Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Kudos and Bagpipes

But Let's Start With Kowtowing: It is always a surprise to Abq Jew when he appears to possess secret knowledge; when Abq Jew knows things he believes everyone knows, but everyone doesn't.

One of Abq Jew's literary heroes, a renowned Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times (since 2008!) whose bitter criticisms of the current regime (one can hardly call it an administration) are a rare source of cheer and fortitude in these troubled times, recently tweeted:

"Lindsey," of course, is US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). "[T]his man," of course, is that man whose Washington, DC regime it currently is.

But cowtowing?

It is clear (Abq Jew thinks; but he is no longer sure) that everyone knows what said sad Op-Ed columnist meant:

Kowtow, which is borrowed from kau tau in Cantonese (koutou in Mandarin Chinese), is the act of deep respect shown by prostration, that is, kneeling and bowing so low as to have one's head touching the ground.  
An alternative Chinese term is ketou; however, the meaning is somewhat altered: kou (叩) has the general meaning of knock, whereas ke (磕) has the general meaning of "touch upon (a surface)", tou (頭) meaning head. 
The date of this custom's origin is probably sometime between the Spring and Autumn Period, or the Warring States Period of China's history because it is already known to have been a custom by the time of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC). 
In East Asian culture, the kowtow is the highest sign of reverence. It was widely used to show reverence for one's elders, superiors, and especially the Emperor, as well as for religious and cultural objects of worship. 
In modern times, usage of the kowtow has become reduced.

And then there is one of Abq Jew's favorite mass nouns of all time

(from the Ancient Greek: κῦδος) is acclaim or praise for exceptional achievement. And therefore one should never say anything like
One kudo; two kudos.
It's sorta like one should never say anything like

One cattle, two cattle.

Jim Young / Reuters

And then there's the bagpipes.

As Abq Jew is writing this post, William Barr, the current regime's nominee for the extremely important (to say the least) post of US Attorney General, is being interviewed by Senate Republicans and interrogated by Senate Democrats.

This, in spite of the fact that Mr Barr is clearly unqualified - and should be immediately and dishonorably disqualified.

Why? Sam Stein reports in The Daily Beast:
Trump's AG Nominee Bill Barr Is a ‘Top-Grade’ Bagpiper 
In the financial-disclosure forms he sent to the Senate last week, Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr, revealed a network of financial investment and ties to major energy companies and law firms common for a man atop of the political world. 
But there was one item tucked in the documents that seemed rather unique. 
From January 2017 to December 2018, Barr served as a board member of the U.S. Piping Foundation, an organization that supports competitions for bagpipers, of which Barr is one. 
Arthur McAra, President of the United States Piping Foundation, told The Daily Beast that Barr, in his role, was “available to advise” on the yearly competition that the group hosts at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. Barr got the gig because he was known as a “top-grade” bagpiper back in the 80s. 
“He was discussed among the other members of the foundation’s board and one of the members, who is also an attorney, said he would ask Bill if he'd be good enough to join our board and the answer was yeah,” McAra recalled. 
McAra didn’t know if Barr still played the pipes. With age, he said, it’s not as easy. 
But he recalled that the once and possibly future AG was a “very, very good bagpiper” in his day, always as a band member (Barr played alongside McAra’s son) and not as a soloist. 
—Sam Stein

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

We Remember Every Day

The 1919 Lag B'Omer Pogrom: The photograph immediately catches the eye ... and then the soul. Abq Jew saw it on the Facebook page of the Jewish Genealogy Portal, and was compelled to tell the story.

The couple pictured - she standing, he sitting - are not, as far as he knows, members of Abq Jew's family. A member of the Jewish Genealogy group posted the photograph, with the not unusual request for help in translating the handwritten captions.
Dear Friends
Happy New Year
Could some kind soul please translate the words
Thank you
And before Abq Jew had even seen the photo and request, others - many others (how does this happen?) - had already responded. One wrote:
On the right: Murdered Lag B'Omer 5679 (1919) in Ukraine.
On the left: Passed away Tamuz 27, 5682 (1922).
The Tamuz is slightly unclear but I think it is the best match from the 12 Hebrew months.
And another confirmed:
Dates of death of the man and woman in the picture.
He was murdered on 18 Iyar 5679 or 18 May 1919.
She died on 27 Tamuz 5682 or 23 July 1922. 
And then someone asked:

Is the family from Pogrebishche, Ukraine?
On Lag Ba'Omer 5679 (May 18, 1919) a pogrom
was carried out in the town by the Red Army.

Abq Jew, of course, wanted to know more - about the town, about its Jews, and about what happened to them. Wikipedia (English) tells us:
Pohrebyshche (Ukrainian: Погребище) is a small city in Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine. It is the administrative center of Pohrebyshche Raion (district) in western Ukraine. Pohrebyshche is situated near the sources of the Ros River. Population: 9,765 (2015 est.) 
The town is very old and origin of its name is not clear. Pohreb means a big cellar in Ukrainian. On another hand Pohrebaty can be interpreted as to perform a burial. 
According to a legend, put down by Ukrainian ethnographer Pokhilevich, before Mongol invasion of Rus, during the times of Kyiv the town was called Rokitnya. Mongols level the town leaving only the cellars. 
The town had a substantial Jewish population before the Communists took over. There were periodic pogroms before then and raids by the Bolsheviks before Lenin's definitive consolidation of power. In 1928, the large Synagogue was converted into a Workmans Club.
The remaining Jews were murdered during the Second World War by the Nazis and local fascists.
But Wikipedia (Hebrew; with Google Translate) tells us even more about the Jews of Pohrebyshche:
In 1897 there were 2,494 Jews in the town. 
During the Russian Civil War , in 1919, two deadly pogroms took place in the town. 
On May 18 [Lag B'Omer], Red Army soldiers killed about 400 Jews in the town, and between August 18 and 21, Ukrainians murdered about 350 other Jews, injuring about 100. During the Soviet period there was a Jewish state council and a Yiddish school in the town. 
On July 21, 1941, during Operation Barbarossa, the town was occupied by the Germans, and in a few days they executed a few dozen Jews, aided by Ukrainian policemen. On October 18, 1941, about 1,300 Jews from the town were rounded up by Ukrainian and German police and murdered in pits in a nearby forest. In the days that followed, another 400 Jews were hidden in the town and surrounding villages. 
About 200 Jews from the vicinity of the town, and Jews who managed to escape from the Aktion , were concentrated in a small ghetto established in the town, where they were forced laborers and suffered from hunger and cold. In June 1942 all the inhabitants of this ghetto were murdered. 
From the Pohrebishche community, 16 to 18 Jews survived the Holocaust.

As International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaches (Sunday January 27), Abq Jew looks at that photograph as if that couple were members of his own family. And Abq Jew is forced to remind himself that -

Jew-hatred did not begin with the Holocaust.
Jew-hatred did not end with the Holocaust, either.

A fact of Jewish life of which we are all too, too aware.

This year, the World Jewish Congress  is promoting the Global Campaign for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The WJC points out:
In 2019, with rising hatred all around the world, it’s more important than ever that YOU be a part of this movement. Please watch, join, and share. It’s critical. 

Imagine seeing your neighbors torn from their homes and businesses by the police. No crime has been committed. They have been deemed unfit and marked for death. Helping them would be a crime. Would you have the courage to intervene?

The Ten Boom family did. 

In 1944, their choice to rescue persecuted Jews meant risking their own lives and sharing the the collective fate of the Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps.

Corrie Remembers, Susie Sandager's solo drama, tells the true story of the Righteous Gentile and 20th Century Heroine, Corrie Ten Boom.

Through Susie’s excellent performance, you will feel as though you are a personal guest in Corrie Ten Boom’s home as she recounts memories of her harrowing and yet uplifting story that reaches with living hope from the pages of history to touch your heart in a troubled world today.
Although many of you have been longtime supporters of the show, I believe the times in which we are living give new meaning and importance to Miss Ten Boom's message.  
I am always humbled by personal reflections expressed after each performance. Having been performing out of the country and elsewhere for a while, I am excited to be sharing Miss Ten Boom's legacy in Albuquerque once again.  
I'm certain that if you join us and bring friends, you will be glad you did. Thanks again for your kind support, 
Susie Sandager

Click here for Aux Dog tickets.         Click here for more information.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Making Our Dreams Come True

Norman Gimbel, Happy Days: Yes, on January 1, 2019, Abq Jew must tell you that Norman Gimbel has passed away at the age of 91.

 A somber way to begin the New Year?
No ... a samba way! 

Norman Gimbel wrote some great, inspiring lyrics to wonderful songs we all know. And therefore - remembering him is a beautifully meaningful way to start 2019.

The Post's obituary starts out
Norman Gimbel, Oscar-winning lyricist of ‘Happy Days’ theme and ‘Girl From Ipanema,’ dies at 91 
For a few weeks in 1964, the upper reaches of the Billboard record charts were occupied not only by the Beatles, Beach Boys, Four Seasons and Rolling Stones, but by a seductive bossa nova number written for a musical comedy about an alien who visits South America. 
The musical, “Blimp,” never took off, although its would-be signature song became an international sensation — by some accounts the second-most-recorded song in history, after the Beatles’ “Yesterday.” 
Written by composer Antônio Carlos Jobim and poet Vinicius de Moraes, it neatly filled a major plot hole: What might cause an extraterrestrial guest to linger in Brazil? 
The answer, rendered into English by lyricist Norman Gimbel, was a beautiful woman from southern Rio de Janeiro: 
Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes “ah!”

Abq Jew has always (see The Girl from Ipanema) marveled at this song's exquisite combination of lyrics and melody.
But each day as she walks to the sea
She looks straight ahead not at he.
Heloísa Pinheiro, the Girl from Ipanema

This is Abq Jew's favorite phrase in the entire song. Why?  Because it's bad English! And it works!

Mr Gimbel could easily have substituted the (correct) objective form "him" for the (incorrect) subjective form "he". We must all be thankful that he did not.
But each day as she goes for a swim
She looks straight ahead not at him.
But Abq Jew (big surprise!) digresses. The obituary continues
With help from Mr. Gimbel, “The Girl From Ipanema” went on to drive the bossa nova craze in the United States and beyond, introducing millions of listeners to Brazil’s “new wave” fusion of samba and jazz.   

The Post's obituary doesn't tell us much about  Norman Gimbel's early life - only that he was born in Brooklyn; studied at Baruch College and Columbia University; and, perhaps more importantly, studied under Frank Loesser, the celebrated composer of “Guys and Dolls."

So ... turning to Wikipedia -
Norman Gimbel (November 16, 1927 – December 19, 2018) was an American lyricist of popular songs, television and movie themes. 
Gimbel was born in Brooklyn, son of Lottie (Nass) and businessman Morris Gimbel. His parents were Austrian Jewish immigrants.

Actually, there's a lot more. "Killing Me Softly With His Song". "Summer Samba". "Meditation". "Sway". "I Got A Name". "A Whale of a Tale". "Canadian Sunset". "I Will Wait for You". "It Goes Like It Goes".

But - here are his two most famous songs. That is, if you ever watched good ol' network TV back in the day.

May the New Year 2019 of the Common Era
be filled with nothing but Happy Days!

And may we all be healthy and prosperous
while Making Our Dreams Come True!