Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ahuva Batz Comes to B'nai Israel

Will Not Sing for Seder: Congregation B'nai Israel of Albuquerque is proud to announce that revered teacher, musician, and ritual leader Ahuva Batz has been engaged to lead this year's Hallel and Musaf services on the last two days of the Passover holiday.

Maestra Batz will also share in B'nai Israel's Erev Shabbat Pesach services.

Pesach 2015 with Ahuva Batz
Congregation B'nai Israel
Friday April 10 ~ 9:00 am
Friday April 10 ~ 6:00 pm
Saturday (Yizkor) April 11 ~ 9:00 am


Ahuva’s passion for Talmud, Torah and Tefilla (prayer) has blossomed into her work as a teacher and ritual leader.

She teaches cantillation and B’nai Mitzvah lessons, leads prayer and chants megillot at Tal Torah, a growing women’s Jewish studies center, and is a frequent prayer leader at Moreshet Yisrael, Jerusalem’s flagship Conservative synagogue.

Congregation Moreshet Yisrael is made up of English speaking olim and Israeli natives.
Locals and tourists fill the shul on weekdays, shabbatot, and chaggim.
The worldwide Friends-of-Moreshet network gives opportunity for Jews in all countries
to have membership in a captivating Israeli beit knesset.

Her music blends enchanting world-Jewish melodies with Israeli soul.

Ahuva Batz lives in Jerusalem, and enjoys the invigorating exchange flowing from her work with Israeli and U.S. spiritual communities.

Rabbi Arthur Flicker says

Ahuva is a dynamic energetic and creative singer
who brings prayer to life.
Plan to join us for services and enjoy
this special prayer leader.

Abq Jew searched all over YouTube and the Internet, but could not find an example of Ahuva's singing. So, to bring in some a capella (see Pizmon in Albuquerque) ruach before Pesach, here is Dayenu, the latest from the Maccabeats.
Originally formed in 2007 as Yeshiva University’s student vocal group, the Maccabeats have recently emerged as both Jewish music and a cappella phenomena, with a large fanbase, more than 20 million views on YouTube, numerous TV appearances, and three albums.

A Zissen Pesach, New Mexico!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Placido Domingo Comes to B'nai Israel

Will Sing for Seder: Congregation B'nai Israel of Albuquerque is proud to announce that revered tenor Placido Domingo has been engaged to help lead this year's Second Seder. Maestro Domingo will also daven Musaf on the first two days of the Passover holiday.

Pesach 2015
Placido Domingo
Congregation B'nai Israel
 Saturday April 4 ~ 9:00 am
Saturday April 4 ~ 6:00 pm
Sunday April 5 ~ 9:00 am

Placido Domingo, a recent convert to Judaism under the auspices of Rabbi Arthur Flicker, will be coming to Congregation B'nai Israel the first weekend in April to help lead the Second Seder and Pesach services.

Maestro Domingo has studied and listened to the CDs recorded by Dr David Katz and Cantor JoAnn Rice so that he can lead services with tunes familiar to CBI members.


He is looking forward to staying with Rabbi Flicker and his family, as Linda has promised him a well stocked refrigerator with kosher Mexican delicacies.

Although he was provided with “lead sheets” of the music, the celebrated tenor found Dr Katz's and Cantor Rice’s CDs more to his liking.

“With the CDs I was able to better master the t’fillah
and nusach; I believe I will even be able to do
a full recitation of the Amidah!”

Ritual Chair Ben Kesner commented, “It will be great to have a cantor with such talent on the bima. On Saturday and Sunday, come early if you want to stand close to Mr Domingo by getting an aliyah.”

On both days of Pesach, a special Kiddush featuring all of Placido’s favorite foods will be  prepared by the Sisterhood.

Please remember that no photography or writing is permitted at Congregation B'nai Israel during the holiday.

Members and visitors who wish to have their photos taken with our guest or obtain autographs will need to wait until the conclusion of Havdalah services on Sunday night.

The above PURIM SPOOF was adapted for Congregation B'nai Israel by (who did you think?) Abq Jew.

It is based upon the actual 2009 Purim newsletter that Abq Jew's old friend Bruce Kesselman wrote and published while serving as Executive Director of Temple Beth Sholom in (the other) Las Vegas.

Of the experience, Bruce has told Abq Jew

Half the congregation wanted me fired; but half said they would increase their donations if I did it again.

Bruce also shared with Abq Jew some of the comments he received from TBS congregants.
  • Under no circumstances should Temple Beth Sholom hire a cantor who has just converted to Judaism. We deserve someone with a longer Jewish history.
  • If I want to get a good seat, do I have to come early?
  • I hope you have some good lawyers in the Congregation. When Placido Domingo reads this he is going to sue and the Temple will be out of business. How can you print such false information about this great man?
  • Whoever thought of this should be hung up on a pole in front of the Temple and set on fire.
  • I called my cousin who knows Placido Domingo, and she said he’s not coming and doesn’t know anything about what was written. I hope the Temple has a good lawyer because he’s going to sue the Temple when he reads this. Our building will have to be sold when he wins the law suit.
  • Why wasn’t I told about this? I’m on the Ritual Committee!
  • I haven’t read it yet, but my husband loved it and will send a $5,000 check to make sure another one like this is printed next year.
  • The bulletin is hilarious!!! Great job?  : )
  • This is fabulous news! Just what we need to regain our prominence! 

Note: Bruce Kesselman is no longer the Executive Director of Temple Beth Sholom.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Mexico 2015 Seder Roundup!

Got Milchig Pesach? A long time ago when America was being settled, a group of people headed west in a wagon train from the east coast.

Ben & Jerry's Charoset Ice Cream for Pesach!
Alas, only available in Israel!
Thanks for the photo, Elie Klein!
The wagon train leader was very inexperienced and soon the people realized they were hopelessly lost. After wandering for weeks and weeks, their food supplies were gone and winter was fast approaching. 
As the group came over a hill they saw the first person they had seen for days; an old Jewish man, a Litvak yet, sitting beneath a tree. The leader of the wagon train approached the man. 
"Can you help us? We're heading west but we're lost and all our food is gone. We're starving." 
The old man replied, "Vell you know, I can see the future...Vait.. I'm getting a vision now." He held one hand to his brow and closed his eyes in concentration. "It's coming. Oh yah, I see, I see." "I know vut you gotado. 
Go up dis here hill und down other side. Go through forest und across the stream. Den go up next hill und down to dat valley below. There you vill find ah bacon tree." 
"A bacon tree?" asked the wagon tree leader. 
"YA, ah bacon tree. Trust me.. for nuttin vud I lie. I can see the future." 
The wagon train leader shrugged and headed off. The group followed the strange old man's directions exactly. They went up the hill, down the other side, through the forest, across the stream, up the next hill and down to the valley below. 
Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Not a damned thing and especially not a bacon tree. 
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, came Indians from all sides. It was a massacre. All but one man was killed, even he was seriously wounded. He crawled up the hill, crawled across the stream, crawled through the forest, crawled up the hill and crawled down into the valley. There, under the tree was that same old Jewish man, having a glass of tea, right where they had left him. 
The injured man crawled up to him and started shouting...... "What were you thinking? You sent us all to our deaths! We followed your instructions to the letter! We went up the hill, down the other side, through the forest, across the stream, up the next hill and down the valley below. NO BACON TREE! Just Indians, thousands of Indians! And the rest of my group? THEY'RE ALL DEAD! " 
The man held up his hand and said "Oye, vait A minute, vait A minute... I'm getting anudder vision.... Oyeeee. Ooooh. NOW I get it....G'VALT, I make ah big mistake... It vuz not a bacon tree... It vuz a ham bush!"
Abq Jew thanks The Jewish Magazine for that story.

And now - on to Abq Jew's

Both Seders - Friday and Saturday Nights

First Seder - Friday Night Only

Second Seder - Saturday Night Only

Yes, we're getting down to crunch time!
Got all your Pesachdik foods?
Keep checking Abq Jew's Pesach Watch!
And keep reporting in!

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Potholes of Long Island

Princess Pat and Schmooli the Shark: Having just returned from Long Island (New York), Mr & Mrs Abq Jew now pause to offer thanks for their safe return.

Long Island, in case you didn't know, is known as the residence of a number of famous folks (Billy Joel immediately comes to mind, most probably because of the recent New Yorker profile), but most famously as the home (see For Vera, Chuck & Dave) of

During this especially harsh winter, Long Island (indeed, all of the Snow Belt) is especially known for its potholes.

Mr & Mrs Abq Jew saw roads full of potholes (or potholes occasionally forming roads), and managed to avoid dropping our rental car into any but the most shallow.

Two important points here:
  1. You can't tell how deep a pothole is from the top.
  2. The GEICO pothole commercial nails it.
"Oh no! Your tire's all flat and junk."

The voice (in case you were wondering) for the GEICO pothole commercial is that of Dayci Brookshire, who has gone on to perhaps bigger things, but certainly none better.

Dayci Brookshire

In other Long Island news, Mr & Mrs Abq Jew have managed to learn the chorus of the Princess Pat Camp Song. Very very well, after lots and lots of repetition. Vera (aka Lena Rose) and Auntie Alex (visiting from Boston) sang this a lot during our visit.

The song, Abq Jew was surprised to learn, has a history. Wikipedia (of course) tells us
Princess Pat, a favorite campfire song in North America, began as a Military cadence of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. 
Princess Patricia, the Colonel-in-Chief, designed and made by hand the regimental colours of the Canadian Forces infantry regiment, named in her honour. 
They are a crimson flag with a circular purple centre. In the circle are gold initials V P which stand for Victoria Patricia. 
The regimental colours became known as the "Ric-A-Dam-Doo", reportedly from the Gaelic for "cloth of your mother"
This colour was carried in every regimental action during World War I.
Princess Pat was Princess Patricia of Connaught, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

She relinquished her title of a British princess (but remained a member of the British Royal Family, remained in the line of succession, and attended all major royal events including weddings, funerals, and coronations) when she married the commoner Alexander Ramsay.

And Wikipedia further tells us
She was named Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry on 22 February 1918 and held that appointment until her death.
Princess Patricia personally designed the badge and colours for the regiment to take overseas to France, and at her wedding in 1919, the regiment attended and played their march specially.
Note to Vera's parents: If Vera thinks this is a Secret Song that only her Auntie Alex knows, do not show her this video. But if you want to learn the whole song - enjoy!

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Happy Springtime, World!

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Place in the Knesset

For Israel Election Day: It may come as no surprise that Abq Jew has mixed feelings about mixed choirs. On the one hand, Abq Jew firmly believes that

G-d wants us to sing
and has therefore enticed us to accompany ourselves
on wonderful-sounding and uber-expensive
banjos, guitars, fiddles, and other
instruments of mass entertainment.

On the other hand, the voices of great instrumentless a capella groups like Pizmon and world-class choral groups like HaZamir certainly warm us with their inspiration.

On the other other hand, much choir music (as Abq Jew innocently perceives it) seems quite Christian in tone (see even Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin), and filled with a different, doesn't-feel-like-home coolness.

What Abq Jew wants, it turns out, is lively. full-of-life music that makes you want to clap your hands, your paws, or anything you've got.

NowAbq Jew recently had the opportunity to hear the local folk group Holy Water and Whiskey. For free. At the library. Courtesy of Neal Copperman and AMP Concerts.

Here is the verdict: A fine musical combination. HW&W can sing in three-part harmony, play their instruments well, and tell jokes that are stupider, funnier, yet even more insipid than those Abq Jew tells. A rare coincidence of talent. And - they're local!

HW&W did a really fine rendition of Ghost Riders in the Sky, which is, as he's sure you will recall, one of Abq Jew's favorites (see Ghost Chickens With Borscht).

But among their repertoire was also  Bill Staines' song, A Place in the Choir, a fine and delightful, only nominally Christian song (although what makes it so is hard to define) that Abq Jew (despite his miscellaneous musical background) had never heard before.

Which reminds Abq Jew to remind you that March 17 - Israel's upcoming Election Day, curiously scheduled for St Patrick's Day - will, with G-d's grace, arrive tomorrow. And that

All G-d's Chosen Got a Place in the Knesset
and in the World Zionist Congress (WZC)
Click here to vote in the 2015 WZC Election by April 30

Holy Water and Whiskey's rendition of A Place in the Choir has not, alas, been posted on YouTube. So here in its stead is the lively, full-of-life performance by PBS stars Celtic Thunder.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Beware Already

The Ides of March: It's a funny thing about Purim and Abq Jew: they just can't seem to get along.

Although Abq Jew enthusiastically fulfills the mitzva of getting so drunk that he "can't tell the difference between" - that's usually about as far as it goes.

Something weird, something strange, or something just really odd always seems to happen to Abq Jew - and always on Purim. Or close to Purim.

For example, on the Ides of March, Or close to the Ides of March. Of which Wikipedia informs us
The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martii or Idus Martiae) is a day on the Roman calendar that corresponds to 15 March. It was marked by several religious observances, and became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.
And furthermore explains
The Romans did not number days of a month sequentially from the first through the last day. Instead, they counted back from three fixed points of the month: the Nones (5th or 7th, depending on the length of the month), the Ides (13th or 15th), and the Kalends (1st) of the following month. 
The Ides occurred near the midpoint, on the 13th for most months, but on the 15th for March, May, July, and October. 
The Ides were supposed to be determined by the full moon, reflecting the lunar origin of the Roman calendar. On the earliest calendar, the Ides of March would have been the first full moon of the new year.
This year (5775), on Erev Ides of March (aka Pi Day), the two leading (membership and real estate) Albuquerque congregations will offer the community not one, but - count 'em - two, yes two fundraisers for their respective and irrespective supporters.

This is almost not to mention the Albuquerque Chapter of the Jewish Voice for Peace, which Abq Jew feels obligated to tell you (otherwise, he wouldn't) is sponsoring

Which brings us back to

"Julie, don't go," I said.
"It's the Ides of March.
Beware already."

It has occurred to Abq Jew that he may be the only one in New Mexico who has ever heard these words spoken in jest. Abq Jew is, he himself certainly realizes, of a certain age, and not getting any younger.

And thus, for the younger, the etymology whence these words come:

Wayne and Shuster
Rinse the Blood Off My Toga

Wikipedia tells us about Wayne and Shuster:
Wayne and Shuster were a Canadian comedy duo formed by Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster. They were active professionally from the early 1940s until the late 1980s. 
Wayne (born Louis Weingarten, May 28, 1918 – July 18, 1990) and Shuster (September 5, 1916 – January 13, 2002) were well known in Canada, and were Ed Sullivan's most frequently recurring guests, appearing a record 67 times on his show.
They performed "literate" comedy, combined with slapstick. 
They often used classical or Shakespearean settings and characters; on their first Ed Sullivan appearance, for example, they performed Rinse the Blood Off My Toga, a sketch which retold Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in the style of a then-contemporary police procedural television series such as Dragnet. 
This sketch spawned the popular catchphrase, 
"Julie, don't go!" 

So, Abq Jew hears you ask (really!) plays Mrs Caesar, aka (per Shakespeare, at least) Calpurnia, in Rinse the Blood?

That would be, and in fact was, Sylvia Lennick. Wikipedia tells us
Sylvia Lennick, née Paige (November 14, 1915 – August 10, 2009) was a Canadian comedic actress. A supporting cast member of Wayne & Shuster's television comedy troupe, she was most famous for her role as Calpurnia, with the famous catch phrase
"I told him, Julie! Don't go!"
in the Julius Caesar sketch Rinse the Blood Off My Toga.
Wikipedia further informs us
She spent much of her life married to her Wayne & Shuster castmate Ben Lennick. 
They had three children: Michael, a television producer, Julie, an actress who performs regularly with the Toronto Civic Light-Opera Co., and David, a radio disc jockey. 
The Lennicks were Jewish, and the scheduling of the troupe's breakthrough appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show
forced the Lennicks to postpone David's bar mitzvah.
In 2008, Richard Ouzounian, Theatre Critic for the Toronto Star, wrote
50 years since she said, 'Julie, don't go!'
Fifty years ago this Sunday night, Canada successfully invaded America, or more precisely, Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster made their legendary first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. 
They performed Rinse the Blood Off My Toga, a wry historical parody of the type they excelled at. In tough detective-story style, private eye Flavius Maximus (Wayne) pursued Brutus (Shuster) for the murder of Julius Caesar. 
And although they scored a hit, the biggest laughs of the evening went to another member of the cast. 
It was Sylvia Lennick who brought the house down as Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, with her oft-repeated lament: 
"I told him, Julie! Don't go!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tzena, Tzena, Tzena!

Composer Issachar Miron Dies at 95: Tablet Magazine has reported the death (on January 29) of Israeli composer Issachar Miron, saying

Acclaimed Israeli writer and poet brought Jewish music to the masses 
Issachar Miron, composer of the ubiquitous song “Tzena Tzena,” died January 29 at 95, according to a New York Times obituary published this week. Just as the optimistic military anthem has been played the world over, Miron led a life spreading the joys of Jewish music wherever he went. 
Miron, born Stefan Michrovsky in Poland, emigrated to Israel as a young man after losing his entire family in the Holocaust. He originally co-wrote “Tzena Tzena” as a soldier in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army in Palestine. The anthem has been sung in nearly 40 languages, and was notably popularized in the United States by Pete Seeger and the Weavers.

Wikipedia tells us
Miron, born in 1919, left Poland at the age of 19, thus avoiding the Holocaust. In 1941, while serving in the Jewish Brigade of the British forces, he composed the melody for lyrics written by [Yechiel] Chagiz. The song became popular in Palestine and was played on the Israeli radio. 
Julius Grossman, who did not know who composed the song, wrote the so-called third part of 'Tzena' about November 1946. Gordon Jenkins made an arrangement of the song for The Weavers, who sang it with Jenkins' orchestra as backing. 
The Jenkins/Weavers version ... was one side of a two-sided hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard magazine charts while the flip side, "Goodnight Irene," reached #1. 
Around the '80s, Israeli folk star Ron (Ran) Eliran recorded the song along with 14 more songs by Miron to make a CD together called, Sing to Me Eretz Yisrael. 
The original English lyric, written by Mitchell Parish, was greatly altered in the version recorded by The Weavers.

צאנה צאנה צאנה צאנה הבנות וראינה חיילים במושבה
אל נא אל נא אל נא אל נא אל נא תתחבאנה מבן חייל איש צבא

Go out, go out, go out girls and see soldiers in the moshava
Do not, do not, do not hide yourself away
from a virtuous man (a soldier), an army man

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Shocker: Obama And Bibi To Wed

The Jewish Week's Purim Spoof 2015: No, it's not really true ... but it could be. Except that it couldn't.

"Now I know what it means," said Bibi, "to be the recipient of Obamacasre."

Washington, D.C. — In a stunning turnabout in international detente, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced their intention to marry in a brief ceremony to be held before another joint session of Congress on Purim.

“The sexual tension between us has been building for years,” acknowledged Obama. “We’ve had our quarrels, as lovers do, but finally we just had to be honest and express how we truly felt about each other.”

Standing beside the president, a similarly exuberant Netanyahu burst out, “I adore him and can’t live without him. Why do you think we’ve had so many private meetings over the years?”

In lieu of an engagement ring, the Israeli leader proudly displayed an executive order issued by Obama directing the U.S. Air Force to “bomb the Hell” out of Iran.

“Sanctions, shmanctions” said Obama as he winked at Netanyahu and rubbed his shoulders. “Israel and my little Bibi have to come first.’

Yes, once again, it's time for

This year featuring such mishegas (that's a technical term) as

Not to be outdone, the New Jersey Jewish News, the paper on the Sitra Achra (Other Side; of the Hudson, that is) offers

This year featuring such shaylas (that's a technical term) as
4. Last year, Rambam Medical Center saw a spike in demand for what?
  • a/ reverse circumcisions
  • b/ sperm from donors who have served in Israeli combat units 
  • c/ sperm from donors studying in prestigious yeshivas 
5. A town in Spain agreed to change its unusual name after years of complaints. What is the name in English translation?
  • a/ “Hitler Town”
  • b/ “Auschwitz Gardens”
  • c/ “Kill Jews” 
13. What is the Yiddish name of a NASA spacecraft currently orbiting Mars?
  • a/ The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN
  • b/ The Mars to Earth Navigational Space Hovercraft, or MENSH
  • c/ The Galactic EVolution ALtitudinal Transporter, or GEVALT

Abq Jew can't make this stuff up.

Happy Purim, World!