Thursday, December 29, 2016

Days Are Here Again

May They Be Happy: Back in November, we were all prepared to sing about it. Now, on the cusp of the 2017th year of the Common Era, many of us are no longer sure.

Happy days are here again
the skies above are clear again
let us sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

All together shout it now
there's no one who can doubt it now
so let's tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again

Happy Days Are Here Again is a song copyrighted in 1929 by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics) .... 
The song was recorded by Leo Reisman and His Orchestra, with Lou Levin, vocal (November 1929), and was featured in the 1930 film Chasing Rainbows.  
The song concluded the picture, in what film historian Edwin Bradley described as a "pull-out-all-the-stops Technicolor finale, against a Great War Armistice show-within-a-show backdrop." 
This early example of 2-strip Technicolor footage was, along with another Technicolor sequence, later cut from the 1931 re-edited release of the otherwise black-and-white film, and is believed to have been lost in the 1967 MGM Vault 7 fire.

For those who look happily toward the New Year, here are Ben Selvin and the Crooners.

For those who look toward 2017 with sadness and fear ... here is Barbra.

Your cares and troubles are gone
there'll be no more from now on

To A Happy & Healthy 2017!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Winter / Spring 2017 @ OASIS Abq

Great Courses @ OASIS:  Abq Jew is pleased to inform you that

OASIS Albuquerque has just announced
their Winter / Spring 2017 line-up of classes!
Registration opens on
Wednesday January 4
but you can Wish List 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 continues (as always) to work enthusiastically to bring you new and interesting class offerings, and 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 Foundations of Modern Zionism & State of Israel
Wed 1 Feb & 8 Feb 2017 @ 10:30 am - #56
Instructor: Noel Pugach
What It Is: In 2017, there are a number of notable anniversaries in the history of modern Zionism and the re-creation of a Jewish state. The first class focuses on the First Zionist Congress in 1897 called by Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism. Then examine Great Britain's Balfour Declaration issued in 1917, which gave international recognition for the restoration of a Jewish homeland in an area called Palestine. Place these events in their historical context and examine their consequences.

Not Your Fiddler on the Roof: The Religious Thought of Hasidism
Mon 6 Feb 2017 @ 10:30 am - #101
Instructor: Michael Nutkiewicz 
What It Is: Eastern European Jewry before the Holocaust is often romanticized as folksy, pious, and powerless. The 18th century, however, saw the rise of Hasidism - a religious movement that swept the imagination of a large segment of Jewish society. Initially branded as heretical by rabbinic authorities, it was finally accepted as part of Judaism. Hasidism, however, offered a unique approach that blended traditional Jewish concepts, mysticism, and psychology. This fascinating movement still exists.

Celebrating Trees & Protecting the Environment Through a Model Seder
Thu 9 Feb 2017 @ 10:30 am - #103
Instructor: Paul Citrin
What It Is: Ancient rabbis established the 15th of the month of Shevat (corresponding this year to February 11) as the New Year of the Trees. For two millennia, due to a strong Jewish feeling for the environment, trees have been planted during this time. About 500 years ago, the mystics of Safed, Israel developed a seder, or liturgical meal, to express the human relationship to the earth. A model seder with its liturgy and discussion of environmental values will be presented with samples of dried fruits and nuts used in the celebration. Limited enrollment.

Shakespeare in Love?
Thu 2 Mar 2017 @ 10:30 am - #69
Instructor: Norma Libman
What It Is: With whom? - and other secrets of the great writer's life. No, we won't be able to answer all the questions about this man, but in this class we will learn a lot about Shakespeare's view of himself and the world in which he lived. We do this by looking at some of his key sonnets, in which he revealed much about who he was.

Truly American: Aaron Copland
Thu 2 Mar 2017 @ 1:00 pm - #80
Instructor: Jane Ellen
What It Is: Hailed as "The Dean of American Composers," Aaron Copland (1900-90) was one of the driving forces in creating a definitive American sound in concert music. As an author, Copland wrote books presenting classical music in such a way as to appeal to musicians and non-musicians alike; as an educator, he was devoted to helping develop young talent. But then, as Igor Stravinsky once remarked, "Why call Copland a great American composer? He's a great composer!"

Bob Dylan: Homer, Ginsburg, or Jeremiah
Mon 27 Mar 2017 @ 10:30 am - #70
Instructor: Lib O'Brien
What It Is: "Why can't I be conventional" Bob Dylan sang, in response to the announcement of his Nobel Prize, showing that once again, Bob Dylan will be Bob Dylan without labels. Much of the following controversy is over the definition of literature. Through discussion we will try to define Dylan's place in both the arts and culture. As well as listening to many of his songs, we may even sing a few.

Spies in Los Alamos During World War II
Thu 30 Mar 2017 @ 10:30 am - #130
Instructor: Richard Melzer
What It Is: The project to develop the world's first atomic bomb was to be the most secure operation of World War II. It was not. This presentation describes how security at Los Alamos was supposed to work but soon failed, leading to easy access for three spies: David Greenglass, Klaus Fuchs, and Ted Hall, and their Communist handlers. Using autobiographies, oral histories, and previously classified information, Richard Melzer tells this absorbing story, complete with anecdotes and ironic humor.

The Ethics & Morality of the Death Penalty
Thu 6 Apr 2017 @ 10:30 am - #108
Instructor: Harry Rosenfeld
What It Is: There are those in leadership in the state of New Mexico that are pushing for the reinstitution of the death penalty. Harry Rosenfeld examines some classical Jewish and other religious texts to help clarify the moral and ethical implications of the reinstitution of the death penalty.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Starting With Aunt Bea

A MyHeritage Journey: The journey doesn't actually start with Aunt Bea. It starts with Abq Jew's father, Richard Yellin z"l, who built and shared our Family Tree.

Dad built the tree using an ancient version of Family Tree Maker, and regularly sent out multi-page printouts of his updates.

Dad passed away in 2007 (his yahrzeit was just this week), and left Abq Jew (among many, many other wonderful and valuable things) a Family Tree with 646 leaves on its branches.

Which Abq Jew was able to export as a GEDCOM file (genealogists will understand) and upload to
Millions of families around the world use MyHeritage to create their family tree and make instant, meaningful discoveries about their ancestors. With access to all the major record archives and the most internationally diverse collection of family trees, exciting discoveries are at the touch of a button. 
The site makes it easy for users of all levels to uncover their roots with minimal effort and preserve their family story for future generations. The site is available in more than 40 languages.  
Once you’ve created your family tree, our Smart Matching™ technology will alert you of other possible relatives, helping you discover other family members.

After which, Abq Jew did nothing with the Family Tree for a few years. Until PBS started showing Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Watching a few episodes inspired Abq Jew to see what he could do with his father's Family Tree.

Oh - and about that Smart Matching™ technology. What it means is that MyHeritage searches while you sleep and/or live your life for folks in other people's Family Trees or in public records who match or appear to match folks in your Family Tree.

And presents its finds for you to OK - or not. MyHeritage thus helped Abq Jew build out his Family Tree - from Dad's original 646 people to more than 3,600.

Which brings us to Aunt Bea, who will (Ken O'Hara, knock wood) celebrate her 90th birthday on December 29th.

Now, growing up, Abq Jew didn't know much about Aunt Bea - except that she was married to Uncle Abe, and was the mother of cousins Marty and Eleanore.

Abq Jew saw (from MyHeritage) that her maiden name (as we used to call it) was Levinsky, and called up Eleanore to see what more she knew about other relatives.

Let the genealogy games begin.

It turned out that Eleanore knew a fair amount, which, being cousins, we had (of course) never discussed. And which she related, and which Abq Jew added to the Family Tree. Whereupon Eleanore asked

Did you know that my Mom and Ronnie Gilbert
were best friends back in the day?
And that Ronnie wrote about my Mom in her memoir?

Yes, The Weavers' Ronnie Gilbert, who left this world on June 6, 2015. Abq Jew immediately bought and read Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song from cover to cover. And here (in part) is what Ronnie Gilbert says about Aunt Bea.
It was in Brighton Beach that I found a true best friend: cheerful, witty, and bouyant Beatrice Levinsky. Throughly Jewish Beattie (she hated "Beatrice") was the perfect tonic for my over-serious, self-conscious, Waspish, socially-shy self.  
She was curious and amused at my life experience in goyishe Queens. I admired her poise, her happy rootedness in the culture of Brighton Beach, and her stories about helping with her mother's kosher catering business - preparing buffets and waiting tables to earn an allowance.  
She admired my "interest in politics," as she termed my concern with the lost Spanish Civil War, my worship of the volunteer American soldiers who fought for the Loyalist cause, and my worry about the Spanish refugee children. 
"How do you know about these things?" she asked. "Oh, I read the Daily Worker," I bragged, although what I spouted was mostly parroted back from adult conversations. 
Lounging on her bed or mine, Beattie and I always had something to talk about. We were growing up with the rise of the big bands, and we jitterbugged and lindy-hopped ourselves silly ... 
"Your voice is better than Helen Forrest's, Ronnie, You should be singing with a big band," insisted Beattie, my first avid fan, her encouragement feeding my dreams of going on the road with Tommy Dorsey. 
And after a summer's separation -
With so much to tell Beattie, I could hardly wait to see her again. But as it turned out, Beattie wasn't much concerned about my problems with the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and she was only slightly interested in my theatrical adventures at camp. 
Because that summer, Beattie had discovered boys.

Ronnie Gilbert's obituary in The New York Times tells us
Ronnie Gilbert, whose crystalline, bold contralto provided distaff ballast for the Weavers, the seminal quartet that helped propel folk music to wide popularity and establish its power as an agent of social change, died on Saturday in Mill Valley, Calif. She was 88. 
The death was confirmed by her partner, Donna Korones.

Which brings us to Great Grand Mama,
who celebrated her 92nd birthday in June.

Great Grand Mama is Abq Jew's beloved mother-in-law. And - surprise! - it turned out that she, too, was keeping a Family Tree for her father's family, the Orings.

Great Grand Mama did not create the Oring Family Tree. The outstandingly extensive and intensive R&D work was done by her grandfather's half brother's granddaughter Linda Lou Samuels z"l, who passed away in 2011 - before (chaval) Abq Jew started work with his Family Tree.

Abq Jew worked diligently, and, in a few full days, was able to add 200+ leaves from Mom's multi-page printout of Linda Samuels' Family Tree into MyHeritage.

Which brings us back to Ronnie Gilbert and Donna Korones.

The New York Times, you'll recall, mentioned Donna Korones as Ronnie Gilbert's 'partner.' It was more than that. The obituary concludes with
Ms. Gilbert’s marriage ended in divorce. She is survived by her daughter, Lisa, and a granddaughter. 
Ms. Gilbert, who lived in Mill Valley, Calif., is also survived by her partner, Ms. Korones, who was her manager and business partner for many years. 
They were married in 2004 in San Francisco during a brief period when the mayor, Gavin Newsom, opened City Hall to same-sex weddings; theirs and some 4,000 other marriages were later declared invalid by the California Supreme Court.
And of course Ronnie Gilbert wrote about Donna Korones (and Donna's family) in her memoir.
Settling into my seat for my flight to Minneapolis, the first leg of the 1984 H A R P (Holly Arlo Ronnie Pete) Tour, I was not happy. Holly [Near] should have had the adjoining seat, and I was looking forward to the opportunity to be alone with her so we could evaluate our collaboration with Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie. 
Instead, I found myself sharing the armrest with Donna Korones, a woman I barely knew anything about other than that she and her family had hosted Holly during H A R P rehearsals in New York City.
By the time we landed in St Paul, I was seriously smitten with the intelligence, wit, and lively mouth of Ms Donna Korones and wished I could close it sweetly with a kiss. 
That's nice, Abq Jew hears you say. But -

What has that got to do with the price of tea in China?

Well ... As Abq Jew was working diligently to input the Oring Family Tree, he had noticed a Donna Korones on one of the branches. He wondered: Could this be the Donna Korones in Ronnie Gilbert's memoir?

And while we're asking questions -
Why did Abq Jew notice? 

  1. Because, in a sea of Rosenfields, Orings, and Kellermans, the Korones family name was distinctive enough to catch Abq Jew's attention. 
  2. Because, in a sea of Sarahs, Annas, and Elizabeths, Donna's first name and her daughter's - Harlene - were distinctive enough to catch Abq Jew's attention. 

MyHeritage put it all together. Abq Jew turns out to be Harlene's great-grandfather's half brother's granddaughter's son-in-law.

And perhaps more germane to our story - Aunt Bea turns out to be Donna Korones' grandfather's half brother's granddaughter's son-in-law's uncle's ex-wife. Here's how:
  1. Belle Braunstein is the mother of Donna Korones.
  2. Solomon (Sam) Oring is the father of Belle Braunstein,
  3. Alter (Zalman Manes) Oring is the father of Solomon (Sam) Oring.
  4. Lieber (Louis) Oring is a son of Alter (Zalman Manes) Oring.
  5. Abraham Oring is a son of Lieber (Louis) Oring.
  6. Great Grand Mama is a daughter of Abraham Oring.
  7. Mrs Abq Jew is a daughter of Great Grand Mama.
  8. Abq Jew is the husband of Mrs Abq Jew.
  9. Roselyn (Rose) Yellin is the mother of Abq Jew.
  10. Uncle Abe is a brother of Roselyn (Rose) Yellin.
  11. Aunt Bea is an ex-wife of Uncle Abe.
Therefore - stay with Abq Jew - because Ronnie Gilbert was (briefly) married to Donna Korones, Aunt Bea was (also briefly) not only Ronnie's girlhood best friend, but also - let's just say a 'distant relative.'
In other words

We've come full circle.

Aunt Bea
Ronnie Gilbert
Donna Korones
'Cousin' Harlene
Alter (Zalman Manes) Oring
Great Grand Mama
Mrs Abq Jew
Abq Jew
Mom & Dad
Cousin Eleanore
Aunt Bea

Monday, December 19, 2016

A New Milestone: Half a Million

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  Sometime during the wee small hours of the morning of December 17, 2016 - Shabbat Vayishlach, And He Sent Out - this Abq Jew Blog achieved 500,000 All Time Page Views.

We achieved 400,005 All Time Page Views
on January 12, 2016 - about 11 months ago.
That's about 300 Page Views per Day.
Plus 4,470 (+20%) Facebook Likes and 2,100 (+10%) Twitter Followers.
Thank you!

500,000, according to many sources, is half a million.
During Abq Jew's entire 30+ years as a technical writer,
probably no more than 36,000 (SWAG*)
ever read what he wrote - manuals, guides,
online help, training documents, procedures.
Therefore: 500K in 6 years is a big deal.
* SWAG = Scientific Wild Ass Guess

To make this blog post complete, Abq Jew must (he must! he must!) throw in a bit of musical history. For those of you, his loyal readers, who missed the allusion in "wee small hours of the morning," Abq Jew brings you Frank Sinatra:

 And as we approach Hanukkah, our Festival of Rededication - 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Non-Swimmer Wins the Prize!

Climbing a Stairway to Heaven: Last Shabbat we Jews had the honor of reading Parshat VaYetze, And He Went Out, which began with the story of Jacob's Ladder. 

And while we're talking about ladders reaching to Heaven ... 
Abq Jew has the distinct honor and personal pleasure of announcing -

Best Religious Book 2016
New Mexico - Arizona Book Awards
A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah:
On Becoming Jewish After Fifty
by Mary E Carter

OK, so maybe you heard already. But like the old Israeli joke about the announcement of David Ben Gurion's death, we just can't hear it enough.

(American Jews cannot imagine how Israeli Jews can laugh about Ben Gurion's death. But Abq Jew reminds you, his loyal readers, that we Jews are nothing if not - every now and then, literally - iconclastic. Witness what happened just last week with Benjamin Netanyahu's golden statue in Tel Aviv.)

But Abq Jew digresses.

Let's look at some of the accolades (aka "blurbs") Non-Swimmer has received. (And you can read what Abq Jew wrote about Non-Swimmer when it was first published at A Non-Swimmer Considers Her Mikvah.)

First, from Rabbi Paul Citrin.
This book is superb.To my knowledge it is without peer in style or approach. Mary E. Carter takes readers on an intimate journey on her path to choosing Judaism. Its guideposts are openness and honesty. Her elegant prose is interwoven with Jewish vocabulary and idiom which flow with authenticity. Her reflections, while personal, convey universal messages. Her story presents applied Judaism with encouragement for those in process of adopting Judaism as well as for Jews who seek renewal.

Next, from Rabbi Deborah Brin.
Who knew a book about becoming Jewish could be so engaging? Carter’s talent as a visual artist shows from cover to content. Vignettes, snapshots, and episodes converge in a kaleidoscopic rendering of her journey to Judaism . . . a refreshing and unique approach to the discussion of conversion.
And from Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld.
Carter presents her story in sensitive terms that are accessible to all.Those who are considering a life as a Jew will gain insight and understanding into making the process most meaningful. Those who were born Jewish will gain insight and understanding into the process of those who choose Judaism as adults.
And from Tammy Kaiser.
This is more than a book. It is a journey. The lyrical prose and evocative descriptions catapult the reader into a different place, and in many cases, time. In the end, I felt as if I emerged from the waters of the mikvah along with the author. This book should be on every Jewish bookshelf!
Last, and least, from Abq Jew.
A deeply insightful, wonderfully written, in all ways excellent read!

What can we learn from this?

Abq Jew is really bad at writing book blurbs.

Mary E Carter herself tells Abq Jew
In my Jewish life, my book is not just a good read. My book represents a "movement" of a certain population of Jews - the older adult who decides to join the Tribe. 
We, as a group, are important in that we made conscious decisions to become Jews. We bring with us whole universes of experience, of living, of thought and of intention that nourish Jewish secular and religious life. 
I observe that we also bring a childlike enthusiasm for all the learning that we must fulfill after our mikvahs. Boy. I'll never be able to have time to learn everything about this new life I have made for myself. And that's a fantastic thing to be able to say at a rather old age. Something huge to look forward to! 
We who do this are adding to the sadly diminishing population of Jews in America (elsewhere too). 
My book is not just a kind of "I always knew I had a Jewish heart" essay. 
I hope I communicated way more than that. Sure, I do have a Jewish heart. But to make this move as a fully fledged adult is no small accomplishment. And I gave my entire life to my enterprise. 
Splashing up into the air after my third dip into the waters of my mikvah I felt that I had shot up like a rocket into whole new atmosphere and that I was taking my first breath in my chosen new planet.

Not sure if I am making myself altogether clear. But, my book is not just a book to read. It represents a group of us who in our small human ways bring something immense to our Jewish world.

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


Monday, December 12, 2016

SmackCAP Skullcap Wins Mobiley

Third Prize for Abq Startup: This is a big deal. Abq Jew is a big fan of Jewish and hi-tech and Albuquerque, and was thrilled to see that the Albuquerque Journal's Kevin Robinson-Avila reported in November:
Albuquerque startup Pressure Analysis Co. won third place in Mobile Future’s annual technology competition for its’ [sic] SmackCAP skullcap, which monitors hits to the head suffered by players in rough sports such as football and soccer.

The company won $2,500 and a trip to Washington, D.C., where organizers of the competition will arrange for company CEO Michelle Urban to meet with policymakers and innovators. 
Pressure Analysis will use its winnings to continue developing software that receives real-time data on head blows from sensors in the SmackCAP for storage and analysis throughout a player’s career.
You can read more about Mobile Futures' Mobiley Awards here. The short version: This is a pretty big deal.
The Mobileys, produced by Mobile Future, is an annual competition that challenges innovators across the U.S. to create game changing apps, products, and services that use mobile to make a difference. 
This annual national competition recognizes and supports early-stage mobile entrepreneurs who make the world a better place.

The trip to D.C. took place last week. Pressure Analysis (@ePACtech) CEO Michelle Urban (left) even got to meet with New Mexico's U.S. Senator Tom Udall.

Ms Urban "told" Abq Jew in a "telephone conversation" late last week that she based the SmackCAP on the traditional Jewish design for such gear.

Abq Jew (quoting Wikipedia) of course pointed out that
According to Rabbi Isaac Klein, a Conservative Jew ought to cover his head when in the synagogue, at prayer or sacred study, when engaging in a ritual act, and when eating. 
In the mid-19th century, Reformers led by Isaac Wise completely rejected the kippot after an altercation in which Rabbi Wise's kippah was knocked off his head. 
The Vilna Gaon says one can make a berakhah without a kippah, since wearing a kippah is only an midos chassidus ("exemplary attribute"). 
There is still great debate about whether or not wearing a Kippah is Halachic law or simply a custom. Many Sephardic Jews only wear a kippah when praying and eating but otherwise go without one.

Ms Urban then "pointed out" that traditional Jewish skullcaps were traditionally worn during pogroms as a fashion statement of dubious efficacy.

Abq Jew "noted" that those skullcaps were of an earlier, analog design. Today's digital kippot offer greater protection to the wearer - both spiritual and (more importantly, in such circumstances) physical.

Clearly, Pressure Analysis's SkullCAP is the premier example of modern, high-tech cranial protection gear.

The company's website tells us
We’ve built the SmackCap™ skullcap with our patent-pending technology. The skullcap itself is made out of a breathable, flexible material that fits close to the head. 
Athletes wear the SmackCap™ – with or without a helmet – and each time they are hit, that data is [sic] wirelessly transmitted in real time to our mobile application. 
The data is [sic] also stored over time, so users can access an athlete’s history of hits when the game is over.

Some (but surely not all) kidding aside, Abq Jew cannot help but wonder where - outside of football, soccer, chess, and other contact sports - the SmackCAP might come in, let us say, handy.

NCIS's Gibbs smacking DiNozzo immediately comes to mind.

And then there's Cher smacking Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck.

It also occurs to Abq Jew that we could all use SmackCAPs as we deploy our Stress Reduction Kits after the recent, highly-contentious (who said 'rigged'?) election.

Abq Jew salutes (carefully) CEO Michelle Urban
and the entire Pressure Analysis team!

This Mobileys win will allow us to develop a mobile app that provides parents peace of mind with respect to their children who play football. 
We believe our system will contribute to increased participation in youth football and help parents make better, more objective decisions by means of data we deliver.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7th

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy: Abq Jew has attempted to explain the mysteries of the Hebrew Calendar in his blog posts - most notably in Easter on Purim annd in Nineteen and Twenty-Eight.

Yet there is no explanation needed for this date, December 7th, in the US Calendar.

The U.S.S. Arizona, a battleship bombed at Pearl Harbor, was built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Of President Roosevelt's "Infamy Speech" on December 8th, Wikipedia tells us
The Infamy Speech was a speech delivered by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a Joint Session of Congress on December 8, 1941, one day after the Empire of Japan's attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the Japanese declaration of war on the United States and the British Empire. 
The name derives from the first line of the speech: Roosevelt describing the previous day as "a date which will live in infamy". The speech is also commonly referred to as the "Pearl Harbor Speech." 
Within an hour of the speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan and officially brought the U.S. into World War II. The address is one of the most famous of all American political speeches. 
The speech's "infamy" line is often misquoted as "a day that will live in infamy". However, Roosevelt quite deliberately chose to emphasize the date—December 7, 1941—rather than the day of the attack, a Sunday, which he mentioned only in the last line when he said, "...Sunday, December 7th, 1941,...". 
He sought to emphasize the historic nature of the events at Pearl Harbor, implicitly urging the American people never to forget the attack and memorialize its date. 
Notwithstanding, the term "day of infamy" has become widely used by the media to refer to any moment of supreme disgrace or evil.
So much for the war against Japan. How about the war against Germany? Again, Wikipedia tells us:
On 11 December 1941, four days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States declaration of war against the Japanese Empire, Nazi Germany declared war against the United States, in response to what was claimed to be a series of provocations by the United States government when the US was still officially neutral during World War II. 
The decision to declare war was made by Adolf Hitler, apparently offhand, almost without consultation. Later that day, the United States declared war on Germany.
We’ll have the sun’s earliest bedtime all year.

And if the solemn remembrance of that terrible day is not enough, The New York Times tells us

 Today will be the darkest afternoon of the year.
We’re sorry to inform you that today will be the darkest afternoon of the year. 
The sun will say good night at 4:28 p.m [in New York; 4:55 pm in Albuquerque]. 
But on the shortest day of the year, Dec. 21, the sun sets later, at 4:32 p.m. [in New York; 4:59 pm in Albuquerque]. 
How is that possible? 
“You assume that on the day when you have the least amount of daylight, the sun will set the earliest,” said Ashley Pagnotta, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. “Intuitively, that makes sense. But it turns out that’s not true.” 
In New York, we’ll always see the shortest amount of daylight on or about Dec. 21, the winter solstice, but we’ll always see our earliest sunset on Dec. 7 or Dec. 8. 
There are two things that affect how long the sun stays in the sky, and what time it goes up and down, Dr. Pagnotta explained. 
First, the tilt of the earth’s axis relative to the sun. This causes the sun to travel a lower, shorter path across the sky in the winter, giving us shorter daytimes. 
Second, our modern clocks. The time on your wristwatch is not the same as solar time on a sundial. 
We, as humans, define one day as midnight to midnight — exactly 24 hours — but the sun is running on a slightly different schedule. This misalignment between our clocks and the sun is the reason that the earliest sunset differs from the shortest day, Dr. Pagnotta said. 
(If you want a full scientific breakdown, the United States Naval Observatory’s Astronomical Applications Department explains the phenomenon in detail.)

Don't Panic ... Yet!

Abq Jew has attempted an inquiry on your behalf. However; the result, Abq Jew is disheartened to announce, is that

Here for example, is the USNO's Thumbnail Explanation. (The USNO thoughtfully provides longer and more technical explanations.)
Our clocks do not keep Sun time. Time measured by the position of the Sun in the sky is somewhat variable over the course of a year, but our clocks keep a uniform approximation to Sun time with each day exactly 24 hours long. 
One consequence of this is that sundials usually seem to be wrong; that is, they do not keep clock time. The times of sunrise and sunset, measured by the clock, are also affected by the difference between the two kinds of time. 
Although the length of daylight is shortest on the winter solstice, around December 21, the dates of earliest sunset and latest sunrise are, somewhat surprisingly, not on this date. Why is that? 
The reason can be traced to the fact that the difference between Sun time and clock time is rapidly changing in December and January. 
The Sun runs slow compared to clock time then, so the times of both sunrise and sunset tend to be a bit late according to the clock, delayed from one day to the next by up to a half minute. 
Consequently, the time of sunset begins to shift later at an earlier date than we would expect (so that the earliest sunset is in early December), and the time of sunrise doesn't begin to shift earlier until a later date than we would expect (so that the latest sunrise is in early January).
Time is, indeed, a mystery.

Remember always.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

1492: The Board Game

Post-Election Educational Fun: For those of you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, who have not had the opportunity to view Fractured Faiths, the exhibition at The New Mexico History Museum that deals with Spanish Judaism, The Inquisition, and New World Identities - please go!

Fractured Faiths ends on December 31!

Expulsion: Jewish Life in Spain from the Golden Age to 1492

For those of you who a) cannot make it up the hill to Santa Fe; b) cannot stand on your feet long enough (an hour at least) to view all the artifacts and read all their descriptions; or c) just want a bit of entertainment in these approaching desperate times - there is an alternative.

Abq Jew refers, of course, to

Jewish Life in Spain from the Golden Age to 1492
The Board Game

which was recently introduced on TBS's show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Which is on way after Abq Jew's bedtime; so he only learned about the game from reading Matthew Dessem's article on
Watch Full Frontal’s Staff Relax Post-Election With a Board Game About the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain
The election threw everyone for a loop, but the staff of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee took things especially hard, and for good reason. After coming out strong for Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign—unlike milquetoasts like Saturday Night Live—Bee and her staff were thrown for a loop by the election results. 
Fortunately, as Bee reports, they have a group bonding ritual to deal with exactly this kind of stress: game night. Unfortunately, the game this week is Expulsion: Jewish Life in Spain from the Golden Age to 1492, which, the video insists, is “a 100% real board game,” though it doesn’t seem to have much of an internet presence.*

For those who would like (or need) to be introduced to Samantha Bee:
Samantha Bee (born October 25, 1969 is a Canadian-American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actress, media critic, and television host. Bee is the holder of both Canadian and United States citizenship after being naturalized as an American citizen. 
Bee is best known for being a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where she became the longest-serving regular correspondent. In 2015, she departed the show after 12 years to start her own show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
You can watch Full Frontal's staff relax here.

More important - you can now purchase the game here (only $29.92 + shipping)!
This game is a great way to learn about the lives of Jews in the Golden Age of Spain through 1492, when they were expelled from their own land simply for following their religious beliefs. What ancient history! Ha! 
In the highly unlikely event that history repeats itself, brush up on how things used to be with this fun and informative game. Created by noted Jewish educator [Rabbi] Cherie Koller-Fox and famous Bible scholar Everett Fox and featured on the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, so you know it has to be good. Makes a great Hanukkah gift!

Alright ... Abq Jew must (he must! he must!) tell you. There are yet other alternatives to Expulsion: The Board Game.

The first alternative is Fractured Faiths: The Book, which can be purchased for only $75 plus shipping from the Museum of New Mexico Foundation Shop. All the artifacts and descriptions you couldn't stand for? This book's got 'em.
Fractured Faiths: Spanish Judaism, the Inquisition, and New World Identities
Roger L. Dávila - Josef Díaz - Ron D. Hart     Item # 978-1934491515
Why does the story of secret Jews fascinate us? What is crypto-Judaism? In recent decades religious practices that were preserved in hiding for centuries have become more widely known. Specifically, families of Spanish Jewish descent have retained elements of Judaism for five hundred years. What incredible religious and cultural tenacity! For many these elements represent a discovered identity that helps to explain mysteries in their lives. Is a person Jewish by genes, cultural heritage, religious practice, or by choice? What survives for a person whose ancestors were Jewish five hundred years ago? 
Fractured Faiths traces the history of the Sephardic and converso (converted) Jews from their Golden Age to the twenty-first century, in both the land they left behind and in the lands they later settled. Documents, maps, paintings, and objects illuminate the history of Sephardic Jews from Spain to Mexico to New Mexico. 

The second alternative is Fractured Faiths: The Blog Post, which can be viewed at the website of award-winning Albuquerque photojournalist Diane Joy Schmidt.
Diane Joy Schmidt is an internationally published award-winning  writer and photographer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She covers social, ethical and environmental issues of the Southwest United States, with special coverage of the Navajo Nation and the Jewish community.
There are probably other alternatives of which Abq Jew is unaware. As Matthew says, "Seek and ye shall find." This prophecy has been fulfilled in our time by