Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Santa Fe Opera and the Jews

From the Physics Rabbi: This is way cool. Abq Jew is very happy to announce that Rabbi Jack Shlachter PhD of HaMakom, aka "the Physics Rabbi." will be leading Wednesday evening minyanim at the Santa Fe Opera this summer.

Says Rabbi Jack:
Beginning on July 6 and continuing for four more consecutive Wednesday evenings through including August 3, I will offer a Jewish teaching inspired by the evening’s opera followed by recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish in the lower parking lot of the Santa Fe Opera.  
The ten-minute long service will begin at 8:00 pm during July and 7:30 pm in August, allowing patrons to make their way to their seats comfortably.  
Meet on the east side of the parking lot, by the picnic tables overlooking the mountains.  Please come help make a minyan* and tell your Jewish friends to join us! 
*minyan – a quorum of Jewish adults, not to be confused with Mignon, an opera by French composer Ambroise Thomas
How and why did this come about, Abq Jew wanted to know. Rabbi Jack explained:
I'm a long-time Santa Fe Opera fan, and I've often remarked on how many Jews from the various congregations he bumps into at the opera. 
Following my mother's death in February, I've been taking advantage of opportunities to say kaddish. My mom was an opera-goer, too, and this is a great way to remember her during this year of kaddish.
Wednesday night is Minyan night
at the Santa Fe Opera!
July 6 13 20 27  August 3

Now, Abq Jew could give you, his loyal readers, a long, brilliant dissertation on the relationship between The Jews and The Opera. Well, actually, he couldn't, because he doesn't know that much about it. On the other hand, that's never stopped Abq Jew before.

Fortunately, the Marx Brothers - Leonard, Adolph (Arthur), Julius Henry, Milton, and Herbert Manfred (aka Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, and Zeppo) can explain it all much better.

And three of them (Groucho, Chico, and Harpo) did, in A Night at the Opera.

But let's be serious for a minute. This is a kaddish minyan, which means that - if you're at the Opera or close by - you gotta participate.

And by the way - since HaMakom's founding rabbi, Rabbi Malka Drucker, has recently become HaMakom's Rabbi Emerita ...

Rabbi Jack Shlachter, who has given so much in service to the HaMakom community for many years, will serve as HaMakom's Rabbi, co-leading services with Hazzan Cindy Freedman. 
Both will continue supporting our community through pastoral counseling, lifecycle events and ceremonies, deep teaching, inspiring music, and joyous davvening. 
This year, Rabbi Jack will again be leading High Holiday services in Beijing.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Santos and the Jews

At the NM Arts & Crafts Fair: Yesterday was yet another delightful day in the Land of Enchantment. So Mr & Mrs Abq Jew & Friends took the opportunity to visit the New Mexico Arts & Crafts Fair at Expo New Mexico.

Here is a photo of the retablo we came home with. It is now hanging on the wall in our dining area.

Ruth by Charles M Carrillo

Ah, but there's a story behind it. In fact, lots of stories.

First of all - a retablo (if you don't know) is (Wikipedia tells us) "a devotional painting, especially a small popular or folk art one using iconography derived from traditional Catholic church art."

This is not the sort of thing that Mr & Mrs Abq Jew ordinarily collect.

But there we were, walking around the Fair, when we came upon the booth of Charles M Carrillo. Where, among the display of retablos, was not only Ruth - but also a young Elijah the Prophet. You know - Old Testament types.

Along with a retablo of Moshe Rabbenu with the Ten Commandments. Spelled out (OK ... truncated) in Hebrew. Correctly.

Along with (lehavdil) your more traditional, New Testament, Christian retablos.

Along with quite a few retablos that were certainly not traditionally New Testament Christian. Like, for example -

1934 Chevy with San Isidro Labrador by Charles M Carrillo

Which prompted Mr & Mrs Abq Jew to wonder -

Who is Charlie Carrillo?

Well ....

Charles M. Carrillo (b. 1956 in Albuquerque, NM) is an artist, author, and archaeologist known particularly for creating art using Spanish colonial techniques that reflect 18th century Spanish New Mexico. 
Carrillo has blended craft, conservation, and innovation throughout his career as a santero, a carver and painter of images of saints. The depiction of saints for religious purposes dates to the 18th century in Hispanic New Mexican communities. 
Carrillo’s work has shown throughout the country and is in many permanent collections in museums throughout the United States including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the Museum of International Folk Art, and the Denver Art Museum. 
Carrillo is also the winner of numerous awards, including the National Heritage Fellowship Award bestowed upon him by the National Endowment for the Arts. 
Carrillo earned a doctorate in anthropology/archaeology from the University of New Mexico, but his true commitment to tradition has led him to work within the religious community of northern New Mexico as an artist and an advocate. 
A generous mentor, he has inspired numerous artists to pursue the native techniques, values, and devotional spirit of the santeros.
But wait! There's more!

It turns out that Charlie Carrillo is also one of Monday's featured speakers at the 2016 Conference of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies, speaking on the topic New Mexico Saintmakers of the 17-19th Centuries.

And although Charlie remains Catholic, he has traced his ancestors back to at least some Jewish roots in pre-Expulsion Spain.

Mr & Mrs Abq Jew must have spend 45 minutes just trading stories with Charlie.
We gotta tell ya - New Mexico is just one very interesting place with all sorts of interesting people. We love it here.

About Time by Deborah Klezmer

And then Mr & Mrs Abq Jew wandered over to Deborah Klezmer's booth. And yes, her forebears were in the music business.

But that's a story for another time ....

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Good Night, Bright Star

If You Knew My Story: It is Abq Jew's solemn responsibility to you, his loyal readers, to announce that Bright Star, the award-winning and Tony-nominated musical, will give its final performance on Sunday June 26.

Wikipedia tells us:
Bright Star is a musical written and composed by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. It is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina in 1945-46 with flashbacks to 1923. 
The musical is inspired by their Grammy-winning collaboration on the 2013 bluegrass album Love Has Come for You.

How could this happen? Abq Jew hears you ask. These are two very talented people, who assembled a very talented team, worked hard, paid their dues ... and yet ... ?

Abq Jew, who just received the Cast Album for Father's Day, is devastated. Steve and Edie - no, not that Steve (Sidney Leibowitz) and lehavdil Eydie (Edith Gormezano)  - must feel even worse. After all, they had skin in the game.

Fortunately (arguably), Michael Paulson of The New York Times has answered the question of Why - in his article Anatomy of a Broadway Flop: What Sank These 4 Shows?

Mr Paulson tells us (as if we don't already know):
Broadway is a brutal business, in which real success is enjoyed by a handful of shows, while a vast majority crash and burn. 
And this season was especially tough, because one show, “Hamilton,” gobbled up much of the attention, enthusiasm and awards that motivate potential ticket buyers.
Here is what Mr Paulson wrote about Bright Star's failure - after running 30 previews, then 109 performances after opening March 24 at the Cort Theater.
Although some were charmed, few were wowed, making it hard to build word of mouth. As an original musical, not adapted from a film or novel, and with a complex plot, it was hard to explain to ticket buyers. 
Some found the show’s denouement laughably predictable. The musical was nostalgic; it was often described as quiet, or small, which has worked for some recent musicals (“Once,” “Fun Home”), though not this year. 
As “Bright Star” struggled at the box office, Mr. Martin and Ms. Brickell, among others, lent the production more money to keep it running, and on about a dozen occasions Mr. Martin joined the band onstage for an instrumental entr’acte, but it was not enough to save the show.
The musical's finest hour may have been at the recent Tony Awards. Nominated for 5 awards - including Best Musical - the show walked away with ... none. Maybe they just picked the wrong year. Whaddya think, Lin-Manuel?

Here is their final curtain call. Rest in Peace. May Bright Star's memory be for a blessing.

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How to Submit Your Event

To the Jewish NM Calendar: Remember way back, about two weeks ago - before the Festival of Shavuot - when Abq Jew told you about A New Calendar Look?

Back when Abq Jew asked (on your behalf)

What's in it for me?

Number 5 on the answer list was
An easy way to Submit your own Event. It will go into a list for Abq Jew to edit (as necessary), add a graphic (again, as necessary) and post to the public.
Well, at long last, here is Abq Jew's

Submit Event User's Guide

which will show you

How to Submit Your Event
to the Jewish NM Calendar

Ready? Here we go -
1. Go to the top of the Calendar. 
It can be the Abq Jewish Event Calendar, the New Mexico Jewish eLink Events Calendar, or the JFNM Community Calendar. It makes no difference - they will all take you to the same place.

2. Click the Submit Event button. The Jewish New Mexico Submit Event form will be displayed.

3. Fill out the form. You'll be asked for some basic information about yourself and the event. Then it gets a bit more interesting.

3a. Keywords. You know what keywords are, right? Like, for a Google Search? That's exactly what you need to provide here, so people who are doing a Google Search (in the Calendar or on the Internet) can find your event. Things like sponsor, venue, artist - you know!
3b. Image. A picture is worth 1K words. You can provide either a "raw" image (like the one directly above) or a "finished" image (like the one at the top of this blog post). For our example, Abq Jew got the "raw" image by doing a screen capture at the Balloon Fiesta website. He then added text to produce the "finished" image. A logo for the sponsor or event works even better.

3c. Description. The description can be as long and detailed as you want. Just keep in mind that readers want the important information as quickly as possible; so be reasonable. Website links are always valuable. Plus - you can do a lot of basic-but-nice formatting!
3d. Address. All you have to do is enter the name of the venue (i.e., Congregation B'nai Israel) and the city. Google Maps will, in most cases, do the rest.
4. Click the Next button. The Review page will be displayed. 

5. Review the information you are about to submit. If you want to go back and add / change / delete anything, click the Back to Editor button. If you are happy with what you've got, go ahead and click the Submit Event button.  
Just keep in mind that you can never, ever change any part of your submitted event. If you submit it wrong, it will stay wrong forever, 
and it will all be your fault.
6. Just kidding about that last part. You can always Contact Abq Jew with updated information. Or a better graphic. Or whatever.
Then What Happens?

Shortly after you submit your event, Abq Jew will get an email that says (continuing our Balloon Fiesta example)

and that will direct him to the calendar's Submitted Event List, to approve / edit / reject your submitted event.

Whereupon Abq Jew does one or more of those things. Most often, Abq Jew will approve, or edit and approve. Since he tends to avoid confrontation, Abq Jew will almost never reject.

Your event is posted on the
Jewish NM Calendar as soon as

Abq Jew hits the Approve button. 

If you don't see your event on the Jewish NM Calendar a couple of days after you submit it, please contact Abq Jew. Sometimes things just get lost in the sauce.

But Wait! There's More!
Next Lesson: How you can publicize your event after it's posted on the Jewish NM Calendar!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Sorrow of Orlando

Trouble and Tragedy: We have just celebrated - or, at least, observed - the Festival of Shavuot, the Time of the Giving of Our Torah.

As yesterday's Quote of the Day from shows, our Torah is about life: how to live a good life and how to do good in the world.

Our New Mexico Jewish community's celebration of Shavuot was indelibly marked and grievously marred by the tragedy in Orlando. We mourn with the victims' families and friends and loved ones, and we share hope that comfort and healing may come.

Just last week (see CU Better, Later), Abq Jew shared the Kinky Boots "Just Pee" video, back when the world thought humor might solve a problem.

Abq Jew also shared the Rabbinical Assembly's Resolution Affirming the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People, which begins with the statements
Whereas our Torah asserts that all humanity is created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s Divine Image; and  
Whereas rabbinic tradition strongly emphasizes the importance of kvod habriyot (human dignity) and a 2006 teshuvah of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards cites this principle to supersede the rabbinic prohibitions relating to homosexuality; and  
Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly has advocated  to end discrimination against minority communities, including the LGBT community, and 
Now, after the Orlando tragedy, Abq Jew must share the Rabbinical Assembly's statement on the massacre.
Conservative Rabbis Horrified by Orlando Shooting 
We share our deepest sympathies and prayers with the families of those who lost their lives and were injured in the Orlando shooting. May their memories be a blessing for all who knew them. But prayer alone will not resolve the circumstances that made this tragedy possible and so we also issue a strong call for action. 
This shooting rampage targeted the LGBT community in the midst of Pride month, a time where the LGBT community comes together to publicly acknowledge and celebrate their identities, their common history, and their struggle for social recognition and equality. 
The RA has passed multiple resolutions calling on the community to ‘work for full and equal civil rights for gays and lesbians in our national life, deplore violence against gays and lesbians, encourage inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews in our congregations, and increase our awareness of issues facing gay and lesbian Jews.’ We know that we stand with people of good will of all faiths in continuing this work. 
We urge the United States Congress and the President of the United States to take meaningful steps toward ending this horrifying violence in our communities by passing common-sense gun legislation. 
As recently as our May 2016 convention, the Rabbinical Assembly issued a resolution encouraging our members to lobby local, state and federal lawmakers to support required background checks on all public and private gun sales, bans on military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and legislation making gun trafficking a federal crime with severe penalties. 
As our Jewish tradition teaches us, lo ta'amod al dam re'eikha — do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor (Leviticus 19:16). Our thoughts and prayers go out to all members of the LGBT community, their families, their friends and their loved ones.

עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ
 וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל כָּל יוֺשְׁבֵי תֵבֶל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

CU Better, Later

Cataract Surgery: This year, Abq Jew will be celebrating Shavuot, the Festival of Weeks, by freeing (during this week before, there being, of course, no Chol HaMoed)

his modestly-abled left eye (his right eye is good, Ken O'Hara; see CU Later, Better) from the cataract that prevents him from having any depth perception whatsoever.

Abq Jew is making this announcement in the hope that you, his loyal readers, will not mind if there is a lacuna (break) in blog posts for a few days.

And speaking of physiology, what the eye sees, and breaks: Abq Jew notes, with some satisfaction, the following Just Pee video from the cast and crew (and, he supposes, management) of Kinky Boots, which is now on Broadway (where it won 6 Tony Awards, including for Best Musical).

If we're going to talk about bodies, and functions, and bodily functions, Abq Jew thinks, why not talk about the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinic body ("rabbis union") of the Conservative Movement, which recently published this resolution:
Resolution Affirming the Rights of Transgender
and Gender Non-Conforming People 
Whereas our Torah asserts that all humanity is created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s Divine Image; and 
Whereas rabbinic tradition strongly emphasizes the importance of kvod habriyot (human dignity) and a 2006 teshuvah of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards cites this principle to supersede the rabbinic prohibitions relating to homosexuality; and 
Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly has advocated  to end discrimination against minority communities, including the LGBT community, and 
Whereas discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people exists, including but not limited to the ability to obtain proper medical benefits, secure employment, and legally change their gender on government-related documents that guarantee the right to vote; and
Whereas many governments have increasingly extended protections to transgender people in the areas of health care, employment, and access to retirement benefits; 
Whereas it is increasingly becoming the norm to affirm the dignity of transgender people through the implementation of accommodations in both site facilities and language; 
Whereas the literature of halakhah, from the Mishnah to contemporary responsa, affirms the variety of non-binary gender expression throughout history, granting transgender people the obligations and privileges of all Jews; 
Whereas transgender people contribute to the vitality of our seminaries, synagogues, schools, camps, communal organizations, and professional associations throughout the Jewish world, and no less within the Conservative Movement; 
Therefore, be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly affirm its commitment to the full welcome, acceptance, and inclusion of people of all gender identities in Jewish life and general society; and 
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage all programs affiliated with the Conservative Movement, including seminaries, schools, synagogues, camps, and communal and professional organizations to educate themselves and their employees about the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming people, so as to create fully inclusive settings; and 
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage all Conservative Movement synagogues, camps, schools, and affiliated organizations to work toward becoming explicitly welcoming, safe spaces for transgender and gender non-conforming people and evaluate their physical site needs, workplace needs, and language that impact gender and gender expression; and 
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly encourage Conservative organizations to educate their constituencies about the need of transgender and gender non-conforming people to be known by the identity, name, and pronoun of their choice; and 
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly urge all levels of government to review their policies and practices so as to insure the full equality of transgender people under the law. 

Oy. There will be cataract surgery this week. After which we Yidden will have the immense pleasure and distinct honor of celebrating

A 3-Day Yontif!
Better stock up on challah!

OK ... technically, it's one day of Shabbat followed immediately by a 2-day (outside the Land of Israel) Yom Tov - in this case Shavuot, the Time of the Giving of Our Torah. But in the vernacular, a 3-day Yontif is what it's called.

And therefore, even though it's only Tuesday - 

Shabbat Shalom, World!
Good Shabbos, Universe!

Hag Sameach, New Mexico!
Good Yontif, Albuquerque!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A New Calendar Look

Because New is Good: Abq Jew, he must tell you (he must! he must!) has been rather unsatisfied with the blah look (and meager functionality) of Google Calendar for some time. Surely, thought he, there must be something better out there.

As it turns out - there are several alternatives out there, all of them with more beautiful displays and more user-friendly features and more designer-friendly functionality than good ol' Google Calendar.

Abq Jew spent a couple of days merrily testing and playing with these alternatives. And of them all, the one he has chosen for his Abq Jewish Event Calendar is


Abq Jew can already hear you asking (remember Field of Dreams?)

What's in it for me?
And what do the Chicago Cubs have to do with it?

OK, then. Here is what's in it for you, the (potential) Event Attendee.

As you can see, the new Tockify Calendar offers:
  1. A choice of views. Abq Jew has set up the default view to be the Agenda, aka the List. But you can easily switch to the Pinboard or Monthly view.
  2. A Full Screen mode, just in case the text is too small to read.
  3. A Search capability. Yes, you can search for a specific Event or Events! (Try it now - search for "cubs" and see what happens.)
  4. A Sort capability. Yes, if Abq Jew can remember to tag Events usefully, you can search for, say, all Events in Santa Fe, or all Events involving an Author.
  5. An easy way to Submit your own Event. It will go into a list for Abq Jew to edit (as necessary), add a graphic (again, as necessary) and post to the public.
But wait! There's more!

Here is an example of what's in it for you. Did you search for "cubs"? Let's look at an Event we've been waiting for since 1908:

Click on the Chicago Cubs World Series Victory Celebration, and

  1. You get the full, nicely-formatted, easy-to-read explanation of exactly what the Celebration is and why you should attend.
  2. You get the location of the Celebration, and a map to it. (OK, it's a Google Map, which you can also get on Google Calendar. But it looks really spiffy here.)
  3. You get to easily share the Celebration with your pals on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Google +. 
  4. You get to save the Celebration in your favorite calendar.
  5. You get to copy a link directly to the Celebration, and put it wherever you usually put such links.
  6. You get to email details of the Celebration to all your email contacts.
  7. You get to Buy Tickets, get More Info, and/or RSVP for the Celebration.
  8. Can also go Full Screen and see the Celebration details in all their glory.
And if you think this new Tockify Calendar is really cool for potential and actual Event Attendees - for Event Planners, it's the best thing since

well, you know!

Abq Jew is certain you will agree! Well, he's certainly hopeful you'll agree.

And just as you'd expect, the New Mexico Jewish eLink's Events page and the Jewish Federation of New Mexico's Community Calendar page (both powered by Abq Jew) have followed suit.

And how about The Abq Jew App
Abq Jew hears you exclaim. 

Don't worry!

The Abq Jew App will get an upgrade, too.

As Red Green (see Red Green Teaches Life Lessons) always says -

We're all in this together.