Monday, April 6, 2020

It's Pesach 5780!

Passover Is Almost Here: A time when we used to gather with friends and family, to celebrate our Holiday of Freedom.


This year, Pesach will be different.

Abq Jew's friend Jacob Richman (formerly of Brooklyn, now of Ma'aleh Adumim) reminds us:


The coronavirus is a serious matter,
but sometimes humor can relieve the stress.
Refuah shleima (get completely well)
if you have the virus or are in quarantine.


In spite of everything - what would Passover be without videos? Abq Jew here thoughtfully provides seven (7) of the newest - made especially for 5780's Days of Matzah (aka Pesach). And one more (maftir), just for luck.

OK ... some of them were just made for "this season" - but they can help cheer us as we approach our holiday.

Want to see Abq Jew's three (3) classics? They're here too!

1. A family from Kent who shared a video of their living room performance of a lockdown-themed adaptation of a Les Misérables song have become a sensation online. Ben and Danielle Marsh and their four children changed the lyrics of One Day More to reflect common complaints during the Covid-19 lockdown. They say the video, which has gone viral, was intended to give friends and family a laugh during this stressful time.


2. The Sound of a Pandemic! Don't worry, Maria and the Von Trapplings know how to deal with it! The song is not intended to be taken seriously - I made it to humour myself and am quite blown away at the following it's got over such a short time. No, wine is not a cure for the virus. Neither is whinging or blobbing (real words.) No, they're not good at social distancing in the video - it was released in 1965. Stay safe and in your bubbles - greetings from New Zealand.


3. The Fab Four have "come together" to remind us that CLEAN HANDS SAVE LIVES! To learn when and how to wash your hands, click here.


4. More Beatles - Yesterday (Lockdown A Capella Version)


5. Stayin' Inside - Corona Virus Bee Gees Parody. Stay inside and wash your hands! Hope everybody is staying safe, and staying inside!


6. When life hands you lemons ... what do you do? Well, the obvious answer is: Record, shoot, mix and edit a full cover for the Friends Theme Song with new and funny lyrics that matches the current situation!  So everyone, let's all make some lemonade!


7. We’re All Home Bound- the Corona Virus Song



8. Now for something completely different: Vin Scully calls Kirk Gibson's full at-bat that finishes with a legendary walk-off homer during Game 1 (October 15) of the 1988 World Series. Ah yes, Abq Jew remembers it well.


Good things can happen, even in the darkest of times.
We just have to wait for the right pitch.


As promised - 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 and Zoom are never enough.


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


AbqJew.net & AbqJew.com
Your guide to Jewish life in Albuquerque and beyond

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


Thursday, April 2, 2020

This Year, Pesach

Will Be Different: In the old days - last year, and every year before that most of us can remember - Passover was a time to gather with friends and family, to celebrate our Holiday of Freedom. That's the way it always used to be.

https://www.abqjew.net/2015/04/the-walk-of-life.html

This year, Pesach will be different.

But, as Rabbi Sue Fendrick tells us:

Sue Fendrick is a writer, editor, rabbi, spiritual director
and humorist who lives and works in the Boston area.

You Are Allowed to Have a Shvach Seder

You do not need to set up a multi-media, multi-layered presentation on Zoom. You do not need to cook 17 dishes that remind you of all the family members you are not gathering with. You do not need to do all the cool things that people are suggesting for small seders.

You do not need to go out on your mirpeset/porch at 11 pm and sing Chag Gadya with your neighbors. You do not need to compile an “in these times”-themed haggadah or seder supplement.

You are living through an international pandemic. For all of the support you have, for all of the jokes people are making, for all of the new Torah that is being learned...you are experiencing a collective trauma as an individual, within the daled amot/delimited space of your own home and your own life.

You may be managing others’ experience of that trauma. You are dealing with challenges you have never faced before. You may feel scared, angry, depressed, or lost.

If you want to and can do any of the above for a maximalist seder night, great. But if you don’t want to and/or can’t, it is totally fine to cook a modest meal, throw together a seder plate at the last minute, get up to make salt water when it’s time for karpas because you forgot to do it before, make decisions on the fly about how much to talk about each step of the seder and what to read and not to read.

Light the candles. Bless the wine/grape juice and the holiday. Eat the symbols. Be together. Talk about some things. Read some things. Be energized, or be tired. Do things you never did before because “what an opportunity to have an intimate seder”, or do the minimum. Go to sleep knowing you have fulfilled your obligation.


You do not need to make up for the seder
you are not having, or the seder
you wish you could have.
 

Do this year’s seder(s) however that works for you this year. Do your best to keep yourself and your family healthy. Connect to the themes of Passover—getting out of narrow places, celebrating life, gratitude, remembering our obligations to each other and to all others.

Dayeinu. That is more than enough.
Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick, copyright 2020,
permission to share granted liberally with attribution


To give himself - and you, his loyal readers - hope that yes, this too shall pass, Abq Jew returns to 2016's The Walk of Life Project. Which posited, and then proved, that

is the perfect song to end any movie.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A New Yorker's Bedtime

National Doctors' Day: It turns out that yesterday - Monday March 30 - was National Doctors' Day. Who knew? Probably not doctors - or other healthcare workers - who were too busy at work to notice.


This "cartoon" by Mike Luckovich tells the whole story. This is where we are, and these are the people we are depending upon.

And yes, they are people. People with homes and families - all of whom are now at risk in a way that they were not before this coronavirus pandemic.


This year's Health Issue (April 6, 2020) of The New Yorker arrives in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic. The magazine’s cover, "Bedtime," is by Chris Ware, who wrote to The New Yorker about how he conceived the image.
As a procrastination tactic, I sometimes ask my fifteen-year-old daughter what the comic strip or drawing I’m working on should be about—not only because it gets me away from my drawing table but because, like most kids of her generation, she pays attention to the world. So, while sketching the cover of this Health Issue, I asked her. 
'Make sure it’s about how most doctors have children and families of their own,' she said. 
Good idea. And a personal one: one of her friend’s parents are both doctors; that friend, now distilled into a rectangular puddle of light on my daughter’s nightstand, reported that her mom had temporarily stopped going to work, pending the results of a covid-19 test. 
The last real job I had was delivering blood to hospitals, in the early nineteen-nineties. A beeping pager would drag me out of bed to groggily pilot a white Ford Escort to local emergency rooms, where I got to know the tired but determined lab techs and nurses. 
While they signed the requisite paperwork, we’d small-talk about what recent movies they might’ve seen, or they’d tell me about their families. Then I’d drive home, embarrassed by my thin ambition to be an artist but grateful that at least I could go back to sleep. 
While some of us fret about what Netflix shows to watch, an unnerving onslaught of articles, essays, and interviews with physicians describe the front they face in the coming weeks. 
Hospitals are almost sure to be overwhelmed by patients. Well-meaning folks are sewing homemade masks to make up for the lack of protective equipment. 
Doctors are sequestering themselves from their homes to avoid infecting their families. These seem like details in a bad movie script. 
What sort of nightmare are we waking up to?

Thankfully, neither Abq Jew nor The Washington Post's Alexandra Petri is an epidemiologist, but . . . Ms Petri writes -
Let me start by saying: I am not an epidemiologist. I do not know anything about diseases. Am I a doctor? Is an online certificate from the Universal Life Church a medical degree? 
Does owning a tiger make you a doctor, automatically? 

But not yet! Right now -


Thursday, March 26, 2020

How-To: A Socially Distant Seder

New Rules for Passover 5780: So - are we living in 'interesting times,' or what? It was only a week ago that Abq Jew asked (see Passover On Our Own):

Is it still Passover
if we seder by ourselves?

Alas, that is exactly what many of us are facing this year. Few family members, even fewer friends. No groups, large or small.

And then there's the bad news about Elijah the Prophet.


Remember when Malachi (3:24) the Last of the Prophets, in his Final Prophecy, told us

Behold, I send you the prophet Elijah.
And he will return the hearts of the fathers
to their children, and the hearts of the children
to their fathers.


Abq Jew is extremely sorry to inform you, his loyal readers, that Elijah will not personally be handling - or even supervising - heart returns this year. Abq Jew is sure this comes as a shock to many of us.


Who will drink the wine from Elijah's cup?

As with returning the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers -

We'll just have to take charge ourselves.


Passover is clearly going to be
a very different holiday for us this year. 

Here is a brief update on the precautions Mr & Mrs Abq Jew's friends are taking in light of the COVID-19 situation, so that they can make this Passover as safe as possible for their guests.

They have been instituting enhanced cleaning
and hygiene practices in their home. 

They have also been consulting with the CDC, the World Health Organization, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New Mexico's Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham - so that they are up to date on the latest recommendations, given the ever-changing situation.

Here are the instructions they've sent to their prospective seder guests.

Artist couple Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre made this viral animation
illustrating the importance of social distancing in stopping the spread of coronavirus.
Photo courtesy of Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre.

We will not panic,
but neither will we fail to prepare. 

So that you are prepared, we want to let you know about some changes in the Passover 2020 celebration:

1. To maintain social distancing, only two people will be allowed to attend at a time. We will be metering entry. We will be sending a Google doc so that you can sign up for your preferred portion of the seder in 15 minute shifts: The Four Questions; The Four Kinds of Children, Dayenu, The 10 Plagues, Elijah, and the Afikomen. We anticipate a lot of interest in the Plagues section, so we will have to make some hard choices. (NOTE: if you have children under 5 who can only attend with their parents, as long as they are entirely wrapped in plastic, you can bring them; no need to sign them up).

2. Some Seder practices and traditions will have to be modified. For example, the family style servings of haroset, matzoh, horseradish, and salt water will have to go. Each guest will receive a pre-packaged box of the essential ceremonial items, plus a bowl of matzoh ball soup. You should be able to cry your own salt water tears.

3. The ceremonial hand washing, however, will be emphasized. Everybody will wash their f*!@#!g hands every f*!@#!g five minutes.

4.  We inquired with the Almighty about the four glasses of wine limit and proposed raising it to eight. She said no problem at all. So there's that.

5. Elijah has advised that due to COVID-19 restrictions in his own organization, he will not be able to attend in person. He is learning to use Zoom (like the rest of us) and we are hopeful that he will be up to speed by then.

6. The 10 Plagues section will be modified to focus on the one obvious plague. The other plagues don't seem that relevant. The kids are hard at work making custom COVID-19 plague masks. The design will be reminiscent of a dog cone. The good news is that they won't mess up your hair! (And we are obviously not sticking our pinkies in our wine and placing drops on our plate and then drinking the wine!!)

7. For the Afikomen, we have determined that having children with grubby hands engage in a hunt all over the house for a small piece of matzah split between all the guests will not work. We will conduct the Afikomen ceremony ahead of time, wearing our N-95 masks and gloves, and apportion it in separately wrapped pieces.

We thank you for your understanding and cooperation. 

If, despite these changes, we are not able to hold the seder in person, don't worry. We will send everyone a Zoom link and it will be like you're actually there! If Zoom does not work, we will proceed by group text, or group sext depending on how we are feeling.

You will be hearing more from us as we navigate this unprecedented situation together. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns.



No, Abq Jew did not write these Seder 5780 instructions.
They've been circulating around the Internet, authorship unknown.
May they provide a bit of solace in these troubled times.



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Eric Weissberg, 'Dueling Banjos' Musician, Dies at 80

What A Banjo Player! Even if you never knew his name (although every banjo player and Americana musician surely did), you certainly knew his work.


Or at least what he was most famous for. Bill Friskics-Warren writes in The New York Times:
Eric Weissberg, a gifted multi-instrumentalist whose melodic banjo work on the 1973 hit single “Dueling Banjos” helped bring bluegrass music into the cultural mainstream, died on Sunday in a nursing home near Detroit. He was 80. 
Juliet Weissberg, his wife of 34 years, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease. 
Though the theme songs to the film “Bonnie & Clyde” (1967) and the CBS sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” both recorded by Flatt and Scruggs, preceded “Dueling Banjos” in exposing wide audiences to bluegrass, neither made it to the pop Top 40. 
“Dueling Banjos,” which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1972 movie “Deliverance,” fared far better, rising to No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart. 
The soundtrack to “Deliverance” was also certified gold, for sales of more than 500,000 copies. 
But Mr. Weissberg — who also played fiddle, mandolin and guitar — produced much more than a one-hit wonder. 
More than a decade before “Dueling Banjos,” he had distinguished himself as a member of two popular folk groups, the Greenbriar Boys and the Tarriers, and as an in-demand session musician in New York.
As a session player he appeared on Judy Collins’s “Fifth Album,” contributing guitar to her 1965 version of “Pack Up Your Sorrows.”
He played banjo on John Denver’s 1971 Top 10 pop hit, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” 
His fretwork was heard on albums like Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” (1974), Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” (1973) and the Talking Heads’ “Little Creatures” (1985). He collaborated with jazz musicians like Bob James and Herbie Mann as well.
Mr. Weissberg married Juliet Savage in 1985. In addition to her, he is survived by his son, Will, and two grandchildren. 

Oh yes, there's more. Here is a piece of what's on Wikipedia.
Weissberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Cecile (Glasberg), a liquor buyer, and Will Weissberg, a publicity photographer. 
He attended The Little Red Schoolhouse in New York's Greenwich Village and graduated from The High School of Music & Art in New York City. He went on to the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Juilliard School of Music. 
From 1956 to 1958, Weissberg frequently joined Bob Yellin, John Herald and Paul Prestopino at Washington Square Park to play on Sundays from 12-6pm. Public folk-singing in that park was forbidden by the city except for Sunday afternoons. 
John Herald the lead singer played guitar. Bob Yellin played guitar and 5-string. Weissberg usually played 5-string but also fiddle. Paul Prestopino played mandolin. 
Weissberg joined an early version of the Greenbriar Boys (1958–59), but left before they made any recordings. He joined the Tarriers, replacing Erik Darling
At the time, the Tarriers had had a hit with "Banana Boat Song"; Harry Belafonte's version, released soon afterward, became a bigger hit. 
On March 22, 2020, Weissberg died at the age of 80 from Alzheimer's disease at a nursing home near Detroit, Michigan. 
Steve Mandell, the “Dueling Banjos” guitar player, died on March 14, 2018.
Abq Jew believes that The Holy One, Blessed Be He, has a special place in Olam HaBa (The World to Come) for Jews who play bluegrass.


Monday, March 23, 2020

A Good Week to All of Us

An Erev Shabbat Message: It was certainly a long and trying week for many of us - culminating in a Shabbos that didn't feel like Shabbos. Especially with the prospect of more weeks, and more Shabboses, just like it.

Abq Jew found this Erev Shabbat message on Facebook (where else?) just before Shabbos, via a FB friend of a FB friend of a FB friend (how else?).
But it's a good message anytime.

It's from Rabbi Annie Tucker - the first female head rabbi of Temple Israel Center, a large Conservative synagogue in Westchester County, New York.
You can read more about her here.


Along with much of the Jewish world, New Mexico's Jewish community is moving online. Almost NOTHING is happening face-to-face. Virtually EVERYTHING that's happening is happening VIRTUALLY.

One of Rabbi Tucker's FB friends at The Jewish Center of Princeton wrote:
I just want to take a moment to honor the many clergy people, musicians, and Jewish educators who leaned into this week of uncertainty to hold the collective Jewish world together in a giant virtual hug.  
So many people generously lent their talents, voices, instruments, and words of comfort in new and innovative ways to touch people throughout the world. 

An Erev Shabbat (Friday Afternoon) Message

A Chasidic story tells of two brothers, Rabbi Elimeleh and Rabbi Zushe, who were once erroneously thrown in jail.

As they sat quietly in their cell, hoping for the chance to prove their innocence and be released, Rabbi Elimelech stood up suddenly.

“What are you doing?”  asked Rabbi Zushe.

“I’m getting ready for mincha (the afternoon service),” his brother replied.


Rabbi Zushe pointed to the toilet pail in the corner of the room.  “It is forbidden,” he reminded his brother, “to say mincha here because one is not allowed to pray in a room with a malodorous smell.”

Dejected, Rabbi Elimelech sat down and began to cry.

“Why are you so sad?,” asked Rabbi Zushe. “Is it because you’re unable to pray?”  Rabbi Elimelech nodded his head.

“But why weep?” continued his brother.  “Don’t you know that the same God who commanded you to pray also commanded you not to do so in a place unfit for prayer? We should not feel badly, in this moment, to have let God down. We should rather feel good that we are doing exactly as God would wish.”


“You are right my brother!” exclaimed Rabbi Elimelech, suddenly feeling much better.  He grabbed Rabbi Zushe’s arm and they began to dance, singing about the cell and the pail and their happiness at being able to fulfill the mitzvah of not praying in an inappropriate place.

When the guards heard the commotion they came running.  “All this joy because of a bucket!?” they sneered.  “Well, we’ll show them!”

At which point, they promptly removed the pail from the room and the brothers were able to pray as usual!


Dear Friends,

The last two weeks have been unimaginably difficult, filled with uncertainty, fear, isolation, instability, and so much more.  Almost overnight our lives have been turned upside down, forcing us to absorb more unpredictability and change than the human spirit can naturally assimilate.

Many of us are trying to keep young (and not so young) children safe and well-occupied, even while balancing our own professional commitments and trying to maintain personal sanity.

Many of us have elderly parents from whom we will now be separated for an indefinite amount of time with all the concomitant sadness and worry that brings. Some of us have experienced job loss or fear for our family’s financial security.  Some of us are deeply concerned for our health or the health of loved ones. All of us have had routines and expectations and plans for the near future completely quashed.

We are suddenly and unexpectedly living in a radically different “new normal.”

As the Chasidic tale conveys, we may also feel, on top of all of these other losses, a sense of being robbed of tradition at this difficult time.

To pray by Zoom rather than in person, to spend Shabbat at home rather than in community, to imagine Pesach without the regular complement of guests around our table - all of this can make us want to sit down and weep just like Rabbi Elimelech.

Yet there is so much wisdom in Rabbi Zushe’s gentle reminder! What we are doing in this moment - keeping safe by practicing social distancing, recreating virtual community in the best ways that we know how, caring for one another and especially for those most vulnerable - all of this is exactly what we should be doing at a time such as this. We honor Jewish tradition precisely by fulfilling it in these somewhat paradoxical of ways! 

Over the last two weeks I have been so touched by our extraordinary TIC community and the creativity, resilience, good humor,  grace, and courage that exists here. B’nai Mitzvah families have found the spirit to  celebrate, even amidst rituals that look so very different from that for which they had hoped and planned.

Individuals experiencing loss have found that virtual comfort is different from physical comfort yet comforting nonetheless. Members of our community have found the most innovative ways to support, share information, connect with, and otherwise care for one another, and our spectacular professional staff has created a virtual synagogue full of religious services, learning, and community building opportunities almost overnight.

While we all deeply miss the joys of being together physically and in one place, the heart of our congregation remains strong and united!

Rabbi Zushe’s story also reminds us that sometimes, often when we least expect it, we can lessen even the most onerous of burdens, not by changing our reality but rather by changing our reaction.

Even before the offending pail had been removed from their cell (an event that occurred, ironically, as a result of their happy singing!), the brothers had lifted their malaise by reframing their experience and even finding in it small pieces of joy. I recognize that this is not at all an easy thing to do and in no way wish to downplay or diminish the painful challenges and disappointments of this moment.  Yet I wonder if we, too, can look for slivers of light during these darker of days.

For me, some of the joys of this period have included better connecting with friends and family far away, feeling the creative energy of a team working together in partnership, learning new skills, reading good books, and watching our community reinvent itself before my very eyes.

For others joy might be found in extending kindness to others, being home for bedtime every night, reconnecting with a spouse, getting more sleep, killing it at board-games, and more.

As we make our way through difficult days and share space in environments that suddenly seem crowded, let’s remember to be kind to one another and to ourselves. We may not yet be able to leave the cell, but perhaps the stinky pail can be removed when we meet each other with compassion!

I will miss you tomorrow but wish everyone Shabbat Shalom - a Shabbat of calm and peace,

Rabbi Annie Tucker

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Passover On Our Own

We Made It Out of Egypt. We Can Do This: We Jews love Pesach (Passover). Absolutely love it. Whether we go the full Kosher-for-Passover route or simply taste the matzah and horseradish and drink the wine - we Jews love Pesach.


It's a time for family - especially for family. Friends, too. We all get together in groups large and small, and tell each other the story of our Exodus from Egypt. And the more we tell of the Exodus, the more are we to be praised.

Which raises the question -

Is it still Passover if we seder by ourselves?

As JTA's Ben Sales writes:
Passover in a pandemic: Families on Zoom, solo seders and broken traditions 
Rena Munster was looking forward to hosting a Passover seder for the first time. 
In past years, her parents or another relative hosted the meal. But this year she had invited her parents, siblings and other extended family to her Washington, D.C., home. Her husband, an amateur ceramics artist, was making a set of dishes for the holiday. 
And she was most excited for her family’s traditional day of cooking before the seder: making short-rib tzimmes, desserts that would pass muster year-round, and a series of harosets made by her uncle and tailored to each family member’s dietary restrictions (one with no cinnamon, another with no sugar, another without walnuts and so on). 
Then came the new coronavirus. 
Now the family is preparing to scrap travel plans and hold the seder via video chat, like so much else in this new era. Munster expects to enjoy her family’s usual spirited discussions and singing. But she will miss the meal. 
“The hardest thing to translate into an online platform is going to be the food,” she said. 
“The family recipes and all the things that we’re used to probably won’t be possible. … We always get together to help with the preparations, and that’s just as much a part of the holiday as the holiday itself.” 
In a Jewish calendar packed with ritual observances and religious feasts, the Passover seder is the quintessential shared holiday experience. It is perhaps the most widely observed Jewish holiday ritual in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 study of American Jewry. 
And the story of the journey from slavery to freedom, along with the songs, customs and food, have become a core part of Jewish tradition. 
But all of that has been upended by COVID-19 and the restrictions necessary to contain its spread.
Randy Rainbow explains, as only he can!


JUST IN! 
In a startling but troubling and necessary and responsible development, The Forward's Helen Chernikoff and Philissa Cramer report:

Headquarters of Chabad movement, iconic ‘770’ building, closes for first time 
The international Chabad movement, one of modern Judaism’s most powerful forces for the dissemination of Jewish culture and practice, has closed its iconic headquarters for the first time, citing the spread of coronavirus and the illness of residents in its Crown Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood. 
The closure happened “in accordance with the order of the rabbis of the neighborhood,” according to an official Chabad website.

These are 'new normal' times, and many people are going to be hurting - physically, emotionally, and, alas, financially.

And it's not just seders. All sorts of Passover trips, programs, and activities are being cancelled - all over the world, and right here in New Mexico.


Sharon's Gourmet to Go is just one example. Sharon has been providing kosher and kosher-for-Passover catering for a bunch of years - but she's never had to face the COVID-19 pandemic before. Lots of food in and ready-to-go - but lots of events suddenly suspended, cancelled, or postponed.

And then there's Avi Schiffmann.

Never heard of him? You will - Abq Jew promises! There is reason for hope! Here is Democracy Now's interview - Amy Goodman and Avi Schiffmann.

Meet 17-Year-Old Avi Schiffmann, Who Runs Coronavirus Tracking Website Used by 40+ Million Globally 
A teenager's website tracking coronavirus has become one of the most vital resources for people seeking accurate and updated numbers on the pandemic. The URL is nCoV2019.live
We speak with 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior from Mercer Island outside Seattle, who started the site in late December, when coronavirus had not yet been detected outside of China. 
Now the site has been visited by tens of millions, from every country on Earth. It tracks deaths, numbers of cases locally and globally, and provides an interactive map, information on the disease, and a Twitter feed. 
The resource updates every minute or so, and pulls information from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and elsewhere.

Monday, March 16, 2020

This is Our Leader

Our President! Our Country! The United States of America is in trouble of indeterminate depth. Of this we are sure - and of very little else.

It is, however, our fortune - bad fortune, but fortune nonetheless - to have as our Leader and Commander-in-Chief -

President Donald J Trump

Our president is not a man who stares at goats. No, our president is a uniquely fearless man who stares at solar eclipses.

OK ... he only did it once.
And he stopped after a while.

Although there are many, many who do, please DO NOT call our president stupid. His beliefs, yes. His values, yes. His policies, yes. But not the man himself - who, as we all know, is a

Very Stable Genius

And yet. For some crazy reason, Abq Jew is reminded of the famous Apes Don't Read Philosophy scene in A Fish Called Wanda:


Abq Jew must (he must! he must!) tell you about Theron Mohamed's article, published last week in Business Insider. Which begins:
'Stupid beyond even my wildest fantasies': Krugman, Summers, Lagarde ridicule Trump's coronavirus response
  • Paul Krugman, Christine Lagarde, and Larry Summers ripped into President Trump's coronavirus response on Thursday.
  • "This is stupid beyond even my wildest fantasies," the economist and columnist tweeted about Trump's decision to restrict European travel to the US. "THE VIRUS IS ALREADY HERE."
  • "I doubt very much that diseases have passports and are aware of borders," the European Central Bank's president told CNBC.
  • Summers, a former US Treasury secretary, blamed the president's "imprudent rhetoric" for Thursday's brutal market sell-off.
  • Trump probably set "a new world record for presidential market value destruction," he tweeted.

And from Chaim Mendel, Abq Jew's Facebook friend:
it may be the messiah or it may the apocalypse it may be the rebbe or it may be jesus. it may be time for revolution or it may be time for full oligarchy. but at least we have our toilet paper -- our asses are covered! we will tell our children of this glorious day, and the great courage it took to brave the lines at costco-- we even had to buy bbq potato chips because they were out of our favorite flavor.  
and, as we bravely go forth to watch weeks of netflix while the real working class continues to work (or stay home without pay), let us spend a moment of silence on the toilet in memory of all those who didn't stock up soon enough, praise the supply chain and shudder gratefully at the thought, "what would have happened... if we didn't have toilet paper?

And as long as we're all sitting here ...

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

In the Time of Coronavirus

Got the Hill Street Blues? Like all of you, Abq Jew is praying that the current COVID-19 outbreak doesn't get any worse than it already is.

And preparing for the worrisome possibility that things will get worse - here in the US, and even here in New Mexico - before they get better.

 From Our Governor:
Today the New Mexico Department of Health and I have announced three presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, the first cases in New Mexico, all travel-related.
The state Department of Health has been preparing for this day for weeks now. I will reiterate that New Mexicans can take preventative actions to protect themselves and mitigate the potential spread. 
We will address this public health challenge together..
(855) 600-3453   Coronavirus Hotline


In this novel coronavirus. we Jews face (at least) a double-whammy.
  1. We're being advised to stock up on food and other life-saving materials just when, pre-Passover, we're trying to eat or otherwise dispose of as much of our existing stash of chometz as possible.
  2. We have no idea how much dear (which is to say, non-cheap) Passover food to buy, since we don't know which of our friends and family - if any - will be brave enough to fly - or even walk - to our Seders.
And we should not forget that there are many patients among the Orthodox communities of New York City. Let's keep them in our prayers.


In the meantime, as we Jews should be thankful that our tradition calls for a lot of hand-washing (although without soap). And that we're not flying through Prague's Franz Kafka International Airport.


Welcome to Franz Kafka International Airport!


Happy Shoeshine Purim!