Thursday, October 22, 2020

It's Noah Time, Once More

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 whatever Hurricane Epsilon's path turns out to be, to be safe and stay secure. 

Hurricane Epsilon

Hurricane Epsilon is (Abq Jew claims) the 26th named storm and 10th named hurricane of this season. If you consider "Epsilon" a name. We long ago used up the permitted (hey, some aren't!) letters of the English alphabet. 

Hurricane Epsilon will be the final named hurricane of this season (Abq Jew also claims), because no one (certainly no one in the White House) can remember what comes after Epsilon.

Alright ... Abq Jew looked it up. The next three Greek letters turn out to be the names of Abq Jew's favorite Rosenfield relatives - his grandmother and her two sisters. Zeta, Eta, and Theta. Or, as we used to call them -

Three Bubbes
Bubbe Kama   Bubbe Metzia   Bubbe Batra

Alright ... this is an old yeshiva joke. Possibly THE OLDEST yeshiva joke. Abq Jew can tell - you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, don't care one Iota. Good old Uncle Iota!

But for those of you who were not fortunate enough to attend a yeshiva for even a short time (some say the shorter the better), be it known that
Bava Kamma (Talmudic Aramaic: בבא קמא "The First Gate") is the first of a series of three Talmudic tractates in the order Nezikin ("Damages") that deal with civil matters such as damages and torts. 

The other two of these tractates are Bava Metzia (Talmudic Aramaic: בבא מציעא "The Middle Gate") and Bava Batra (Talmudic Aramaic: בבא בתרא "The Last Gate").

Originally all three formed a single tractate called Nezikin, each "Bava" meaning "part" or "subdivision." Bava Kamma discusses various forms of damage and the compensation owed for them.
Hurricane Get Ready

The odds are low that Hurricane Epsilon will strike the US mainland. But the odds were low that we wouldn't now be re-electing President HRC, too. So 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. 

Surely you remember (and if she doesn't, please remind her) that it was just eight (8) 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.


Wait it gets better

Abq Jew just discovered this wonderful version, by Andrew Leibowitz!


Parshat Noach. A time to


Send out the dove.


Watch for the plaid in the rainbow.

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

And remember the stegosaurus.

Poughkeepsie


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Breaking Down Walls

Packing Up SukkotNow that the Festival of Sukkot (as well as the holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah) have passed, now that Shabbat Bereshit is behind us, Jews all over the world turn to packing up our elegant or makeshift sukkot and moving determinedly forward.

Yes, Abq Jew knows. We didn't break down our sukkot walls last week, even though we could have, because ... well, you, know, just because.

Ziggy Sleepy Hollow

And yes, Abq Jew reminds you, it was only four years ago that the Chicago Cubs, on Rosh Hodesh MarHeshvan (the "bitter" holiday-free month of Heshvan), won the 2016 World Series.

Chicago Cubs

Oh, those were happy days
(unless you were a Cleveland fan).

We celebrated Chicago's victory over The Fates along with native son President Barack Obama and his bright, good-looking, and virtuous family.

And we looked forward to the upcoming elections, as we prepared to deliver the White House (and the Capitol!) to one of the smartest, most experienced, and most capable candidates in our nation's history.

As we all know -

It's been straight downhill since then.

Wher are we going

But now, after four of the longest years in recorded history -

Gov MLG
We've got a chance to turn this around!

Before we get to Thanksgiving - when we are obligated to be thankful for the many blessings we have, as Americans, indeed received, present circumstances notwithstanding - we pause in our time-travels to

Vote Biden Harris

VOTE!

We have a chance - a real opportunity - to break down the walls that divide us. By exchanging our holiday booths for our voting booths.


Abq Jew is extremely proud to tell you that the talented songwriter of Break Down These Walls is his very own cousin, Moss Henry. Who also sings it, with a bunch of musician (and video) friends to accompany him.

A message of hope, as we try to find a way through this Covid-19 pandemic.

Jewish Dems

Jews 4 Joe

Katy Duhigg

Abq Jew would like to take a moment to remind you, his loyal readers, that Abq Jew LLC is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and may therefore promote political candidates and issues.

If you like what Abq Jew does - please 

Buy Abq Jew a Coffee

Looks Like Progress

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

A Milestone: 1 Million Page Views

To Life! To Life! L'Chaim!  Sometime in the morning of Saturday, October 10, 2020 (10/10/2020) - as we Children of Israel were observing (Prayer for Rain! Yizkor!) the mystery holiday of Shemini Atzeret and preparing for the virtual celebration of Simchat Torah in the midst of this evil Covid-19 pandemic - this Abq Jew Blog achieved 

1,000,000 = 1 Million
One Million All Time Page Views

1 Million Page Views

We achieved 900,000 All Time Page Views
on May 5, 2020 - just 5 months ago.

That's 630 Page Views per Day. Give or take.
And 1,253 published blog posts.
Plus 4,200 Facebook Likes and 3,300 Twitter Followers.
Thank you!

Abq Jew published his first blog post on September 19, 2010. Ten years and 3 weeks later (3,675 days), this Abq Jew Blog achieved 1,000,000 (1 Million) Page Views. That's about 273 Page Views per Day, averaged over 10 years.

To break it down even further (as Abq Jew is delighted to do), this Abq Jew Blog took about
  • Four years and 2 weeks to achieve its first 250,000 Page Views on October 1, 2014. That's about 170 Page Views per day.
  • Two years and 2½ months to achieve its second 250,000 Page Views on December 17, 2016. That's about 309 Page Views per day.
  • Two years to achieve its third 250,000 Page Views on December 14, 2018. That's about 340 Page Views per day.
  • One year and 10 months to achieve its fourth 250,000 Page Views on October 10, 2020. That's about 375 Page Views per day. 

Technical Writer

1,000,000, according to many sources, is a full million.
During Abq Jew's entire 30+ years as a technical writer,
probably no more than 36,000 (SWAG*)
ever read what he wrote - manuals, guides,
online help, training documents, procedures.
Therefore: 1M in 10 years is a big deal.
* SWAG = Scientific Wild Ass Guess

Little Kids Big Dogs

But there's more to it than that.

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl
And he called for his fiddlers three.

Looks pretty simple, eh what? But, in its original form, this well-known nursery rhyme is awfully redundant and terribly repetitious. Let's see if we can write it more, shall we say, technically.

Old King Cole was a merry old soul.
He called for his:
          • Pipe
          • Bowl
          • Three (3) fiddlers
Now isn't that better? Try reading this version to your toddler! The redundancy and repetition have been eliminated, and only the pertinent facts are presented - clearly and unambiguously. It's even got a bullet list! 

Technically, 
that's how Abq Jew wrote, 
for 30+ award-winning years, 
before moving to Albuquerque
and becoming Abq Jew.

So, Abq Jew queries: How do you know good technical writing when you see it? Among other things (like, say, accuracy), 

When technical writing is good,
you can't tell who wrote it.

Whereas, with more creative styles - 

Creative writing can't be good 
if you can't tell who wrote it.

After 30+ years of writing (and editing, and publishing) technically, it is an honor and a privilege to be able to write - for 10+ years - creatively. 

For which Abq Jew must say to you, his loyal readers -

Thank you!

Abq Jew can imagine y'all asking - what were Abq Jew's most popular blog posts over the years? Here, then, are

Seven

Abq Jew's Top 7 Blog Posts

7. Ralph Branca, Jew
August 15, 2011

6. Maestro Rabbenu Placido Domingo
March 30, 2016

3. You've Got Hate Mail!
February 1, 2017

2. Christopher Columbus, MOT?
May 30, 2012

1. Rabbinic Activism in New Mexico
May 12, 2014

Banjo Gets Worse Elevator

More to follow, Billy Nader!
If you like what Abq Jew does - please 



Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Five Down, Two to Go

Yontif Yontif Yontif: Two days of the Rosh Hashanah that everyone wants to forget - except that it got us into 5781, which surely must be better than 5780, at least the last few months of it. 

One fast day of Yom Kippur, when we granted The Holy One, Blessed Be He, forgiveness. Two days of Sukkot, the Season of Our Joy. Oy.

And yet we have a feeling something isn't quite right.

Tex Had Feeling

As Abq Jew writes this, it is still Sukkot, the Festival of Booths.

Ziman Simchatenu

To be superseded this weekend by Shemini Atzeret, the mystery holiday no one knows what to do with. And Simchat Torah, which, this year, will involve virtual celebration, as we await Rebbe Nachman's seventh beggar (the legless dancer, for those who are following along).

Shemini Atzeret Simchat Torah

Yes, this is still The Season of Our Joy. 

And, although it seems that the Ship of State has hit the sand -

Ship Hits Sand

Who knew it would happen the way it did?

Covid White House

Fortunately, as every Jew who has seen Fiddler On The Roof knows, there is an appropriate blessing for President Trump as he (and his doctors) do battle with Covid-19.

May G-d bless and keep the president...
far away from us.

Or, as another sage has so aptly put it -

May the president have a long recovery.

Which brings us to the one and only

Danny K Bernstein
Danny K Bernstein

No, not the actor who played Tevye in the 2015 Broadway revival. Just a very talented guy who writes parodies about our nation's leaders and (lehavdil) full-length musicals. You can follow him on Instagram at @dannykbernstagram.

Anyway, Danny has written a delightful and meaningful parody of Tevye's Dream. Which, if by some chance, you don't recall, goes like this:


Here are Danny's new words:

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

Donald!!! Donaaaaaaaaaaaald!!!!!!

What is this about your senate rushing my replacement??

COMPANY:

Her replacement!

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

Would you do this even after blocking Merrick Garland?

COMPANY:

Merrick Garland!

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

Have you no consideration for my dying wishes??

COMPANY:

Dying wishes!

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

Naming my successor right-wing Amy Coney Barrett

COMPANY:

Coney Barrett.

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

How can you allow it? How?
How can you let that woman take my place?
Sit on that bench?
Roll back our rights?
And wear my robes, robes, how!!!

Even such a dope as Donald wouldn't let it happen!!

COMPANY:

Let it happen!

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

Tell me that it isn't done and that I shouldn't haunt you.

COMPANY:

Shouldn't haunt you!

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

Say your stupid senate won't confirm your nomination!

COMPANY:

Nomination!!!

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

Let me tell you what will follow such a fatal hearing.

COMPANY:

Fatal hearing!

FRUMA RUTH BADER GINSBURG:

If Donald's nomination stands,
I pity you ALL!

I'll be dead for TWO WEEKS, and when TWO weeks are up,

I will come to you by night,
with viruses in tow,
and YOU will be infected,
SHE will be infected,
THEY will be infected!

*laughter*

Here's my final ruling 

if you try to screw my COURT!!!!!

Obituaries

Which brings us to 

Sasha Sanderovich
Sasha Sanderovich

No, not the one you're thinking of. Abq Jew refers to the Assistant Professor in the Slavic Department, the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, and the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Anyway, on the occasion of #TrumpHasCovid, Sasha reminds us of an old Soviet Jewish joke.

Every morning, for days and weeks on end, Rabinovich stands in line to the newspaper kiosk, asks the clerk for the day’s copy of Pravda, looks at the front page, and then returns the paper without buying. 

"Comrade Rabinovich,” the kiosk clerk finally asks. “What are you looking for every day?”

“An obituary.”

“But the obituaries are printed on the last page,
not the front page!”

“The obituary I’m looking for will be on the front page.”

Mark & Shania Twain

Lots of people have said that it was Mark Twain (shown here with Shania) who famously said (although he probably didn't)

"I've never wished a man dead, but I have
read some obituaries with great pleasure."

Which brings us to

Mandy Patinkin Kathryn Grody
Mandy Patinkin & Kathryn Grody

Yes, him. Or he. Mandy tells us that his "glorious AF wife Kathryn" helped with his latest campaign video. And, he continues -

Whatever the polls say,
 we have to stay calm and resolute in this fight,
giving whatever time, money, and power we can. 

Get active to get out the vote TODAY at www.thelastweekends.org/doit
#GOTV #createtheoutcome #VOTE.


Jewish Dems

Jews 4 Joe

Abq Jew would like to take a moment to remind you, his loyal readers, that Abq Jew LLC is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and may therefore promote political candidates and issues.

If you like what Abq Jew does - please 

Buy Abq Jew a Coffee

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Putting Up Walls

Building SukkotNow that Yom Kippur and the Days of Awe have passed, Jews all over the world turn to rejoicing.

We complete building our sukkot (booths), round up our lulav and etrog (the four species), and wait with eager anticipation for the Festival of Sukkot  - the Season of Our Joy - to begin.

We recite the Full Hallel for all the days of the holiday, for our joy is complete. Yet we eat meals in the sukkah - a rickety, temporary dwelling.

Abq Jew hears you ask

How can living in a booth be joyful?

Rabbi Louis Jacobs explained in a My Jewish Learning article:

The sukkah is called a “temporal dwelling,” as distinct from the “permanent dwelling” in which people normally live. 
On the basis of this the idea has been read into the sukkah of a symbolic surrender of too-close an attachment to material things. The Jew leaves his house to stay in the sukkah where he enjoys divine protection. 
Judaism does not frown on material possessions, if these are honestly acquired, but, by leaving his home to stay in the sukkah, the Jew declares that it is the spiritual side of human existence that brings true joy into life.

Here is Abq Jew's view:

The sukkah teaches us that
all our dwellings are temporary.

Black Rock Inn
Flames from the Glass Fire consume the Black Rock Inn, late Sunday,
Sept. 27, 2020, in St. Helena, Calif.  (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

And because all dwellings are temporary,
we Jews rejoice in our sukkot during our festival.

Happy Sukkot

Haven't built your sukkah yet? Need help?

If you need help building your sukkah, Abq Jew is happy to provide advice from Rebbetzin Rivka Leah Zelwig (see Building Your Sukkah)!

All it takes is unionized construction labor, unrestricted financial resources for materials, a rented storage locker (or a three car garage), a degree in Exterior Design, hours of fervent prayer, and a mechona. Or a kit.

In any (Jewish) event, as our beloved Dr Seuss explains - there are rules!

Rules of the Sukkah - An infographic by www.sukkahworld.com

OK ... the Rules of the Sukkah was actually written by one Rabbi Arthur E Gould, about whom Abq Jew could discover ... nothing. But please note (pun fully intended) that these Rules are fully annotated. As they should be. As follows.
  1. Maimonides (RMBM) Mishne Torah, Hilchot Sukkah, Chapter 4, Section 1. The minimum height of a Sukkah is 10 tepachim. A tepach is a measure of the width of the four fingers of one’s hand. My hand is 3 ¼ inches wide for a minimum Sukkah height of 32 ½ inches. The minimum allowable width is 7 tepachim by 7 tepachim. This would result in a Sukkah of 22 ¾ inches by 22 ¾ inches.
  2. The maximum height is 20 Amot. An Amah is the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. My Amah is 15 ½ inches for a maximum height of 25 feet. Others say that 30 feet is the maximum.
  3. According to RMBM the Sukkah can be built to a width of several miles. Shulchan Aruch also says there is no limit on the size of the width.
  4. RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 6.
  5. RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 11. RMBM states that one may construct a Sukkah by wedging poles in the four corners of the roof and suspending scakh from the poles. The walls of the building underneath are considered to reach upward to the edge of the scakh.
  6. RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 8-10 discusses the ins and outs of building your Sukkah in an alley or passageway
  7. There is a location referred to in the Talmud called Ashtarot Karnayim. According to the discussion there are two hills, with a valley in between where the Sun does not reach. Talmud Bavli, Sukkot 2a. Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz (of Congregation Adath Israel in San Francisco) commented on this line, which now reads correctly. The halacha is that you can build your Sukkah in Ashtarot Karnayim, or other places where the sun does not reach the Sukkah because of artificial impediments, provided that if the impediment were removed, shade from the sun would now come through the scakh. Who is wise? One who learns from all! (The original line is now in parenthesis and grayed out)
  8. RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 6. You can go into a Sukkah built on a wagon or a ship even on Yom Tov.
  9. RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 6. OK, RMBM says a camel but dragon rhymes with wagon a lot better, don’t you agree. Anyway, RMBM says you can build your Sukkah on a wagon or in the crown of a tree, but you can’t go into it on Yom Tov. There is a general rule against riding a beast or ascending into the crown of a tree on Yom Tov.
  10. Chapter 5 deals with the rules for the scakh. Basically, you can use that which has grown from the ground, and is completely detached from the ground. So, for example, you cannot bend the branches of a tree over the Sukkah to form the scakh. But you can cut the branches from a tree and use them as scakh.
  11. This would be a violation of the rule cited in the prior footnote.
  12. Shulchan Aruch, Hilchot Sukkah, Perek 636, Section 1 The Sukkah should not be built sooner than 30 days before the Hag. However, if the structure is built prior to 30 days, as long as something new is added within the 30 days, the Sukkah is kosher.
  13. Of course it’s a well known rule that you must sit in the shade from the roof of the Sukkah and not in the shade that may be cast by the walls. It seems that this might affect the height of the walls, depending on the longitude of the location where you are building your Sukkah.
  14. Traditionally, women, servants and minors are patur from the Mitzvah of Sukkah. In our day we hope we know better than to read out half the Jewish people from the observance of Mitzvot. Of course, that’s just a personal opinion of the author.
  15. RMBM ibid Chapter 6, Section 6 explains that you should eat, drink and live in the Sukkah for the 7 days as you live in your own home. One should not even take a nap outside of the Sukkah.
  16. RMBM ibid, Section 10 If it rains one should go into the house. How does one know if it is raining hard enough? If sufficient raindrops fall through the scakh and into the food so that the food is spoiled – go inside!
King Solomon and the Bee

 הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים אָמַר קֹהֶלֶת, הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים הַכֹּל הָבֶל

Ashkenazim read Koheleth (Ecclesiastes) on the Shabbat of the Intermediate Days of Sukkot. If there is no Intermediate Sabbath of Sukkot, Ashkenazim  follow the Sephardic custom of reading it on Shemini Atzeret.
Koheleth is read on Sukkot as a reminder not to get too caught up in the festivities of the holiday, and to carry over the happiness of Sukkot to the rest of the year by telling the listeners that, without God, life is meaningless.


Happy Sukkot


Monday, September 21, 2020

Mourning Notorious R.B.G.

Baruch Dayan Emet | Nishmata Eden: Could Rosh Hashanah 5781 have been more bittersweet? As we Jews dipped apples in honey and wished each other a good and sweet year, we learned of the death of beloved Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Notorious RBG zl

A tribute: Moment Magazine, North America’s premier Jewish magazine, celebrated its 40th anniversary in June 2015 (see Advice from Notorious R.B.G.).

Moment proudly provided a Symposium on Wisdom for the Next Generation, with contributions from such notables as Theodore Bikel, Ruth Gruber, Walter Laqueur, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and Elie Wiesel, all of very blessed memory. 

What life experience, advice or piece of wisdom
do you think is most important
to pass on to the next generation?

Jonathan Sacks

 Lehavdil - Rabbi Lord (what a title! only in England!) Jonathan Sacks offered:

Wisdom is free, yet it is also the most expensive thing there is, for we tend to acquire it through failure or disappointment or grief. That is why we try to share our wisdom, so that others will not have to pay the price for it that we paid. Judaism has taught me far more about life than the space allows for here, but I do want to share with you three key lessons I have learned.

First, use your time well. Life is short, too short to waste on television, computer games and unnecessary emails; too short to waste on idle gossip, or envying others for what they have; too short for anger and indignation; too short to waste on criticizing others. “Teach us to number our days,” says Psalm 90, “that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

But any day on which you have done some good to someone has not been wasted.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death we mourn even as we celebrate her life, certainly used her time well. Here is the wisdom she offered to Moment in 2015.

Let me tell you about an experience I had. It’s a problem that still exists, although not to the same extent.

In the 1970s, I was a teacher at Columbia Law School. I got a call from the head of the lower school at my son James’s school asking me to come down to discuss my lively son’s latest escapade. I got those calls about once a month.

That day, I was particularly weary and I responded to the call,

 “This child has two parents. 
Please alternate calls. It’s his father’s turn.”

So they called Marty. What was James’s offense?

He stole the elevator.

It was one of those hand-operated elevators and the elevator operator had gone out for a smoke.

One of James’s classmates dared him to take the kindergartners up to the top floor, so he did. Marty’s response was 

Elevator

“How far could he take it?”

The school was much more reluctant to call a man away from his work. I think that young women with children are still experiencing that. They’re expected to do it all—do their job but take care of all the family things. The dental checkups, the new shoes.

If you see work and family as part of your life, of every human’s life, then the men should be involved in raising children … And a woman should not feel guilt that she’s working. Raising children is a shared responsibility.
Notorious RBG

How, Abq Jew hears you ask, did the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg become Notorious R.B.G.? This article by Hunter Schwartz in Time Magazine sheds some light.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg goes full Notorious RBG 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg's photo for the "Time 100" is perfect. Wearing a glove, she holds her hand to her face with a slight smirk. The pose looks like something inspired by a rap album cover, and the glove evokes early Madonna. 
She looks like a justice, but she also looks like a rock star. It's the ultimate visual representation of the meme that has become "The Notorious RBG." 
Ginsburg's evolution into a progressive millennial icon has come thanks to her Supreme Court opinions and outspokenness. The "Notorious" Tumblr didn't hurt either.

However, as Abq Jew advances, day by day (the universally approved rate) on Old Age, his favorite picture of Notorious RBG may (that's a caveat) always be

RBG Asleep for SOTU
'Notorious' Ruth Bader Ginsburg 'Wasn't 100 Percent Sober'
at the 2015 State of the Union


RBG Fearless Girl

May the Memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
be a Blessing and an Inspiration for Us All