Thursday, December 31, 2015

Scarlett and the Three Sylvesters

Which is Which: Do you get your Scarlett mixed up with your Sylvesters? Abq Jew recently had the pleasure of watching the 2011 movie We Bought A Zoo, in which the lovely and talented and Jewish Scarlett Johansson (and Matt Damon) star.

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson, as you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, may have guessed, has nothing to do with this blog post. But to get Facebook and Twitter perusers to click, one Scarlett is worth three Sylvesters. If not more.

The Three Sylvesters

Do you get your Sylvesters mixed up? Here is Abq Jew's Sylvester Guide, just in case. Why does Abq Jew care? More on that later.

Sylvester #1 (on the left) is Sylvester Stallone. Wikipedia tells us:
Sylvester (Gardenzio "Sly" Stallone; born July 6, 1946) is an American actor, screenwriter, producer, and director. He is well known for his Hollywood action roles, particularly boxer Rocky Balboa, the title character of the Rocky series' seven films from 1976 to 2015 ....
Stallone's film Rocky was inducted into the National Film Registry as well as having its film props placed in the Smithsonian Museum. Stallone's use of the front entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the Rocky series led the area to be nicknamed the Rocky Steps. Philadelphia has a statue of his Rocky character placed permanently near the museum. It was announced on December 7, 2010 that Stallone was voted into boxing's Hall of Fame. 
In 1977, Stallone was nominated for two Academy Awards for Rocky, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor. He became the third man in history to receive these two nominations for the same film, after Charles Chaplin and Orson Welles. He received critical raves, and his third Golden Globe nomination, for reprising the role of Rocky Balboa in Ryan Coogler's Creed.
Sylvester #2 (in the center) is Sylvester the Cat. Wikipedia tells us:
Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr., Sylvester the Cat or simply Sylvester, or Puddy Cat, is a fictional character, a three-time Academy Award-winning anthropomorphic Tuxedo cat in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies repertory, often chasing Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales, or Hippety Hopper.  
The name "Sylvester" is a play on Felis silvestris, the scientific name for the wild cat species (domestic cats like Sylvester, though, are actually Felis catus). 
The character debuted in Friz Freleng's Life With Feathers (1945). Freleng's 1947 cartoon Tweetie Pie was the first pairing of Tweety with Sylvester, and the Bob Clampett-directed Kitty Kornered (1946) was Sylvester's first pairing with Porky Pig. 
Sylvester appeared in 103 cartoons in the golden age. He appeared fourth most frequently in films behind Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck respectively. 
Three of his cartoons won Academy Awards, the most for any starring Looney Tunes character: they are Tweetie Pie, Speedy Gonzales, and Birds Anonymous.
Sylvester #3 (on the right) is Pope Sylvester I. Wikipedia tells us:
Pope Sylvester I (died 31 December 335), whose name is also spelled Silvester, was pope from 31 January, 314 to his death in 335. He succeeded Pope Miltiades. 
During his pontificate, the great churches founded at Rome by Constantine, e.g. the Basilica of St. John Lateran, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Old St. Peter's Basilica, and several cemeterial churches, were built over the graves of martyrs. 
Sylvester did not attend the First Council of Nicaea in 325,
 Aha! Abq Jew hears you exclaim. 

Abq Jew grew up with Sylvester #1 and Sylvester #2. Sylvester #3 - not so much. At least, not until Abq Jew spent his first December 31st in the Land of Israel, where the Day (and the Eve) are celebrated as ... Sylvester.

Why? Abq Jew hears you ask. And our friends at explain:
In 46 BCE the Roman emperor Julius Caesar made adjustments to the Roman calendar, including beginning the new year on January 1 rather than in March. (He egocentrically decreed that the calendar should henceforth be called the "Julian" calendar.) 
In practical terms, all cultures celebrate the new year according to their particular calendar and the Romans were no different. When the Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire under Constantine, at his mother Helena's behest, the Christian world carried on the custom of celebrating the Roman new year. 
In many European countries this day was named after Saint Sylvester. There have been three popes named Sylvester (who later became Saints), but the one after whom the day is named is Sylvester I (314-335). Christianity grew under his rule and it is believed that he died on December 31. 
Leviathan 2, from Perri Yellin's Biblical Wall Mosaics
In addition, during his rule it was believed that he had been swallowed by the Leviathan sea monster and that the monster would return in the year 1000 to destroy and kill. When it did not, people were relieved and they celebrated. 
As you see, there is nothing remotely Jewish about "Sylvester Day." So why is it celebrated in Israel? 
Israeli society flows according to the Jewish calendar. Schools and businesses are closed on Shabbat, and the whole country shuts down on Jewish holidays like Yom Kippur. For that reason the secular/Christian new year has little significance. 
Yet when some ultra-secularists discovered that most of the world holds a "New Years party," they didn't want to feel left out. 
Yet they couldn't call it "New Years" because that title was already taken by Rosh Hashana. So the name Sylvester was adopted in its stead.
 Aha! Abq Jew hears you exclaim. 

And Abq Jew hears you ask:

How many New Years
do Jews traditionally observe?

The answer, it turns out, is (traditionally) four (4). My Jewish Learning explains that the four Jewish new years specified in Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1 are 1 Tishri, 15 Shevat, 1 Nisan, and 1 Elul.
  1. 1 Tishri: Years. New Year for counting years, measuring reigns of foreign kings, setting the Sabbatical year, setting the Jubilee year, figuring the yearly 10% tithe on vegetables and fruits.
  2. 15 Shevat (Tu b'Shevat): Trees. New Year (according to most sources) both for designating fruits as orlah (that is, forbidden to eat, because they have grown during the first three years after a tree’s planting) and for separating fruits for tithing.  
  3. 1 Nisan: Months. New Year for months, and for measuring reigns of Jewish kings, the renting of houses, and the counting involved in the prohibition against delaying the fulfillment of vows. Also the due date for using the half-shekel contribution described on Shabbat Shekalim to purchase communal sacrifices for the Temple.
  4. 1 Elul: Cattle. New Year for the tithing of cattle.
Here in the US of A, we Jews have added a fifth New Year:

New Year for Accountants!

If you're planning to stay up late - Abq Jew wishes you Good Morning! and Happy 2016! in advance.

To A Happy & Healthy 2016!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Winter / Spring 2016 @ OASIS Abq

Great Courses @ OASIS:  Wonderful EOY 2015 news for our myriads of Nutkiewiczers, Pugachniks, Ellenists, and Citrinites (in addition to our countless Schultz, Rosenfeld, and Libman groupies).

OASIS Albuquerque has just announced
their Winter / Spring 2016 line-up of classes!
Registration opens on Wednesday January 6
but you can bookmark your selections now.

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

To promote healthy aging through a three-fold approach: 
lifelong learning, healthy living and social engagement.
OASIS Albuquerque Executive Director Kathleen Raskob says

Welcome to 2016 and a fresh new OASIS catalog!

We continue to work enthusiastically to bring you new and interesting class offerings through our Lifelong Learning program. We’re fortunate to have returning instructors who consistently think of unique subjects for OASIS participants.

Thanks to class attendees who offer up new topics and instructors. We couldn’t do it without you and hope you’ll continue to feed those ideas to us.

Kathleen continues to make sure there are plenty of courses of Jewish interest. This session's courses and instructors include but are by no means limited to:

The Jewish Response: European, Palestinan, & American
Mon 1 Feb & Mon 8 Feb 2016 @ 10:30 am - #57
Instructor: Noel Pugach
What It Is: Having previously examined the role of Nazi Germany and the Bystanders, Noel Pugach now wrestles with the controversial topic of the response of Jews to the Holocaust. Did Jews do "enough" to rescue their brethren? What restraints on their activity did they face? On what basis can we judge their behavior? The class focuses on American and Palestinian Jewry.

Glückel of Hameln: An Exceptional 17th Century Woman
Thu 4 Feb 2016 @ 10:30 am - #58
Instructor: Michael Nutkiewicz
What It Is: Glückel of Hameln (1646-1724) was married at 14. After her first husband's death, she ran an international business while taking care of eight children. Her second husband bankrupted the business, leaving her penniless. Glückel wrote a testimony of her trials and tribulations and of her devotion to the Jewish faith. Hers is a rare diary from the 17th century. It describes war-torn Europe, women's role in commerce, and the inner life of a remarkable historical character.

History of the Mystery
Thu 18 Feb 2016 @ 10:30 am - #74
Instructor: Norma Libman
What It Is: Where did the mystery novel originate? This class traces the history of mystery stories, beginning with Edgar Allan Poe, and reacquaints you with some of your old favorites, such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot (remember Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys?). We will look at modern mysteries, too, and see how the new characters developed out of some of the old ones we read years ago.

This One's for You: Barry Manilow
Mon 22 Feb 2016 @ 1:00 pm - #81
Instructor: Jane Ellen
What It Is: Singer-songwriter and producer Barry Manilow (1943- ) is the voice behind numerous hit songs such as "Mandy" and "Even Now", as well as the genius behind countless commercial jingles (Like a good neighbor...I am stuck on Band-Aid...You deserve a break today). Never a favorite of music critics, Manilow's ardent fan base has nevertheless included entertainers as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan. In 2002, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Paul From a Jewish Perspective
Mon 14 Mar 2016 @ 10:30 am - #109
Instructor: Paul J Citrin
What It Is: If Judaism was the religion of Jesus, Christianity is the religion about Jesus. The rise and spread of Christianity was due to the apostle Paul's theological and evangelical talent. We will examine how Jews understand his ideas and accomplishments and where we see Jewish roots and major differences from Christianity.

Religious Monuments & Government Speech
Tue 29 Mar 2016  @ 1:00 pm - #34
Instructor: Andrew Schultz
What It Is: The First Amendment contains provisions relating to both religion and speech which may conflict with one another. These clashes are seen vividly when religious monuments like the Ten Commandments appear in public spaces. In this presentation, Andrew Schultz surveys the underlying constitutional principles involved in this debate. We also will consider whether the speech and beliefs of private individuals can be attributed to the government, and when the government is allowed to speak in its own voice.

The God I Believe In or Not
Tue 5 Apr 2016  @ 1:00 pm - #110
Instructor: Harry Rosenfeld
What It Is: Throughout our lives our belief in God changes and evolves including whether or not we even believe in a God. Using the example of Jewish beliefs in God through the centuries, our goal is to give you permission to examine your own beliefs and how you developed them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Mysterious Golden Object

And More Goats: This week, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced, a mysterious golden object had been found in a Jerusalem cemetery.

Alien Artifact or ... ?

Here is a condensed version of the full story:
"To tell you the truth I've never seen anything like this before," Amir Ganor, head the authority's robbery prevention unit, told NBC News.
The mystery object was found six months ago by a maintenance worker who noticed something glittering in the grounds of a Jerusalem cemetery. 
The burial grounds are "actually an important archaeology site where remains were found dating to the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader periods," Ganor explained. 
Ganor joked that he thought "that aliens landed from outer space and brought the object." 
Oh, what could this mysterious golden object be?
In the end, an Italian man named Micah Barak was credited with solving the mystery. 
The antiquities authority said Barak had identified the object as something which seeks to provide energy protection and "is intended for the use of naturopaths and people dealing with energy healing." 
"The object, which is produced by a German company, is called 'Isis Beamer' after the Egyptian goddess Isis," they said. 
The Goddess Isis
"In Egyptian mythology she was the goddess of medicine, magic and nature," the authority added in a Facebook post confirming the answer had been found.
In other exciting and good news: New Mexico's own Diane Joy Schmidt's recent introspective The Merkabah and the Exegesis of a License Plate, originally published in the New Mexico Jewish eLink, was picked up by none other than The Blogs of The Times of Israel!

Diane Joy Schmidt
If you don't know Diane - you should.

Diane Joy Schmidt is a regular correspondent and columnist for the New Mexico Jewish eLink, the Gallup Independent, and most recently, New Mexico correspondent for the Intermountain Jewish News.

She grew up on Chicago's North Shore in the traditions of Reform Judaism, is anchored by her memories of the fireflies at Union Institute camp and the Big Dipper over Lake Michigan, and is an admirer of all things spiritually resonant.

In other exciting and strange news: New Mexico's own Susana Martinez - the first woman to be elected Governor of New Mexico and the first Hispanic female governor in the United States - was captured on audio in an encounter involving the front desk of the Eldorado Hotel and Spa, the Santa Fe Police, and ... pizza.

Our Governor?

So let's talk some more about goats (see also All Ye Faithful).

Starting with the You Can Dance (Theme: Gratitude) segment of Jewish Food for Thought. Please (please!) allow Abq Jew to explain:

Jewish Food for Thought
Jewish Food For Thought: The Animated Series, written and animated by Hanan Harchol, is a collection of animated shorts that teach Jewish ethics to adults and teens using thought provoking and funny conversations between animated versions of Hanan and his Israeli parents. 
Each episode focuses on a particular theme such as forgiveness, love, or gratitude, distilling major Jewish teachings on that theme into engaging conversation. The series offers a fresh approach to accessing and applying thousands of years of Jewish wisdom to contemporary life. 
Each episode has an accompanying downloadable study guide, written by Rabbi Leora Kaye, that may be used to facilitate continued conversation and study after watching an episode. 
So here's Gratitude for you -

Want even more goats (see also All Ye Faithful)? Here's Rudolph! About which Wikipedia tells us
Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward. 
The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, LP and has been adapted in numerous forms including a popular song, a television special and sequels, and a feature film and sequel. Character Arts, LLC manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, LP. In many countries, Rudolph has become a figure of Christmas folklore. 
2014 marked the 75th anniversary of the character and the 50th anniversary of the television special. A series of postage stamps featuring Rudolph was issued by the United States Postal Service on November 6, 2014.

For myself, if I am not, for me, who will be?
Who said that - Yoda or Hillel?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

All Ye Faithful

O Come On - Goats? This has been a painful week here in Albuquerque, for indeed, this has been the week of

The La Cueva Bear Tree Imbroglio

No goats were harmed during The La Cueva Bear Tree Imbroglio.

Abq Jew has tried to do his part in reducing tensions. He posted One Giving Tree - which called for Peace, Love, Understanding - and Respect. But he has otherwise tried to avoid comment on the situation.

Until now.

At 1:38 this morning (don't ask), Abq Jew was reading Slate magazine on his tablet when he came across the perfect response to all the mishegos (that's a technical term) that has smogged up the atmosphere this past week.

And yes - it involves goats.

Claire Landsbaum, a Brow Beat intern at Slate, has finally published
Finally, You Can Hear All Your Holiday Favorites Performed by Goats 
“When it’s cold outside and the darkness of winter prevails, the Christmas goat invites us all to an emotional moment by the fireplace.” Everyone knows the Christmas goat, right? ActionAid Sweden certainly thinks so, judging by their video advertising All I Want for Christmas Is a Goat, a new holiday album that features classic songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” sung by goats. The album was created to celebrate goats—not only are they cute, they also play a crucial role in fighting poverty. The album is available on iTunes and Spotify, and proceeds will go toward ActionAid. 
Both Mariah Carey and these talented livestock hit high notes with equal verve. If you’re going to listen to the same tired holiday songs year after year, there’s nothing like screaming goats to freshen things up.  
Abq Jew knows - you can hardly wait!

Let's begin with Jingle Bells, a largely non-denominational song about which Wikipedia says
"Jingle Bells" is one of the best-known and commonly sung American Christmas songs in the world. It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title "One Horse Open Sleigh" in the autumn of 1857. 
Even though it is now associated with the Christmas and holiday season, it was actually originally written for American Thanksgiving.
And, Abq Jew must point out, the tune can easily be applied to Adon Olam.

For something considerably more serious, let's turn to O Come, All Ye Faithful, a strongly denominational song about which Wikipedia says
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" (originally written in Latin as Adeste Fideles) is a Christmas carol which has been attributed to various authors, including John Francis Wade (1711–1786), with the earliest copies of the hymn all bearing his signature, John Reading (1645–1692) and King John IV of Portugal (1604–1656).
Besides John Francis Wade, the tune has been purported to be written by several musicians, from John Reading and his son to Handel and even Gluck, including the Portuguese composers Marcos Portugal or the king John IV of Portugal himself. Thomas Arne, whom Wade knew, is another possible composer.
There are several similar musical themes written around that time, though it can be hard to determine whether these were written in imitation of the hymn, the hymn was based on them, or they are totally unconnected.
The original text has been from time to time attributed to various groups and individuals, including St. Bonaventure in the 13th century or King John IV of Portugal in the 17th, though it was more commonly believed that the text was written by an order of monks, the Cistercian, German, Portuguese and Spanish orders having, at various times, been given credit. 

Here, Abq Jew must point out that this is one of those songs (see One Giving Tree) where - when he had to sing Christmas songs in class when growing up on Long Island - he mouthed, but never pronounced the verse "Christ the Lord."

And, Abq Jew must point out, they sing this much more forcefully at Westminster Abbey. And the organ! Oy! What a sound!

Let's conclude with the greatest Jewish Christmas song ever written - White Christmas. About which Wikipedia tells us
"White Christmas" is an Irving Berlin song reminiscing about an old-fashioned Christmas setting. According to the Guinness World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide. Other versions of the song, along with Bing Crosby's, have sold over 150 million copies. 
Accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song. One story is that he wrote it in 1940, in warm La Quinta, California, while staying at the La Quinta Hotel, a frequent Hollywood retreat also favored by writer-director-producer Frank Capra, although the Arizona Biltmore also claims the song was written there. 
He often stayed up all night writing — he told his secretary, "Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I've ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody's ever written!"

Here, Abq Jew must point out that this song made Christmas a holiday about snow. Along with Easter Parade, Happy Holiday, and of course, God Bless America, Irving Berlin helped make it possible for Jews to live as full and equal citizens in America.

And, Abq Jew must point out, the tune can easily be applied to Adon Olam

Abq Jew is excited to announce (see the Abq Jewish Event Calendar) that next year - 5777 or 2016, depending on how you count - Albuquerque and New Mexico will join the world in celebrating Chrismukkah. Which is to say

The first night of Hanukkah will fall on Christmas Eve.
Let's start getting ready now.

Abq Jew sincerely wishes his Christian friends a happy and meaningful Christmas. And to his Jewish friends (even though it's only Wednesday), Abq Jew says

Goat Shabbos!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

One Giving Tree

Peace, Love, Understanding - and Respect: Why is one Christmas tree with teddy bears at Albuquerque's La Cueva High School such a big deal?

Abq Jew grew up in a time when Christmas trees and Christmas music were abundantly on display in public schools. 
When he had to sing Christmas songs in class, mouthing (but never pronouncing) the "Jesus Christ"s in the lyrics. 
Abq Jew certainly does not want to go back to that. He wants Jewish (and all non-Christian) kids to feel safe and at home in their own schools.
And he has learned through the years that rights not exercised ultimately do not exist.
This is not about one misplaced Christmas tree. This is about the right of non-Christians to feel welcome in Albuquerque.
And yet - Abq Jew kvells when he sees Hanukkah menorahs lit in public places. How far we have come!
And he also has been known to walk blocks out of his way to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center - because it is beautiful!
But shouldn't we be planting trees,
instead of cutting them down?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Torah Trifecta

Three (3) Sifrei Torah! Abq Jew must tell you that this Shabbat, Shabbat Miketz, is not an ordinary, run-of-the-mill Shabbat, For not only is it Shabbat Miketz - it is also Rosh Hodesh Tevet, and it is also Shabbat Hanukkah. Which means -

Three (3)! Yes, three (3)! How often, Abq Jew hears you ask, do we read from three (3) Sifrei Torah? Oddly enough (not really), has the answer.
Every year on the holiday of Simchat Torah, three different portions of the Torah are read during the morning service. a) V'zot Haberacha, the last portion of the Torah; b) the holiday maftir reading, discussing the day's Temple service; c) Bereishit, the first portion of the Torah.  
If a synagogue has three Torah scrolls, then each of these portions is read from another scroll. If not, then one of the scrolls is quickly rolled from one portion to the next between readings. 
There are three other times during the course of a year when, if various calendric variables fall in place, three portions of the Torah are read on the same day: 
1. When Rosh Chodesh Tevet is on Shabbat. Since the month of Tevet always begins during the holiday of Chanukah, in such a case there would be three readings: a) The weekly reading. b) The reading for Rosh Chodesh (head of the month). c) The holiday reading. 
2. When the month of Adar (or the second month of Adar in a leap year) begins on Shabbat. The extra portion of Shekalim is always read on the Shabbat immediately preceding the month of Adar, or on Rosh Chodesh Adar itself when it falls on Shabbat. On such a week we would read: a) The weekly Torah portion. b) The reading for Rosh Chodesh. c) The Shekalim reading. 
3. Same thing when the month of Nissan begins on Shabbat. The extra portion of Hachodesh is read on the Shabbat immediately preceding the month of Nissan, or on Rosh Chodesh Nissan when it falls on Shabbat. On such a Shabbat, the weekly Torah portion is read, in addition to the Rosh Chodesh and Hachodesh readings. 
In any of these cases, three Torah scrolls are taken out of the Ark, if the synagogue has that many.
But what happens if the synagogue doesn't have that many Torah scrolls? Then the congregation gets to meet

Tircha D. Tzibura

Tircha D. Tzibura is known throughout the Jewish world, even (especially?) Abq. Some say she has always been here; others, that she just arrived from the Coast. With her flaming red curls, sensible shoes, and half-asleep expression, she is easy to spot.

OK ....  Tircha d'tzibura ("a burden on the congregation") is a Rabbinic / Talmudic expression that denotes an activity that takes longer than most people can bear, and that, therefore, should be avoided. While some claim that tircha d'tzibura cannot apply to shul on Shabbas - after all, where else ya gonna go? what else ya gotta do? - others are sure that it does.

The classic example: the many occasions during the year when we take two (or three!) Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) from the Ark, so we don't keep the congregation waiting while we roll the scroll back and forth to find the next reading.

Abq Jew must point out that the correct phrase is
"Sifrei Torah," and not the often-heard "Torahs." 
There is only one Torah.

Did you notice that, with all the talk of three (3) and threes, Abq Jew never used the term trinity? You're welcome! But since we are talking about trifectas, let's bring in the three-part Fugue for Tinhorns from Guys and Dolls (Abq Jew's favorite musical)!

Shabbat Shalom!
Happy Rosh Hodesh!
Cheery Chanukah!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

More Hanukkah Music

All Hanukkah Music All The Time

The Fountainheads

Mama Doni

Peter, Paul & Mary

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings

Julie Silver

The Klezmatics

Tom Lehrer


Mickey Katz

Alisa Fineman

The Klezmer Nutcracker

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Welcome to the Big Tent

Fifth Night Hanukkah: It has only been a month since Abq Jew shared something from Andrew Silow-Carroll, Editor-in-Chief of the New Jersey Jewish News (see Davening With Laughter).

But it was a couple of years before that (see Laughing at PewLaughing at Pew 2; and Jewish Jokes for Dark Days), and Abq Jew is trying to make up for it.

In a recent article, Andrew (it's easier than Mr Silow-Carroll, and anyway he's younger than Abq Jew) introduced us to Big Tent Judaism, formerly known as the Jewish Outreach Institute.
Are you ready for the Big Tent? I mean, really ready? 
Last month saw the launch of Big Tent Judaism, a rebranding of the former Jewish Outreach Institute, an organization dedicated to making Jewish institutions welcoming for the unaffiliated, under-affiliated, Hebrew-curious, and just plain alienated. For much of JOI’s early life, the focus was on interfaith families; JOI deserves credit for goading synagogues and organizations into extending a welcome mat to the intermarried. 
The new name reflects the idea that “outreach” does not just pertain to the intermarried, but to anyone who doesn’t feel welcomed by the Jewish mainstream. The BTJ web site also refers to Jews-by-choice, unaffiliated and unengaged Jews, Jews with disabilities, and Jews from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. Those who sign up for the “Big Tent Judaism Coalition” pledge to, among others things, welcome all newcomers, offer free and low-cast “samples” of their services, and in general “lower barriers to participation.” 
“There has to be a place for everyone in the community, including those with whom I may not agree, but I am prepared to defend their right to be there,” Kerry Olitzky, the New Brunswick rabbi who heads BTJ, told our reporter this week.
<Read more
Abq Jew is happy to announce that

Congregation Albert is ready

for Big Tent Judaism and will therefore and forthwith provide a Fifth Night program for the entire Albuquerque Jewish community.

Fifth Night is a fun and simple way for children to participate in tzedakah (charity) by giving one night of Hanukkah gifts to another child in need.

Coming together to celebrate and donate helps our children learn how their giving impacts others, and makes the holiday even more meaningful. Together, we are also able to make a more significant contribution to a charity in need.

This year’s Fifth Night at Congregation Albert is especially planned for young children and their families. We are asking for donations of new, unwrapped toys for children up to age 17 and new or gently used coats in all sizes, that will be given to help children and families in need.

Hosted by Congregation Albert, this child-focused program will include music, a holiday craft, Hanukkah candle lighting, gift donation, light dessert, and fun!

Click here to register. Not in Abq? Click here.

Abq Jew would like to point out that Big Tent Judaism and Fifth Night are
  • Non-denominational
  • Trans-denominational
  • Post-denominational
You know - it's for Jews and those who love 'em.

Put on your yarmulke!
It's time to celebrate Chanukah!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Chanukah Approaches! Got Latkes?

Try This Maccabeats Recipe! The ideal temperature to fry a latke is between 360 and 375 degrees F. The best way to monitor the temperature is to use a deep fry or candy thermometer. If you don’t have one of those, here are two simple methods to test the oil’s temperature:
  1. Drop a small piece of bread into the oil. If it takes 60 seconds to brown, the oil temperature is perfect for frying.
  2. Place a kernel of unpopped popcorn into the oil. When the kernel pops, the oil is hot enough to fry.

The above instructions come from Tori Avey's gloriously illustrated (DO NOT read on an empty stomach) and delightfully helpful article (recipe included), How To Make Crispy Perfect Latkes Every Time.

As everyone in his family can surely and sorely attest, Abq Jew cannot "cook" anything with more ingredients than tuna fish (with mayo) and Cheerios (with banana).

When Abq Jew is alone in the kitchen, open flames are absolutely not allowed; flames emerging from the microwave are strongly discouraged.

It is therefore strictly as a public service that Abq Jew announces

The Albuquerque Best Latke Contest
at the
2015 JCC Hanukkah Festival on December 6

Click here for flyer

Here are the Contest Rules:
  1. Bring a plate of 10 latkes to the JCC Hanukkah Festival on Sunday December 6. 
  2. Label your entry with your name and your latke recipe. 
  3. Latkes will be reheated in an oven prior to judging.
Please note that:
  1. Contestants need to sign up before December 4 at 12:00 Noon.
  2. Latke entries must be submitted by December 6 at 1:00 pm.
Contact Phyllis Wolf for more information or to sign up:

(505) 348-4500 or

And while we're talking Chanukah - let's also talk Maccabeats.

Whose website tells us:
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 proven success with four albums .... 
Though the Maccabeats aren’t your grandfather’s synagogue choir, their ideology and identity play an important part in what they do. 
Strongly committed to the philosophy of Torah u-Madda, the integration of traditional and secular wisdom, the Maccabeats perform an eclectic array of Jewish, American, and Israeli songs. 

No, the Maccabeats aren’t your grandfather’s synagogue choir. As this Walk The Moon Hanukkah parody certainly illustrates. (You can find the original here.)