Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In the Aftermath of Sandy

A Prayer by Rabbi Menachem CreditorRabbi Menachem Creditor offers the following prayer in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to New Jersey, New York, and the entire Eastern Seaboard.

A Prayer in the Aftermath of a Devastating Storm
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
in recognition of the holy work of the American Red Cross

Elohei haRuchot, God of the Winds,

Fixated as we are by incalculable losses in our families, our neighbors, human beings spanning national borders, we are pummeled into shock, barely even able to call out to You.

We are, as ever, called to share bread with the hungry, to take those who suffer into our homes, to clothe the naked, to not ignore our sisters and brothers. Many more of our brothers and sisters are hungry, homeless, cold, and vulnerable today than were just a few days ago, and we need Your Help.

We pray from the depths of our souls and we pray with the toil of our bodies for healing in the face of devastation. We join our voices in prayer to the prayers of others around the world and cry out for safety. We look to the sacred wells of human resilience and compassion and ask You for even more strength and hope.

God, open our hearts to generously support those determined to undo this chaos.

God, be with us as we utilize every network at our disposal to support each other. Be with First Responders engaged in the work of rescue as they cradle lives new and old, sheltering our souls and bodies from the storm. Be with us and be with them, God.

Be with those awaiting news from loved ones, reeling from fire, water and wind that have crippled cities, decimated villages, and taken lives. Be with all of us, God.
Be with us God, comfort us, and support us as we rebuild that which has been lost.

May all this be Your will.


Rabbi Menachem Creditor is the spiritual leader of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, California. He is founder of ShefaNetwork: The Masorti / Conservative Movement Dreaming From Within, chair of Bay Area Masorti, international cochair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall, and author of TheTisch, an electronic commentary on Jewish Spirituality.

Rabbi Creditor sits on the Executive Council of the Rabbinical Assembly and  is a member of the Chancellor's Rabbinic Leadership Team at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.  A popular speaker at synagogues, college campuses, and various Jewish communities around the country and in Israel on questions of Jewish Identity, Leadership, Inclusion, and Spirituality, Rabbi Creditor's writings have appeared in the Forward, Sh'ma, the Jewish Week, the Wall Street Journal, J. Weekly, the Jewish Advocate, the Boston Globe, Kolot: Voices of CJ,, Conservative Judaism, and in several Jewish anthologies.  He blogs at

Monday, October 29, 2012

Corrie Remembers

A Benefit for the NM Holocaust Museum: Sandager Presentations and the Holocaust and Tolerance Museum of New Mexico  are honored to present Corrie Remembers, a powerful one-woman dramatization by Susan Sandager, who portrays Corrie ten Boom, a Christian woman who hid Jews in her home during the Holocaust.

Corrie Remembers
a One-Woman Show based on the Life of Righteous Gentile Corrie ten Boom
Simms Center @ Albuquerque Academy
A Benefit for the Holocaust and Tolerance Museum of New Mexico 
Sunday November 11 @ 2:00 pm
$36 Online / $40 Door

Many have heard the story through Corrie's book, The Hiding Place, and the motion picture by the same name.

For two years during the Nazi occupation of Holland during World War II, the ten Boom family was part of the Dutch underground. Their home was a center for shelter, safety, and hope for hundreds of Jews until they were betrayed by a Dutch neighbor. When Corrie ten Boom was miraculously released from the Ravensbruck concentration camp, she began telling her story to anyone who would listen.

Susan Sandager dressed as Corrie retells this true story. She captures and conveys the essence of Corrie ten Boom's life and work, melting both Christian and Jewish hearts with this presentation about a family of faith, courage, and love.


Tickets:  Available from Brown Paper Tickets or at the door. A sumptuous dessert reception follows the performance.


This museum fundraiser will serve as a remembrance of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) which occurred throughout much of Nazi Germany in 1938 on the nights of November 9 and 10. Organized bands of Nazis torched synagogues and vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses. Close to 100 Jews were killed. In the aftermath, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Save The Last Dance

For Me: Last Sunday Abq Jew woke up late. "How late?" he hears you ask. Late enough to watch the Sunday Morning show on CBS. Abq Jew found one segment particularly interesting: Raoul Felder: Captain Divorce.

Aka "The Duke of Divorce," "The Dean of Divorce," "Dr Estranged Love," and a host of other names that Abq Jew cannot (well, chooses not to) print in this blog, Raoul Lionel Felder is, according to his website,
perhaps America's best known divorce and family lawyer representing in a legal trajectory of more than forty years representing both ordinary citizens and celebrities in over a thousand cases.
Felder's blog states:
Known as “The Lion King of Splitsville” and “Dr Estranged Love,” famed celebrity divorce attorney Raoul Felder, is well known for employing unorthodox techniques — he once kept a piranha in his office to feed during tense negotiations. He’s used to getting what he wants, but always stays within ethical boundaries.
Not everyone may like Felder’s indomitable, go-for-broke style, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to his long list of satisfied clients ...
Felder has practiced divorce law for more than forty years. During that time he’s earned fame and fortune representing such clients as Rudy Guiliani, Robin Givens, Carol Channing, Riddick Bowe, the former Mrs Carl Sagan, the former Mrs Martin Scorsese, and countless other high profile and celebrity clients.
As a fierce proponent of Israel, he was a Recipient of Defender of Jerusalem Award from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in 1990.
But all this is background. What Abq Jew found most fascinating was not Raoul Felder's fairly well-known story, but the lesser-known story of his brother, Jerome Solon Felder.

Who the world remembers as Doc Pomus. Wikipedia tells us:
Born Jerome Solon Felder in 1925 in Brooklyn, New York, his parents were Jewish immigrants. Felder became a fan of the blues after hearing a Big Joe Turner record. Having had polio as a boy, he used crutches to walk. Later, due to post-polio syndrome, exacerbated by an accident, Felder eventually relied on a wheelchair.
Using the stage name "Doc Pomus," Felder began performing as a teenager, becoming a blues singer; his stage name wasn't inspired by anyone in particular, he just thought it sounded better for a blues singer than the name Jerry Felder did. Pomus stated that more often as not, he was the only Caucasian in the clubs, but that as both a Jew and a polio victim, he felt a special "underdog" kinship with African-Americans, while in turn the audiences both respected his courage and were impressed with his talent.
Doc Pomus was a songwriter. Collaborating with pianist Mort Shuman, Felder wrote many of the hits of the era: "A Teenager in Love,", "Hushabye," "This Magic Moment," and "Can't Get Used to Losing You" among them.

But the song Doc Pomus is most remembered for is "Save the Last Dance for Me." Wikipedia tells the story behind the song:
In the song, the narrator tells his lover she is free to mingle and socialize throughout the evening, but to make sure to save him the dance at the end of the night. During an interview on Elvis Costello's show Spectacle, Lou Reed, who worked with Pomus, said the song was written on the day of Pomus' wedding while the wheelchair-bound groom watched his bride dancing with their guests. Pomus had polio and at times used crutches to get around. His wife, Willi Burke, however, was a Broadway actress and dancer. The song gives his perspective of telling his wife to have fun dancing, but reminds her who will be taking her home and "in whose arms you're gonna be."
 Dedicated to Perri Yellin the Artist, aka Mrs Abq Jew

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Don Barrett Speaks on Homelessness

Right Here in Abq:  Don Barrett, author of A Day Without a Yesterday, will speak about his personal experiences with homelessness.

Don Barrett
Speaks on Homelessness
Congregation Albert
Sunday October 28
10:00 - 11:30 am

Advance registration not required

After a successful career in Hollywood working on Academy and Emmy Award winning productions and with such greats as Dick Clark, James Earl Jones and Henry Fonda, Barrett found himself homeless on the streets of Albuquerque.

This Sunday, Mr. Barrett will discuss his time on the streets and his eventual rise to author, Board Member of the Metropolitan Homelessness Project and election to the Mayor's Permanent Committee on Albuquerque Heading Home.

For more information, email, call (505) 883-0306, or visit

In the video below, Mayor Richard Berry joins Nikki Stanzione of KASA's New Mexico Style to talk about the chronically homeless and the community effort to provide shelter with the Albuquerque Heading Home initiative.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Anouk Markovits: JCC BookFest Author

I Am Forbidden: The closing event in the New Mexico Jewish community’s 2012 celebration of the written word.

Anouk Markovitz
Rare Look at a Closed Hasidic Community
through the Eyes of a Former Insider

Sunday October 28 @ 10:30 am @ Albuquerque JCC

Book Lover's Bagel Breakfast$10 Prepaid  /  $15 Door

The Satmar community is reclusive, insulated by design and fiercely loyal to their Rebbe. They shun interaction with any outsiders, but the secrets and sins of those within become an onerous burden that can't be contained within self-imposed walls. Anouk Markovits is a masterful story teller who brings the reader into the heart of this religious community, shedding light on their motivations, their fears, and their profound trust in the wisdom of one man.

You can learn more about Anouk Markovitz at her website. Susannah Meadows' review of "I Am Forbidden," Sisters Joined by Tumult, Grown Apart in Time, in The New York Times, begins:
Anouk Markovits was raised a Hasidic Jew in France, but at 19 she fled her community to avoid an arranged marriage. She went on to get a master's degree in architecture and a Ph.D. in romance studies. "I Am Forbidden," her first novel in English, centers on two Hasidic sisters: one who leaves, and one who stays, shunning modernity. Given the author's background, you might assume that this is a story about how one of them is wrecked by her choice.

But the wonder of this elegant, enthralling novel is the beauty Ms. Markovits unearths in the Hasidic community she takes us into. She remains largely nonjudgmental about the most difficult-to-grasp practices of the Satmar sect, while showing how even the most fervent believers struggle with the letter-of-the-law faith.
Click here to continue reading Sisters Joined by Tumult, Grown Apart in Time.And here is a recent Shalom TV video of authors Joshua Henkin ("The World Without You") and Anouk Markovitz discussing their novels:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Karen Bergreen: JCC BookFest Author

Perfect is Overrated: The comedy event in the New Mexico Jewish community’s 2012 celebration of the written word.

Comedy Night!
Enjoy Wickedly Funny Stand-up Comedian and Novelist
Karen Bergreen
Thursday October 25 @ 7:00 pm @ Albuquerque JCC

$10 Prepaid  /  $15 Door

Kate Alger has finally found the cure for her post-partum depression. After years of suffering, all it takes to bring this mommy back to life are a few gruesome homicides! When someone starts offing the alpha-moms from Kate's daughter's preschool, Kate — who worked as an Assistant District Attorney before she had Molly — realizes it's time to get out of bed, dust off the skills and find out who is killing all the mommies she loves to hate.

You can learn more about Karen Bergreen at her website. And / Or - you can watch her on YouTube right here.


Monday, October 22, 2012

A New Milestone: 50K+150

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  On October 22, 2012, at 2:18 pm New Mexico (Mountain) Time, this Abq Jew Blog achieved 50,000+150 All Time Page Views.

We achieved 42,000+42 All Time Page Views on September 6 - just over six weeks ago.
That's about 175 Page Views per Day.

Thank you!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Felix Baumgartner

And the Sewers of Tel Aviv:  After a long week with five actual workdays in it - unlike any in recent memory - Abq Jew is sure of one thing: We all need a good Shabbos rest.

Especially Felix Bauumgartner, who certainly started this week on a high, but who's really come down to earth since then.

Abq Jew knows you're asking: Is Felix Jewish? Is he married? Is his jump Good For The Jews?

And Abq Jew has the answers: Don't know. Don't know. knows.

Aish's Sara Debbie Gutfreund writes:
On October 14, 2012 Felix Baumgartner rose in a helium balloon to an altitude of 128,100 feet, and in a highly specialized space suit broke the world record by jumping and reaching a maximum speed of 833.9 miles per hour, or Mach 1.24.

"Trust me,” Felix said after the jump, “when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble. It's not about breaking records anymore. It’s not about getting scientific data. It's all about coming home."
From this, Ms Gutfreund learns:
Focus on the goal. Keep training. Jump even when your visors are all fogged up. Pray for strength. Pray for courage. And pray for Him to bring you home.
There is much more to the article, which Abq Jew encourages you to read here. And there's even a video of Felix's jump! Just watching the video made Abq Jew queasy.

So - back to the sewers of Tel Aviv and this video. Abq Jew doesn't remember where he found this - but it's just amazing what you'll find when you're not really looking!

People rave about the sewers of Rome, Paris, London. Who could imagine that Tel Aviv would one day rival them all? OK ... we're talking about sewer covers here. As diverse and colorful as the land and people of Israel. Enjoy!


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Celebrating Navajo Culture & Judaism

Making Connections to Judaism:  Congregation B'nai Israel invites the community to the sixth and final lecture in its current Making Connections to Judaism Speakers' Series.  Evening lectures (7:00 - 8:00 pm), each preceded (6:30 pm) by a lite dinner.

Shawn Price
Congregation B'nai Israel 
Tuesday May 22
$8 CBI Members     $10 Community

If you've been around Albuquerque for a while, you've probably run across the one and only Shawn Price.

Paul Logan wrote about Shawn in Navajo Man Says Judaism Enhances Indian Beliefs, an article that appeared in the Albuquerque Journal in 2004:
Shawn Price plays a trumpet in the Navajo Nation Band and blows a shofar at Congregation B'nai Israel.

Price is an American Indian on a different spiritual path: He is a Navajo who is Jewish.

A convert to Judaism in 1998, Price says there are no simple answers as to why he became a Jew. He says his "connection to Judaism is the tribalness to it."
And JTA's Ben Harris wrote about Shawn in 2010 in his blog, The Wandering Jew:
I've met my share of people with interesting stories of Jewish awakening, but this may well be the most improbable. Price was raised in Arizona to Navajo parents who had embraced Pentecostalism, the religion of Sarah Palin. Pentecostals love Israel, and Price heard a lot about this country as a kid. A minister returning from a mission to Israel gave him a photo of men praying at the Western Wall that became a prized possession.

Abq Jew also notes that the Congregation B'nai Israel  Judaica Gift Shop carries - exclusively, to the best of his knowledge - handmade Shawn Price tallitot, of one of which Abq Jew is the proud owner & wearer.

Not available on Rodeo Drive!



And speaking of Congregation B'nai Israel - there's a free concert this Sunday!

Devan Sipher: JCC BookFest Author

The Wedding Beat: The second event in the New Mexico Jewish community’s 2012 celebration of the written word.

Devan Sipher
Former NYT "Vows" Columnist
Shares the Antics of Wedding Couples
Wednesday October 24 @ 11:30 am @ Albuquerque JCC
$25 Prepaid  /  Reservations Required

Devan Sipher is a journalist who lived and breathed everything wedding for five years as writer of The New York Times "Vows" column. Funny, engaging and wonderfully entertaining, Sipher's novel takes an ever so slightly irreverent look at a very serious subject from the male point of view. We follow the main character, Gavin Greene, on his quest to find the girl of his dreams while writing about the romantic dreams of others.

You can learn more about Devan Sipher at his website. Or - here's a video!


Info & Registration: Reservations may be made and books may be purchased online at, at the Abq JCC, or by calling (505) 348-4518.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Eric Greitens: JCC BookFest Author

The Heart and the Fist: The keynote event in the New Mexico Jewish community’s 2012 celebration of the written word.

Eric Greitens
Education of a Humanitarian:
The Making of a Navy SEAL
Sunday October 21 @ 1:00 pm @ Congregation Albert
$10 Prepaid  /  $15 Door / $5 Students

When he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, Eric Greitens felt he had an obligation to be part of a military capable of preventing genocide, and that he had an obligation to help restore lives, livelihoods and purpose to those who had been mangled by the machinery of war. The NavySEALS was his "fist" and The Mission Continues, a non-profit he started to challenge returning vets to serve and lead, is his "heart." As a person who has "walked the walk," his message is particularly meaningful for young people. 

You can learn more about Eric Greitens at his website. But wait - Eric Greitens was a recent guest on The Colbert Report! You can watch that interview here.

Info & Registration: Reservations may be made and books may be purchased online at, at the Abq JCC, or by calling (505) 348-4518.

Monday, October 15, 2012

NMJHS 2012 Fall Conference in Santa Fe

New Mexico Jewish Historical Society ConferenceThe 2012 Fall Conference of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society celebrates the centennial of statehood with its program Statehood: New Mexico Jewry Before and After 1912.

The Conference will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Santa Fe on Sunday November 4.

Statehood: New Mexico Jewry
Before and After 1912

Official Event of the New Mexico Centennial 

 Doubletree Hotel Santa Fe
4048 Cerrillos Road

Sunday November 4
9:00 am - 9:00 pm

The focus of the Conference will be on the role of Jewish families in the development of the State of New Mexico with special attention to the last 100 years. The Conference celebrates New Mexico and Jewish involvement in the state.

An exhibition of photographs will be displayed of early Jewish life in New Mexico, and Professor Noel Pugach of UNM will give a talk about that exhibition.

The program will start at 9:15 am with the keynote address by Professor Richard Melzer of the University of New Mexico. He is also President of the Historical Society of New Mexico, and has written extensively on New Mexico history. His talk is Herding Millions of Sheep: Solomon Luna and the Writing of the New Mexico Constitution, 1910. 

Other talks of interest will be by Sue Warburg on Jewish immigrants on the New Mexico frontier in the mid-1800’s, and Ramona Caplan on Nathan and Artie Bibo and their crossing cultural and racial barriers. 

Professor Henry Tobias of UNM will talk about the early life of Dr Randolph Seligman, one of the most respected medical doctors in New Mexico. Diane Schaller will talk about the Maisel family’s involvement in the Native American art and craft movement in the state.

In addition to the program, a breakfast buffet, lunch, and post-conference reception will give opportunities to meet others interested in Jewish history. Books on related themes will be available for sale. 

A two mile walking tour of Jewish Santa Fe will be held Saturday afternoon, starting at the central Plaza of Santa Fe. This and more information about the Conference is available on the website:

Conference Registration

Download a Registration Form from the website; or
call the NMJHS at (505) 348-4471; or 
email the NMJHS at

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah

Synagogue Without Walls: The first event in Congregation B'nai Israel 's exciting new Synagogue Without Walls series - to be led by Rabbi Stephen Landau of Kavod NM - will take place on Monday October 22 @ 7:00 pm at a private home in Rio Rancho.

Synagogue Without Walls
Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah
Monday October 22 @ 7:00 pm
Rio Rancho (505) 771-0325

This first event will be devoted to Singer / Songwriter Leonard Cohen's Lyrics as Biblical Poetry. Mr Cohen is most famous (in recent years) for his song "Hallelujah" (which you can listen to and view here) - but he's been singing and songwriting for many years.

Click here for the lyrics to "Hallelujah."  Click here for some facts about the song.

This event is free (donation requested) and open to the entire community.
 Please call (505) 771-0325 for location, registration, and further information.

Wikipedia (who knows all) tells us:
Leonard Norman Cohen ... was born on 21 September 1934 in Westmount, an English-speaking area of Montreal, Quebec, into a middle-class Jewish family. His mother, Marsha (Masha) Klonitsky, was the daughter of a Talmudic writer, Rabbi Solomon Klonitsky-Kline of Lithuanian Jewish ancestry. His paternal grandfather, whose family had emigrated from Poland, was Lyon Cohen, founding president of the Canadian Jewish Congress. His father, Nathan Cohen, who owned a substantial clothing store, died when Cohen was nine years old. On the topic of being a Kohen, Cohen has said that, "I had a very Messianic childhood." He told Richard Goldstein in 1967, "I was told I was a descendant of Aaron, the high priest."
And about religious affairs, Wikipedia tells us:
Cohen is described as an observant Jew in an article in The New York Times:
Mr. Cohen keeps the Sabbath even while on tour and performed for Israeli troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. So how does he square that faith with his continued practice of Zen? "Allen Ginsberg asked me the same question many years ago," he said. "Well, for one thing, in the tradition of Zen that I've practiced, there is no prayerful worship and there is no affirmation of a deity. So theologically there is no challenge to any Jewish belief."
Cohen has been involved with Buddhism since the 1970s and was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1996; however he is still religiously Jewish: "I'm not looking for a new religion. I'm quite happy with the old one, with Judaism."
In his concert in Ramat Gan, Israel, on 24 September 2009, Cohen spoke Jewish prayers and blessings to the audience in Hebrew. He opened the show with the first sentence of Ma Tovu. At the middle he used Baruch Hashem, and he ended the concert reciting the blessing of Birkat Cohanim.

The second event in the series - also to be led by Rabbi Landau - will take place on Thursday November 1 @ 7:00 pm at the Flying Star Cafe in Nob Hill.

This second event will also be devoted to Leonard Cohen, this time featuring his song "Who By Fire."  Please call Rabbi Landau (860) 690-7374 for registration and further information.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Alex Karras, NFL Lineman and Actor, Dies at 77

Known To Us As Mongo:  Alex Karras, the rugged lineman who anchored the Detroit Lions' defense in the 1960s, then went on to an acting career in which he starred in the sitcom "Webster" and famously punched a horse in the 1974 comedy "Blazing Saddles," died Wednesday. He was 77.

The New York Times reports:

Karras, who had recently suffered kidney failure, died at home in Los Angeles surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney.

Diagnosed with dementia, Karras in April joined the more than 3,500 former NFL players suing the league for not protecting them better from head injuries, immediately becoming one of the best-known names in the legal fight.
Karras played his entire NFL career with the Lions before retiring in 1970 at age 35. He was a first-team All-Pro in 1960, 1961 and 1965, and he made the Pro Bowl four times ... Karras was recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a defensive tackle on the All-Decade Team of the 1960s.
Playing a not-so-bright bruiser in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles," he not only slugged a horse but also delivered the classic line: "Mongo only pawn in game of life." 
Why does Abq Jew bring this up? Because "Blazing Saddles" was a very Jewish movie.

Abq Jew remembers going to the 950-seat, then-newish Century 21 Theatre in San Jose, California (right next to the Winchester Mystery House) with his parents, of blessed memory. Every seat in the place was taken.

When Mel Brooks (the Yiddish-speaking Indian Chief) shouted "Loz im geyn!" - the three of us were ROFL. The other 947 in the audience - nothing. We were the only ones there who got it. Oy ... that was a long time ago.

Here are a few memories of Mongo. Caution: Salty language!

May the memory of Alex Karras be for a blessing.


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Obama's 613 Rabbis

And One For Sabeel:  In case you hadn't heard, President Obama's campaign last month released a list of 613 Rabbis For Obama. Max Slutsky, the campaign's Jewish Outreach Coordinator, wrote:
This group of over 613 rabbis - more than double the number when Rabbis for Obama launched in 2008 – from across the country and across all Jewish denominations recognize that the President has been and will continue to be an advocate and ally on issues important to the American Jewish community.
Not to be outdone, the Republican Jewish Coalition responded with its own ad:

In announcing the ad (RJC Runs Ads Critical of Radical Rabbi), the RJC states:
Lynn Gottlieb, a rabbi in the Jewish Renewal movement, was among 600 people touted by the Obama campaign as “Rabbis for Obama.” That list includes eight members of the left-wing fringe group Jewish Voice for Peace, which the Anti-Defamation League has named one of the “top ten anti-Israel groups.” Lynn Gottlieb sits on the board of that group. She was also the first U.S. rabbi to travel to Tehran since the Iranian revolution and has dined with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Abq Jew considers the RJC's focus on one radical rabbi a cheap shot; his support for Barack Obama and the Democratic ticket remains steady. But let's talk.

As it turns out, Abq Jew and Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb are connected - we both were seeking rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary at the same time, that time being the late 1970s. That was way before Amy Eilberg became the first woman ordained by JTS on May 12, 1985.

Back then, Rabbi Gottlieb was primarily known for her work with the Jewish deaf - helping to bring that community into the Jewish mainstream. After obtaining private ordination (not as uncommon as it sounds), she moved to New Mexico. Rabbi Gottlieb became the founding rabbi (later emeritus) of Congregation Nahalat Shalom.

And it was at Nahalat Shalom - an open, warm, and welcoming congregation - that Abq Jew first encountered Sabeel. That was in June, when Abq Jew attended Mati Milstein's book signing and lecture, prior to Mr Milstein's photography exhibit in Santa Fe.

Abq Jew does not (he doesn't think) shock easily. But the ... slickness ... of Sabeel's anti-Israel marketing literature caught him off guard. Even more shocking was the fact that this propaganda - for that is what it was - was made available in a synagogue.

Who or what is Sabeel? Abq Jew hears you ask. According to Sabeel's website:
Sabeel is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land, who seek a just peace based on two states - Palestine and Israel - as defined by international law and existing United Nations resolutions.
Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? In an emailed announcement of Sabeel's Conference on Justice, Peace, and Human Rights in Palestine & Israel - held in September, right here in  Albuquerque - Nahalat Shalom stated:
The event will feature internationally known activists, intellectuals, and spiritual leaders from around the world. Speakers will include: Rev. Naim Ateek, Palestinian founder of Sabeel. Sabeel is a grassroots, international, ecumenical peace movement founded by Christian Palestinians in Jerusalem.  Their vision is to create a just peace based on spiritual, moral and legal principles, including international law.  Among the Jewish speakers are Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions; Miko Peled, author of "The General's Son" whose father was a general in the 1967 Six Day War; Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Nahalat Shalom; and Mark Braverman.
A recent article in the Albuquerque Journal (Sabeel Meeting Draws Jewish Opposition) pointed out the anti-Israel tone of Sabeel's message - and why many leaders of the New Mexico Jewish community take issue with Sabeel's approach:
“The Sabeel movement is deeply offensive to the mainstream Jewish community because it undermines the right of the Jewish state to exist,” said Sam Sokolove, executive director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.
Janice Hart, a conference organizer, said the actions of Sokolove and others are an attempt to undermine the conference by pressuring church leaders to withdraw their support.
Jewish leaders “are expressing their viewpoint, and we want to express ours without this kind of harassment,” Hart said.
Friends of Sabeel calls for the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and says Palestinians should be allowed to form a sovereign state, according to the group’s website. Sabeel also calls for divestment in Israel, the website says.
Sokolove said he and others met with the New Mexico Council of Churches earlier this year and convinced the ecumenical group to withdraw its support for the conference. They have also tried unsuccessfully to convince a Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. Richard Alona, to withdraw his support, Sokolove said. Alona could not be reached for comment.
Friends of Sabeel North America [FOSNA} is the U.S. and Canadian chapter of Sabeel, a Jerusalem-based group formed by Palestinian Christians. The group [had] scheduled an international conference ... at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque.
Organizers last year contracted with Cathedral Church of St. John to hold the conference at the Episcopal church in Albuquerque. But St. John leaders decided in February to cancel the contract and refund a $1,000 payment after meeting with Rabbi Arthur Flicker, who leads Congregation B’nai Israel of Albuquerque.
The Rev. Mark Goodman, dean of the Cathedral of St. John, said he and other church leaders decided to cancel after the brief meeting with Flicker.
 “He was very calm, very cool, no heated rhetoric,” Goodman said. Afterward, St. John leaders decided they “felt increasingly uncomfortable with what they perceived to be a very one-sided approach of Sabeel,” Goodman said.
Flicker said this week that, during the meeting, he urged St. John leaders to read an online document, Kairos Palestine, which he said contains “hateful language” about Israel.
An even more recent guest column in the Albuquerque Journal (FOSNA Philosophy Just Anti-Semitism) - co-authored by Mr Sokolove and by Todd Goldblum of the Israel Action Network - raises the question: Are the political positions endorsed by Friends of Sabeel North America no more than anti-Semitism?
As the Sept. 15 Albuquerque Journal article detailed, Friends of Sabeel in North America will be holding a “Justice & Peace in Palestine and Israel” conference in Albuquerque later this month. What the article failed to convey, however, is that while Sabeel hides behind a language of peace and reconciliation, FOSNA – listed by the Anti-Defamation League as one of “The Top Ten Anti-Israel Groups in America” – actively promotes a rejection of Israel as a Jewish state.

An integral part of the global anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement, Sabeel promotes the idea that Zionism is based on a false reading of the Bible and that it stands for injustice and in opposition to God.

In addition, Sabeel often compares the Palestinians to the crucified Jesus, and Israel to his murderers, alluding to the ugly deicide charge against all the Jewish people. Examples include referring to Israeli actions with deicide language such as “The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily” or “Israel has placed a large boulder, similar to the stone placed on the entrance of Jesus’ tomb. This boulder has shut in the Palestinians.”

Amy-Jill Levine, a professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, has called such Sabeel statements “recycled anti-Judaism that depicts Israel as a country of Christ killers.”

Sabeel conferences are notorious for featuring speakers who vilify Israel and routinely lift the voices of anti-Zionist Jews as a means to disingenuously suggest that they bring Christians, Jews and Muslims to the table. They continually reject almost all mainstream Jewish voices, including progressive or dovish Zionists.

When the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and Jewish clergy first became aware of the FOSNA conference last summer, we also learned that friends in the interfaith community had been approached to serve as conference sponsors. Given the positive history of interfaith relations between Christians and Jews in Albuquerque, it was our responsibility to offer a mainstream Jewish perspective on this conference.

As a result, it was heartening to garner the support of friends like the New Mexico Conference of Churches and Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. John who distanced themselves from FOSNA in demonstration of sensitivity to Jewish community concerns and civic discourse.

Characterizing these conversations as “bullying” and “harassment” is profoundly incorrect, but an expected part of the BDS campaign. We are confident that other church representatives who have lent their endorsement to the Sabeel conference will come to recognize the one-sided, inflammatory and destructive nature of the movement.

To be sure, the Jewish community of New Mexico is in no way monolithic, and many of us often vocally criticize the policies of Israel’s government. However, the overwhelming majority of Jews in New Mexico and around the globe recognize Israel as a miraculous return of our homeland after a 3,500-year exile, and a vibrant, if young and imperfect, democracy for people of all religions within a region surrounded by intolerance and brutal dictatorships that conspicuously escape Sabeel and BDS scorn.

The conflict in the Middle East is about finding a peaceful path to establish two states for two peoples, not about preventing a group from exercising its right to self-determination.

There are appropriate and meaningful forums for interfaith discussion on all issues pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that engender dialogue and increased understanding. Sadly, Sabeel’s commitment is not to promoting this goodwill, but instead to spreading vicious propaganda to assault Israel’s legitimacy.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field
which the LORD God had made. - Genesis 3:1

There is one word that can do justice to Sabeel's philosophy, positions, and practices:

difficult to perceive or understand; cunningly made;
operating insidiously - awaiting a chance to entrap

Sabeel's propaganda is very well written, and can lead even those with good hearts to question their long-held beliefs, attitudes, and opinions. Indeed, that is Sabeel's goal - and Sabeel is very good at it.

Abq Jew believes that the policies, positions, and practices of the State of Israel are open to and subject to criticism. And he will continue to publish views with which he does not necessarily agree.  

Abq Jew's stand is: Abq Jew will publish information and viewpoints that are (or should be) of interest to or important to the Jewish community of Albuquerque and beyond.

But Abq Jew has limits - and he firmly believes that Sabeel has gone far beyond them. Abq Jew strongly believes that Sabeel's basic worldview is wrong, evil, and dangerous.

Abq Jew therefore stands with Mr Sokolove, Mr Goldblum, and Rabbi Flicker.

Abq Jew stands against Sabeel and for Israel.

Albuquerque JCC BookFest 2012

Book Lovers Rejoice!:  It's October, and time once again for the New Mexico Jewish community’s annual celebration of the written word.

2012 JCC Book Fest & Author Series
Sunday October 21 through Sunday October 28

For all you book lovers – the 2012 JCC BookFest & Author Series begins Sunday October 21 and runs for a full week, ending Sunday October 28.

The JCC BookFest & Author Series is in its fifth year of bringing to the Albuquerque community Jewish authors of high quality and importance.

Reservations may be made
and books may be purchased
online at
in person at the Abq JCC
or by calling (505) 348-4518

Sunday, October 7, 2012

G-dcast On Parshat Vezot Habracha

It's The End ... Only Not: It's Simchat Torah! Tune in for the final parsha (portion) in the Torah ... in which some things are resolved, and some things are opened anew.

Guest narrator superstar youth writer David Levithan talks about having an ending worthy of a life...and a life worthy of a story.

This is not the last episode of G-dcast ... tune in next week to see how everything starts, again.

Each week, a different G-dcast storyteller - some musical, some poetic, some just straight-up - tells the story of the current Torah portion. And then G-dcast animates.

G-dcast is one of Abq Jew's favorite educational resources. Click here to donate and keep their good work coming!


Hag Sameach, Albuquerque!
Good Yontif, New Mexico!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sophie Milman

Jews & Jazz: There is a strong connection, in the United States (of course) - but also, Abq Jew is happy to say, in Israel. And ... Canada!

Sophie Milman, Wikipedia tells us:
is a Russian-born jazz vocalist who lives in Canada. After emigrating from Russia in the early 1990s, Milman, who is Jewish, spent most of her childhood years in Israel where she listened extensively to jazz.
Her self-titled debut album was released on October 12, 2004, in Canada via Linus Entertainment and in 2006 in the United States on Koch.

Milman is a student of commerce at the University of Toronto.
And there's Gergedan, about whom Abq Jew knows virtually nothing. Back in June and February, Abq Jew wrote:
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.
Do you know Gergedan?  Inquiring minds (and minds like Abq Jew's) want to know! In the meantime, visit GergedanFilKedi's YouTube channel
Anyway - here, for your Shabbat enjoyment, is Sophie Milman, in a video by Gergedan:

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rabbi Min on Pe'ah

Dignified Helping The Poor - Basic Jewish Value #6:  The mission statement of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico reads: “Guided by Jewish values, we offer targeted social services that help preserve and improve the quality of life for New Mexicans.” What are these Jewish values? How do they help guide the day-to-day work that we do at JFS? When new employees join the staff of JFS, they are introduced to eighteen of these basic Jewish values.

The sixth Jewish value that underlies JFS' work is called Pe'ah, which we describe as "Dignified helping the poor." The word Pe'ah literally means 'corner' - so how is this related to the concept of helping poor people while respecting their dignity? How does this relate to the work of JFS?

The Torah requires farmers to leave the corners of their fields unharvested, left to be picked by "the poor and the stranger" ( Leviticus 19:9-11). Fruits from the trees and grapes from the vines were treated similarly. The crops at the corners were of equal quality as the rest of the crops: the poor were not given bruised fruit or spoiled wheat. Since leaving a portion of one's produce for the poor was required, society did not have to depend on the inconsistent generosity of the well-to-do in order to provide welfare for those who lacked basic necessities. Dignity of the needy was preserved, since people could come at any time of day or night to glean the corners of the fields.

At JFS we protect the dignity of those we serve, while providing for their needs, in a number of ways. We stringently follow guidelines for protecting the identity of our clients, following strict guidelines for keeping client files locked and accessible only to staff with a 'need to know' - sharing information among staff only to the extent necessary to help the client. We do publicize the names of our donors, since knowing that other people are giving is crucial in order to maintain widespread support for any system of support. Thank you!