Sunday, April 28, 2019

Stronger Than Hate April 2019

Poway Strong: Abq Jew is still too sad, angry, and afraid to even begin to address the tragedy at Chabad of Poway. As he expects many of you, his dear readers, also are.

Yes, these are exactly the same words that Abq Jew published (see Stronger Than Hate) exactly six months ago - on October 28, 2018.

The Jewish communities of New Mexico grieve tonight, as the joy and peace of Passover's end have given way to tragedy in Poway, California. We stand in solidarity with the people of the San Diego area, resolute against anti-Semitism and defiant in the face of any attempt to terrorize our fellow Jews.

Federation will be monitoring the situation in Poway as it develops. Meanwhile, may those whose hearts and bodies have been injured experience healing, and may all who mourn find peace.


The Board and Staff of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico

Pittsburgh, Christchurch, NZ, Sri Lanka and now Poway.

Six months to the day after the worst assault on the Jewish people in American history at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, tragedy has again struck a Jewish house of worship on Shabbat, and on the last day of the Passover holiday. We once again find ourselves sending condolences and prayers to the grief-stricken community of Poway, California.

While our hearts are heavy, our ADL San Diego Regional Office is currently on the ground in Poway working closely with our numerous partners in Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement that have been the cornerstone of many aspects of ADL work in the San Diego area for years. The Sheriff’s Department currently has lead on the case, and at their request, we are jointly leading a community support center to help the victims, families and other affected community members. We are grateful to local law enforcement for their swift response.

Our Center on Extremism is analyzing the social media footprint of the alleged assailant who turned himself over to authorities. And, ADL regional offices around the country are reaching out to local Chabads and Jewish Federations to offer support and ensure that adequate security procedures are in place. We have recently launched a new initiative to enhance the safety, security and resiliency of religious communities in the U.S. with the Secure Community Network of the Jewish Federation. Every community and every country needs to protect religious freedom and safety so that all of us can pray for peace, in peace.

This shooting is a reminder of the enduring virulence of anti-Semitism. It must serve as a call to action for us as a society to deal once and for all with this hate. People of all faiths should not have to live in fear of going to their house of worship. From Charleston to Pittsburgh to Oak Creek and from Christchurch to Sri Lanka, and now Poway, we need to say “enough is enough.” Our leaders need to stand united against hate and address it both on social media and in our communities.

I am now on the ground in Poway where I am able to support our local office’s efforts and the greater community here, which needs to come to grips with this attack. On an MSNBC interview earlier today, I said “We stand together in these difficult moments. This is when it counts.”

Please join me in standing with the community of Poway.

Jonathan Greenblatt
CEO and National Director

Today we saw another horrific act of antisemitic hate at Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, six months to the day after the deadly shooting that killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

What we know right now is that a 19-year-old man opened fire in the synagogue this morning, leaving one dead and three injured.

Once again, a young white male has apparently been influenced by dangerous online white supremacist propaganda. And once again, we see how this propaganda can lead to terrorist acts.

A manifesto believed to belong to the shooter said that the March 15 massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, was a “catalyst” for today’s attacks.

The manifesto is filled with common tropes of the white supremacist movement, including many that motivated the New Zealand mosque attacker and the Pittsburgh synagogue attacker, such as the myth of a “white genocide” perpetrated by Jewish people and a host of other antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Today’s attack comes after a year of intense violence inspired by the racist alt-right. Since 2014, the SPLC has counted at least 81 people killed and another 104 injured by individuals influenced by the alt-right.

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and everyone who is affected by this terrible tragedy.

In solidarity,

Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project Director

POWAY (CBSLA) — The woman killed in Saturday’s attack on a synagogue in Poway, Calif. had stepped in front of the suspected shooter in order to shield the rabbi.

Witnesses say Lori Kaye was killed after stepping in between the rabbi and the gunman. Those who knew the 60-year-old Kaye described as a very generous person.

The rabbi shot while conducting services in Poway, California, told US media Sunday that his congregation would continue to grow from the “horrific” attack and would not allow terrorism to win, as he described coming face-to-face with the killer.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was in stable condition after being shot in the hand by a gunman ....

When three decades ago, as a young rabbi, he sought to establish the congregation, “Lori was one who helped me secure the construction loan,” the rabbi said. “She’s been a steadfast member, supporter, philanthropist. Just a kind soul. Everyone in the community knew her.”

“She is such a dear friend. I’ve known her for 33 years. I am so heartbroken and saddened by this senseless killing.”

Goldstein urged the US government to step up security at all sites of worship and said the Jewish community would not be cowed.

“We are so grateful to live here in this country that protects our rights to live openly and proudly as Jews. One thing is for sure… we will not be intimidated by this. Terror will not win,” said the rabbi.

“I pray for healing during this time of pain and grief. And I ask that we all do something, something to add more light to combat this evil darkness that’s out there.”

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

Our hearts are shattered by the cold-blooded attack on our brothers and sisters—Jews of all walks of life gathered yesterday at Chabad-Lubavitch of Poway in celebration and prayer to the Almighty on Shabbat and the final day of Passover.

While commemorating the Jewish people’s miraculous liberation from bondage and persecution more than 3,300 years ago, and preparing to remember their departed loved ones at the Yizkor service, these beautiful people were heinously attacked for no reason other than the fact that they were Jewish.

We offer our immense gratitude to G-d that the full scope of the perpetrator’s evil intent to commit mass murder was miraculously unrealized when his rifle inexplicably jammed, though tragically not before snuffing out the life of a most beautiful human being and injuring others.

Indeed, we mourn the holy soul of community trailblazer and activist Lori Gilbert-Kaye—Leah bat Reuven—who was so cruelly torn from our midst, and pray that G-d provide strength to her family and that they find solace in the many people she touched and the myriad activities she set in motion. The fruits of the immense good she planted on this earth will forever serve as extensions of her very life.

We pray for the healing of all the injured, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein—Yisroel ben Chana Priva—who lost his index finger while being shot at from almost point-blank range and yet instantly ran to protect the children; 8-year-old Noya bat Eden (Dahan) and her uncle, Almog ben Ruti (Peretz) visiting from Sderot, Israel, and no stranger to terrorist attacks.  

We pray for the healing and comfort of their families, the entire Poway community, the Jewish people worldwide, and the entire world community—men, women and children of every type, each created in the image of the benevolent G-d whose hearts ache from senseless tragedies like these.

The fact that these G-dless acts have multiplied of late underscores with even greater urgency the critical need for proper moral education for our youth, rooted in the belief in a Supreme Being—Whose Eye that Sees and Ear that Hears should preclude anyone from devaluing the life of another human being.

Indeed, we are grateful to live in a country that is predicated on these values and thus protects our right to live openly and proudly as Jews, and we value immensely the friendship and outpouring of support from so many of our fellow Americans.

We are particularly grateful to those whose brave stand against the shooter saved additional lives, including the city’s police department and all levels of government from the municipality on upward who have been working selflessly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the Jewish community in Poway and around the country.

At the onset of the Passover holiday only one week ago, at familial and communal seders held worldwide (including those conducted by thousands of Chabad-Lubavitch institutions across the globe), millions of Jews proclaimed that “[though] in every generation they rise to destroy us… the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand,” due to the unbreakable bond of His everlasting covenant with the Jewish people.

In light of this covenant, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, taught that we may not hide or cower even in the face of pure evil. To the contrary, we must drive it away.


Cold-blooded, fanatical, baseless, relentless hatred can be uprooted from its core only by saturating our world with pure, undiscriminating, uninhibited, unyielding love and acts of kindness, and by teaching that to all our children, in our schools and our homes.

Today more than ever, the Rebbe taught, we must spread love and unity; positivity and light. We must fulfill our covenant to spread the light of G-d, to act upon the urgent responsibility we all share to recognize and nurture within each other the loving handiwork of the Creator of all things.

Even as we grieve and mourn, we must increase exponentially our acts of goodness and kindness.

As Jews it surely behooves us also to increase our adherence to our special mitzvot, like donning tefillin (for men) and lighting Shabbat candles (for women), and to help others do the same. While performing our increased mitzvot let us keep in mind that in so doing we are extending the life of Leah bat Reuven.

Apropos to the stirring prophecy read by the Jews gathered at Chabad-Lubavitch of Poway yesterday, along with their brethren around the world, may we finally merit to the time when the evils of war, hate and jealousy will be eradicated forever, when the world will instead be filled with the knowledge of G-d, with the coming of our righteous Moshiach speedily in our days.

With deep pain, endless love and fierce determination,


The Team

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Passover: The Last Days

Dayenu. Valley Stream. Jokes and Music: Had enough matzah? Had enough chicken soup and matzah balls? Had enough Pesachdik "cake" and "cookies"? Well, we've still got a few days to go.

Pesach Day 7 this year falls on Friday April 26. Which is the anniversary, say חז״ל (Our Wise Men, of Blessed Memory), of the Crossing of the Red Sea. Which in turn means we get to read שׁירת הים (The Song of the Sea) in shul - always a treat.

Pesach Day 8 this year falls on Saturday April 27. But in ארץ ישראל (The Land of Israel) - Pesach ends when Shabbat begins, on Friday night. So in Israel, they'll be reading Acharei Mot on Shabbat, while we in חו״ל (Outside The Land) will be reading Pesach Day 8.

Which also means that thereafter, the Parsha of the Week will not be the same in Israel as it is elsewhere; Israel will be one week ahead. And it will stay ahead until Saturday August 10, when we join up again for שׁבּת חזון, The Sabbath of Vision, so we can observe תשׁע בּאב (Tisha b'Av) together as one.

Abq Jew knew you'd be thrilled.
So in the meantime …
A Cessna plane came to a stop in front of a home in Valley Stream, NY.
Theodore Parisienne

Here's a wonderful photo from Michael Gold's article in The New York Times. Which reminds us all that salvation may arise, and that the Messiah may come, only at the last possible moment. Or as Kafka stated:
The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary; he will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but on the very last.
A Crashing Small Plane Was Snagged by Power Lines, Stopping a Foot From Disaster
The aircraft first clipped the roof of a church, then several power lines, local officials said, before becoming entangled in the cables like a fly in a web, suspended a foot above the front lawn of a brick home. 
When the Nassau County police arrived at the scene, they found the plane dangling from the utility cables, nose down, hovering as if freeze-framed a second before tragedy. The pilot and two passengers, mostly unharmed, were sitting on a nearby curb. 
By [the next day], the Cessna had been extricated from the power lines ... It was sitting in the front yard of a house on Clarendon Drive in Valley Stream, a village of about 37,000 people, two miles northeast of Kennedy Airport in Queens.

Ah, yes, Valley Stream. Of which Wikipedia proclaims:
The incorporated Village of Valley Stream is inside the southwest part of the town of Hempstead, along the border with Queens. 
The village is served by the Long Island Rail Road at the Valley Stream station, located at Sunrise Highway and Franklin Avenue. 
It is also served by the Gibson station at Gibson and Munro boulevards, but only along the Far Rockaway Branch. 
Money Magazine ranked Valley Stream as "the best place to live in New York" for 2017.

Abq Jew and his parents, of blessed memory, lived on the bottom floor of 35 Gibson Blvd, Valley Stream, from 1956 through 1962. Abq Jew's grandparents, also of blessed memory, lived on the top floor.

A joint purchase, Abq Jew surmises. Maybe ... $10,000 each? Less (GI Bill)? Today worth $560,204, Zillow says.

Six years of blessed memories. Within easy walking distance of Brooklyn Avenue school, Sunrise Jewish Center, Gibson station, the candy store, and everyplace Abq Jew needed to go.

A thousand kids on the block. We played in the street. The LIRR tracks were behind the houses across the street. You got used to it.

The Luncheon on the Grass  Paul Cezanne

So here is a nice story for Passover. Paul Cezanne doesn't really have anything to do with it, but hey, it's a nice painting, don't you think?
A Jewish man took his Passover lunch to eat outside in the park. He sat down on a bench and began eating. 
A little while later a blind man came by and sat down next to him. 
Feeling neighborly, the Jewish man passed a sheet of matzo to the blind man. 
The blind man ran his fingers over the matzo for a few minutes, looked puzzled, and finally exclaimed,
“Who wrote this crap?"
Which immediately brings to what is left, after all these years, of Abq Jew's mind -

In case you don't know, OJTJ creator Sam Hoffman explains -
Old Jews Telling Jokes was born in an empty storefront in my hometown of Highland Park, New Jersey in the summer of 2008. 
Eric Spiegelman and Tim Williams of Jetpack Media had asked me if I had any ideas for an internet show and I suggested: “how about we shoot my father and his friends telling jokes?” 
Surprisingly, they agreed. The rules would be simple. Every joke teller had to be at least sixty years old and “Jewish.” The age thing I would be strict about, the Jewish thing would be in spirit. 
If nothing else, we would make portraits of people who had lived at least six decades and that would be something to see.
Here is one of Abq Jew's favorite jokes. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Paul Cezanne. Or, for that matter, Passover. But, as we count the days toward the Holiday of Shavuot, this joke reminds us that, whenever we're in trouble, we can hold הקבּ״ה (The Holy One, Blessed Be He) accountable.
We signed a contract!

In conclusion (Abq Jew knows you were hoping), here is one of Abq Jew's favorite songs. No, it's not a Passover parody - see last week's blog post It's Pesach 5779! for that.

In fact, it's a song about Paul Cezanne! Who was not Jewish (although his good friend Camille Pissarro was; he came from a Jewish family on the island of St Thomas) and was not known for telling jokes.

In memory of Great Grand Mama Sheila Kronrot.
Missed you at the seders, Mom.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

It's Pesach 5779!

Passover Is Almost Here: A time to gather with friends and family, to celebrate our Holiday of Freedom. And freedom, we must realize, is never - ever - to be taken lightly.

Abq Jew firmly believes that, when confronting vital questions about politics, philosophy, or ... ahem ... religion, the life-affirming answer is always

More Freedom!

And what would Passover be without videos? Abq Jew here thoughtfully provides three (3) of the classics. You're welcome!

1. Google Exodus: Best. Passover. Video. Ever.

2. Passover Rhapsody: Second. Best. Passover. Video. Ever.

3. The Passover Prank. Best. Passover. Prank. Video. Ever. For parents who (especially) miss their kids on Pesach. Who know that Skype is never enough.

And as the Seders approach, Abq Jew must remind us all (he must! he must!) that Good News, Salvation and Comfort are just one (1) Pesach visitor away.

?אחד מי יודע
Tonight Could Be The Night!

At our Pesach seders
we Jews have been opening our doors to Elijah for thousands of years.

We still believe that Elijah the Prophet will return tonight
and announce the Coming of the Messiah.

When that happens, our first question will be:

Did Elijah remember to send out a press release?

If he did — you may learn the Good News in a few days or weeks.
But you can always hear about Salvation and Comfort at &
Your guide to Jewish life in Albuquerque and beyond

A Zissen Pesach, Albuquerque!
Chag Kasher veSameach, New Mexico!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

A Farewell to BimBam

Leaving Class with Class: There is (chaval) a lot of competition out there for terrible horrible no good very bad news, but the news of BimBam's shutdown was the most heartbreaking that Abq Jew has received in some time.

Formerly known as G-dcast, BimBam has sparked connections to Judaism through digital storytelling since its founding in 2008. Over its eleven years of existence, it has become an essential Jewish educational resource - for kids and for adults.

Abq Jew has often written about G-dcast / BimBam, and tried to share some of the videos this outstanding team has produced. Just to remind us all of said team's copious capabilities, here is Where Do Jewish Laws Come From?, an Introduction to Torah, Talmud, and Halacha.

See what Abq Jew means? And this is just one of the multi-part Judaism 101 series. Not everyone can do magic like this - non-judgmental explanations of hard-to-grasp topics portrayed clearly and entertainingly.

Which raises the question -

Here are four interpretations of what has just happened. One each from -
  1. Maya Mirky, Staff Writer for J., The Jewish News of Northern California
  2. Sarah Lefton, BimBam Founder and Creative Director
  3. Jordan Gill, BimBam Executive Director
  4. The Editorial Board of J., The Jewish News of Northern California
After which, Abq Jew will add his own perspective.

From Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland. Here is her article about the BimBam shutdown, which Sarah Lefton and Jordan Gill refer to.
Animated Jewish video nonprofit BimBam to shut down   BY MAYA MIRSKY | APRIL 2, 2019 
BimBam, a Bay Area Jewish media nonprofit known for animated video content that has amused and educated for more than a decade, is shutting down after 11 years. 
Founder and creative director Sarah Lefton said the award-winning organization, which relies on donors, was closing because there was no longer sufficient funding. 
“There just isn’t a sustainable model for doing what we do, at this time,” she said. 
BimBam videos, which are available for free online, offer Jewish learning for children as well as adults, from how to talk to kids about God to cheerful animated explanations of the week’s Torah portion. The four-part series on King David released this week will be BimBam’s last. 
But not because they weren’t popular. According to BimBam, its 400-plus live action and animated videos have had 11 million views on YouTube. And with the 2016 introduction of a new set of cartoons for younger kids titled “Shaboom!” their reach grew further. Lefton said she gets constant emails talking about the impact BimBam has had on kids and adults alike. 
“When we visit, for instance, a synagogue, the teachers treat us like rock stars,” Lefton said. 
But funding just wasn’t sustainable, according to executive director Jordan Gill, who said that in general the Jewish funding community hasn’t yet really committed to digital media like BimBam. “It’s really a matter of when,” he said. “It just hasn’t happened yet.” 
BimBam was founded in 2008 by Lefton, who initially called it G-dcast (a play on podcast). By 2009 she had been named in the Forward’s list of new leaders, the “Forward 50,” for her clever Torah video series. “Sarah — she won’t say it, but I’ll say it — is a genius, and ahead of her time in this field,” Gill said. 
Renamed BimBam, the company grew to cover countless aspects of Judaism and Jewish learning. It was cited several times in the Slingshot Guide of game-changing Jewish organizations, including the most recent edition. The company held multiple trainings to help rabbis and educators make their own videos. 
And according to the company, viewers have watched 22 million minutes on YouTube. 
“That’s 42 years of Jewish education that otherwise wouldn’t have happened,” Lefton said. 
One of its more attention-grabbing endeavors was eScapegoat, a web app that allowed people to confess their sins anonymously to an animated goat in the days before Yom Kippur. 
The Brandeis School of San Francisco has been using BimBam for years. “Our teachers use those pieces all the time in their classes,” said Debby Arzt-Mor, director of Jewish learning. 
Whether it’s an engaging way to talk about the weekly portion at assembly or a guest appearance by the animators who show how the videos are made, BimBam has been an effective educational tool that kids like, she said. “It’s basically showing Jewish learning is cool.” 
But even if BimBam isn’t making any more content, the videos aren’t going away. 
They’ll have a new home at the Union of Reform Judaism website, Mark Pelavin, chief program officer, said BimBam’s video content would be integrated into URJ’s teaching tools. “We’re honored and we take this responsibility seriously,” he said. “It’s content that we love.” 
Lefton and Gill are proud of the work they and their team have done over the past decade. “Media is really important,” Lefton said. “And this is not second-class Jewish education.” 
And in a time when children watch more and more online content and turn to screens to learn and explore, she said there’s an opportunity to seize. “We owe it to them to make some of that time meaningful, and Jewish.”
From Sarah Lefton

Sarah Lefton is the Founder and Creative Director of BimBam. She and Executive Director Jordan Gill sent out an email to BimBam's community, announcing the end of the project. Here is what Sarah said:
Dear BimBam Community, 
Amidst great celebration over the launch of our best work ever (King David series for kids and new videos about Masada and the Bar Kochba revolt for adults) last week, I'm sad to share the news that we are sunsetting BimBam today. 
In 2008, I founded this organization because I was certain that people and kids and educators would be delighted to watch high quality, fun videos about the weekly parsha and other Jewish texts. With your support, we built an incredible team that for eleven inspiring years has delivered a staggering 450 videos about everything from the Torah to the Talmud to teaching preschoolers about Tzedakah. 
We changed the Jewish internet. Before the rise of podcasts, and even of YouTube, we made it possible to learn from the most engaging teachers whenever you wanted in a crazy fun format. We made Jewish YouTube better: more accurate, more inclusive, and more caring. We listened to you, we studied your feedback and we visited your classrooms. You changed our lives and our work. 
About our work: it isn't going away. It will be reported today in the J Weekly that we are pledging our library to the Union for Reform Judaism - all our content will continue to be accessible on our BimBam and Shaboom YouTube channels, and over time, on as well. 
We chose URJ as our partner because they share our passionate belief that Jewish people and fellow travelers deserve accessible, accurate and friendly content online, and that it should be free. You will not find a more menschy group of people. We trust them with our work and we know they'll help its impact grow. 
This may be the end of our little organization, but it is really still the very beginning of the story of how Jewish learning evolves in the digital age. I'll be on that journey with all of you. 
Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek. Be strong, be strong, and may we all be strengthened.

Sarah Lefton 
From Jordan Gill

Jordan Gill is the Executive Director of BimBam. He and Founder and Creative Director Sarah Lefton sent out an email to BimBam's community, announcing the end of the project. Here is what Jordan said:
To BimBam's Friends and Family, 
As will be reported in today's J. Weekly, after 11 years of meaningful, impactful work bringing high-quality, pluralistic Jewish learning online, BimBam has released our last video, with all operations closing as of 3/31/19. 
We have ended this project on a high note having just released a burst of content that represents some of our finest work.
The King David series, and the videos about Masada and Bar Kochba, are a testimony to the years of learning that we have done as an organization and how we have grown and matured. We are immensely proud of these videos, and all the videos that preceded them. 
BimBam has produced over 450 videos over the past 11 years. Those videos are responsible for over 42 years of Jewish learning (over 22 million minutes of watch time). We did it with a small and dedicated team, guided by the creative vision of my colleague and friend, Sarah Lefton. 
On 4/1/19, The Union for Reform Judaism will take ownership of our assets including all of our content. We are so proud to be able to partner with the URJ, and we know that they will steward this content and enable it to continue to effectively pursue BimBam's mission of sparking connections to Judaism through digital storytelling. 
The URJ, and are a frequent destination for people looking for opportunities to learn more about Jewish customs, traditions, teachings and holidays, and we know that BimBam content will be instrumental in providing fun and meaningful moments of connection for them when they arrive. 
I want to thank everyone who believed in us and funded our content over the years, and everyone who watched, learned, and laughed with us. This project was more than a job to us, and it was a pleasure to serve the greater Jewish community in this way. 
With warm regards, 
Jordan Gill 
From the J. Editorial Board

The J. Editorial Board pens weekly editorials as the voice of J. Here is the Board's editorial about the BimBam shutdown,
BimBam’s closure is a loss for all of us
Sometimes worthy enterprises, from both the nonprofit and the corporate worlds, do not survive over the long haul. That’s always a pity. 
But when a Jewish organization as influential as BimBam shuts down because of flagging financial support, it’s more than a pity: It’s a shanda, and it reflects poorly on the state of Jewish philanthropy today. 
After a glorious 11-year run under its founding director Sarah Lefton, BimBam was forced to close this week. As our story shows, BimBam (originally named G-dcast) was that rare Jewish nonprofit that leveraged digital media to bring engaging, intelligent Jewish education to audiences of all ages — but mostly kids. 
In addition to scores of delightful animated shorts about the holidays and the weekly parashah, BimBam made insightful films such as How to Talk to Your Kids About God and Teaching Your Kids to Say I’m Sorry
BimBam taught kids how to bake challah, make matzah covers and tzitzit, blow the shofar, and even how to fashion Jewish toy slime out of glue, borax, cornstarch, shaving cream and a splash of Manischewitz. 
And who could forget the animated sacrificial eScapegoat for Yom Kippur? That adorable cartoon capra actually made it to the cover of J. one year. 
In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a Jewish educator in the country who has not drawn on BimBam’s materials to teach valuable lessons about Jews, Judaism and Jewish values. 
Writing on Facebook after hearing the news, Jewish LearningWorks CEO David Waksberg noted, 
“BimBam has been the most creative and impactful Jewish educational innovation of the 21st century.” 
BimBam consistently modeled Jewish education as something vital. 
Howard Freedman, director of the S.F. Jewish Community Library, also shared his appreciation for BimBam: “I’ve loved it — for myself, for how it engaged my kids, and for how it has consistently modeled Jewish education as something vital without a stale aftertaste.” 
In the responses from the community, we saw genuine sorrow expressed over the demise of BimBam. But we also noticed another emotion: anger. 
How it is that the Jewish community, locally and nationally, could not continue to support a universally celebrated organization that did such superb work on a comparatively tiny budget? 
Clearly, the Jewish communal world is not immune to the problem of wealth inequality. An organization such as BimBam might get by for years on the largesse of foundations, federations or individual philanthropists, and then suddenly find the rug pulled out when donor priorities shift. 
We would argue that innovators such as BimBam, which brought a fiery love of Judaism to countless numbers of kids, should always remain a priority. 
Luckily, BimBam content will live on. 
The Union for Reform Judaism will post on its website all BimBam videos, including its swan song: a compelling series for kids telling the story of King David and two dark, complex videos for adults on Masada and the Bar Kochba Revolt
Thank you, Sarah Lefton, executive director Jordan Gill and your brilliant team, for 11 years of providing unparalleled Jewish learning. 
We can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.
From Abq Jew

For more than nine years, blogger and webmaster Abq Jew has been the Duke City's "very own peripatetic historian, philosopher, scholar and mentsch."

Living a Jewish life on the West Bank of the Rio Grande, Abq Jew has provided the New Mexico Jewish community
  • a website (with a definitive Events Calendar and Class Schedule); 
  • a blog (with his own perspectives) and a weekly blog email; plus
  • a Facebook page and a Twitter feed; and even
  • an app (of blessed memory).
So, you may ask, what is Abq Jew's response to the announcement of BimBam's shutdown?

How can these statements both be true?

"BimBam has been the most creative and impactful Jewish educational innovation of the 21st century."

"There just isn’t a sustainable model for doing what we do, at this time."

If the global Jewish community cannot provide enough support to keep a world-class creative venture like BimBam in business, how long can Abq Jew keep going?

BimBam and Abq Jew are worlds apart in terms of impact, opportunity cost, and place along life's timeline. Yet, we're in the same business - trying to do something good and meaningful for our Jewish communities, and something good and sustainable for ourselves. So please -

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

This Is The Month

A Torah Trifecta This Shabbat: You’re traveling through another dimension, a detour you never should have taken, and now there’s something wonky in the works, a major malfunction, ghosts in the machine.

Up is down, facts are opinions, the Russians pull the levers, lizard people control the Democrats and your neighbor won’t vaccinate her kids.

Nee-nee-dee-dee; nee-nee-dee-dee . . .

So writes Hank Stuever in The Washington Post:

‘The Twilight Zone’ returns, in case
anyone needed the extra anxiety right now

Chances are, no one needs the extra anxiety right now

So let's talk about Shabbat Tazria, the Sabbath of OB-GYNs and Dermatologists. If Tazria (or Tazria-Metzora) was your Brat Mitzvah parsha - mazeltov! Or tough mazel, as they say.

But Abq Jew must tell you that this Shabbat Tazria (April 6, 2019) is not an ordinary, run-of-the-mill Shabbat. For not only is it Shabbat Tazria - it is also Rosh Hodesh Nissan, and it is also Shabbat HaHodesh. Which means -

The Rabbi or Brat Mitzvah has something to talk about
other than menstrual blood and skin lesions.

For example - how often do we get to read from three (3) Torah scrolls in one sitting? has the answer. Which is: pretty often. In particular -
When the month of Nissan begins on Shabbat. The extra portion of Hachodesh is read on the Shabbat immediately preceding the month of Nissan, or on Rosh Chodesh Nissan when it falls on Shabbat. On such a Shabbat, the weekly Torah portion is read, in addition to the Rosh Chodesh and Hachodesh readings.

What were we talking about? Oh yes - Rosh Hodesh Nissan, the first of all the months in the Jewish year. How do we know this? Because G-d Himself tells us in Exodus:
And G‑d spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: This month shall be to you the head of months—the first of the months of your year.
Wait a minute! Abq Jew hears you cry. How about Tishrei? Nu - it turns out that the Rabbis of the Talmud had the same problem.
Rabbi Eliezer says: The world was created in Tishrei . . . Rabbi Joshua says: The world was created in Nissan. says in the article Our Other Head:
We know that the Jewish year begins on the first of Tishrei - a day we observe as Rosh Hashanah, “the Head of the Year” - and ends twelve (or thirteen) months later, on the 29th of Elul. 
But if the head of the year is on the first of Tishrei, why does the Torah ... refer to Tishrei as the seventh month of the year? And why is the month of Nissan, occurring midway through the Tishrei-headed year, designated - in the very first mitzvah commanded to the Jewish people - as “the head of months, the first of the months of your year”? 
[Because ...] the Jewish year has two “heads” or primary points of reference, each of which is equally its beginning. Our annual journey through time is actually two journeys—a Tishrei-to-Elul journey, and a Nissan-to-Adar journey. 
Every day on the Jewish calendar can be experienced on two different levels, for it simultaneously exists within these two contexts.
 The first of Tishrei is the anniversary of G‑d’s creation of the universe, particularly His creation of man. On this day we reaffirm our commitment to G‑d as our Creator and King, and ask that He inscribe us in the book of life. 
But if the first of Tishrei is the first day of human history, the month of Nissan marks the birth of Jewish time.

And there you have it. Pesach is coming! Pesach is coming! The first seder is Friday April 19 - two weeks from Erev Shabbat!

And BTW, the month after Nissan is not

Nope. The month after Nissan is

Sure. Just like last Shabbat was

Shabbat Shalom!
Happy Rosh Hodesh!
A Zissen Nissen!