Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Spring 2020 @ OASIS Abq

Great Courses of Jewish Interest
Abq Jew is pleased to inform you that
OASIS Albuquerque has just announced
their Spring 2020 line-up of classes!
Registration opens on
Wednesday January 8
but you can Wish List your selections now.


OASIS Albuquerque Executive Director Kathleen Raskob and her staff continue (as always) to bring you new and interesting class offerings, and continues to make sure there are plenty of courses of Jewish interest.


This session's courses and instructors include, but are by no means limited to:


The Story of Love in Judaism
Monday 10 February 2020 @ 10:00 am
& Wednesday 12 February 2020 - #135
Instructor: Paul Citrin
What It Is: During two sessions, examine how Judaism and Jewish teachers have understood the commandments to love God and one's neighbor; and to love in marital and family life, in the communal setting, and in terms of sex and sexuality. We read and discuss texts from the Bible and from the ancient rabbis as well as material from contemporary sources. The goal of these sessions is to deepen our understanding of what the world needs in this era of me-ism and tribalism.


Unexpected Bride in the Promised Land:
Eyewitness to History in Palestine & Israel
Monday 10 February 2020 @ 12:30 pm - #88
Instructor:  Iris Keltz
What It Is: Iris Keltz continues to discuss her experience as chronicled in her award-winning book, Unexpected Bride in the Promised Land. Having survived the Six-Day War under the protection of a Palestinian family, it was 32 years before Keltz returned to Jerusalem. She went to find out what happened to the people who had protected her, and she went to find out if friendships between Jews and Palestinians were possible. You do not need to have attended Part 1 (offered in August 2019) to attend this class.


The Strange Case of
the 17th Century Jewish Mystical Messiah
Friday 14 February 2020 @ 10:00 am - #136
Instructor: Michael Nutkiewicz
What It Is:In 1666 Shabbatai Zvi (d. 1676) was declared the messiah. Most of the known Jewish world from the Middle East to Western and Eastern Europe was prepared to follow him. Skeptical rabbis were powerless to stop the movement, and Christian writers followed the story very carefully as it unfolded. But why did Shabbatai Zvi convert to Islam, and what happened to him and his believers?


The Spiritual & Social Ideas
of Simone Weil - A Continuation
Friday 21 February @ 10:00 am - #137
Instructor: Frank Yates
What It Is: This continuation of Frank Yates' talks on Simone Weil focuses on her spiritual and social ideas. Weil, who died during World War II, conveyed many of her spiritual ideas in her book Waiting for God. While working for De Gaulle's French government during her exile in London, she wrote a blueprint for post-war France. That became her book The Need for Roots. These two works are examined in detail while we learn more about this fascinating philosopher, spiritual writer, and political theorist. Note: you do not need to have attended the previous lecture (summer 2019) to enroll in this one.


The Biblical Saga of Joseph & His Brothers
Thursday 5 March 2020  @ 10:00 am - #138
Instructor:  Shlomo Karni
What It Is: Learn about Joseph, the hated brother who was kidnapped, sold into slavery, imprisoned, and who then rose to be viceroy of the pharaoh of Egypt. This is an emotionally-charged drama with actions of envy, coldblooded cruelty, bereavement, tenderness -- and the occasional providence or fate. How relevant is this story to us today?


Art & Architecture Tour of
Congregation Albert Synagogue: Field Trip
Wednesday 11 March 2020 @ 10:00 am - #139
Instructor: Paul Citrin
What It Is: Congregation Albert is 121 years old and its present synagogue facility is 35 years old. Join Rabbi Paul Citrin to learn about the architect's concept for the building and examine the art and artifacts which make it a unique synagogue. See how the values of a community influence and are influenced by the physical surroundings of where people meet. A feature of this tour is to see both the Centennial Torah scroll and the Holocaust scroll. Enrollment limited to 30.


Jack Benny: Forever 39
Wednesday 11 March 2020 @ 2:30 pm - #42
Instructor: Yolanda Day
What It Is: Jack Benny, star of stage, screen, radio and television, not only did it all but did it all at the same time. Known for both his impeccable comic timing and stinginess, he developed a devoted audience over a more than 30-year career. This lecture by Yolanda Day brings you history from Benny’s friends and family as well as live skits performed by The Rio Grande Players from some of his most successful radio shows and personal favorites.



The History of Crypto-Jews
in New Spain & New Mexico
Tuesday 31 March 2020 @ 10:00 am - #172
Instructor: Stefanie Beninato
What It Is: Learn about a lesser-known aspect of Southwestern history by exploring the settlement of New Spain by Sephardic Jews, many of whom practiced Judaism secretly (Crypto-Jews). Learn how and why many Hispanics in New Mexico did not know of this ancestry or, if they did, how they hid it from the agents of the Inquisition. Understand how these ethnic roots affect cultural identity and contemporary issues in New Mexico today. Presented in partnership with the Historical Society of New Mexico.



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

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


You've Got A Friend in Carole King
Tuesday 21 January 2020 @ 10:00 am - #101
What It Is: Singer/songwriter Carole King (1942- ) began her career in the 1960s writing hit songs with then husband Gerry Goffin. A decade later, she became an award-winning performer in her own right when the album Tapestry topped the US charts in 1971 for 15 weeks, remaining on the charts for six years. Recipient of the Gershwin Prize from the Library of Congress in 2012, King has written the musical soundtrack of our lives across five decades.


Kurt Weill's Useful Music
Monday 20 April 2020 @ 2:30 pm - #116
What It Is: Kurt Weill (1900-50), known primarily in the United States for "Mack the Knife" from The Threepenny Opera, was a leading composer for the stage, as well as a classical composer during his tragically short career. Denounced by the Nazis, he fled Europe in 1933 to pursue his ideal of writing music that served a socially useful purpose. This class is amplified by a wide range of recordings, including classic performances by his wife, Lotte Lenya.


OASIS Albuquerque also offers regular Friday Performances - musical, dance, theater, and storytelling - all by local artists. They're listed among the schedule of classes.

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


Neshama del Bosque
Friday 17 April 2020 @ 2:00 pm - #129
What It Is: Neshama del Bosque (Soul of the Forest) performs Sephardic music from medieval Spain, Syria, Turkey, and the Mediterranean. You might hear a Ladino lullaby from Greece, an ancient folk song from Turkey, a mushwasha love song in Arabic from Andalucia, a Ladino folk song by Flory Jagoda about "Tu Beshevat" (the New Year of the Trees), a suite of traditional folk songs and fiddle tunes from New Mexico -- y mucho mas!


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Hanukkah Leftovers

From Outer Space and Elsewhere: Well. That other holiday fell in the middle (i.e., Wednesday) of the week. Who thought that would be a good idea? And two weeks in a row?

For us Jews, Shabbat is approaching - and it's still Chanukah! In fact, this very Shabbat we will have the rare treat (and fulfill the extra mitzvot) of reading from ... not one; not two; but three (3) Sifrei Torah -

One for the regular weekly portion (Miketz); one for Rosh Hodesh (Tevet); and one for the holiday (Hanukkah)!

A Torah Trifecta!
Let's celebrate!

Louis Anderman via Chuck Taggart via Jacob Richman
Maiden voyage of the USS Menorahprise
Her 8-night mission: to boldly schlep
where no Jew has schlepped before!


Six13 - A Star Wars Chanukah

DO, OR DO NOT -- THERE IS NO TRY.
Little known fact: though Baby Yoda's cousin delivered this sage advice
to Luke Skywalker, he took his inspiration from the Maccabees.
Like the Jedi years later, against all odds (never tell us the odds!)
they fought off a great empire who sought their destruction.



NASA Astronaut Jessica Meir
Celebrates Hanukkah from Space

NASA astronaut Jessica Meir shows off some colorful
Hanukkah socks on the International Space Station on
the first night of Hanukkah, December 22, 2019.
(Image credit: twitter.com/Astro_Jessica)



The Hanukkah Story for Kids
Maccabees, Miracles, and Dreidels



Latke Recipe




Happy Joyous Hanukkah
Indigo Girls




The Hanukkah Dance
Nefesh Mountain
A pairing of songs written by the great Woody Guthrie.
Woody moved to Coney Island in 1942 and spent much of his time
learning from and collaborating with his Jewish mother in law
and Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt.




Six13 - Bohemian Chanukah

Is this just fantasy? No, it's a Chanukah tribute to one of the greatest and most epic songs of all time. Ready, Freddie? Kindle the lights, remember the Maccabees, and rock on. CHAG SAMEACH!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Petri Dishes the 12 Days

Hanukkah Emerges Unbeaten: Why, Abq Jew hears you, his loyal readers, ask, does Xmas have twelve days - while Chanukah, the earlier and clearly more important holiday, have only eight?


We Jews today know that there are eight days of Channukkah because that's how long the Temple wi-fi was down after the Seleucid-Greeks hacked Judea's email servers (although said Seleucid-Greeks mounted a major disinformation campaign to blame the hacking on the Ptolemaic Egyptians).

And they Christians today know that there are twelve days of Xmas because, what with seasonal airport delays, exceedingly slow land arrangements, and a navigational system eons (do you know how many years it takes for a star's light to reach us?) behind the times, that's how long it took the Three Magi to make it to beautiful, downtown Bethlehem.


Which is not to mention
all the time they spent shopping for gifts.


Alexandra Petri (@petridishes on Twitter)  is one of Abq Jew's most favorite columnists. Nowadays she gets paid (after starting as a summer intern) to write for The Washington Post.

Way back in 2012, a much younger Ms Petri wrote the now-classic Dear True Love — thank-you notes from the Twelve Days of Christmas, which Abq Jew now displays in its entirety, in complete violation of an entire plethora of US copyright laws, UN resolutions, and international conventions.

Of her writing, Petri has said -

My goal is to be weirder than everybody else
and hope that no one stops me. So far no one has.


Dear True Love thank-you notes
from the Twelve Days of Christmas
The famous song, in thank-you notes


First Day of Christmas
Dear True Love, 
Thank you so much for the partridge! What a lovely thought. You know how much I love birds. It looks great in the pear tree. I have named it Ronald. 
Have a wonderful Christmas!


Second Day of Christmas
Dear True Love, 
Wow, two turtle doves! I’m blown away. You are so sweet. And another partridge! 
You’re right — Ronald would have been lonely. I am naming her Nancy. They are all singing beautifully together. 
Thank you so much for a lovely gift.


Third Day of Christmas
Dear True Love, 
Thank you so much for the three French hens! One French hen would have been impressive enough — three is really something. I guess the first two turtle-doves would have been lonely without another pair, so thank you for bringing those by as well. Ronald and Nancy seem a little confused by their new friend, whom I am naming Mikhail, but I am sure they will grow accustomed to him in time. 
Thank you again.


Fourth Day of Christmas
Dear True Love, 
Thank you for the four calling birds. You really took it to heart when I said that I liked birds. I only got you a sweater, so, please, don’t feel obligated to get me anything else. Certainly not more birds. There isn’t that much room here, and I am quite happy with the 22 you have already brought me. It will be a challenge to provide them all with a good home. Also, not sure why you brought three more French hens today. Those can’t be cheap, and, as you know, I already have three. 
The two new turtledoves are fighting with the first pair, one of whom has flown into my closet and won’t come out. Ronald and Nancy still seem mistrustful of Mikhail. The new arrival, whom I have named Partridge 4 because I am fresh out of names, is not helping things. There is no room for another tree. 
Thank you for the wonderful thought. Please, no more birds.


Fifth Day of Christmas
Dear True Love, 
I so enjoyed our lunch today and your gift of five gold rings. 
Please tell me it is not true that you came by the house while I was gone and dropped off four more calling birds, three additional French hens, two more turtle doves, and another partridge. I explicitly told you not to. I am a little frightened to go home. 
Really, your presence is gift enough.


Sixth Day of Christmas
Dear True Love, 
GEESE? SIX GEESE? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH SIX GEESE? 
I don’t know where you are getting all these animals. I worry that you are a bird hoarder. One of my neighbors has already called to complain about the bird noise. Yesterday, Partridge 4 made a mess on my favorite rug. The whole house smells like feces. 
I must go, one of the geese just laid an egg.


Seventh Day of Christmas
Dear True Love, 
Please stop. I never did anything to you. Look: I do not want you dropping off any more birds at my home. I don’t know where you got this tank of swans. They are vicious. They bite. The twelve geese are frightened of them. Partridges 5, 6, and 7 make threatening noises at me whenever I try to make them go outdoors. My house has become a hell. 
Stop this, please. No more birds.


Eighth Day of Christmas
Dear True Love, 
Oh God. 
When I said “No more birds,” I never thought that this would be your response. 
I don’t know where you got eight milkmaids. Do I want to know? I do not think so. At first when they showed up on the doorstep I was sure they had the wrong address. Then when I realized what was going on I tried to pretend that they had the wrong address. But the UPS guy knows me by now because I had to sign for all those miserable birds. 
I tried to find them hotels but they didn’t want to leave. They said they would “just stay and milk.” I don’t want them to stay. I don’t want them to milk. I never asked for this. 
Can you come take the milkmaids at least? I will figure out the birds on my own.


Ninth Day of Christmas
Dear Love, 
Today I turned off all the lights and hid upstairs in a closet pretending not to be home in case anyone came with a package I had to sign for. I would have gotten away with it, too, if that turtle dove hadn’t bitten me. 
There was a small crowd around the house when I came out. Nine ladies were dancing on the doorstep, and eight more milkmaids were with them. When I looked into the tank the number of swans had tripled. 
I called you six times. I want to see you. I need to understand why you are doing this. Did someone tell you this was the way to impress a woman? If so, he lied. 
Please, cease this now. I do not want anything you can send. I don’t have room to house any more people. I jump at loud noises, thinking that a partridge is coming for me.


Tenth Day of Christmas
Dear You, 
There are ten strange men jumping up and down in my house. They claim they are lords. I don’t know. I don’t know anything any more. They are frightening the birds. 
This morning I tried to hide from the UPS man again, but one of the milkmaids signed on my behalf. 
I have left my house and taken a small apartment. Do not try to find me. Do not send me anything further. Your persecution must cease.


Eleventh Day of Christmas
You, 
I don’t know how you found me. Did I do something to you that made you hate me? I am trying to go through my whole life to think of what I did to deserve this, but I can find nothing. In third grade, I punched Zachary Malone. But he asked me to do it. 
I said I liked birds. Maybe I even said it would be nice to see ladies dancing. But I never said I liked pipe music. Of this I am certain. I cling to this fact. 
Yet there are eleven pipers, piping, outside my window now. One of them is holding a partridge. I think the partridge is mocking me.


Twelfth Day of Christmas
DEAR SIR, MOST LOATHED AND LOATHSOME OF ALL BEINGS, 
Today I returned to my home. 
Here is what I have. 
Twelve drummers, drumming. Twenty-two pipers, piping. Thirty strange men jumping up and down. Thirty-six ladies, performing an elaborate choreographed drum-pipe dance. Forty milkmaids. (They have a cow with them, but I do not like to count the cow.) Forty-two swans, crowded painfully into a tank built for seven. Forty-two geese and more goose-eggs than I can shake a stick at. Forty gold rings, although I am going to sell them to pay for the removal of all these animals. Thirty-six calling birds, calling. Thirty french hens. Thirty! I thought six was bad. Twenty-two turtledoves, including the one who bit me. Twelve highly agitated partridges. 
You are sick, sick, sick. I never want to see you or speak to you again. I have been reported for animal hoarding and noise pollution. There is no surface in my home unpolluted by the touch of a filthy bird.  
Ronald bit a policeman today. 
YOU ARE A MONSTER AND I HATE YOU.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

In the United States, "happy holidays" (along with the similarly generalized "season's greetings") has become a common holiday greeting in the public sphere of department stores, public schools and greeting cards. Its use is generally confined to the period between United States Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. The phrase "happy holidays" has been used as a Christmas greeting in the United States for more than 100 years.

The increasing usage of "happy holidays" has been the subject of some controversy in the United States. Advocates claim that "happy holidays" is an inclusive greeting that is not intended as an attack on Christianity or other religions, but is rather a response to what they say is the reality of
a growing non-Christian population.


Critics of "happy holidays" generally claim it is a secular neologism. The greeting may be deemed materialistic, consumerist, atheistic, indifferentist, agnostic, politically correct or anti-Christian. Critics of the phrase have associated it with a larger cultural clash termed the "War on Christmas". The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has stated the uproar is based on "stories that only sometimes even contain a grain of truth and often are completely false.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Chanukah! With Bananas!

Have a Banana! Have 8 Bananas! Or, to be more accurate - have 9 bananas! Abq Jew is sure (how sure? not very sure ...) that you, his loyal readers, took very close notice when Maurizio Cattelan offered to sell each of his three-of-a-kind banana-on-the-wall-with-duct-tape sculptures ... for a measly $120,000.


Well, Chanie Apfelbaum - who on Facebook is known as Chanie Apfelbaum, but who on Twitter is known as @BusyInBrooklyn - has done even better with her Banana Chanukiah creation.

But back to Maurizio Cattelan. Andrew Russeth of Art News recently wrote:
Is Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 Banana Sculpture a Cynical Sign of the Times or a Thrilling Artwork? Yes! 
At the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on impeachment yesterday, the Republican’s expert witness, law professor Jonathan Turley, testified that everyone in America is “mad.” 
“My Republican friends are mad,” he said. “My Democratic friends are mad. My wife is mad. My kids are mad. Even my dog seems mad, and Luna is a goldendoodle and they don’t get mad.” 
And Professor Turley had presumably not even heard about Maurizio Cattelan’s new sculpture. 
As you may know by now, the semi-retired artist, whose last major creation was a golden toilet titled America (2016), has now taped a banana to a wall of Perrotin gallery’s booth at Art Basel Miami Beach, the glitzy bazaar that alights in that flood-endangered city every December. 
It is titled Comedian, and it is priced at $120,000. Three were available, and the first two apparently sold on opening day.
The third duct-taped banana, as Abq Jew is sure ... everyone knows, was removed from the Art Basel Miami Beach art gallery's wall and eaten.

Which may or may not have inspired Chanie Apfelbaum to create both her Banana Chanukiah and her accompanying poem:


THIS WORLD IS BANANAS
Photo/Text By Chanie Apfelbaum
@busyinbrooklyn

some people are mushy
some people are green
some people are rotten
some lack self esteem

some are bent over
some out of shape
some freckled and spotted
some wrapped in tape

some people are sweet
some people are yellow
some dont a-peel
'cuz they're just too mellow

but no matter the color
no matter the stage
we're all ripe with purpose
so let go of the rage

if you peel back the layers
you'll find there's a spark
so love it, accept it!
and we'll LIGHT THE DARK.

#shinebright
#prayersforjerseycity


In the meantime ... Rabbi Mark Goodman - who on Facebook is known as Mark Goodman, but who on Twitter is known as @RabbiMarkAsherG - has come up with a series of eight (8) psychological interpretations of the various spellings of our upcoming holiday. One for each night!
Channuka. You've got the first syllable grammatically correct, but not the last. You love chaos. Your apartment is a mess. 
Hannukkah. Two doubled letters; sort of unnecessary, but has lovely symmetry. You like beautiful, extravagant things. You long for, but likely cannot afford, a Louis the XIV armoire and chest set.

Chanukah. You want the Hebrew letters to be precisely & accurately reflected in the translation. You love order. You read Marie Kondo's book and wept, sobbing 'I feel seen.'

Hanuka. You are a rebel and an outlaw. You scoff at convention. You were a goth in the grunge era; you went to the first Burning Man and left before it 'turned corporate'; you hate all things conventional. Your personal finances are a mess.

Channukka. Nobody does this. Nobody.

Channukkah. Literally this is the most letters you could use, indicating that you are a maximalist - go big or stay home. You play music loud. You tell huge, possibly fabricated stories to your friends but they love it. You are on a 1st name basis w/an orthopedist.

Hanukah. A classic and traditional way to spell it. You like comfy couches and warm blankets. 'Antiques Road Show' is your go-to tv program. You like to bake, knit, do woodwork, and garden. You actually remember to write thank you notes.

Hanukkah. A little of everything; logical, but with flair, and yet still conventional. Modern but not avant-garde, pragmatic and yet still fun. Your apartment is cluttered yet neat. You really like the Gap, but also thrift shops. People tend to get along with you. 

But really. It is important to remember that, while almost all of world Jewry celebrates חנוכּה (however they spell it) - with sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), latkes, and gingerbread -

Thank you, Jacob Richman!

there is another tiny segment of world Jewry that doesn't celebrate חנוכּה (however they spell it) at all. To that tiny segment, Abq Jew (along with Twitter's Feldheim Rejects) can only pray - may their numbers decrease!


Of course, we Diaspora Jews are particularly aware that there is another world-celebrated (through a trick of history) festival approaching this week, which (see 2015's All Ye Faithful) can best be celebrated






wait for it






... with goats!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Nice Gate You've Got There

The Great Gate of Kiev: Well, Ukraine certainly seems to be in the news these days, doesn't it? And with it, of course, Kiev, the capital city.


Abq Jew - as you, his loyal readers, surely know by now - is of the Old School. In fact, Abq Jew was its first graduate - and therefore remembers Kiev as a city in, you should forgive the expression, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. You know - Ye Olde USSR.

And even before that - as just another place in, again you should forgive the expression, Russia.  Abq Jew's mishpocha is mostly from Odessa - also once in Russia, now in Ukraine.

Back then, Kiev was a Russian two-syllable proper noun. Nowadays - to show our support for the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine (not "the Ukraine" - see below) - Kyiv is a one-syllable Ukrainian proper noun that is difficult to pronounce. As Karen Zraick of The New York Times tells us.
Wait, How Do You Pronounce Kiev?
The pronunciations heard during Wednesday’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee left some spectators scratching their heads. We asked two experts.
Key-EV or KEEV? Ukraine or THE Ukraine? The testimony in the public impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday spurred discussion of the right way to say each, so we asked two experts. 
The first question, they said, is by far the trickier of the two. 
Yuri Shevchuk, a lecturer in Ukrainian at Columbia University, said that native Ukrainians stress the first vowel, and pronounce it like the “i” in the word “kid” or “lid.” 
The second vowel is pronounced as a separate syllable, and sounds like the “ee” sound in “keel.” The v is also pronounced a bit differently, like the end of the word “low.” It’s a bit hard to describe. 
But spoken in Russian, Kiev, Ukraine’s capital and home to about three million people, sounds more like “Key-EV.” Americans tend to be more accustomed to hearing it the Russian way. (The official language in Ukraine is Ukrainian.)
. . . 
On to the second question: Is it Ukraine or THE Ukraine? Americans have used both. 
For decades, the country was part of the Soviet Union, and “the Ukraine” was used in English. But after it became independent in 1991, the preferred name became “Ukraine.” 
“Ukraine wants its independence to be acknowledged, so no article,” said Irina Reyfman, the chair of the Slavic languages department at Columbia University.

Abq Jew would know nothing of Ukraine and Kiev (and still knows precious little) were it not for the two men pictured above.

On the right is Viktor Alexandrovich Hartmann (1834–1873), a Russian architect and painter. And we (OK ... Abq Jew) might never have heard of him, were it not for his friend -

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839–1881), a Russian composer, many of whose works were inspired by Russian history and Russian folklore. Such works include the opera Boris Godunov, the orchestral tone poem Night on Bald Mountain, and the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition.


Most of us classical music aficionados know Pictures at an Exhibition through Maurice Ravel's 1922 version for full symphony orchestra. Which is by no means a bad way to know Pictures.

Here's the backstory.

Modest Mussorgsky's friend Viktor Hartmann suddenly died in 1873 - at age 39 - from an aneurysm. Hartmann's death shook Mussorgsky along with others in Russia's art world, and plunged Mussorgsky into deep despair.

Hartmann's friends organized a memorial exhibition of over 400 of Hartmann's drawings and watercolors in the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg in February and March 1874.

Mussorgsky contributed Hartmann's art to and (of course) visited the exhibition. He then contributed his music to Hartmann's memory: the composition we know as Pictures at an Exhibition. Which begins with the well-known Promenade.


And which then takes us on a wonderful if, today, mysterious, musically-guided tour of, well, the pictures at the exhibition. So, Abq Jew hears you ask -

Which of Hartmann's pictures were displayed
at that Saint Petersburg 
exhibition?

Funny you should ask. Today, most of the pictures from the Hartmann exhibition are lost, making it impossible to be sure in many cases which of Hartman's works Mussorgsky had in mind.


But we are very, very sure of one of them - Hartmann's sketch for the design for city gates at Kiev. The culmination of the exhibition and the composition, The Great Gate of Kiev.


To which the only proper response is


Abq Jew must tell you (he must! he must!) - you must, at least once in your lifetime, hear The Great Gate of Kiev in a concert hall. It will bring tears to your eyes and blow your socks off.


Sorta makes you want to fly over and visit Kyiv and see The Great Gate of Kiev, doesn't it? (While we must always remember and never forget the ... troubled ... Jewish history of Ukraine, let's just say - and hope - that things are different now. The President of Ukraine is a MOT!). But there's one small problem.

Here's the backstory.

As we all remember from high school World History - on April 4, 1866, Tsar Alexander II narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the city of Kiev.

So, they(?) organized a competition for the design of a Great Gate to commemorate what they(?) all politely referred to as

"the event of April 4, 1866."

Victor Hartmann's design for The Great Gate of Kiev caused a sensation, and Hartmann himself felt it was the finest work he had yet done. And yet.

Tsars then being Tsars, Tsar Alexander II cancelled the project. Thus:

There is no Great Gate of Kiev.

However, Kiev does have a Golden Gate.
"Forever with Moscow. Forever with the Russian people," created by Soviet Ukrainian
painter Mykhaylo Khmelko in 1951 for the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav,
the agreement the Cossacks of Ukraine struck with Russia in 1654. 

And this concludes today's Russian History lesson.
Want more? See 2018's Pushkin on Jeopardy!