Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Mentshlekhkeyt Awards

Thank You, Advertisers & Friends: This is the time of year when Abq Jew looks back in order to honor and thank those who have supported him in 2014.

In fact, all of those honorable mentschen that Abq Jew is about to honor and mention have supported Abq Jew © LLC for many years. And in many ways.

But, getting down to tachlis, they support Abq Jew in one key way:

They advertise. Yes!
These are the people who pay.

Wikipedia says of them, and of mentshlekhkeyt:
Mensch (Yiddish: מענטש mentsh, cognate with German: Mensch "human being") means "a person of integrity and honor." According to Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddish, "mensch" is "someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. 
The key to being 'a real mensch' is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous." The term is used as a high compliment, expressing the rarity and value of that individual's qualities. 
In Yiddish, mentsh roughly means "a good person." The word has migrated as a loanword into American English, where a mensch is a particularly good person, similar to a "stand-up guy", a person with the qualities one would hope for in a friend or trusted colleague. 
Mentshlekhkeyt (Yiddish מענטשלעכקייט, German Menschlichkeit) are the properties which make a person a mensch.
Why do these good people advertise? There are good business reasons, of course.
But there is an even more important reason:

These are people who wish to support
the Albuquerque / New Mexico Jewish community.

Now, Abq Jew© LLC is not currently run as a non-profit (501c3) organization. And Abq Jew is certainly not the only organization out there working for the Jewish community.

But these honorable mentschen believe in what Abq Jew is trying to accomplish, and have let him know that in a very concrete way.

Thank you!

The businesses that support Abq Jew financially are:

Betty Osoff-Hannagan will be happy to provide all the information you need to buy or sell real estate in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Corrales, Placitas, Bernalillo County, and surrounding areas.  As the premier real estate agent in Albuquerque, she looks forward to serving you and will be happy to help at any time.

Jon Bell, CPA offers proactive tax planning and tax preparation services to individuals and businesses throughout the Albuquerque area. As your business advisor, he will help you make the best financial decisions - so you can continue to profit and grow.

Brian Spinnato, Financial Advisor is part of a team that helps clients plan to achieve their dreams through experienced financial guidance and intelligent management of investments. Skilled in the art and science of finance, he understands the intricacies of planning — from insurance and investment to college savings and retirement, and a broad variety of specialties in between.

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

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

Mary Carter gives new life to lovely old castoff wood tables, chairs, and cabinets. 

Mary hopes to revive the dedicated craft of the single artisan who lovingly creates one piece at a time, taking it from start to finish. She recreates old world techniques of enameling, japanning, and lacquering, updating them by using contemporary non-toxic acrylic mediums.

Every table, chair, or cabinet that Mary paints is a jewel, truly an heirloom quality object. It is a long, slow, deliberate process. No two pieces are alike and each one holds traces of the hands, mind and heart of the artist who created it.

Dr Daniel J Levenson and the staff at both Southwest Veterinary Medical Center and Rio Grande Animal Hospital are committed to your pet’s health. Dr Levenson has been in Albuquerque for more than 10 years. Southwest & Rio Grande started as and continue to be a family business - locally owned and private hospitals (no out-of-state or corporate owners). Their mission is to provide the highest standard of veterinary care coupled with a gentle touch to all pets. 

Gaon Books publishes titles on Jewish life and spirituality with special attention to women's voices, Sephardic traditions, and Jewish thought.

The Congregation B'nai Israel Sisterhood Gift Shop is  a wonderful place to shop for Judaica for your home and all of your gift giving needs. Beautiful and affordable jewelry, hand blown glass and silver Kiddush cups, candles and candle holders, Havdalah sets, toys and more. Find decorative items, Bar & Bat Mitzvah gifts, Shawn Price tallitot, and mezuzot. 

Artistic Design & Print will help you gain and hold a presence in your customers’ minds.

No project is too large or too small for the full and enthusiastic attention your project deserves. Since 1999, owner Caitlin Hecsh comes to YOU with personalized service, very competitive pricing and on-time delivery.  Non-profit organizations enjoy special pricing.

Treat yourself to a wonderful experience!  Sharon Levin and her staff at Gourmet to Go can provide kosher (meat or dairy), organic, vegetarian, or vegan catering for corporate events, synagogue functions, plane trips, or balloon rides. Kashrut supervised by Rabbi Arthur Flicker of Congregation B'nai Israel.

The organizations that support Abq Jew financially are:

Abq Jew also wishes to acknowledge non-tax-deductible donations received from Rabbi Paul J Citrin and from Norma Libman, as well as short-term advertising from Six Points Press, Peacock Myers, Figueroa Music & Arts Project, Clay Kodesh, Lumanella, Margot Leverett, Michaela Jordan Karni, Sonya Loya, Albuquerque Photographers' Gallery, Congregation Nahalat Shalom, and Chabad of New Mexico / Albuquerque.

Once again - Abq Jew thanks you all!

To a happy & healthy 2015!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah

On Becoming Jewish After Fifty: To convert, the verb, you have to work.

Thus says Mary E Carter in her new book, A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah: On Becoming Jewish After Fifty. She explains what she means by work:
First to find a teacher. No easy task when to even ask someone about entry into this Jewish world can be met with rejection; tactfully, or not so tactfully, a candidate may be turned away several times. 
How does this work? One has to push. 
Then there are classes; nobody says how many may be required. Books; nobody says how many books may be required. Discussion, questions, argumentation. With whom? For how long? 
There is writing about intentions before one even understands, what, exactly, those intentions are. 
Meetings with a Rabbi to talk about, what? What kind of Jew you will be? Not an easy discussion when you have, at best, only a very hazy idea of who you want to be Jewishly. 
There is a mikvah. Can you swim? And a Beit din? And it all culminates in a single sanctification in an affirmation ceremony. 
All this work and all those hoops to jump through and you are called convert
This is Mary's story, told in a series of insightful, wonderfully written essays. Her work has appeared on this Abq Jew Blog before - see Making Amends and Existential Ennui - and Tovah Miriam's many friends and followers will be pleased with this collection.

Mary says of the book:
This is the story of how I splashed to the surface of the waters of my mikvah, breathing my first breath as a Jew. 
It is the story of how I came to step into those waters in celebration and in continuity with Jewish life after I was fifty. 
It is a story about how I contributed to the Jewish diaspora by increasing it by one single individual—me!If it is imaginable to have been somewhat Jewish by default, 
I can honestly say that I have never missed a single yahrzeit for my mother’s death, September 30, 1968. But when I started my annual observances, I had never heard the word yahrzeit. 
Seventeen years would pass before I would learn that word. Seventeen mornings I woke up and thought, it was today, and, instead of lighting a candle, I had to go to work. 
During most of my career I was an advertising copywriter.
Abq Jew is thrilled to point out that A Non-Swimmer Considers is proudly promoted in the December-January edition of Hadassah Magazine's Guide to Jewish Literature, where the advertising copy reads:
“This book is one woman’s journey to Judaism after age fifty. The evocative descriptions catapult the reader into a different place and time. It should be on every Jewish bookshelf!”—Tammy Kaiser, MSJE, Jewish Educator. 
“A deeply insightful, wonderfully written, excellent read!”—Marc Yellin, AbqJew.com
Published by Tovah Miriam. Paperback, 197 pages. Available at Amazon.com and local bookstores. ISBN 978-0-692-26582-6. www.tovah-miriam.com.
A Non-Swimmer Considers is, of course, also available from Abq Jew's Amazon Store.

Here is a bit more about Mary, who is one of Abq Jew's Featured Artists:
As an advertising copywriter Mary E. Carter worked on Home Savings, Sea World, Kal Kan dog food, Little Friskies cat food, Taco Bell and Bank of America. 
As a graphic designer and entrepreneur her clients included Butterfield & Butterfield Auctioneers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche, Dreyers, Chateau St. Jean Winery and many other corporate clients. 
Carter was a proto-blogger as The Chicken Lady on The WELL.com. 
Mary E. Carter’s other book, Electronic Highway Robbery, published by Peachpit Press in 1996, received enthusiastic recognition from copyright attorneys. 
Carter is also a painter and crafts-woman, choosing surrealism for her paintings and traditional decorative techniques for her popular one-of-a-kind furniture. With such a varied life, change itself has become the constant for her. 
In her new book A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah, Mary E. Carter explores the process of change later in life and introduces readers to her life’s influences and directions as her story unfolds.

Amazon tells us, and Abq Jew emphatically agrees:
This is a book for anyone thinking about becoming Jewish as an adult. This is also a book for anyone considering any form of major change after age fifty. 
Mary E. Carter demonstrates that it is possible for an older person to continue growing and changing later in life. This is not to say that everyone can or will, but, certainly, anyone can try. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Old Lamp-Lighter

Fighting the Darkness: In his long and varied career as a pirate (Marian A Peterson High School Pirate Marching Band in Sunnyvale, California) and a poet (won an award, also at Peterson High), Abq Jew has been accused of many things.

In the old days, when he worked for a living, Abq Jew all-too-often was accused of (and suffered for) having ideas.

But more recently, because of blog posts like I Wonder Why and Myra Myra, he has been accused of promoting ancient music.

To which Abq Jew can only reply

Guilty! Here we go again!

The Old Lamp-Lighter, Wikipedia tells us,
... is a popular song. 
The music was written by Nat Simon, the lyrics by Charles Tobias. The song was published in 1946. Several versions of the song made the best-seller charts in 1946-1947: 
The most popular recording, by Sammy Kaye, ... first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on November 8, 1946, and lasted 14 weeks on the chart, peaking at number one. 
The recording by Kay Kyser ... first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on November 22, 1946, and lasted 11 weeks on the chart, peaking at number three. 
The recording by Hal Derwin ... first reached the Billboard Best Seller chart on December 6, 1946, and lasted two weeks on the chart, peaking at number six. This was Derwin's only charted hit. 
It was a major country-pop hit for The Browns in 1960, released as a single in March of that year. It went on to become a major top-ten hit on the US pop singles chart, peaking at number five, and country chart. 
The song was performed under the name Luktar-Gvendur, by the Icelandic singer Björk on the album Gling-Gló, in 1990. On that album Björk teams up with the jazz trio of Guðmundur Ingólfsson: consisting of Guðmundur Ingólfsson on piano, Guðmundur Steingrímsson on drums and Þórður Högnason on bass. The album has become one of the classics of Icelandic contemporary pop music albums.
Abq Jew has selected, for your enjoyment, the version by The Browns (Jim Ed Brown and his sisters Maxine and Bonnie Brown), which is, he believes, the one he remembers from his childhood. In any event - theirs is a beautiful, tight harmony, without the Big Band gloss.

Remember - Hanukkah is all about the light!

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Cheery Chanukah, Chevreh!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bugs Bunny & Abq Jew

Abq Jew on Twitter: Yes, of course Abq Jew is on Twitter! And with 1,528 Followers, he is proud to say.

Yes, of course Abq Jew advertises on Twitter!

Abq Jew targets his ads at Twitter users who are interested in the same crazy stuff that Abq Jew is, and who happen to live in any of several key US states or Canada or Israel. Of course.

Sometimes Twitter users will actually mention @AbqJew in a tweet. This is (as Twitter users know) an effective way of attracting the mentionee's attention. Such as:

Now, Abq Jew's Modern Hebrew is not nearly as good as it was back in the last century, when he was an engineering student at the Technion. But Abq Jew thinks this says

Why am I getting ads from the Jewish community in Albuquerque?
Do I look like Bugs Bunny?

Everyone in Albuquerque recognizes this as the age-old Left Turn at Albuquerque calumny. Which actually has an explanation that involves Bugs' creator.
Some of Chuck Jones' colleagues got lost commuting from the Southeast US to Hollywood and ended up lost out in the New Mexico boonies. 
The experience was memorable enough to create an inside joke that ultimately became the means by which Bugs Bunny ended up in the middle of nowhere. 
The joke was that Bugs was actually trying to get to Hollywood but got diverted in Albuquerque.

Abq Jew is, of course, based right here in the NW, in his beautiful West Bank (of the Rio Grande) settlement. But his reach goes way beyond the [18] '67 borders, which are actually nothing more than the [18] '49 armistice lines.

How far beyond? Well ...

The Website: AbqJew.com

  • Top 3 Countries: United States (94%); Israel; Canada / Germany (tie).
  • Top 5 Cities: Albuquerque (45%); New York; Santa Fe, Washington; Sandy Springs.

The Blog: AbqJew.net

  • Top 3 Countries: United States (74%); Israel; Brazil.
  • Top 5 Cities: Albuquerque (28%); New York; Unknown; Tel Aviv; Houston.

Abq Jew on Facebook

  • Top 3 Countries: United States (82%); Israel; Palestine (as listed).
  • Top 5 Cities: Albuquerque (15%); New York; Tel Aviv; Jerusalem; Houston.

Abq Jew on Twitter

  • Top 3 Countries: Israel (45%); United States; United Kingdom.
  • Top 5 Cities: Tel Aviv (21%); Albuquerque - Santa Fe; New York; Jerusalem; Petah Tiqwa.

To all of you, everywhere, Abq Jew can only say ...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Festival of No Lights

And Plenty of Freedom: The City of Albuquerque is about to celebrate the grand opening of the new I-25 / Paseo del Norte interchange, an eagerly-awaited traffic triumph for all of us settlers on the West Bank (of the Rio Grande, that is).

This Chanukah, the city will celebrate the first Festival of No Lights, as morning commuters taking Paseo to I-25 South will encounter none of same from the Coors intersection to G-d Knows Where.

No flyovers for you!
Commuters going straight across Paseo to Albuquerque Proper - sorry about that. 
Super-commuters going north on I-25 to Santa Fe or Los Alamos - fuggedaboutit! 
The city, county, state, and federal governments all ran out of Chanukah gelt.
Enjoy the Festival of Lights in all its radiance!

For all of us traditionalists, as well as for the nonconformists among us, there is this year, as every year, led, as always, by Chabad of New Mexico:

Community Chanukah
Celebration & Menorah Lighting
Sunday December 21 at 4:00 pm
Albuquerque Civic Plaza
Note: there is (optional) food involved!
Please contact Chabad for reservations!

Which brings us to the timesly (Times of Israel, that is) topic of Hanukkah music.
Way back on December 9 - almost a week ago! - Renee Ghert-Zand published
Swinging Hanukkah wins YouTube
Chicago Jewish wedding band goes all out with holiday video that is inching towards 300k views 
Forget those a cappella groups and goofy parodies. Let’s swing into the winter holiday season this year with a new Hanukkah video that ushers in the Festival of Lights big band style. 
Since its posting on November 22, Hanukkah Song Mashup – Dance Spectacular by Elliot Dvorin and the Key Tov Orchestra has racked up 275,455 views on YouTube.

“People have been in touch with me to tell me how the video really makes them smile,” Dvorin told The Times of Israel from Chicago, where he and his Jewish wedding band are based.
As Abq Jew goes to hit the Publish button, that YouTube count is up to 399,592. Enjoy!

Cheery Chanukah, Chevreh!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gary Rosenblatt to Keynote ATOH 2015

Editor, Publisher, Mensch: Abq Jew is thrilled to announce (if you haven't seen it in the Link or the eLink) that the keynote speaker for A Taste of Honey 2015 will (אי״ה) be Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of The Jewish Week of New York.

Gary Rosenblatt is often described as “the dean of Jewish journalism” for his award-winning writing and reporting over a span of four decades.

His topic will be:

The Joys and Oys of a Jewish Journalist:
Covering One’s Community from the Inside

Gary is also the author of the recently-published Between the Lines: Reflections on the American Jewish Experience.

Of which, Amazon says:
Gary Rosenblatt has been the editor and publisher of The New York Jewish Week for over 20 years. Here for the first time, is a curated collection of his most thoughtful Between the Lines columns, selected from the more than 1000 he has written since 1993.  
Between the Lines is a 278 page book featuring 80 columns ranging from prescient analyses of the Mideast situation to warm remembrances of his childhood as the Jewish rabbis son in Annapolis Maryland.
Abq Jew first learned of Gary's new book by - what else? - reading an opinion piece that Gary wrote for The Jewish Week: Love Me, Love My Book.

In which Gary describes the grueling yet exhilarating ordeal of presenting a 2-minute pitch to attendees of the Jewish Book Council's "Meet the Authors" event, with they hope that many of said attendees will start him on a national book tour.
It’s every author’s dream. And nightmare. 
The chance to address several hundred people from around the country who, deeply attentive, have come to New York for three days and one purpose — to find speakers for their local Jewish community book fairs, sisterhood luncheons and other cultural programs. 
The annual spring “Meet the Authors” event, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council, is a golden opportunity because it gives writers a platform to promote their work at a time when the publishing industry, hurting financially, is doing less and less to support its authors. 
But there’s a catch. 
Since there are 274 authors on hand, each having written a book this year, they must make their pitch — choose me, choose me — within two minutes.
Not two minutes and two seconds, mind you. Two minutes. And if you go over your allotted time, the timekeeper gets up and stops you. 

Abq Jew did, in fact, ask Phyllis Wolf, the Albuquerque JCC's Art, Culture & Education Director - who has been producing ATOH for beaucoup years - whether she had been to the JBC and heard Gary's book pitch. 

And Phyllis's response?

Gary was a good speaker and it’s a very pertinent topic.
I liked how in two minutes he was able to capture the ‘tightrope he walks’
– honest criticism vs. rah rah rah and ‘damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t’.
I have been keeping him on my radar for keynoting ATOH.

Yes, Gary gave a really good book pitch. Here is how he prepared for it:
I spent more time than I’d anticipated preparing my own pitch for “Between The Lines,” my collection of about 80 Jewish Week columns from the last two decades. Getting my message down to about 360 words was tough. But Joyce Lit, the helpful Council Network associate who preps each of the authors in advance of their presentations, was encouraging. 
“Let them know you’ve been observing and commenting on the Jewish scene for four decades, that you’ve seen it all,” she said. “Tell them what’s changed and what’s remained the same. And use your humor, they’ll like that.” 
So I kept tinkering — adding here, cutting there. When I read my talk to Joyce over the phone a week before my big day, it came in at 1:57. Great, but I told her I wanted to inject more humor. She warned that “laugh time counts on the clock,” and suggested that even if I got a laugh I should just keep going.  (That’s not easy — forgoing the chance to milk every second of a positive audience response.) 
In the end it seemed to work out OK, though it went by in a blur. I summarized my book, got a few laughs, and no trap door opened under me to indicate my time was up. 
Now I wait, along with the hundreds of other authors, to see who gets invited where.

Abq Jew still subscribes to The Jewish Week - it's a great newspaper with a broad perspective that keeps him up to date on everything going on throughout the Jewish world. The Jewish Week is definitely not just for Greater New Yorkers.

But here is where Gary Rosenblatt made his name and firmly established his credentials as a journalist of integrity and courage: the Baruch Lanner scandal of 14 years ago.

In 2010 - a decade after those events - Gary looked back on what had happened in an opinion piece, A Decade Later, More Willingness To Confront Rabbinic Abuse.
The tenth anniversary of the public exposure in these pages of the “Lanner scandal” provides an opportunity to reflect on, and appreciate, how much has changed for the better in the last decade in responding to rabbinic sexual abuse. 
. . .
The story came to light when the first Jewish Week exposé appeared June 23, 2000, following months of investigation and dozens of interviews. It presented detailed allegations of how Rabbi Baruch Lanner, then 50 and the director of regions of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), the youth arm of the Orthodox Union (OU), sexually, physically and/or emotionally abused scores of teen-aged boys and girls in his charge over a period of three decades, despite numerous complaints lodged with the leadership of the organization. 
The response to the 5,000-word report was immediate and dramatic. 
The OU forced Lanner to resign that day and appointed a special commission to review and report on the charges. (Six months later, its 330-page report, based on interviews with 140 people, confirmed and expanded on The Jewish Week’s reporting and concluded that the OU leadership had made “profound errors of judgment,” including failures of management. Top officials were forced to resign and were replaced. NCSY developed a detailed and stringent policy regarding staff behavior, and parental supervision of and involvement in youth activities.) 
The Jewish Week received many hundreds of emails, letters and calls in support of the investigative report, while a relatively small but vocal and influential segment of the Orthodox community, including some of its rabbinate, sharply criticized the newspaper for going public, asserting it violated the religious prohibition against lashon hara, or gossip.
Abq Jew and family had been living in New Jersey for 18 years when the Lanner scandal broke. It turned out that our son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor, knew one of Lanner's victims. He had attended yeshiva with her - not where the abuse took place, and a few years before.

Dov had later heard from mutual friends that something was terribly wrong. But of course he didn't know what it was - no one knew what it was - and no one could then do anything about it.

He only found out when Gary Rosenblatt, with incredible courage, brought it all out into the open.

Which is why Abq Jew told Phyllis Wolf:

I don't know Gary personally,
but I'd love to see him in Albuquerque.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Celebrate the Alter Rebbe's Liberation!

Every Year On The 19th of Kislev: Chabad of New Mexico / Albuquerque will be hosting a Friday night Shabbat dinner in honor of the "New Year for Chassidism".

19th of Kislev Celebration
Friday December 12 ~ 6:30 pm
Chabad of New Mexico / Albuquerque
$15 Adults. $35 Family. $250 Sponsor

For those of us outside the Lubavitcher Chassidic tradition, a bit of historical background may be in order. Abq Jew could have found numerous citations at Chabad.org; but here is what his old friend, Wikipedia, has to say.
The date is significant within the Hasidic movement. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (Hebrew: שניאור זלמן מליאדי‎), the first Rebbe of Chabad (also known as the "Alter Rebbe" in Yiddish) was informed upon by a certain Avigdor and arrested on trumped-up charges of supporting the Ottoman Empire. 
His informers pointed to the fact that he would urge his followers to send money to the Land of Israel as "evidence" of his alleged insurrectionist aspirations (in fact, the money was sent to support poor Jews). At the time, the Land of Israel was a part of the Ottoman Empire, which was at war with Russia. 
Rabbi Shneur Zalman was charged with treason, and released in the secular year 1798 on the Jewish date of Tuesday, 19 Kislev. The fifty-three days of Rabbi Shneur Zalman's imprisonment are said to correspond to the fifty-three chapters of the first section of the Tanya.
That's nice, Abq Jew hears you say. But what does this mean to me today?
This day is regarded as a divine vindication of the Chabad movement, and has thus been celebrated ever since by Chabad Hasidim with joyous farbrengens. It is regarded as "the New Year of Chassidus (Hasidism)," when each Chassid wishes the other, "may you be signed and sealed for a good year in the study and ways of Chassidus." 
Rabbi Shneur Zalman said: 
"Whoever participates in my celebration will merit to see nachas from his descendants." 
The day is also marked by many other non-Chabad Chassidic groups.
There was a time ... when Chassidism was not generally as accepted as it is today. Those who opposed Chassidism were call Misnagdim, which means "opponents." Whatever Chassidism came out for - the Misnagdim were against.

Sort of like Republicans and Democrats.

Anyway, here's an additional anecdote about the Alter Rebbe's liberation.
When the Alter Rebbe left prison he was mistakenly brought to the home of a Misnagid (one opposed to Chassidus), who caused him to suffer with his questions. 
Afterwards, the Alter Rebbe said that the three hours he spent at the Misnaged’s home were more difficult than all the time he had spent in prison. 
In commemoration of the fact that the Alter Rebbe's liberation was not complete until he left the Misnagid's house, Chassidim mark 20 Kislev as a day of liberation as well.
Now, one glance at Hebcal.com' will show us that the 19th of Kislev actually falls on Wednesday evening, December 10th. But who in New Mexico is free for a fabrengen on a weekday night?

And oh, by the way: Chabad of New Mexico / Albuquerque has a few other classes and events coming up, about which more later.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Let's All Go To El Paso!

We Can Walk By The Old Rio Grande: Abq Jew was fortunate and very pleased to be among a large handful of Rabbi Paul Citrin followers who followed him to Bookworks last Tuesday, where he gave a short talk and reading and then signed our purchased copies of his latest hit, Lights in the Forest (see Lights in the Forest).

As a special added treat, Abq Jew was also able to purchase Sunburst Saga, the latest CD by the Curio Cowboys, of whom Abq Jew last wrote in 2011 (see Happy Tu b'Av!), which seems incredibly hard for Abq Jew to believe.

Way back when Mr & Mrs Abq Jew lived in Livingston, New Jersey, we listened to the Curio Cowboys' recording of A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E. Abq Jew immediately decided that that's where he wanted to live. Mrs Abq Jew later agreed to come with.

In all the years (4+) that Abq Jew has lived in Albuquerque, he has never heard the Curio Cowboys perform live. Their scheduled appearance on Sunday at O'Niell's on Juan Tabo (4:00 - 7:00 pm) will, in all likelihood, be no exception. Abq Jew has no explanation for this except - he's gotta take care of his greyhounds.

But Abq Jew must also point out that, in all the years (4+) that he has lived in Albuquerque, the Curio Cowboys have never heard Abq Jew perform live, either. 

Even though, on good days, Abq Jew's banjo musicianship often rises to the level of mediocrity, he has not once been invited to sit in on a Curio Cowboys rehearsal, let alone a live performance. And for this lacuna, Abq Jew has never received a proper explanation.

But never mind. Abq Jew loves the Curio Cowboys and their music. How much?

Almost enough to visit Curio Cowboy and guitar maven
Stan Burg at Guitar Vista

But enough to buy their Sunburst Saga CD, rip it to his computer's hard drive, combine the MP3 of his favorite cut Let's All Go To El Paso with a downloaded portrait (see top) of the Curio Cowboys, and upload the resulting video to YouTube.

All without contacting the Curio Cowboys or their legal team (heck, they're their own legal team!) to seek permission. But still - ya gotta love this new technology.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hello and Goodbye

Shalom, Shalom:  This month the New Mexico Jewish community says Shalom, Shalom to Sam Sokolove and to Suki Halevi, as the former departs the Executive Directorship of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM) and the latter arrives in Albuquerque to become Director of the New Mexico office of the Anti-Defamation Leage (ADL).

First, Sam. Here is what JFNM President Sabra Minkus has to say in this month's issue of The New Mexico Jewish Link.
As you may already be aware, Sam Sokolove has decided to step down from his position of executive director of the Jewish Federation at the end of this calendar year. His last day is Wednesday, December 31.

For the last decade, Sam has helped move our federation – and our community – from strength to strength. I know the Board of the JFNM joins me in supporting his decision to pursue new opportunities, and looks forward to publicly recognizing Sam’s exceptional service before his departure.
With assistance from the Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence at the Jewish Federations of North America, the JFNM Board of Directors has launched a search process for our next Executive Director, and has convened a search committee comprised of the following: Sabra Minkus and Jane Hochberg, co-chairs; Jon Bell; Mimi Efroymson; Marvin Gottlieb and Marisa Johnson.
Our goal is to have a new executive director on staff by September 1, 2015.

In the interim, beginning January 5, I will be serving as acting executive director. JFNM Staff members Cathy Dimos (Chief Financial Officer) and Dr. Sara Koplik (Director of Community Outreach) will maintain administrative and programmatic oversight during this transitional period.

While we will greatly miss Sam’s vision, ruach and leadership, please know that the Jewish Federation of New Mexico remains a strong agency prepared to meet the needs of Jews in New Mexico, Israel and worldwide through leadership, philanthropy, education and social action.

Our ability to continue our work, however, is dependent entirely on the generosity of supporters like you, and I hope that we can count on your support for the JFNM’s 2015 Annual Campaign. 
If you haven’t yet done so, please call (505) 821-3214 or visit www.jewishnewmexico.org to make your commitment today.

Next, Suki. Here is some of what Albuquerque Judaism Examiner Correspondent Diane J Schmidt has to say in this month's issue of The New Mexico Jewish Link (and also in an Examiner article).
Suki Halevi is the new face of the Anti-Defamation League for New Mexico. A serious, dedicated woman of principle, she comes to Albuquerque most recently after seven years on the island of Maui. 
She stands on the traditions she learned growing up in Beth El Synagogue in West Hartford, Connecticut, inspired by Rabbi Stanley Kessler, a prominent civil rights leader who demonstrated with the Freedom Riders and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with Kessler’s teacher, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. 
About Rabbi Kessler, Halevi said, “His sermons inspired me from childhood and made a clear connection between Judaism and social justice.” 
Halevi graduated from Vassar College and Duke University School of Law, then practiced commercial law with an emphasis on ESOPs, employee stock ownership plans, which she sees as a vehicle for employees to have equity and sometimes a voice within companies.  
After her daughter entered college, Halevi felt it was time to do something different. She moved to Hawai’i, where the opportunity to work in community social action brought unexpected life-changing experiences. 
From strength to strength.

Sam's contributions to the JFNM and to the New Mexico Jewish community have been immeasurable. And Suki's potential is unlimited.

And finally, something else new. Stay tuned!