Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Jews and Guns. Again.

A Modern View: When did modern Jewish history begin?

Abq Jew believes that the first day of modern Jewish history was April 19, 1943. That is the day that the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began.

Best of Blog
from January 2018

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (Yiddish: אױפֿשטאַנד אין װאַרשעװער געטאָ‎; Polish: powstanie w getcie warszawskim; German: Aufstand im Warschauer Ghetto) was the 1943 act of Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland during World War II, and which opposed Nazi Germany's final effort to transport the remaining Ghetto population to Treblinka. 
The uprising started on 19 April when the Ghetto refused to surrender to the police commander SS-Brigadeführer Jürgen Stroop, who then ordered the burning of the Ghetto, block by block, ending on 16 May. 
A total of 13,000 Jews died, about half of them burnt alive or suffocated. German casualties are not known, but were not more than 300. 
It was the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II.

We've come a long way since then.

At least when we consider the Israeli view of Jews and guns, i.e., necessary to save life. When we consider the American view of Jews and guns ... well, there's this:
A couple of [Jewish] hunters are out in the woods of the Upper [Peninsula] when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing; his eyes are rolled back in his head. 
His friend whips out his cell phone, calls 911, and gasps to the operator, "My friend is dead! What can I do?" 
The operator, in a calm soothing voice says, "Just take it easy. I can help. First, lets make sure he's dead." 
There is a silence ... then a shot is heard. 
The voice comes back on the line, "OK, now what?"

My Jewish Learning tells us:
Jews, particularly American ones, have a longstanding aversion to guns. 
According to a 2005 American Jewish Committee study, Jews have the lowest rate of gun ownership of among all religious groups, with just 13 percent of Jewish households owning firearms (compared to 41 percent for non-Jews) and only 10 percent of Jews personally owning a gun (compared to 26 percent). 
And furthermore ...
Most authorities say it is not permissible to hunt for sport.  
Two sources are generally cited in this regard. 
The first is Rabbi Isaac Lampronri, who wrote in his work Pahad Yitzhak that it is forbidden to hunt animals because it’s wasteful. The 18th-century rabbinic authority Ezekiel Landau added that recreational hunting is forbidden on the grounds of animal cruelty and because of the risks to the hunter
Neither of the two biblical figures known to be hunters — Esau and Nimrod — are held up as role models. All the biblical patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), as well as Joseph, Moses and King David were herders — nurturers of animals, not their pursuers. 
Hunting for food is, in principle, not objectionable. However land animals must be ritually slaughtered by hand to render them kosher, which would make hunting them for food with a firearm impermissible. 
Some American Jews do, nonetheless, hunt for sport.

Wait a minute ...
Risks to the hunter?

Not being a hunter, Abq Jew never thought seriously about the risk of injury or death that hunting presents. To the hunter. (The risk to the hunted is pretty clear.)

He still hasn't. But Abq Jew has recently become aware of one big reason why hunters often have a really bad day.

Hunters fall out of their tree stands.

Tree stands, Abq Jew discovered, are open or enclosed platforms used by hunters. The platforms are secured to trees in order to elevate the hunter (16 feet, as pictured) and give him (or her) a better vantage point.

Strangely, Abq Jew finds that the use of tree stands levels the playing field. But, Abq Jew hears you, his loyal readers, ask

Why do hunters fall out of their tree stands?

Well, as Benjamin Disraeli is reputed to have once said, "There are lies. There are damned lies. And there are statistics."

Statistics you can find here and here and here and here (did you know September is Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month?) and here and here and here.

But Abq Jew is gonna help you out here. Let's cut to the chase! Of hunters who fall out of tree stands, approximately

  • 40% fall while climbing up.
  • 40% fall while climbing down.
  • 10% fall while shooting their weapon.
  • 10% fall while sleeping.

Really. You could look it up.
Fifty-four patients were identified. Ninety-six percent of patients were male with a mean age of 47.9 years (range 15-69). The mean Injury Severity Score was 12.53 ± 1.17 (range 2-34). The average height of fall was 18.2 feet (range 4-40 feet). All patients fell to the ground with the exception of one who landed on rocks, and many hit the tree or branches on the way down. A reason for the fall was documented in only 13 patients, and included tree stand construction (3), loss of balance (3), falling asleep (3), structural failure (2), safety harness breakage (3) or light-headedness (1). The most common injuries were spinal fractures (54%), most commonly in the cervical spine (69%), followed by the thoracic (38%) and lumbar (21%) spine. Eight patients required operative repair. Head injuries occurred in 22%. Other systemic injuries include rib/clavicular fractures (47%), pelvic fractures (11%), solid organ injury (23%), and pneumothorax or hemothorax (19%). No patient deaths were reported. The average hospital length of stay was 6.56 ± 1.07 d. Most patients were discharged home without (72%) or with (11%) services and 17% required rehabilitation.

But back to our main topic, Jews and Guns. 

Did you know that there is an organization called Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership? Says Wikipedia:
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of gun rights in the United States and "to encourage Americans to understand and defend all of the Bill of Rights for everyone". 
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership takes the position that an armed citizenry is the population's last line of defense against tyranny by their own government. The organization is noted for producing materials (bumper stickers, posters, billboards, booklets, videos, etc.) with messages that equate gun control with totalitarianism. 
Which, Abq Jew assures you, only goes to show:

Two Jews > Three Opinions

Monday, April 5, 2021

Death With Class

Miller Introduction to Judaism Class #15: This week (אי״ה), Abq Jew is scheduled to teach Class #15 in the Miller Introduction to Judaism program being offered this year (and next year!) by Congregation B'nai Israel of Albuquerque.

Miller Intro

What follows are Abq Jew's notes, sources, resources, and itinerary for teaching this class. Yes, it's sort of a hodgepodge. A medley, as they say in the music business. A mishmash, if you will. Or, if you won't, a grand and glorious potpourri. 

Stones On a Grave


Understanding Jewish practices toward illness and healing, particularly the mitzvah of bikkur holim. Exploration of Jewish ethics regarding end-of-life, including questions about life support, autopsy, organ donation, etc.
Overview of funeral and burial practices, as well as mourning practices including shiva, shloshim, and yahrtzeit. Jewish views on the afterlife. 

Judaism teaches us to approach life’s hardest moments with compassion
and community. In this class, we’ll explore the sacred practices that help us
navigate grief and heartache, and move from sadness to renewed life.

Abq Jew

Here are a few connections to songs, lectures, and writings that bear on this often difficult subject. Mostly taken from - where else? - the Abq Jew Blog.

Crossing the Bar

Crossing the Bar is a song based on an Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem of the same name. This particular version was recorded by the bluegrass band Salamander Crossing from their album "Bottleneck Dreams."  

The poem itself is an allegory for death.  It was written near the end of Tennyson's life.  "Crossing the bar" could be interpreted to mean "crossing the sandbar" out into sea, transitioning from life into death.  

The Pilot is a symbol for God.  Tennyson wrote that "The Pilot has been on board all the while, but in the dark I have not seen him...[He is] that Divine and Unseen Who is always guiding us."

The song itself is strangely beautiful in that even though it is a metaphor for death it isn't especially sorrowful.  There's a touch of reflectiveness here.

Bikkur Holim

Debbie Friedman’s Healing Prayer
Mi Shebeirach:  Rabbi Drorah Setel wrote a beautiful article about the creation of this prayersong in the Jewish Daily Forward.  The article begins:
As word spread that Debbie Friedman was gravely ill, people around the world prayed for her recovery. Many turned to “Mi Shebeirach,” her version of the traditional Jewish prayer for healing and probably her best-known song. Our prayers and our loving song did not prevent Debbie’s death, but neither were they offered in vain. Indeed, for Debbie, the purpose of “Mi Shebeirach” was about much more than physical healing.
The story of “Mi Shebeirach” begins in 1987 . . . .
Rabbi Drorah Setel is rabbi of Temple Beth El in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and president of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis.  Rabbi Setel co-wrote the Mi Shebeirach with Debbie Friedman and is interviewed in the film  A Journey of Spirit.  Continue reading her article here.

Abq Jew Note:  This video will fill your heart and break it at the same time.

Kicking the Bucket

When Is It Over

Here is an ELI Talk by Dr Michael Slater (President of the Board of Kavod v'Nichum (Honor and Comfort), a non-profit educational and advocacy organization on end of life issues.
Living Jewishly Means Dying Jewishly, Too. 
In much of society today, death is to be avoided at all costs - in polite company and modern medicine alike. Jewish tradition, explains Dr. Michael Slater, has a very different approach. 
In a talk that is part memoir, part history, part communal call-to-action, we see the wisdom of Judaism as not only life-affirming, but death-affirming, as well.
Gail Rubin

Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death ® (based right here in Albuquerque!) says -

Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant,
talking about funerals won’t make you dead.
And your family will benefit from the conversation.

Jewish Mourning Rituals

Kavod Ha-Met
Honoring the Dead

And A Call for Chevre Kaddisha Volunteers: Abq Jew has often written about the important and holy work that the Chevre Kaddisha does in our Jewish community of Albuquerque.

It's the ultimate mitzvah, Rabbi Min Kantrowitz tells us - participating in a tahara, the ritual purification of the body of a Jewish person before that person is buried.

Nichum Avelim:
Comforting the Living

12 videos about Jewish death and mourning


And Then What?

Torah and Talmud and Zombies

But how does the World to Come actually work?  Well, you've got two ideas that compete with each other (in the sense that you only need one of them to answer the question):

  • Resurrection of the Body.  This is the high octane form of the afterlife.  Yes, God has the power to lift us up from the dead, and to enable us to . . . well, exactly what is hard to say.
  • Immortality of the Soul.  This is the unleaded afterlife.  Since we have no need for our physical components, they are jettisoned . . . well, exactly when is hard to say.

Where did these ideas come from?  Rabbi Gillman suggests that the idea of the soul and its immortality came from Plato & the Greeks.  (It did not, he says, come from within Judaism - our words nefeshneshama, and ruach originally meant something completely different.)

As for the idea of the dead rising from their graves - well, we're not really sure.  Probably not from within Judaism; probably not from the Egyptians (whose idea of the afterlife is very, very different from the Jews').  But maybe from the Persians, whose Zoroastrianism solved our theodical problem by positing duotheism - a Good God and an Evil God - which is, theologically, easier to deal with than monotheism.

And what did Jewish religion do with these competing ideas? Rabbi Gilman points out that Traditional Judaism refused to choose, and adopted both of them. (Not only adopted - required their belief, and claimed them to be Biblical.) Liberal Judaism, on the other hand, found the immortal soul easier to stomach than the idea of the Age of the Living Dead.

The Final Tisch; No Zombies

One Big Table:  As Abq Jew stated in Torah and Talmud and Zombies:

What Traditional Judaism has in mind [when we speak of resurrection] is the righteous sitting at tisch with The Holy One, Blessed Be He, scarfing down Leviathan chunks.
How does this work?  Here's an interesting view, reported by Rabbi Rami Shapiro in his Ethics of the Sages: Pirke Avot: Annotated & Explained (available from the publisher, Jewish Lights, or from Abq Jew's Amazon Store):
Heaven and hell are a single feast, with everyone seated at a grand table overflowing with the finest food and drink.  The only rule is this: you must use the utensils provided, each being six feet in length.  Those who attempt to feed themselves with these tools starve, for they cannot maneuver the tools to reach their own mouths.  Those who learn to feed others are themselves fed in turn.  The first are in hell, the second in heaven, but the feast is common to them both.
Abq Jew finished reading Rabbi Neil Gillman's The Death of Death. In the final chapters, Rabbi Gillman dismisses the doctrine of the immortality of the soul - it's just not enough - and makes a very strong case for the traditional Jewish belief in the resurrection of the dead. 

Only resurrection of the body, says Rabbi Gillman, will prove God's supreme power, solve the problem of the misfortune of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked (tzaddik vi'ra lo, rasha vi'tov lo), and make each of our individual lives eternally meaningful.

Seat at Night
Sea at Night        Anton Melbye

Crossing the Bar

Yizkor Candle

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Challenge of Bravery

Braving the Red SeaAs Abq Jew mentioned just last year (see Swimming With Nachshon), we Jews remember the bravery of Nachshon ben Aminadav as we observe the Seventh Day of Passover.

On the Seventh Day of Passover - the anniversary of the day when this glorious event happened - we again read the story of the Crossing of the Red Sea and the ensuing celebrations.

Nachshon ben Aminadav
Nachshon ben Aminadav          David Brook

While everyone who has seen The Ten Commandments knows that Moses and his staff (including The Holy One, Blessed Be He) parted the waters of the Red Sea - we Jews also remember Nachshon, who was the first to step in when the Egyptians were chasing us.

And Nachshon didn't just stick a toe in. He continued walking until the water was up to his neck. Then and only then did the Red Sea part, allowing us Children of Israel to cross on dry land.

Crossing the Red Sea

Nachshon’s name has become synonymous with courage and the will to do the right thing, even when it’s not popular. Even when it's dangerous. Even when ...

Allan J McDonald
Mr. McDonald recounts the 1986 Challenger launch in 2016.
(Francisco Kjolseth / Salt Lake Tribune)

Allan J McDonald died earlier this month, and Abq Jew could not let his passing go (at least, on TV news) almost entirely unnoticed.

If you don't remember his name: McDonald was the senior on-site representative of his company, contractor Morton Thiokol, who refused to sign off on the January 28, 1986 launch of the Challenger space shuttle over safety concerns.

Superb obituary writer Emily Langer wrote in The Washington Post:

Allan McDonald, engineer and whistleblower in the Challenger disaster, dies at 83

Allan J. McDonald, a rocket scientist and whistleblower who refused to sign off on the launch of the Challenger space shuttle over safety concerns and, after its explosion, argued that the tragedy could have been averted had officials heeded warnings from engineers like himself, died March 6 at a hospital in Ogden, Utah. He was 83.

Mr. McDonald was in Cape Canaveral, Fla., at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where the Challenger was set to take off. He oversaw the engineering of the rocket boosters used to propel the shuttle into space. Among colleagues, the New York Times reported, Mr. McDonald had a reputation as one of the most skilled rocket engineers in the country.

It was unseasonably cold in Florida, with weather forecasts predicting that temperatures might drop as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit in the hours before the Challenger was scheduled to lift off. That cold snap became the crux of vociferous debate among Mr. McDonald and other engineers, Morton Thiokol executives and NASA officials about whether the mission should go forward.

Citing the cold, Mr. McDonald insisted that takeoff be postponed, according to accounts of the deliberations that later emerged in news reports. A critical component of the rocket booster was the O-ring, a rubber gasket that served to contain burning fuel. Because of their composition, O-rings were highly vulnerable to temperature drops, and engineers warned that their effectiveness could not be guaranteed below 53 degrees Fahrenheit. 

“If anything happened to this launch, I told them I sure wouldn’t want to be the person that had to stand in front of a board of inquiry to explain why I launched this outside of the qualification of the solid rocket motor,” he would later testify.

Protocol required the senior engineer to sign off on the launch. When Mr. McDonald refused, his supervisor signed for him. The Challenger lifted off at 11:38 a.m. on Jan. 28 and disintegrated approximately 72 seconds later, its remains streaking across the sky.

“My heart just about stopped,” Mr. McDonald later said in a public lecture, according to the Commercial Dispatch of Columbus, Miss. 


President Ronald Reagan convened a high-level commission to investigate the catastrophe. Ms Langer continues:
Mr. McDonald was present at a closed session of the commission — watching from what he called the “cheap seats” — when he heard what he considered misleading testimony by a NASA official about the debate leading up to takeoff.

“I was sitting there thinking, ‘That’s about as deceiving as anything I ever heard,’ ” Mr. McDonald said in an interview aired on NPR. 
“So I raised my hand. I said, ‘I think this presidential commission should know that Morton Thiokol was so concerned, we recommended not launching below 53 degrees Fahrenheit. And we put that in writing and sent that to NASA.’ 
I’ll never forget Chairman Rogers said, ‘Would you please come down here on the floor and repeat what I think I heard?’ ”
Allan J McDonald Testifies
Engineer Allan J. McDonald testifies before
the presidential committee investigating the
Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986.
(Charles Tasnadi/AP)

And what, Abq Jew hears you ask, was Mr McDonald's reward for his honesty, bravery, and dedication? Alas, Ms Langer tells us:
Mr. McDonald was demoted at Morton Thiokol after his testimony, then reinstated after Congress moved to end the company’s federal contracts if he was not returned to his job.

“I really expected to be going out the door,” he later recalled. 
“And I would have, if it had not been that the presidential commission and certain members of Congress found out about it and really read the riot act to the management of my company. That saved my job, frankly.”
And then?
After his reinstatement at Morton Thiokol, Mr. McDonald played a principal role in a redesign of the booster rockets. He retired in 2001 as a vice president at the company. 
With James R. Hansen, he wrote the book Truth, Lies, and O-rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster (2009) and spoke frequently to scientific, corporate and government audiences about the role of ethics in professional life.

He often cited an aphorism with particular resonance for him. 

Regret for things we did is tempered by time.
Regret for things we did not do is inconsolable.
Challenger Crew

There is more. There is also the story of Bob Ebeling, reported shortly before his death in 2016 by The Washington Post's Colby Itkowitz:
For more than 30 years, Bob Ebeling carried the guilt of the Challenger explosion. He was an engineer and he knew the shuttle couldn’t sustain the freezing temperatures. He warned his supervisors. He told his wife it was going to blow up.

The next morning it did, just as he said it would, and seven astronauts died.

Since that tragic day, Ebeling has blamed himself. He always wondered whether he could have done more. 
His daughter, Kathy Ebeling, said he had even entertained bringing his hunting rifle to work  Jan. 28, 1986 to threaten NASA not to launch — that’s how certain he was that the shuttle was going to explode.
Ebeling spoke to NPR for the 30th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. He sadly recalled the day and described his three decades of guilt.
“I think that was one of the mistakes that God made,” Ebeling told NPR. “He shouldn’t have picked me for the job. But next time I talk to him, I’m gonna ask him, ‘Why me? You picked a loser.’ ”

But listeners didn’t hear a loser. And they sent hundreds of e-mails and letters to NPR and directly to Ebeling telling him so ....

His daughter, reached at their Utah home, said she’s been reading him the letters. Engineering teachers said they use him as an example of good ethical practice. Professionals wrote that because of his example they are more vigilant in their jobs.

But there was one person that made him finally start to believe he wasn’t to blame.

Allan McDonald, who was Ebeling’s boss, reached out after the NPR interview aired to tell him that he had done everything he could have done to warn them, including calling Kennedy Space Center to try and stop the launch.
Nachshon by Mordecai Colodner
Faith at the Sea of Reeds
Mordecai Colodner

As we observe the Seventh Day of Passover,
et us remember Nachshon's bravery.
And may we live up to the example he set.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

It's Pesach 5781!

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

Passover Corona

This year, Pesach will be different.
Again. One (אי״ה) last time.

Wait better

And here's why.

Because the Jewish Federation of New Mexico and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque have combined with the leadership of New Mexico's delightfully diverse Jewish community to create

Virtual Seder

One Community: Many Voices
A Virtual Seder for Passover 5781 / 2021

Where you will find a wonderful playable and/or downloadable Video Seder that highlights different synagogues, groups, and leaders from our community leading the Seder. This way, you can watch the Seder at your table and at your chosen time. And where you can download the attached Haggadah with the Seder to follow along and participate.

Way better

To cheer y'all up, Abq Jew below provides a video from ABBA's 2016 Reunion. That was five (5) years ago. They probably look even older now. Those were the days.

Times of joy and times of sorrow
We will always see it through
Oh, I don't care what comes tomorrow
We can face it together
The way old friends do

And to further cheer y'all  up, Abq Jew below provides a video from The Seekers' 2014 Farewell Tour. That was seven (7) years ago. They certainly look even older now. Those were the days.

Rocking rolling riding
Out along the bay
All bound for Morningtown
Many miles away

And to really, really cheer y'all  up, Abq Jew below provides a video from the 2002 Grease DVD Release Party. That was nineteen (yes, 19) years ago. They certainly look way older now. Those were the days.

You're the one that I want
You, ooh, ooh, honey


Want more videos?
Abq Jew here thoughtfully provides three (3) of the classics. 
What would Pesach be without them?

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 &
Your guide to Jewish life in Albuquerque and beyond

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

Monday, March 15, 2021

A Santa Fe Love Song

A Nusbaum Seligman StoryYes, Abq Jew loves to tell stories. Especially stories that connect people, and especially stories that connect people to their past. Which is how and why he manages to find so many long-lost relatives on his Family Tree.

Back in 2019 (see Blood, Spit & Years)Abq Jew told his Old Grandad's Beachwood Beechwood family story, and showed how he developed his wonderfully interesting and terrifically entertaining Not Strictly Genealogy Methodology.

God loves stories

Wait it gets better

Abq Jew is honored and thrilled for you, his loyal readers, to meet Amy Bess Cohen, his ... well, for now, let's just say cousin. Amy is a mere 14 steps away on Abq Jew's Family Tree. And ...

Amy is the great-great-granddaughter of New Mexico Jewish pioneers Bernard Seligman and Frances Nusbaum Seligman. Whose son, Arthur Seligman, was the first Jewish Governor of New Mexico.

Seligman Bros
Etching of Santa Fe showing the Exchange Hotel
and Seligman Brothers store on the Plaza

Yes, those Seligmans.

Now, Abq Jew knew about his family connection to Amy Bess Cohen for - well, only a couple of years. And he knew she was a writer (and a very good one), having read her first novel, Pacific Street.

Pacific Street is a fictionalized, captivating - yes, that's the word - account of the lives of Amy's grandparents Isadore and Gussie Goldschlager. Which began in Iasi, Romania - just like Mrs Abq Jew's family (see Remembering the Iasi Pogrom).

But Abq Jew didn't find out about Amy's Santa Fe connection until she posted this on her Facebook page.

I am excited to announce the publication of my second family history novel, Santa Fe Love Song. Like my first book Pacific StreetSanta Fe Love Song is a fictionalized account of the lives of my family members, this time my great-great-grandparents Bernard Seligman and Frances Nusbaum. 

Bernard was a young German immigrant who became a pioneer on the Santa Fe Trail. He fell in love with the American West and with a woman back east. How he reconciles those two loves is part of the story told in my new book. 

Let's start with Arthur Seligman, the man in this photograph.

Arthur Seligman
Governor Arthur Seligman

Wikipedia tells us:

Arthur Seligman (June 14, 1871 – September 25, 1933) was an American businessman and politician. He served in several offices in New Mexico, including mayor of Santa Fe and governor.

Governor Seligman

Seligman was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico Territory, the son of Bernard and Frances Seligman.

Bernard & Frances Seligman
Bernard & Frances Seligman

Abq Jew was also excited by the announcement of Amy's new book. Why? Because - 

Since Abq Jew's cousin Amy is related (very directly) to our beautiful state's first Jewish governor, so is Abq Jew!

This not to belittle Abq Jew's relationship to Bernard and Frances, who are famous in their own right. Yes, our relationship is rather distant, and involves more luck and good timing (which is to say, marriage) than blood. 

In fact, Abq Jew is closer to Billy Joel (11 steps; see Fame, Fortune, and Four Wives) and Ronnie Gilbert (also 11 steps; see Starting With Aunt Bea) than he is to Amy Bess Cohen (14 steps) or Governor Arthur Seligman (17 steps). 


After more than 10 years living on the West Bank of the Rio Grande, Abq Jew has achieved a goal that he had only dreamed about. For, to use a term that the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society will surely understand, Abq Jew now has yichus!

Amy Bess Cohen
Author and Illustrators

So let's talk about Amy's just-published family history novel, Santa Fe Love SongSanta Fe Love Song's Amazon page tells us:

Bernard is torn between two loves---his new home in Santa Fe and a woman who lives in Philadelphia. How will he resolve the conflict? As a young Jewish immigrant new to America in the 1850s, he finally felt at home after traveling the Santa Fe Trail and settling in Santa Fe with his older brother. His travels across America introduced him to his new nation and challenged his sense of himself and what it meant to be a man. 
But then he met Frances while traveling back east. Could he convince her to leave the comforts of a big city, a large Jewish community, and her family? 
And if he did, would she be happy? Bernard and Frances are characters inspired by real people, the author's great-great-grandparents. and their story is based on her research of their times and their lives.

Wow. What a story. Torn between the Land of Enchantment and the mishpocha back east? Abq Jew suspects - no, Abq Jew knows we've all been there.

Want to know the facts about European Jews coming to New Mexico? You can start with Henry Tobias's A History of the Jews in New Mexico - as Amy did - and move on from there. 

Want to know what it felt like? What Amazon said about Amy's first novel is even truer here:

In this novel, the author takes you into their world and their minds so that we can all experience what their lives must have been like.

Seligman Stone

Here is what Amy's novel idea means to the rest of us. You know - in practical terms.

No footnotes

Although Amy does provide an epilogue, a postscript, acknowledgements, and a dedication. However - 

If you want to know everything Amy Bess Cohen knows
about her family, you have to read her blog

Amy's Brotmanblog (yes, Amy is also a Brotman) is packed with records, documents, photographs, interviews, and personal recollections from her years (yes, years) of genealogical research. 

That's where the footnotes are.
That's where Amy's Genealogy Methodology resides.
And that's where Abq Jew found most of the photos in this blog post.


Genealogy is not just about obtaining names, dates, and documents; it’s about finding meaning in the past and learning from the lives our ancestors lived. - Amy Bess Cohen

Nusbaum Washington

One more thing

Amy visited New Mexico a few years ago, and wrote:
Our days in Santa Fe were a wonderful blend of history, art, architecture, and family history. 
They call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment, and Santa Fe is an enchanting place even if you have no family ties to the place.  
But for me, it was more than that. 
Although at times it was hard to imagine what is now very much a tourist-filled place as the old settlement of native Americans, Spanish and Mexican settlers, and then later Anglo settlers like my ancestor, when I could time-travel in my mind to the years when my great-great-grandparents and their children roamed those same streets around the plaza, it was quite magical, and yes, enchanting.
Youve Got Yichus

Thanks Amy

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Together With Her Money

Tsuzamen Mitn Gelt: Abq Jew wishes an XXXL Mazeltov! to American novelist and philanthropist Mackenzie Scott, who has recently re-married after her 2019 divorce from - you, know, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. 

And who is also noted for being one of the world's richest people (her net worth is about $62 billion). Since her divorce, she has reportedly given away more than $4 billion of her fortune. With plenty more that she is planning to give.

Mackenzie Scott Dan Jewett

Mackenzie Scott's new husband, Dan Jewett, is a high school chemistry teacher. Which should give us all some small hope that - with A Little Bit of Luck - a better life is achievable. 

As Kohelet tells us:

Race Not Swift

Or, as Bubbe always told your Mom and Dad (you see what good that did):

Marry Rich Marry Poor

Time to cue If I were A Rich Man. This time, the Zero Mostel stage version from the 1965 Tony Awards. (Click here if you insist upon the Chaim Topol film version.)

The couple's marriage was announced joyfully via their page on The Giving Pledge, a campaign to encourage extremely wealthy people to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. Where Dan writes:

It is strange to be writing a letter indicating I plan to give away the majority of my wealth during my lifetime, as I have never sought to gather the kind of wealth required to feel like saying such a thing would have particular meaning. 
I have been a teacher for the majority of my life, as well as a grateful student of the generosity of those around me. This has meant doing my best to follow their example by passing on resources of all kinds—from time, to energy, to material possessions—when I have had them to give. 
And now, in a stroke of happy coincidence, I am married to one of the most generous and kind people I know—and joining her in a commitment to pass on an enormous financial wealth to serve others.
Mackenzie Scott and Dan Jewett are not, as far as Abq Jew or anyone else can tell, MOTs. (FYI - neither is Fiddler on the Roof director Norman Jewison. Go figure.) And, Lord & Taylor knows, they don't need any financial advice from Abq Jew.

Or advice about charitable donations.


The word tzedaka derives from the Hebrew word tzedek, "justice." 
Performing deeds of justice is perhaps the most important obligation Judaism imposes on the Jew. "Tzedek, tzedek you shall pursue," the Torah instructs (Deuteronomy 16:20).
Justice Tzedek

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 Cohen and her husband Randy Edmunds performed an (alas) abbreviated version of this song for the Abq JCC's June 25 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?