Friday, August 30, 2013

Shabbat Nitzavim-VaYelech: Getting It

Seventh of Seven Sabbaths of Consolation: Following Tisha b'Av, there are seven prophetic readings of consolation - all from Isaiah - that comfort us after the Black Fast and prepare us, emotionally and spiritually, for the upcoming High Holidays.

To Abq Jew, consolation and That Thing You Do! are, of course, synonymous.

In Week 1, Abq Jew introduced (or re-introduced) you to TTYD! the movie. In Week 2, Abq Jew guided you through the first of the many, many great songs from TTYD!

In Week 3, Abq Jew was honored to introduce you to Del Paxton and Marguerite. In Week 4, Abq Jew (along with PBS!) paid tribute to the Girl Groups of the '50s and '60s.

In Week 5, and in continued celebration of the First Birthday of his First Grandchild (see The Fable of the Goat (מעשה העז)) - Abq Jew spoke in favor of youthful exuberance. In Week 6, Abq Jew showed you the most beautiful prayer in the Torah:

Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the land that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.

And now, here we are (who said "At last"?) in Week 7, the final Sabbath of Consolation. What, Abq Jew hears you ask, have we learned?

To answer your question, Abq Jew would like you to view Behind the Scenes, which describes with candor what it took to make TTYD!.

Did you see The Move that Mr White (Tom Hanks) makes at 4:35, during The Wonders' performance of Dance With Me? (OK ... Abq Jew hereby grants you permission to skip to that part.)

To Abq Jew, The Move is the highlight of the entire movie. The Move shows that Mr White Gets It. It's not about the business, the fame, or even the fortune.

It's about the music.

As we, the Jewish community of Albuquerque and beyond. move away from Tisha b'Av and toward the High Holidays - let's keep in mind what it's all about. It's not about who got the best seats, who got an aliyah, or even the rabbi's sermon.

It's about returning to the Source.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico! 
Happy Labor Day, America!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

An Unintended Journey

A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia: Albuquerque's Janet Yagoda Shagam has written - carefully, concisely, and clearly - the required guide for those who provide care for others with dementia.

Amazon tells us:
According to the 2009 census, more than five million people living in the United States have Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia.
Not reported in these statistics are the fifteen million family caregivers who, in total, contribute seventeen billion hours of unpaid care each year.
This book addresses the needs and challenges faced by adult children and other family members who are scrambling to make sense of what is happening to themselves and the loved ones in their care. 

And the cover itself states that An Unintended Journey provides:
  • Everything from diagnosis to estate management
  • Tools for self-reflection and getting through your day
  • Information for veterans and their caregivers
  • Family dynamics - how to avoid pitfalls
  • Navigating the financial and legal aspects
  • Riding the emotional roller coaster
But wait; there's much more to this story.

First of all, you should know that Janet Yagoda Shagam is a very talented storyteller.

In An Unintended Journey, she takes her personal story and tells it in a fresh, engaging way that makes it universal. But not just universal - Ms Shagam makes her story universally appealing.

That's important - because there's a lot that caregivers need to learn about caring for those with dementia. And they'll never get through it all if that learning comes hard.

Here is what Abq Jew learned from An Unintended Journey:
  1. Make sure it's dementia that you are dealing with.
    On one hand: forgetting where you put your keys is not a sign of dementia. But looking at your keys and not recognizing what they're for may be.
    On the other hand: symptoms of dementia and symptoms of depression - not uncommon in those whose physical and emotional health are failing - may be easily confused.
  2. Make sure you take care of the caregiver.
    Put on your own oxygen mask first, then help others. You may think this goes without saying - but let's make sure, and say it.
  3. Make sure you choose your battles wisely.
    You may think of this as a corollary of #2. Those with dementia are not always rational, and often cannot be reasoned with. Don't drive yourself crazy trying. It's OK to give in on the little things.
  4. Make sure you have Power of Attorney.
    Without legal authority to make financial and medical decisions on behalf of your loved one, all the advice offered above - and in An Unintended Journey - may go by the wayside. The exact nature of this authority may vary by state or locality - but make sure you take care of the paperwork.
How, Abq Jew hears you ask, did Ms Shagam come to know so much and write so well? Her bio tells us:
Janet Yagoda Shagam is a freelance medical and science writer; a visiting professor at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany; an artist and printmaker; and the coauthor (with Rebecca G. Rogers, MD, and Shelley Kleinschmidt) of Regaining Bladder Control: What Every Woman Needs to Know. She serves on the New Mexico Area Agency on Aging statewide Alzheimer’s Task Force.
Abq Jew - an award-winning technical writer (ActionMedia 750 Software Installation Guide, et al) and certified medical writer himself - hereby recognizes and salutes and congratulates Janet Yagoda Shagam for having the scientific and creative chops to make An Unintended Journey a readable and valuable contribution to our literature.

But please - don't just take Abq Jew's word for it! 

First of all, there's

Janet Yagoda Shagam
Author Signing
An Unintended Journey
Barnes & Noble @ Coronado Mall
Saturday September 21 @ 2:00 pm

Then, there's

Janet Yagoda Shagam
Two-Day OASIS Course
A Caregiver's Guide
to Dementia
Tuesday October 8 @ 10:30 am
Tuesday October 15 @ 10:30 am

Almost finally, there's the review of An Unintended Journey in Publishers Weekly, which you can read here.

And finally ... did Abq Jew mention that Janet Yagoda Shagam is also an artist? But that's for another blog post ....

Remembrance - by Janet Yagoda Shagam

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A New Milestone: 111,111

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  On August 28, 2013, at 2:37 pm New Mexico (Mountain) Time, this Abq Jew Blog achieved 111,111 All Time Page Views.

We achieved 100,000 All Time Page Views
on July 9 - just over 7 weeks ago.
That's about 220 Page Views per Day.
Thank you!

And thank you to the One Above!
May 5774 be a year of sweetness and blessing for all!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Annual Community Selichot Service

5774 is Just Around the Corner: And thus, it is time for the Albuquerque Jewish community's annual observance of Selichot, with this year's special guest - violinist David Felberg.

Community Selichot Service
Congregation Albert
Saturday Evening ~ August 31
with violinist David Felberg

The evening will begin at 7:30 pm with a meditation hosted by Rabbis Min Kantrowitz and Deborah Brin. The Havdalah service will take place at 8:00 pm.

After Havdalah, there will be a special musical program featuring David Felberg, concertmaster of the Santa Fe Symphony and music director of the Albuquerque Philharmonic.

The annual David and Dorothy Yudin Oneg will follow, with the formal Selichot service commencing at 9:30 pm.

The Selichot service will feature the Congregation Albert band, the choirs of Congregations Albert and B’nai Israel and the participation of Cantorial Soloist Beth Cohen as well as Cantor Barbara Finn and Rabbis Deborah Brin, Arthur Flicker, Min Kantrowitz and Harry Rosenfeld.


David Felberg, an Albuquerque native, violinist and conductor, is artistic director of Chatter / Ensemble Music New Mexico and co-founder of EMNM’s 3 series: Chatter Sunday, Chatter Cabaret, Chatter 20-21.
He is amazing. He understands the tone of the Selichot musical program - contemplative, introspective, meditative, inspirational.  We are so fortunate to have this great violinist play during our Selichot program.
       - Rabbi Min Kantrowitz

Music is one of the ways with which we help set the mood for the
High Holy Days. We are honored that David Felberg will be sharing
a special musical program with us to help us all get in a special mood
for the High Holy Days.
       - Cantor Barbara Finn
Mr Felberg is concertmaster of the Santa Fe Symphony and music director of the Albuquerque Philharmonic. He teaches contemporary music at the University of New Mexico, and is the associate concertmaster of the NM Philharmonic. He maintains a robust conducting and concert soloist career, performing throughout the southwest.

Selichot services are sponsored by Congregations Albert, B’nai Israel and Nahalat Shalom
with financial support from the Jewish Federation of New Mexico
and the Yudin Endowment of the B’nai Israel Sisterhood. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chai Mitzvah @ Congregation Albert

What Do You Want Your Jewish Life to Look Like? Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld and Congregation Albert are pleased to announce:

The Chai Mitzvah program is coming to Albuquerque!

Chai Mitzvah is a nine-month program
that meets once-a-month on Tuesdays @ 7:00 pm
from August 27, 2013 through May 13, 2014.
Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld of Congregation Albert
will be teaching and guiding you along your journey.

Chai Mitzvah provides you with an opportunity to "Grow Your Judaism" in a personally meaningful way.

Through Chai Mitzvah, you will participate in a monthly learning group with a specially designed curriculum; study a Jewish topic of personal interest; adopt a new ritual or deepen an exisitng practice; engage in social action activities; and celebrate.

This is your opportunity to engage in the many learning, ritual, and social action projects that Congregation Albert and the Albuquerque Jewish community have to offer.

In addition to attending monthly classes, we will help you design a Chai Mitzvah program that is meaningful to you. Watch this video to learn more!

For more information, or to register, please contact Cricket Apel
(505) 883-1818 ext. 3004   Material Fee: $36.00

Your experience will culminate in a graduation celebration
and a tree planted in Israel in your honor. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Shabbat Ki Tavo: Blessings and More

Sixth of Seven Sabbaths of Consolation: Following Tisha b'Av, there are seven prophetic readings of consolation - all from Isaiah - that comfort us after the Black Fast and prepare us, emotionally and spiritually, for the upcoming High Holidays.

To Abq Jew, consolation and That Thing You Do! are, of course, synonymous.

In Week 1, Abq Jew introduced (or re-introduced) you to TTYD! the movie. In Week 2, Abq Jew guided you through the first of the many, many great songs from TTYD!

In Week 3, Abq Jew was honored to introduce you to Del Paxton and Marguerite. In Week 4, Abq Jew (along with PBS!) paid tribute to the Girl Groups of the '50s and '60s.

In Week 5, and in continued celebration of the First Birthday of his First Grandchild (see The Fable of the Goat (מעשה העז)) - Abq Jew spoke in favor of youthful exuberance.

Here we are in Week 6 of 7. The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tavo. The first part of the parashah describes what will happen when the People of Israel enter their Land of Israel, and ends with (says Abq Jew) the most beautiful prayer in the Torah:

Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the land that you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Ki Tavo is also known for its Rebuke: first a series of blessings, and then a series of curses - the blessings if Israel follows Torah, and the curses if otherwise.

The curses are traditionally read soto voce in the synagogue, and euphemisms are read in place of certain words that are considered too harsh for the congregation to hear.

There is nothing, however, soto voce about That Thing You Do! The title track (written by Adam Schlesinger), which Abq Jew realizes he has not yet in this series linked to.

But here we go!

Join us next week - same time, same place - for the final edition of

Sabbaths of Consolation - That Thing You Do! 

Until then -
Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Herb Alpert; My Father

The Lonely Bull: Today is August 21, Abq Jew's father's birthday. Richard W Yellin, of blessed memory, would have been 89 today.

Which is the same age as, lehavdil, Great Grand Mama Sheila Kronrot, may she live here in Albuquerque to 121 (she shouldn't go suddenly at 120).

Herb Alpert is only 78. Seventy-eight is looking younger and younger these days.

"Remember," Abq Jew's father used to tell him:
"When Mozart was your age, he had been dead for 20 years."

For those of you too young to remember, Wikipedia tells us:
Herbert "Herb" Alpert (born March 31, 1935) is an American musician most associated with the group variously known as Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass, or TJB.
 Want to know more? Of course you do!
Alpert was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Tillie (née Goldberg) and Louis Alpert. His family was Jewish, and had come to the U.S. from Radomyshl (in present-day Ukraine) and Romania.
His father, although a tailor by trade, was also a talented mandolin player. His mother taught violin at a young age. His older brother David was a talented young drummer. Alpert himself began trumpet lessons at the age of eight and played at dances as a teenager.
Fascinating, eh what? You're welcome! So here is where it gets really interesting:
Alpert set up a small recording studio in his garage and had been overdubbing a tune called "Twinkle Star" ...
During a visit to Tijuana, Mexico, Alpert happened to hear a mariachi band while attending a bullfight.
Following the experience, Alpert recalled that he was inspired to find a way to express musically what he felt while watching the wild responses of the crowd, and hearing the brass musicians introducing each new event with rousing fanfare.
Alpert adapted the trumpet style to the tune, mixed in crowd cheers and other noises for ambiance, and renamed the song "The Lonely Bull".
 [I]t caught on and became a Top Ten hit in 1962.
Who, Abq Jew hears you ask, were the members of the Tijuana Brass?
Alpert used to tell his audiences that his group consisted of "Four lasagnas, two bagels, and an American cheese":
John Pisano (electric guitar); Lou Pagani (piano); Nick Ceroli (drums); Pat Senatore (bass guitar); Tonni Kalash (trumpet); Herb Alpert (trumpet and vocal); and Bob Edmondson (trombone).
And how about that other "mariachi" group, the Baja ("Aja") Marimba Band?
The Tijuana Brass's success helped spawn other Latin acts, notably Julius Wechter (long-time friend of Alpert's and the marimba player for the Brass) and the Baja Marimba Band ....

Herb Alpert never had the pleasure of meeting Abq Jew's father (although Jack Benny did, at the Tel Aviv Hilton, in 1968 - but that's another story).

But his father was nevertheless able to introduce Abq Jew to Herb Albert, via the most technologically advanced instrument known to then-modern man:

The Eight-Track Tape Recorder

Wikipedia again, for those of you who think portable CD players are ancient:
Stereo 8, commonly known as the eight-track cartridge, eight-track tape, or simply eight-track, is a magnetic tape sound recording technology. It was popular in the United States from the mid-1960s through to the early 1980s ...
Stereo 8 was created in 1964 by a consortium led by Bill Lear of Lear Jet Corporation, along with Ampex, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Motorola, and RCA Victor Records (RCA).
And this is how Abq Jew remembers his father, Herb Alpert, and The Lonely Bull.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rally To Denounce Terrorism!

Against 'Operation Rescue': As he stated in Passover Matzah! Breaking News! -

Abq Jew firmly believes that, when confronting vital questions about politics, philosophy, or ... ahem ... religion, the life-affirming answer is always

More Freedom!

But Abq Jew has recently become aware of a threat to that freedom, right here in Albuquerque: the so-called "pro-life" group Operation Rescue.

Who are they? According to the group's website,
Operation Rescue® is one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation. Operation Rescue® recently made headlines when it bought and closed an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas and has become perhaps the most visible voice of the pro-life activist movement in America. Its activities are on the cutting edge of the abortion issue, taking direct action to restore legal personhood to the pre-born and stop abortion in obedience to biblical mandates.
Abq Jew is sorry to report that Operation Rescue has recently targeted Albuquerque, which the group describes as "the Late-term Abortion Capital" - and where there may be an initiative on the ballot this fall that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

One of Operation Rescue's targets in Albuquerque this past week was ... the the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum - where, according to The Raw Story:
As part of its “Do You Know? Do You Care?” campaign, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust staged a protest Thursday outside of the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum.
The activists not only held signs reading “ABQ: America’s Auschwitz,” they entered the museum to hand out leaflets and demand it commission an exhibit comparing the Holocaust to abortion. 
The Albuquerque Journal reported that a doctor's home was also a target of an abortion protest. And that the city's three mayoral candidates agree that the New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum isn’t the right place for an anti-abortion [protest] exhibit.

Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld of Congregation Albert told KOB-TV
It is offensive when someone co-opts what's yours. It's offensive and it's hurtful, especially given the topic and that Jewish religious views on when human life begins are very different than the religious views of these protestors ...
I think that people are trying to impose their religious beliefs on others, and that's just plain wrong.
Want to do more to defend Albuquerque's freedom? Join the Rally!

Rally to Denounce Terrorism in Albuquerque!
Albuquerque Civic Plaza
Tuesday August 20 ~ Noon to 1:00 pm
Show your support for the midwives, women, doctors, and Jewish community of Albuquerque

We are midwives, doctors, mothers, members of the Jewish community and other concerned citizens. We are horrified that the extremist group Operation Rescue and its affiliates have invaded our city. They have harassed the Holocaust museum, handed out wanted-style postcards with the pictures, names and addresses of local doctors, terrorized a birth center (while a woman was giving birth inside!) and also terrorized the home of a local family physician.

Albuquerque needs to know Operation Rescue’s history. When they invaded Wichita, they escalated and escalated, and did not stop until the doctor they were targeting was assassinated.

No matter your personal view of the right for women to choose, we can all agree that terrorism cannot be a tolerated tactic to advance any cause. We are gathering to defend and show our support for the women, midwives, doctors, and Jewish community of our city. We will rally at Civic Plaza on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 from noon to 1 pm calling upon our mayor to Denounce Terrorism in Albuquerque.

Operation Rescue and its affiliates are now targeting midwives, physicians, and the Holocaust museum in Albuquerque. Mayor Richard Berry was photographed posing with one of the organizers of these extremist groups. The photo’s caption indicated Berry’s support of their efforts.

We demand that our Mayor make a public statement denouncing these groups and their tactics of terrorism. He must pledge to protect the safety of midwives, women, the Jewish community, and physicians in Albuquerque.

The organizers of this event are a grassroots group of local citizens concerned about the safety of Albuquerque. We are not affiliated with any political or non-profit organizations. For more information, contact Mary Lou Singleton at 505-573-5134.
This is not just a women's issue, and this is not just a Jewish issue. Nevertheless, Hadassah is aware of and supports our local participation in this rally:
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, decries the recent passage of a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation, which passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 228-196, contains no exceptions for fetal anomalies or situations in which the woman faces severe threats by her pregnancy, and only provides exceptions for women impregnated by rape or incest if they can prove that they reported those incidences. In reaction to this extensive and rigid legislation, Marcie Natan, national president of Hadassah, released the following statement:

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, condemns the passage of the nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and views this legislation as an encroachment on a woman’s right to reproductive choice, an invasion of privacy and an erosion of individual freedom. As an organization founded and run by generations of women leaders, Hadassah has long been a proud advocate for women’s reproductive rights and healthcare and strongly supports a woman’s right to choose in accordance with her own religious, moral and ethical values.

Hadassah will continue to fight attempts to restrict, through federal legislation, state administrative regulations, or court action, the right to reproductive choice and family planning programs delivering any and all services. Women everywhere, in consultation with medical advice, should have the right to make their own decisions regarding their health and families.   
Back to the Holocaust Museum. Here is a clip from the Friday, August 9, 2013 edition of The Kyle Kulinski Show, which airs live on Blog Talk Radio and Secular Talk Radio Monday - Friday 5-7 pm Eastern.

Rally! Tuesday! Civic Plaza! Noon!


Post-Rally Update from KOB

Friday, August 16, 2013

Shabbat Ki Tetze: Exuberance

Fifth of Seven Sabbaths of Consolation: Following Tisha b'Av, there are seven prophetic readings of consolation - all from Isaiah - that comfort us after the Black Fast and prepare us, emotionally and spiritually, for the upcoming High Holidays.

To Abq Jew, consolation and That Thing You Do! are, of course, synonymous.

In Week 1, Abq Jew introduced (or re-introduced) you to TTYD! the movie. In Week 2, Abq Jew guided you through the first of the many, many great songs from TTYD!

In Week 3, Abq Jew was honored to introduce you to Del Paxton and Marguerite. In Week 4, Abq Jew (along with PBS!) paid tribute to the Girl Groups of the '50s and '60s.

Here we are in Week 5, and in continued celebration of the First Birthday of his First Grandchild (see The Fable of the Goat (מעשה העז)) - Abq Jew would like to speak in favor of youthful exuberance.

In TTYD!, that exuberance is best and almost poignantly displayed in the scene where the members of The Oneders (later, The Wonders) first hear their song being played on the radio in Erie, PA.

To Abq Jew, this week's 10-year anniversary of The Great Blackout brought back fond memories of his youthfully exuberant escapade to rescue his son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor, from the Wilds of Weehawken, to which he had escaped from Manhattan.

The lights were out in Weehawken. It was going to be dark along the entire route from our home in Livingston. Abq Jew wasn't sure he had enough gas in the car for the trip - and without electricity, gas stations couldn't pump gas.


To make things even more interesting: cell service was intermittent at best; Dov could not describe, in brief phone calls, where he was (seemed to be a Hess gas station; JFK Blvd?); Abq Jew had never driven in Weehawken-by-the-River; and he had no GPS.

Abq Jew also had no map, and couldn't have read it anyway while driving in the dark.

Thank G*d for Abq Jew's dear friend Robert Velthuizen! 

Robert actually worked in Weehawken, had gas in his car, and knew several ways (just in case) to get to the Hess station on JFK Blvd.

And he has always had way more than his share of joie de vivre, i.e. youthful exuberance.

It took a little time (no traffic lights; New Jersey drivers) - but Robert and I found Dov in the dark and brought him safely home.

That was the most youthful exuberance Abq Jew had displayed since he broke his collarbone scoring the go-ahead run at his company softball game on August 31, 1989.

But that's a story for another time and another blog post ....


The New Mexico Jewish community mourns the untimely passing
of Hannah Bruch, whose youthful exuberance will forever be missed.
בּרוך דיין האמת     May her memory be for a blessing. 
  Nevertheless and all the more so ...
 Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque
 Good Shabbos, New Mexico

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Fable of the Goat (מעשה העז)

In honor of the
First Birthday of his First Grandchild!

Abq Jew wishes to share
- with Lena Rose and with you, dear readers - the
Best. Short Story. Ever.
The Fable of the Goat (מעשה העז)
Shmuel Yosef Agnon (שׁ״י עגנון)

The Fable of the Goat is one of Agnon's best-known and most-loved works. Schocken (Israel) has just published it (and two other short stories) in an illustrated version:

Shelosha Sipurim (Three Stories)
by S.Y. Agnon, illustrated by Shay Charka
Schocken Publishing House (Israel)
48 pp ~ 69 NIS

Jeffrey Saks of The Jewish Review of Books recently published a review of this ... comic book? ... titled
The Man Who Thought in Pictures

In describing his friend S.Y. Agnon’s style of thinking, Gershom Scholem emphasized the extent to which he was “unable and unwilling to have a conversation about abstract ideas—rather only in stories or parables [meshalim].”
You’d start to speak to Agnon conceptually, and he’d immediately change the subject—‘Let me tell you a story, let me tell you a maiyseh.’ He thought in pictures. Agnon expressed everything, completely legitimately, as one who thinks in pictures.
This was a perceptive remark, so it is interesting that so few of Agnon’s stories have been illustrated . . . . 
But only now, forty-three years after the Nobel laureate’s death, have Agnon’s stories been rendered into a comic book. Israeli illustrator and cartoonist Shay Charka has put pictures to words for three of Agnon’s stories that have special appeal for children.
One of Agnon’s best-known short stories, and likely the first that many school children encounter, is “Fable of the Goat,” the story of a magical cave tunnel between Exile and the Land of Israel, and a delightful but unfortunate goat who can lead the way through.
Actually, this story was the first of Agnon’s ever to be illustrated. When it was published in 1925, very shortly after Agnon’s own return from his twelve-year sojourn in Germany, the story was simultaneously issued in two publications—for adults in the literary journal Hedim, and as part of a series of booklets for children illustrated by Betzalel artist Ze’ev Raban.
The fact that the same story would be presented as both adult and children’s literature highlights the rich midrashic or aggadic nature of Agnon’s writing.
And here is The Fable of the Goat (מעשה העז), which you can find online here, on the website of United Jewish Israel Appeal (UK), along with a series of Discussion Questions.

The Fable of the Goat never fails to bring tears to Abq Jew's eyes, for "there is no longer a short way."

The Fable of the Goat (מעשה העז)
Shmuel Yosef Agnon (שׁ״י עגנון)

The tale is told of an old man who groaned from his heart.

The doctors were sent for, and they advised him to drink goat’s milk. He went out and bought a she-goat and brought her into his home. Not many days passed before the goat disappeared. They went out to search for her but did not find her. She was not in the yard and not in the garden, not on the roof of the house of study and not by the spring, not in the hills and not in the fields. She tarried several days and then returned by herself; and when she returned, her udder was full of a great deal of milk, the taste of which was as the taste of Eden. Not just once, but many times she disappeared from the house. They would go out in search of her and would not find her until she returned by herself with her udder full of milk that was sweeter than honey and whose taste was the taste of Eden.

One time the old man said to his son, “My son, I desire to know where she goes and whence she brings this milk which is sweet to my palate and a balm to all my bones.” His son said to him, “Father, I have a plan.” He said to him, “What is it?” The son got up and brought a length of cord. He tied it to the goat’s tail.

His father said to him, “What are you doing, my son?”

He said to him, “I am tying a cord to the goat’s tail, so that when I feel a pull on it, I will know that she has decided to leave, and I can catch the end of the cord and follow her on her way.” The old man nodded his head and said to him, “My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will rejoice.”

The youth tied the cord to the goat’s tail and minded it carefully. When the goat set off, he held the cord in his hand and did not let it slacken until the goat was well on her way and he was following her. He was dragged along behind her until he came to a cave. The goat went into the cave, and the youth followed her, holding the cord. They walked thus for an hour or two, and maybe even a day or two. The goat wagged her tail and bleated, and the cave came to an end.

When they emerged from the cave, the youth saw lofty mountains, and hills full of the choicest fruit, and a fountain of living waters that flowed down from the mountains; and the wind wafted all manner of perfumes. The goat climbed up a tree by clutching at the ribbed leaves. Carob fruits full of honey dropped from the tree, and she ate of the carobs and drank of the garden’s fountain.

The youth stood and called to the wayfarers: “I adjure you, good people, tell me where I am, and what is the name of this place?” They answered him, “You are in the Land of Israel, and you are close by Safed.”

The youth lifted up his eyes to the heavens and said, “Blessed by the Omnipresent, blessed be He who has brought me to the Land of Israel.” He kissed the soil and sat down under the tree.

He said, “Until the day breath and the shadows flee away, I shall sit on the hill under this tree. Then I shall go home and bring my father and mother to the Land of Israel.” As he was sitting and feasting his eyes on the holiness of the Land of Israel, he heard a voice proclaiming:

“Come, let us go out to greet the Sabbath Queen.”

And he saw men like angels, wrapped in white shawls, with boughs of myrtle in their hands, and all the houses were lit with a great many candles. He perceived that the eve of Sabbath would arrive with the darkening, and that he would not be able to return. He uprooted a reed and dipped it in gallnuts, from which the ink for the writing of the Torah scrolls is made. He took a piece of paper and wrote a letter to his father:

“From the ends of the earth, I lift up my voice in song to tell you that I have come in peace to the Land of Israel. Here I sit, close by Safed, the holy city, and I imbibe its sanctity. Do not inquire how I arrived here but hold on to this cord which is tied to the goat’s tail and follow the footsteps of the goat; then your journey will be secure, and you will enter the Land of Israel.”

The youth rolled up the note and placed it in the goat’s ear. He said to himself: When she arrives at Father’s house, Father will pat her on the head, and she will flick her ears. The note will fall out, Father will pick it up and read what is written on it. Then he will take up the cord and follow the goat to the Land of Israel.

The goat returned to the old man, but she did not flick her ears, and the note did not fall. When the old man saw that the goat had returned without his son, he clapped his hands to his head and began to cry and weep and wail, “My son, my son, where are you? My son, would that I might die in your stead, my son, my son!”

So he went, weeping and mourning over his son, for he said, “An evil beast has  devoured him; my son is assuredly rent in pieces!”

And whenever he saw the goat, he would say, “I will go down to my grave in mourning for my son.” The old man’s mind would not be at peace until he sent for the butcher to slaughter the goat. The butcher came and slaughtered the goat. As they were skinning her, the note fell out of her ear. The old man picked up the note and said, “My son’s handwriting!”

When he had read all that his son had written, he clapped his hands to his head and cried, “Vay! Vay! Woe to the man who robs himself of his own good fortune, and woe to the man who requites good with evil!” He mourned over the goat many days and refused to be comforted, saying, “Woe to me, for I could have gone up to the Land of Israel in one bound, and now I must suffer out my days in this exile!”

Since that time the mouth of the cave has been hidden from the eye, and there is no longer a short way. And that youth, if he has not died, shall bear fruit in his old age, full of sap and richness, calm and peaceful in the Land of the Living.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

APS: Good for the Jews?

Welcome back to school! 

Today, Tuesday August 13, is the first day of class
on the Albuquerque Public Schools student calendar.

Abq Jew therefore reminds Albuquerque drivers:
Be careful out there!

Checking the Abq Jewish Events Calendar,
we see that there are approximately

[19 days]
until Rosh Hashanah, which this year falls on
Thursday September 5 and Friday September 6!

What does this mean for Jewish kids
who attend Albuquerque Public Schools?

Kids can take off for Rosh Hashanah
(and Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah;
plus the 7th and 8th days of Passover)

and have those days counted
as "excused absences".

Let's take our kids to shul on the High Holidays!

Back in June, KOAT's colorfully-named Melissa Colorado told us:
APS students can take off school for religious holidays
by Melissa Colorado

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Students in New Mexico’s largest school district will now be allowed an excused absence to observe religious holidays.

On Wednesday evening, the Albuquerque Public Schools Board updated the treatment of religious issues at a Policy and Instruction Committee meeting at their headquarters.

Carrie Robin Menapace, an APS policy analyst, said the subtle changes "gives parameters for the district to work within when it comes to talking about religious issues in schools."

The board voted to allow religious students an "excused absence" versus a "non-penalized" absence to observe religious holidays.

The board also discussed religious displays in the classroom.

"Religious exhibits and displays should be limited again to their academic value within the classroom," Menapace said.

However, discussion about the differences in religion is encouraged.

"But we don't say one is right, one is wrong or promote one over the other," Menapace said. "We remain as neutral as possible, that children feel like they can talk about religion, and the classroom is a safe space to do that.”

The board also voted that APS shall not conduct or sanction any prayers or public blessings at any district-sponsored activity.
Here is the official APS policy statement:
IH1 – Treatment of Religious Issues

Albuquerque Public Schools shall strive to maintain a neutral stance in matters involving religion. Albuquerque Public Schools shall adhere to the following guidelines regarding religion and the instructional day:
  • The school year calendar shall be planned to avoid conflict with religious holidays.
  • In case of conflict, students shall be allowed excused absences to observe religious holidays.
  • The sacred literature of all faiths may be studied only for its historical, artistic, cultural, literary or other secular importance.
  • Religious exhibits, music or display of religious objects or symbols may be permissible only if they are used as learning materials in these studies.
School facilities may be used by religious groups outside of instructional hours or when such use will not conflict or interfere with the school program in accordance with Board of Education policy and administrative procedural directive.

Albuquerque Public Schools shall not conduct or sanction any invocations, benedictions, or formal prayers at any district-sponsored activities.
Let's take our kids to shul on the High Holidays!

Note: The Religious Holiday policy for APS students appears to be more just and equitable than the policy for APS teachers. There's still work that needs to be done!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mikey Weinstein to Speak @ B'nai Israel!

MRFF Founder & President: The Men's Club of Congregation B'nai Israel hosts a Brunch with Guest Speaker Mikey Weinstein, President and Founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

Mikey Weinstein
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Congregation B'nai Israel
Sunday August 18 ~ 10:00 am
RSVP: Rick Hammer (505) 821-0316

Mikey Weinstein is the undisputed leader of the national movement to restore the obliterated wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by humankind: the United States armed forces.

He is described by Harper’s magazine as “the constitutional conscience of the U.S. military, a man determined to force accountability.”

Mikey’s family has a long and distinguished U.S. military history spanning three consecutive generations of military academy graduates and over 130 years of combined active duty military service in every major combat engagement our country has been in from World War I to the current Global War on Terror.

Mikey is a 1977 Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Mikey has been married for over 35 years to his wife, Bonnie. He is the proud parent of two sons and one daughter. His oldest son and daughter-in-law are 2004 Graduates, Mikey’s youngest son graduated in the Class of 2007, and his son-in-law is a 2010 graduate from the Air Force Academy.

Seven total members of Mikey’s family have attended the Academy. His father is a distinguished graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Mikey spent 10 years in the Air force as a “JAG” or military attorney serving as both a Federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.

Mikey has appeared innumerable times on all of the major cable and terrestrial TV news networks and is a frequent guest on national radio networks as well.

His constitutional activism has been covered and profiled extensively in the print media, including the Associated Press, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, the Denver Post, The Guardian, and many other national and international newspapers and periodicals, including Time magazine.

Mikey was named one of the 50 most influential Jews in America by the Forward, one of the nation's preeminent Jewish publications. He also has received a nomination for the JFK's Profile in Courage Award and received the Buzzflash Wings of Justice Award. In addition Mikey was honored by a distinguished civil rights organization, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, with the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk-Taker Award for those who have taken risks in the pursuit of justice.

Reviled by the radical fundamentalist Christian far-right, Mikey has been given many names by his enemies including "Satan", "Satan's lawyer", "the Antichrist", "That Godless, Secular Leftist", "Antagonizer of All Christians", "Most Dangerous Man in America" and "Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan".

On November 7, 2011, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State presented Mikey Weinstein with AU's first ever Person of the Year Award. In their press release, AU describes MRFF as "the leading voice protecting church-state separation in the military."

On November 18, 2012, for the fourth consecutive year, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was officially nominated again for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize (its fifth total nomination).

In December 2012, Defense News named Mikey one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense.

Mikey's latest book, No Snowflake in an Avalanche: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, its Battle to Defend the Constitution, and One Family's Courageous War Against Religious Extremism in High Places was released in January 2012. It details MRFF's prominent case studies, struggles, and the violent reactions to MRFF advocacy.

Mr Weinstein will be signing
copies of his books after his speech. 
Books will be available for purchase at the event.
Please RSVP by calling Rick Hammer at (505) 821-0316
or by email to no later
than Wednesday August 14th.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Eydie Gormé, Singer, Dies at 84

Better Half of Steve & Eydie: Eydie Gormé, a popular nightclub and television singer who had a huge solo hit in 1963 with “Blame It on the Bossa Nova,” died on Saturday. She was 84.
The New York Tines reports:
Ms. Gormé was a successful band singer and nightclub entertainer when she was invited to join the cast of Steve Allen’s local New York television show in 1953.

She sang solos and performed duets and comedy skits with Mr. Lawrence, a young singer who joined the show a year earlier. When the program became NBC’s “Tonight Show” in 1954, the young couple went with it.

They married in Las Vegas in 1957.

“Eydie has been my partner on stage and in life for more than 55 years,” Mr. Lawrence said in a statement. “I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and even more the first time I heard her sing. While my personal loss is unimaginable, the world has lost one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time.”
. . .

Although usually recognized for her musical partnership with Mr. Lawrence, Ms. Gormé broke through on her own with the Grammy-nominated “Blame It on the Bossa Nova.” The bouncy tune about a dance craze at the time was written by the songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Her husband had had an equally huge solo hit in 1962 with “Go Away Little Girl,” written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King [see Loco-Motion].

Ms. Gormé scored another solo hit in 1964, but this time for a Spanish-language recording.

Ms. Gormé, who was born in New York City to Sephardic Jewish parents, grew up speaking English and Spanish.
. . .
“Our Spanish stuff outsells our English recordings,” Mr. Lawrence said in 2004. “She’s like a diva to the Spanish world.” 
Wikipedia tells us:
Gormé was born as Edith Garmezano in The Bronx, New York in 1928, the daughter of Fortuna and Nessim Garmezano. Her father was a tailor. She is a cousin of singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka. Her parents were Sephardic Jewish immigrants, her father from Sicily and her mother from Turkey.
. . .
Gormé and Lawrence had two sons, David, a composer, and Michael, who died suddenly from ventricular fibrillation resulting from an undiagnosed heart condition in 1986, at the age of 23. Michael was an assistant editor for a television show at the time of his death and was apparently healthy despite a previous diagnosis of slight arrhythmia.

Gormé and Lawrence were in Atlanta, Georgia at the time of his death, having performed at the Fox Theater the night before. Upon learning of the tragedy, Frank Sinatra, a friend, sent his private plane to pick up the couple so that they could fly to New York to meet their other son, David, who was attending school at the time. Following their son's death, the couple took a year off before touring again
. . .

Gormé died on August 10, 2013, six days shy of her 85th birthday, at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas following a brief, undisclosed illness. Her husband, Steve Lawrence, was at her bedside, along with their surviving son, David.
May the memory of Eydie Gormé be for a blessing.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Shabbat Shoftim: The Chantrellines

Fourth of Seven Sabbaths of Consolation: Following Tisha b'Av, there are seven prophetic readings of consolation - all from Isaiah - that comfort us after the Black Fast and prepare us, emotionally and spiritually, for the upcoming High Holidays.

To Abq Jew, consolation and That Thing You Do! are, of course, synonymous.

In Week 1, Abq Jew introduced (or re-introduced) you to TTYD! the movie. In Week 2, Abq Jew guided you through the first of the many, many great songs from TTYD! In Week 3, Abq Jew was honored to introduce you to Del Paxton and Marguerite.

Here we are in Week 4, and Abq Jew (along with PBS!) pays tribute to the Girl Groups of the '50s and '60s (that's 1950s and 1960s, children).

And here we have the Chantrellines (Kennya Ramsey, Julie Harkness, and Darlene Dillinger) singing Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart.

It will probably not surprise you to learn that HMHHMH was written by Gary Goetzman, Mike Piccirillo ... and Tom Hanks.

More about Girl Groups from (where else?) Wikipedia:
A girl group is a popular music act featuring several young female singers who generally harmonise together.

Girl groups emerged in the late 1950s as groups of young singers teamed up with behind-the-scenes songwriters and music producers to create hit singles, often featuring glossy production values and backing by top studio musicians.
Some acts had certain members taking the lead vocalist position with the other members as supporting vocalists. In later eras the girl group template would be applied to disco, contemporary R&B, and country-based formats as well as pop.

The Spice Girls and [Destiny's Child and] TLC are considered the best-selling girl groups of all time. [You can check the list here.]
And of the history of the Girl Groups of the '50s and '60s, Wikipedia tells us:
The Chordettes, The Fontane Sisters, and The McGuire Sisters were popular from the dawn of the rock era, if not earlier, with all three acts topping the pop charts at the end of 1954 to the beginning of 1955. The DeCastro Sisters' "Teach Me Tonight" reached #2 at nearly the same time. 
The Lennon Sisters were a mainstay on The Lawrence Welk Show from 1955 on. In early 1956 the Bonnie Sisters were a one-hit wonder with "Cry Baby", as were The Teen Queens with "Eddie My Love". The Bobbettes lasted for 5 1/2 months with "Mr. Lee" in 1957, and The Chantels were charting from 1957 to 1963 (including 1958's "Maybe" and 1961's "Look In My Eyes").
However, the group often considered to have started the girl group genre is The Shirelles, who first reached the Top 40 with "Tonight's the Night", and in 1961 became the first girl group to reach #1 on the Hot 100 with "Will You Love Me Tomorrow", written by Brill Building songwriters Gerry Goffin and Carole King [see Loco-Motion].
The Shirelles solidified their success with five more top 10 hits, most particularly 1962's #1 hit "Soldier Boy", over the next two and a half years.

Other songwriters and producers quickly recognized the potential of this new approach and recruited existing acts (or, in some cases, created new ones) to record their songs in a girl-group style.
Phil Spector recruited The Crystals, The Blossoms, and The Ronettes, while Goffin and King handled much of the output of The Cookies. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller would likewise foster The Exciters, The Dixie Cups, and The Shangri-Las.
Other important girl group songwriters included Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. Motown labels also masterminded several major girl groups, beginning with The Marvelettes and later with Martha and the Vandellas, The Velvelettes, and The Supremes.
The Gypsies, later renamed The Flirtations, sounded like The Supremes. The Paris Sisters had success from 1961, especially with "I Love How You Love Me", to 1964. The Sensations, The Orlons, The Chiffons, and The Angels were also prominent in the early 1960s.
One-hit wonder The Jaynetts' "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" achieved a mysterious sound quite unlike that of any other girl group. A few months later, one-hit wonder The Murmaids took David Gates' "Popsicles and Icicles" to the top 3.
The Jewels' "Opportunity" was small in late 1964. Except for a small number of the foregoing groups and possibly The Toys and the Sweet Inspirations, the only girl group with any significant chart presence from the beginning of the British Invasion through 1970 was The Supremes.
Did you notice that Abq Jew has managed to get through almost this entire blog post about Girl Groups without once mentioning the issue of Kol Isha (A Woman's Voice)?

You're welcome!

But if you'd like to learn more, Wikipedia and provide some starting points.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!