Thursday, October 31, 2013

For Rifka's 10th Yahrzeit

Life in the Present Tense Updated: Abq Jew wrote about Rifka Rosenwein, of blessed memory, in September (see The Holiday Hangover).

In November 2007, Ben Yehuda Press of Teaneck, New Jersey, published Life in the Present Tense, a collection of 64 essays written by Rifka for "Home Front," her monthly column in The New York Jewish Week.

Rifka wrote the column for seven years, from 1996 until her death from cancer, at 42, in the fall of 2003.

Abq Jew had not realized that Rifka's 10th yahrzeit was approaching; it seems like only yesterday that she passed from this world. And then Abq Jew read this First Person account in The Jewish Week:
Higher Ground At Disney World
Miriam Lichtenberg 
The first half of the holiday morning service concludes. In accordance with tradition, many congregants exit the shul sanctuary and mingle outside for a few minutes. The Yizkor books containing the short memorial service are distributed. No one thinks to hand one to a teenage girl. A few understanding glances come my way, but those who don’t know me just stare. 
I feel out of place. I don’t belong here; I am too young for this. I feel alone. 
My mother died of cancer when I was 7 years old. Since then, I have been the youngest member of my congregation to remain inside the sanctuary during Yizkor. 
I watch my friends exit blissfully while I remain trapped inside, with people I don’t know, saying words I don’t understand. I keep my eyes cast down, avoiding unwelcome gazes. They don’t understand. I belong inside among the mourners. I am a mourner. 
The chazzan starts and I struggle to follow along. As he chants the Kel Ma’aleh Rachamim, I tuck my head into my siddur. I glance towards my father who is keeping his watchful eye on me from the other side of the mechitza. He gives me the courage to lift my head and voice the words that will reach my mother. 
Despite the awkwardness I feel, I will myself to go back each time. Partly because of the encouragement of my father and the commandment that is bestowed upon me to recite Yizkor. But what really draws me back time and time again is the idea of my mother’s soul drifting alone, only being lifted by the sweet prayers of her children. 
Saying Kaddish each year on her yahrtzeit generates the same emotions. This year will mark the 10th year since she passed away. Each year is more difficult than the last, as I grow older and learn more about who my mother was and what having my mother would have meant to me. But then again, I feel blessed. My family stayed strong, my dad remarried and we are happy. 
My most vivid memory is walking around Disney World with my mom, one year after she was diagnosed with cancer. 
When I say walk around, I must clarify that this was not by choice. If it were up to me, I would have been riding on the back of her new motorized wheelchair. She got to drive around, and I felt lucky — we did not have to wait on the long lines for the rides. I still remember the pride and joy of being with my mom, just the two of us, while my father and older brothers went on the more challenging rides. And I felt magic. Wherever we went, we were smiling and laughing. I have a photo of the two of us posed with the cartoon character Buzz Lightyear. To this day, I’m the only one who can look at the photo and smile. 
I especially treasure the memory of the two of us on the spaceship ride. I controlled the height lever and made our ship fly higher and higher, with my mother playfully shrieking that we should go lower and lower. I can no longer reminisce with her. We cannot laugh over the spaceship ride, or about how ridiculous it seemed to have dolls reminding us that “it’s a small world afterall.” 
Still, there is something about my trip to Disney World, walking around the park just my mom and me, that left a profound impact. I refuse to let my subsequent knowledge of the trip — that a social worker who works with families of cancer patients helped plan the trip — diminish my wondrous memory. 
This story may be so significant to me because she died some months after we returned. Or maybe it’s because this story allowed her to never really die. 
I don’t have many memories of my mother, as I was so young. But somehow, I can describe to you in full and accurate detail the feeling of air whooshing through my hair as I flew higher and higher with my mother at my side. At Yizkor, I imagine my prayers rising, going higher and higher, until my mother hears them.  
At first, Abq Jew did not recognize the author's name; like many modern couples, Rifka and (lehavdil) her husband had different last names, and their kids took their father's. And then Abq Jew saw:
Miriam Lichtenberg is a senior at SAR High School in Riverdale. She is the daughter of the late Rifka Rosenwein, who wrote the “Home Front” column on this page for seven years and died 10 years ago this month. 
Last Sunday - October 27, the actual date of Rifka's yahrzeit - the Drisha Institute hosted a Day of Learning. Rifka's particular learning passion was for Mishnah; the Drisha Institute's Mishnah Project is dedicated in her memory.

To give you an appreciation of the reverence with which Rifka's memory is held, the program included:

  • Avraham Walfish on Commandment and Control in Marriage: The Poetics of Mishnah Kiddushin Chapter 1
  • Devora Steinmetz on Mishnah and Memory: An Educational Exploration
  • Eliezer Diamond (with whom Abq Jew has been privileged to learn) on From Cases to Concepts: R. Jose's Views on Property Rights as Reflected in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Talmudim
  • Remarks from Rifka's family and friends

The story of Rifka Rosenwein does not end here; indeed, it will never end. The memoir (for such it is) of Rifka's daughter, Miriam Lichtenberg, is one indication of Rifka's forever quality.

And here is another. On December 17, 2006, The New York Times announced the wedding of Sandee Brawarsky and Barry Lichtenberg - Rifka's widower. The NYT's announcement told their story:
The couple met at the suggestion of Mr. Lichtenberg’s first wife, the late Rifka Rosenwein. She and Mr. Lichtenberg had three children together. Before she died in 2003, after battling cancer, he said, she told him that he should marry again. 
“She said to me ‘There are chapters yet unwritten in your life.’ ” Mr. Lichtenberg said. “I initially balked. I’d never met Sandee, so I said, ‘Who is this woman?’ Rifka answered, ‘She’s a good person, she’s pretty and she would be good for you.’ ”
What, Abq Jew hears you ask, does all this mean? So Abq Jew will tell you:

God only knows

May the memory of Rifka Rosenwein
be forever a blessing

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Leslie Maitland: JCC Visiting Author

Crossing the Borders of Time: The Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque is proud to present our New Mexico Jewish community’s annual celebration of the written word.

And the fourth (and final, this year) author up is:

Leslie Maitland
Crossing the Borders of Time
Sunday November 3 ~ 3:00 pm
Wine & Cheese $10 advance; $15 door.

Click here to register.

On a pier in Marseille in 1942, with desperate refugees pressing to board ships to escape France before the Nazis choked off its ports, an 18-year old German Jewish girl was pried from the arms of her beloved Catholic Frenchman who she promised to marry.

Janine and her family fled to refuge in Cuba, which thwarted the young lovers’ dream. She married an American man, started a family, but continued to yearn for her lost love. Her daughter, Leslie Maitland (award winning NYT journalist), set out to find him.

The result is this impeccably researched nonfiction account that reads like a novel.  It provides a vivid historical portrait of Jewish life in Holocaust-era Germany, France, and Cuba.

Here is a forshbite (that's Yiddish for hors d'oeuvres, one of the most-looked-up words on the Internet) of what's in store for Albuquerque. 

You may purchase books through:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Firebird & Tchaikovsky!

The Figueroa Music and Arts Project: They're back! With their first classical music and arts event in Albuquerque this year!

The Firebird & Tchaikovsky!
plus ĺnsula Tropical, for Violin and String Orchestra
Guillermo Figueroa, Conductor & Violin
The Figueroa Music and Arts Project Symphony Orchestra 
Festival Ballet Albuquerque
National Hispanic Cultural Center
Friday 2 November 2013 @ 6:00 pm
Sunday 3 November 2013 @ 2:00 pm
Tickets:  $22, $34, $46, $60

Of The Firebird, Wikipedia tells us:
The Firebird (French: L'oiseau de feu; Russian: «Жар-птица», Zhar-ptitsa) is a ballet and orchestral concert work by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1910 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company, with choreography by Michel Fokine. 
The ballet is based on Russian folk tales of the magical glowing bird that can be both a blessing and a curse to its owner. When the ballet was first performed on 25 June 1910, it was an instant success with both audience and critics.
Stravinsky was a young, virtually unknown composer when Diaghilev recruited him to create works for the Ballets Russes. The Firebird was his first project. 
Originally, Diaghilev approached the Russian composer Anatoly Lyadov, but later hired Stravinsky to compose the music. 
The ballet has historic significance not only as Stravinsky's breakthrough piece -"Mark him well", said Sergei Diaghilev to Tamara Karsavina, who was dancing the title role: "He is a man on the eve of celebrity..." - but also as the beginning of the collaboration between Diaghilev and Stravinsky that would also produce Petrushka and The Rite of Spring.
Want to learn more about
The Figueroa Music and Arts Project

Please visit the Project's website - and please take a look at Guillermo Figueroa's video introduction to the upcoming performances.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jewish Academy Says "Hey, Mozart!"

Jewish Academy Alumni @ NHCC: This is an article ... with great musical news ... by Mary-Ellin Brooks, Community Relations Coordinator of the Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences. Mary-Ellin's got the copyright; all rights reserved. This article appears in the October 2013 issue of The New Mexico Jewish Link.

Music by Jewish Academy Alumni to Premiere at Hey Mozart! New Mexico Concert 
It’s no secret that many of world’s greatest composers were Jewish, and that music permeates every aspect of Jewish life and culture. Two young composers, both former students at the Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences, have the opportunity to continue that tradition.
Analise Granados and Mark Koshkin are among the 17 winners of the 2013 Hey, Mozart! New Mexico young composers competition. Their melodies, titled "Temptations" and "Running Kitty," respectively, will be professionally arranged and performed at the Hey, Mozart! concert in November. 
Incorporated in 2006, Hey, Mozart! New Mexico is a creative and collaborative intergenerational music-making project centered on a children’s composition competition. Children aged 12 and under from throughout the state submit an original melody to the project either in music notation or in a recording of a performance. The emphasis is on the original melody, not the child’s performance skills. 
From the pool of melodies, 16-18 are selected to become part of the original project. The children work with a professional or university student arranger, also a New Mexico resident, to create an orchestral version of the melody. Hey, Mozart! New Mexico presents a concert with its partner, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, at which each child performs his or her melody. The children then hear their melodies for the first time, fully realized and performed by a live orchestra, before an audience of 600 people. A professionally produced DVD is made of the performance, so they can enjoy the experience – and perhaps be re-inspired – whenever they like. 
"I was very impressed that with a small student body, the Jewish Academy would have two selected composers." 
said Brookes McIntyre, President of Hey, Mozart! New Mexico. "One of our goals is to help children make music a part of their lives. The ensemble partners: Quintessence, the Albuquerque Youth Orchestra and the Albuquerque Concert Band showcase a wide range of ways to participate without necessarily becoming a professional musician." 

Analise Granados is currently a fifth grader at Manzano Day School, though she attended the Jewish Academy (then known as Solomon Schechter Day School of Albuquerque) for four years. She began studying violin at age four, and currently plays with the Albuquerque Junior Strings Orchestra. Her teachers are Laura and Maria Dickinson. Her favorite subjects include writing, reading, and drawing. A very active young lady, Granados also loves to swim, and has danced in a production of The Nutcracker.
Like Granados, Mark Koshkin attended the Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences, where science was his favorite subject, and completed fifth grade in May of this year. He likes that there is a variety of music everywhere. He enjoys video games, hiking, climbing and simply daydreaming (often when creative ideas are born), and is currently in sixth grade at 21st Century Public Academy, a local charter school.
Both Granados and Koshkin studied music with Pauleta Hendrickson at the Jewish Academy. 
Hendrickson, “Morah Pauleta” to her students, had toyed with the idea of using the Hey, Mozart! competition as part of her curriculum for a couple of years. “When I found a copy of the recording from 2009, I did some research and decided to give it a try,” she says. “I treated ‘composition’ as musical storytelling and integrated it into each of my classes.” 
Hendrickson, who has a diverse background in music ministry, music and physics, explained that Analise Granados composed her melody for her own instrument, violin. “Analise lit up when I told her about Hey, Mozart! and was excited about the opportunity to have her melody orchestrated. Her melody was simple, yet very complete. She called her piece ‘Temptations,’ and it offers the listener a few pieces of repeated melody, then transitions into a similar melody, with just enough difference to make you want to hear both at once - truly ‘tempting,’” said Hendrickson. 
Granados agrees. “You can feel the title in the song,” she said. On working with local musician and arranger Art Sheinberg, she commented, “I really like how [he] is arranging my piece, what he turned it into. Participating in Hey, Mozart! helps my violin career, too. Composing is so creative.” Granados plans to continue exploring the composing process as part of her music studies. 
Mark Koshkin’s melody is called "Running Kitty." The title was inspired by the family cat, Jade, whom Koshkin was watching outside. “I was feeling sorry for her,” he says, “because she couldn’t [at that moment] come in the house.” 
Hendrickson describes Koshkin’s melody as a “tumultuous piece that sounds more like a lion than a kitty. It jumps through chords and patterns, leaving the listener to think that the kitty once belonged to Beethoven, is very mischievous and likely to get into big trouble. I am very excited to hear the orchestrations of both pieces. After hearing recordings from the 2009 competition and I know we're in for a treat.” 
Hendrickson sings with Quintessence: Choral Artists of the Southwest, who will be featured performers at this year’s Hey, Mozart! New Mexico concert. 
“The Jewish Academy and Hey, Mozart! New Mexico share the belief that the visual and performing arts are essential to teaching the whole child.” 
said Steve Barberio, Head of School at the Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences. “We’re so proud of Analise and Mark, and congratulate them on their achievement.” 
Granados’ “Temptations” was arranged by Art Sheinberg of Albuquerque, and Koshkin’s “Running Kitty” was arranged by Steve Paxton of the University of Santa Fe.
The free concert will be held on Friday, November 1, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Journal Theatre in Albuquerque, and will feature all of the 2013 Hey, Mozart! composers. 
By Mary-Ellin Brooks, Community Relations Coordinator at the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences. Mary-Ellin also sings with Quintessence: Choral Artists of the Southwest, and is thrilled to be a part of this year’s Hey, Mozart! performance. The Jewish Academy, New Mexico’s only Jewish elementary school, is enrolling year-round in all grades. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Since You've Asked

Rabbi Marc Angel on Parshat Hayyei Sarah: As Abq Jew first mentioned a couple years ago (see Walking, Curses, and the Unaffiliated), the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
offers a vision of Orthodox Judaism that is intellectually sound, spiritually compelling, and emotionally satisfying. Based on an unwavering commitment to the Torah tradition and to the Jewish people, it fosters an appreciation of legitimate diversity within Orthodoxy. It encourages responsible discussion of issues in Jewish law, philosophy, religious worldview, and communal policy. It sees Judaism as a world religion with a profound message for Jews, and for non-Jews as well. It seeks to apply the ancient wisdom of Judaism to the challenges of contemporary society.
The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals was founded in October 2007 by Rabbi Dr. Marc D. Angel. Since 1969, Rabbi Angel has served Congregation Shearith Israel, the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York City, founded in 1654. He is now devoting himself full time to the work of the Institute, serving as its Director.
This week, Rabbi Angel - a prolific and award-winning author - turns his attention to the senior Jews, elderly Jews, and the old and getting older Jews in our communities.  In his article, How Old Are You? How Are You Old?, Rabbi Angel looks into the story of the later years of Abraham and Sarah.

Note: for your convenience, Abq Jew has reprinted the entire article below.  But you are strongly encouraged to visit the Institute's website - - to learn more about the Institute's work, and especially to read and view Rabbi Angel's thoughts and opinions.
“And Abraham was old, well stricken in years” (Bereishith 24:1). The Hebrew phrase for “well stricken in years” is “ba bayamim” which literally means that Abraham came in days. When the Torah describes the elderliness of Abraham and Sarah, it uses similar wording: “And Abraham and Sarah were old, well stricken in years” (ba’im bayamim); literally, this means that Abraham and Sarah came in days,

If the Torah informs us that Abraham is old (zaken) and that Abraham and Sarah are old (zekeinim), what is added by the words ba bayamim or ba’im bayamim? What do these words actually mean? How does one “come in days?”

While “ba bayamim” may simply be an idiomatic expression for emphasizing elderliness, it might also be alluding to something else, something far more important.

Scientists who have studied the aging process have found that human aging can be evaluated in different ways. The chronological age records the number of years of a person’s life. That is an objective fact. However, there are other measures of aging as well; and these measures vary from person to person and are not entirely correlated to chronological age. 
Physiological age refers to one’s physical health and physical condition. There are people who may be young chronologically but whose bodies are already “old.” A person aged 40 may have the physical features of a person aged 80. They are in poor health. Their muscles are flabby. Their body signs indicate physical deterioration. Others, though,may be chronologically old but are in terrific shape; their muscles are well-toned; their body signs are much “younger” than their chronological age. They may be 80 chronologically, but their bodies have the vitality and strength of someone much younger.

Another measure of the aging process relates to emotional/psychological age. Some people are chronologically young but their minds are tired and depressed. They plod through life unenthusiastically and mechanically, lacking energy and direction. Others, though, may be chronologically old but they are emotionally and psychologically quite young. They live with energy and purpose; they have intellectual curiosity; they yearn to grow in learning and experience. They may look “old” on the outside; but inside they are brimming with vitality.

When Abraham and Sarah are described as zaken/zekeinim, this refers to their chronological ages. But when the Torah adds the words “ba bayamim/ba’im bayamim” it may be teaching us that Abraham and Sarah were living actively, making every day count. They were physiologically, emotionally and psychologically much younger than their chronological ages. They did not live passive lives waiting for their days to pass. Rather, they “came in days,” i.e. they actively greeted each day, they were ready for new challenges and new adventures.

This interpretation is borne out by the Torah narratives themselves. Right after Abraham and Sarah are described as being old and ba’im bayamim, the Torah informs us that Abraham aged 100 and Sarah aged 90 are going to have a baby! 
As old as they were chronologically, they were ready to start a new phase in life with the energy and enthusiasm of a young couple awaiting their first child. When the Torah tells us that Abraham was old and “ba bayamim,” he was busy making plans to marry off his son, Isaac. Abraham was at least 137 years old then—but was very much alive, very much involved in the doings of his family and his society.

Although the chronological aging process is automatic and beyond human control, the physiological, emotional and psychological aging processes can be influenced by human intervention. Humans can lower their physiological ages by exercising, staying fit, eating healthfully. Humans can lower their psychological/emotional ages by keeping alert mentally, by continuing to learn, by keeping focused on new goals to accomplish.

Abraham and Sarah “came in days”—they dealt with each day actively and purposefully. This is an important lesson for all human beings to learn. It’s not just a question of how old you are, but of how you are old!
Since you've asked ... here is the song of that name, beautifully sung by the youngster Shawn Colvin (57) and the forever young songwriter Judy Collins (74). And as for Mr & Mrs Abq Jew ... don't ask.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Francesca Segal: JCC Visiting Author

The Innocents: The Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque is proud to present our New Mexico Jewish community’s annual celebration of the written word.

And the third author up is:

Francesca Segal
The Innocents
Sunday October 27 ~ 3:00 pm
Afternoon Tea $10 advance; $15 door.
Click here to register.

Part ambiguous morality tale, part guidebook on north London Jewish community culture, this is an irresistible first novel. Francesca Segal was born in London, studied at Oxford and Harvard University before becoming a journalist and critic. She is the daughter of Erich Segal, who wrote Love Story. Winner of the 2012 Costa First Novel Award & 2012 Jewish Fiction Award. 

Here is a forshbite (that's Yiddish for hors d'oeuvres, one of the most-looked-up words on the Internet) of what's in store for Albuquerque. 

You may purchase books through:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Louisa Shafia: JCC Visiting Author

The New Persian Kitchen: The Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque is proud to present our New Mexico Jewish community’s annual celebration of the written word.

And the second author up is:

Louisa Shafia
The New Persian Kitchen
Wednesday October 23 ~ 10:30 am
Luncheon $25 advance; registration required.

Click here to register.

Louisa Shafia’s latest cookbook is a fresh, luscious take on a time-honored cuisine, which makes the exotic and beautiful tradition of Persian cooking both accessible and inspiring. Because Iran’s Jewish community is the oldest outside of Israel, over 2500 years old, there is a strong tradition of Persian Jewish cooking.   Shafia’s own Muslim-Jewish roots make the story behind the cuisine come vibrantly alive. 

You can read what the Asia Society wrote about Louisa Shafia here. And here is a forshbite (that's Yiddish for hors d'oeuvres, one of the most-looked-up words on the Internet) of what's in store for Albuquerque. 

You may purchase books through:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lobos for Israel Hosts Barak Raz

Former צה״ל (IDF) Spokesperson: Lobos for Israel will be hosting Barak Raz, who recently finished his five year service as the Israel Defense Forces’ main spokesperson.

Lobos for Israel
Barak Raz
Experiences and Challenges
hile Serving in the Israel Defense Forces
UNM Mitchell Hall 101
Wednesday October 23 ~ 7:00 pm

Captain Barak Raz has just completed two years as spokesperson for the Judea & Samaria Division of Israel Defense Forces Central Command. His previous positions in the Spokesperson's Unit include Head of North American Media Desk, Instructor and commander at the IDF School for Communication, and Foreign Press Branch Operations Officer.

Raised in Queens, New York, Barak now lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. He earned an MA in Contemporary Middle Eastern Studies from Tel Aviv University (2011) and a BA in Political Science, Judaic Studies, and International Studies from SUNY-Binghamton University (2005).

Come hear Barak speak about controversies with certain Israeli military actions, the experiences and challenges he faced while serving in the West Bank, and what it was like to work with organizations and individuals from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and around the world.

This personal insight is a rare opportunity
you don’t want to miss!

Can't make it? Then check out Barak's recent blog post,
No perfect answers, in the Times of Israel.

Abq Jew encourages the Albuquerque Jewish community
to support Lobos for Israel, the brand-new, official,
pro-Israel student group at the University of New Mexico.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Conservative Judaism on Two Feet

Making Connections to Judaism: Congregation B'nai Israel, the only Conservative synagogue in New Mexico, invites the community to the first lecture in its Fall 2013 Making Connections to Judaism Speakers' Series. Evening lectures (7:00 - 8:00 pm), each preceded (6:30 pm) by a lite dinner.

Sarah Egelman
Conservative Judaism:
History, Beliefs, Practices
Congregation B'nai Israel
Tuesday October 22

Sarah Egelman, of the Communications, Humanities, and Social Sciences Department at CNM, introduces us to the history, beliefs, and practices of Conservative Judaism in her upcoming lecture.

Conservative Judaism is more often defined by what it is not - it's not Orthodox, and it's not Reform - than by what it is. Since its inception, Conservative Judaism has stood for the combined principle of

Tradition and Change

But what does that mean? How much tradition? How much change? Is there something that Conservative Judaism stands for - more than what it stands against?

Yes, there is.

The traditional and egalitarian values and practices of Conservative Judaism are concisely enumerated in Emet ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism. The Introduction tells us that the Conservative Movement had its inception in Germany, in 1845.
In 1845 a meeting of modern rabbis convened in Frankfurt. On the third day Rabbi Zechariah Frankel left the meeting in protest against a proposed resolution that declared that the Hebrew language was not "objectively necessary" for Jewish worship, but should be retained "in deference to the older generation".
When in 1857 the Jewish Theological Seminary, the first modern institution for the training of rabbis, was founded in Breslau, Frankel was appointed its Rector. Within a few years the institution became the dominant intellectual force in the religious life of central and western European Jewry and beyond.
Basically, the movement which Frankel founded was a reaction against Reform on the one hand, and Orthodoxy on the other. The Breslau Seminary was the inspiration and model for similar institutions founded in Vienna, Budapest, London and Berlin, as well as overseas on the American continent.
And in these United States, no discussion of the origins of Conservative Judaism would be complete without mention of The Trefa Banquet, which celebrated the first (1883) graduating class of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.

As for its set of beliefs, the Contents of Emet ve-Emunah give some indication of what Conservative Judaism deems important:
  • God
  • Revelation
  • Halakhah (Jewish Law)
  • The Problem of Evil
  • Eschatology: Our Vision of the Future
  • God's Covenant - The Election of Israel
  • The State of Israel and the Role of Religion
  • Israel and the Diaspora
  • Between Jew and Fellow Jew
  • Relations with Other Faiths
  • Social Justice: Building a Better World
  • On Women
  • The Jewish Home
  • TefIllah (Prayer)
  • Talmud Torah (Jewish Study)
  • The Ideal Conservative Jew 
This, of course, is only an indication. You have to read the entire 46-page pamphlet to begin to understand exactly what Conservative Judaism stands for.

But maybe the final section - "The Ideal Conservative Jew" - can help us. Let's take a closer look:
Three characteristics mark the ideal Conservative Jew.

First, he or she is a willing Jew, whose life echoes the dictum, "Nothing human or Jewish is alien to me." This willingness involves not only a commitment to observe the mitzvot and to advance Jewish concerns, but to refract all aspects of life through the prism of one's own Jewishness. That person's life pulsates with the rhythms of daily worship and Shabbat and Yom Tov. The moral imperatives of our tradition impel that individual to universal concern and deeds of social justice. The content of that person's professional dealings and communal involvements is shaped by the values of our faith and conditioned by the observance of kashrut, of Shabbat and the holidays. That person's home is filled with Jewish books, art, music and ritual objects. Particularly in view of the increasing instability of the modern family, the Jewish home must be sustained and guided  by the ethical insights of our heritage.

The second mark of the ideal Conservative Jew is that he or she is a learning Jew. One who cannot read Hebrew is denied the full exaltation of our Jewish worship and literary heritage. One who is ignorant of our classics cannot be affected by their message. One who is not acquainted with contemporary Jewish thought and events will be blind to the challenges and opportunities which lie before us. Jewish learning is a lifelong quest through which we integrate Jewish and general knowledge for the sake of personal enrichment, group creativity and world transformation.

Finally, the ideal Conservative Jew is a striving Jew. No matter the level at which one starts, no matter the heights of piety and knowledge one attains, no one can perform all 613 mitzvot or acquire all Jewish knowledge. What is needed is an openness to those observances one has yet to perform and the desire to grapple with those issues and texts one has yet to confront. Complacency is the mother of stagnation and the antithesis of Conservative Judaism.

Given our changing world, finality and certainty are illusory at best, destructive at worst. Rather than claiming to have found a goal at the end of the road, the ideal Conservative Jew is a traveler walking purposefully towards "God's holy mountain."
This is the ideal, toward which all those who call themselves Conservative Jews (and this includes Abq Jew) must continuously and continually strive. It ain't easy.

Now if - after you attend Sarah Egelman's lecture, of course - you'd like to learn lots more about Conservative Judaism, Abq Jew strongly recommends The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Jews.
A decade in the making, The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Jews contains a century of thoughtful inquiry into the most profound of all Jewish questions: how to suffuse life with timeless values, how to remain loyal to the covenant that binds the Jewish people and the God of Israel and how to embrace the law while retaining an abiding sense of fidelity to one s own moral path in life.
Written in a multiplicity of voices inspired by a common vision, the authors of The Observant Life explain what it means in the ultimate sense to live a Jewish life, and to live it honestly, morally, and purposefully.

שׁבּת וַיֵּרָא

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Larry Tye: JCC Visiting Author

Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero: The Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque is proud to present our New Mexico Jewish community’s annual celebration of the written word.

And the first author up (with two presentations) is:

Larry Tye
Superman: Who Knew He Was Jewish?
Sunday October 20 ~ 10:00 am
Bagel Breakfast $15 advance; $20 at door.

Click here to register.

Superman, who turns 75 this year, is not just the world's favorite superhero but the longest-lasting. What does his endurance tell us about him and, even, about us? Author and journalist Larry Tye explores Superman's creation at the hands of two Jewish teenagers in the midst of the Great Depression, his evolution over the last 75 years to capture the hopes and fantasies of each new generation, and a persona that speaks especially to our Jewish world, yesterday and today.

Larry Tye
Superman: Super Secrets
Sunday October 20 ~ 2:00 pm
$5 kids under 17; $10 adults.

Click here to register.

Author and journalist Larry Tye tells us things about our favorite superhero that even his most loyal fans didn't know, but will wish they did. Join him for an afternoon of fun and learning, about matters secular and religious, for kids, their parents and grandparents. Watch clips from TV and film, enjoy a slide show, and try your knowledge at a Superman trivia contest, with free books as rewards.

You can read what Larry Tye wrote for the Albuquerque Journal here. And here is a forshbite (that's Yiddish for hors d'oeuvres, one of the most-looked-up words on the Internet) of what's in store for Albuquerque. 

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