Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Spring 2018 @ OASIS Albuquerque

Great Courses &
Great Performances

Abq Jew is pleased to inform you that

OASIS Albuquerque has just announced
their Spring 2018 line-up of classes!
Registration opens on
Wednesday January 3
but you can Wish List your selections now.

OASIS Albuquerque Executive Director Kathleen Raskob continues (as always) 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:

New Mexico Jewry: The Urban & Rural Economic Dimensions
Wed 07 Feb & 14 Feb 2018 @ 10:30 am - #129
Instructor: Noel Pugach
What It Is: Although small in number, Jews played an important role in both the urban and rural economies of New Mexico. In several cities - Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas - Jewish merchants created thriving business districts. The first lecture focuses on their role in Albuquerque's downtown from 1880-1945. To the surprise of many, Jews also have also had a significant presence in New Mexico's ranching industry. The second lecture concentrates on that story and reasons for their involvement.

Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico: Field Trip
Thu 08 Feb 2018 @ 11:00 am - #63
Instructor: Daniel Taradash
What It Is: The mission of the Holocaust and Intolerance Museum of New Mexico is to combat hate and intolerance and promote understanding through education. Visit this small but unique museum in downtown Albuquerque for a guided tour of their exhibits. There will be a special emphasis on the first phase of their new African American Experience display. It covers the historical, cultural and social impact of African American slavery from 1619-1866. Examine the daily lives of slaves, the experiences of slave women, the Civil War, and the transition from slavery to freedom. Daniel Taradash, PhD, exhibit designer for this display, provides additional information.

The Secrets of the Book of Esther
Thu 11 Mar 2018 @ 1:00 pm - #109
Instructor: Paul Citrin
What It Is: Is the Book of Esther a factual report or a work of fiction? How do we know? Why is Esther in the Bible? Is it only of interest to Jews or does it have universal messages? What is Purim, the holiday of Esther, and what does it say to us today? In this presentation, Paul Citrin answers these questions, and participants have an opportunity to eat the Purim cookie, Hamantaschen.

Water Water Everywhere: How Judaism Understands Water
Wed 14 Mar 2018 @ 10:30 am - #110
Instructor: Harry Rosenfeld
What It Is: Water is central to our lives in New Mexico just as it was to the ancient Israelites. As we know, too little water creates drought and hardship. This year we learned that too much water can bring destruction. Together we examine the stories of creation, Noah, and the Israelites in the desert, to help us understand the connection between people and water. What lessons can we learn from these ancient texts and how can we apply them today?

Spies in the Bible
Wed 28 Mar 2018 @ 1:00 pm - #111
Instructor: Shlomo Karni
What It Is: Spying is among the oldest professions in the world. Review some of these activities in the Bible, starting with Joseph accusing his brothers of being spies when they came to buy food in Egypt. Our centerpiece is the fatefully doomed mission of the twelve spies sent by Moses into the Promised Land. Explore what went right (very little), what went wrong (just about everything), and compare it to modern-day missions. Relevant reading material is distributed in class.

Spinoza: Heretic or the God-Intoxicated Man?
Thue 10 Apr 2018 @ 10:30 pm - #112
Instructor: Michael Nutkiewicz
What It Is: Benedict, or Baruch Spinoza (17th century), is regarded by many as the first modern European man. Excommunicated as a heretic by the Dutch Jewish community, he has also been called the "God-intoxicated man." Look at Spinoza's life and the circumstances surrounding his excommunication. Touch upon his philosophy as well as his critique of religion, and end with the question: what makes Spinoza "modern?"

Regular OASIS Albuquerque instructor (and award-winning composer and recording artist) Jane Ellen also continues (as always) to bring you new and interesting class offerings, and continues to make sure there are plenty of courses of musical and Jewish interest.

Jane's courses this session include but are by no means limited to:

Janis Ian: Beyond 17
Thu 25 Jan 2018 @ 1:00 pm - #81
What It Is: Janis Ian (1951- ) gained notoriety at the age of 15 with her revolutionary song "Society's Child," but is probably best remembered for the poignancy of "At Seventeen" released a decade later. Now in her fifth decade as a singer songwriter, Ian has continued to tackle controversial subjects in her songs, including domestic violence and the Holocaust. She has over 20 albums to her credit and also works as a journalist and a science fiction author.

Cold Spring Harbor: Billy Joel
Tue 30 Jan 2018 @ 1:00 pm - #82
What It Is: William Martin "Billy" Joel (1949- ) has amassed a lifetime of pop rock hits spanning four decades, and continues to perform live shows featuring hits from throughout his career. With few exceptions, he stopped writing popular music in 1993; when he does write, he continues his flirtation with classical music. His work has been choreographed by Twyla Tharp, he has toured extensively with Elton John, and in 2016 he celebrated the 45th anniversary of his solo recording career.

How Jewish-Americans Changed Popular American Music
Part 2: Moving Music Forward Through Jazz and Pop
Thu 08 Mar 2018] @ 1:00 pm - #86
What It Is: This three-part series will focus on the invaluable contribution of Jewish-American composers, musicians, and entertainers to the tapestry of popular music in the United States since the late 19th century.

This lecture, Part 2, begins with entertainers in vaudeville and on Broadway; then on to the rise of the Big Band era and popular bandleaders during the 1930s-40s. Finally we look at those composers who brought life to our favorite films on the silver screen.

Part 3 will take place in summer 2018 and include pop, rock, jazz, and hip-hop.

You do not need to have taken Part 1 to take Part 2.

Friday Performances

There are now regular Friday Performances - musical, dance, theater, and storytelling by local artists - at OASIS Albuquerque. They're listed among the schedule of classes offered.

This session's Jewish performances include but are by no means limited to:

The Rebbe's Orkestra: Klezmer & Judaic Band
02 Feb 2018 @ 2:00 pm - #96
What It Is: Klezmer music began as instrumental accompaniment to the rituals of Jewish life in the historic Jewish villages of Eastern Europe. Klezmer musicians performed in orchestras, Russian military bands, and in the big jazz bands in the USA. Join The Rebbe's Orkestra for a musical journey of klezmer, Yiddish songs, and Hasidic nigunim. You will even hear some Sephardic and Middle Eastern music that relates to Klezmer.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

You Can't Blame The Jews For This!

Remembering Sparky (RIP): Well. 2017 has been a bang-up year for anti-Zionists and anti-Semites (not that anyone can tell the difference), which is not to mention white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Oh - and the Alt-Right.

Abq Jew himself has been the victim of (happily, only) one (happily, only electronic) hate attack (see You've Got Hate Mail!) that was covered in The New York Times!

Through the years - through the centuries - Jews have been blamed for all sorts of things. But Abq Jew has just now been able to find something for which the world cannot blame The Jews.

Abq Jew refers, of course, to

The Great Rio Rancho~Corrales Power Outage
of December 13, 2017

KOB's Eddie Garcia reported on December 14 ~
Patricia Gomez got a jolting front row seat to Wednesday night's major transformer eruption near Iris and Paseo del Volcan in Rio Rancho. She lives right next door. 
"It was like an earthquake or something, it cracked the house literally cracked," Gomez said.
Mark Haley lives a few miles away. He saw it too. 
"It looked like a UFO was landing the way," he said. "The lights were flashing and sparking and the light rays coming up from the ground. It was crazy looking." 
Then everything went dark for more than 9,600 PNM customers in Rio Rancho and parts of Corrales.  
Crumbling infrastructure?
Industrial sabotage?
Perhaps (God forbid) a terrorist attack?
Not exactly.
Dan Ware, a PNM spokesman explained what happened. 
"A large raccoon wandered in, probably looking for a warm place to bed-down for the night and came with the transformer," he said. 
Most of the area is protected with a 12-foot brick wall, but an attached fence does have gaps.
Well, said Abq Jew.
At least they can't blame this on The Jews.

But then Abq Jew started thinking (always a bad sign).

First of all - while KOB and PNM confidently reported a "large raccoon," others were blaming an opossum, or perhaps a possum. Of indeterminate (Abq Jew presumes) height, length, and breadth.(Was there anything left of the attacker to measure?).

Abq Jew was more inclined to believe that the POP (Power Outage Perpetrator) was a white rabbit (actually a pooka), six feet three-and-a-half inches in height.

Now let's stick to the facts.

But Abq Jew (like all of you, his loyal readers, he is sure) was terrified that the POP might turn out to be Jewish. Or even worse - might turn out to be an actual Jew.

But Abq Jew asked around - Rio Rancho Jewish Center, Chabad, the Sixth Street Minyan - and

Nobody was Sitting Shiva.

Then, this morning (it was actually posted after Abq Jew's bedtime last night), KOB's Web Staff reported that a new memorial had been erected ~

Here's one way to remember the night a huge power outage hit town. 
Viewer James Frazier took photos of a memorial someone set up for a raccoon aptly named Sparky. It's at the site where a transformer blew last week in Rio Rancho. 
PNM believes the animal came into contact with 150,000 volts during a quest to stay warm.
In view of all the evidence -
  1. The memorial features a cross, typically not a Jewish symbol.
  2. The acronym RIP (Rest In Peace) is written on the cross, typically not a Jewish way to honor the dead.
  3. Sparky, sorta like Archie or Kyle or Bubba, is not a Jewish [nick]name. (Harvey, on the other hand, is.)
Sparky was no MOT.

Abq Jew has been thinking about Harvey since The New York Times's Jennifer Finney Boylan last week published My Favorite Holiday Movie Involves a Giant Rabbit. Where she states ~
In my favorite Christmas movie, Jimmy Stewart says, “Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.” 
No, it’s not “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a movie I have seen so many times now that I have begun to root for Mr. Potter. It’s “Harvey,” a movie that, on the surface at least, is not a Christmas movie at all but the story of a man whose best friend is a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit.
And she continues ~
“Years ago,” Mr. Stewart says at one point in the film, “my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood’ — she always called me Elwood — ‘you can be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.” 
“Harvey,” which premiered in 1950, is the story of Elwood P. Dowd, played by Mr. Stewart, and is based on Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Throughout the film, Elwood genially frustrates a series of plots to have him institutionalized. There are a number of complications involving the sanitarium (Chumley’s Rest) and Elwood’s long-suffering sister, Veta Louise (“I wouldn’t want to go on living if I thought it was all just eating and sleeping and taking my clothes off, I mean putting them on”). 
Harvey, the rabbit, is invisible to most people, and why not — he’s a pooka (“a fairy spirit in animal form,” Mr. Stewart says, “always very large”). And yet Elwood, rabbit or no, brings grace to everything he encounters: “I always have a wonderful time, wherever I go, whoever I’m with,” he says. “I’m having a fine time, right here.”

If you haven't seen Harvey - the movie, that is - in a while (or ever), Abq Jew heartily recommends that you stop whatever you're doing and view it.

After all, it's just a nice movie, with a whimsical plot and interesting characters, and without sax or violins or special effects.

Plus, it's got Jimmy Stewart in it. Who says (see above) a wide variety of delightful and meaningful things. Like how he first met Harvey ~
I'd just put Ed Hickey into a taxi. Ed had been mixing his rye with his gin, and I just felt that he needed conveying. 
Well, anyway, I was walking down along the street and I heard this voice saying, "Good evening, Mr. Dowd." Well, I turned around and here was this big six-foot rabbit leaning up against a lamp-post. 
Well, I thought nothing of that because when you've lived in a town as long as I've lived in this one, you get used to the fact that everybody knows your name. And naturally I went over to chat with him. 
And he said to me... he said, "Ed Hickey was a little spiffed this evening, or could I be mistaken?" Well, of course, he was not mistaken. I think the world and all of Ed, but he was spiffed. 
Well, we talked like that for awhile and then I said to him, I said, "You have the advantage on me. You know my name and I don't know yours." And, and right back at me he said, "What name do you like?" 
Well, I didn't even have to think twice about that. Harvey's always been my favorite name. So I said to him, I said, "Harvey." 
And, uh, this is the interesting thing about the whole thing: He said, "What a coincidence. My name happens to be Harvey."

Remember: It was Sparky's fault.
The Jews had nothing to with it.
Yes, Abq Jew is also wrestling with reality ....

Monday, December 18, 2017

Two More Nights

Seventeen Candles: Did you know that way (way) back when, the students of Shammai and the students of Hillel debated for two and a half years whether man (i.e., humankind) should (Hillel) or should not (Shammai) have been created?


After two and a half years, an agreement (of sorts) was achieved. The press release announcing the agreement stated (and Abq Jew quotes)

Following a series of open, honest, and direct discussions,
the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel
have determined that man should not have been created.
However, inasmuch as man has been created,
we should carry on as best we can.

And why, the rabbis asked, did the Holy One, Blessed Be He, decide to create man (i.e., humankind), after all?

Because G-d loves stories.

And the story of Hanukkah is surely one of the best. As the Israeli couple Yonina sing us

Here is another Chanukah story that @AbqJew discovered on Twitter - in a tweet from @goodchallah.

Hot new Hanukkah book "The Mohel From Mars" has the Maccabees against the Greeks in a modern retelling of the Hanukkah story in space  #jewishbooks #mohelfrommars #hanukkah
Motti comes from a long line of mohels: his father was a mohel, his grandfather was a mohel, his grandfather’s father and grandfather were mohels, and so on… tracing back to when humans didn’t live on any other planet except Earth. His entire life was spent preparing to follow their footsteps. 
But now that he’s finally become a mohel, Motti finds himself unsatisfied and unhappy! Yet to be anything else means to disappoint—and even lose—his family.
Taking Hanukkah to new heights, you might say. But this is Abq Jew you're dealing with! So let's take Chanukah and Hanukkah (and Xmas and Christmas) to new lows.

Overdo it a bit on the latkes and the sufganiyot during the holiday? Eight days and eight nights! Alright, this video (by Paolo Roberto) is not so much a story as a series of vignettes. But it will definitely put you in a better mood.

But when it comes to really, really funny stories, there is finally a competitor to James Thurber's 1933 humor classic The Night The Bed Fell.

This story, titled it could be The Poopocalypse, was posted on Facebook by one of Abq Jew's many Corrales friends. Abq Jew was impressed with said Corralesite's storytelling prowess, and was about to ask said Corralesite for permission to reprint.

But first, Abq Jew Googled

roomba dog poop

and discovered that the author is actually one Jesse Newton (The Pooptastrophist), who posted it way back in the summer of 2016.

And that the story immediately went viral, and has been reproduced in its entirety all over the Internet. So - as long as the Internet remains neutral - Abq Jew figured - hey, why not?

Ready? Here we go!

So, last week, something pretty tragic happened in our household. It's taken me until now to wrap my head around it and find the words to describe the horror. It started off simple enough - something that's probably happened to most of you.

Sometime between midnight and 1:30am, our puppy Evie pooped on our rug in the living room. This is the only time she's done this, so it's probably just because we forgot to let her out before we went to bed that night. Now, if you have a detective's mind, you may be wondering how we know the poop occurred between midnight and 1:30am. We were asleep, so how do I know that time frame?

Why, friends, that's because our Roomba runs at 1:30am every night, while we sleep. And it found the poop. And so begins the Pooptastrophe. The poohpocalypse. The pooppening.

If you have a Roomba, please rid yourself of all distractions and absorb everything I'm about to tell you.

Do not, under any circumstances, let your Roomba run over dog poop. If the unthinkable does happen, and your Roomba runs over dog poop, stop it immediately and do not let it continue the cleaning cycle. Because if that happens, it will spread the dog poop over every conceivable surface within its reach, resulting in a home that closely resembles a Jackson Pollock poop painting.

It will be on your floorboards. It will be on your furniture legs. It will be on your carpets. It will be on your rugs. It will be on your kids' toy boxes. If it's near the floor, it will have poop on it. Those awesome wheels, which have a checkered surface for better traction, left 25-foot poop trails all over the house. Our lovable Roomba, who gets a careful cleaning every night, looked like it had been mudding. Yes, mudding - like what you do with a Jeep on a pipeline road. But in poop.

Then, when your four-year-old gets up at 3am to crawl into your bed, you'll wonder why he smells like dog poop. And you'll walk into the living room. And you'll wonder why the floor feels slightly gritty. And you'll see a brown-encrusted, vaguely Roomba-shaped thing sitting in the middle of the floor with a glowing green light, like everything's okay. Like it's proud of itself. You were still half-asleep until this point, but now you wake up pretty damn quickly.

And then the horror. Oh the horror.

So, first you clean the child. You scrub the poop off his feet and put him back in bed. But you don't bother cleaning your own feet, because you know what's coming. It's inevitable, and it's coming at you like a freight train. Some folks would shrug their shoulders and get back in bed to deal with it in the morning. But you're not one of those people - you can't go to sleep with that war zone of poop in the living room.

So you clean the Roomba. You toss it in the bathtub to let it soak. You pull it apart, piece-by-piece, wondering at what point you became an adult and assumed responsibility for 3:30am-Roomba-disassembly-poop-cleanups. By this point, the poop isn't just on your hands - it's smeared up to your elbows. You already heard the Roomba make that "whirlllllllllllllllll-boop-hisssssssss" noise that sounds like electronics dying, and you realize you forgot to pull the battery before getting it wet.

Oh, and you're not just using profanity - you're inventing new types of profanity. You're saying things that would make Satan shudder in revulsion. You hope your kid stayed in bed, because if he hears you talking like this, there's no way he's not ending up in prison.

Then you get out the carpet shampooer. When you push it up to the rug - the rug that started it all - the shampooer just laughs at you. Because that rug is going in the trash, folks. But you shampoo it anyway, because your wife loved that damn rug, and you know she'll ask if you tried to clean it first.

Then you get out the paper towel rolls, idly wondering if you should invest in paper towel stock, and you blow through three or four rolls wiping up poop. Then you get the spray bottle with bleach water and hose down the floor boards to let them soak, because the poop has already dried. Then out comes the steam mop, and you take care of those 25-ft poop trails.

And then, because it's 6am, you go to bed. Let's finish this tomorrow, right?

The next day, you finish taking the Roomba apart, scraping out all the tiny flecks of poop, and after watching a few Youtube instructional videos, you remove the motherboard to wash it with a toothbrush. Then you bake it in the oven to dry. You put it all back together, and of course it doesn't work. Because you heard the "whirlllllllllllllll-boop-hissssssss" noise when it died its poopy death in the bathtub. But you hoped that maybe the Roomba gods would have mercy on you.

But there's a light at the end of the tunnel. After spending a week researching how to fix this damn £350 Roomba without spending £350 again - including refurb units, new motherboards, and new batteries - you finally decide to call the place where you bought it. That place called Hammacher Schlemmer. They have a funny name, but they have an awesome warranty. They claim it's for life, and it's for any reason.

So I called them and told the truth. 

My Roomba found dog poop
and almost precipitated World War III.

And you know what they did? They offered to replace it. Yes, folks. They are replacing the Roomba that ran over dog poop and then died a poopy, watery death in the bathtub - by no fault of their own, of course.

So, mad props to Hammacher Schlemmer. If you're buying anything expensive, and they sell it, I recommend buying it from them. And remember - don't let your Roomba run over dog poop ...

In conclusion, Abq Jew can only say

What goes around comes around.

And thanks to Rabbi David Wolpe for posting the above photo on his Facebook timeline. You can learn a lot about life in a graveyard.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hanukkah! Here We Go Again!

Stuff To Do! Laugh! Sing! Please allow Abq Jew the honor, the pleasure, the sheer joy of being the first to wish you, his loyal readers, a happy, bright, and joyous Chanukah. (If Abq Jew was not the first, please don't tell him.)

Here in the Land of Enchantment, there's gonna be plenty of stuff to do during the holiday. Just like there was plenty of stuff to do before the holiday, like the Hanukkah Fest at the Albuquerque JCC.

Let's start with the JCC's presentation of [click here for tickets]

Great news! POTUS has recognized Santa Fe as the capital of New Mexico!

Now if he only knew that NM is part of the US ...

Anyway, Chabad Santa Fe's got their annual

on Sunday December 17. Also on Sunday December 17, Chabad Albuquerque's got their new almost-traditional (2018 (אי״ה, Billy Nader) will make it a chazaka)

And then ... really new this year is

The MeshugaNutcracker!, a musical comedy celebrating Chanukah, debuts in movie theaters nationwide on December 19, putting a unique spin on the classic Nutcracker ballet.

Note: The MeshugaNutcracker! debuts and closes
on the same night - Tuesday December 19 -
is playing at only one theater in town,
and will be shown at 7:00 pm only.

That one theater is the United Artists Cottonwood 16, conveniently located on Albuquerque's Upper West Side. In the Cottonwood Mall, on Coors Bypass, just a couple miles north of Paseo del Norte. Allow extra time for traffic.

Now, Abq Jew knows that many of you, his loyal readers, are afraid somewhat apprehensive about crossing the Rio Grande (that's the river on the west side of town). Don't be. Why? Because
The MeshugaNutcracker! is a full-length musical comedy that features the wonderfully silly sensibilities of the folklore of Chelm (a fictional town of fools) underscored by an invigorating Klezmer-ized orchestration of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” including original lyrics that celebrate Chanukah. 
Judah Maccabee’s triumphant saga and accounts of perseverance during the Holocaust as well as the celebration of the first Chanukah in the new state of Israel emerge with a genuine sense of wonder as the Chelmniks tell eight stories that pay tribute to the holiday. 
Add in dancing dreidels, singing sufganiot, and surprise guest stars and you have the perfect recipe for a holiday outing! Jews and non-Jews alike will delight in this original musical celebrating all things Chanukah.

Much more (אי״ה, Billy Nader) to follow. Until then -

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Ashkelon, O Ashkelon

Reality Bites: On this day, The Times of IsraelThe Forward, and just about every major and minor news outlet in the known and unknown world have reported that our very own President Donald J Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and has pledged to move the US Embassy to the Holy City.

Abq Jew was hoping for Ashkelon.

Abq Jew's old home town. Of which the Jewish Virtual Library says
Israel has one of the world's most beautiful coastlines, with white sandy beaches and spectacular Mediterranean views. The coast stretches to the northern border with Lebanon at Rosh Hanikra and south to the Gaza Strip. Just north of Gaza and 36 miles south of Tel Aviv is the southernmost stop for most tourists, the city of Ashkelon.

But no!
Abq Jew must instead report that
Jerusalem is the chosen city. 

The TOI tells us -
President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy on Wednesday and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite warnings from around the world that the gesture further drives a wedge between Israel and the Palestinians. 
In a speech at the White House, Trump said his administration would also begin a process of moving the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years.

What does this announcement mean?

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued the statement below in response to President Trump's speech today:
In declaring formally U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, President Trump has affirmed an age-old dream of the Jewish people and of all who care about Israel. 
Jerusalem is, in fact, the capital of Israel. 
That is how it should and must be. The President correctly noted that a sovereign state is entitled to name its own capital. The Reform Movement has also long held that the U.S. Embassy should be moved to Jerusalem.  
Yesterday, we expressed our serious concern about the timing of these actions. We still believe that they ought to be implemented in a manner that enhances the peace process and contributes to ensuring the safety and security of Israel. 
We continue to have significant concerns. 
In separating today’s decisions from a broader strategy, they may well undercut the Administration’s peace process efforts and risk destabilizing the region. 
We do, however, commend the President for affirming the importance of moving the peace process forward, and clarifying that these decisions are not intended to restrict final status decisions of the Israelis and Palestinians -- including the borders of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and border issues generally.

Where are we now?

The Jewish Theological Seminary, one of Abq Jew's favorite almae matres, offered this statement about Jerusalem, the city in which Abq Jew has felt the most lost (look at that map!) and also the most found.
We at The Jewish Theological Seminary are heartened that Jerusalem, the focal point of Jewish hopes and prayers for over two millennia, and the capital of the reborn State of Israel since its founding nearly 70 years ago, has been recognized as such by Israel’s closest ally. 
We welcome our president’s commitment to helping to forge a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. We who love Israel and Jerusalem, and pray daily for peace among the world’s faiths and peoples, continue to hope that Israelis and Palestinians will find a way to share the Holy City. 
But we must do more than hope. 
The rabbis of antiquity envisioned two Jerusalems—the Jerusalem that resided in the heavens and its earthly counterpart. They asserted that the fates of both of these Jerusalems are intertwined, and that God declared, 
“I will not reside in the heavenly Jerusalem until I am able to reside in the earthly Jerusalem.” 
It is the responsibility of humankind to bring peace to our earthly Jerusalem so as to allow God’s presence to find a home. Only then will God enter the Jerusalem on high. 
Let us get to work and make this a reality.

And what does Abq Jew say?

Abq Jew says that Jerusalem is the undivided, eternal capital of Israel. And that there never will be a "good" time to recognize Jerusalem as such.

And Abq Jew says that our very own President Donald J Trump has not thought this through, and really has no Grand Plan for Middle East Peace (or anything else).

AbqJew also says that POTUS may be doing this just now to distract us from other things - like indictment and / or impeachment.

Or perhaps POTUS has invested in Jerusalem real estate.

But Abq Jew also says that

Even a drunken gunslinger
can hit the broad side of a barn sometimes.

And then ...

Abq Jew goes back to Hillel's words -

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

10 Years, 70 Years, 24 Years

Remembering My Father:  On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for Palestine to be partitioned between Arabs and Jews.

That was 70 years ago, before Abq Jew was born. Yet he remembers that day as if it were yesterday.

Here is a map of the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

Wikipedia tells us:
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was a plan for the future government of Palestine. The Plan was described as a Plan of Partition with Economic Union which, after the termination of the British Mandate, would lead to the creation of independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the adoption and implementation of the Plan as Resolution 181(II).
A lot of things have changed since then. But just as important - a lot of things changed before then.

Let's start with the map itself. Do you notice anything missing?

Most people who were born after 1922 don't.

So let's look at this map to the right, which shows the area of the original British Mandate.

What's missing in the 1949 map above is the entire area of Palestine that lies east of the Jordan River.

What happened to all that land? Abq Jew hears you ask. Well ....

The British government decided to remove 78% of the area of the Palestine Mandate from the jurisdiction of that Mandate.

As the map to the left shows, the British created a separate Arab entity there, called Transjordan. They then gave that land to Emir (later, King) Abdullah.

How could the British do that, Abq Jew hears you ask. Well ....

Let's look at the document that (in a sense) started it all - the Balfour Declaration. Wikipedia tells us:
The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
The "Balfour Declaration" was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with Turkey and the Mandate for Palestine. The original document is kept at the British Library.
1. As you can easily see, the Balfour Declaration supports a national home for the Jewish people in "Palestine." And when the Balfour Declaration was written, "Palestine" meant all of Palestine - both west and east of the Jordan River.

2. As you can also easily see, the Balfour Declaration supports a national home for the Jewish people "in Palestine." And "in Palestine" meant exactly that, and was never intended to imply all of Palestine.

The British, for their own reasons, went with the second interpretation. There are others, of course (followers of Vladimir Jabotinsky, for example), who still hold with the first interpretation.

In any event, everyone (perhaps) recalls what happened right after the UN vote on November 29, 1947. Wikipedia (and The New York Times) reminds us:
The Plan was accepted by the leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine, through the Jewish Agency. The Plan was rejected by leaders of the Arab community, including the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, who were supported in their rejection by the states of the Arab League. The Arab leadership (in and out of Palestine) opposed partition and claimed all of Palestine.
The rest, as they say, is history. Go and learn!

My father, Richard W Yellin, of blessed memory, certainly chose an already memorable day on which to pass on to the World to Come.

Abq Jew has often written on his father's yahrzeit - in 2016 (Starting With Aunt Bea), in 2013, (For the 19th of Kislev 5774), in 2012 (5 Years, 65 Years, 19 Years), in 2011 (Boogie Woogie), and in 2010 (My Father's Yahrzeit).

This time around, ten years after his father's passing, it's the civil date (yahrzeit is still several days away) that Abq Jew recalls. November 29 also turns out to be the day in 2001 that George Harrison died, at age 58, following a battle with cancer.

But let's return to the Land of the Living. And let's start with Tom Lehrer. Wikipedia tells us:
Thomas Andrew Lehrer (/ˈlɛrər/; born April 9, 1928) is a retired American musician, singer-songwriter, satirist, and mathematician. 
He has lectured on mathematics and musical theater. He is best known for the pithy, humorous songs he recorded in the 1950s and 1960s. 
Lehrer was born to a Jewish family and grew up in Manhattan's Upper East Side. 
His work often parodies popular song forms, though he usually creates original melodies when doing so. A notable exception is "The Elements", where he sets the names of the chemical elements to the tune of the Major-General's song from Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance. 
Lehrer's early work typically dealt with non-topical subject matter and was noted for its black humor in songs such as "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park". 
In the 1960s, he produced a number of songs dealing with social and political issues of the day, particularly when he wrote for the U.S. version of the television show That Was the Week That Was
Despite their topical subjects and references, the popularity of these songs has endured; Lehrer quoted a friend's explanation: 
"Always predict the worst and you'll be hailed as a prophet." 
In the early 1970s, he mostly retired from public performances to devote his time to teaching mathematics and music theatre at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Well, it's getting close to Christmas, also known as Xmas, but in politically correct circles referred to as "The Holidays." Along with Chanukah, Hanukkah, Khanikeh, and Kwanzaa.

Anyway, Abq Jew's father (and mother, also of blessed memory) loved Tom Lehrer. 70 years, 10 years, and soon (for Mom) 24 years. Abq Jew remembers, with Tom Lehrer's A Christmas Carol.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Rabbi Neil Gillman, Philosopher

Theologian & Professor Dies at 84: Amid the happiness of Thanksgiving, JTA announced over the weekend -

Rabbi Neil Gillman, professor emeritus of Jewish philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and one of the premier theologians in the Conservative movement, has died. He was 84. 
His death was announced Friday by the Rabbinical Assembly. 
The author of numerous books, including, in 1991, Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew, Gillman was associated for over 50 years with JTS, the main seminary of the Conservative movement, as a student, administrator and member of the faculty, emphasizing the intersection of Jewish theology, Conservative Judaism and Jewish education. 
“Gillman’s innovative thinking about how to construe Jewish faith and how to justify it, his use of anthropology as well as philosophy in approaching questions of God and life after death, and his ability to combine complete intellectual openness and honesty with a commitment to Jewish tradition mark his work as truly important, indeed, a real gift to Jews and non-Jews alike,” Elliot Dorff, the Sol & Anne Dorff Distinguished Service Professor in Philosophy at American Jewish University, said in introducing a collection of essays released in Gillman’s honor in  2013.

Abq Jew wrote about Rabbi Gillman in December 2010 (see Talmud and Torah and Zombies and The Final Tisch; No Zombies), when he was first reading The Death of Death.
In the final chapters, Rabbi Gillman dismisses the doctrine of the immortality of the soul - it's just not enough - and makes a very strong case for the traditional Jewish belief in the resurrection of the dead.  
Only resurrection of the body, says Rabbi Gillman, will prove God's supreme power, solve the problem of  the misfortune of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked (tzaddik vi'ra lo, rasha vi'tov lo), and make each of our individual lives eternally meaningful. 

Abq Jew remembers Rabbi Gillman from his time at the Jewish Theological Seminary. In 1975, Rabbi Gillman and Rabbi Joseph Lukinsky z"l taught an Introduction to Philosophy course that totally blew the mind (he had more of it then) of Abq Jew, a guy from California with an engineering degree and very little formal Jewish learning.

Here is JTS's statement on Rabbi Gillman's passing:
With deep sorrow, we join the family, the Jewish world, and countless others in mourning the loss of Rabbi Neil Gillman, professor emeritus of Jewish Philosophy and a giant presence at JTS for more than half a century. 
He was a beloved teacher, colleague, and friend, whose lucid writing and philosophical insights profoundly influenced Jewish theology in the contemporary world. 
An award-winning author, his writing was both learned and accessible, helping Jews and non-Jews wrestle with the most challenging theological issues, including questions about God, revelation, suffering, and death. 
As a professor and dean of The Rabbinical School, he mentored and inspired generations of students, challenging them to explore the meaning of their relationship with God as they went on to careers as clergy, educators, and scholars. 
The impact of his teaching and writing is immeasurable and will be felt for years to come. 
We extend our deepest condolences to his beloved wife, Sarah, his daughters, Deborah and Abigail, his grandchildren, and the entire family. May they be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Monday, November 20, 2017

It's Traveling Time!

Twas The Week Before Thanksgiving: And all through the sky, the planes were stacked up with family and friends ready to fly.

Meanwhile, the news at is

Steve Martin And The Steep Canyon Rangers
release a charming video for “Santa Fe”

Wherein Gwen Ihnat tells us that
New single “Sante Fe” is bolstered by an animated video by Fantoon’s David Calcano, premiering here at The A.V. Club. 
All the characters and musicians are portrayed by Tex-Mex food items, as the story of a long-distance relationship between a taco and a sack of french fries perseveres even through several travails. 
The song itself uses to horns to brighten the score, “Ring Of Fire”-like, racing to keep up with the frantic strumming of Martin’s banjo and other strings beneath.

Yes! Trumpets!

And the news at is

Steve Martin Talks About His New Album
and How He Tells Stories in Song

Wherein Joshua Miller tells us that
When Martin and the North Carolina-based band Steep Canyon Rangers convened to record their new album, The Long-Awaited Album, it wasn’t exactly a surprise that the project would be rooted in bluegrass, with plenty of banjo playing.  
But one listen to The Long-Awaited Album opener “Sante Fe,” with its flurry of mariachi trumpets, makes it evident that he isn’t going to stand on ceremony or rest on traditions. Putting horns on a bluegrass song has historically been a no-no, but with the help of producer Peter Asher—best known for recording albums by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Neil Diamond—Martin was moved once again to bend the rules. 
Martin began writing “Santa Fe” about five years ago, and when he revisited it he realized it would sound better with the trumpets. He had spent some time living in the New Mexico capital, where he heard plenty of mariachi music, so the sound was dear to him. 
“What could be more appropriate if you’re writing a song about Santa Fe than to have those joyful horns be on there?” he says.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Abq Jew would like to thank everyone who has supported his work over the past year. And if ... ahem ... you would like to be thanked next year ... just click the box below. Please!

But as first stated - it's traveling time! From Albuquerque to Santa Fe and all points in between and beyond!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!