Thursday, October 14, 2021

Two Boats and a Helicopter

He Had a Hat: Well, here we are again. Fall and winter holidays approach with Covid-19, vaccines and boosters, masks and mandates, colds and the flu. 

Freedom No Lockdown

And the resistance. 

Mr & Mrs Abq Jew were recently discussing the vaccine-resistant with their daughter (in-law) Jessica the Surgeon. We asked each other: why would anyone in this great country of ours refuse a FREE, no-purchase-required, readily available, life-saving medicine? 

Here is one answer that's going around:

You Know Morons

What did you expect?
You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers.
These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West.

You know... morons.

This line in Mel Brooks' movie masterpiece Blazing Saddles always gets a laugh. But it's not true. It wasn't true in 1874, either. Or in 1974.

In 2019, political scientists Nathan Kalmoe and Lilliana Mason came up with the helpful term that, alas, aptly describes the situation we're in:

Lethal Partisanship

In an effort to explain this term, there came to what is left, after all these years, of Abq Jew's mind - an old joke: the one with the punchline Two Boats and a Helicopter. And how it applies to the vaccine-resistant.

2 Boats 1 Helicopter

You can Google it if you want, but here's a classic version.

A storm descends on a small town, and the downpour soon turns into a flood. As the waters rise, the local preacher kneels in prayer on the church porch, surrounded by water. By and by, one of the townsfolk comes up the street in a canoe.

"Better get in, Preacher. The waters are rising fast."

"No," says the preacher. "I have faith in the Lord. He will save me."

Still the waters rise. Now the preacher is up on the balcony, wringing his hands in supplication, when another guy zips up in a motorboat.

"Come on, Preacher. We need to get you out of here. The levee's gonna break any minute."

Once again, the preacher is unmoved. "I shall remain. The Lord will see me through."

After a while the levee breaks, and the flood rushes over the church until only the steeple remains above water. The preacher is up there, clinging to the cross, when a helicopter descends out of the clouds, and a state trooper calls down to him through a megaphone.

"Grab the ladder, Preacher. This is your last chance."

Once again, the preacher insists the Lord will deliver him.

And, predictably, he drowns.

A pious man, the preacher goes to heaven. After a while he gets an interview with God, and he asks the Almighty, "Lord, I had unwavering faith in you. Why didn't you deliver me from that flood?"

God shakes his head. 

"What did you want from me?
I sent you two boats and a helicopter."


Here is the Albuquerque version of the punchline.

"What did you want from me?
I sent you three vaccines,
@GovMLG, @MayorKeller,
your own doctors and nurses,
and real scientists on TV."

NOT JEWISH

The first thing about Two Boats and a Helicopter that you must (you must! you must!) realize is that

This is not a Jewish joke.

Even if there were no preacher involved, the main character in this classic tale cannot be Jewish. No Jew would ever act like that, and no Jew would ever laugh at this story. 

How does Abq Jew know this?

When Abq Jew was growing up in Brooklyn, the polio pandemic was the one going around. Abq Jew was, of course, too young to fully appreciate the fear - before Dr Jonas Salk, of blessed memory, developed the first vaccine against polio.

And the parents lined us up for shots - immediately, or as quickly as they could. And we all knew someone our age or just a bit older - or have met them later in our lives - who lived outside the Northeast or outside the US, who didn't get a shot quickly enough.

When Abq Jew was growing up,
The Holy One Blessed Be He
rated at least an 11 on a 1-10 scale.


Dr Salk rated a 9. Or higher.

It has also occurred to Abq Jew - as, he is sure, it has occurred to you, his loyal readers - that we Jews have a relationship with God that is just flat-out different from the relationship with God (or whomever) that non-Jews have.

And to prove this, Abq Jew offers the seminally, eminently Jewish joke - the one with the punchline He Had A Hat. 

Kid with Hat

You can Google it if you want, but here's a classic version.
A Jewish grandmother takes her grandchildren to the beach. They’re playing in the sand when suddenly, a massive wave comes and pulls the smallest grandson out into the water. 
Panicked, the grandmother prays to God. “Oh God, please bring him back! Please let him live!” 
Suddenly, an even bigger wave bursts out of the ocean, setting the little boy down right at his grandmother’s feet. 
She scoops him up into a hug. Then she stares up at the sky and says, 
“He had a hat.”
Even if the grandmother was a grandfather, uncle or other relative - or even (as in some versions) a lifeguard - the main character in this classic tale must be Jewish. No non-Jew would ever act like that, and only a Jew - any Jew, all Jews - would ever laugh at this story. But it's better with a grandmother.

How does Abq Jew know this?

Because of the commentaries!

Roz Chast

Here, for example, is The New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast's take on the old joke:

A grandmother and her beloved grandson are at the beach. They’re playing near the shore. Suddenly a giant wave comes and sweeps the boy out to sea. The grandmother is beside herself with grief. She drops to her knees. She’s weeping and sobbing and implores God to return her little one. 

Lo and behold, another giant wave comes and deposits him back on the shore, unharmed. The grandmother embraces him and, overwhelmed with gratitude, thanks God over and over and over. Then she pauses, looks up and says to God, “But where’s his little hat?”

I have heard this joke in two ways. One where the grandmother, at the end, sort of shrewishly, accusingly yells at God: “He had a hat.” 

But I prefer the one where she’s more matter-of-fact. Not yelling or accusing. Just, like…asking. Because, you know, there was a hat involved. “Where’s his little hat?” 

I also like the addition of “little,” which to me makes it funnier. “Little hat” cracks me up for some reason.

The joke says something about the personal relationship that Jews feel with God. My mother used to look out the window of her car when she found a good parking space and say, “Thank you, God.” He is the Father, the Creator of all, the God of the Old Testament. 

In Judaism, there aren’t intermediaries such as saints and Jesus, and Mary, and then the Pope and all of that. There is God. But that doesn’t mean that when the little hat goes missing, you don’t notice it.

Andrew Silow-Carroll

And here is The Jewish Week's Editor-in-Chief Andrew Silow-Carroll's interpretation.

We signed a contract!

News Cucle



Thursday, October 7, 2021

It's Noah Time, 5782!

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.


You 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 nine (9) 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.

Remember the stegosaurus.

Noah Greyhound

And the greyhound.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Jeremy Bearimy and Time

It's About Time: Abq Jew would like to acknowledge the Jewish Community's mostly successful completion of the one-day (The Longest Day יומא אריכתא) Holiday of

Rosh Hashanah 1 Rosh Hashanah 2 Labor Day Fast of Gedaliah
Shabbat Shuvah Grandparents Day Kol Nidre Yom Kippur
Shabbat Ha'azinu Sukkot 1 Sukkot 2 Sukkot 3 Sukkot 4
Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed Sukkot Sukkot 6 Hosha'na Rabbah
Shemini Atzeret Simchat Torah Shabbat Bereshit

Jewish Wonk

Abq Jew finds it amazing that those nineteen (19) days can be interminable - and, at the same time, come and go so quickly
 
It could almost make you wonder How Time Works.

Yid With Sign

Here in the Jewish section of humanity, we've got a statement in our Mishnah (Hagigah 2:1) that anyone who looks into Four Matters, it would be better had that person not come into the world. And what are these Four Matters?

1.What Came Before
This covers the Biblical period of תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ, aka
Welter and Waste (in Robert Alter's magnificent translation).
Or Before the Big Bang, according to scientists.

2.What Is Above and 3.What Is Below
This covers basic issues of theodicy, aka
Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
Since the only correct answer to this question is "Dunno,"
this leads directly to the matter of -

4.What Comes After
Reward and Punishment - of course! And -
How Does Time Work - In This Life & The Next?

Which, of course, takes us back to

The Good Place

The Good Place, which we haven't visited since June (see Oy! Not the Trolley Problem!). And which has some interesting thoughts about How Time Works.

Jeremy Bearimy
How Time Works: Standard View vs Jeremy Bearimy

In the illustration above, we see at top how most people think time works: a straight line. Does this straight line have a beginning? Or an end? That's not clear, and our efforts over the millennia to clarify have not made anything any clearer.
 
The Jewish response is, of course (see Four Matters above): don't think about it, don't look into it, and certainly don't talk about it. Like that ever worked. After All - We're Jews! Also Before All.

What Came Before doesn't really concern us, though. What counts is What Comes After: Our Messiah, for whom, though he tarry, we await every day.

Messiah

In The Good Place, however, time is not a straight line. Instead - 
  • Time moves along Earth's timeline as if it were the cursive English word "Jeremy Bearimy." 
  • The dot over the "i" in Jeremy Bearimy is an isolated point on the timeline which contains Tuesdays, July, and "occasionally...the time moment where nothing never occurs."
  •  A Jeremy Bearimy is actually 36,259 days, or 99.34 years.

Confused? Here is the show's explanation:

And while we're talking about time -

Pozo Seco Singers

Back in 1964, the year after Abq Jew's Bar Mitzvah, Michael Merchant shared a song he had written with the Pozo-Seco Singers. Susan Taylor (who would later change her name to Taylor Pie) did the vocals, along with Lofton Kline and future Country star Don Williams.

Time

Some people run, some people crawl
Some people don't even move at all

Some roads lead forward, some roads lead back
Some roads are bathed in light, some wrapped in fearful black

Time, oh time, where did you go?
Time, oh good, good time, where did you go?

Some people never get, some never give
Some people never die, and some never live

Some folks treat me mean, some treat me kind
Most folks just go their way, don't pay me any mind

Time, oh time, where did you go?
Time, oh good, good time, where did you go?

Sometimes I'm satisfied, sometimes I'm not
Sometimes my face is cold, sometimes it's hot

Sunset, I laugh - sunrise, I cry
At midnight, I'm in between and wondering why

Time, oh time, where did you go?
Time, oh good, good time, where did you go?

Time, oh time, where did you go?
Time, oh good, good time, where did you go?

Torah Reading

On Simchat Torah - and last Shabbat, Shabbat Bereshit - we began a new Annual Cycle of Torah reading. And for those following the Triennial Cycle - it's Year 3!
You check all this out on HebCal.com.


May we all enjoy a Good Year of
Health, Happiness, and Prosperity!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Next Year People 5782/2021

Praying for Rain: Nothing, Abq Jew believes, will make a person believe in one or more gods as much as that person's utter and complete dependence on rain - just the right amount in just the right place at just the right time - to live.

Best of Blog
from October 2015

In our modern age of ubiquitous supermarkets and world-wide transportation systems, we tend to forget how precarious our situation used to be (and for too many, still is).


This year, as always, we Abq Jews will begin to formally pray for rain on Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Assembly.

He Causes the Wind to Blow and the Rain to Fall

He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall.

After Shemini Atzeret, we continue to pray for rain by adding the "He causes" clause (mashiv haruach umorid hageshem) to the daily Amidah.

We continue to pray for rain until the first day of Pesach, when we begin to pray for dew.

My Jewish Learning explains:
Throughout Sukkot we hint at our desire for rain through such rituals as the water libation practiced in the Temple and the four species, particularly the willow, which represents the association of plant growth and water. 
Continuing with the water theme, a particular feature of Shemini Atzeret is the prayer for rain, thus officially beginning Israel’s rainy season. 
Since the land of Israel relies so heavily on substantial rain for its crops, the prayer for rain is recited with a special plaintive melody, and the cantor dons a white kittel (robe), as on Yom Kippur.
And you might think that's the end of it: We start praying for rain in the Land of Israel on Shemini Atzeret. Oh, but there's much more involved!

Bestow Dew and Rain for a Blessing


Chabad explains that the "He causes" clause in the Amidah (mashiv haruach umorid hageshem) is a statement of fact and not a request.

But the "Bestow dew and rain" clause  (Tein tal umatar) that comes later in the daily Amidah is a request - and we don't start saying that until December.

December? Abq Jew hears you ask.
Where does the Torah or the Talmud
speak about December?

To be fair - neither does, exactly. Still, this is going to get really interesting. But it's way, way, way too complicated for this blog post.

How complicated? Abq Jew hears you ask.
How hard can this be?

For starters, see Abq Jew's blog post Nineteen and Twenty-Eight. Do you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, really want to go through that again? Or would you rather get right to the music?

So Abq Jew is going to take the easy way out and refer you to
But Abq Jew assures you:

Despite the efficacy of the Prayer for Rain, no Sukkot pilgrims got wet on their way home from Jerusalem.


Which brings us to Colin Hay. Who those of you of a certain age will surely remember as the lead singer of the Australian group Men at Work, responsible for the classic hit [Do You Come from a Land] Down UnderWikipedia tells us:
Men at Work were an Australian rock band, which formed in 1978. Their founding mainstay was Colin Hay on lead vocals; he formed the group with Jerry Speiser on drums and Ron Strykert on lead guitar. 
They were joined by Greg Ham on flute and keyboards and then John Rees on bass guitar. 
This line-up achieved national and international success in the early 1980s.
At the Grammy Awards of 1983 they won the Best New Artist category; while at the ARIA Music Awards of 1994 they were inducted into the related Hall of Fame. Men at Work have sold over 30 million albums worldwide. 
Colin Hay is now a solo artist in the Singer / Songwriter category. His song Next Year People starkly describes what rain means to those who live with hope for better times.


Next year everything will come good
The rains they will fall and we'll dance on the hood
We'll fill up our bellies with plentiful food
We'll eat drink and be merry
Yeah next year people wait and see
We're next year people you and me

Please, G-d! May we all be blessed with
good rains when and where they are needed!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Livin' In A Booth 5782/2021

The Season of Our Joy: Remember The FountainheadsAbq Jew knows, because he has been told: It wouldn't be Rosh HaShanah without their performance of Dip Your Apple in The Honey.

Best of Blog
from September 2018 & September 2012


With advice from Rebbetzin Rivka Leah Zelwig, you have undoubtedly completed 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.

So - kick back and relax for three minutes and six seconds before you have to start cooking for Sukkot, aka the Festival of Booths!


Yes. That’s right. ANOTHER Jewish holiday. Monday evening (TOMORROW NIGHT) begins the Festival of Sukkot - the Season of Our Joy.

United With Israel reminds us:
Sukkot is one of the three Torah festivals on which Jews everywhere were required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  
It is a seven day holiday with the first day being observed as a holy day, similar to the Sabbath, upon which no work is permitted. Outside of Israel the first two days are observed as holy days.
The remaining days of the holiday are referred to as “Chol Hamoed.” The Chol Hamoed days are not outright holy days but they are treated with more sanctity than regular weekdays complete with elaborate meals and nicer clothing.  
Originally, Sukkot was more of an agricultural festival, as the Torah itself calls it: The Feast of Ingathering… when you gather in your labors from out of the field. (Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:40-43; Deuteronomy 16:13). It was a thanksgiving festival to God for the year’s harvest. 
Today, it is observed more as a holiday of rest and reflection for the miracles that God did for the Jewish people when He led them in the desert for 40 years.
 To help us celebrate - here are The Fountainheads with Livin' In A Booth:


No etrogim were harmed in the filming of this video.
Lemons are a different story.


Hag Sameach, Albuquerque!
Good Yontif, New Mexico!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

All Is Not Lost

We Return to The Stone: May we all be inscribed and sealed for life! 

ICYMI - Here is an inspired and strongly-delivered Rosh Hashanah sermon  - All Is Not Lost: We Return to The Stone - by the one and only Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, now the Senior Rabbi of New York's Central Synagogue.

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl

Abq Jew knows - we all just sat through more than a few such sermons at our local shuls, just a few days ago. But Rabbi Buchdahl's (see November 2014's Rabbi Cantor Angela Buchdahl) Rosh Hashanah 5782 sermon is really, really good.

Her topic is - at least, on the surface - returning lost objects. 

A topic near and dear to Abq Jew's neshama. That's because - many years ago, when Abq Jew first began to study Talmud (at the Jewish Theological Seminary), one of the first chapters he learned was Eilu Metzios, the second chapter of the tractate Bava Metzia.

Eilu Metzios (or, as we said at the Seminary, Eilu Metziot) deals with found objects. And that's important. Because people lose things all the time. Sometimes people even find lost things. And then what?

Claim Stone

The Torah, of course, tells us that we must return a found lost object to its owner. But ... under all circumstances? In every case? What if we don't know who the owner is? What are we supposed to do then?

Eilu Metzios (28b) tells us:

ת"ר אבן טוען היתה בירושלים כל מי שאבדה לו אבידה נפנה לשם וכל מי  שמוצא אבידה נפנה לשם זה עומד ומכריז וזה עומד ונותן סימנין ונוטלה וזו היא ששנינו צאו וראו אם נמחת אבן הטוען

The Sages taught in a baraita: There was a Claimant’s Stone in Jerusalem, and anyone who lost an item would be directed there and anyone who found a lost item would be directed there. This finder would stand and proclaim his find and that owner would stand and provide its distinguishing marks and take the item. And that is the place about which we learned in a mishna (Ta’anit 19a): Go and see if the Claimant’s Stone has been obscured by the rising water.

Abq Jew would be remiss if he did not point out that ... we don't have to go to the Jewish Theological Seminary, or Yeshiva University, or, in fact, any yeshiva or any university, in order to study Talmud. Thanks to Al Gore (Gorelick? Gorevich?) - and, these days, to Sefaria - it's all on the Internet.

Stone of Claims

And Abq Jew would be remiss if he did not point out that ... back in 2015, there were reports that archaeologists had found the Even HaToen, the Claimant's Stone - what Rabbi Buchdahl calls the Stone of Lost Objects - right where it's supposed to be, in beautiful downtown Jerusalem.

But all of us have lost something more during this year-and-a-half of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rabbi Buchdahl discusses, poignantly, these many losses and how we can return from them.

Click here to view the video.
Click here to view the transcript.
But know that Rabbi Buchdahl's delivery is everything.


When we sing our Mishebeirach healing prayer,
we call out the names of those who have lost--
their health, their mobility, their hope.
and we pray together for it to be restored.

When we say the Kaddish,
mourners and those observing a yahrzeit stand first
and silently announce to our community:
I have lost.

My spouse. My sister. My friend.

What do we do when we stand at the Stone with people
who are missing something that cannot come back?
Death is so severe in its finality.
Our obligation then, becomes to keep the mourner from yeush,
from sinking wholly into despair.
While we cannot restore for them, a life,
we can sit with them. We can weep with them.
We can tell stories.
And we help them find a glimmer of an easier day--
that all is not totally lost.


Yom Kippur


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Ready for The Times

To Get Better: As recorded (last year) by Nefesh Mountain, one of the finest Jewish bluegrass bands out there. Husband-and-wife team Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff are the principal members. 

Nefesh Mountain

Wikipedia tells us:
Doni Zasloff grew up in Washington, DC and Philadelphia, and earned a degree in musical theater from Brandeis University. She began writing her own songs while teaching at her daughter's synagogue preschool, eventually forming the Mama Doni Band, which won the Simcha Award at the 2008 International Jewish Music Festival.

Eric Lindberg grew up in Brooklyn but often visited his father's family in Georgia, where he developed an appreciation for bluegrass music. He began playing guitar at the age of 10, inspired by blues musicians like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. He also cites Pat Metheny and Bela Fleck as influences on his work. He has a degree in jazz performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.

The two began writing music together in 2010, originally for Zasloff's career as "Mama Doni", but found that the mashup of Jewish liturgy and bluegrass melodies worked. At the same time, the two became a couple and eventually married. [They recently welcomed baby Willow to the family.]
Ready for The Times

On YouTube, Doni and Eric wrote:
Dear friends and loved ones, 
Fall is upon us. The trees are turning, the winds are picking up, change is in the air, and the New Year is here... 🍂inspiring us to set out into the wild to record our version of this beautiful song “Ready For The Times To Get Better”.

As the Jewish Calendar brings in the New Year we are filled with hope for the days to come. L’Shana Tova to those who celebrate, and for all of us may the coming months bring more love and a willingness to change for the better.

This song was inspired by the beautiful voice and guitar playing of the great Doc Watson. We learned this song years ago after hearing it on a few Doc Watson live recordings but rediscovered it sometime during these past 6 months of isolation, falling back in love with the words and his haunting way of singing it.

Ready for The Times to Get Better
Allen Reynolds

I've got to tell you I've been rackin' my brain
Hopin' to find a way out
I've had enough of this continual rain
Changes are comin', no doubt

It's been a too long time
With no peace of mind
And I'm ready for the times
To get better

You seem to want from me what I cannot give
I feel so lonesome at times
I have a dream that I wish I could live
It's burnin' holes in my mind

Shana Tova

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Rosh Hashanah 5782

Dip Your Apple In The Honey: It's Rosh Hashanah! And, as we begin a New Year, please remember - as Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum of Temple Beth Tzedek in Buffalo, New York has taught us -

There is hope for the world.
There is hope for your life.

The way it is now is not the way it must be. 



Abq Jew warmly invites you to check out
this now-classic Rosh Hashanah hit from 5772:

Dip Your Apple!


No apples, pomegranates, babies, or smartphones
were harmed in the filming of this video.
Please don't feed babies honey.

===============================

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Abq Jew knows (and knows you know), are special times for our Jewish hearts, minds, and souls.

The Ein Prat Fountainheads have touched our hearts. Now, here is something that will touch our minds and souls.

Nanci Griffith

Nanci Griffith, the Texas-born singer-songwriter celebrated in folk and country-music circles for her crystalline voice and storytelling skill, died Friday, August 13, 2021, in Nashville at age 68. 

One of Nanci Griffith's first songs was "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go," which she wrote in 1989 about "The Troubles" in Belfast - and about the racism she saw in America. But she could have written it about troubles anywhere and anytime. 

The song included the memorable and poignant chorus

It's a hard life, it's a hard life, it's a very hard life
It's a hard life wherever you go
If we poison our children with hatred
Then the hard life is all that they'll know.

She also was known as an interpreter of songs by other writers, none more famous than "From a Distance," a Julie Gold song that - after Nanci Griffith popularized it - provided a major hit for Bette Midler

God is watching us

The song is not, strictly speaking, a Jewish song. 

Nanci Griffith was not a Jew - or even Jewish. But she was the singer who first sang "From a Distance" - a song written by Julie Gold, who is a Jew. Her parents founded Philadelphia's Main Line Reform Temple Beth Elohim

And the song was made even more famous by Bette  Midler - who is also a Jew. Born and raised in the Jewish Quarter of Old Honolulu! 

So - of course "From a Distance" is a Jewish song. And its chorus is especially meaningful as we approach Rosh Hashanah.

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance.

We Jews know that God is watching us. Always. But - from a distance? Getting closer to the High Holidays, we of course want God to be watching us - but from someplace a lot closer. 

And then again - maybe we don't. We're getting ready to confess our sins. All our sins. How closely do we really want God to see what we've been up to?


In the meantime -

Labor Day

===============================

Dog

===============================

Ed Asner Up

===============================


L'Shana Tova U'Metuka, New Mexico!
A Good & Sweet Year, Albuquerque! 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

A Yiddish Buffet

Yes! Jimmy Buffet in Yiddish! Let's hear it for the Congress for Jewish Culture (אַלװעלטלעכער ייִדישער קולטור־קאָנגרעס)! In these days of military conflict, political antagonism, and pseuo-medical health idiocy (ivermectin? really?), the Congress identified a major yet unsolved Jewish problem and assigned the inimitable and thought-provoking Rokhlk to solve it.

Jimmy Buffet Yiddish
Design by Evelyn Frick; Photo by Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Abq Jew refers, of course, to the complete lack of attention paid to Jimmy Buffet's Yiddish repertoire. Just in case you are unfamiliar with Mr Buffet's genre or oeuvre, Wikipedia reminds us:
James William Buffett (born December 25, 1946) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, actor, and businessman. He is best known for his music, which often portrays an "island escapism" lifestyle. 
Together with his Coral Reefer Band, Buffett has recorded hit songs including Margaritaville (ranked 234th on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of "Songs of the Century") and Come Monday. He has a devoted base of fans known as Parrotheads.

Abq Jew cheerfully admits that he would have known nothing about this had it not been for Alma  (a feminist Jewish culture site and online community), to which he subscribes; and, in particular, Chloe Sarbib, a Brooklyn-based writer and filmmaker and Alma's associate editor of arts and culture. Who recently wrote:

The Yiddish Cover of Jimmy Buffett You Didn’t Know You Needed            Yes, you read that right.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wow, I really wish someone would cover a Jimmy Buffett song in Yiddish?” I can’t say I ever had — but once it was presented as an option, I thought it was a pretty great idea. 

Journalist-playwright-Yiddishist Rohkl Kafrissen [Rokhlk] has just done exactly that, even changing the lyrics and context of the song to better fit, well, Yiddish.

The path that led from Margaritaville to the mame loshen is surprisingly easy to follow. As Rokhl described in her newsletter, it all began this spring, when, amidst the electric energy of a New York City that thought it was about to get vaccinated and exit the COVID pandemic (oh, how young and naïve we were), Jimmy Buffett was set to open his first Margaritaville resort in the Big Apple. 

In Kafrissen’s words, “thanks to a real estate quirk, he was forced to make room onsite for the historic Garment Center Congregation. This made it the only Margaritaville property in the world with a working shul. 

How better to welcome Jimmy Buffett to New York than by recording my Yiddish cover version of his 1973 novelty hit, ‘Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw?’ Six days a week you can drink all the margaritas you want, but on the seventh day, God commanded us to pick up a glass of wine, damnit.”

Kafrissen collaborated with the Congress for Jewish Culture to make the song happen. Though, as with many things these past few months, the song’s creation had a few false starts before it actually took off, she did ultimately enlist a formidable crew of klezmer performers: Sasha Lurje (voice), Craig Judelman (violin) and Lorin Sklamberg (guitar, voice).

Of course, it wasn’t enough to merely translate the song’s existing words into Yiddish; the whole scenario had to be transposed to be more Jewish. Kafrissen was up to the task. “I decided to take Buffett’s song as a starting point,” she said. “Instead of a man propositioning a woman at a bar, I rewrote it from a woman’s point of view.” 

In her lyrics, 

“a woman is singing to her husband at the beginning of Friday night dinner. He sings the kiddush beautifully. But they’re all alone, and she just went to the mikveh. Maybe just this once they could skip dinner and go straight to dessert?” 

She feels her protagonist’s frustration is apt for the moment we’re all experiencing: We were promised a summer of hedonism, only to have gratification delayed again by the virus.

According to the CJC, the new Yiddish version, called “Kum tsu mir” (Come to Me), “blends Buffett’s boozy, chilled out vibe with a heymish, New York point of view.” 

Enjoy

Now that is what Abq Jew calls good writing. Which is why he took  Chloe Sarbib's entire article and just plunked it down here, in complete violation of an entire plethora of US copyright laws, UN resolutions, and international conventions.

UPDATE: The Times of Israel has picked up this story!

YouTube tells us:

“Kum tsu mir”  New Yiddish lyrics by Rokhl Kafrissen (https://Rokhl.blogspot.com)
A project of the CJC (https://congressforjewishculture.org). Recorded August, 2021.

Sasha Lurje – voice (https://forshpil.bandcamp.com)
Craig Judelman fiddle (https://craigjudelman.bandcamp.com)
Lorin Sklambergguitar, voice (https://www.klezmatics.com
Yiddish Lyrics 
 S’iz shabes do, oy s’iz gut
It's Shabbos here, it sure is good 

Dayn kol klingt mole-kheyn
Your voice is full of charm

 Kidesh makhste vunderlekh
The way you make kiddush is wonderful

Un dayn ponim, likhtik sheyn
And your face is shining so bright

Nu, ketsl, nokh a glezl
So baby, one more glass

Mashke, vayn, tsi bir
Whiskey, wine or beer

Ober loz oys di [ha]moytsi
But let’s skip the motsi [blessing on the challah]

Kum tsu mir
Come to me


Loz oys di [ha]moytsi, kum tsu mir
Let’s skip the motsi, come to me

Ikh hob zikh, haynt getoyvlt
I just went and ritually cleansed myself

In der mikve nor far dir
In the mikve just for you

Me ruft dikh a min tsadik
They say you’re really saintly

Oyneg-shabes on a shir
It’s shabes pleasure, without end

Ketsl loz oys di [ha]moytsi
So baby let’s skip the motsi, come to me

Kum tsu mir
Come to me

Seriously Bagels