Sunday, September 30, 2012

Livin' In A Booth

With The Fountainheads: Remember The Fountainheads? Abq Jew blogged about them just before Rosh Hashanah 5772, highlighting their performance of Dip Your Apple in The Honey.

And Abq Jew blogged about them again when they uploaded  Light Up The Night, a song for Chanukah, Hanukkah, or Khanikeh.  You know - The Festival of Lights. And again a couple of weeks ago, just before Rosh Hashanah 5773. One may begin to sense a pattern here.

With advice from Rebbetzin Rivka Leah Zelwig, you have undoubtedly completed Building Your Sukkah. All it takes is unionized construction labor, unrestricted financial resources for materials, a rented storage locker (or a three car garage), a degree in Exterior Design, hours of fervent prayer, and a mechona. Or a kit.

So - kick back and relax for three minutes and six seconds before you have to start cooking for Sukkot, aka the Festival of Booths!  United With Israel reminds us:

Yes, That’s right. ANOTHER Jewish holiday. Sunday evening begins the holiday of Sukkot. Sukkot is one of the three Torah festivals on which Jews everywhere were required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It is a seven day holiday with the first day being observed as a holy day, similar to the Sabbath, upon which no work is permitted. Outside of Israel the first two days are observed as holy days.

 Here are The Fountainheads with Livin' In A Booth:

No etrogim were harmed in the filming of this video.
Lemons are a different story.

Hag Sameach, Albuquerque!
Good Yontif, New Mexico!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bulding Your Sukkah

Advice From Rebbetzin RLZ:  Surely you remember Rebbetzin Rivka Leah Zelwig from Pesach As She Outta Be? And the language she spoke from Yeshivish As She Is Spoke?

Well, here is Rebbetzin RLZ once again, in an idyllic setting, setting up her family's sukkah.

You're welcome!

And Abq Jew promises not to call you Shirley!


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Now go build your Sukkah!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

High Holiday Survival

With Butch & Sundance:  Back in The Old Country (New Jersey), the High Holidays were a bit less of a challenge.

In the '80s and '90s, Abq Jew & mishpocha davened at Temple Beth Ahm in Aberdeen. We were perhaps 300 families in one extended sanctuary. We hired a hazzan for the occasion - and sang along with him as he led us all through the prayer service.

In the '00s, Abq Jew & mishpocha davened at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston. We were perhaps 900 families in multiple extended sanctuaries. If we didn't have an extra, we hired a Cantor for the occasion. But we in the "alternate (upstairs) service" got to keep our regular, every-Shabbat hazzanit - and sang along with her as she led us alternates through the prayer service.

Here we are in the '10s.  Abq Jew & mishpocha daven at Congregation B'nai Israel in Albuquerque. We are perhaps 273 families in (mostly) one beautiful, unextended sanctuary. We hired a Cantor for the occasion and accompanied him (for Kol Nidre) with piano, cello, and our Choir. Sing along? Not so much.

So, here is how Abq Jew really feels about the High Holidays:

You can keep them.

Wherever and whenever he observes the High Holidays, Abq Jew tends not to ask The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything (Answer: 42). Nor does he ask questions about the Space-Time Continuum (i.e. How soon can we get outta here?).

No, the question Abq Jew tends to ask is:

Who are those guys?


Wherever and whenever he observes the High Holidays, Abq Jew tends to see plenty of people he has never, or rarely, seen before. Part of this, he realizes, is the result of low-level faceblindness. But part of this is due to the tendency of many Jews to make Jewish observance a three-day-per-year event.

But Abq Jew doesn't mind this at all.

If you have built - in all senses of the term - the synagogue, you are entitled to use it. If you choose to only use it only for the High Holidays - well, that's your choice. Abq Jew will gladly give up his seat to you and thank you for providing the synagogue and the community he enjoys the other 362 days of the year. The trade-off is more than fair.

Of course, it does get kind of lonely for Sukkot - especially when the festival days fall on weekdays.  

Abq Jew's POV is: you are missing out on the most beautiful, natural Jewish holiday there is.

Again - that's your choice. But we miss you!

!חג סמח

Monday, September 24, 2012

Making Amends

A True Story About Aunt Bea And Me:  This is a true story ... just right for Yom Kippur ... by Abq Jew's good friend Tovah Miriam, who wrote it in 2006 and revised it in 2012. Tovah Miriam's got the copyright; all rights reserved.

A True Story
Aunt Bea and Me - Making Amends
by Tovah Miriam

Back in 1993 I had a solo show of my paintings at the Richard Reynolds Gallery on the campus of the University of the Pacific. Entitled Conceptual Portraiture, the show consisted of about a dozen larger than life-size portraits of my dearest friends. Almost every person I had painted came to the reception and each one stood grinning next to their portrait for snapshots.  Except for you. You hated your portrait and told me so.

Naturally I overreacted. I will never paint another portrait as long as I live!

Ten years later I sit across the table from you at Junior's Deli in West LA. We are happily dining on matzo ball soup and fragments of rye bread heaped with chopped liver. Your body is much shrunken because your spinal column has accordioned down upon itself for these past eight decades. Your head is just above table level. But you are bright and lively and alert and we are laughing. I push my soup spoon into the huge soft matzo ball, a dumpling really, and discover that it is surprisingly hot. Big shreds of chicken float around it in the bowl. You are tearing daintily with your perfect manicure and small long fingers at a piece of rye bread. You seem preoccupied.

Then you say to me, “You know that painting you did of me a few years back?”

“Yeah,” I say laughing, “You hated it!”

I concentrate on my matzo ball.

This is not an unfriendly exchange. I am reconciled now, and look up from my soup, a little teasing, and I see you across the table. You laugh a bit, tentative. You are, however, steadfast and I see that you are serious and want to say something more to me. Holding, in one hand, your shard of bread, and with your other hand in a fist, you gently thump at the front of your sweater.

Then you say to me, “Well maybe if I saw it again I’d like it better now.”

“Yes, I think so, too,” I say.

You give me kindness and an olive branch and I take it, gratefully.

Clumsily, I smile then look away at all the families in this deli having pastrami and potato salad and egg creams and epiphanies. A rush of voices, all talking, talking, happy, angry, urgent and some of it just quiet reconciliation. It is so clear.

To be completely truthful, I did not notice the gesture of your hand to heart at that moment in the deli. I noticed it, as a memory, after Yom Kippur services, years later. My memory swept back to our meal in the deli. Your gesture, small and subtle, hand to heart, came into full focus long after you were no longer with us. And, unbeknownst to yourself perhaps, or to me at the time when you were doing it, you were communicating something to me about how to be Jewish in the world.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

For The Cleansing of Sins

Throw Them Away! Give Them To A Goat! Give Them To A Chicken! Repent!  We are now in the Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

On Rosh Hashanah, we acknowledged God's kingship over us and over all His creation. On Yom Kippur, we confess our sins before the Holy One, Blessed Be He, and ask for His forgiveness.

On Yom Kippur, we pray that God will sit on the Throne of Compassion, and not on the Throne of Justice - for if we are to be judged by Justice, who among us can stand?

So, Abq Jew hears you ask - couldn't we stack the odds a bit?

Fortunately, Judaism provides a number of ways to do just that. The number is four.

1. Throw Your Sins Away

This is just about the simplest, easiest way to get rid of your sins. All you need is a good supply of bread crumbs and a body of water that flows to the sea.

Then, on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, you perform a ceremony know as Tashlich, which means "you shall throw away." Judaism tells us:
Tashlich (תשליך) ... involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water. Just as the water carries away the bits of bread, so too are sins symbolically carried away. 

... In order to perform tashlich take pieces of bread or another food and go to a flowing body of water such as a river, stream, sea or ocean. Lakes or ponds that have fish are also a good place, both because the animals will eat the food and because fish are immune to the evil eye. Some traditions say that fish are also significant because they can be trapped in nets just as we can be trapped in sin.
If you forgot to do this on Rosh Hashanah - or if, in this year of drought, you could not find a body of water that with certainty flows to the sea - do not despair. You've got three more chances.

2. Send A Goat To Azazel

If tashlich just wasn't for you, your next best bet is to transfer your sins to another ... being. Judaism provides two excellent ways to achieve this.

Sending a goat to Azazel is a terrific way to get rid of your sins. And - for your convenience - the Torah provides a step-by-step guide to exactly how this should be done. See Chapter 16 of Leviticus. Or - wait for Yom Kippur morning, and your Baal Koreh will read it to you!

All you need for this ceremony are two goats who are so cute you could just eat them up. Only one goat will be for the barbeque. The other - the scapegoat - will carry your sins away as it 'scapes to the land-scapes of the desert.

Oh - you'll also need a Kohen Gadol (High Priest) who is in a state of ritual purity. And a standing Temple in Jerusalem. And a red heifer (see If You Build It, He Will Come).

OK ... this may turn out to be somewhat impractical. Abq Jew is sure that Red Green (see Red Green Teaches Life Lessons) could save the situation with a bit of duct tape. But let's move on to -

3. Twirl A Chicken Around Your Head

Transferring your sins to a chicken you swing around your head is probably not the first method for elimination of sins that comes to your mind. But Abq Jew assures you - as methods go, there's a long tradition behind it.

The Chabad website explains how the ceremony is performed:
The rite consists of taking a chicken in one's hand and reciting a prayer. A man takes a rooster; a woman takes a hen; a pregnant woman takes two fowls - a hen and a rooster. Optimally, the fowl should be white to symbolize purification from sin, as the verse (Isaiah 1:8) states: And if your sins be like scarlet, they shall become as white as snow.
... The fowl [or other animal] used for kapparot is taken in the right hand and the appropriate text from the prayer book is recited. The bird is then waved over one's head three times and the appropriate text is recited.
Wikipedia further explains:
The purpose of the sacrifice is for the expiation of the sins of the man as the chicken symbolically receives all the man's sins ....
The religious practice is mentioned for the first time by Natronai ben Hilai, Gaon of the Academy of Sura in Babylonia, in 853 C.E., who describes it as a custom of the Babylonian Jews with the practice also having been as a custom of the Persian Jews and further explained by Jewish scholars in the ninth century by that since the Hebrew word geber (gever) means both "man" and "rooster" the rooster may act and serve as a valid religious substitute and a religious and spiritual vessel in place of the man.
No, Abq Jew was never a student at Sura Academy (although he did take courses at Pumbedita Tech). Thus, Abq Jew does not have the tradition of schlagging kaporos. But there are plenty of Jews who do.  

DON'T PANIC! Abq Jew has also discovered the existence, mission, and activities of the Alliance To End Chickens As Kaporos.

The Alliance describes itself as
a coalition of compassionate people who have banded together to promote the use of money, instead of chickens, in the ritual of Kaporos ....
And yes - the Alliance has a Facebook page! More important - the Alliance has a Petition on - a Petition to Replace Chickens with Money in Kaporos Rituals.

In 2011, the Alliance demonstrated in the newly-Orthodox Midwood neighborhood - the very section of Brooklyn where Mrs Abq Jew (Perri Yellin the Artist) was raised.

But, Abq Jew realizes, we have wandered far afield. We were talking about the elimination of sins, to stack the odds in our favor on Yom Kippur.

The three ways we've discussed so far don't seem to be ... workable. So let's jump ahead to the fourth way -

4. Repent

Repenting is the old-fashioned way to eliminate a whole year's worth of sins. You don't go into Yom Kippur pure - but you can be cleansed of sins by Neilah time.

Rabbi Yitz Greenberg frames Maimonides' three-step process of repentance as the "Three R's":
  1. Regret - One who seeks teshuvah must first admit that he or she has erred. This may very well be the most difficult part of the process, as most of have a great talent for self-justification. Part of the process of regret is the Vidui, the confessional prayer that we recite publicly on Yom Kippur.
  2. Rejection - We cannot continue the offending behavior and expect to achieve teshuvah. As in many cases in Jewish law, intent matters here. Rejecting one's past wrong choices is an essential part of teshuvah.
  3. Resolution - Here is where one's willpower is crucial. To complete the process of teshuvah, we must be resolved not to make the same choice again, given the opportunity. Our habits are very strong, and to change the ones that should be changed requires steely resolve. 
The problem with the repentance method of sin elimination? Repentance is hard, and takes a fair amount of time and concentration. There's no app for that!

The good thing? Repentance has been tested and proven to work. Just ask the people of Nineveh. Or - wait for Yom Kippur afternoon, and whomever your shul honors with Maftir Yonah will read you their story!

In any event - 

Abq Jew wishes you an easy fast and a meaningful day.
If Abq Jew has offended you or caused you any pain
during the past year, please forgive him.
G'mar Hatima Tova!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Haim Hefer Laid To Rest in Ein Hod

Israeli Poet and Songwriter, 86:  The New York Times sadly reports:
Haim Hefer, an Israeli songwriter and poet who for many Israelis embodied the spirit of the generation that fought for their nation’s independence, died on Tuesday in Tel Aviv. He was 86.

Mr. Hefer, who could be an acerbic critic of Israeli political leaders, helped forge a national identity in contemporary Hebrew with his lyrics and newspaper columns written in verse.
 The Jerusalem Post mourned his passing:
Poet, songwriter, filmmaker and playwright Haim Hefer, one of the icons of Israeli culture, died on the second day of Rosh Hashana at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, after a long illness.
A prolific songwriter and poet whose works are at the foundation of Israel’s national cultural treasure, Hefer for many years wrote poems based on current events for Yediot Aharonot.

Born in Sosnowiec, Poland, in 1925, he came to British Mandate Palestine in 1936, and at age 17 joined the Hagana.

He helped to smuggle illegal immigrants through Syria and Lebanon. He was the founder the Palmah’s military entertainment unit Chizbatron, which was the forerunner of the IDF entertainment units.

His imprint on Israeli culture earned him the Israel Prize for Hebrew song in 1983.
Which songs did Haim Hefer write? Better to ask which songs he didn't write. The Jerusalem Post continues:
Among his most popular songs were “The Last War,” “He Didn’t Know Her Name” and “Yes, It’s Possible.” Another of his songs, “The Red Rock,” made popular by performer Arik Lavi, was initially banned because it was thought that it would encourage adventurous Israelis to make dangerous, illegal excursions to Petra in Jordan.
Here, to remember Haim Hefer, is The Red Rock:


Abq Jew remembers HaSela HaAdom from the old days when he was younger. Back then, he used to go to the HaFinjan club in NYC to hear Ron Eliran sing.

And speaking of HaFinjan - Haim Hefer wrote that, too! Here is Yaffa Yarkoni:


And then there's the 1974 movie Kazablan. Haim Hefer wrote many of Yehoram Gaon's songs, including Abq Jew's favorite - Rosa!

Dedicated to Roselyn Yellin of blessed memory, Abq Jew's mother


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Price of Silence

A Yom Kippur Study Session:  Congregation B’nai Israel, in cooperation with the DVora Project of Albuquerque, presents a Yom Kippur study session:

The Price of Silence
A Look at Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community
and the Greater Albuquerque Area

Wednesday September 26  from 4:00 to 4:45 pm
Main Sanctuary of Congregation B’nai Israel

The DVora (דְבוֹרָה) Project, a program of the Jewish Federation of of New Mexico and Jewish Family Service of New Mexico, was created in 2002. As a Jewish voice in the fight against domestic violence, it seeks to raise awareness about the devastation that domestic abuse can inflict upon our lives, our children and our community.

The DVora Project reaches out to both the Jewish and non-Jewish community, providing educational programs for teens to seniors . DVora also partners with domestic violence service providers to provide food, teddy bears, toys and necessities for victims of abuse and their children. It also collaborates with government agencies and the clergy, working to make New Mexico a safer place for us all to live.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rosh Hashanah 5773

Dip Your Apple In The Honey:  It's Rosh Hashanah! And, as we begin a New Year, please remember - as Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum of Synagogue Emanu-El in Charleston, South Carolina has taught us -

There is hope for the world.
There is hope for your life.
The way it is now is not the way it must be. 

Abq Jew warmly invites you to check out this Rosh Hashana hit from last year (5772)

Dip Your Apple!


No apples, pomegranates, babies, or smartphones
were harmed in the filming of this video.
Please don't feed babies honey.


L'Shana Tova U'Metuka, Albuquerque!
A Good & Sweet Year, New Mexico!

Friday, September 14, 2012


The Lion King Comes to Abq!  Broadway in New Mexico! In case you haven't heard, Popejoy Hall is one of the premier stages in New Mexico. And there is certainly something for everyone in this season's Popejoy Presents, starting with

Experience the phenomenon of The Lion King. Marvel at the breathtaking spectacle of animals brought to life by award-winning director Julie Taymor, whose visual images for this show you’ll remember forever. Thrill to the pulsating rhythms of the African Pridelands and an unforgettable score including Elton John and Tim Rice’s Oscar®-winning song “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” and “Circle of Life.” Let your imagination run wild at the Tony® Award-winning Broadway sensation Newsweek calls “a landmark event in entertainment.”  New Mexico’s most eagerly awaited stage production ever will leap onto Popejoy’s stage this season.
To get you In The Mood (with apologies to Glenn Miller), here is a snippet of Wimoweh:

You may not be used to hearing "Wimoweh" in Hebrew - but, everyone knows that all animals speak (and sing) Hebrew. Abq Jew would also like to inform you that the song was first performed and recorded in Israel (then Palestine) in 1946 by Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint.

However, that turns out not to be true, although that is what Abq Jew was always told. It turns out, says our old friend Wikipedia, that
"The Lion Sleeps Tonight", also known as "Wimoweh" and originally as "Mbube", is a song recorded by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds[1] for the South African Gallo Record Company in 1939. It was covered internationally by many 1950s pop and folk revival artists, including The Weavers, Jimmy Dorsey, Yma Sumac, Miriam Makeba, and The Kingston Trio. In 1961, it became a number one hit in the U.S. as adapted by the doo-wop group The Tokens. It went on to earn at least 15 million US dollars in royalties from covers and film licensing. Then, in the mid-nineties, it became a pop "supernova" (in the words of South African writer Rian Malan) when licensed to Walt Disney for use in the film The Lion King, its spin-off TV series and live musical, prompting a lawsuit on behalf of the impoverished descendants of Solomon Linda.
Legal action! Suits, counter-suits, and The Weavers! That's why we call it Jewish music!

Just Too Good To Be True? Can't take your eyes off Timon? OK! Here is The Hula Song:

If Wimoweh and The Hula Song don't drive you to Popejoy Hall (parking is up to you) for The Lion KingAbq Jew doesn't know what will.

However, that also turns out not to be true. Remember Abq Jew's Oh, What A Night!

It turns out that Jersey Boys will also be at Popejoy Hall at the end of the season.

Abq Jew's advice? Do whatever it takes! See it!


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Blessing On Your Head

Caution! Euphemism Alert!  Judaism has always been big on euphemisms - you know, nice words that replace words that are not so nice. Thus for, example, we have the term Bet HaHayyim (House of Life) for cemetery; and the Talmudic tractate named Semachot (Joyful Events), which deals with the laws of mourning.

So, when Abq Jew says "a blessing on your head" - what he means is ... curses! And not just your run-of-the-mill, everyday curses - we're talking Yiddish Curses for GOP Jews!, courtesy of Tablet Magazine and the website -!

As he mentioned in Labor Day & The Painted Bird, Abq Jew seldom gets political. But his grandfather alav hashalom was a Wobbly, and his great-grandfather zichrono l'bracha was a union organizer. So Abq Jew plans to vote with the Democrats this fall and urges you to do the same.

But Abq Jew wanted to let the curses out before Rosh Hashanah, before the Ten Days of Repentance, and certainly way before Yom Kippur - so his teshuvah will be heartfelt and meaningful. At least until the election.

How important, Abq Jew hears you ask, coould the Curses website possibly be? So important that Michael Schulman of The New Yorker covers it in Shouts & Murmurs.
With the G.O.P. gathered in Florida—the kvetching capital of the world—the husband-and-wife team Ben Abramowitz and Rachel Shukert (both good friends) have launched a project called Yiddish Curses for Republican Jews. Sample curses: “May your child give his Bar Mitzvah speech on the genius of Ayn Rand”; “May you be reunited in the world to come with your ancestors, who were all socialist garment workers.” In the words of not-so-Republican Jew Paul Krugman: “Oy vey.”
 In Tablet Magazine, Rachel Shukert says of the birth of the Curses website:
You know how it is.

You’re standing in the hallway outside the bathroom watching your husband shave, your always-simmering wrath toward the state of American politics in general and the Republican Party in particular brought to a rolling boil by several cups of coffee drunk at injudicious speed, and you’re both inveighing against certain distant-ish relatives whose ideological leanings are a constant source of ire, wondering aloud what terrible misfortune might need to befall them to bring them around, or at least lay their hypocrisy bare. That they should suffer a catastrophic illness that their insurance refuses to cover, leaving them nothing to be so bent out of shape about re: the estate tax? That they should be so hot for Israel to bomb Iran that their son drops out of medical school to join the IDF? That their son should be elected president and they should have no idea what the hell they did with his birth certificate? And then a light bulb goes on.

Believe it or not - there were Yiddish curses before the Republicans came along! And, Abq Jew was very pleased to discover, the folks at the Yiddish Radio Project have preserved a good number of them. Examples:
All problems I have in my heart, should go to his head.
He should marry the daughter of the Angel of Death.
All his teeth should fall out except one to make him suffer.
A hundred houses shall he have, in every house a hundred rooms, and in every room twenty beds, and a delirious fever should drive him from bed to bed.
Not pretty. Not nice. And right before the High Holy Days!

So let's talk about Republicans. What can one say about Republicans, except:
May they live to a hundred and twenty without Social Security or Medicare.

May their insurance companies decide constipation is a pre-existing condition.

May they sell everything and retire to Florida just as global warming makes it uninhabitable.

May they have a hundred houses, and in every house a hundred rooms, and in every room twenty beds, and then may they fall behind on just one of their mortgage payments and have the bank repossess everything.
OK ... we must cleanse our souls in preparation for the Days of Awe. We must think good thoughts, and always judge our neighbors on the side of goodness. We must cherish our spiritual life.
May they be reunited in the world to come with their ancestors, who were all socialist garment workers. 
We're just going to have to try harder ....
May their children, friends, siblings, nieces, and nephews send them a link to the website every day for the rest of their lives.
Oy vey. Abq Jew asks for your forgiveness. A good and sweet New Year for all of us!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Taste of Judaism

Are You Curious?  As organized world religions go, Abq Jew has always thought that Judaism is Number One, for a trinity of good reasons.

First of all - it's not that organized. Second - it's mostly (although not entirely) logical. And third -  it doesn't focus on belief and the afterlife; Judaism is more concerned with doing good deeds in this life.

And the food is great, especially if you pass over the (relatively few) fast days and go for the (much more numerous) feast days.

If you or someone you know is not currently Jewish, Abq Jew strongly encourages you to learn more about what living a Jewish life means. How can you do that? Well ....
In October, Congregation Albert will bring an innovative new series of "classes" to Albuquerque - A Taste of Judaism ... Are You Curious?TM - designed for people who have limited or no Jewish background but are interested in learning about Judaism.

A Taste of Judaism ... Are You Curious?
Tuesday October 2 - 9 - 16 @ 5:30 - 7:00 pm
Flying Star Downtown (723 Silver SW)
This class is FREE and open to all! 
Class is limited to 30 students who are not members of a synagogue.

Who would take this class? Many participants are unaffiliated Jews who don’t feel that they know much about their religion, the adult children of interfaith couples, non-Jews who are interested in learning more about Judaism, and partners in interfaith relationships.

All sorts of people take this class, including people who want to know more about their Jewish colleagues’ religion, and grandparents of children being raised Jewish who are not Jewish themselves. The list goes on and on.

A Taste of Judaism ... Are You Curious?TM was developed by the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and will be led (in Albuquerque) by Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld. 

But the information presented in the classes is not specific to any single branch of Judaism.
Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to be Jewish to be curious. But you do have to register so we can save you a seat! 
Enjoy three weekly classes on the modern Jewish take on spirituality, values, and community. 
Our classes are dynamic and interactive; our teachers are accessible, fun, and can answer any and all of your questions.
You can learn more from the A Taste of Judaism FAQ.


A Taste of Judaism ... Are You Curious?TM
is just one of the many ways to learn about Judaism in
Congregation Albert's Get EdJEWcated! Fall Course Catalog


Friday, September 7, 2012

A New Milestone: 42K+42

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  On September 6, 2012, at 4:42 pm New Mexico (Mountain) Time, this Abq Jew Blog achieved 42,000+42 All Time Page Views.

We achieved 36,000+120 All Time Page Views on July 29 - just under six weeks ago.
That's about 150 Page Views per Day.

Thank you!


Why, Abq Jew hears you ask, should someone pick 42,042 as a milestone?

The answer may be found in

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Our traveling companion Wikipedia informs us
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon.

Adaptations have included stage shows, a "trilogy" of five books published between 1979 and 1992, a sixth novel penned by Eoin Colfer in 2009, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 computer game, and three series of three-part comic book adaptations of the first three novels published by DC Comics between 1993 and 1996.

There were also two series of towels, produced by Beer-Davies, that are considered by some fans to be an "official version" of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as they include text from the first novel.

A Hollywood-funded film version, produced and filmed in the UK, was released in April 2005, and radio adaptations of the third, fourth, and fifth novels were broadcast from 2004 to 2005. Many of these adaptations, including the novels, the TV series, the computer game, and the earliest drafts of the Hollywood film's screenplay, were done by Adams himself, and some of the stage shows introduced new material written by Adams.

The title is the name of a fictional, eccentric, electronic travel guide, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, prominently featured in the series.

That's all well and good, Abq Jew hears you say. But where does the number 42 fit in?

Wikipedia (a different entry) explains:
In the first novel and radio series, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. The Ultimate Question itself is unknown.
 How, pray tell, can one derive the Ultimate Question?
At the end of the radio series (and television series, as well as the novel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe) Arthur Dent, having escaped the Earth's destruction, potentially has some of the computational matrix in his brain. He attempts to discover The Ultimate Question by extracting it from his brainwave patterns, as abusively suggested by Ford Prefect, when a Scrabble-playing caveman spells out forty two.
Arthur pulls random letters from a bag, but only gets the sentence
"What do you get if you multiply six by nine?"
Baseball fans will note that Jackie Robinson wore number 42, and that the number 42 has been retired from all Major League Baseball teams - except one. 

New York Yankees fans (of which Abq Jew is certainly one) will note that the exception is relief pitcher Mariano Rivera.

The New York Times states:
Rivera is the last of a dozen players who were allowed to continue to wear number 42 ... when Major League Baseball retired it in 1997. It happened to be the same year Rivera became the Yankees’ closer. 
For now, Abq Jew leaves you with these thoughts:
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Amos Guiora Makes The Case

Israel On Firm Moral Ground:  Last night, the Jewish Federation of New Mexico  - in conjunction with Yad b'Yad and Christians United For Israel (CUFI) - presented a talk by Professor Amos Guiora, an internationally renowned legal expert on the challenge of balancing national security interests with civil liberties.

Professor Amos Guiora
 Professor Guiora's main topic was

The Delegitimization of Israel
and Legal Responses:

A Guide for Activists

Professor Guiora's sub-topic was BDS - the movement to use Boycotts, Divestiture, and Sanctions to - what exactly is the goal?

JFNM Executive Director Sam Sokolove explained BDS - and elaborated on Professor Guira's unique qualifications - in his introduction, which he has graciously allowed Abq Jew to publish here.
The campaign known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, is a global movement pushing for sanctions against Israel - supposedly for its violations of international law and human rights.
What we’ve seen over the past decade, however, is that BDS is not about bringing peace to the region. Instead, its goal is to delegitimize Israel and ultimately to bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish State.
The BDS movement's demonization of Israel does not recognize the reality of how conditions came to exist, the role of the Arab nations in perpetuating the conditions, or the constant barrage of missiles and violence against the civilian population of Israel.  To the deligitimization activists, Zionism – the movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel – is the quote-unquote “original sin,” the crux of the conflict.
Looking back in history, we should note that in 1945, the Arab League initiated a boycott of Jewish Palestinian businesses. A year later, it was extended to prohibit contact with "anything Jewish."

Flash forward to 2001, when the BDS movement began in earnest at the UN’s Durban Conference Against Racism, the strategy presented to advance the “complete and total isolation of Israel,” calling for the “imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargos, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation, and training) between all states and Israel.”

Eleven years later, the BDS movement is spreading across our country and in Europe, infecting the young and impressionable in universities, through the media and at conferences ostensibly committed to “peace and justice.”

Closer to home, its influence within the mainline protestant churches can be seen gaining traction, with Methodist and Presbyterian leadership entertaining BDS resolutions at their annual policymaking conferences.

Writes Tabitha Korol, “The purpose of BDS is to reverse the events of 1948 – the creation of the State of Israel, which led to the Palestinian refugee tragedy – and to demand the return of those Palestinians and their descendants to their former homes inside the Green Line, allowing for no homeland for the Jews.”

This calls for the removal of an existing state (unique in international politics), based on alleged human rights abuses and military invasions that are never considered for other nations.

BDS prohibits attempts at dialogue, cooperation, and peaceful ties between Israel and Palestinian Arabs, and promotes an impossible one-state solution; Thus, BDS is not about borders or Israel’s size; it is about her very existence.

In Albuquerque, BDS is an omnipresent part of the so-called “peace and justice” community, and home to the groups that sponsor anti-Israel billboards throughout the region.

This leaves activists like us angry, and anxious to defend Israel with action. But the complexities require thoughtfulness and greater understanding, and that’s why we have with us today an extraordinary friend, Amos Guiora Professor of Law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, the University of Utah.

Before I introduce Amos, I’d like to make a few acknowledgements.
  • Firstly, I want to thank Jennie Negin and Harold Folley, whose generosity made Amos’s visit to New Mexico possible. Jennie and Harold are dedicated community activists, leaders and philanthropists who have enriched so many community institutions.
  • Next, I want to thank Yad B’ Yad, Christians United for Israel, and Son Broadcasting for helping spread the word to Jews and Christians about tonight’s gathering. The advocacy and friendship of these groups is a blessing to the Jewish community.
Back to the introduction: Amos Guiora is a Member of the American Bar Association's Law and National Security Advisory Committee, a Research Associate at the University of Oxford, Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict; a Research Fellow at the International Institute on Counter-Terrorism, The Interdisciplinary Center, Herzylia, Israel; a Corresponding Member, The Netherlands School of Human Rights Research, University of Utrecht School of Law and was awarded a Senior Specialist Fulbright Fellowship for The Netherlands in 2008.
Professor Guiora has received grants from both the Stuart Family Foundation and the Earhart Foundation.

He served for 19 years in the Israel Defense Forces as Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), and held a number of senior command positions, including Commander of the IDF School of Military Law and Legal Advisor to the Gaza Strip. Professor Guiora was awarded the S.J. Quinney College of Law Faculty Scholarship Award, 2011.

Please welcome back to New Mexico: Amos Guiora.

Add these to Professor Guiora's qualifications: He is the only son of Holocaust survivors, and he is the father of Israeli children - one of whom has completed his initial service in Tzahal. More about him later.

What did Professor Guiora say about BDS? Quite a lot, Abq Jew and the approximately 100 attendees noted. Among his most important thoughts:
  • BDS is "under the radar" of US & Israeli governments.
  • BDS is an intelligent, many-pronged campaign to delegitimize Israel.
  • BDS views Israel - Palestine conflict as if nothing had changed since 1967;
    as ruler and ruled; as Israeli grab of Palestinian land.
  • BDS is a long-term strategy to isolate Israel and Israelis.
  • BDS is a violation of the UN Charter, international law, and free trade agreements.
And how can we counteract BDS? Professor Guiora offered these insights:
  • The US Jewish community is not as unified on Israel as it once was. BDS knows this and exploits this.
  • The anti-BDS forces don't have the slick marketing literature that BDS has.
  • Jewish students on campus - a primary BDS target - do not have the knowledge or rhetorical training to counteract BDS activists.
As for that last point - Professor Guiora mentioned the work of The David Project in Boston. You can learn more about The David Project here.
Sam Sokolove mentioned the anti-BDS work of the Israel Action Network (IAN), a strategic initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America, in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs to counter the assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

The IAN has published a number of FAQs and information sheets, including this One Sheet about IAN activities. And the IAN is also sponsoring the upcoming Israel Advocacy Mobilization in Albuquerque.


Israel Advocacy Mobilization
Albuquerque JCC
Saturday October 13 (Motzai Shabbat)
& Sunday October 14 (All Day)

The Mobilization will present strategic approaches on fighting assaults such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and innovative methods to change the conversation about Israel. The Mobilization will also help participants understand the processes needed to achieve and measure successes.

The Mobilization faculty will include IAN staff experts with extensive experience organizing and leading human rights campaigns, monitoring campus affairs and engaging multigenerational activists.

Space is limited to 30 participants. To register, contact JFNM Executive Director Sam Sokolove (505) 821-3214 or before Rosh HaShanah.


But back to Professor Guiora's son, who (as Abq Jew mentioned above) recently completed his initial service n the Israel Defense Forces.

For the year and a half before his son was inducted into Tzahal, Professor Guiora told his son that he wished for four things:
  1. That he serve under a commander who knows how to command and lead.
  2. That he serve with a group of fellow soldiers who form a true Band of Brothers.
  3. That during his service he become capable of taking care of himself.
  4. That during his service he never lose his moral compass.
Professor Guiora condensed these four points into a hand sign - four fingers - that he and his son shared.

In his talk, Professor Guiora emphasized that Israel faces a daily moral struggle - to balance human rights and national security - and that Israel typically chooses human rights over national security even when it hurts Israel or puts the lives of Israeli soldiers in jeopardy.

And he mentioned that his son flashed him their four-fingers  / four wishes sign as he boarded the bus on his way to Tzahal.

As with the Guiora family, so with all of Israel. Tzahal's moral compass still points to Israel as the Light Unto The Nations. May it ever be so!