Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Avenge. Redress. Vote Democratic.

More Lessons, More Commentary: This has been a terrible week in the history of Jews, in the history of America, and in the history of Jews in America.

Many different people - Jews, non-Jews, Americans, Citizens of the World - have reacted to the Pittsburgh Pogrom, the Tree of Life Massacre, in many different ways.

Most have stressed the theme Stronger Than Hate. That is, Love Is Stronger Than Hate. Abq Jew takes little consolation in this sentiment.

So Abq Jew has turned to the traditional Jewish liturgy.

Av HaRachamim (אב הרחמים‬ "Father of mercy" or "Merciful Father") is a Jewish memorial prayer which was written in the late eleventh or early twelfth century, after the destruction of the Ashkenazi communities around the Rhine River by Christian crusaders during the First Crusade. 
First appearing in prayer books in 1290, it is printed in every Orthodox siddur in the European traditions of Nusach Sefarad and Nusach Ashkenaz and recited as part of the weekly Shabbat services, or in some communities on the Shabbat before Shavuot and Tisha B'Av.
The Yizkor service on Jewish holidays concludes with the Av HaRachamim, which prays for the souls of all Jewish martyrs.
Here is an English translation of the prayer.
The Father of mercy who dwells on high
in His great mercy
will remember with compassion
the pious, upright and blameless
the holy communities, who laid down their lives
for the sanctification of His name.  
They were loved and pleasant in their lives
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions
to carry out the will of their Maker,
and the desire of their steadfast God.  
May our Lord remember them for good
together with the other righteous of the world 
Up till here, these are very nice, uplifting sentiments. If you're in the mood for Stronger Than Hate - if you find it comforting - you should stop here.

But Av HaRachamin continues.
And may He redress the spilled blood of His servants
as it is written in the Torah of Moses the man of God:  
"O nations, make His people rejoice
for He will redress the blood of His servants
He will retaliate against His enemies
and appease His land and His people".  
And through Your servants, the prophets it is written: 
"Though I forgive, their bloodshed I shall not forgive
When God dwells in Zion". 
And in the Holy Writings it says: 
"Why should the nations say, 'Where is their God?'"  
Let it be known among the nations in our sight
that You avenge the spilled blood of Your servants.  
And it says: 
"For He who exacts retribution for spilled blood remembers them
He does not forget the cry of the humble".  
And it says:  
"He will execute judgement among the corpse-filled nations
crushing the rulers of the mighty land;
from the brook by the wayside he will drink
then he will hold his head high".

Redress and retaliate.
Avenge and render vengeance.

George Washington in the Oval Office. Doug Mills/The New York Times

Thomas Friedman, in The New York Times, endorses
George Washington for President
Patriots put love of their own people first, while nationalists put hate for other people first. 
Dear Reader. I think you know, after 23 years of my writing this column, that I’m not lazy. I always try to come up with fresh ideas. 
Today, though, I am fresh out of fresh ideas. 
More than any time in my career, I think our country is in danger. It has a disturbed man as president, whose job description — to be a healer of the country in times of great national hurt and to pull us together to do big hard things that can be done only together — conflicts with his political strategy, which is to divide us and mobilize his base with anger and fear. And time and again he has chosen the latter.
Mr Friedman calls for constructive action to avenge the blood. All the blood.
In the midterm elections, vote for a Democrat, canvass for a Democrat, raise money for a Democrat, drive someone to a voting station to vote for a Democrat
I repeat: In the midterm elections, vote for a Democrat, canvass for a Democrat, raise money for a Democrat, drive someone to a voting station to vote for a Democrat. 
I repeat: In the midterm elections, vote for a Democrat, canvass for a Democrat, raise money for a Democrat, drive someone to a voting station to vote for a Democrat. 
Beyond that, nothing else matters. 
He then cedes "the rest of his space"
... to President George Washington and the letter he wrote, after a visit to Newport, R.I., where he was enthusiastically received by, among others, members of the local Jewish community. It was dated Aug. 18, 1790. [You can read the full text here.]
But the key part - which we all know by heart is
For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. 
The letter ends with his blessing
May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. 
May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.
Finally - the protests in Pittsburgh, when the president and his entourage showed up - uninvited, and expressly told (as much as one can tell this president anything) not to appear - to "pay their respects" to the dead and injured Jews.

You may have wondered - what is that chant they're chanting? Well, Abq Jew is happy (as happy as he can be under the circumstances) to tell you.

The words, of course come from The Song of the Sea (Exodus 15). And, it turns out, the melody comes from New Mexico's Rabbi Shefa Gold.

Rabbi Shefa Gold
Rabbi Shefa Gold develops and leads Hebrew chants based on Jewish sacred texts for transformative spiritual growth.
With her focus on Hebrew chanting, Rabbi Shefa presents workshops based on chanting, ecstatic meditation, and Jewish subjects. Also, she is available for performing services as a rabbi. She developed and taught the Kol Zimra Chant Leaders’ Training program (through ALEPH) for many years.
May Rabbi Shefa's chant bring us peace,
as we prepare for the first Shabbat
after the Pittsburgh Pogrom.

Abq Jew does not use the word pogrom lightly or without forethought.

Stanford University's Steven Zipperstein (with whom, Abq Jew fondly recalls, he used to play guitar at UCLA Hillel in the 1970s,) writes:
Pogrom: The word's origins can be traced to the Russian for thunder or storm. A dark remnant of the Old World, it retains the capacity to feel as immediate as yesterday's outrage on morning services in Jerusalem
"The sight of Jews lying dead in a Jerusalem synagogue, their prayer-shawls and holy books drenched in pools of blood, might be drawn from the age of pogroms in Europe." -The Economist, November 22, 2014.
But we were talking about peace and harmony.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Standing Together, Standing Strong

One Albuquerque: Yesterday afternoon, the entire Albuquerque community came together at the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico to share our grief and extend our courage - to each other - as we remembered the victims of the Tree of Life Massacre.

The Tree of Life Massacre. The Pittsburgh Pogrom.
Abq Jew never, in a million years,
believed he would have to write such words.

There were, let's say, 120 of us at the gathering. One hundred twenty - the perfect number of years in a life well lived. Victor P. Raigoza, the incoming president of the Holocaust Museum, addressed us.
With a heavy heart we gathered today at the Holocaust & Intolerance Museum of New Mexico to express our solidarity with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, to stand with them against anti-Semitism, hate, and intolerance. 
The contagion of violence, whether against Jewish targets, the LGBT community, African Americans, immigrants, Muslims, Hispanics, or any number of “others” is at its very core anti-American, anti the values on which this country was founded. 
Today, the diverse community that is Albuquerque came together to demonstrate that we are one, that we won't be silent, that Albuquerque and New Mexico will be a safe haven for those who need one. Thank you every one for attending.
Several representatives of our city's diverse communities offered words of consolation and hope. But one speaker stood out - Elizabeth Kistin Keller, Albuquerque's First Lady.

With tears in her eyes and a catch in her voice, Mrs Keller spoke of her personal heartache - and deep sense of hope - upon hearing the terrible news.

And here is Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld's letter to Congregation Albert.
Dear Members and Friends of Congregation Albert, 
As I am sure you know, this morning a white male entered Congregation Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania armed with at least a rifle and two handguns with the stated goal of killing all Jews. As of this writing, 11 are dead and several wounded, two of whom are in critical condition. 
The gunman has been apprehended and is in custody. Investigations are underway on the local, state, and federal levels. 
Judaism is more than a religion and Jews are more than strangers to us. We are family and we feel the pain of our family in Pittsburgh. I have sent word through my colleagues in Pittsburgh that Congregation Albert is ready to help as best we can even though we are across the country. 
We also want you to know that Cantor Finn and I are here for you. To talk, to comfort, to grieve with you. Feel free to come by. 
I want you to know that we live in an amazing community. 
A few minutes after 10:00 this morning, an Albuquerque Police Sergeant arrived at the synagogue to make sure we knew what had happened and to assure us he would be at our front door until he could get a patrol car on the property. He assured me that APD would also be present tomorrow during Religious School and if necessary beyond. 
When I thanked the Sergeant, he replied:
No need.
It's what my mother would want me to do.
I was moved speechless as we shook hands. 
 By the time services had ended I had received calls from the clergy of several of our partner churches as well as from the Dar Salaam Foundation's Imam and its Vice-President. Each offered our community comfort and reinforced that an attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. 
This afternoon I received an email from a member offering art therapy for anyone who things it would be helpful. 
Sadly, rather than face the real problem, several of our national leaders, on both sides of the aisle, are trying to make this about guns. It is not. This attack, like so many others, is a symptom. For the past 25+ years, we have become a society that teaches us to express our hate through violence. Mostly, that violence is verbal and emotional. In Pittsburgh, the violence was physical and deadly. 
We need to confront this change in the American ethic and work together and with others to restore us to the country and society we meant to be. Yes, as a Jew, as a Jewish community, our thoughts are with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh. Thoughts and prayers may bring some comfort to the pray-er and the prayed about but they do not bring about change. God leaves that to us. 
This morning at 8:15 I was voting. This morning at the same time a hate filled white man was killing Jews in a sacred space.  
Voting is positive action.
Teaching kindness is positive action.
Standing up for what is ethical is positive action. 
We need to step out front and change our world for the better. It is the only way we will ever be safe in our sacred spaces, our homes, or in our communities. Building a fortress and locking ourselves in does not make us safer. It lets the hate grow and ultimately win. 
תהי נשמות הנרצחים צורות בצרור החיים
May the souls of the murdered be bound up in the bonds of eternal life
Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Stronger Than Hate

Pittsburgh Strong: Abq Jew is still too sad, angry, and afraid to even begin to address the tragedy at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue. As he expects many of you, his dear readers, also are.

But some of our leaders have stepped forward. Below, Abq Jew has provided four responses that he found particularly meaningful.

Alyssa Fisher, of The Forward, wrote yesterday:
Iconic Pittsburgh Steelers Logo Gets Jewish Star After Synagogue Shooting

The logo of the Pittsburgh Steelers was turned into a symbol of solidarity with Jews after the synagogue shooting that killed 11.
For many in the Steel City, football is religion. But someone summed up the city’s unity with its Jewish community by changing the iconic logo to include a Star of David.
Matthew Neal, a doctor in Pittsburgh who appears to have been involved in treating the wounded, shared the edited logo next to the words, “Stronger Than Hate.”

Rabbi Sharon Brous - the founding rabbi of IKAR, a spiritual community dedicated

to reanimating Jewish life by standing at the intersection of soulful, inventive religious practice and a deep commitment to social justice (www.ikar-la.org - posted this on Facebook:
The devastating shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh is the most violent anti-Semitic attack in our nation’s history. Our hearts ache hearing about a gunman shouting that all Jews must die as he massacred a community gathered in prayer. We send love and strength to the Jewish community of Pittsburgh—our family—and pray that the outpouring of support from around the world somehow brings some consolation in the face of this horror. 
Even as we grieve, even as Tree of Life in Pittsburgh joins the sad and sorry list of sacred spaces that have borne witness to massacre in America, alongside 16th Street Baptist in Birmingham, the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, Emanuel AME in Charleston, First Baptist in Sutherland Springs and others, even as we struggle to hold the enormity of this tragedy, we must be clear-headed about what prompted this deadly event. There is a disease in the culture of this nation—this shooting is only the latest deadly expression of it. 
Two things came together this weekend in Pittsburgh: a festering culture of hatred and vitriol, and a fanatical obsession with guns. 
We know anti-Semitism is on the rise in this country— the ADL indicates that the last two years have seen a spike in incidents from harassment to bomb threats and vandalism.  
This is part of a broader cultural trend of demonizing anyone who can be called other, whether they be Jews, Muslims, Latinos, Blacks, Sikhs, immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers. Yes, anti-Semitism comes from both the right and the left, but the greatest threat comes from the one place it’s ever presented an existential threat to our people: armed and state-supported right-wing nationalism. 
Remember: the day before this terror attack in Pittsburgh, the President of the United States renewed his attack on “globalists” who are “cheating” American workers. When some in the crowd called out “Soros!” and “lock him up!” the President laughed and repeated, “lock him up!” 
That, combined with the obsessive and corrosive gun culture that continues to shatter bodies, hearts and homes. Watch for the predictable parade of lawmakers with A+ ratings from the NRA offering condolences in Pittsburgh in the coming days, laying blame anywhere but on the weapons used to murder a group of Jews gathered to celebrate Shabbat. Watch, as they’ll use this tragedy as another opportunity to stigmatize mental illness, while both cutting funding for mental health and making it easier for those who struggle with it to purchase guns. Those elected officials abide a depraved moral calculus that protecting unrestricted gun ownership is more inviolate than protecting human life. 
But America is waking up. Our grief and indignation are fueling our moral imagination. We have to use our voices, our money, our connections, whatever public platform and whatever political capital we have to call out the insanity of a culture of hatred and access to deadly weapons. 
We need to harness our anger, fear and grief, and bring it all to the polls on Nov. 6th. 
If you’re in LA, join us tomorrow [Sunday] evening for a gathering of the Jewish community and our multifaith allies and partners at the Federal Building at 6pm.
With blessings of peace for Pittsburgh, and for us all –

Mimi Rocah, Distinguished Fellow in Criminal Justice at Pace University,

former SDNY Federal Prosecutor, and MSNBC Legal Analyst, today tweeted this:

My father fled the Nazis. I grew up going to a Jewish day school in the 1980s where we had frequent bomb threats. There have always been sick people who want to kill Jews. But this atmosphere of hate & the ease of getting these weapons of mass murder are making it way too easy. 
One more thing: the fact that I even hesitated to write the tweet [above] because I’m nervous about revealing myself to be Jewish in the US in 2018 is absolutely horrifying. And exactly why I decided to tweet it.  
Must stand up to this hate.

Albuquerque's Rabbi Arthur Flicker writes:
When Jacob flees his home, he dreams of God’s angels climbing up and down a ladder to heaven to protect Jacob in his journey. 
God can send many different angels. 
In Pittsburgh they came in the form of heroic police officers. 
Let us hope that God will send angels of peace, respect, understanding and love for all humankind.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

These Truths: Go Vote!

Democratic, That Is: Yes, Abq Jew is ... enthusiastically reading Jill Lepore's new magnum opus, These Truths: A History of the United States.

In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history. 
Written in elegiac prose, Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself—a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence—at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas—"these truths," Jefferson called them—political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. 
And it rests, too, on a fearless dedication to inquiry, Lepore argues, because self-government depends on it. But has the nation, and democracy itself, delivered on that promise? 
These Truths tells this uniquely American story, beginning in 1492, asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation’s truths, or belied them ....
Why, Abq Jew sometimes asks himself, doesn't he himself write book reviews like that? The answer is simple; yet it reflects the hard-won wisdom of decades in the software mines, writing technical opi.

Somebody else already has.

All Abq Jew has to do, then, is find out who - thank you Rabbi Google! - and adapt it for his own use. Or, as Abq Jew was once wont to say -

If you're a good enough writer,
you don't have to do anything original.

It was the "elegiac prose" - which Abq Jew first sampled on his Kindle Fire - that convinced Abq Jew that this is a book worth owning and reading. In hardcover.

So here is what Abq Jew learned about the election of 1800.
The campaigning went on for rather a long time, partly because there was no single national election day. Instead, voting stretched from March to November. Voting was done in public, not in secret. It also hardly ever involved paper and pen, and counting the votes ... usually meant counting heads, or, rather, counting polls. A "poll" meant the top of a person's head. ([See Hamlet.] Not until well into the nineteenth century did a "poll" come to mean the counting of votes.) 
Counting polls required assembling - all in favor of the Federalist stand here, all in favor of the Republican over there - and in places where voting was done by ballot, casting a ballot generally meant tossing a ball into a box. The word "ballot" comes from the Italian ballota, meaning a little ball - and early Americans who used ballots cast pea or pebbles, or, not uncommonly, bullets.

Fascinating, eh what?

Amazing, what you can learn from books. Especially if you read them, rather than just letting them accumulate on your nightstand. Or, as the Japanese would say -

Tsundoku (Japanese: 積ん読) is acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one's home without reading them. 
The term originated in the Meiji era (1868–1912) as Japanese slang. It combines elements of tsunde-oku (積んでおく, to pile things up ready for later and leave) and dokusho (読書, reading books). It is also used to refer to books ready for reading later when they are on a bookshelf. As currently written, the word combines the characters for "pile up" (積) and the character for "read" (読). 
A. Edward Newton is quoted as saying: "Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity ... we cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access reassurance."

Here is something Abq Jew learned about the ratification of the US Constitution in 1788.
Ratification proved to be a nail-biter. By January 9, 1788, five states - Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania - had ratified ... Massachusetts, in a squeaker, voted in favor of ratification by a vote 187 to 168 in February.
When New Hampshire voted to ratify, in June, that made nine states in favor, meeting the minimum required. Practically, though, the approval of Virginia and New York was essential. Virginia voted to ratify, 89 to 79, in July.
Three weeks later [after the Fourth of July], New York ratified by the smallest of margins, 30 to 27. 
By three votes, the Constitution became law.
And here is something Abq Jew learned about the election of 2018.

Each vote is important. Therefore -

Here is why Abq Jew not only can say this, but, in fact, does say this.

Abq Jew ® LLC is not a 501(c)(3) organization.

It is not an action organization (some may say - far from it!), and is thus free to attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities; and it may participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

Early voting is now available in the Land of Enchantment!

So go, GOTV. And vote Democratic. Let us once again pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. Or, as Abq Jew likes to put it -

Monday, October 15, 2018

Jews and Chainsaws

Goodbye Sears Roebuck & Co: As if the news from ... well, everywhere isn't bad enough, last night (!) Sears - yes, Sears - filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Abq Jew has been thinking about Chapter 11, too. Oh - we read Chapter 11 (of Genesis) last Shabbos in shul. You may recall - it's about the Tower of Babylon.

And how The Holy One, Blessed Be He broke the construction union that was building the tower and scattered its leaders 'over the face of the whole earth.'

But Abq Jew and The Jewish Magazine also recall happier ... and funnier times with Chapter 11. If you don't - here is the

Oldest Biblical Joke Ever Told

A man has been in business for many, many years and the business is going down the drain. He is seriously contemplating suicide and he doesn't know what to do.

He goes to the Rabbi to seek his advice. He tells the Rabbi about all of his problems in the business and asks the Rabbi what he should do.

The Rabbi says "Take a beach chair and a bible and put them in your car and drive down to the edge of the ocean. Go to the water's edge. Take the beach chair out of the car, sit on it and take the bible out and open it up. The wind will rifle the pages for a while and eventually the bible will stay open at a particular page. Read the bible and it will tell you what to do."

The man does as he is told. He places a beach chair and a bible in his car and drives down to the beach. He sits on the chair at the water's edge and opens the bible. The wind rifles the pages of the bible and then stops at a particular page. He looks down at the bible and sees what he has to do.

Three months later the man and his family come back to see the Rabbi. The man is wearing a $1,000 Italian suit, The wife is all decked out with a full-length mink coat and the child is dressed in beautiful silk.

The man hands the Rabbi a thick envelope full of money and tells him that he wants to donate this money to the synagogue in order to thank the Rabbi for his wonderful advice. The Rabbi is delighted. He recognizes the man and asks him what advice in the bible brought this good fortune to him.

The man replies:

"Chapter 11."

Which brings us to chainsaws. And to riding mowers. A large selection of both of which Sears always carried - along with everything, everything else.

Also last night - Abq Jew came across a tweet from David Corn, in which he retweeted an article from NewsChannel3 in Memphis. Which Abq Jew quotes in its entirety.
Man run over by lawn mower while trying to kill son with chainsaw 
BRISTOL, Tenn. – A man who police say was run over with a lawn mower while trying to kill his son with a chain saw has had to have his leg amputated. 
The Bristol Herald Courier reports that a warrant for 76-year-old Douglas Ferguson couldn’t be served until Tuesday because of the severity of his injuries. 
According to a Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office release, officers called to a home June 28 found Ferguson bleeding from his leg and head. A preliminary investigation indicated he had tried to attack his son with a running chain saw while he son mowed the yard. 
Detectives say the father and son had an ongoing feud. 
Ferguson is charged with attempted second-degree murder and violating probation. It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer to comment on his behalf.
A word (or two) about David Corn.
David Corn (born February 20, 1959) is an American political journalist, author, and the chief of the Washington bureau for Mother Jones.  
He has been Washington editor for The Nation and appeared regularly on FOX News, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and opposite James Pinkerton or other media personalities.  
Corn was raised in a Jewish family in White Plains, New York. He attended Brown University where he majored in history and worked for The Brown Daily Herald.   
After his junior year, he interned at The Nation where he accepted a job as editorial assistant instead of returning to finish his degree. He earned his remaining credits at Columbia University and received a B.A. from Brown University in 1982. He joined Mother Jones in 2007.
Anyway, David Corn's tweet / comment on the above story was

What family hasn't been here?

Which brings us to next week's Torah reading - Parshat Lech Lecha (Get Up and Go). Or, as we often call it -

Chapter 12
The Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary tells us:
The first 75 years of Abraham's life are passed over in total silence. He still bears the name Abram when God's call comes. 
The patriarch's immediate response thrusts him onto the scene of history with astounding suddenness and marks the beginning of his life.
In other words - the story of Abraham and his descendants is the origin myth of the Jewish people. Yes, since the God of Israel is the God of the World, let's tell the story of creation - and throw in the story of the flood.

But it's the story of Abraham and his mishpocha that we really care about.
Which brings us to one of Abq Jew's favorite books - Rabbi Burton L Visotzky's (see 2012's America's Top Rabbis) The Genesis of Ethics.
Which is subtitled: How the Tormented Family of Genesis Leads Us to Moral Development
As Burton Visotzky says, the Book of Genesis seems to be, at least on first reading, "an ugly little soap opera about a dysfunctional family . . . a story about rape, incest, murder, deception, brute force, sex, and blood lust. But these stories reveal much about human dilemmas and ethical problems that mirror our own lives. 
By delving into the lives of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Esau and holding up these characters of Scripture to the light of critical inquiry, Burton Visotzky reveals much that is fresh and useful about ethics and morality. 

Wait a minute! Abq Jew hears you cry.

These are our patriarchs and matriarchs!

Yes they are. And they are not - as if such a thing could exist - perfect human beings. Yet they are our mishpocha. And we can learn from what they did right, and we can learn from what they did wrong.

And we can debate endlessly about which is which.

So let's go back and talk about Sears.
Sears, Roebuck and Company, colloquially known as Sears, is an American chain of department stores founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1892, reincorporated (a formality for a history-making consumer sector initial public offering) by Richard Sears and new partner Julius Rosenwald in 1906. 
Formerly based at the Sears Tower in Chicago and currently headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, the operation began as a mail ordering catalog company and began opening retail locations in 1925. 
The first location was in Evansville, Indiana. In 2005, the company was bought by the management of the American big box chain Kmart, which formed Sears Holdings upon completion of the merger. 
In terms of domestic revenue, Sears was the largest retailer in the United States until October 1989, when Walmart surpassed it. 
As of 2017, Sears is the 23rd largest retailer in the United States. 
After several years of declining sales, its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15, 2018.

And let us end this crazy blog post with an altogether too-brief appreciation of Julius Rosenwald.
Julius Rosenwald (August 12, 1862 – January 6, 1932) was an American businessman and philanthropist. 
He was born in 1862 to the clothier Samuel Rosenwald and his wife Augusta Hammerslough, a Jewish immigrant couple from Germany. He was born and raised just a few blocks from the Abraham Lincoln residence in Springfield, Illinois, during Lincoln's Presidency of the United States. 
By his sixteenth year, Rosenwald was apprenticed by his parents to his uncles in New York City to learn the clothing trades. While in New York, he befriended Henry Goldman and Henry Morgenthau, Sr. With his younger brother Morris, Rosenwald started a clothing manufacturing company. They were ruined by a recession in 1885. 
Rosenwald had heard about other clothiers who had begun to manufacture clothing according to standardized sizes from data collected during the American Civil War. He decided to try the system but to move his manufacturing facility closer to the rural population that he anticipated would be his market. He and his brother moved to Chicago, Illinois. 
In 1890, Rosenwald married Augusta Nusbaum, a daughter of a competing clothier. 
The rest, as they say is history.
Rosenwald became a member of the city's leading Jewish Reform congregation, Chicago Sinai congregation, soon after moving to Chicago. Its rabbi, Emil G. Hirsch, made a big impact on Rosenwald's philanthropy. 
Rosenwald donated generously to several Jewish community projects in Chicago and served as vice president of Chicago Sinai for many years. 
Booker T. Washington encouraged Rosenwald to address the poor state of African-American education in the US, which suffered from inadequate buildings and books. Rosenwald provided funds to build six small schools in rural Alabama, which were constructed and opened in 1913 and 1914, and overseen by Tuskegee.
The collaboration between Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald was the subject of the 2015 documentary Rosenwald, subtitled A Remarkable Story of a Jewish Partnership with African American Communities by writer, producer and director Aviva Kempner, which won Best Documentary Jury Award at the Teaneck International Film Festival and the Lipscomb University Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, Nashville Film Festival. 
He established his Rosenwald Fund in 1917 for "the well-being of mankind".  
Unlike other endowed foundations, which were designed to fund themselves in perpetuity, the Rosenwald Fund was intended to use all of its funds for philanthropic purposes. As a result, the fund was completely spent by 1948.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

It's Noah Time Again!

Send Out the Dove!  This Shabbat we will again read Parshat Noah, the one portion of the Holy Torah that has us New MexiJews lamenting the tragic loss of Earth's entire dinosaur population, who (quite literally) missed the boat.

Abq Jew exhorts everyone, especially those in Hurricane Michael's path, to be safe and stay secure. Shelter at home; shelter in the shelter; or shelter at Uncle Stan's place. But shelter. And remember that time when

Noah of Arc and his wife, Joan,
build a boat to survive a great flood.

But Abq Jew digresses. 

Yes, it was six (6) years ago (!) (see Noah! Send Out The Dove!) that Abq Jew first brought you Matti Caspi and Chocolat, Menta, Mastik singing their '70s hit.

And here it is again, and only because a) it is Parshat Noah; and b) this performance reminds Abq Jew of days ... and years ... gone by. Nostalgia.

Parshat Noach. A time to

Send out the dove.

Watch for the plaid in the rainbow.

Stegosauruses had beautiful singing voices, and they knew
all the words to The Seekers' greatest hits.

And remember the stegosaurus.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Israel's Next UN Ambassador

Welcome, Nikki Halevy: As Abq Jew is sure you have by now been made aware, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, announced (SURPRISE!) her resignation today.

And boy does she look happy!

Ms Haley's Jewish background has long been known, as Wikipedia reports:
Nimroda "Nikki" Haley (née Randhawitz, born January 20, 1972) is an American politician who is currently the 29th United States Ambassador to the United Nations. 
When Haley was five years old, her parents attempted to enter her in the "Miss Bloomberg" contest. The contest traditionally crowned a Jewish queen and a shiksa queen. Since the judges decided Haley did not fit either category, they disqualified her. 
Haley has two brothers, Matti, a retired member of the Israel Defense Forces, and Haran, a web designer. She has one sister, Sima, a radio host and Technion - Israel Institute of Technology alumna.

Ms Haley's advocacy for and - dare we say it? - outright support of Israel at the United Nations are also well known.

Today, Nikki Haley has gone above and beyond the Jewish community's already-high expectations. The Jerusalem Post reports that Nikki has

Formally converted to Judaism in accordance with
Orthodox standards; restored the 'v' to her name to honor her family tradition; departed on aliyah to the Land of Israel; and accepted a position as Israel's next UN Ambassador.

Todah rabbah, Danny Danon! It's been fun!

And in case you were wondering -

There was always something about South Carolina's
State Flag that made Nikki a bit nervous.

Mazel Tov Nikki Halevy!