Friday, May 30, 2014

JEPD (and MMLJ) Visit ABQ

The Bible @ The Vortex: Yes, it was way back in the Fall of 2011 (see Rejoicing Again) that Abq Jew first mentioned The Reduced Shakespeare Company and their definitive work, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

Well, Abq Jew has more than a few misgivings in announcing that the RSC (as they are known familiarly) have (British usage) perhaps outdone their brushed-up Shakespeare with their new production of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged).

Which will be presented by and at The Vortex Theater in Albuquerque for about one month, starting tonight.

As The Vortex's website tells us,
From the creators of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged, comes The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), a madcap, fast-paced review of the Old and New Testaments as you’ve never seen them before. 
Act 1 is Old Testament, Act 2 is New Testament and both poke gentle fun at everyone and everything—we are, as the play reminds us, "...equal in the eyes of the Lord."
Now, for traditionally serious Jewish Biblical wise men, there is no way to compare the "Old" Testament with the "New" Testament. There is only one Testament: the Bible. And the holiest part of the Bible - the Torah - is, in its entirety, the direct word of God.

But the "New" Testament, by all accounts, is (says Wikipedia)
--- an anthology, a collection of Christian works written in the common Greek language of the first century, at different times by various writers, who were early Jewish disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. In almost all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books. 
Even for traditionally serious Christian Biblical wise men, the holiest part of the New Testament - the Gospels - are the works of men.

But, Abq Jew must point out, there are traditional wise men and - lehavdil - there are scholars.

Most serious Christian Biblical scholars, Wikipedia tells us
... hold to the two-source hypothesis which claims that the Gospel of Mark was written first. According to the hypothesis, the authors of the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke then used the Gospel of Mark and the hypothetical Q document, in addition to some other sources, to write their individual gospel accounts. 
These three gospels are called the Synoptic gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. Scholars agree that the Gospel of John was written last, by using a different tradition and body of testimony. 
In addition, most scholars agree that the author of Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Scholars hold that these books constituted two halves of a single work, Luke-Acts.
Most serious Jewish Biblical scholars, Abq Jew claims, subscribe to what is formally known as the Documentary Hypothesis - but what is colloquially known as JEPD. Wikipedia tells us
The documentary hypothesis (DH), sometimes called the Wellhausen hypothesis, proposes that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors (editors). 
And what were these parallel and complete narratives?
  • the Yahwist source (J): hypothetically written c. 950 BCE in the southern Kingdom of Judah.
  • the Elohist source (E): hypothetically written c. 850 BCE in the northern Kingdom of Israel.
  • the Priestly source (P): hypothetically written c. 500 BCE by Kohanim (Jewish priests) in exile in Babylon.
  • the Deuteronomist (D): hypothetically written c. 600 BCE in Jerusalem during a period of religious reform.
Wikipedia also notes that
While the hypothesis has been increasingly challenged by other models, especially in the last part of the 20th century, its terminology and insights continue to provide the framework for modern theories on the composite nature and origins of the Torah and Bible compilation in general.
The source distribution of the first four books of the Torah (Deuteronomy is, of course, Deuteronomist) comes out looking like this:

And what, Abq Jew hears you ask, do the different streams of Judaism have to say about the Documentary Hypothesis? In the words of the ancient song,

Different strokes for different folks.

The Orthodox, of course, have nothing to say at all about the Documentary Hypothesis. It is seen as anathema, heretical, irrelevant, and of no consequence.

The Reform, and other liberal persuasions, look at the Documentary Hypothesis and say (this is Abq Jew's quick summary) "I told you so."

But the Conservative Movement, which advocates Tradition and Change, has a real fun time with the Documentary Hypothesis. Wikipedia says
Doublethink is the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts. Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. 
Somewhat related but almost the opposite is cognitive dissonance, where contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one's mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance — thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.
The Big Thinkers of the Conservative Movement are not, Abq Jew firmly believes, ordinary people. So the term "doublethink" does not apply. But neither does the term "cognitive dissonance" - because the Big Thinkers are aware of the contradiction yet feel no conflict.

Instead, the Big Thinkers of the Conservative Movement echo the wise and timeless words of Walt Whitman:

And - in case he has not made this clear -

Abq Jew stands with the Conservative Movement.
The Torah is the work of man and the Torah is the work of God.

And for the record -

Abq Jew also sits with the Conservative Movement.
On Shabbat and holidays, at  Congregation B'nai Israel. 

And by the way -

The holiday of Shavuot is coming!
Let's celebrate the Giving of the Torah!

All of which has little to do with The Bible @ The Vortex. So here is a video to perhaps entice you to see the show and.

Put the "fun" back in fundamentalism!

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A New Milestone: 203,503 Page Views

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  On May 29, 2014, at 8:29 am New Mexico (Mountain) Time, this Abq Jew Blog achieved 203,503 All Time Page Views.

We achieved 120,920 All Time Page Views
on September 29, 2013 - just eight months ago.
That's about 340 Page Views per Day.
Thank you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

AFME 2014 Presents: Brave Miss World

A Film of Jewish Interest: The Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is proud to present:

Brave Miss World
Saturday June 7 ~ 5:00 pm
KiMo Theatre

Miss Israel Linor Abargil was abducted, stabbed, and raped in Milan, Italy, at age 18. She had to represent her country in the Miss World competition only six weeks later. When to her shock she was crowned the winner, she vowed to do something about rape.

The film follows her from the rape, to her crowning and through her crusade to fight for justice and break the silence.

During her travels to speak out and meet with other rape victims, her own trauma begins to resurface. Her serial rapist becomes eligible for parole, and she has to hunt down his previous victims in order to help keep him behind bars.

The film explores the trauma of sexual assault through one young woman’s journey from teenage rape victim to Miss World to empowered lawyer and activist.

The Consulate of Israel is a proud sponsor of this screening.

Purchase tickets here at KiMo Tickets. View the trailer here.


This is only one of the Films of Jewish Interest that the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is presenting this year. Click here to learn more.

And there's much more to the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience than just Films of Jewish Interest. Click here to learn more about AFME Films, Panels, and Special Events.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Morningtown Ride

A Shabbos Shnooze: As Abq Jew mentioned during Pesach (see Away By The Sea That Was Red), the Australian folk-pop group The Seekers are now in the midst of their 50th Anniversary 'Golden Jubilee' Farewell Tour of the United Kingdom.

Morningtown Ride, a children's song written and performed by Malvina Reynolds in 1957, appeared on The Seekers' 1965 album Hide and Seekers

Abq Jew first heard the song performed by The Limeliters - who are also known for such classics as Have Some Madeira, My Dear and Hey Li Lee Li Lee.

As for Malvina Reynolds - she, God bless her, was a real piece of work. Wikipedia says
Malvina Reynolds (August 23, 1900 – March 17, 1978) was an American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, best known for her song-writing, particularly the songs Little Boxes and Morningtown Ride
Malvina Milder was born in San Francisco to David and Abagail Milder, Jewish and socialist immigrants, who opposed involvement in World War I. 
She married William ("Bud") Reynolds, a carpenter and labor organizer, in 1934. They had one child, Nancy Reynolds Schimmel (a songwriter and performer in her own right), in 1935. She had earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and later earned a doctorate there, finishing her dissertation in 1938. 
Though she played violin in a dance band in her twenties, she began her songwriting career late in life. She was in her late 40s when she met Earl Robinson, Pete Seeger, and other folk singers and songwriters. She returned to school at UC Berkeley, where she studied music theory. 
She went on to write several popular songs, including "Little Boxes," "What Have They Done to the Rain," recorded by The Searchers and Joan Baez (about nuclear fallout), "It Isn't Nice" (a civil rights anthem), "Turn Around" (about children growing up, later sung by Harry Belafonte), and "There's a Bottom Below" (about depression). 
Reynolds was also a noted composer of children's songs, including "Magic Penny" (a traditional London folk song during the 1940s) and "Morningtown Ride," a top five UK single (December 1966) recorded by The Seekers.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

AFME 2014 Presents: This Song Is Old

A Film of Jewish Interest: The Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is proud to present:

This Song Is Old
Jewish Shorts
Friday June 6 ~ 4:30 pm
Lobo Theater

When octogenarian Chicagoan Sam Pfeffer heard about the Bnei Menashe, a people who claim descent from a lost tribe of Israel and practice the Jewish faith, he decided to obtain a Torah and deliver it to them in remote north-eastern India.

So began a personal odyssey across half a world of geography and 3000 years of history.

This Song Is Old follows Sam Pfeffer as he goes beyond forensic science and contemporary political intrigue to the heart of belief and belonging and fights to help the Bnei Menashe come ‘home’ to Israel.

Purchase tickets here at Hold My Ticket. View the trailer here.

This is only one of the Films of Jewish Interest that the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is presenting this year. Click here to learn more.

And there's much more to the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience than just Films of Jewish Interest. Click here to learn more about AFME Films, Panels, and Special Events.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

AFME 2014 Presents: Who's Afraid of the Big Black Wolf?

A Film of Jewish Interest: The Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is proud to present:

Who's Afraid of the Big Black Wolf?
Jewish Shorts
Friday June 6 ~ 4:30 pm
Lobo Theater

1944. Somewhere in the occupied Central Europe. A multicultural triangle between a little shepherd and two officers from the opposite sides in a sensual and emotional Alpine story of two tunes and one whistle.

Winner of the Audience Choice Award and the Festival Award at the Montgomery Film Festival.
Every year, the audience has its say in choosing their favorite short film of the festival. Ballots were given out before the show and patrons made their choice upon leaving the theater. This year, the winner by a considerable margin was Janez Lapajne's Who's Afraid of the Big Black Wolf?
The Festival Award is presented to the short that the Montgomery Film Festival felt was the highmark of the show. With it's beautiful cinematography, engrossing story, and interesting characters, Who's Afraid of the Big Black Wolf? was the clear favorite among the Montgomery Film Festival panel.
Purchase tickets here at Hold My Ticket.

This is only one of the Films of Jewish Interest that the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is presenting this year. Click here to learn more.

And there's much more to the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience than just Films of Jewish Interest. Click here to learn more about AFME Films, Panels, and Special Events.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

AFME 2014 Presents: Ensemble

A Film of Jewish Interest: The Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is proud to present:

Jewish Shorts
Friday June 6 ~ 4:30 pm
Lobo Theater

Paris, 1942. Isaac a Jewish child, escapes the Nazis, he finds refuge in the Mosquée of Paris where Ahmed, (Si Kaddour Benghabrit 1830 -1962) the Imam in charge, takes him under his protection.

Ahmed then started to save as many children as he could, preventing them from a certain death ... until he was arrested ....

A poignant story based on true events, though it is still impossible to evaluate the exact number of lives saved through these extraordinary acts of bravery, the estimates range between 600 and 1500.

Purchase tickets here at Hold My Ticket. View the trailer here.

This is only one of the Films of Jewish Interest that the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is presenting this year. Click here to learn more.

And there's much more to the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience than just Films of Jewish Interest. Click here to learn more about AFME Films, Panels, and Special Events.

Monday, May 19, 2014

AFME 2014 Presents: DIG

A Film of Jewish Interest: The Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is proud to present:

Jewish Shorts
Friday June 6 ~ 4:30 pm
Lobo Theater

Director Joshua Caldwell delves into whether two wrongs make a right with compelling results.

DIG, which stars Aaron Himelstein and Emmy-nominated actor Mark Margolis (Hector “Tio” Salamanca from AMC’s Breaking Bad), is about a young Jewish Holocaust survivor who, twenty years following his exodus from Europe, sees the Nazi responsible for his family’s death, kidnaps him, and orders him to dig his own grave.

Purchase tickets here at Hold My Ticket. View the trailer here.

This is only one of the Films of Jewish Interest that the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience is presenting this year. Click here to learn more.

And there's much more to the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience than just Films of Jewish Interest. Click here to learn more about AFME Films, Panels, and Special Events.

Friday, May 16, 2014

AFME 2014 Presents: Films of Jewish Interest

Here's The Lineup!  Abq Jew is thrilled to announce (if you haven't seen Abq Jew's Go Do! Event Highlights) that the 2014 Albuquerque Film & Media Experience (AFME) is bringing a number of Jewish and Israeli films to Abq in early June:

Jewish Shorts:
Who's Afraid of the Big Black Wolf?
This Song Is Old
Brave Miss World

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer 2014 @ 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 Summer 2014 line-up of classes.

Registration will open on Wednesday May 21

Abq Jew is highly optimistic that newly-appointed Executive Director Kathleen Raskob (Michael Nutkiewicz has retired) will continue to make sure there are plenty of courses of Jewish interest.  This session's courses and instructors include:

Blowin' in the Wind with Peter, Paul & Mary
Thu 12 June 2014 @ 10:00 pm - #50
Instructor: Jane Ellen
What It Is: By popular request, we are repeating this sold-out class from summer 2013. Peter, Paul and Mary emerged during the folk revival of the 1960s, and for nearly 50 years remained one of the most durable acts in music history. Their roots were in the 1940s and the music of the Weavers, but the trio achieved what the Weavers could not: to voice political and social concerns to the public through music in an entertaining fashion.

Friday Recital: Klezmer Music - From Old Country to New Country & Beyond
Fri 13 June 2014 @ 1:00 pm - #61
Instructor: Beth Cohen
What It Is: Klezmer music began as instrumental accompaniment to the rituals of Jewish life in the "shtetls" (Jewish villages) of Eastern Europe. From untrained to conservatory-trained musicians, klezmorim (plural) made their way into orchestras, Russian military bands, and into the big band jazz bands of the US. Join Beth Cohen and her bandmates on a musical journey of klezmer.

Compromised Jewish Communities Around the World
Thu 19 June 2014 @ 10:30 am - #26
Instructor: Norma Libman
What It Is: All over the world, from China to Africa to Europe there are small communities of Jews whose survival is in question. Some are remnants of Crypto-Jews who escaped Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. The origins of others are unknown: descendents of shipwrecked sailors, perhaps? Norma Libman will discuss some of these communities, offer theories of how they got there, and describe how they try to maintain their identity today.

Saved from the Holocaust: Georgian, Iranian, & Central Asian Jews in Europe
Fri 20 June 2014 @ 10:30 am - #28
Instructor: Sara Koplik
What It Is: While working in concert with officials of the Third Reich for other matters, Georgian, Iranian, and Afghan diplomats also found a way to save their Jewish compatriots from the ravages of the Holocaust. Our class will explore this relatively unknown history, which will include a close look at archives found in the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine of Paris, France.

Understanding the NM Legislature: Context is Everything
Wed 25 June 2014 @ 10:30 am - #15 
Instructor: Dede Feldman
What It Is: Why do certain measures fail and other succeed in the NM Legislature? What is the role of money, partisan politics, leadership style, and citizen advocacy? Are we being well served by this representative body and the campaigns that determine its membership? If not, what are some ideas for reform? Get the inside story from "just outside the roundhouse" from an effective, longtime legislator.

Remembering Lenny: The Life of Leonard Bernstein
Fri 27 June 2014 @ 1:00 pm - #52
Instructor: Jane Ellen 
What It Is: Composer, conductor, and perhaps most importantly, a born teacher, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was a unique voice in American music of the 20th century. His creative energies appeared boundless, encompassing Broadway, symphonic works, film scores, ballets, opera, chamber music, and concerts designed for children. He authored books and lectured, famously helped define jazz alongside Louis Armstrong, and gave of himself as a philanthropist as well as a political and social activist.

Waging War, Making Peace, 1917-1919
Thu 10 & 17 July 2014 @ 10:30 am - #34
Instructor: Noel Pugach
What It Is: The entry of the US in World War I posed two challenges. How was the nation going to mobilize for a modern, total war? It was not prepared to fight thousands of miles from home. And how could the US fashion a peace treaty that would satisfy its idealism and interests? After all, WWI was to be "the war to end all wars." We will analyze how well the Wilson Administration handled both problems.

How Jews Read the Bible
Tue 29 July 2014 @ 10:30 am - #68
Instructor: Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld
What It Is: Judaism reads the Bible not literally but through the "aspaclaria" - an Aramaic word for "prism" - in other words, the "lens" of Jewish tradition. Using early rabbinic sources, we will try to understand how this 2000-year-old way of looking at the Bible paved the way for modern Judaism.

We Can Do That? New Trends in Death Care
Tue 5 Aug 2014 @ 1:00 pm - #12
Instructor: Gail Rubin
What It Is: The modern funeral is changing. Learn about new trends in New Mexico: aid-in-dying, rising cremation rates, green burial, DIY/home funerals, alkaline hydrolysis, QR codes and celebrant-led services in this upbeat, fact-filled talk. Gail Rubin will also include funny film clips to illustrate these new trends.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chevre Kaddisha 2014 Annual Meeting

And A New Call for Chevre Kaddisha Volunteers: Abq Jew has often (for example, see The Ultimate Mitzvah and Chevre Kaddisha Alive!written about the important and holy work that the Chevre Kaddisha does in our Jewish community of Albuquerque.

It's the ultimate mitzvah, Rabbi Min Kantrowitz tells us - participating in a tahara, the ritual purification of the body of a Jewish person before that person is buried.

In Albuquerque, we are blessed with a community-wide
Chevre Kaddisha (Holy Society) that needs new members.

Many of you have answered the Chevre Kaddisha's call, and we thank you. 

For new members - and especially for those who are just thinking about joining - we have scheduled the annual Chevre Kaddisha meeting and tahara training for new volunteers:

Chevre Kaddisha Meeting
Annual Meeting & Tahara Training
Sunday June 1 2014 at 1:00 pm
Daniels Funeral Home
7601 Wyoming NE
Abuquerque, NM 87109
(505) 821-0010

Before participating in training - and particularly before performing their first tahara - many people are concerned about how emotionally challenging this work can be.

Be assured that Chevre Kaddisha members usually find that the mitzvah is much more spiritually satisfying than emotionally difficult.

To learn more, please contact

Chevra Kaddisha of Greater Albuquerque
Rabbi Min Kantrowitz
(505) 239-5299
Marc Yellin
(505) 792-4322

You will not be thanked by the individual you help along his or her final journey, but the Albuquerque Jewish community as a whole will appreciate your generosity and your love.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rabbinic Activism in New Mexico

Doing & Learning: The Claire Grossman Annual Meeting of the New Mexico Jewish History Society (NMJHS) will be held

Sunday May 18 ~ 4:00 pm
Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences
next to the Albuquerque JCC

Keynote speaker Rabbi Paul J Citrin will give a talk on Rabbinic Activism in New Mexico: Doing & Learning.

Rabbi Paul Citrin, a third generation native of Los Angeles, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA.  He attended the Hebrew Union College, from which he received a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and rabbinic ordination in 1973.

He did a year of independent  study in Jerusalem during which time he wrote a thesis on The Arab in Israeli Literature.  He has served congregations in Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Las Cruces, and for eighteen years (1978-1996) was the rabbi of Congregation Albert in Albuquerque.

Rabbi Citrin has published  a children’s novel which addresses issues of Jewish values and identity. He co- wrote Gates of Repentance for Young People, a children’s High Holy Day Machzor.

Recently, he published Ten Sheaves, a collection of his sermons addresses and articles from forty years in the rabbinate. He is currently editing an anthology of Reform rabbinic theology titled Lights in the Forest, which will come out this summer.      

Rabbi Citrin is married to Susan Morrison Citrin, who is a native New Mexican, granddaughter of Albert and Sarah Magidson of Magidson’s Deli fame. They have four children and eight grandchildren, half of whom live in Albuquerque.

Rabbi Citrin is enjoying an active retirement of writing, teaching, travel, and socializing. He is pleased to be a new member of the NMJHS board.

Also at the Annual Meeting, NMJHS will honor board members who are stepping down or leaving the board, and welcomes new officers and board members.

And the NMJHS will present the Hurst Award to a person who has rendered outstanding service to the Society and to New Mexico Jewish History.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Shlock Rock Comes to New Mexico

Here in Duke City for Lag B'Omer! It is with great happiness that Abq Jew announces that the one-of-a-kind Jewish rock band Shlock Rock is coming to New Mexico!

If you've never heard - or heard of - Shlock Rock, you're in for a treat. If you have heard - or heard of - Shlock Rock, you're in for a treat. If you have heard of - but have never heard - Shlock Rock, you're in for a treat.

That should cover all the rational combinations.

So, Abq Jew hears you ask, who is Shlock Rock? The Shlock Rock website says.
Shlock Rock is a Jewish Rock Band that teaches Jewish ideas through music using song parodies, original music in both English and Hebrew and children’s songs. 
Lenny Solomon started the ball rolling in 1986 and since then the band has released more than 30 amazing albums!   
Our mission is to encourage Jewish pride, identity, and awareness, and help promote Jewish continuity - through music. 
Shlock Rock has performed over 2,000 shows in the United States , Canada , Australia , South Africa , Israel and England .
Shlock Rock is now on tour, performing in the seven US states where they have never before done a concert:
  1. Charleston, West Virginia
  2. May 6 Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  3. Fargo, North Dakota
  4. Laramie, Wyoming
  5. Bozeman, Montana
  6. Boise, Idaho
  7. Albuquerque, New Mexico!

So let's talk about Lag B'Omer. Which, it turns out, does indeed have something to do with logs. And lager, for those who wish to partake.

Lag B'Omer always falls on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer (see Blog BeOmer), because that's what Lag B'Omer means. tells us:
Lag BaOmer — this year, May 18, 2014 — is a festive day on the Jewish calendar, celebrating the anniversary of the passing of the great sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Zohar. 
It also commemorates another event. In the weeks between Passover and Shavuot, a plague raged amongst the disciples of the great sage Rabbi Akiva. On Lag BaOmer the dying ceased. 
It is celebrated with outings (on which the children traditionally play with bows and arrows), bonfires, and other joyous events. [Abq Jew note: Logs and lager!]
Many visit the resting place (in Meron, northern Israel) of the great sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the anniversary of whose passing is on this day. 
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the second century of the common era, was the first to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as the “Kabbalah,” and is the author of the basic work of Kabbalah, the Zohar. 
On the day of his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy.” 
To get us all in the mood for Shabbos and Lenny Solomon and Shlock Rock, here is a forschbite of what's to come. Shalom Aleichem, with a "Shabbat in Liverpool" tune you'll recognize.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

And Earning New Mexico

Some New Ideas: The pictures that Abq Jew recently drew (see Learning New Mexico) of education and hunger in New Mexico were not pretty. But there are lights all along and at the end of this tunnel, and there are reasons for optimism.

Here is one reason for optimism: the work of Fred Nathan, Executive Director of Think New Mexico. In a Guest Opinion for Albuquerque Business First's April 25 edition, Mr Nathan (see It’s time for some fresh ideas on job growthoffers two such ideas.

Both ideas were advanced in Think New Mexico’s 2013 policy report, Addressing the Jobs Crisis.
The first would establish a postperformance incentive that would reward companies only after they create high-paying jobs or make major capital investments. It is designed to encourage existing businesses to expand in New Mexico and new businesses to relocate to the state.
This seems eminently  reasonable to Abq Jew. But Mr Nathan's second proposal really caught Abq Jew's eye.
The second proposal is designed to expand New Mexico’s entrepreneurial talent pool, which is what will ultimately drive job growth over the long term. 
Entrepreneurs come disproportionately from two groups: those who work in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and immigrants, who are generally accustomed to taking risk and sometimes have to create their own businesses to find work. 
Combining these two groups would create a powerful engine of entrepreneurship. That is what exists in Silicon Valley, where an enormous number of companies have been started by foreign-born entrepreneurs in the STEM fields. Think of Russian-born Sergey Brin at Google and Hungarian-born Andy Grove at Intel, for example. 
To generate more startups and jobs, New Mexico needs to attract more international STEM students to our public universities. 
We currently have very few of those students, in part because of the relatively high cost of out-of-state tuition. (Our in-state tuition remains a big bargain). 
In 1999, faced with a declining state population, North Dakota started offering in-state tuition to international (and out-of-state) students. 
After graduating, many of these students stayed in North Dakota and started companies, particularly in the information technology, computer science, medical and defense industries, according to a 2011 Wall Street Journal article. 
Considering the many amenities and excellent quality of life New Mexico has to offer, we are in an even better position than North Dakota to attract and retain international students.
Think New Mexico's first proposal would, if adopted, solve the problem of New Mexico's granting incentives and getting nothing in return. Think New Mexico's second proposal would, if adopted, solve the problem of New Mexico's public high school students' relative lack of preparation for college level study.

If adopted. Mr Nathan reports:
Think New Mexico drafted a bipartisan postperformance incentive bill (SB 10) ...  The bill was introduced in the last session by Senate President Mary Kay Papen and Sen. Sue Beffort ... SB 10 passed two Senate committees unanimously before dying on the Senate floor without a hearing ....
Think New Mexico developed SB 8, sponsored by Senate President Papen and Sen. Gay Kernan, in the last session to allow New Mexico’s public universities to offer in-state tuition to international STEM students and to enhance their STEM programs for local students. SB 8, like SB 10, passed two committees unanimously before dying on the Senate floor without a hearing.

In another Guest Opinion for Albuquerque Business First, Dr Beverlee J McClure (see McClure: Rumors of Albuquerque’s demise are greatly exaggeratedstrikes another note for optimism.
Bloggers and pundits are asking lately whether Albuquerque is dying. The optimism of the last decade disappeared with mind-numbing speed, as if the concept of a successful Albuquerque has an expiration date. New Mexicans think it’s in vogue to be the Eeyore of the nation. 
To hear them tell it, we’ve tried everything, and nothing has worked, so death is our only remaining option. Each time I hear these glum statements, I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s famous remark: “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Dr McClure is president and CEO of the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry, the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce. She is, Abq Jew would claim, paid to look on the bright side. Dr McClure continues:
Many New Mexicans are weary: it feels as though we have all the right ingredients but we just can’t make the recipe work. Innovators, business leaders, scientists and lifelong members of our community look at all the unique and impressive factors New Mexico provides, and then we wonder what isn’t working. 
What if all we’re missing is an element of pride and belief in ourselves? What if it feels like we always fail because we ignore all the times we succeed? Every athlete will tell you that a positive attitude is key to success, but a cloud of negativity has hung over this city for decades. New Mexico faces a dismal self-fulfilling prophecy. 
Who wants to achieve when nobody will acknowledge our achievements? Despite the successes of our universities, we treat them as second-class. Despite the cutting-edge accomplishments of our scientists and engineers, we pretend we’re stuck in the Dark Ages. Despite our vibrant culture, we disparage ourselves as insignificant and backward. 
We’re willing to try almost anything. Why won’t we try recognizing our strengths and accomplishments? 
We must stop telling our students that their hometown is a hindrance to their futures. 
We must stop telling our businesses that they are fools to stay here. 
We must stop telling our people that Albuquerque is dead. 
Albuquerque has our share of problems. But we also have our share of solutions and leaders ready to invest the time and sweat to make them work. If we start to celebrate their contributions — and victories! — more will be willing to step up to the plate.

Burqueños responded to Dr McClure's Guest Opinion piece with - mostly, but not completely - shared optimism. Here are a few of these published comments.
I agree with your optimism, that’s why I live here. We also need to be aware of the reality of our situation and the need for change. We cannot accept mediocrity in our community and blame it on poverty or an acceptance of what always has been. I have a lot of hope for our community’s future and if we set our collective efforts together, we can grow our economy, reduce poverty and improve our quality of life.
Way to go Beverlee — I’m in total agreement and join your moratorium on pessimism! 
Have you been eavesdropping on me and my friends? We’ve said (ranted?) the same things! ;-) I’m really tired of the negativity. (And failure is a self-fulfilling prophecy). Certainly we have problems — but every city (and state) does. We’ve got a lot of great energy and opportunities — generated by people who would rather focus on the solutions — and don’t sit around waiting for the government or others to do something. Lots of good news out there. ... I wouldn’t live anywhere else — and I know many who feel the same.
Love this piece and your optimism, Dr. McClure. Wish you had cited some of your sources though, as there were many that I was puzzled by, good and bad. NM has some very REAL issues to address, not just “our share of problems” (50th in the nation in child wellness, 1st in the nation in child hunger — these are ‘worst of the worst’ stats that many of us know all too well.) I don’t know any local who isn’t aware of the wonderful virtues of our great city, but I agree that it would be better if we could all focus on solutions when discussing problems. Thanks for your op-ed, as I appreciated reading it and plan to share this w/others.

Abq Jew would also like to praise Rachel Sams, the new Editor-in-Chief of Albuquerque Business First, for planting and cultivating this conversation.

In a recent editorial (see What’s so scary about reinventing our economy, New Mexico?) Ms Sams asks
What are you afraid of, New Mexico? 
We need to diversify our economy. Translation: we need to create more jobs, and different kinds of jobs, than we have now. 
Albuquerque Business First has been reporting on this since last fall. And we’ve heard from a lot of businesspeople who want to roll up their sleeves and get started. But we’ve gotten a fair amount of pushback, too. 
That confused me. What’s so scary about more jobs? Or different jobs?
And further down
When we talk about diversifying our economy, many people take that as an attack on New Mexico’s existing industries, chiefly the national labs and oil and gas. 
Calling for less dependence on the labs doesn’t mean calling for less of a presence by the labs, or the oil companies, or Intel. It means growing the pie by cultivating new industries.
Ms Sams concludes with
Here’s the danger in relying solely on those assets: It makes you feel safe. It negates urgency. It stifles innovation. Then you wake up one day and you’re ranked 50th in child well-being, you’re at the bottom of every recession recovery list, you’re bleeding jobs and your labor force participation rate is so anemic you wonder if anyone’s still out there looking for work. 
Let’s stop allowing New Mexico’s economic assets to make us complacent. Let’s draw inspiration and strength from them to grow new industries. 
We didn’t start diversifying during a period of economic strength. So we have to do it under duress, and it’s not going to happen tomorrow. 
We’ll have to try new things – some of which could fail. 
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Economic Development Director Gary Oppedahl want to turn this into a city of entrepreneurs. They and University of New Mexico president Bob Frank want to create a business factory, Innovate ABQ, that turns lab innovations into growing, profitable companies. 
New ideas involve risk. They could bomb. They may not be the right fit for our community. But we have to try something – maybe more than one thing. We need business leaders who are willing to stick their necks out and create a blueprint for what our community should become. That blueprint might make some people mad. It might not include everything everyone wants. 
But let’s take a risk and commit to something. 
Could we wait? Sure. We could wait until unemployment is 15 percent. Until the few major employers we have leave. 
We shouldn’t wait. 
We are not creating the educated workforce growing companies need, and we’re not creating anywhere near enough jobs for the workforce we have. We are failing our citizens from childhood on up. 
Still think diversifying our economy is too dangerous? 
How dangerous is another decade or two or three of failure?

Where does this leave us? With even more questions, and a continuing conversation.

So, Abq Jew hears you ask:

Is it time to head for the hills?

To which Abq Jew must reply:

Too late! We still love it here!
New Mexico is a work in progress ...
but we need to do some work before we see some progress.