Friday, November 30, 2012

O Chanukah, Pre-Chanukah

Getting Ready for Chanukah 2012:  Lots of things happening right here in Albuquerque over the next couple weeks. Some pre-Chanukah, some post-Chanukah, some just plain old Chanukah. BTW - we light the first candle on Saturday night, December 8.

Starting this weekend:

And next weekend:

KUNM Radio Theatre presents
Ellen Kushner's Klezmer Nutcracker

The Golden Dreydl
KUNM 89.9 FM
Sunday December 9
6:00 pm

In January, the Mama Doni Band will be performing at Congregation Albert. Abq Jew will tell you much, much more about Mama Doni ... later. But for now - enjoy! It's (almost) Shabbos!

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Chappy Pre-Chanukah, Everyone!

Thinking about Chanukah 2013 already?
The First Day of Chanukah 2013 is
Thursday November 27 ... 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

5 Years, 65 Years, 19 Years

Remembering My Father:  On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for Palestine to be partitioned between Arabs and Jews.

That was 65 years ago, before Abq Jew was born. Yet he remembers that day as if it were yesterday.

Here is a map of the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

Wikipedia tells us:
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a plan for the future government of Palestine. The Plan was described as a Plan of Partition with Economic Union which, after the termination of the British Mandate, would lead to the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the adoption and implementation of the Plan as Resolution 181(II).
A lot of things have changed since then. But just as important - a lot of things changed before then.

Let's start with the map itself. Do you notice anything missing?

Most people who were born after 1922 don't.

So let's look at this map to the right, which shows the area of the original British Mandate.

What's missing in the 1949 map above is the entire area of Palestine that lies east of the Jordan River.

What happened to all that land? Abq Jew hears you ask. Well ....

The British government decided to remove 78% of the area of the Palestine Mandate from the jurisdiction of that Mandate.

As the map to the left shows, the British created a separate Arab entity there, called Transjordan. They then gave that land to Emir (later, King) Abdullah.

How could the British do that, Abq Jew hears you ask. Well ....

Let's look at the document that (in a sense) started it all - the Balfour Declaration. Wikipedia tells us:
The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
The "Balfour Declaration" was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with Turkey and the Mandate for Palestine. The original document is kept at the British Library.
1. As you can easily see, the Balfour Declaration supports a national home for the Jewish people in "Palestine." And when the Balfour Declaration was written, "Palestine" meant all of Palestine - both west and east of the Jordan River.

2. As you can also easily see, the Balfour Declaration supports a national home for the Jewish people "in Palestine." And "in Palestine" meant exactly that, and was never intended to imply all of Palestine.

The British, for their own reasons, went with the second interpretation. There are others, of course (followers of Vladimir Jabotinsky, for example), who still hold with the first interpretation.

In any event, everyone (perhaps) recalls what happened right after the UN vote on November 29, 1947. Wikipedia (and The New York Times) reminds us:
The Plan was accepted by the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine, through the Jewish Agency. The Plan was rejected by leaders of the Arab community, including the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, who were supported in their rejection by the states of the Arab League. The Arab leadership (in and out of Palestine) opposed partition and claimed all of Palestine.
The rest, as they say, is history. Go and learn!


My father, Richard W Yellin, of blessed memory, certainly chose an already memorable day on which to pass on  to the World to Come. Abq Jew has written on his father's yahrzeit - last year (Boogie Woogie), and the year before (My Father's Yahrzeit).

This time around, five years after his father's passing, it's the civil date (yahrzeit is still four days away) that Abq Jew recalls. November 29 also turns out to be the day in 2001 that George Harrison died, at age 58, following a battle with cancer.

But let's return to the Land of the Living. And let's start with Jane Ellen, whom Abq Jew has wanted to meet since he discovered that she teaches music at OASIS Albuquerque.

Who is Jane Ellen? Her website states:

I continue to work as a composer and arranger in addition to lecturing for the Albuquerque campuses of OASIS and the Osher Lifelong Learning Foundation. 2011 marked my 25th anniversary as a published composer; in September I received my 22nd consecutive ASCAPlus Award for 2012. I am working on several commissions scheduled to premiere in 2012, as well as writing incidental music for an intergenerational play entitled The Mystery of the Cold, Wet Nose. Throughout the year I arranged several pieces for cabaret performances by tenor Jay Hill. I was the music director/arranger for the KUNM Radio Theatre production Christmas Eve at the Mermaid, broadcast Dec. 2010. 

Why has Abq Jew wanted to meet Jane Ellen, Abq Jew hears you ask. The answer: to pronounce the Abq Jewish equivalent of "Madam, I'm Adam."

Jane Ellen's class today is The Wit and Wisdom of Tom Lehrer. The OASIS Albuquerque course catalog tells us:
Singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer (1928- ) gained a national following in the 1950s and 60s as a piano-playing political satirist, poking fun at politicians, academia, Cold War paranoia, organized religion, and anything else that tickled his fancy. In odd non-musical moments he found time to teach at MIT, work as a researcher in Los Alamos, NM, and he supposedly invented the "jello shot." His musical career was brief but influential and his songs continue to be quoted today.
Well, it's getting close to Christmas, also known as Xmas, but in politically correct circles referred to as "The Holidays." Along with Chanukah, Hannukkah, Khanikeh, and Kwanzaa.

Anyway, Abq Jew's father (and mother, also of blessed memory) loved Tom Lehrer. 65 years, 5 years, and soon (for Mom) 19 years. Abq Jew remembers, with Tom Lehrer's A Christmas Carol.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Doing The Wright's Thing

Wright's Indian Art Has Moved: Since 1907, Wright's Indian Art has offered native American Indian jewelry, pottery, kachinas, fetishes, sculpture, Navajo and Zapotec rugs, Navajo folk art, masks, hot blown glass - and everything else individual Indian artists create. Their new address is:

Wright's Indian Art
2677 Louisiana Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
Temporary phone number (505) 503-6418

Wright's has been a favorite of Mr & Mrs Abq Jew since we can't remember when. And Abq Jew profoundly thanks Wright's for being among the first of his advertisers.

Why do we like Wright's? Because Wright's owners Wayne & Tania Bobrick are honest and fair, knowledgeable and authentic.

Their merchandise is handmade, of stones and metals. They have been buying from many families of artists for three generations. And Wright's prides themselves on their knowledge, integrity, and service. They choose each piece as if they were keeping it themselves, and their standards are rigorous.

BTW - Wright's Indian Art is open for business in their new location. And they're offering a 20% discount on everything - just in time for your holiday shopping.

Wright's owners Wayne & Tania Bobrick (& Staff) recently appeared on KASA's New Mexico Style, joining host Nikki Stanzione to share details about the new location and history of the Gallery, which has held the best of the classic Native American crafts for over 100 years.

Click here to learn more about Wright's Indian Art - from this summer's visit to New Mexico Style.

Here is your map to the new Wright's location:

In accordance with Navajo tradition, Wright's doors face east -
to welcome the rising sun for good wealth and fortune.
Please come visit!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Passing Through Casablanca

Vanessa Paloma:  You do remember Vanessa Paloma, don't you? Abq Jew mentioned her just a few days ago in A Hidden Light, about the award-winning Gaon Books:
Ron Duncan Hart and Gloria Abella Ballen - aka Gaon Books - are companions in the road of life. Ron writes, and Gloria is the visual artist. Their daughter, international musician and Fulbright scholar Vanessa Paloma, adds incredible richness to their lives and the lives of everyone around her.
Here is more about Vanessa, from the Vanessa Paloma Facebook page:
Vanessa Paloma, Senior Fulbright Scholar and Artist to Morocco has been uncovering the metaphoric meaning of these ancient texts that are embedded in the collective memory of the Jewish community of Northern Morocco.
These Jews, a blend of Jewish, Spanish, and Moroccan, carry complex identities of being Jews in a Muslim country as well as the direct descendants of the Spanish Jews who left Al-Andalus at the time of the expulsion and later inquisition.
Their songs have veiled themes that drive the importance of continuity and preservation of Jewish identity by maintaining close ties to religion, family, tradition and sexual purity.
Want to find out more? Abq Jew recommends  Vanessa's two-part interview with author Mitchell James Kaplan, which you can find here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).

And here, for your Shabbat Thanksgiving enjoyment, is Al pasar por Casablanca - Passing Through Casablanca.

Also known as "Don Bueso" or "Una tarde de verano", Al Pasar por Casablanca is a typical Romance with Reconquista concerns. The Romance of Don Bueso's story (with different melodies than this one, which is from Northern Morocco) exists throughout the Mediterranean with titles such as "De las altas mares" and "Lavava y suspirava."

The video was shot in the American Southwest, to commemorate the large population of Sephardim who fled in this direction after 1492. Forced conversions and Inquisitional persecution - the metaphor of redeemed captive in this Romance parallels the process of Crypto-Jewish return.


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Hold The Turkey

The Lapidus Legacy:  Last year, Tablet Magazine published Thanksgiving Without the Turkey, about a unique Jewish family that avoids eating turkey on Thanksgiving - or any other occasion:
When Rahel Lerner was growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey, turkeys were nearly everywhere she looked on Thanksgiving. Turkeys adorned the napkins on the table, turkey-shaped candles flickered, and, one year, the family feasted on a carved chocolate turkey. The only thing missing was an actual turkey.
That’s because, as Lerner told me recently, her family refrains from eating the fowl, which, due to an obscure rabbinic dictate-turned-family-tradition, was considered in her household to be trayf. 
Where and how did this strange tradition get started? Abq Jew hears you ask. And sure enough, Tablet responds:
Lerner, now 34 and married with a child of her own, is a descendant of Yom Tov Lipmann Heller (1579-1654), better known as the Tosfot Yom Tov (the title of his tract on the Mishnah), who was the chief rabbi of Prague and went on to head the rabbinical court of Krakow.
According to Lerner family lore, he declared that turkeys were verboten and that none of his descendants should eat the animal. Lerner’s extended family continues to observe his edict, though they wholeheartedly embrace turkey kitsch when the fourth Thursday of November rolls around.
As it turns out, Abq Jew knew all about this. Although he has not had the pleasure of meeting Rahel Lerner and her family - or her brother, Rabbi David Lerner and his family - Mr & Mrs Abq Jew have the honor and pleasure of knowing Rahel and David's parents.

Rahel and David's parents are Rabbi Stephen C Lerner and Professor Anne Lapidus Lerner. Rabbi Lerner, then the rabbi of Town & Village Synagogue in NYC, performed Mr & Mrs Abq Jew's marriage ceremony. Professor Lerner was Abq Jew's teacher and mentor during his days at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

And yes, on one Shabbat afternoon, way back in the 1970s, Mr & Mrs Abq Jew had the pleasure of receiving the Lerners in our home for lunch, when we served them - turkey.

Professor Lerner hadn't told us. She politely declined the main course.

Fortunately, we had a great dessert planned - homemade (by Mrs Abq Jew) pineapple crunch pie. To ingredients of which, it turned out, Rabbi Lerner was allergic.

From then on, we ate by them.


All right, Abq Jew hears you say. Who are those guys? Let's start with Professor Lerner, as she is the Lerner behind the turkey embargo.

From Professor Lerner's JTS bio:
A Boston native, Dr. Anne Lapidus Lerner is an emerita member of the Department of Jewish Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary.
A member of the JTS faculty since 1969, Dr. Lerner was the first woman to serve as a JTS vice chancellor, and thus as one of the highest-ranking women in American Jewish institutional life. She had previously served as dean of the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies, and as associate dean of The Graduate School. 
A pioneer in the field of Jewish Women's Studies and founding director of the JTS Jewish Women's Studies Program (now the Jewish Gender and Women's Studies Program), Dr. Lerner continues to teach courses on biblical texts and their afterlife in rabbinic and modern Jewish literature, portrayals of women in Jewish literature, and Hebrew and American Jewish poetry.
Also from Professor Lerner's JTS bio:
Dr. Lerner's husband, Rabbi Stephen C. Lerner, is the founder and director of the Center for Conversion to Judaism, and rabbi of Kanfei Shahar Minyan in Teaneck, New Jersey. Their son, Rabbi David Lerner, is rabbi of Temple Emunah in Lexington, Massachusetts. Their daughter, Rahel Lerner, teaches Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the Krieger Schechter Day School of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore.
So let's talk about Rabbi Lerner, who was recently profiled by The Jewish Standard as "the man who makes Jews":
The founder and director of the Center is Rabbi Stephen C. Lerner, a Jewish Theological Seminary graduate, and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Columbia College as well. 
Rabbi Lerner has served as editor of Conservative Judaism, the quarterly journal of the Seminary and the Rabbinical Assembly.
His work with the Center has been heralded in the Jewish Week and Newsday where he has been referred to as “the leading maker of new Jews in the New York area if not the country.” 
Rabbi Lerner has some good stories to tell. For example - how did he end up a rabbi, when he had started out as a history scholar in Iowa?
Iowa had its share of visiting Jews; during Lerner’s year, they included the budding novelist Philip Roth. Abraham Joshua Heschel also came to campus three days a week for a month, and Lerner spent time with him. A week or so after Heschel’s last visit, Lerner went to New York for his JTS interview, “and who chaired the admission committee but Heschel?”
As Lerner waited for his interview, growing increasingly worried, the man ahead of him came out, stricken. Lerner felt his chance at admission, which he had not rated too highly in the first place, drop. “I didn’t even keep kosher then! And Heschel knew it! And there was Heschel, and he’s holding the longest cigar I’ve ever seen. I wondered how he could hold it up.
And then someone asked me what my favorite mitzvah was, and Heschel said, ‘Mr. Lerner and I had a long talk about it in Iowa.’ Whenever anyone asked me anything, Heschel would say, ‘Mr. Lerner and I had a long talk about it in in Iowa.’”

Not surprisingly, Lerner got in ...
But Abq Jew's favorite Rabbi Lerner story is about his time in Riverhead, Long Island:
After JTS, Lerner spent two years in a synagogue in Riverhead, where Long Island’s north and south forks diverge. “It was a dull, dull place,” he said. “I got them to rejoin United Synagogue, and I made the Hebrew school three days a week. I did a number of things, but vey iz mir [loosely translated, woe to me]! I was happy to leave."

“My experience in Riverhead is why I can’t imagine ever going to the Hamptons.”
It was after Riverhead that Rabbi Lerner served at Town and Village Synagogue in Manhattan. There, he (and Professor Lerner) introduced women’s rights. T&V became one of the first - if not the first - "traditional egalitarian" synagogues in the country.


It's Thanksgiving. 
Mr & Mrs Abq Jew thank all of their friends - for being their friends.
And all of their family - for being their family.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Hidden Light

Gaon Books of Santa Fe Wins Prize:  The winners in the 2012 New Mexico - Arizona Book Awards were announced at the Awards Banquest on Friday November 16, 2012.

And Abq Jew is very pleased to announce that one of the winners was

A Hidden Light

2012 Best Book on
Philosophy & Thought

written by 
Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
& Natanel Miles-Yepez

published by
Gaon Books

Amazon says of A Hidden Light:
A Hidden Light is a description of early ḤaBaD and Bratzlav Hasidic teaching and storytelling, focusing on the founders of ḤaBaD (Shneur Zalman of Liadi, his son, Dov Baer of Lubavitch, and chief disciple, Ahron of Staroshelye) and Bratzlav (Nahman of Bratzlav and his chief disciple, Nosson of Nemirov).
In this book, the teachings and tales of these two branches of Hasidic spirituality are richly enhanced by the new insights, interpretations and personal reflections of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a modern-day Hasidic master and founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, and Netanel Miles-Yepez, a scholar of comparative religion.
Readers of their previous book, A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters will delight in this sequel, covering the next generations of Hasidism; both casual readers of spirituality and serious students of Hasidism will find something of profound depth.
Publisher Gaon Books says:
A Hidden Light is the account of modern Hasidic life told story by story by Rabbi Zalman, drawn frequently from his own personal experiences. Rabbi Zalman has led Jewish mysticism and the Hasidic experience in new directions for many decades, and he leads the reader to new understandings and meanings in Hasidic traditions.
And Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, says:
Hasidism calls our attention to the mobility that takes place throughout the life of an individual Jew: an inner journey. Hasidic teachings, texts, and stories come as guides to that journey. In this beautiful book, Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Netanel Miles-Yepez recreate the world of early Hasidism, and through their retelling of the journeys of the Rebbes, they bring us to the spiritual landscape of Ukraine, letting us travel from the court of one Rebbe to another, tasting the different traditions and personalities...
This is a book to be read not only with the mind and the heart, but also with the imagination. Think as you read: what would you say if you had the great opportunity to meet with Nahman of Bratzlav, or with the Alter Rebbe? What problem of your soul would you reveal, what spiritual nourishment would you hope to receive? How would you, too, be lifted up and redeemed?
We may not be living the lives of Hasidim in nineteenth-century Ukraine, but our lives have been inspired and transformed by Reb Zalman. For his work as Rebbe, teacher, and writer, we are deeply grateful."
The New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards is organized by the New Mexico Book Co-Op, a not-for-profit organization serving authors and publishers.

Category sponsors include: Albuquerque / Bernalillo County Public Library; Friends of the Albuquerque Public Library; Humanist Society of New Mexico; Museum of New Mexico Foundation; New Mexico Book Association; New Mexico Book Co-op; New Mexico Business Weekly; Southwest Writers;Tony Hillerman Writers Conference; University of New Mexico Press; Word Harvest Writers Conference.


Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi is the founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement and a leading authority on Kabbalah, Hasidic life and Jewish mysticism. He is Professor Emeritus of psychology of religion and Jewish mysticism at Temple University.

Netanel Miles-Yepez is the Director of the Reb Zalman Legacy Project, scholar of comparative religion and a spiritual counselor. He co-founded the Sufi-Hasidic Inayati-Maimuni Tariqat, a Jewish order of Sufis, with Reb Zalman. He is also editor of The Common Hear: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue and Living Fully, Dying Well: Reflecting on Death to Find Your Life's Meaning.

Ron Duncan Hart and Gloria Abella Ballen - aka Gaon Books - are companions in the road of life. Ron writes, and Gloria is the visual artist. Their daughter, international musician and Fulbright scholar Vanessa Paloma, adds incredible richness to their lives and the lives of everyone around her.


Abq Jew happily notes that this is not the first Book Award that Gaon Books has won. Furthermore, three more of Gaon's books were Finalists this year.

To learn more about the outstanding books that Gaon Books publishes, please visit the Gaon Books website - or visit the Gaon Books page in Abq Jew's Amazon Store.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Community Rally For Israel

Community Solidarity Rally For Israel
Monday November 19 @ 6:00 pm
Albuquerque JCC

JFNA Briefing: Sunday Morning Report

Today rockets landed next to a kindergarten in Ashkelon, hit a car and the front of a house in Beersheva. A fireman and two residents have suffered shrapnel injuries. School remains closed within a 40 kilometer radius of Gaza for security reasons as all children remain in shelters.

JFNA [Jewish Federations of North America]’s Executive Committee voted on Thursday for Jewish Federations to commit up to $5 million to the Israel Terror Relief Fund for the immediate needs of the people of Israel, especially in the south, through both existing reserve funds and new contributions from Federations. Interested donors can also text ISRAEL to 51818 to donate to the fund. More information on the Israel Terror Relief Fund can be found on JFNA’s resource page.

In addition to the three Israeli civilians killed on Thursday, three remain in critical condition including an 8-month old baby. Over 80 Israelis have been taken to hospital with injuries in recent days. Many more have been treated for shock and emotional trauma and the true toll of this conflict will only be seen in the months and even years to come. Hospitals are currently working with significantly reduced staff as many doctors and nurses have been called up for army service. Some 4.5 million Israeli residents, over half of Israel's population, live in rocket range and are now on alert for attacks. Over 1300 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza in 2012 alone and approximately 900 in recent days.

Up to 75,000 Israelis have now received a "Tsav 8," calling them up to army reserve service.  The media in Israel is rife with “call up” stories. One reserve soldier left his new wife of half a day on Friday. They celebrated their wedding Thursday evening and the next morning he left to join his unit. 


The Times of Israel reports:

Iron Dome shoots down rockets over Tel Aviv, Ashkelon
Dan region threatened for second time on Sunday; Obama says ‘preferable’ if escalation can be avoided but backs Israeli defense; Egypt’s Morsi said to be working on brokering a ceasefire, but Netanyahu says operation to be expanded


Iron Dome In Action


When they go after Ashkelon, they're going after me. 

Why is Abq Jew so focused on Ashkelon?

Here's why:

Our former home on Simtat HaSneh (top floor of the middle apartment building). 

A short walk from the Central Bus Station, and delightfully close to the beach.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Israel Under Fire

Gaza, November 2012: When they go after Ashkelon, they're going after me. When they go after Kiryat Malachi, they're going after me. When they go after Tel Aviv, they're going after me. This is one tough neighborhood.

As we approach Shabbat, our weekly Day of Peace, let us pray for peace - for us, for all Israel, and for all the world. To put us in the Shabbat frame of mind, here is the Israeli folk song Eretz Zavat Halav uDvash (Land Flowing with Milk and Honey).

As you've probably never heard it before - by Debka Fantasia.

Shabbat Shalom, Land of Israel!
Good Shabbos, Land of Enchantment!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Olga Kern Plays Tchaikovsky

With The Figueroans: This Friday and Sunday, Symphonic Grandeur! will come to Albuquerque. As Abq Jew has previously stated - this may be the best classical music event in Albuquerque this year!

Olga Kern, Piano 
Guillermo Figueroa, Conductor
The Figueroa Music and Arts Project Symphony Orchestra 
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Friday 16 November 2012 @ 7:30 pm
Sunday 18 November 2012 @ 2:00 pm

Tickets:  $22, $34, $46, $60
Available from the NHCC Box Office
In Person - By Phone (505) 724-4771 - Online
For an additional $10, enjoy a post-concert reception with the artists!
Includes complimentary hors d'oeuvres and wine from Casa Rondena Winery!

Olga Kern - winner of the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition - is perhaps the most charismatic of contemporary pianists in the world today. She will play the universally known and admired Piano Concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky.

To give you an idea of the virtuosity that awaits you, Abq Jew suggests that you watch and listen as Ms Kern performs Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 at the University of Arizona in February 2010.

Her introduction there states
With a passion as vivid and confident as her musicianship ... [Ms Kern] won the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the first woman to win the prestigious honor in 30 years.

It could be in her blood; she was born into a family of musicians with ties to both Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

The Washington Post writes, "Her electricity at the keyboard is palpable it flows through her fingers and takes on fresh voltage."

If you haven't heard - or heard of - Olga Kern, Marianne Lipanovich of the San Francisco Classical Voice tells us
Although she’d been winning competitions since age 11, including the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition at age 17, pianist Olga Kern really came to the public’s attention, at least in the U.S., at the 2001 Van Cliburn competition. She played Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and became the first woman in 30 years to win the gold medal, which she shared with Stanislaw Ioudenitch. It was just the start of what she calls a wonderful career, which includes two Carnegie Hall appearances within two weeks, performances around the world, and international recognition for her technique.

Despite her name, Kern grew up in Russia, surrounded by a musical family that has ties to both Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky. She now makes New York City her home, along with her son, when she’s not traveling to perform. ....

If you haven't heard - or heard of - Van Cliburn ... you must be younger than Abq Jew. Wikipedia tells us
Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn, Jr. (born July 12, 1934), is an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at the age of twenty-three, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War.
It was his recognition in Moscow that propelled Cliburn to international fame. The first International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958 was an event designed to demonstrate Soviet cultural superiority during the Cold War, on the heels of their technological victory with the Sputnik launch in October 1957. Cliburn's performance at the competition finale of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 earned him a standing ovation lasting eight minutes. When it was time to announce a winner, the judges were obliged to ask permission of the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to give first prize to an American. "Is he the best?" Khrushchev asked. "Then give him the prize!" Cliburn returned home to a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time the honor has been accorded a classical musician. His cover story in Time proclaimed him "The Texan Who Conquered Russia."

If you can't quite place the Tchaikovsky, Wikipedia provides an analysis of the piece's structure and history. Even better: Here is Van Cliburn, performing in Moscow in 1962.


Ah, yes!  And in case you didn't know about the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Wikipedia tells us
The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was first held in 1962 in Fort Worth, Texas and is hosted by Van Cliburn Foundation. It was created by Fort Worth area teachers in honor of Van Cliburn, who had won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition four years prior with Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3.

The Van Cliburn Competition is held every four years (the year after the United States Presidential elections; thus, the next competitions will be held in 2013, 2017 and so forth). The winners and runners-up receive substantial cash prizes, plus concert tours at world-famous venues where they perform pieces of their choice. 

Van Cliburn currently suffers from advanced bone cancer. But in September, Robert Philpot of tells us
The Fort Worth Symphony had just finished its traditional playing of The Star-Spangled Banner when the Bass Hall crowd and the musicians began to settle in for what was going to be a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Van Cliburn Competition.
What happened next was both stunning and historic.

Out onto the stage shuffled the tall, slender and familiar figure of Van Cliburn, assisted by symphony conductor and close friend Miguel Harth-Bedoya. The audience leaped to its feet to applaud the pianist. Some cried out "Whoa!" Others just cried, at what may well be an emotional farewell.
Abq Jew suposes that you just had to be there. But since he wasn't there - and, probably, neither were you - here is the YouTube video:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Red or Blue?

New Mexico Stays Blue:  The answer to the unofficial NM State Question was never in doubt. Florida's votes have just been counted, and the Sunshine State has gone Blue. Abq Jew certainly feels that a little bit of gloating is in order.

Others, however, do not. This just in from MSNBC:
Back to the Civil War?
Obama’s opponents seek to secede
Now that President Obama has been re-elected, some of his fiercest critics don’t want to be part of the United States. And they’re not talking about moving to Canada: they want to pull the nation apart from within.

Citizens from 20 states have filed petitions on the White House “We The People” website seeking to secede from the union and form new state governments, The Washington Post reports.
Texas is (of course) first on the list of twenty. The Washington Post reports that
There are also petitions from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
On one hand, Abq Jew thinks - maybe we should just let Texas go. On the other hand - maybe we should really go with this Red States vs Blue States thing.

Please note that Abq Jew has never, ever called Red State voters stupid. Reasonable people may disagree. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

Yet everyone is not entitled to their own facts.  For some crazy reason, Abq Jew is reminded of the famous "Don't Call Me Stupid" scene in A Fish Called Wanda:


Secede? Start a new country? Abq Jew has received (and cleaned up) the following email, addressed to Red States, which which may (or may not) be worthy of discussion.
Dear Red States:

We're ticked off at your Neanderthal attitudes and politics, and we've decided we're leaving. We in New Mexico intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.
In case you aren't aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and the rest of the Northeast.
We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of the Enlightened States of America (E.S.A).

To sum up briefly:
  • You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the former slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
  • We get Andrew Cuomo and Elizabeth Warren. You get Bobby Jindal and Todd Akin.
  • We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.
  • We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
  • We get Harvard (Princeton, UPenn, NYU, Colgate, BU),. You get Ole' Miss.
  • We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.
  • We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the Red States pay their fair share.
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of:
  • 80% of the country's fresh water
  • more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce
  • 92% of the nation's fresh fruit
  • 95% of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 
  • 90% of all cheese
  • 90 percent of the high tech industry
  • most of the US low sulfur coal
  • all living redwoods, sequoias, and condors
  • all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Stanford, Cal, Cal Tech, UCLA, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Yeshiva U, and MIT
With the Red States, you will have to cope with:
  • 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs
  • 92% of all US mosquitoes
  • nearly 100% of the tornadoes
  • 90% of the hurricanes
  • Rush Limbaugh and virtually 100% of all televangelists
We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

You get the states where:
  • 38% believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale.
  • 62% believe life is sacred (unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws).
  • 44% say that evolution is only a theory.
  • 53% claim that Saddam was involved in 9/11.
  • 61% believe they are people with higher morals than us.
We're taking the good weed too. You can have that junk they grow in Mexico.


Citizens of the Enlightened
                         (Blue) States of America  

Please recall that Abq Jew has never, ever called Red State voters stupid. But let's let Wanda correct Otto on a couple things.


OK ... Abq Jew realizes he has gone more than a bit too far. Alright, alright. Abq Jew apologizes. He is really, really sorry, and he apologizes unreservedly.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Bev Rogoff & Vinyl

Jazz at the J: The sound is vintage vinyl: good time jazz, blues, boleros, ballads, funk all served up raw and real, the way it sounds on vinyl.
with the
Divine Bev Rogoff
Albuquerque JCC
Satuday November 17 @ 7:00 pm

Enjoy live entertainment in the same way so many of those records were recorded, with great musicians sitting in one room jamming.

Featuring the inimitable musical talents of: Caesar Bauvallet, Patty Stephens, Richard Snider and Pat Rhoads. With Bev Rogoff, winner of a 2012 New Mexico Humanitarian Award. And Abq Jew is told that non-vinyl CDs will be available for signing & purchase.

Tickets ($10 JCC Member / $15 JCC Non-Member) may be purchased online at, at the Abq JCC, or by calling (505) 348-4518.

While you're waiting for Saturday night - and to help you get in the mood - here is Lena Horne (with the Richard Rogers Orchestra) singing Where or When.  This is from the original Victor record released in December 1941, played on a 1957 RCA hi-fi.