Tuesday, April 17, 2018

For All These Things: Israel @ 70

Koolulam Shows How Yom HaAtzmaut Should Be Done: On the slight off chance that you might not have seen this already, Abq Jew is thrilled to share!

ICYMI: From the Koolulam Facebook page (their website is not yet fully functional):
Koolulam is a social-musical initiative aimed at bringing together people from all corners of the diverse, multi-cultural Israeli society. Our idea is to stop everything for a few hours and just sing - together.  
The project enables its participants to enjoy the feeling of togetherness through a deep communal experience - our sounds and voices coming together to create a social choir, full of hope and optimism. 

Abq Jew was tipped off to Koolum by The Times of Israel, which reported
Koolulam, the social singing initiative that’s taken Israel by storm, started celebrating earlier when it gathered 12,000 people, including President Reuven Rivlin, musician Shlomi Shabat, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and MK Gila Gamliel at Tel Aviv’s Menora Mivtachim Arena to sing Naomi Shemer’s iconic “Al Kol Eleh,” “For All These Things,” in preparation for Israel’s 70th. 
Over all these things, over all these things
Please stand guard for me my good God
Over the honey and the stinger
Over the bitter and the sweet
Don’t uproot a sapling
Don’t forget the hope
May you return me, and may I return
To the good land  
President Rivlin, a guy who loves to sing, got this particular Koolulam project off the ground, supported by Or Teicher, Michal Schneiderman and Ben Yefet, the three Koolulum founders.

Oh - and the JTA 's Alan D Abbey said
Koolulam is a year-old social phenomenon that has gathered thousands of Israelis to sing everything from songs by Sia and Imagine Dragons to … Naomi Shemer, perhaps Israel’s greatest songwriter. 
It’s the kumsitz updated for the 21st century, with Israeli tech, glitz, media savvy and the positive vibes we need. 
On Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin joined Koolulam at a mass singing of Shemer’s “Al Kol Eleh” to honor Israel’s upcoming 70th anniversary. 
A cute video he made convinced my wife to get us tickets for the event at Tel Aviv’s basketball arena, a shed where shouts from Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball fans and the wail of electric guitars from overseas rockers are more common than a mass rendition of a classic Hebrew folk song. 
We arrived at the sold-out arena alongside 12,000 Jewish Israelis — young and old, religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardi. Previous Koolulam events in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have focused on cancer patients and their doctors, Holocaust survivors and women, and even drew a smattering of haredi Orthodox. 
On Feb. 14,  Muslim, Christian and Jewish Israelis were invited to Haifa to sing Matisyahu’s hit “One Day” in Hebrew, English and Arabic; 3,000 people showed up.
About that cute video that Ruvi Rivlin made: Here it is! You don't even have to click the link!

And the now world-famous Koolulam video? Right here!

Whoever has not celebrated Yom HaAtzmaut in
the Land of Israel has never felt pure joy in his life.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Restored! The City Without Jews

Restoration and Warning: In December 2016, the Film Archive of Austria announced that it managed to reach its funding goal of 75,500 euros (about $80,000) to restore a recently discovered copy of the previously-believed-lost 1924 film The City Without Jews.

Jonathan Chisdes of ChizFilm Jewish Movie Reviews (see ChizFilm Is Here! and The Wedding Plan in New Mexico!) reported then
“The City Without Jews,”a silent movie based on a dystopian novel written by Hugo Bettauer, was filmed and premiered in Vienna in 1924. It told the story of a fictional anti-Semitic chancellor who expels all the Jews from his city, but then comes to see the error of his ways and eventually invites them to return. 
At a time when the Nazi party was banned and Adolf Hitler was still in prison, it seemed an unlikely future, yet the film somewhat accurately predicted the Holocaust (except giving it a happy ending). 
 Unfortunately, shortly after the film’s premiere, Bettauer was shot and killed by a member of the Nazi party. And after the Nazis came to power and took over Austria, many of the film’s actors either fled the country or were sent to Auschwitz. 
After the war, the film was believed lost. In 1991, a partial copy in poor condition surfaced, but last year a complete copy was discovered in a Paris flea market. The Film Archive of Austria raised funds to restore and digitize the film; there is a planned release for next fall.

Abq Jew is happy to tell you that - per The Washington Post and other major news outlets - the film has indeed been restored.

The City Without Jews is now set to tour Europe to serve
as a deliberately eerie, contemporary warning.

The subtitle of Hugo Bettaur's book, upon which the film is based - A Novel Of Our Time - remains unfortunately true, says Amazon.
Bettauer takes as his subject one of the oldest themes in Jewish history: exile. Exile appears constantly in Jewish literature and history. Written in 1923, the author imagines that anti-Semitism leads Austria to expel all Jews. 
He describes the expulsion, but does not linger over the suffering, humiliation, and trauma such expulsions have historically caused. 
Families may be split, and lovers torn from each other, proprietors may be forced to sell their businesses at ridiculously low prices, but Bettauer is less concerned with what happens to any one individual than with taking an idea and carrying to its ultimate conclusion no matter how ridiculous it may seem. 
This is very much a novel of ideas, not of character. One of the ideas is that the consequences of expulsion are as bad or worse for the country which throws out its Jews as they are for the Jews themselves.
The Washington Post's Rick Noack expands on the eerie timeliness of the story, beginning with the title of his article:
Long-lost film that predicted rise of anti-Semitism has ominous message for today’s world
BERLIN — In Europe, anti-Semitism once again dominated this week’s news agenda. 
On Monday, thousands marched in London against what they perceive to be blatant anti-Semitism in Britain’s mainstream Labour Party. The same day, the Paris prosecutor’s office said that it was investigating whether anti-Semitism was a motivation for the killing of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor last week. 
Anti-Semitic incidents in schools triggered a quest to find solutions all week in Germany. And in Poland, a renowned anti-racism activist was branded a traitor after speaking out against the nation's controversial anti-defamation law concerning Holocaust complicity. 
It’s against this backdrop that producers of a newly restored 1924 Austrian movie want their work to be seen. 
And - The Washington Post also provided a few snippets of The City Without Jews, with English subtitles!

Here's more.

Title card from the recently discovered and newly-restored Die Stadt Ohne Juden,
or The City Without Jews (image courtesy Austrian Film Archive)

Sarah Rose Sharp wrote about The City Without Jews in Hyperallergic, "a forum for serious, playful, and radical thinking about art in the world today." Founded in 2009, Hyperallergic is headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.
Long-Lost 1924 Film That Anticipated the Holocaust Is Rediscovered and Restored 
The City Without Jews was once considered lost forever. But in 2015, at a flea market in Paris, a collector unexpectedly discovered a complete copy of the film.
In the black and white footage of a silent film, Austrian Jews are harassed in the public market, physically menaced by thugs in the street, and forced en masse from the country, on foot or by train. Orthodox men, distinguished by their prayer shawls, payot, and traditional dress, carry Torah scrolls. The expulsion of Jews rips mixed-faith families in two. 
Familiar though this story may seem, these scenes are not taken from history. They come from a long-lost film that predates the Nazi period by a decade, Die Stadt Ohne Juden (The City Without Jews). Released in 1924, it was adapted from a satirical novel by Hugo Bettauer, an Austrian Jewish writer and journalist. 
At a time when Hitler was still a marginal figure, Bettauer was a vocal proponent of liberal views, including tolerance of homosexuals, education for women, and reduced punishments for those who received abortions — and, of course, the condemnation of anti-Semitism. The film portrayed the targeting of Austria’s Jews as a dystopian future.
And of the film's unimaginable rediscovery and restoration, Ms Sharp tells us
“The newly found material includes the lost ending of the film, while other new sequences found reveal an obviously dramaturgically staged parallel narrative,” Larissa Bainschab, a press officer at the Austrian Film Archive, told Hyperallergic in an email. 
“Previously unknown images show Jewish life in Vienna and attacks against them. The expressionist scene featuring Hans Moser [a famous Austrian actor] in the role of a ruthless anti-Semite is now available in its entirety for the first time. 
All in all, the political message of the film and the depiction of murderous anti-Semitism in Vienna in the 1920s are now significantly more sharply articulated.” 

Today we Jews around the world gather
to commemorate Yom HaShoah ve-HaGevurah,
the Day of the Holocaust and the Heroism.
And we remember those we lost,
whose worlds were stolen from us.

If you'd like to see the entire film The City Without Jews,
Abq Jew has discovered this video on YouTube.
The film is in German, here with Spanish subtitles.
But it's not that difficult to follow the action and understand the story.

And click here if you'd like to see how the film was rediscovered and restored.

Chizfilm is proud to have contributed to this restoration campaign!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Go Play With Your Shiksa!

April Is National Adopt-A-Greyhound Month: Abq Jew is bewitched, bothered, and bewildered to tell you, his loyal readers, if you haven't already heard, that

Shiksas are back in the news.

Alright ... Abq Jew knows that when you hear the thankfully now infrequently-used pejorative (for it is that) term shiksa (שׁיקסע), the image that comes to mind is typically something like Model A (see The Sad Days of Summer).

Who is, of course, the Shiksa Goddess

whom Wendy Wasserstein, of blessed memory, parodied in her 1999 fiction piece

Shiksa Goddess (what an odd title!). Which begins
I cannot tell a lie. Now that Madeleine Albright, Tom Stoppard, and even Hillary Rodham Clinton have embraced their Jewish roots, I feel compelled to bite the bullet and publicly reveal that I’ve just discovered my own denominational truth. I am Episcopalian. 
I should have guessed a long time ago, because my parents never mentioned it. In fact, they hid it. They sent me to primary school at the Yeshiva Flatbush.

 So please (please!) let Abq Jew explain. The Urban Dictionary advises that shiksa is
A Gentile girl or woman, especially one who has attracted a Jewish man. The term derives from the Hebrew word "sheketz", meaning the flesh of an animal deemed taboo by the Torah. Since a Jewish man marrying a non-Jewish woman is taboo also, this word applies to her.  
Traditionally this is a derogatory term, though in modern times it has also been used more light-heartedly. For example, Seinfeld once did an episode about Elaine's "shiksa appeal".  
The ideal shiksa is a blonde WASP who look like the opposite of a stereotypical Jew, but in reality, many shiksas are brunettes who might pass for Jewish themselves.

But forget all that!

From now on, the image of the shiksa that will be forever (yes, that's redundant) planted in our brains - and will remain (that's now 3dundant) - will be that of

Carey Purcell, a New-York based reporter, author and theater critic who writes about entertainment, pop culture, politics and current events from a feminist perspective.

Ms Purcell wrote an opinion piece that The Washington Post published on March 29 titled

I am tired of being a Jewish man’s rebellion 

in which she recounts her two unfortunate experiences dating Jewish men.
Over almost seven years and two serious relationships with Jewish men who at first said religion didn’t matter — and then backtracked and decided it did — I’ve optimistically begun interfaith relationships with an open mind twice, only to become the last woman these men dated before settling down with a nice Jewish girl.
Of herself, Ms Purcell says
At first glance, I fulfill the stereotypes of a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP). I’m blond, often wear pearls and can mix an excellent, and very strong, martini. Manners and etiquette are important to me, and when I’m stressed, I often cope by cleaning. 
I do describe myself as Christian, but loosely and in the most liberal sense possible. I don’t discuss my faith the first time I meet someone or on first dates. But if I find myself falling for someone who does not share my spiritual views, I bring up the subject. 
If it’s going to be a problem, I want to know.
And the Jewish men she dated? Ms Purcell writes that
they considered themselves culturally, but not spiritually, Jewish. At the very least, they were the most lackadaisical Jews I’d ever met. They never fasted on Yom Kippur or observed Jewish holidays on their own. 
And when they traveled to celebrate holidays with their families, they made it clear it was an obligation rather than a choice. On more than one occasion in conversation, we laughed about the fact that I knew more about the Jewish faith than they did.
But Ms Purcell has learned from her unfortunate experiences.
I guess dating me had been their last act of defiance against cultural or familial expectations before finding someone who warranted their parents’ approval — perhaps the equivalent of a woman dating a motorcycle-driving, leather-jacket wearing “bad boy” before settling down with a banker with a 9-5 job. 
I now half-jokingly consider myself a Jewish man’s rebellion and guard myself against again landing in that role.
And the reaction from Jewish men (and many, many others) who read Ms Purcell's article? Let's just say

The ship hit the sand.

To the point where Ms Purcell was compelled to issue an apology, which appears (among other places) on her website. It begins:
Regarding my piece for the Washington Post on interfaith relationships: 
I am truly sorry I offended so many. 
It was never my intention to disrespect the Jewish faith or anyone who engages in Jewish customs, traditions or religious beliefs, and my editor and I spoke about that at length while putting the piece together. 
I realize now that I touched upon serious issues for Jewish people in America and worldwide, for which I sincerely apologize.

But now let's talk about greyhounds. (You'll see the shiksa connection in just a bit.)

April is, as Abq Jew is sure you, his loyal readers, must be aware, National Adopt-A-Greyhound Month.

From which one (or two, or more!) may infer that April must also be either National Buy-A-New-Couch Month ... or National Drag-In-The-Old-Couch-From-The-Garage Month.

Anyway, here is a photo of Joanie Depp, one of the fine, upstanding greyhounds for whom 

the Greyhound Adoption League of Texas - which now has a New Mexico chapter! - is endeavoring to find a forever home.

Why should you consider adopting a retired racing greyhound? Because ...
There's a greater need to place ex-racing greyhounds into permanent homes than at any point in recent history as a result of past and pending greyhound racing track closings across the country. 
April is National-Adopt-a-Greyhound Month, and the perfect time to adopt a gentle companion into your home.
Megillah the Dinosaur

Now, once you adopt your retired racing greyhound, the first thing (OK ... not the first. But eventually) your greyt hound is gonna need is a toy.

A Jewish toy. A Chewish Treat.

Such as Megillah Dinosaur or Shayna Punim Panda. Frequently available through GALTx's Greystore, and almost always through Copa Judaica.

Shayna Punim the Panda

Ah ... but for our two great hounds, Belle and MayMay, Mr & Mrs Abq Jew were proud to purchase

Shiksa the Ostrich

Yes, we bought two. We don't want the hounds to fight when we call out

Go play with your shiksa!

Cal the Greyhound is Looking for a Long Term Commitment

Richard Skipworth has developed an entire Greyhound Glossary to help us understand why
a greyhound does what a greyhound does. Greyhound apparel and assorted giftware!