Friday, January 30, 2015

Red Rue in Times Square

Golem Performs Chervona Ruta: Surely you remember Golem, the punk rock klezmer band that appeared at ¡Globalquerque! last year (see Golem @ ¡Globalquerque! 2014).

For those of you who refuse to click - Abq Jew knows who you are, and will be unable to keep from divulging your names if "enhanced interrogation techniques" are ever even hinted at. But to refresh your memory -
Klezmer-rock band Golem was founded by Annette Ezekiel Kogan in New York City in 2000.  
Since then, the band (Annette Ezekiel Kogan, Aaron Diskin,Jeremy Brown, Curtis Hasselbring, Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, Tim Monaghan) has become a leading re-interpreter and innovator of Yiddish and Eastern European music, pushing tradition forward into the 21st century.   
Golem performs nationally across the United States and internationally, in clubs and festivals in France, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Mexico.
Golem is known for its virtuosic musicianship, theatricality, humor and fearless wild energy, combined with a boundless love of tradition.  
Golem is “not your father’s klezmer band, unless of course your father was Sid Vicious.” (Jewish Week).
Anyway - here is Golem's newest video, performing the Ukrainian Oldie But Goodie Chervona Ruta in a snowless, pre-"Blizzard of 2015" Times Square.

Now, if you are anything like Abq Jew - which is a frightening thought for an otherwise (please G-d!) peaceful Erev Shabbos - the first thing you'll want to know is

Where does this song come from?

Wikipedia (of course) provides answers - here and here and here. But the best explanation comes from the website Ukraine as it is.

Click! Please! Go ahead! But if you don't, here is the gist of it.
Every country has it. The United States has America the beautiful, Australia has Waltzing Matilda, New Zealand has Pokarekare Ana, Korea has Arirang and Latvia has Dzimtā valoda. 
Ukraine is no different. The song that is bound to get any Ukrainian on their feet and sing is Червона рута (Chervona Ruta, meaning Red Rue in English), a song that was recorded in 1968. Despite being classified as an "oldie," it is still a hit.  
So how has this piece of music become immortal? The song is related to the holiday of Ivan Kupala Day in Ukrainian culture which is celebrated on the night of 23 - 24 June in the Gregorian or New Style calendar. 
According to the legend, the rue turns red from its original yellow on the night of Ivan Kupala and the girl who finds this flower at this time will be happy in love forever.  
In 1968, a 19 year-old student at the Lviv Medical Institute looked through his father's library and found a collection of "kolomyjka"s (the author of the collection was Volodymyr Hnatyuk), traditional folk songs/dances of Pokuttia and Prykarpattia (both terms are historic in describing East and Central Europe). 
Looking through his father's prized possessions, something caught his eye: the legend of Ivan Kupala Day. The young man was bemused by the legend because he was taught in school that rue is yellow and stays yellow. 
This stuck in his head and he began writing a song about it. Little did he know that he would gain cult status in the entire Soviet Union for this work. The young man's name was Volodymyr Ivasiuk. 

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Solving the Jewish Dropout Problem

Jewish New Mexico - Our Education: As you know from Abq Jew's blog post NM Jewish Population Survey Results Announced, preliminary results of the only established permanent floating Jewish Population Survey in New Mexico have just been released.

And if you've been following (you have, haven't you?), you must surely suspect that the beautiful and talented Tzipi Hotovely has nothing at all to do with the JFNM Population Study.

What she does have to with is Transportation and Road Safety, having joined the Israeli government as Deputy Minister of same in March 2013. As of December 2014, she is also the Deputy Minister of Science and Technology.

And as of March 17 - Israel's upcoming Election Day, curiously scheduled for St Patrick's Day - she could be something altogether different.

She's here to attract your eye and your brain, dear reader. How's she doing?

Let's see what the Survey has to say about the highest level of education attained by the New Mexico Jewish community.

This is truly amazing.

The results confirm that old Jewish joke:

What's a Jewish dropout?
A Yid who only has a Bachelor's Degree.

Just to compare - take a look at the pie chart that Abq Jew has thoughtfully provided.

The New Mexico Jewish community has about as great a percentage of Graduate and Professional Degrees as the overall New Mexico population has of High School Graduates.
And let's not even count the Remainders.

Or, to look at it another way -

92% of New Mexico Jews have a post-High School Degree.
Compare that to 32% of the general New Mexico population.

One might even say

Yep, we just fit right in.

Abq Jew has been making fun of this, but there are two much larger issues at stake.

1. Poverty. Charles M Blow recently wrote in The New York Times:
But surely we can all agree that no child, once born, should suffer through poverty. Surely we can all agree that working to end child poverty — or at least severely reduce it — is a moral obligation of a civilized society. 
And yet, 14.7 million children in this country are poor, and 6.5 million of them are extremely poor (living below half the poverty line).
The Children’s Defense Fund has just released a report entitled “Ending Child Poverty Now” that calls this country’s rate of child poverty “a moral disgrace.”

Poor kids, hungry kids, cannot learn. In New Mexico, 29% of children live in poor families. The national rate is 22%.

Russell Contreras (AP) recently reported in The Navajo Post:
New Mexico continues to rank near the bottom in child poverty and the state has been slow to recover economically and stop the dwindling of resources, a new report said. 
The New Mexico Voices for Children on Tuesday released its annual New Mexico Kids Count report, which also faulted state lawmakers for not presenting any new anti-poverty initiatives to help one of the poorest states. 
The study said the state ranked 48th nationally in child poverty and only four states ranked lower than New Mexico in the percentage of children whose parents lacked full-time, year-round employment. 
In addition, the report said New Mexico ranked near the bottom in fourth-grade proficiency reading rates.
2. Desire. No, not that kind. What Abq Jew means is the desire to achieve, the desire to succeed, the desire to make a big difference. The desire to know, the desire to learn, the desire to do.

We read in Pirke Avot (4:1):

 Who is rich?
He who is happy with what he has.

In this sense (but not in so many others), Jews are among the poorest people Abq Jew knows. Jews are (almost) never happy with what they have. They always want to do more and to have more.

Yet the New Mexicans Abq Jew has been fortunate to meet are among the richest people he knows. They are happy with what they have, and - once they've got the essentials - they do not see any need for more.

Abq Jew wishes they would study more, and pass the love of learning on to their children. But would this make them happier? Or would this only make them poorer?

Stay tuned! There's more to come!

Complete preliminary results of the Survey are now posted at

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gone to Denver, Every One

Jewish New Mexico - Our Age: As you know from Abq Jew's blog post NM Jewish Population Survey Results Announced, preliminary results of the only established permanent floating Jewish Population Survey in New Mexico have just been released.

And if you've been following (you have, haven't you?), you must surely suspect that the beautiful and talented Doron Matalon (Miss Israel) has nothing at all to do with the JFNM Population Study.

What she does have to with, at least peripherally, is SelfieGate - the selfie she took with Miss Lebanon, which has sparked outrage in that country. In the event, neither Miss Israel nor Miss Lebanon was crowned Miss Universe; the title went to Miss Colombia.

She's only here to attract your eye, dear reader. How's she doing?

When last we visited the Survey, Abq Jew presented this singing pie chart

Sing to the tune "Where Have All the Young Jews Gone?"

and promised more insightful commentary.on the Survey results. Well, here goes.

What we see here is an older and aging
New Mexico Jewish community. 

No, all the young Jews have not gone to Denver. Some have gone to Phoenix. Some have gone to Houston. Some have gone to Chicago, or Los Angeles, or even New York. And some have ascended to the Land of Israel.

Many were born and raised in the Land of Enchantment - and then sent away to college. And just never came back. UNM ("University Near Mom") did not fulfill them - but Boston University and schools of similar quality and reputation did.

Abq Jew must point out: This is not just a problem for New Mexico's 24,000 Jews. This is a problem for the entirety of New Mexico's wonderfully diverse population.

What is New Mexico's chief export?
Our children ....

Other Survey results point out that - while New Mexico's Jews mostly came from someplace else - most of us have been here for years. Chances are, we'll die here. Which  of course means

We're going to need a lot more cemetery space.

We're also going to need a lot more senior citizen services - housing, transportation, education. And guidance  - some of which Abq Jew has thoughtfully provided on his World to Come page.

Oh yeah - we're going to need more support for the Jewish Care Program

and more Chevre Kaddisha volunteers!

The recent announcement of the Jewish Academy's closing (see Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences to Close) was just one indication of our community's age demographic: there aren't enough Jewish kids to keep the school going.

The JAAS announcement was also a blow to the chances for New Mexico Jewry's rejuvenation. The dedicated young Jews we oldsters seek will may see the lack of a community Jewish day school as a serious drawback, and may decide to take their Jewish neshamas elsewhere.

But there is some good news!

ABQ Tribe, a group of young Jewish professionals loosely associated with Congregation B'nai Israel of Albuquerque,
is large, dynamic, and growing!

Contact Abq Jew to get in touch with them!

Stay tuned! There's more to come!

Complete preliminary results of the Survey are now posted at

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mishkan Chants Shefa

Jiding In The Jemez: When it comes to Hebrew chant, no one can beat Rabbi Shefa Gold. Who maintains a permanent base in the Jemez, but who travels all over the world (even, sometimes, to Albuquerque). Chanting.

Abq Jew has not been a big fan of chanting. If G-d had wanted us to chant, why would She entice us with wonderful-sounding and uber-expensive banjos, guitars, fiddles, and other instruments of mass entertainment?

But Abq Jew could be wrong. Rabbi Shefa says
Chant is a path for all of us who lead with our hearts, who are determined to seek out the truth that is buried deep beneath the ground of our lives, and who have made a commitment to live that truth, from moment to moment, breath to breath, ‘one little bit at a time.’
Rabbi Shefa Gold is a leader in ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal and received her ordination both from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (z”l).

She is the director of C-DEEP, The Center for Devotional, Energy and Ecstatic Practice in Jemez Springs, New Mexico.

Her latest book, published by Jewish Lights, is The Magic of Hebrew Chant: Healing the Spirit, Transforming the Mind, Deepening Love.

And then there's Mishkan Chicago.

Mishkan, says their website, is a spiritual community in Chicago reclaiming Judaism's dynamic essence through prayer and learning experiences rooted in music and intellectual exploration.
We really believe that Judaism done right is a vehicle for bringing more light, more goodness, more justice, and more joy into the world, and that inspired prayer and inspired living reinforce on another.
Abq Jew's excellent Facebook friend Salvador Litvak (aka The Accidental Talmudist) was the one who discovered the combination of Rabbi Shefa and Mishkan in this video.

There's good Jewish stuff happening out there. Enjoy!

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lost Jewish Tribe Discovered

Community of 12,000 in Placitas: As you know from Abq Jew's previous blog post, NM Jewish Population Survey Results Announced, preliminary results of the only established permanent floating Jewish Population Survey in New Mexico have just been released.

And the number we've all been waiting for: 24,000. 

24,000 Jews live in New Mexico.

Abq Jew has been following this developing story since it was first hatched. For the record, see
And if you've been following too (you have, haven't you?), you know that the beautiful and talented Scarlett Johansson has nothing at all to do with the JFNM Population Study.

She's only here to attract your eye, dear reader. How's she doing?

And you also know (see Jews Don't Count) that
By one estimate (see Drasha Diamond Number 1) there are 12,000 Jews and twenty-four (24) ordained rabbis who currently reside in the Land of Enchantment. 
Thus, Abq Jew calculates, the Survey has doubled the number of Jews residing in the Land of Enchantment. We learn from the press release
In conjunction with the work of the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University, the preliminary results of the survey revealed that New Mexico has a growing Jewish population with approximately 24,000 residents, double the amount [sic] the Jewish Federation of New Mexico previously estimated. 
The important take-away here is that the crucial NM rabbi-Jew ratio has also doubled. There is now one rabbi for every 1,000 Jews in our state.

So, Abq Jew hears you ask. Who is SSRI, and how did they come up with such an audacious number? The SSRI website tells us
The Steinhardt Social Research Institute is dedicated to providing unbiased, high-quality data about contemporary Jewry. The institute conducts socio-demographic research, studies the attitudes and behavior of U.S. Jews, and develops a variety of policy-focused analyses of issues such as intermarriage and the effectiveness of Jewish education. The institute's work is characterized by the application of cutting-edge research methods to provide policy-relevant data. 
Steinhardt Social Research Institute researchers have been audacious in their application of new social scientific approaches and their willingness to tackle key societal challenges. SSRI research informs discourse about religious-ethnic identity and, in so doing aids efforts to ensure a vibrant future for the Jewish community.
If you'd like to know more about SSRI, the American Jewish Population Study, and all sorts of similar things - and who wouldn't? - you can click here and here.

Here is one thing you'll learn:

Over 60% of American Jews live in just six states. 

It's true. Wikipedia tells us
Four states ... are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Many other states are known such as Bose–Einstein condensates and neutron-degenerate matter but these only occur in extreme situations such as ultra cold or ultra dense matter.
Oops! That was states of matter. SSRI is talking about states that matter: New York, California, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

But not New Mexico.

And if there really are 24,000 Jews living here - a full 1% of New Mexico's total population - Abq Jew asks, as Fermi asked (in a somewhat different context; see Goldilocks & The Jews)

Where is everybody?

And in particular

Where are those 12,000 Jews we just found?

Now, we also learn from the press release (as if we didn't already know)
According to the survey results, Jews reside throughout New Mexico, though most live in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe metropolitan areas.
Abq Jew, you'll be very pleased to know, has figured out the answer.


Think about it. Placitas is part of the Albuquerque metropolitan area, of course. But (if you look at the map just right) it's also part of the Santa Fe metropolitan area.

And the fact that the 2010 Census found Placitas to have but 4,977 residents only proves how well-hidden Placitas's Jews are.

Stay tuned! There's more to come!

Complete preliminary results of the Survey will be posted at

And Abq Jew will (Billy Nader) be back with more insightful commentary on the Survey results. And with singing pie charts! Sorta like this one -

Sing to the tune "Where Have All the Young Jews Gone?"

Monday, January 19, 2015

NM Jewish Population Survey Results Announced

Growing, Mature, Educated, Involved: The Jewish Federation of New Mexico has announced the preliminary results of its first-ever statewide demographic survey of New Mexico’s Jewish population.

Conducted between September 2 and November 3, 2014, the survey received nearly 1,700 respondents and is the first part of a two-step research project to better understand the composition and needs of the state’s Jewish community.

In conjunction with the work of the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University, the preliminary results of the survey revealed that New Mexico has a growing Jewish population with approximately 24,000 residents, double the amount the Jewish Federation of New Mexico previously estimated. According to the survey results, Jews reside throughout New Mexico, though most live in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe metropolitan areas.

The survey revealed nearly 60 percent of Jews in New Mexico have a graduate or professional degree, and most are older than 45 years old. The survey results show that 87 percent of the Jewish population in the state moved to New Mexico from a different location, and 70 percent of the people surveyed plan to remain in the state for the foreseeable future. Also, 48 percent surveyed identified as Reform Jews compared to the national average of 35 percent.

According to the survey results:

The Jewish population in New Mexico is an aging community with 71% older than age 45, (compared with 56% of all New Mexicans). According to the survey:
  • 34% are over 65 years old
  • 16% are between the ages of 55 and 64
  • 21% are between the ages of 45 and 54 
  • 29% are 44 years old or younger
The community is well-educated. According to the survey:
  • 58% of New Mexico Jews have a graduate or professional degree
  • 28% received a four-year university degree
  • 6% possess a two-year associate’s degree 
  • 7% graduated from high school
Eighty-seven percent of New Mexico’s Jewish population have moved from elsewhere, while 12 percent were born in in the state. Most are long-term residents. Forty percent have lived here for more than 20 years and 23 percent have lived in New Mexico between 11 years and 20 years. The majority moved to New Mexico from either coast. According to the survey:
  • 19% moved from New York
  • 14% moved from California
  • 6% moved from Texas
Nearly 1,700 members of the New Mexico Jewish population were surveyed, or approximately 7% of the state’s population, providing a robust portrait of the community. Of this group:
  • 48% said they are Reform 
  • 18% are Conservative
  • 5% Renewal 
  • 3% said they were Reconstructionist
  • 2% are Orthodox
  • 2% Chabad
Seventy-eight percent feel it is important to be involved in the Jewish community where they live and 56 percent are currently a members of a synagogue. Based on membership of those surveyed, the top five Jewish community organizations include:
  • Anti-Defamation League (35%)
  • Hadassah (33%)
  • Jewish Community Center (31%)
  • Jewish National Fund (28%)
  • Jewish Federation of New Mexico (24%)
Of those surveyed, it was also revealed:
  • 78% said they are emotionally attached to Israel.
  • 84% were raised Jewish. Of the 16% that were not, 65% formally converted to Judaism.
  • More than 70% plan to remain in New Mexico for the foreseeable future, and less than 20% are considering moving in the next few years.
  • 89% of the New Mexico Jewish population consider themselves white and 5% said they herald from Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origins.
Sara Koplik, Director of Community Outreach for the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, said:
We were extremely pleased with our initial findings of this statewide survey. 
There are more Jews living in New Mexico than what we originally thought, comprising 1% of the total New Mexican population. 
Individuals have significantly more education and experience than we initially hypothesized.
The survey results will help us provide better tailored resources to serve our Jewish communities for decades to come.
The Jewish Federation of New Mexico worked in conjunction with Kupersmit Research, a strategic research firm with more than a decade’s experience in market research, on the survey which provided positive insights and preliminary survey results of the two-part research project.

The second portion of the research process will include focus groups with Jewish community members throughout the state to gain in-depth, qualitative information about local Jewish communities.

After the focus groups are completed and the results are analyzed with the demographic survey, the Jewish Federation of New Mexico will have a better understanding of how Jews in New Mexico identify as being Jewish, attitudes towards their religion, participation in the Jewish community, level of Judaic practice, and further demographic characteristics.

This data will be directed to better serving the needs of the Jewish communities, while also supporting future planning and resource allocation statewide.

Complete preliminary results of the survey
will be posted at

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Taste of Honey 2015

Back For Another Great Year: A Taste of Honey, the Jewish community's annual, exciting, social, cultural, and educational event, is scheduled to take place at the Albuquerque JCC on Sunday, February 1st.

 Sign Up By January 23rd for Early Bird Price!!!

Keynote Speaker
Gary Rosenblatt
Editor and Publisher, The Jewish Week
The Joys and Oys of a Jewish Journalist: 
Covering One's Community from the Inside

Session A courses are:

A-1: Not Alone Rabbi Deborah Brin and Lynn McKeever, JD

The law gives us tools to prepare for when we need the comfort and companionship of the right people during life threatening illnesses, hospitalizations and other times of vulnerability. Paperwork matters. We will bring forms and answer questions as we present scenarios which will help you anticipate your needs and make choices in alignment with your values.

A-2: Essentially Yiddish Harvey Buchalter

A bissel of Yiddish, a bissel of laughs! Come learn why our old language (mameloshen/mother tongue) has become part of mainstream American culture. No previous knowledge is needed - only a sense of discovery and humor!

A-3: Online Genealogy-How to Search and Record Family History Schelly Talalay Dardashti

Move forward in your own family history quest by discovering vast collections of data including photos. Learn about numerous websites, search engines containing billions of records, genealogy blogs, Facebook pages and more.

A-4: Crypto-Jews from Spain to New Mexico 1492-current Maria Espinosa

Explore the history of the 400,000+ Jews who left Spain to escape the Inquisition, and the greater number that stayed behind as hidden Jews. Was Christopher Columbus a Jew? Share the surge of interest in the Jewish roots of Crypto Jews in New Mexico. Discuss the idea of hiding one’s identity and its impact on the generations that followed.

A-5: The Biblical Book of Jonah Revisited Shlomo Karni, Ph.D

Is the Big Fish Story just a whale of a tale about repentance and forgiveness? Gain a richer understanding of Jonah as we examine this story, including: Jonah’s personality, God’s unexpected patience and unique sense of humor, the relationship between God and his prophets, the essence of prophecy, and the universality of this story.

A-6: Portrait of Today’s Jewish Community – Results of the First Jewish Demographic Survey of New Mexico Marvin Gottleib, Ph.D, Sara Koplik, Ph.D, Marina Rabinowitz, Ph.D

Discover the fascinating results of the 2014 Jewish Demographic survey. Learn how the Jews of New Mexico differ from the rest of the nation. Understand what our community looks like as a whole as well as the various sub-groups and smaller trends. Discussion will follow presentation of the findings.

A-7: Stretching Bodies, Minds, and Hearts through Shemitic Yoga Rahmaneh Meyers

Interweave movement, music, self-massage, and meditation, using Hebrew songs and words to guide your path through Shemitic Yoga. Then, if and when you are ready, consolidate your realizations, and bring careful closure as you prepare to enter the next adventure of your life.

A-8: Jews and Cremation Gail Rubin, Certified Thanatologist

The U.S. cremation rate is climbing, and Jews - who historically bury - are part of that rising rate. Examine the “why” of Jewish burial and cremation, the “how” of the cremation process, and “what’s next” for Jews considering cremation.

A-9: Wrestling With the Sh’ma-the Power of a Prayer Diane Schmidt

After facing death in El Salvador and Chicago as a photojournalist, and through many years of life-changing immersion in Navajo spirituality, I came to a deeper understanding of the most primary prayer in Judaism, the Sh’ma. View documentary photos of this journey. Share your personal relationship with the Sh’ma. Together we will recite and meditate on its meaning.

A-10: Meditation, Mindfulness, and the Art of Blessing Paula Amar Schwartz, Ph.D

The Jewish tradition is filled with opportunities to open us to mindful awareness of the richness of life, the beauty of nature, and our relationship to the Divine. Learn about the concepts of mindful Jewish living; sample a meditation; and focus on the “Taste of Honey” in the art of blessing the day.

Session B courses are:

B-1: Hebrew: Its Shaping Power for Jewish Identity Rabbi Paul Citrin

Hebrew has been the glue and the bridge which has maintained the Jewish people in the Diaspora. It is also our repository of the expression of our deepest values. We will examine the drama of Hebrew’s usage over the centuries, its revival and its power to touch the Jewish spirit.

B-2: DNA Genetic Genealogy Schelly Talalay Dardashti

Connect with your known and unknown relatives and branches of your family using DNA genetic genealogy. Explore Y DNA, mtDNA, autosomal tests, with a fascinating focus on the Iberian/Ashkenaz DNA Project. Find the Sephardic origins of numerous Ashkenazi families.

B-3: A Taste of Jewish Dance Michele Diel

Sample the joy of dance with a nibble of Klezmer, a nosh of Israeli and a sip of sacred Jewish dance. Learn steps and variations – to old favorites and new music. Whether you are beginner, intermediate or advanced - come dance with us!

B-4: Lilith: Seductress, Heroine or Murderer? Janet Gaines, Ph.D

Lilith is mentioned just once in the Bible, but many times in the Talmud and folklore. She declared herself equal to Adam, got kicked out of Paradise, and became a figure of female emancipation. Learn all about the Lilith myth in text and artwork, both ancient and modern.

B-5: Conversos and Their Descendants in Literature Dianne Layden, Ph.D

How did a trunk in an Albuquerque cellar and happenings in Arcos de la Frontera, Spain, help reveal hidden heritage and mysterious traditions? Interwoven stories from 1391 Spain, to 1912 New Mexico, to present day, unveil the long-term influence of the Inquisition on so many lives of the descendants who are among us.

B-6: Chant as a Doorway into Liturgy and the Heart Miryam Levy

Come experience Hebrew chanting as a vehicle to transcend your thinking mind and the realm of the ordinary. Enter deeply into the meaning of the words and gather insight by focusing on a single phrase from Psalms and other liturgy.

B-7: Irving Berlin in Song and Story Judy & Michael Muldawer

Learn about a most important song writer in American history, Irving Berlin. Listen to his story while being entertained by popular and lessknown songs. Discover how this uneducated Russian immigrant, a cantor’s son, raised in terrible poverty, made such an impression on American popular music.

B-8: You Don’t Have to be Rich or Dead to Create Your Jewish Legacy Erika Rimson & Vivian Skadron

Understand how you can create a legacy with the Jewish Community Foundation. Support the areas of Jewish life that mean the most to you. Learn the impact of grants for Jewish camping, Israel trips or college tuition. Discover how easy it is to make a difference for the causes you support in our community and worldwide- now and always.

B-9: A Noble (& Nobel) Profession for a Nice Jewish Kid: Physics & Astronomy in Classic Jewish Texts Rabbi Jack Shlachter

Jews constitute an astounding percentage of Nobel Prize winners in physics. Explore the full gamut of Jewish texts that encourage the study of physical sciences with this Los Alamos physicist and rabbi.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences to Close

Leaves an 18-Year Legacy: The Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences Board of Trustees has decided to close the school after the current school year.

The Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences, New Mexico’s only full-time Jewish school has served hundreds of young people since it opened its doors in 1996. As an elementary school with a dual curriculum in secular and Jewish studies, the Jewish Academy has prepared its students for academic success at private and public middle schools in Albuquerque. Many graduates of the Jewish Academy have gone on to colleges and universities of distinction, such as Harvard, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and many others.

“It’s purely a question of demand,” said Board President Margie Pintzow. “Ours is a well-run school of high academic achievement, fully accredited, managed and governed with great care and discipline. We have simply come to recognize and accept that our model of education is not in demand by enough parents in this community,” she said.

The decision to close reflects national trends in Jewish education. Outside of major metropolitan areas, private Jewish schools have been on the decline over the past decade. According to a 2014 national study of Jewish Day Schools by the Avi Chai Foundation, there has been a sharp decline in the number of non-Orthodox Jewish day schools over the past decade.

“Enrollment at our school has been consistent with the national trend,” said Steve Barberio, Head of School at the Jewish Academy. “Despite opening enrollment to nonJews, a name change, a stronger secular curriculum and an enhanced Jewish Studies curriculum, demand is simply not strong enough to keep the doors open,” Barberio said.

The Jewish Academy’s Board of Trustees has committed itself to a thoughtful, orderly and financially responsible ceasing of operations. “We’re paying very close attention to preserving our legacy as an excellent institution,” said Pintzow, “and that means that we must exit in a manner consistent with our values, honoring the support we’ve received from our donors, organizational partners and vendors in the community.”

“The support we’ve received from the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM) has been tremendous,” said Barberio, who came to the school in 2012. “Our school has benefited from the generosity of the Federation and from our campus partner, the Jewish Community Center (JCC). We’re doing all we can to assure the community that this year is an excellent capstone to a very successful 18-year history of Jewish education,” said Barberio.

Sabra Minkus, president and acting director of the JFNM said,
We’re certainly sad to see the day school close, but celebrate with the Jewish Academy’s Board and Staff the legacy they leave behind. 
We’re proud of the work the school has done to educate children in our community, but now it’s time for us to look for other ways to offer educational services to Jewish families in Albuquerque.
“The Jewish Academy has enriched our campus with the joy of children and excellent education programs,” said JCC Executive Director Dave Simon. “Though the school is closing, the JCC plans to expand our education and recreation programs for families, children and the entire community.”

The school will remain open through the end of the 2014-15 school year, wind down its operations and close the doors officially on June 30. Located on the Jewish Community Center campus, the school building will be turned over to the JCC.

“We remain committed to providing our current students with the very best education possible for the rest of this year,” said Barberio, adding,
The school leaves behind a tremendous legacy after serving Jewish families for the past 18 years. 
Today, there are many more Jews with strong Jewish identities who are actively serving their communities because of the good work done by the many professionals and volunteers at the Jewish Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Friday, January 9, 2015

About That Bush

That Was Not Consumed: You know - the sneh (סנה), the thornbush, the lowliest of all the desert's trees, which The Holy One, Blessed Be He selected because ... well, it was the lowliest of all the desert's trees.

The Etz Hayim's commentary says
For the Midrash, the thornbush symbolizes Israel's experience in Egypt [and many other situations in life]. It is easier to put one's hand into a thornbush than to extricate it; so Israel's arrival in Egypt was comfortable compared to the difficulties and pain of their departure [Mekh of bar Yohai].
As Rabbi Joyce Newmark points out in her New Jersey Jewish News article Recognizing the Call
It has been suggested by some commentators that the thorn bush had been burning for quite some time; a number of people had seen it and just kept on walking. 
What distinguished Moses was that when he saw the burning bush, he recognized it as something unusual, something special, and he stopped what he was doing and turned aside to investigate and to try to understand this strange phenomenon.
Now, the Torah doesn't talk about a sneh - it talks about the sneh, like there was only one, a semantic idiosyncracy that doesn't seem to bother Rashi or any of the traditional commentators.

The sneh was not, for example, on any of Pirke Avot's Avot's list of Ten Things Created on the Eve of the First Shabbat.

But the sneh has always held special meaning for Abq Jew.

For it was on Simtat HaSneh ("Thornbush Lane") in Ashkelon that Abq Jew's parents, of blessed memory, resided in a two-bedroom, third-floor walkup during 1970-73, during part of which time (it's complicated) Abq Jew was attending The Technion in Haifa.

But Abq Jew's Biblical Hebrew was non-existent way back then. He didn't come to realize what a sneh was until 1975, when he arrived at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and took careful note of their logo.

So - Abq Jew studied at The Technion, but he never became a professional engineer. And Abq Jew studied at The Seminary, but he never became a professional educator.

Why, you may (or may not) ask,
didn't Abq Jew become a rabbi?

Did he not get the call? Did he not recognize the call?

It turns out (for those who have but recently joined the club and for those who have forgotten), that Abq Jew began to answer that searing question in May 2011, in a post titled Wanna Be A Rabbi?
Not everyone who becomes a rabbi goes to rabbinical school, and not everyone who goes to rabbinical school becomes a rabbi.  Abq Jew is one of those who went (without actually being admitted; it's a long story) and didn't. 
Why didn't he?  Somewhere along the way, Abq Jew found out that the rabbi has to sit on the bimah for the entire day of Yom Kippur - all the services, all the prayers, all the cantorial ... stuff. Sometimes with a choir. 
That's the story Abq Jew has told for the past thirty-odd years. But the truth is - he couldn't get past the Jewish Theological Seminary's in-person Talmud entrance exam, administered by Rabbi Saul Lieberman, of blessed memory. 
Rabbi Lieberman was such a formidable scholar that ... when he went to interview at JTS, he was warned: "Don't tell them you know the entire Babylonian Talmud by heart." Sure enough, when asked about the extent of his learning, Rabbi Lieberman claimed to know only half the Talmud. "Which half do you know?" he was asked. And Rabbi Lieberman responded: "Which half would you like to hear?" 
Abq Jew profoundly and profusely apologizes.  It's an old joke - and  my rabbinical school colleagues, many of whom went on to brilliantly successful careers, swore (Billy Nader) it really happened.  But the truth is - it took smarts and "background" and sitzfleisch to become a rabbi, especially at the Seminary, especially in those years.

Let it be noted that Abq Jew's fateful JTS Talmud encounter with Rabbi Lieberman, of blessed memory, was one of the Rabbinical School entrance requirements, which Abq Jew had never completed. Since Abq Jew was never formally admitted, he cannot be a compleat, honest-to-G-d Rabbi School Dropout.

But Abq Jew can certainly like the song. It's from Pizmon's third album, Greensleeves, and is set to the tune of Beauty School Dropout, from the musical Grease. Some Pizmon albums are available at

And if you want a tongue-firmly-in-cheek tale of What Really Happened - you should definitely go see Into the Woods! It's terrific! Or - you could see Who is Abq Jew?
Rabbi School Dropout
Words: Natie Fox - Pizmon dropout
Music: Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey 
Your story's sad to tell, a Yiddish ne'er do well
Most farblundgent Jewish soul on the block
Your future's so unclear now, what's left of your career now
Can't even get a trade-in on your Tanach 
Rabbi School Dropout, your proof of smicha won't be sent
Rabbi School Dropout, missed your behina, flunked cholent
Well, at least you could have taken time to learn Torah and Jewish roots
After spending all that dough buying nice clothes to look farputzed 
Hey Yid get moving, to yourself don't be a tease
What are you proving, you've got the seichel but no kishkes
If you go for your smicha you're just being a nincompoop
Turn in your Talmud Bavli, go back to law school 
Rabbi School Dropout, no ordination day for you
Rabbi School Dropout, when they said "Moses" you said "Who?"
Well, they couldn't teach you anything you think that you're so glorious
No one would ask of you a shaila unless he was an apikoros 
Chabibi don't sweat it, you're not cut out to play this tune
Better forget it, who wants a shiur from a shmagoon?
Now, you love your Bubbe, you love your Zeyde, but still the world is cruel
Wipe off that holy face and go back to law school 
Hey you don't blow it, please take the good advice I've sent
Baby you know it, even though you're so farklempt
I've told you what to do, so listen you, I've really got to fly
Gotta be going to that Beis Midrash in the sky

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Peace and Blessing, World!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Invitation to The eLink

The New Mexico Jewish eLink: For more than forty years, The New Mexico Jewish Link has appeared as a print newspaper, bringing news, information and opinion to Jewish communities throughout the state.

The Jewish Federation of New Mexico and Abq Jew ® LLC are excited to announce that, beginning in March of 2015, The New Mexico Jewish Link will finally enter the 21st century with the introduction of The New Mexico Jewish eLink.

As a partnership between the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and Abq Jew LLC, the eLink will continue the high standards established by the printed Link.

This site (which is currently viewable), will offer exciting features, profiles, local and international news, community announcements, and advertising in an attractive, easy-to-navigate site.

The Link will be published through February of 2015, with the final printed issue that month.

Beginning in March of 2015, The New Mexico Jewish Link will be replaced entirely with The New Mexico Jewish eLink.

With the introduction of The New Mexico Jewish eLink, the Jewish Federation will eliminate the onerous costs of publishing and distributing The Link.

And the Federation will be able to allocate an additional 25,000 dollars to the Jewish agencies, congregations and programs that meet the multi-generational needs of our community.

Most importantly, The New Mexico Jewish eLink will continue to provide a voice for our Jewish community that addresses critical issues and celebrates Jewish life.

Please join us as we set out on this exciting new venture!

 Subscribe in order to receive important eLink updates, or visit the website any time -

The Fine Print

If you have regularly received emails from the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM) - such as the weekly Upcoming Community Events that Sherry Roy sent out every Friday - chances are very good (but not 100%) that the eLink HAS your email address. No action is required on your part.

If you have NOT regularly received emails from the JFNM, chances are very good (but not 100%) that the eLink DOES NOT HAVE your email address. In order to receive important eLink updates, you must subscribe.

If you are not sure what Abq Jew is talking about, but you are sure you want to receive important eLink updates, you should probably just subscribe. It'll only take a minute, and what could it hurt?

Information you provide to The New Mexico Jewish eLink is treated confidentially.
To subscribe to The New Mexico Jewish eLink, we only need your Email Address.

One More Thing

The New Mexico Jewish eLink has a Facebook page! Like us!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter 2015 @ OASIS Albuquerque

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

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

 ... a unique educational program for adults age 50-plus who want to learn, grow and explore new ideas. We promote successful aging through lifelong learning, health programs and volunteer engagement. OASIS Albuquerque has just announced their Winter 2015 line-up of classes.

Registration will open on Wednesday January 7

Executive Director Kathleen Raskob (Michael Nutkiewicz has retired) has continued to make sure there are plenty of courses of Jewish interest.  This session's courses and instructors include:

Spain & the Jews: Then & Now
Thu 22 January 2015 @ 10:30 am - #40
Instructor: Norma Libman
What It Is: In the year 1000, a million Jews lived on the Iberian Peninsula. By 1492, three-quarters were gone, and Spain expelled all the remaining Jews and Muslims who refused to convert to Christianity. What happened to those Jews who still refused to leave? And why is Spain now offering citizenship to the descendants of Jews who were forced out of the country? Who is thinking of returning and why?

Friday Performance: Alavados
Fri 30 January 2015 @ 2:00 pm - #79
Instructor: Alvados
What It Is: Alavados (a name meaning prayers or supplications in Spanish) is Congregation Nahalat Shalom's holy days ensemble. Directed by Nahalat Shalom's Cantorial Soloist Beth Cohen, the band was formed in 1996 to accompany the music for the holidays celebrated at Albuquerque's Jewish Renewal synagogue. The group will perform Jewish liturgical music, folk songs, dance tunes and some comparative selections of east European Jewish music with Sephardic music for an uplifting and interesting performance that will be enjoyed by all

Issues Concerning the Jewish Victims of the Holocaust.
Mon 9 & 16 February 2015 @ 10:30 am - #42
Instructor: Noel Pugach
What It Is: This class will continue exploring critical issues surrounding the Jewish Holocaust from different perspectives. We will focus on the Jewish victims and try to account for their response. Was German Jewry too passive when the Nazis deprived them of their rights? Did European Jewry mount a serious resistance to the Final Solution? What could they have done? Were they prisoners of their own history? Did other Europeans do more against Nazi Germany's immense power?

The Jewish Messiah Who Became a Muslim: The Story of Shabbatai Zvi
Thu 12 February 2015 @ 10:30 am - #95
Instructor: Michael Nutkiewicz
What It Is: In 1665, a young man from Jerusalem named Shabbatai Zvi was declared the messiah of the Jewish people. The word spread, and Jews throughout the known Jewish world were prepared to follow him and bring about the messianic era. But in 1666, Shabbatai Zvi converted to Islam, and the movement collapsed entirely… almost. Learn about one of the most bizarre episodes of Jewish history and its tragic aftermath.

The Heart of Ruth
Wed 18 February @ 10:30 am - #96
Instructor: Janet Gaines
What It Is: Janet Gaines will discuss the story of one of the Bible’s most beloved women. The Book of Ruth demonstrates various loving relationships with which we still struggle today -- love of God and duty, love of family and in-laws, love between man and woman. We will examine background biblical passages regarding laws on gleaning, levirate marriage, and attitudes toward Moabites that shape many of Ruth’s themes.

The Life of Josephus
Mon 23 February 2015 @ 10:30 am - #98
Instructor: Frank Yates
What It Is: This presentation will focus on Josephus' autobiography, "The Life." We will examine this important Jewish writer who lived in the first century CE and who wrote about the Jewish war against the the Romans. His writings give us an insight into the first century Jewish world.

American Songwriters: Lerner & Loewe
Mon 23 February 2015 @ 1:00 pm - #70
Instructor: Jane Ellen
What It Is: In 1942 fate brought together Alan Jay Lerner, a lyricist-playwright and son of the proprietor of a chain of women’s clothing stores and Frederick Loewe, an unknown Viennese composer and former boxer, cowpuncher, busboy, and gold miner. They were to enrich American musical theatre with six unforgettable collaborations including Brigadoon, Camelot, and My Fair Lady. Join us for the magic of Lerner and Loewe, part of our ongoing series featuring American Songwriters.

Jewish Environmental Ethics
Thu 26 February 2015 @ 1:00 pm - #99
Instructor: Paul J Citrin
What It Is: We live in an unprecedented time of human-induced climate change, depletion of resources and depredation of species. Our session will examine ancient and modern Jewish texts on the human obligation to protect the planet, species, and humanity while also enhancing our lives.

The Definition of Human Life
Tue 17 March 2015 @ 10:30 am - #100
Instructor: Harry Rosenfeld
What It Is: Jewish Perspectives on the Beginning and End of Life: When does life begin? When does life end? When do we become human and when does that state end? We will look at these and other questions by examining ancient, medieval and modern Jewish texts.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Rabbi & The Gypsy Lady

Rabbi Tomer & Alexandra Kanarit: This, Abq Jew assures you, you've got to see!

Abq Jew stumbled upon this street-musician version of Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven while looking for something else on the Internet - you know how it is.

But the street is in the Holy City of Jerusalem - in Zion Square (Kikar Zion), to be exact, located at the intersection of Jaffa Road, Ben Yehuda Street, Herbert Samuel Street, and Yoel Moshe Salomon Street.

And the musicians - Rabbi Tomer and the Gypsy Lady - well, they're also performing on a wholly different level.

This, shouts Abq Jew, is how you do kiruv
- welcoming Jews back home!

OK ... calm down ....

Well, it took a little bit (not really a lot) of Googling, but Abq Jew managed to track down The Rabbi and the Gypsy Lady.

From Rabbi Tomer's Facebook Page:
Rabbi Tomer was born and raised in Kiryat Ata.  
Tomer is a singer, artist, creator and composer. Performs original material and covers.
Since Tomer remembers himself singing and playing the guitar. Friends, family and anyone who wanted to stop and listen.  
During and after the army, [he started to repent and return to Judaism.]
His soul and his love of music did not let him stay fixed in place [as a congregational rabbi], and he finds himself in a special round of performances and unique all over the country.  
This time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and two days a week in Nahariya.  
Tomer is the Wall of Jerusalem's Zion Square and the joy of the people of Israel.
From Alexandra Kanarit's Facebook Page, we learn only that she is from Kirovohrad, Ukraine; and that she studied music at Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts.

How did Rabbi Tomer and Ms Kanarit meet? Abq Jew hears you ask.

From The Rabbi & The Gypsy Lady's Facebook Page:
Zion Square is like a home for The Rabbi&Gypsy Lady. 
we'll tell you a story how they meet: 
Three years two street performers was playing for people in Israel bringing joy and happienes, but they never saw each other. הרב תומר mostly was playing in Jerusalem and Alexansra Kanarit in Tel Aviv. 
One day she decide come to Jerusalem play in old city. She was walking from bus station and flying in her inner world, in the moment when she passed kikar tzion, central place in Jerusalem, she hear some rabbi singing and felt some spacial energy which bring her to him. 
She came to put some 2 shekels (it was last money what she had, but she didnt care, it was tradition for her come to other city to play and be with no money, because she trust G-d  ). So... she came to him and he saw the violin with her. 
He asked "Maybe you play one song with me?", she look at him, think and not anwer (this time she start do tshuva, and thought thst maybe its not very good idea for women play with a man, because before she'll even not think when someone asking join his playing), he see maybe she dont want and ask again: "Just one song, after you go", she say: "Ok, lama lo (why not)". 
It was song ובלל'לה (at night)- now this song is some from there favorite ones. When they played all people who was there (also them) felt this spacial energy, energy of ONE. 
She meet her self in man body, her half, and he found his dream (he always dream about playing with some crazy female violin player). 
After this song she go.... "Ain't no sunshine when she's go...."  But after few ours G-d bring her back, untill now (9 month from first meet) they playing together....

Alright ... here's an Israeli Medley (and a bit more about Alexandra Kanarit).

You are always welcome to our show.
We love you and never want to leave playing on the street.
See you in Jerusalem!

To a happy & healthy 2015!