visitor in a synagogue or church, do you sometimes wonder why rituals follow a particular order with certain prayes, movements, and sacred objects?  What is the significance of the vestments, attire, prayer shawls, colors, numbers, etc.?  Who decides on the readings, the prayers, and the format of the Mass or Service?

BU: A Hotbed of Jewy-ness & Accordion Music

Silverman Sisters & Accordion:  From Boston University's Bostonia Alumni Magazine:

Sarah Silverman and her sister Susan Silverman transformed the School of Management auditorium into a giant, congenial living room one night last November, when they spoke about their “Jewy-ness.” The rambling discussion between comedian Sarah Silverman and Rabbi Susan Silverman (CAS’85) was laced with humanity, wisdom, mutual affection, and a gentle helping of mischief.
The evening, which drew an overflow audience, was hosted by the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies and a College of Arts & Sciences religion department hoping to broaden the focus of Judaic studies from sober examinations of anti-Semitism and the long historic shadow of the Holocaust.

Also in the current issue of Bostonia:

Squeezebox Diaspora, about "the spread of accordion music throughout the world."