Thursday, January 31, 2013

Charles Darwin, MOT?

Here Is The Proof:  Steve Mirsky recently published an article in Scientific American that asked, then answered, the 130-year-old question Why Is This Darwin Different from All Other Darwins?

Abq Jew® (and almost all MOTs) would love to cite any clear, unambiguous statement from the Father of Evolution himself that declares "Yes, I am a Jew."

But no, Mirsky instead claims that
An interesting effort to insult Darwin uses a cream cheese smear.
As he [Mirsky] writes:
In late October the Financial Times published a report about an interesting pedagogical exercise being perpetrated by creationists in Turkey:
A series of books for primary schoolchildren, describing Charles Darwin as a Jew with a big nose who kept the company of monkeys and other historical figures in anti-Semitic terms, has caused outrage in Turkey amid fears of rising religious intolerance.

This attempt to insult Darwin by categorizing him as Jewish surprised me because I thought everyone always knew Darwin was “a member of the tribe.”
But where, Abq Jew® hears you ask, is the evidence? Well ... think about this:
The Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin's account of the cruise [Darwin's bar mitzvah gift], includes this passage: “The different islands to a considerable extent are inhabited by a different set of beings. My attention was first called to this fact by the Vice-Governor, Mr. Lawson, declaring that the tortoises differed from the different islands, and that he could with certainty tell from which island any one was brought.” The original writing, scratched out on sheets listing the ship's leisure activities, reads: “I listened to Lawson's whole spiel, and he says if you show him a turtle, abracadabra, he'll tell you its shtetl. I buy it.”
And in his manuscript for On the Origin of Species (originally titled L'Chaim: The Whole Megillah), Darwin concludes:
Such nachas I get when I wander around and look at turtles and birds, let me tell you. It is not a waste of time that could be spent doing something more productive. What, you think I schlepped up mountains in South America glomming insects for my health? 

What does all this mean?  Abq Jew® strongly encourages you to click the links, examine the sources and resources - then decide for yourself.

But - to Abq Jew® - the evidence for the Jewishness of Charles Darwin seems much clearer than that for Christopher Columbus (Christopher Columbus, MOT?).

Steve Mirsky concludes his article:
So of course, Darwin was Jewish. Why that fact should in any way diminish the intellectual achievement of his evolution insights is beyond me. His ideas stand on their own merits and would be no less brilliant were he, say, Anglican, or someone who came to hold no religious beliefs at all.

Responses to Steve Mirsky's satire have been ... well, let's say. mixed.

Many responses have been along the line of
What the heck??? I thought SA was a reputable magazine.
I guess I don't follow what this turkey is trying to say. Can someone explain?
Here is Abq Jew's favorite (so far):
What Mr Minsky forgot to mention is that [On t]he Origin of Species was originally written in Yiddish and translated into English by the famous Moisele Kingsley MacRabinowitz, the same who translated the American Constitution from its original Yiddish version into the the English text we are still using today. Later on MacRabinowitz became well known for his translations of Playboy, which still is translated every month from Yiddish into English to enable publication.

Yidden, yidden, do not despair!
Zeit sich nisht meyaesh!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

JFSNM Closes Its Doors

A Time of Sadness:  Thursday, January 17, 2013 was not a good day for the Jewish Family Service of New Mexico (JFSNM). And it was a terrible day for the New Mexico Jewish Community.

That was the day JFSNM announced that it was ending its Jewish Community Chaplaincy program.

For those of us who loved JFSNM - for the good work it did and the Jewish values it put into practice every day - this decision was, we thought, the worst thing in the world

But then the news got worse: JFSNM announced that it was ceasing operations as of Friday, February 1, 2013.

Here is the announcement from the JFSNM website:
JFS No Longer Able to Provide Services

January 28, 2013

Jewish Family Service of New Mexico (JFS), has served New Mexican seniors and families since 1985. We are sad to announce that the continued erosion in funding by federal, state, and corporate funders; contributions from individuals; and grants from private foundations has forced us to close our doors.

JFS has provided services such as care management, a community food pantry, transportation for seniors, wellness programs, Jewish community chaplaincy, holocaust survivor support, and housekeeping companion services to thousands of needy New Mexicans over the years. Demand for services continued to increase, while the availability of funding decreased significantly.

JFS’s Aging In Place Program was known throughout the United States and used as a model in the federal demonstration project “Community Innovations in Aging in Place”. JFS recently received national recognition via the Diversity in Aging Award from Grantmakers in Aging.

Executive Director Michael Gemme states, “We had been very fortunate to have strong community support and able to get foundation grants and other funding despite the declining economy. However, over the past year we saw major changes in the funding climate and despite submitting numerous grant proposals and other requests for funding, we were unable to obtain sufficient resources to keep our programs going.”

JFS is sending out letters to notify our clients and supporters of the closure, effective February 1st. Additionally, we are making every effort to contact our most vulnerable clients by telephone and refer them to other service providers.

All former JFS Staff and Board members appreciated the support of our dedicated donors and funders over the years. Thank you for giving JFS the honor of serving our community! 

The entire New Mexico Jewish community has suffered a terrible tragedy. 

Here is a statement from Sam Sokolove, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM):
The recent news that Jewish Family Service of New Mexico will be ceasing operations effective February 1st is deeply saddening. The Jewish Federation of New Mexico expresses sympathies to the many volunteers and professionals who for twenty-eight years worked on behalf of the JFS mission, and great concern for the many JFS clients impacted by this closure.

While it is unfortunately not unusual for non-profit organizations to encounter financial problems that lead to their end, especially during an economic downturn, there are many questions that must be answered regarding the conditions that led to JFS’s unexpected demise. Over the coming weeks, we expect a full accounting and financial analysis to be conducted, and that those findings will be shared with our community.

While this is painful news, our community should rest assured that the Jewish Federation of New Mexico remains a strong agency prepared to address Jewish communal needs.  The Federation’s 2012 audit, conducted by Pulakos CPAs, PC, shows an agency that is well-positioned with the financial resources, managerial controls, Board oversight and low administrative overhead to steward community resources appropriately and effectively.

You may review the audit at our website,       

As the JFNM provides financial support to Jewish agencies and programs, we will be closely examining our allocations process this year to be better equipped to see organizational weaknesses not necessarily revealed in a balance sheet. We will also be asking hard questions regarding sustainability, transparency and adherence to mission, and seeking outside expertise to further assist us in this critical endeavor.

In the wake of this development, we will also look to prioritize and potentially implement new programs to serve the most vulnerable members of our Jewish community. 

On Sunday, February 3rd, teams of volunteers will be reaching out on behalf of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico’s annual “Call Up” Phone–a-thon. If you receive a call that morning or afternoon, please know that your tzedakah – philanthropy – remains essential to the well-being and future of our Jewish community.  Also please know that the Jewish Federation of New Mexico fully appreciates that the funds we administer belong to our community, not to us, and that we have and will continue to function accordingly.

We remain committed to our mission of partnering with Jewish organizations to meet the needs of Jews in New Mexico, Israel and worldwide. Thank you for your generous support.

Here is the message of hope that Abq Jew wishes to leave you with: We, the Jewish community of New Mexico, will find a way to continue the programs that our Jewish community needs.

We're all in this together.
Please support JFNM on Super Sunday.


Monday, January 28, 2013

A Taste of Honey 2013

Abq Jew Palooza!  A Taste of Honey, the Jewish community's annual, exciting, social, cultural, and educational event, is scheduled to take place at the Albuquerque JCC on Sunday, February 10th.

 Sign Up By January 31st for Early Bird Price!!!

Yes, this is Abq Jew Palooza! Event Number 3. Abq Jew has forgotten neither Event Number 1 nor Event Number 2. He simply wanted to be sure you have enough time to catch the Early Bird Price!


The Keynote Speaker will be Cantor Ellen Dreskin.

Cantor Dreskin has worked with Jews of all denominations as Director of Programs for Synagogue 3000, a national, not-for-profit institute dedicated to revitalizing and re-energizing synagogue life in North America. 

A native Texan, Cantor Dreskin graduated from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music, in New York.

She has a Master’s Degree in Jewish Communal Service from Brandeis University.

Cantor Dreskin is also a founding member of the renowned musical group Beged Kefet.


Courses and presenters for the first session include:
  • Sulam Chi: Mysticism Meets the Body – Levi Ben-Shmuel
  • How Yiddish Has Changed America – Harvey Buchalter
  • The Magic of Chant: Heal the Spirit, Transform the Mind – Rabbi Shefa Gold 
  • What Happens After We Die?: The Jewish Perspective – Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld
  • Lashon Hara or Lashon Hurrah?  Shifting our Speech from Evil to Good – Rabbi Jack Shlachter
  • A Taste of Jewish Dance – Michele Diel
  • The Life and Work of Franz Kafka – Sarah Egelman
  • Cultural and Religious Diversity in America – Tammy Kaiser
  • To Remember: Honoring & Sharing Family Stories & Traditions – Naomi Sandweiss

Courses and presenters for the second session include:
  • Facing One Another:  A Jewish View – Rabbi Paul Citrin
  • Yoga and Kavanah – Susan Citrin
  • Lomir Ale Zingen!  Let’s Sing Together! – Beth Cohen  
  • Growing Up in Palestine-Israel: Childhood Memories – Shlomo Karni
  • Jewish Songwriters of Tin Pan Alley – Judy and Michael Muldawer
  • Jewish Funeral Traditions on Film – Gail Rubin
  • A Taste of the Zohar:  Ascent of the Soul – Paula A. Schwartz & Reuben Weisz
  • Creating Roots, Preserving Memories (on-line) – Schelly Talalay Dardashti
  • Secrets Behind Adobe Walls:  A Story of Old Santa Fe – Sandra K. Toro 
Click here for the brochure and sign-up form.
For more information, contact Phyllis Wolf at or (505) 348-4500.

And what to do the Shabbat before?  Join us for the first ever
New Mexico Synagogue Musicians Shabbaton
sponsored by the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and Congregation Albert.


Abq Jew Palooza!

Coming in February 2013:  Abq Jew is proud to announce, for the first time ever in the City of Albuquerque or in the State of New Mexico:

Abq Jew Palooza!
Four great events in February 2013
that showcase Jewish life
in Albuquerque and beyond! 

Congregation Albert Student Theater (CAST) Presents
1. The Rocky Monster Show
2. New Mexico Synagogue Musicians Shabbaton
3. A Taste of Honey 2013
4. KlezmerQuerque 2013

Yes, it's
Abq Jew Palooza!

And no, it's not KlezmerQuerque's or A Taste of Honey's or CAST's first time ever in the City of Albuquerque or in the State of New Mexico.

But it is the first time for the New Mexico Synagogue Musicians Shabbaton.

And it is the first time that Abq Jew (or anyone else) has bundled these events together into one giant mega-event, which he has humbly titled Abq Jew Palooza! even though Abq Jew had nothing to do with producing them.

Also no, Abq Jew Palooza! does not include

Super Sunday for the Jewish Federation of New Mexico

Details to follow! Can't wait?

You can find out more about all these great events on Abq Jew's Go Do page!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Litttle Moses

Shabbat Shirah ~ Sabbath of Song: This coming Shabbat is the Sabbath of Song, when we again read the story of the Crossing of the Red Sea and the ensuing celebrations.

And for those who are a bit Torah-challenged (aren't we all?), Abq Jew's sources tell him that some guy named Cecil B DeMille shot a movie of the whole affair. Here's a photo:

This is indeed a Shabbat for singing and celebration. Abq Jew therefore reminds you that, over at Congregation Albert, Mama Doni Is In The Building!

But wherever you are, you should especially sing and celebrate this Shabbat. Not only is this Shabbat Shirah - it's also Tu BiShevat (New Year of the Trees, aka Jewish Arbor Day) - the 15th day of the month of Shevat (and not the day before Three BiShevat).

What shall we sing? Abq Jew hears you ask. There's always Hava Nagilah, which, it turns out, is not about Abq Jew's friend Gila, who grew up in Cuba. And, of course, there's Adon Olam, which can be sung to almost any tune in the world if you try hard enough.

Nope - here is the song that Abq Jew intends to sing. You've probably never heard of it, but that's OK. Abq Jew will teach it to you!

Here is how Abq Jew first heard Little Moses - performed by Straight Drive, Abq Jew's favorite bluegrass band still performing (he thinks) today. Terry McGill was even Abq Jew's banjo teacher for a while! Here they are at the 2009 Pickin' in the Pasture Bluegrass Festival in Lodi, New York

Where did this song come from? Abq Jew hears you ask. Here's some background (from The Old, Weird America):
The Carter Family recorded “Little Moses”  in February 14, 1929, their third session for Victor. They arrived this time in Camden, New Jersey with a brand new Chevrolet, amazed at the popularity they gained during their three years in the recording business. During this session (that you can hear and download here) they recorded many of their best known songs like “I’m thinking tonight of my blue eyes”, “Sweet Fern”, “My Clinch Mountain Home”, “The Foggy Mountain Top”, “Engine 143″, etc… and the song we’re going to look more closely in this post, “Little Moses”. Sara Carter learned this “religious ballad” from an older relative, Myrtle Bayes and the song was collected in 1905 under the title “Moses in the bulrushes” in “Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folklore Society”. The song tells the story of the founding of baby Moses by Pharaoh’s  daughter  and some other famous scenes of the prophet’s life as told in the Bible book of Exodus. In his form, the song reads like a children’s Sunday school lesson and his simple melody in waltz time with his repetitive last verses in the chorus enhance this lullaby character.
Here are the lyrics:
Away by the waters so blue
The ladies were winding their way
While Pharaoh's little daughter went down to the water
To bathe in the cool of the day
Before it was dark she opened the ark
And found the sweet babe that was there

And away by the waters so blue
The infant was lonely and sad
She took him in pity and thought him so pretty
And it made little Moses so glad
She called him her own, her beautiful son
And she sent for a nurse who was near

And away by the waters so blue
They carried that beautiful child
To his tender mother, to his sister and brothers
Little Moses looked happy and smiled
His mother so good did all that she could
To raise him and teach him with care

And away by the sea that was red
Little Moses the servant of God
While in him confided, the sea was divided
As upwards he lifted his rod
And the Jews safely crossed while Pharaoh's host
Was drownded in the waters and lost

And away on a mountain so high
The last that he ever did see
With Israel victorious, his hopes were most glorious
That soon all the Jordan be free
When his spirit did cease, he departed in peace
And rested in the Heavens above
Now, under ordinary circumstances, that would be about it. But - DON'T PANIC! While searching around on YouTube, Abq Jew found an even more splendiferous version of Little Moses - by, of all groups, The Seekers.

For those of you who were too young (and still are), here's what Wikipedia says:
The Seekers are an Australian quartet folk music-influenced pop music group which was originally formed in Melbourne in 1962. They were the first Australian popular music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States. They were popular during the 1960s with their best-known configuration as: Judith Durham on vocals, piano and tambourine; Athol Guy on double bass and vocals; Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar, banjo and vocals; and Bruce Woodley on guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals.

The group had top 10 hits in the 1960s with "I'll Never Find Another You", "A World of Our Own", "Morningtown Ride", "The Carnival Is Over" (Russian folk song which the Seekers have sung at various closing ceremonies in Australia, including World Expo 88 and the Paralympics and still stands as the 30th best selling song in the United Kingdom), "Someday One Day", and "Georgy Girl" (the title song of the film of the same name). Australian music historian Ian McFarlane described their style as "concentrated on a bright, uptempo sound, although they were too pop to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock."

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Figueroa Et Alia Amaze!

The Big Event @ B'nai Israel:  The eagerly anticipated Big Event - “An Evening with Maestro Guillermo Figueroa” - held at Congregation B'nai Israel last Sunday provided a wonderful evening of beautiful music and fine dining for everyone fortunate to be present.

Abq Jew thanks Maestro Guillermo Figueroa, Pamela Viktoria Pyle, and James Holland for their outstanding performances of difficult and moving pieces. The Shostakovich resounded, and the Williams soared!

The food was pretty good too! Abq Jew thanks Chef Chris Buchalter for that! He also thanks B'nai's President, Harvey Buchalter, and the entire Big Event committee. And B'nai VP and Big Event MC Robert Lewis deserves special praise for bumping into Maestro Figueroa at Smith's last summer and getting this whole thing started!

Maestro Guillermo Figueroa
Pamela Viktoria Pyle
James Holland

If you missed the Big Event - and especially if you attended - you will be delighted to learn that the Figueroa Project will be releasing four DVDs in February:
  1. Tchaikovsky - Souvenir de Florence
  2. Vivaldi & Piazzolla - Four Seasons
  3. Stravinsky - Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier's Tale)
  4. Beethoven - Symphonies No. 2 & 5
Here is a sample, from Souvenir de Florence:

Thanks again to everyone involved!

Monday, January 21, 2013

HaMapah / המפה / The Map

Tricklock Presents:  Tricklock Revolutions International Theatre Festival 2013 presents

HaMapah / The Map

UNM's South Arena (Carlisle Gym)
Saturday January 26 ~ 8:00 pm
Sunday January 27 ~ 2:00 pm

HaMapah/The Map is a multimedia dance journey that traces the intersections of dancer Adam McKinney’s African American, Native American, and Jewish heritages. 

HaMapah/The Map weaves contemporary dance with archival material, personal interviews, Yiddish and American songs, and video set to traditional, contemporary, and classical music. 

In the piece, McKinney explores issues of identity, ancestry, and family. As part of the program, DNAWORKS Co-Directors Adam McKinney and Daniel Banks lead a community dialogue with the audience about the core ideas of the piece.

Tickets:  $23 General; $18 Students / Seniors. Available from UNM Ticketing Service.

Here is a preview of HaMapah.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mama Doni Is In The Building!

Jersey Girl in the Land of Enchantment Congregation Albert is proud to present two appearances by Artist in Residence

Mama Doni Band
Congregation Albert
Friday January 25 ~ 6:00 pm
Sunday January 27 ~ 11:00 am

Yes! Two appearances by award-winning performer Mama Doni. Mama Doni performs nationally at concerts and workshops, and she has released multiple CDs and videos.

Friday Evening: Mama Doni will deliver a “sermon in song” at the Erev Shabbat Family-Friendly Services at 6:00 pm. An optional dinner ($10) with additional music will follow the service. Email to reserve.

Sunday Morning: The Mama Doni Band will perform at a family concert at 11:00 am. Admission is free. The concert is geared for kids, parents and grandparents to come, to enjoy, and to remember.

Haven't heard of Mama Doni? Abq Jew can happily attest that she is a big hit all over New Jersey. And she's coming to Albuquerque, following appearances in Springfield (NJ), Scotch Plains (NJ), and Morristown* (NJ)!

For inquiring Abq Jew readers who demand to know more, here's some background:
Doni Zasloff Thomas (aka Mama Doni) is a mom, music teacher, songwriter, and lead singer in The Mama Doni Band, honored with a 2011 Parents Choice® Award for their CD, Shabbat Shaboom, and winner of the Simcha Award for “Inspiring Joy Through Music” in competition with more than 100 bands from 15 different countries at the International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam. Mama Doni celebrates Jewish culture with irrepressible zest in its high-energy, interactive family rock concerts, and acoustic Shabbat experiences filled with a contagious and unexpected blend of reggae, rock, disco, Latin and klezmer – all woven together with soulful energy and a super hip Jewish sensibility.

When Doni’s children’s preschool asked her to take a position as music teacher in early 2007, she readily agreed, and the creative juices started flowing. Wanting to share her love of Jewish culture with kids in a fun and cool way, Doni soon began writing and recording her own songs. 
And here is a taste of what you can expect:

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!


Thinking about Pesach? The First Seder is
Monday March 25 ... only 66 days away!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rabbi Min on Talmud Torah

Study Wisdom - Basic Jewish Value #9:  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.

This is the final edition of Basic Jewish Values.
JFSNM has eliminated the Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program.

Jews are sometimes referred to as "People of the Book," at first in association with THE Book (the Bible) and, following that, a long tradition of study, learning, reading and emphasizing the importance of education.

In the publishing world, I've heard this expression: "JBB", meaning "Jews Buy Books"! But how does that relate to the more universal value of study, especially in the context of the work of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico?

In Jewish tradition, 'study' is not primarily about academic, intellectual, and abstract learning, but about the practical issues of how to live a good, productive and compassionate life as a member of society. The kind of study this Jewish value emphasizes includes learning about the needs of the society, the imbalances that exist in economic opportunity, political access or civil rights.

Through programs like Food Pantry and Holocaust Survivor Support, JFS specifically addresses the real needs of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

The value of 'studying wisdom' includes learning about inequities, gaining knowledge about opportunities to address the most essential hardships faced by members of our community, and, most importantly, to ACT based on that knowledge.

As you learn about community needs in this era of shrinking support, please consider acting on the wisdom you gain by giving a generous donation to those JFS programs which touch your heart.

And speaking of Talmud Torah .... you can Explore the Talmud at 6:00 pm every Thursday at Congregation Nahalat Shalom via a Skype session with Rabbi Judith Z Abrams, the founder and director of Maqom: A School for Adult Talmud Study.

Rabbi Abrams, you may recall, was the star of our Community Selichot Service. Her latest book is The Other Talmud: The Yerushalmi: Unlocking the Secrets of The Talmud of Israel for Judaism Today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Get Ed-JEW-cated in 2013!

Lifelong Learning at Congregation Albert:  Congregation Albert's Lifelong Learning Offerings for the Second Semester 2013 / 5773  have just been announced, and Abq Jew's got 'em!

Lifelong Learning at Congregation Albert includes informal learning; classes and learning sessions; and several special events.

Want more information?
Click here to get to Abq Jew's new Lifelong Learning at Congregation Albert page!
Yes, it's true!  Abq Jew has devoted a whole page to Lifelong Learning at Congregation Albert!

Want to register right away? Contact:
Tammy Kaiser, Director of Lifelong Learning    (505) 883-0306 

Informal Learning

Saturday Morning Torah Study
Congregation Albert holds Saturday Morning Torah Study, an informal Torah Study program - usually led by Rabbi Rosenfeld or Cantor Finn - every Shabbat morning at 9:00 am.  The Torah Portion (parasha) for that Shabbat is usually the topic of study.

Saturday Afternoon Torah Study
Congregation Albert holds Saturday Afternoon Torah Study, a lay-led informal program, on the first Shabbat of every month at 1:30 pm.  The Torah Portion (parasha) for the following Shabbat is usually the topic of study.

Open Mind
Open Mind meets monthly at noon for lunch, a speaker and discussion of the day’s topic. A light lunch is available for $4.00, but attendees may also bring their own lunch or just come to hear the speaker. Open Mind welcomes participation from all.

Tea & Talmud
Tea and Talmud with Rabbi Rosenfeld. No prior knowledge of Talmud or Hebrew required.

Classes & Learning Sessions

Hebrew Refresher - Tammy Kaiser, Director of Lifelong Learning
This class is for those who have finished Hebrew 1 and who require a brief refresher before beginning Hebrew 2. This class is also appropriate for anyone who did not take Hebrew 1, and requires the basic decoding skills to enter Hebrew 2.

A Taste of Judaism: Are You Curious? - Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld 
This class is designed for people who have limited or no Jewish background but are interested in learning about Judaism. 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.

Hebrew 2: Aleph Isn't Enough - Tammy Kaiser, Director of Lifelong Learning  
This class is the second step in a program of Hebrew learning for adults. Students will be empowered to learn Hebrew, focusing on the Hebrew that they use most frequently: that of the siddur, the Haggadah, and the Bible. Students will continue reading practice and writing exercises as well as solidify reading ability, enhance vocabulary, increase familiarity with roots, and develop translation skills.

Ra'ayanot: Ideas in Judaica - Rabbi Paul Citrin 
The topic of the first four session of this seminar course will be "Vayinafash - Jewish Ideas on Re-Creating Our Lives."  Rabbi Citrin will present an initial study and discussion session on the topic along with some bibliography. In the following sessions two members of the seminar will each offer a short paper (2-5 pages) on some aspect of the theme for discussion. The nature of this experience necessitates limiting enrollment to twelve people.

Plus Special Events!

Snapshot Shabbat Gallery Opening @ Sun 20 January 2013 @ 10:00 am
Join Snapshot Shabbat participants as they feature their work in this innovative program developed by Congregation Albert using digital photography and Photo Voice methodology. This program enables congregants to get a glimpse into individual Shabbat observance through photography. Armed with cameras, congregants documented their Shabbat experiences wherever they were!
part of 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Schindler's List

Maestro Guillermo Figueroa @ Congregation B'nai Israel: As Abq Jew has mentioned  in The Big Event 2013 and Shostakovich: Piano Trio No 2 in E Minor (and may mention a few more times), “An Evening with Maestro Guillermo Figueroa”  at Congregation B'nai Israel on January 20 will provide an evening of beautiful music and fine dining for Albuquerqueans.

The concert program will feature the Theme from Schindler's List by John Williams. Wikipedia (of course) provides some background on this film, from which the following has been adapted.
Schindler's List is a 1993 epic drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist. The film tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as Schutzstaffel (SS)-officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern. John Williams composed the score.
Schindler's List premiered on November 30, 1993 in Washington, D.C. and it was released on December 15, 1993 in the United States. Regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, it was a box office success and recipient of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Score, as well as numerous other awards (seven BAFTAs, three Golden Globes). In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked the film 8th on its list of the 100 best American films of all time (up one position from its 9th place listing on the 1998 list).

About the music, Wikipedia says:
John Williams composed the score for Schindler's List. The composer was amazed by the film, and felt it would be too challenging. He said to Spielberg, "You need a better composer than I am for this film." Spielberg responded, "I know. But they're all dead!" Williams played the main theme on piano, and following Spielberg's suggestion, he hired Itzhak Perlman to perform it on the violin.

In an interview with Perlman on Schindler's List, he said: "I couldn't believe how authentic he [John Williams] got everything to sound, and I said, 'John, where did it come from?' and he said, 'Well I had some practice with Fiddler on the Roof and so on, and everything just came very naturally' and that's the way it sounds."

Interviewer: "When you were first approached to play for Schindler's List, did you give it a second thought, did you agree at once, or did you say 'I'm not sure I want to play for movie music'?

Perlman: "No, that never occurred to me, because in that particular case the subject of the movie was so important to me, and I felt that I could contribute simply by just knowing the history, and feeling the history, and indirectly actually being a victim of that history."
In the scene where the ghetto is being liquidated by the Nazis, the folk song Oyfn Pripetshik (or Afn Pripetshek) (Yiddish: אויפֿן פּריפּעטשיק)" is sung by a children's choir. The song was often sung by Spielberg's grandmother, Becky, to her grandchildren. The clarinet solos heard in the film were recorded by Klezmer virtuoso Giora Feidman. Williams won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for Schindler's List, his fifth win.
And the Girl in the Red Coat? Wikipedia tells us:
While the film is shot primarily in black-and-white, red is used to distinguish a little girl in a coat (portrayed by Oliwia Dabrowska). Later in the film, the girl appears to be one of the dead Jewish people, recognizable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Although it was unintentional, this character is coincidentally very similar to Roma Ligocka, who was known in the Kraków Ghetto for her red coat. Ligocka, unlike her fictional counterpart, survived the Holocaust. After the film was released, she wrote and published her own story, The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir (2002, in translation).
The scene, however, was constructed on the memories of Zelig Burkhut, survivor of Plaszow (and other work camps). When interviewed by Spielberg before the film was made, Burkhut told of a young girl wearing a pink coat, no older than four, who was shot by a Nazi officer right before his eyes. When being interviewed by The Courier-Mail, he said "it is something that stays with you forever."

The Los Angles Times yesterday published this memorable obituary:

Leon Leyson dies at 83;
youngest survivor on Schindler's List
Leyson was one of the 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by German industrialist Oskar Schindler. He taught school in Huntington Park for 39 years and shared his survival story with others.
Among the 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by German industrialist Oskar Schindler was an emaciated 13-year-old boy named Leon Leyson, who had to stand on a box to reach the machinery in the Krakow factory where Schindler sheltered him and his family.
The boy Schindler called "Little Leyson" survived the Holocaust to start life over in Los Angeles. He taught high school in Huntington Park for 39 years, rarely mentioning to anyone the pain and perils he experienced during the war that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews.
"The truth is, I did not live my life in the shadow of the Holocaust," [Leyson] told the Portland Oregonian in 1997. "I did not give my children a legacy of fear. I gave them a legacy of freedom."
Leyson saw Schindler for the last time in 1974, just before the man regarded as a savior of Jews died. Schindler was on a visit to L.A. and Leyson joined the group of Jews who greeted him at the airport.

He started to introduce himself, but found it wasn't necessary.

"I know who you are," Schindler said, grinning at the middle-aged man before him. "You're Little Leyson."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Excuse (The Cat)

Candan Erçetin - Kedi:  Once upon a time (before greyhounds), Mr and Mrs Abq Jew were cat people. And we still love and appreciate cats, even though (cynics would say especially since) we are not currently living with any.

It's Erev Shabbat. There's snow in Jerusalem. And Gergedan (see The Powerful Sun, Sophie Milman; Indifference; Circus of Pain) once again offers a soothing aural and visual way to go into Shabbat and the weekend.

Once again Gergedan, about whom Abq Jew knows just a bit more than he did before! Back in November and October and June and February, Abq Jew wrote:

Abq's Chopper the Baby Rhino

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
Since then, Abq Jew has heard from Gergedan, who reports:
My name is Mete, I'm 45 and I'm from Istanbul, Turkey.

For me, music (and art in general) has always been a perfect bridge to discover other cultures. And when I share what I discover with everyone who visits my page, I feel we are all in contact with each other for the same beautiful thing. Different people from different cultures can understand and love each other through music.
Even if they don't understand their languages they can still feel something common around the same song. And this can help them be more open minded people. I'm just trying to show them the way. Your [laudatory] message, like many others, is the proof that I'm not in the wrong direction.
Here, for your Shabbat enjoyment, is Candan Erçetin - Kedi.

Abq Jew was even able to come up with a translation (via Dedicated to cats and their people everywhere!
Excuse (The Cat)

It's not me, the one missing you, it's the cat
It asked me for calling you to come back
It's not me, the one missing you, it's the cat
It asked me for calling you to come back

You're said to have loved it so much
Couldn't get enough of kissing it again and again
You're said to have slept by hugging it
Well, how can it be able to not missing you?

It is said to have also loved you so much
By your side during bad times
Also happy about your joy
Don’t you miss it?

It was not me, the one wanting your departure, it was the cat
The cat itself said to me later on that it's regretting
It was not me, the one wanting your departure, it was the cat
The cat itself said to me that it's regretting so much

You know very well, this cat loved you without any expectations
It was perhaps a little selfish like every other cat

Come on, admit it too
It was also a little your fault
Come on, say that you can't stand it any more
This cat shouldn't wait for you so long
This cat shouldn't keep on missing you so much 
Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Shostakovich: Piano Trio No 2 in E Minor

Maestro Guillermo Figueroa @ Congregation B'nai Israel: As Abq Jew has mentioned  in The Big Event 2013 (and may mention a few more times), “An Evening with Maestro Guillermo Figueroa”  at Congregation B'nai Israel on January 20 will provide an evening of beautiful music and fine dining for Albuquerqueans.

The concert program will feature the Piano Trio No 2 in E Minor (Opus 67) by Dmitri Shostakovich. Wikipedia (of course) provides some background on this composition, from which the following has been adapted.
Dmitri Shostakovich wrote this Piano Trio in 1944, in the midst of World War II. 
The composition was dedicated to Shostakovich's good friend, Ivan Sollertinsky, a Russian polymath and avid musician, who had recently died at age 41.
The work received its premiere in Leningrad on 14 November 1944. 
The piece consists of four movements:
  1. Andante.  Highly dissonant, it begins with an incredibly difficult passage in the cello, all harmonics. The rest of the movement is a mad fugue, requiring incredible amounts of technical prowess from all three instruments
  2. Allegro con brio.  A frenzied dance that never finds a settling place
  3. Largo.  Against a repeated background of piano chords, the violin and cello trade off dark, slow, and somber melodic lines. It fades into the last movement with hardly a break.
  4. Allegretto.  Staccato repeated notes begin this "Dance of Death" movement, which introduces a Jewish-style melody, and revisits the thematic content of the previous three movements. It ends in a tortured E Major chord, almost inaudibly.
To give you a prehearing (preview does not appear to be the right word here), here is the fourth movement of the Piano Trio. The performers are Oleg Kagan (Violin) and Sviatoslav Richter (Piano); and lehavdil Natalia Gutman (Cello).

By August of 1944, Russian troops had liberated some of the Nazi death camps - and news about the Holocaust had started to spread. Shostakovich was very grieved.

He wrote the final two movements of the Piano Trio as an elegy to the Jews killed in the Holocaust, and uses Jewish folk music as thematic material for this very moving ending.

In her book Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, Elizabeth Wilson  writes
The intonations of Jewish folk music appealed to the composer. As Shostakovich explained, ‘the distinguishing feature of Jewish music is the ability to build a jolly melody on sad intonations. Why does a man strike up a jolly song? Because he feels sad at heart.'
And if you'd like to hear Shostakovich himself perform this piece ... The Figueroa Project has just posted this video on their Facebook page!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Winter / Spring 2013 @ OASIS Abq

Great Courses @ OASIS:  You know about OASIS, right?  Abq Jew has featured OASIS Albuquerque on several occasions, and lists OASIS Abq courses of Jewish interest on his Learn/FiftyPlus page.

OASIS (as stated on the organization's website) is

 ... a unique educational program for adults age 50-plus who want to learn, grow and explore new ideas. We promote successful aging through lifelong learning, health programs and volunteer engagement. OASIS Albuquerque has just announced their Winter / Spring 2013 line-up of classes.

Registration is now open.

As usual, Executive Director Michael Nutkiewicz has made sure there are plenty of courses of Jewish interest.  This session's courses and instructors include:

Here I Am - No I'm Not! A Look at Moses & Jonah
Wed 06 February 2013 @ 10:30 am - #74

Instructor:  Deborah Brin
What It Is:  How are we to respond to the demands of our world and our own lives? Is Moses' response, "Here I am" right? Or how about Jonah's response, "Not me, I'm out of here"? In this class we will explore some biblical texts relating to Moses and Jonah to see what we can learn from how these two prophets responded to the Divine call.

The Magic & Mystery of e e cummings
Thu 07 February 2013 @ 10:30 am - #43
Instructor:  Norma Libman
What It Is:   One of the most intriguing poets of the early 19th century is e e cummings. We will look at his life as a writer and artist in a time of great cultural change in America. How did those changes influence his art? And did his unique take on the world influence other writers of his time? We will also decode his poetry so lines such as "next to of course god america i..." come into meaningful focus.

Human Free Will According to Religion & Science
Thu 14 & 21 February 2013 @ 10:30 am - #75
Instructor:  Paul J Citrin
What It Is:  There is much debate today over the question of whether humans truly have free will or are merely products of the way our brains have evolved. Using religious texts from around the world as well as some of the latest scientific research, we will seek a foundation on which to build our own conclusions.

Belief vs Behavior: a Christian Dilemma
Tue 19 February 2013 @ 10:30 am - #77
Instructor:  Hugh Horan
What It Is: Orthodoxy (right belief) is the core of Christianity, while orthopraxis (right behavior) serves as the basis for most other religions. Judaism speaks mainly of halakha, Islam of sharia -- both signifying the steps or path to take in daily life. By contrast, Christianity speaks more of creeds, things to believe. This has consequences: behavior can be observed, but articles of faith cannot always be proven. How did this difference emerge, and are there any signs of change today?

Ashes to Ashes, Dust in Your Face: Cremation & Comedy
Tue 19 February 2013 @ 1:00 pm - #11
Instructor:  Gail Rubin
What It Is: Everything you wanted to know about cremation and life planning but were afraid to ask! Gail Rubin, author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don't Plan to Die, teams with Merri Rudd, the author of New Mexico's self-authorization cremation law. Watch funny film clips, ask questions, laugh and learn!

Marriage & Divorce in the Old Testament
Wed 20 February 2013 @ 10:30 am - #78
Instructor:  Hilary Lipka
What It Is:  How is married women's sexuality treated in the Old Testament, and what can it tell us about what their lives might have been like in ancient Israel? Who was able to initiate divorce, and what would a woman's prospects be like after a divorce? We will answer these questions through close reading of biblical texts, focusing on what they reveal about societal attitudes towards and expectations of both married and divorced women regarding their sexuality.

Hello, Jerry! The Music World of Jerry Herman
Wed 20 February 2013 @ 1:00 pm - #54
Instructor:  Jane Ellen
What It Is:  "When they passed out talent," legendary actress Carol Channing said, "Jerry stood in line twice." Composer and lyricist Jerry Herman (1931- ) is responsible for some of Broadway's most enduring hits: Mame, La Cage aux Folles, and Hello, Dolly! His works belong to the Golden Age of Broadway musicals and can often be construed as overly optimistic; however, each one carries a timeless message of humanity's ability to triumph over despair, hatred, and prejudice.

One Million Bones - Studio Workshop
Wed 13 March 2013 @ 1:00 pm - #7
Instructor:  Susan McAllister
What It Is:  A studio workshop with One Million Bones, a project which utilizes hands-on art to raise awareness of genocides and humanitarian crises around the world. After a brief presentation, participants may join in discussion of situations in South Sudan, Sudan, Congo, Somalia, and Burma. During the conversation, everyone makes a replica human bone out of clay. These bones will be combined with others made by participants across the world and displayed on the National Mall in Washington, DC in June 2013.

The French Revolution, Napoleon, & the Jews
Tue 02 April (Pesach Day 8) 2013 @ 10:30 am - #36
Instructor:  Michael Nutkiewicz
What It Is:  The French Revolution set out to establish a constitutional democracy for all inhabitants of France. Yet the authors of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen asked whether Jews should be included as free citizens. When Napoleon came to power he submitted twelve questions to Jewish leaders to judge whether Jews were "ready" to enter the modern world. We will discuss the process of Jewish emancipation in the wake of the French Revolution.