Thursday, June 25, 2020

Virtual Coffee & Schmooze

We Can Still Be Happy: While the COVID-19 pandemic currently precludes us from gathering at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque for our regular Wednesdays - said pandemic cannot keep us from using said time block to catch up with friends and discuss topics of interest.

You know - schmooze.

Last week, the Virtual Coffee's "special guest" turned out to be Beth Cohen. Who, accompanied by her husband Randy Edmunds, performed a selection of Yiddish songs and klezmer tunes. Just like it says in the advertisement.

If you were at Nahalat Shalom for Klezmerquerque 2011, you surely remember hearing Yosl Kurland of the Wholesale Klezmer Band sing Tsuzamen Mitn Gelt, a traditional song in the form of a Yiddish double alphabetical acrostic.

But if you a) missed Yosl's Erev Shabbos performance; or b) don't remember hearing him - Beth and Randy performed an (alas) abbreviated version of this song for the Abq JCC's Virtual Coffee.

    Tsuzamen Mitn Gelt ~ Together With Your Money

Az nit keyn emune tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe arbetstu af der velt?
     Without faith, together with your money,
     what good is it to work in the world?

Az nit keyn bine tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe bistu af der velt?
     Without understanding, together with your money,
     what good is you're being in the world?

Az nit keyn gemiles kh'sodim mitn gelt, vos-zhe geystu af der velt?
     Without acts of lovingkindness, together with your money,
     what good is it to go in the world?

Az nit keyn da'as tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe darfstu di gantse velt?
     Without wisdom, together with your money,
     what do you need in the world?

Az nit keyn hakhnosos orkhim mitn gelt, vos-zhe helft dir di gantse velt?
     Without welcoming, together with your money,
     what can help you in the world?

Az nit keyn vatrones tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe vilstu af der velt?
     Without generosity, together with your money,
     what do you want in the world?

Az nit keyn zkhus tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe zukhstu af der velt?
     Without merit, together with your money,
     what do you seek in the world?

Az nit keyn khesed tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos far a khies hostu af der velt?
     Without righteousness, together with your money,
     what delight do you have in the world?

Az nit keyn tahara tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe toyg dir di gantse velt?
     Without purity, together with your money,
     what use are you to the world?

Az nit keyn yoysher tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe yogstu zikh af der velt?
     Without justice, together with your money,
     what good is to chase yourself through the world?

Az nit keyn koved tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe khapstu di gantse velt?
     Without honor, together with your money,
     what good is it to grab the whole world?

Az nit keyn lamdones tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe lebstu af der velt?
     Without learning, together with your money,
     what good is it to live in the world?

Az nit keyn mitsves tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe makhstu af der velt?
     Without God's commandments, together with your money,
     what good is what you do in the world?

Az nit keyn nemones tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe narstu zikh af der velt?
     Without trustworthiness, together with your money,
     why do you make a fool of yourself in the world?

Az nit keyn savlones tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe sapetstu af der velt?
     Without patience, together with your money,
     what do you gasp for in the world?

Az nit keyn anove tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos vestu entferen
      af der emeskiker velt?
     Without humility, together with your money,
     what will you answer in the true world?

Az nit keyn peyres tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe pravetstu af der velt?
     Without fruits, together with your money,
     what good is celebrating in the world?

Az nit keyn tsedoke tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos fara tsil hostu af der velt?
     Without charity, together with your money,
     what goal do you have in the world?

Az nit keyn kedushe tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe kvellstu af der velt?
     Without holiness, together with your money,
     what is there to be proud of in the world?

Az nit keyn rakhmones tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe raystu zikh af der velt?
     Without compassion, together with your money,
     what do you aspire to in the world?

Az nit keyn Shabbos tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos-zhe shmaystu zikh af der velt?
     Without Shabbos, together with your money,
     what good is bustling in the world?

Az nit keyn Toyre tsuzamen mitn gelt, vos fara terets hostu af der velt?
     Without Torah, together with your money,
     what is your justification in the world?

Just a reminder that the Arts, Culture & Education division
of the Albuquerque JCC could use your support.

And - as long as you're having a coffee -
 buy one for Abq Jew, too!

Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!
Sabbath Peace, World!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Two Attacks Where We Live

At Home in New Mexico: How long has it been since Abq Jew saw the need to create a serious blog post about hate?

As it turns out (see El Paso: 'Do Something!'), it's only been ten-and-a-half months. Less than a year. Not nearly long enough.

Here we go again. There have been two incidents - that Abq Jew is aware of - that took place or affected us directly, here in the Land of Enchantment.

(Yes, there have been hate crimes and incidents elsewhere
... indeed, everywhere. But let's keep our focus.)

Abq Jew doesn't want to dwell on these incidents too much, or give them more importance than they deserve. But you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, should know that these things did happen. Right here.

1. India Palace Vandalism

On Sunday night, the India Palace restaurant in Santa Fe was vandalized with White Supremacist messages. The physical and emotional damage was extensive, as Cole Rehbein of the Santa Fe Reporter wrote:
When Bajit Singh walked into his India Palace restaurant to prepare for a busy dinner service Monday afternoon, he found his restaurant destroyed and racial slurs graffitied all over the walls. 
“I walked into the kitchen, I saw everything and I was like, hold on, what? What is going on here?” he tells SFR.  
“White power,” “Trump 2020,” “go home,” and far worse were spray-painted on walls, doors, counters and any other available surface. Some phrases contained threats of violence and derogatory racial slurs. 
Tables were overturned, glassware was smashed into piles on the floor. The wine racks were emptied, a statue of a goddess was beheaded and computers were stolen. Food warmers were turned over and destroyed. The front desk area was gutted, plates smashed and the kitchen rendered completely unusable.
.   .   .   
The restaurant has only recently re-opened after being closed due to COVID-19 public health orders, and recent protests in downtown have made the area rife with conflict. 
While specific perpetrators and motivations are yet unknown, the general cause is clear to Marcus Romero, family friend of the Singhs: 
“It’s a racial thing, you know?”

ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott Levin responded to the attack on Tuesday morning.
Denver, CO, June 23, 2020 …The Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region is deeply disturbed by reports of significant vandalism and racist, xenophobic graffiti at India Palace restaurant in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico.  
“We condemn the horrendous vandalism and vicious graffiti at India Palace restaurant and offer support and solidarity to the business owners,” 
said ADL Mountain States Regional Director Scott Levin. 
“We encourage the Santa Fe Police Department to investigate this incident as a hate crime and hope the guilt party or parties will be held accountable.” 
While the motive for this hateful incident in Santa Fe is not yet known, ADL has been tracking an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues and extremist activity at recent protests against police brutality and systemic racism. 
2. NM Shul Zoom Bombing

A New Mexico shul announced that during its online service last Shabbat, it experienced what is known as a "Zoom Bombing" attack - anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish, and Nazi messages from unknown persons who entered its Zoom channel suddenly and without warning.

There is always the fear of what might come next. But fortunately, Zoom-bombing itself does not involve physical intimidation or damage. It's annoying and disruptive, but - by itself - poses no physical danger.

And there are some really low-tech (and some really high-tech) ways to help mitigate the risk.

The easiest, simplest way to help stop
Zoom-bombing is to stop making Zoom links
(and, especially, passwords) public. 

Which is really a bummer, because we want to publicize our events AND make it easy for folks to attend them. Nevertheless, asking attendees to register first to receive the password will make Zoom-bombing just a bit more difficult.

It's probably the first thing to try.

If you are using Zoom links and
not using a password - stop that.

If you are using Zoom links and
publishing the password - stop that.


Jewish New Mexico's Community Calendar of Events & Classes (and, in this period of COVID-19, Other Stuff), powered by Abq Jew, will no longer publish "open" Zoom links (without passwords) or Zoom passwords.

But will continue to publish Register links and Zoom links that have passwords (but not, of course, the passwords themselves).

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Take Me Back to Tulsa

Juneteenth+1: Yes, Abq Jew has been fortunate to spend a little time in Tulsa. Exactly one day, during the spring of 1978's graduation and job-hunting season at the Jewish Theological Seminary. For a job interview at the biggest ... ok, only ... Conservative shul in town.

No, Abq Jew didn't get the job - Education Director - for reasons that were as obscure then as they are forgotten now. Abq Jew believes that everyone involved would state on the record that this turned out for the best.

Still, Abq Jew has always wanted to be taken back to Tulsa, because that's probably the only way he'd agree to go. As in the words of the old Bob Wills song. NOTE: Abq Jew is not now, nor was he then, too young to marry.

In Abq Jew's not-so-humble opinion, the most meaningful words to the song come close to the end. Did you catch them? Abq Jew refers, of course, to

Walkin' talkin' Suzy,
Walkin' talkin' Suzy;
Walkin' talkin' Suzy,
Walkin' talkin' Suzy.

Twelve words - or, actually, three words sung four times - that pretty much sum up the entire history of the Women's Equal Rights movement in America.

And then there's the verse

Little bee sucks the blossom,
Big bee gets the honey;
Black man picks the cotton,
White man gets the money.

Here we have twenty words that pretty much sum up the entire history of the African-American Civil Rights movement in America.

But then - there's the holiday of Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union general Gordon Granger read General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas.
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. 
The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Wikipedia explains:
Although the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them almost two and a half years earlier, and the American Civil War had largely ended with the defeat of the Confederate States in April, Texas was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.

But, going back to Tulsa ... please consider this poignant verse:

Would I go back to Tulsa?
You bet your boots I would!
Just let me off at Archer,
And I'll walk down to Greenwood.

These words refer to the Greenwood District of Tulsa. Wikipedia tells us:
Greenwood is a historic freedom colony in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As one of the most prominent concentrations of African-American businesses in the United States during the early 20th century, it was popularly known as America's "Black Wall Street".  
It was burned to the ground in the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 ....

And about the Tulsa race massacre:
The Tulsa race massacre (also called the Tulsa race riot, the Greenwood Massacre, or the Black Wall Street Massacre) of 1921 took place on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of white residents attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
It has been called "the single worst incident of racial violence in American history."
The attack, carried out on the ground and from private aircraft, destroyed more than 35 square blocks of the district—at that time the wealthiest black community in the United States, known as "Black Wall Street". 

So, you may ask - yes, you may -

Why is Abq Jew suddenly talking about Tulsa?
About Greenwood? And about Juneteenth?

Because, as Abq Jew is sure we are all aware, our current POTUS has - with the help of his crack team of advisors - figured out a way to

disrupt the Juneteenth celebration in the city of 
"the single worst incident of racial violence
in American history."

In other words - our current POTUS will be holding the first round of Oklahoma try-outs for the Darwin Awards.

Now, there are things that Abq Jew thinks everyone knows, but then they turn out not to. Just in case this is one of those things -

The Darwin Awards salute the improvement
of the human genome by honoring those who
accidentally remove themselves from it
in a spectacular manner!

You may have noticed that, although "Take Me Back to Tulsa" was originally recorded by Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, Abq Jew has chosen to go with a version by Asleep At The Wheel.

Why? you may ask. Why - to honor the Jewish legacy of this American country music group.

In 1969, Ray Benson (Ray Benson Seifert)
and Lucky Oceans (Reuben Gosfield)
co-founded Asleep at the Wheel 
in Paw Paw, West Virginia.

Anyway, here is another version of "Take Me Back to Tulsa" - this one featuring not only Asleep At The Wheel, but also the [alas, non-MOT] Avett Brothers on Austin City Limits.

Why? you may ask. Why - because of the banjo! And just look at that steel guitar! And country piano! And three fiddles!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

On Fermenting Violence

With Mazel Tov Cocktails: Yes, we'll talk about fomenting violence with Molotov cocktails in just a bit. But first - a tutorial on how ... misleading ... photographs and news headlines are made.

Start with a bit of the truth.

Last week, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that Albuquerque's beloved Tingley Beach once again open as of Tuesday, June 9 - but subject to Phase I rules about masks and social distancing.

And then - here we go!

New Mexicans in general and Burqueños in particular rejoiced at this welcome news, and reacted today exactly as one might have expected.

Tingley Beach is now open, with precautions.

Pretty much everything else about the photo.

How did Abq Jew do that?

1. You start out with a nice photo of Tingley Beach. With lots of people. The photo Abq Jew used is from the October 23, 2013 edition of the Albuquerque Journal. The caption was:

Swimming was once common at Albuquerque's Tingley Beach,
seen here in a 1949 photograph. It was provided courtesy of
the Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives.

Now, the original photo was in good old black and white. Which might have tipped you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, off that this photo is not exactly current.

2. So you've got to colorize the black & white photo. There are probably a zillion tools to do this, but Abq Jew used the colorizing tool provided by his favorite genealogy program, MyHeritage.

The original photo, as digitized and colorized, is way too big for the web.

3. So Abq Jew used his favorite graphics tool, PicMonkey, to resize the photo so it doesn't clobber everyone's web browser.

Very nice. We've got a color photo that's a good size for the web. But where does the CNN-like headline come from?

4. Well, it comes from a website called, amazingly enough, All you have to do is go there and follow the instructions. Choose your own photo; add your own headlines. Pretty easy.

However, what you end up with - while entirely beautiful and serviceable - still leaves you with a graphic that proclaims (as it has every right to) -

Another dead giveaway. We can't have that, can we? Well, Abq Jew couldn't.

4. So - and this is a bit tricky and a lot sneaky - Abq Jew took a screenshot of an appropriate portion of the original photograph

and used it to cover up the Break Your Own News logo. The coverup is not perfect, and if you're looking for it you can spot it. But of you aren't looking for it, chances are you won't spot it.

There are probably laws against this sort of thing, but Abq Jew is not really selling the resulting photo, so - what are we looking at? 7 days? 6 months? 18 months tops. It's not as if Abq Jew tried to vote illegally or something.

So now let's talk about fermenting and/or fomenting violence. Abq Jew was ... really disappointed ... to see the following tweet.

Forget everything you learned in the tutorial we started out with. This is a real screenshot of a real tweet, by a very well-known, Twitter-verified, smart person for whom Abq Jew holds deep (but no longer the deepest) respect.

Abq Jew has modified the screenshot a bit to somewhat shield the tweeter.
The president and chief law enforcement officer of our country are publicly lying and fermenting violence against peaceful protestors and no Republican lawmakers are going to do anything about it?  When do we reach bottom GOP?
Let's refresh our collective memories. Per
When change is a brewin', remember: to ferment is to cause a chemical change to food or drink, like turning grapes into wine, but to foment is to stir up trouble, like turning a group of people into an angry mob.
But maybe fermenting violence wasn't a mistake. 

ABC News's recent and extreme chyron mistake has been floating around the Internet for a few days.

Again, let's refresh our collective memories. Per ... oh, fuggedaboutit. We all know the difference. But back in 2016, Scottie Nell Hughes (journalist, news anchor, political commentator, and DJT supporter) didn't.
In a live interview broadcast on CNN the day before the 2016 presidential election, she confused the word "Molotov" with mazel tov, a Jewish expression of congratulations or good luck when she stated that a video by rap music artist and Hillary Clinton supporter Jay-Z begins "with a crowd throwing mazel tov cocktails." 

There is such a thing as a Mazel Tov Cocktail.

According to one anonymous source:
It’s one shot of pickle juice, one shot of vodka, then five shots of pure ethanol flung at a police car [NOT RECOMMENDED].
But according to Tufts University's Professor Daniel W Drezner, the ingredients are:
One part vodka
Two parts tonic water
Dash of Manischewitz
Copious tears from parents upset at your life choices.

Actually - celebrity chef Jamie Geller, 'The Kosher Rachael Ray', published a Mazel Tov Cocktail recipe ( 5 minutes prep time; 2 servings) way back in 2014:
Juice of 3 limes or 2 lemons
1½ ounce simple syrup
6 ounces orange vodka
1½ ounces cointreau
Garnish: candied orange rind 
1. Mix lemon or lime juice with vodka, cointreau, and simple syrup.
2. Shake it up, and pour over ice. Top with a candied orange rind for garnish.

Of course, antisemites were quick to exploit
the possibilities (this is a mild example).

But then, so were philosemites. 

And, of course - the Marketing Department.

‘Wonder Woman’ Star Gal Gadot Steps Out In White Tank Top, Shorts With Dog

Yes, Abq Jew made this one, too.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Protestors and Bad Actors

Remembering the Reichstag Fire: Abq Jew is extremely sorry to report that this week started off extremely badly, then got worse.

While the words and actions of former Vice President Joe Biden seemed to hit just the right notes of harmony and healing ... those of our current president seemed incredibly discordant and dangerous.

Protestors demonstrate in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday in response to
the recent killing of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement.
Sean Rayford for The New York Times

Protestors demonstrate, while bad actors - inside agitators, outside agitators, lowlifes, provocateurs, and the inevitable others - inflame and destroy.

Where will this end? Abq Jew offers a brief history lesson:

The Reichstag Fire
Fire brigade arrives at the Reichstag

From the United States Holocaust Museum's Holocaust Encyclopedia:
On February 27, 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down due to arson. 
The Nazi leadership and its German Nationalist coalition partners exploited the fire to persuade President Paul von Hindenburg that Communists were planning a violent uprising to derail Germany’s "national renewal." They claimed that emergency legislation was needed to prevent this. 
Commonly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, the resulting act “For the Protection of the People and State” abolished a number of constitutional protections and paved the way for Nazi dictatorship.
Is this where we are heading?
Dividing demonstrators into interlopers and peaceful protesters
preëmpts a key question: Why would you expect protests against
state-sanctioned racist murder to be peaceful? 
Julio Cortez / AP

Protestors and bad actors. Protestors on one hand; bad actors - especially those pesky anarchists and antifas - on the other.

Masha Gessen writes in The New York Times:
During Nationwide Protests, Politicians Resort to the “Outside Agitator” Trope 
Three very different politicians made strikingly similar statements on Saturday, in response to protests erupting across the country in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, in Minneapolis. 
Jacob Frey, the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis, blamed the destruction in his city on people who are “not Minneapolis residents.” (He later walked the statement back.) 
New York’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, said that he had heard, from community leaders, “how resentful they were that people were coming in in many cases from outside the community and creating negativity and violence that did not represent their community.” 
And William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General, threatened to prosecute anyone who crossed state lines “to incite or participate in violent protesting.” President Trump, in his tweets, picked up on both Frey’s and Barr’s statements, issuing threats. 
The shared premise of these comments is that people have no right to act politically in a neighborhood, city, or state that is not their own. 
This is specious.
New Yorkers, Ms Gessen points out, have a stake in the life of the entire city and the behavior of the entire police force. 

The same is true, she says, for the country: the residents of the United States have a stake and a say in police regimes that exist across our country.
We have already seen—and will surely see more—reports of actual provocateurs in the streets of Minneapolis and other cities. Provocateurs are the parasites on the body of protest: they will always be there. 
But blaming all violence and destruction on outsiders performs a sleight of hand. 
Dividing protesters into two categories—interlopers on the one hand and peaceful protesters on the other—delegitimizes some of the protesters, eliding their presence and their actions. 
It also preëmpts a key question: 
Why would you expect protests against state-sanctioned racist murder to be peaceful?
Is this where we are heading?
Alex Brandon / AP

Where will this end? Abq Jew offers another brief history lesson:

Frank Rizzo, Philadephia Mayor

Karen Heller of The New York Times reports:
The protests brought the demise of this statue representing ‘oppression’ — along with many others 
The Frank Rizzo statue, as embattled as the figure it commemorates, was removed in the early hours of Wednesday morning. 
The perpetual protest magnet and 10-foot likeness of the late-1960s and 70s Philadelphia mayor and police commissioner was hoisted onto a truck, ending its stormy two-decade reign over a raised plaza facing City Hall. 
During weekend demonstrations over the brutal death of George Floyd, the bronze 3,000-pound colossus was tagged with the word “facist” (misspelled, though the meaning was clear), bathed in crimson paint, attacked with hammers and eventually protected by a phalanx of city police, armed with truncheons, Rizzo’s accessory of choice. 
He famously stuffed one down his tuxedo cummerbund to suggest that, while he could hobnob with swells, this avatar of brute force was never off-duty from the streets he ruled.
Don't remember much about Frank Rizzo? Here is what Wikipedia says, describing a confrontation between the black liberation group MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department:
In 1985, another confrontation ended when a police helicopter dropped a bomb on the MOVE compound, a row house in the middle of the 6200 block of Osage Avenue. 
The resulting fire killed eleven MOVE members, including five children, and destroyed 65 houses in the neighborhood. The survivors later filed a civil suit against the city and the police department, and were awarded $1.5 million in a 1996 settlement.
Thus, Philly became known as The City That Bombed Itself. And Mayor Rizzo's 1968 words became immortalized (Ms Heller reports):
“Get this thing straight once and for all. The policeman isn’t there to create disorder. The policeman is there to preserve disorder.’’

But perhaps - just perhaps - we are at last at

A Turning Point

Helen Chernikoff reports in the Forward:

Protesters sing in Hebrew after National Guardsmen at White House request a prayer 
At the request of a National Guardsman from Utah, protestors sang a canonical Jewish plea for peace at protests outside the White House on Tuesday night, according to video from the scene. 
“Shalom rav al Yisrael amcha, tasim l’olam,” sing multiple voices out of the frame, as three Guardsmen watch and one in particular grins throughout. “Grant abundant peace over your people Israel, forever,” the prayer beseeches God. 
It’s part of the Amidah, Judaism’s central prayer, said three times a day, and also often sung separately.

And then, there's this.

These are officers and protesters in Nebraska, coming together
and doing the Cupid Shuffle. This after law enforcement and
black leaders signed an agreement called
Hold Cops Accountable.