Thursday, July 22, 2021

Where is Anne Frank

A New Animated Film: In a year from today, Kitty, Anne Frank’s imaginary friend, the one that Anne devoted her entire diary to, magically comes to life at the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. She believes that if she’s alive, Anne must be alive as well. She sets out on a relentless quest to find Anne.

Where is Anne Frank

Abq Jew has decided not to address (at least, at this time) the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Wars, BDS, the progressive attempt to eliminate Zionists (which is to say, most Jews) from progressive politics, or the recent attempts by two billionaires (with a third slated to follow) to escape paying taxes by rocketing into space.

Don't Even Go There

Abq Jew sincerely hopes that you, his loyal readers, will not be disappointed.
Besides, it's almost Shabbat Nachamu. May we be consoled.

Cannes Film Festival

Instead, Abq Jew would like to direct your attention to Where is Anne Frank, a new animated film by Israeli director Ari Folman that made its premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Cnaan Lipshiz wrote about the film last week for JTA; his article was later published on Kveller.
A new animated Anne Frank movie brings her diary to life in modern-day Amsterdam

A disoriented teenage girl lies on Anne Frank’s bed as people swarm the family house. But these people are not Nazis; they’re modern-day tourists. And the girl on the bed isn’t Anne, but Kitty — the imaginary friend to whom she addressed her now world-famous diary.

Where is Anne Frank 

Magically resurrected from the page and transported into modern-day Europe, Kitty is appalled by how society has fetishized her best friend Anne, hawking cheap merchandise and endless inaccurate reinterpretations of her words. Eventually she takes it upon herself to reclaim Anne’s legacy, by any means necessary.

This is the bold reimagining of Anne Frank’s story found in the new animated film “Where is Anne Frank,” which premiered last week at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was made by acclaimed Israeli director Ari Folman ...

Who told the Hollywood Reporter:

I was looking for a new dimension, a new way to tell the story. And I tried to figure out how to bring it to the youngest audience I could. And when you start a movie with a miracle, like with this creation of Kitty, you build the fairy tale.

Where is Anne Frank 
In addition to the film, Folman also collaborated with the Anne Frank Fonds on a graphic novel adaptation of Anne’s diary, illustrated by David Polonsky and published in 2017. 
The film and the book will be part of a new educational package that the Fonds will share with hundreds of schools worldwide to which it provides Holocaust-education programs and materials.

 

But wait

Anne Frank's Diary

As it turns out, Abq Jew discovered that another animated retelling of Anne Frank's Diary - this one directed by Julian V Wolff - was released in Europe in 1999. But not in the United States. Here is the trailer:


Nevertheless, the film (says YouTube) was awarded the Children’s Jury Award at the Chicago International Children’s Festival.

Buddy Elias, then President of Anne Frank Fonds, in 1998 wrote:
The Film has moved me and I want to congratulate you for the high standard and sensibility in producing this film. I am sure it will be successful not only with the young audiences, but also for the elder generations.
And Simon Wiesenthal wrote:
I must admit that at first had my doubts whether an animated film could do justice to Anne Frank’s Diary. I was therefore pleasantly surprised upon viewing it that the film doesn’t trivialize the story of Anne Frank and makes for exciting viewing. 
This depiction of the growing up of a vivacious young girl in very difficult and extremely threatening surroundings will touch the hearts of young viewers - and will hopefully lead them to be wary of all signs of collective hatred, racism and anti-Semitism. 
It is good that with such well-done animated film more young people can be reached than would be the case with the book alone.
The English version of Anne Frank's Diary - the full movie - is available for free viewing on YouTube:


Ko-fi

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Sabbath of Vision: 5781

Shabbat Hazon 2021: This Sabbath is called the Sabbath of Vision because of its Haftorah - the third in the series of three Haftorot of Affliction - which begins:

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the LORD hath spoken: Children I have reared, and brought up, and they have rebelled against Me. 
The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider. 
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly; they have forsaken the Lord, they have contemned the Holy One of Israel, they are turned away backward.

Much of the Haftorah is sung to the tune of Eicha (Lamentations), which we will - unless the Messiah comes while we wait! - sing mournfully when the Black Fast of Tisha b'Av begins this coming Motzei Shabbat, Saturday evening.

As Charles Dickens put it

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us ....

The days surrounding Tisha b'Av, we all know, were and have continued to be the absolute worst of times.

What Happened on Tisha b'Av

The classic 5 calamities:

  1. The Twelve Spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. 
  2. The First Temple built by King Solomon  was destroyed by the Babylonians. 
  3. The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans.
  4. The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt, destroyed the city of Betar, and 
  5. plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

And more calamities:

  1. The First Crusade officially commenced.
  2. The Jews were expelled from England.
  3. The Jews were expelled from France.
  4. The Jews were expelled from Spain.
  5. Germany entered World War I.
  6. The "Final Solution" was approved by the Nazi Party.
  7. The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka began.

And even more calamities:

  1. The AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed.
  2. The Israeli disengagement from Gaza began.
Nevertheless
We are Jews, and we continue to have hope. 
Even as we prepare for Shabbat Hazon, A Sabbath of Vision.


Each year, as we approach Tisha b'Av, we are not supposed to be joyous or joyful, or even just happy. And we are not supposed to do anything that will make us happy.

For Abq Jew, and for many others, this means no listening to (especially, live) music. But sometimes music doesn't make us happy - it makes us think (see, for example, Sunita Staneslow's performance of Al Naharot Bavel).


This year, Abq Jew offers - for your introspection - How to Be Sad on Tisha B'av, written by Laura E Adkins, the Forward's Opinion Editor.

How to Be Sad on Tisha B’av
By Laura E. Adkins   July 14, 2021

No one likes to be in pain. But what if we stopped resisting it? Just for one day?

Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, begins Saturday evening. For 25 hours, observant Jews fast and deny themselves certain other comforts to mourn the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago, along with myriad other tragedies in Jewish history.

The halachic rules of Tisha B’av are straightforward: don’t eat or drink, bathe or have sex, sit or sleep in comfortable positions, wear leather shoes or put on makeup or lotion.

But too often, many of us follow these strictures yet ignore the larger point.

On Tisha B’av, our tradition offers us a clear path toward experiencing something transcendent. I’ve collected several strategies below that you can use, whether or not you’re a religious person, to get into the right headspace. 

Abq Jew strongly encourages himself ... and you, his loyal readers ... to read Ms Adkins' complete article. Here are her nine key strategies:

  1. Get uncomfortable.
  2. Take a break from distractions.
  3. Let it be hard.
  4. Go somewhere bigger than you are and let yourself empty.
  5. Approach your pain with curiosity.
  6. Write it down.
  7. Ask why — and accept when you do not and cannot know the answer.
  8. Get mad at God.
  9. Choose to have a relationship with the divine anyway.

About that last strategy, Ms Adkins writes:

Traditional Jewish sources suggest that the Messiah will be born on Tisha B’av. Whether you take this literally or metaphorically, the awesome power of pain is what can emerge after it clears away what wasn’t meant to be there in the first place.

When the temple is restored, we’re told, Tisha B’av will be a day of celebration. But this restoration can only come when we’ve truly processed our pain and trauma, and corrected our mistakes.

The key is to let yourself be moved. 

Fast Days

May we be comforted among the mourners 
of Zion and Jerusalem.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Day of Revenge

Approaching Menachem Av: Remember a few weeks ago (see Da Roo Ron Ron Ron)? Seems like an awfully long time. Abq Jew recalls that he was planning (Billy Nader) to do a few blog posts about some of the new Jewish music that's just coming out.

In the meantime, we have run into The Three Weeks, when listening to music is discouraged. There are, of course, different interpretations of this discouragement. And far be it for Abq Jew to tell you, his loyal readers, how to observe! So here we go with an angry song that will not lighten anyone's heart.

Jew of Oklahoma
Mark Rubin - Jew of Oklahoma

The song, A Day of Revenge, is from Mark Rubin's newest album, The Triumph of Assimilation.  There are a few happy songs on The Triumph - but not a lot. John Apice of Americana Highways reports:

You don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate
the musical journey this 10-cut collection affords.

The Triumph of Assimilation ... provides a well-planned showcase with slicing vocals that finds its place as aggressive as any Woody Guthrie labor song. It’s a broad folk-tradition collection. 

Rubin does not seek to challenge, just take his righteous place alongside other people who seem to sing loud about their own issues. Lots of clever Jewish words thrown in for lyrical effect – I wonder if Bob Dylan would dare cover one? 

I know Phil Ochs or Kinky Friedman would.

Mark Rubin Jewish Americana

Somehow, Abq Jew had never heard of Mark Rubin, Jew of Oklahoma. But his website (JewOfOklahoma.com - of course!) tells us (in part) -

Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared, and now living in New Orleans, multi-instrumentalist Mark Rubin is an unabashed Southern Jew, known equally for his muscular musicianship and larger-than-life persona. 

Over an accomplished 30+ year career, he has accompanied or produced a virtual Who’s-Who of American traditional music, while straddling numerous musical genres, including Country, Western Swing, Bluegrass, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Polka, Klezmer, Roma, and more.

His credits in the Jewish music world include long time collaborations with Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, The Other Europeans, and Andy Statman, as well as two decades on faculty at KlezKamp.  

Today, he lives and works as a professional musician in New Orleans and makes a study of the musical traditions and cultures of South Louisiana. He recently took a position at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience where he jokes he's an exhibit.

Mark Rubin Guitar

In a separate interview (also in American Highways), Hannah Means Shannon tells us that The Triumph -

... reflects Rubin’s desire to fuse his very Oklahoma and Texas “nurture” culture with the “nature” of his Jewish roots and his involvement in the Yiddish Renaissance’s Klezmer music scene. 

If that sounds like a natural goal for someone with such a varied background, it definitely hasn’t been a simple one for Rubin, but it’s one that’s come sharply into focus on the new album. 

The Triumph of Assimilation calls out the complexity of cultural identity in America and the bald-faced xenophobia and racism that Rubin has faced as a Jewish Southerner, but it also tracks the renewed threats of fascism and anti-Semitism in the South, where it now seems more “allowed” than ever in recent history.

Mark Rubin composed the song A Day of Revenge from a poem, A Tog Fun Nekome, written by the Polish Yiddish poet Mordechai Gebirtig (see July 2011's March of the Jobless Corps).

Gebirtig wrote the poem while he was interned by the Nazi's in 1940. He and his wife were gunned down randomly during the clearing of the Krakow Ghetto in 1942. Rubin says:

Though is starts off sounding like gleeful revenge porn,
it wraps up as the quintessential
Jewish response to terror and oppression.

A Day of Revenge

Listen close what I say
There'’ll come a time, there'’ll be a day
And though it seems so far away
I promise that we’ll make them pay

There’ll be revenge
For the suffering and pain
Revenge
For us who still remain

Oh that day will come along
When we right each every wrong
There’ll be revenge

For the widows, orphans it must suffice
For the millions blood since sacrificed
Our Prophets cry out for us to awake
For retribution so shall we take

Mankind will turn its back on war
I see it clear on a distant shore
It’s coming here like Noah’s dove
A message of kindness, peace, and love

That’s our Revenge…..

Wait a Minute

Now. You, Abq Jew's loyal readers, may ask:
Why the anger? Why the call for revenge? Well. 

Because of this essay -

All the World Wants

The brilliant Jewish writer Cynthia Ozick wrote this searing essay shortly after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It was published in the November 1974 issue of Esquire

Abq Jew hadn't read All the World Wants the Jews Dead in many years, but he had remembered it very well every day since the first time he read it. Rereading it now - Abq Jew wonders if anything has changed at all after all these years.

And because of this tweet -

Anti-IDF

Canary Mission - which documents individuals and organizations that promote hatred of the USA, Israel, and Jews on North American college campuses - tells us who Rafael Shimunov is. 

Rafael Shimunov is an anti-Israel activist and “early leader" of IfNotNow (INN) who was arrested with other INN activists for holding an anti-Israel “liberation seder." He has defended anti-Semitic remarks, promoted incitement, defended violent demonstrators and spread hatred of Israel.

Shimunov attended an event that repurposed Jewish rituals to demonize Israel, protested against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has opposed the Birthright Jewish heritage tour and promoted anti-Israel agitators, as well as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement.
Linda Sarsour Retweet

And Abq Jew must tell you - he must! he must! that our old 'friend' Linda Sarsour felt she needed to retweet Rafael Shimunov's antsemitic tweet.

And - as we all know - there's more. Lots more.

Speech has power

To which Abq Jew firmly states -

Avenge

No Fear Rally Dry Bones

Where were we

Oklahoma Jewish Star

Let us now return to the saner but still sorta angry
world of Mark Rubin, Jew of Oklahoma.
And Triumph of Assimilation.

Where the May 2021 CD Hotlist reports:
Mark Rubin (Killbilly, Bad Livers) has always been Jewish, but has only made his Jewishness a central feature of his musical identity in the past 20 years. But as you can see from the presentation of his new album (not to mention song titles like “Down South Kosher” and “Good Shabbes”), the implications of his Jewishness and its intersection with his Southernness have become central to his musical and social concerns — and the musical result is engaging, fun, and at times chilling. 
CD Hotlist

Someone who grew up having crosses burned on his front lawn and bricks thrown through his window on Hitler’s birthday, but who fell in love with the music of his region early on, is inevitably going to have a — shall we say — complex relationship with American country and folk-derived music and you’ll hear ...
... that complexity everywhere on this album: on his setting of Mordecai Gebirtig’s poem “A Day of Revenge”; on his ballad about the lynching of Leo Frank; on the “bonus Hanukkah track” “Spin the Dreidel.” And on his clawhammer banjo arrangements of Klezmer tunes. 

The music is genius; spin this one at a party
and watch the conversations stop. 
Support Abq Jew

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Calamities of All Types

That Rage in the World: Tefilat HaDerech, The Traveler's Prayer, asks for a safe journey. My Jewish Learning tells us that the prayer is said at the onset of a journey - when one embarks on a long trip, regardless of the mode of transport. 

Hamsa

The prayer asks God to deliver the traveler safely;
to protect the traveler from any dangers or perils
the traveler may encounter along the way;
and to return the traveler in peace.

Here is the text of Tefilat HaDerech: 

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ וֵא-לֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
 שֶׁתּוֹלִיכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם וְתַצְעִידֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם
וְתִסְמְכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם. וְתַדְרִיכֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם
 וְתַגִּיעֵנוּ לִמְחוֹז חֶפְצֵנוּ לְחַיִּים וּלְשִֹמְחָה וּלְשָׁלוֹם
 וְתַצִּילֵנוּ מִכַּף כָּל אוֹיֵב וְאוֹרֵב
 וְלִסְטִים וְחַיּוֹת רָעוֹת בַּדֶּרֶךְ
 וּמִכָּל מִינֵי פֻּרְעָנִיּוֹת הַמִּתְרַגְּשׁוֹת לָבוֹא לָעוֹלָם
 וְתִשְׁלַח בְּרָכָה בְּכָל מַעֲשֵֹה יָדֵינוּ
וְתִתְּנֵנוּ לְחֵן וּלְחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים
 בְעֵינֶיךָ וּבְעֵינֵי כָל רוֹאֵינוּ וְתִשְׁמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנֵינוּ
 כִּי אֵ-ל שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה וְתַחֲנוּן אָתָּה
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', שׁוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה

Or, in English: 

May it be Your will, Lord, our God and the God of our ancestors,
that You lead us toward peace, guide our footsteps toward peace,
and make us reach our desired destination
for life, gladness, and peace.
May You rescue us from the hand of every foe,
ambush, and wild beast along the way,
and from all types of calamities that rage in the world.
May You send blessing in our handiwork, and grant us grace, kindness,
and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who see us.
May You hear the sound of our humble request because
You are God Who hears prayer requests.
Blessed are You, Lord, Who hears prayer.

Calamity

Abq Jew has always found that this phrase holds an especially poignant appeal:

וּמִכָּל מִינֵי פֻּרְעָנִיּוֹת הַמִּתְרַגְּשׁוֹת לָבוֹא לָעוֹלָם
and from all types of calamities that rage in the world

For all types of calamities certainly do rage in the world. And this past week. as we all know, has been one of rage: calamity after calamity, tragedy after tragedy.

Surfside Collaps

First, the building collapse in Surfside. Wikipedia reports:
On June 24, 2021, at approximately 1:30 a.m. EDT, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium building in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed. At least 11 dead have been identified and 11 others were injured. 
About 35 people were rescued from the uncollapsed portion of the building, two people have been rescued from the rubble, and 150 people remain missing as rescue operations continue. 

This calamity, Abq Jew hopes, did not affect any of us directly. And yet - the suddenness, the warninglessness, the middle-of-the-nightness. People just like us going to bed at night and expecting to wake up in the morning. Tefilat HaDerech? No one knew they were going on a journey; certainly not the final one. 

Instead, the Bedtime Shema:

May it be Your will, Lord my God and God of my ancestors,
that I lie down in peace and that I arise in peace.
Let my sleep be undisturbed by troubling thoughts, bad dreams,
and wicked schemes. May I have a night of tranquil slumber.
May I awaken to the light of a new day,
that my eyes may behold the splendor of Your light.
 

God is a faithful King.
שׁמע ישׂראל ה׳ אלקינו ה׳ אחד
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Praised be His glorious sovereignty throughout all time.

Hot-Air Balloon Crash

Then, the hot-air balloon crash in Albuquerque. Wikipedia reports:

On June 26, 2021, a hot-air balloon crashed in the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States, near the intersection of Central Avenue and Unser Boulevard after it touched a power line, killing five people.

The balloon was carrying three men (including pilot) and two women. The balloon made contact with a power line, causing the basket to detach from the balloon and fall about 100 feet (30 meters) before crashing and catching fire. All five people on board died as a result of the accident.

This calamity too, Abq Jew hopes, did not affect any of us directly. And yet - the suddenness, the warninglessness, the middle-of-joyness. People just like us going to experience excitement in the morning and expecting to celebrate the day in the evening. Tefilat HaDerech? All knew they were going on a journey; none knew it would be the final one.  

Jerusalem Siege

And finally (please God!), the observance of the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz all over the Jewish world. Wikipedia reports:

The Seventeenth of Tammuz (Hebrew: שבעה עשר בתמוז‎ Shivah Asar b'Tammuz) is a Jewish fast day commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple.

The Seventeenth of Tammuz (Hebrew: שבעה עשר בתמוז‎ Shivah Asar b'Tammuz) is a Jewish fast day commemorating the breach of the walls of Jerusalem before the destruction of the Second Temple.

It falls on the 17th day of the 4th Hebrew month of Tammuz and marks the beginning of the three-week mourning period leading up to Tisha b'Av.

The day also traditionally commemorates the destruction of the two tablets of the Ten Commandments and other historical calamities that befell the Jewish people on the same date.

This calamity, Abq Jew knows, has affected us all directly. And yet - the distance in time and place allows us to forget. Unless we purposefully remember, through fasting or in other ways. People just like us experiencing sorrow, and mourning the day through the evening. 

Messiah Tarry

Despite our prayers - over many centuries, in many different lands - our journey has indeed been long. May this be the last time we need mourn for Jerusalem and what might have been.

And thus began The Three Weeks.

Modeh Ani

Modeh Ani


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Shalom Aleichem 4 Times

Before The Three Weeks: Sunday is the Fast of Shiva-Asar (17) b'Tammuz, the beginning of the Three Weeks leading up to the Fast of Tisha (9) b'Av, the saddest day in the Jewish year, a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as other disasters that have befallen the Jewish people.

Jerusalem

It is no secret that Abq Jew is a fan neither of fast days nor of fasting. There is nothing that focuses Abq Jew's mind on food more quickly or steadily than telling him he can't have any.  In Abq Jew's view, if the purpose of fasting is to remind ourselves of the insignificance of food - fasting fails.

Shalom Aleichem

But today is Erev Shabbat, so Abq Jew firmly believes that we can - no, we must - laugh and sing. So please allow Abq Jew to wish you, his loyal readers - Shalom Aleichem. Wikipedia tells us (as if we don't already know):
Shalom Aleichem (Hebrew: שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם‎, 'Peace be upon you') is a traditional song sung by Jews every Friday night upon returning home from synagogue prayer. 
It signals the arrival of the Shabbat, welcoming the angels who accompany a person home on the eve of the Shabbat. 
The custom of singing "Shalom Aleichem" on Friday night before Eshes Chayil and Kiddush is now nearly universal among religious Jews.
Perri Yellin

This liturgical poem was written by the kabbalists of Safed in the late 16th or early 17th century. The traditional tune, which we all know, was written by Israel Goldfarb in 1918. Which we may not all know. In fact:

The slow, well-known melody for the song was composed by the American composer and conductor Rabbi Israel Goldfarb on May 10, 1918 while sitting near the Alma Mater statue in front of Low Memorial Library at Columbia University, and first published later that year as "Sholom Aleichem—שָׁלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם" in Friday Evening Melodies by Israel and his brother Samuel

The famous Goldfarb song is often presumed to be a traditional Hasidic melody. 

Chagall Moses

 I. Goldfarb wrote in 1963, "The popularity of the melody traveled not only throughout this country but throughout the world, so that many people came to believe that the song was handed down from Mt. Sinai by Moses."

Changing Times

But times change.

Abq Jew is delighted to bring you four (4) different musical interpretations of the Shalom Aleichem prayer - one for each of the four upcoming Shabbatot - for your own observance and enjoyment.

1. The Ruach

The Ruach is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to spread the joy of Judaism through new Jewish musical experiences that are meant to create and maintain personal connections and, inspire and engage people to embrace the religion and all that it has to offer.

This Shabbat, The Ruach will present The Shabbat Experience - No Evil Eye, Knock on Wood. Kinehora! About which The Ruach says:

The Shabbat Experience provides a break from the daily stresses of your life. Feel the renewal, beauty and joy of Shabbat through the inspirational words of Rabbi Rachel Smookler and the uplifting music of The Ruach. It is a Shabbat service unlike any other.

Here is The Ruach's interpretation of Shalom Aleichem, which is certainly not your grandfather's. Or Israel Goldfarb's, for that matter.

2. The Jerry W

Yes, Jerry Wicentowski a) sings and plays bluegrass; and b) is an observant Jew who proudly wears his kippa on stage. 

Note: That a Jew plays bluegrass is not especially remarkable; but that a Shomer-Shabbos Jew plays bluegrass is. As far as Abq Jew can tell, there are only two (see below) in the business.

Did you miss Third Coast Bluegrass's concert last week? Well, you can listen here! Abq Jew was hoping for some Jewgrass, but was happy to 'settle' for an hour and more of really fine bluegrass.

But Abq Jew was able to find this fine recording of Jerry Wicentowski and the Wiseman Institute (Chad Manning - fiddle; Paul Knight - bass; Jody Stecher - mandolin/vocals; Jerry Wicentowski -guitar/vocals; and Keith Little - banjo/vocals) performing Jerry's interpretation of Shalom Aleichem at the 2019 Sonoma County Bluegrass & Folk Festival.


3. The Maayan Band

The Maayan Band is a group of friends from Toronto who share the sense that the ancient sources, writings of the Jewish sages, are the highest expression of the art of being human. They draw inspiration and musical force from those sources. 

Here is The Maayan Band's interpretation of Shalom Aleichem. Yes, it's Israel Goldfarb's 'traditional' melody - but the instrumentation and vocalization make this version especially beautiful.


4. The Statman / Grisman

Andy Statman also a) sings and plays bluegrass; and b) is an observant, Shomer-Shabbos Jew who proudly wears his kippa on stage. As far as Abq Jew can tell, Andy was the first in the business.

For more background, here is what Wikipedia says about Andy Statman:

Andy Statman (born 1950) is a noted American klezmer clarinetist and bluegrass/newgrass mandolinist.

Statman was born in New York City and grew up in the borough of Queens. Beginning at age 12, he learned to play banjo and guitar, following the example of his older brother Jimmy, and then switched to mandolin, which he studied briefly under lifelong-friend David Grisman.

He first gained acclaim as a mandolinist as a sideman with David Bromberg and Russ Barenberg, as well as in the pioneering bluegrass bands Country Cookin' and Breakfast Special.

During the course of exploring a wide range of roots and ethnic music, Statman turned to klezmer music, traditional Eastern European Jewish instrumental music. This led Statman, who grew up in a traditional but secular Jewish home, to reconnect with his Jewish roots.

Statman studied klezmer clarinet during the 1970s with legendary klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras, who bequeathed several of his clarinets to him. Statman also produced Dave Tarras's last recording. 

As a clarinetist, he recorded several albums that were highly influential in the Klezmer revival of those years. Still forging ahead musically, he began playing Chassidic melodies, fusing bluegrass, klezmer, and jazz along the way. 

Given his apprenticeship with Tarras and his subsequent master classes at workshops such as KlezKamp as well as privately, Statman became a renowned exponent of traditional Jewish and avant-garde clarinet styles. 

And then there's Wikipedia on David Grisman:

David Grisman (born March 23, 1945) is an American mandolinist. His music combines bluegrass, folk, and jazz in a genre he calls "Dawg music".

Grisman grew up in a Conservative Jewish household in Passaic, New Jersey. His father was a professional trombonist who gave him piano lessons when he was seven years old. As a teenager, he played piano, mandolin, and saxophone.

In the early 1960s, he attended New York University. He belonged to the Even Dozen Jug Band with Maria Muldaur and John Sebastian. He moved to San Francisco, met Jerry Garcia, and appeared on the Grateful Dead album American Beauty. He played in Garcia's bluegrass band Old & In the Way.

Garcia named him "Dawg" after a dog that was following him while they were driving in Stinson Beach, California. "Dawg Music" is what Grisman calls his mixture of bluegrass and Django Reinhardt/Stéphane Grappelli-influenced jazz.

Songs of Our Fathers

And finally, there's Wikipedia on their masterpiece album, Songs of Our Fathers:

Songs of Our Fathers is an album by American musicians David Grisman and Andy Statman, released in 1995. 
It's a collection of Jewish songs, many of which are more than 100 years old. Much of the music is influenced by the Jewish instrumental folk music of Eastern Europe known as Klezmer.
Jewgrass Charles Street
Andy Statman Trio and Jerry Wicentowski perform in January 2010 at NYC's Charles Street (Darech Amuno) Greenwich Village Synagogue (where Mr & Mrs Abq Jew used to daven)

Here is Andy Statman's and David Grisman's live interpretation of Shalom Aleichem. Yes, it's Israel Goldfarb's 'traditional' melody - but this is the sweetest rendition of Shalom Aleichem. Ever. This will have you crying in your kiddush cup.

If you haven't listened to Songs of Our Fathers recently - well, you really should. Here is the album's long version of Shalom Aleichem.


L'Chaim
Saxophone Heaven

Buy me a Ko-fi!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Fare The Well, HaMaqom

Lehrhaus Judaica Closes Shop After 47 Years: It is with great sorrow that Abq Jew shares the news that HaMaqom | The Place, founded in 1974 as Lehrhaus Judaica by Abq Jew's dear friend and mentor Fred Rosenbaum, will be ending operations after its summer 2021 term. 

HaMaqom Lehrhaus

HaMaqom | The Place has deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. For 47 years, the institution has provided inclusive and accessible adult Jewish education to students from all backgrounds. Abq Jew finds it extraordinarily difficult to see this phenomenal venture come to an end.

Abq Jew will (Billy Nader) post more about Fred Rosenbaum, Lehrhaus Judaica, and what they have meant to him over the years. For now, Abq Jew pays tribute with Dink's Song: Fare Thee Well.

Here is one of the sweetest recordings Abq Jew has found. It's from Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Concert (The Clearwater Concert), held at Madison Square Garden on May 3, 2009.

Dink's Song (sometimes known as "Fare Thee Well") is an American folk song played by many folk revival musicians such as Pete Seeger, Fred Neil, Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Cisco Houston as well as more recent musicians like Jeff Buckley ... 
The first historical record of the song was by ethnomusicologist John Lomax in 1909, who recorded it as sung by an African American woman called Dink, as she washed her man's clothes in a tent camp of migratory levee-builders on the bank of the Greater Calhoun Bayou River, a few miles from Houston, Texas ....
Now What?

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Oy! Not the Trolley Problem!

Look Out! Here We Come! As you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, surely recall (see A Petri Dishes the 12 Days) - Alexandra Petri (@petridishes on Twitter)  is one of Abq Jew's most favorite columnists. Nowadays she gets paid to write for The Washington Post

Recently, Ms Petri wrote about the Trolley Problem as it relates to Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). We'll get to that. But first - here's a beautiful photo of a San Francisco cable car. BTW - the iconic fleet of cable cars will be returning to service (אי״ה) this August. Mazeltov!

 San Francisco Cable Car

The cognoscenti among you will, of course, point out (no need! Abq Jew's got this!) that a cable car, which is drawn by an underground cable, is not a trolley, which is powered by an overhead wire. So here's a picture of a true trolley.

Wash Post Trolley

The last time Abq Jew blogged about trolleys (though not the Trolley Problem) was December 2011 (see the unforgettable Deck Us All).

Pogo Boston Charlie

With the equally unforgettable Pogo cartoon song which began with 

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Which immediately returns us to the question at hand:

What the heck is the Trolley Problem?

The Trolley Problem, as it is fondly known, is one of the central ethical questions of our (or, indeed, any) time. How (or if) one solves the Trolley Problem shows the world just what kind of person one truly is. 

Or two really are, if a couple chooses to solve the problem together. Abq Jew knows you've heard this one. Thus, Wikipedia -


Trolley

There is a runaway trolley
barreling down the railway tracks. 

Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

  1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

Which is the more ethical option?
Or, more simply: What is the right thing to do?

For those who wish to see a more visual representation of the Trolley Problem:

The Trolley Problem

And for those who wish to see a more visual representation of the Trolley Problem, with narration by Harry Shearer:


But for those who only wish to see how Alexandra Petri connects the Trolley Problem to the Sen Joe Manchin / Filibuster Problem:

Alexandra Petri

Which Abq Jew now displays in its entirety, in complete violation of an entire plethora of US copyright laws, UN resolutions, and international conventions.

Joe Manchin attempts to solve the trolley problem

These trolley problems should be difficult! They are supposed to create ethical dilemmas that force you to weigh priorities. Can you really have finished them in under one minute? Let me see your answers, Joe.

1) An out-of-control trolley is barreling down a track. Strapped to that track, a few hundred feet down the line, is H.R. 1, a voting rights bill that would roll back various anti-democratic encroachments. That trolley will surely crush the bill! People gather by the tracks, pointing and gesticulating: “Someone rescue that bill! The only thing that will allow our representative government to continue is in that bill!” Just a few feet down the line, there is a switch that can divert the trolley onto another track, away from the bill. But! Lying strapped to that length of track is the filibuster. Do you pull the swi—

No.

Why?

Well, the filibuster is on the other length of track.

2) An out-of-control trolley is barreling down a track toward a commission to investigate the deadly insurrection at the Capitol. There is a switch that can divert the trolley onto another track, away from the commission, but lying strapped to that length of track is the filibuster. The filibuster would not even be killed, but it might be modified by the experience of colliding with the trolley. Do you pull the switch?

No. The filibuster could be CHANGED, and I like it just the way it is!

3) A trolley is barreling down a track to which is strapped the entire Biden agenda. The filibuster is on its siding just sitting there, not even really strapped down, and it doesn’t look all that worried. Do you pull the switch?

Next question!

4) A trolley is barreling toward six people strapped to the tracks. However, there is a switch you can pull before the trolley reaches them. This will send the trolley onto a siding where one person is strapped to the track. Do you pull the switch?

I save the filibuster.

There was no filibuster in that last question! It was just a normal trolley problem!

5) A healthy man comes into a hospital where there are five patients who would die without his organs. You are a surgeon. Do you take the man’s organs, killing him, and thereby saving your five patients?

I take the organs and give them to the filibuster.

This one isn’t about the filibuster either! In your scenario, six people have just died and you have offered organs to a Senate procedural rule that does not want them!

Yes.

6) A man and his son are in an accident and are taken to the hospital. When the doctor starts to operate on the boy, the doctor turns pale. “I can’t operate on this boy! He is my son!” Why did the doctor say this?

The boy is the filibuster. The doctor loves the filibuster very much and doesn’t want to hurt it even by mistake. 

7) The filibuster is strapped to a length of track, and an out-of-control trolley is barreling towar—

I pull the switch.

Do you want to know what the trolley will hit instead?

No.

8) What may be our last chance to take meaningful action on climate change is strapped to a length of track, and a trolley is barreling rapidly toward it. The filibuster is strapped to a siding. Do you pull the switch?

I gather a bipartisan group of legislators to stop the trolley.

You have to pull the switch.

We will stop the trolley together in the best Senate tradition.

Okay, but that trolley sure is moving fast!

9) An increase to the minimum wage is lying on a length of track, and the filibuster is lying a little farther down the same length of track. Pulling the switch will send the trolley down an empty siding, away from both of them. 

Oh, this is impossible! 

And for those who wish to see an extremely graphic, bloody, true-to-life yet comical visual representation of the Trolley Problem, as demonstrated by those good people on The Good Place, of recently-departed blessed NBC memory. 

WARNING: NSFL! NSFW! NSFA!

And for those -  yes, Abq Jew knows you're out there! - who are wondering 

What Does This Have To Do With Real Life?

Train31

An actual case approximating the trolley problem occurred on June 20, 2003, when a runaway string of 31 unmanned Union Pacific freight cars was barreling toward Los Angeles along the mainline track 1. 

To avoid the runaway train from entering the Union Pacific yards in Los Angeles, where it would not only cause damage, but was also where a Metrolink passenger train was thought to be located, dispatchers ordered the shunting of the runaway cars to track 4, through an area with lower-density housing of mostly lower-income residents. 

The switch to track 4 was rated for 15-mph transits, and dispatch knew the cars were moving significantly faster, thus likely causing a derailment.

The train, carrying over 3800 tons of mostly lumber and building materials, then derailed into the residential neighborhood in Commerce, California, crashing through several houses on Davie Street. 

The event resulted in 13 minor injuries, including a pregnant woman asleep in one of the houses who managed to escape through a window and avoided serious injury from the lumber and steel train wheels that fell around her.

 Which reminds Abq Jew of one of his favorite sayings:

Problem Check

Which reminds Abq Jew of another one of his favorite sayings:

Troubles Marketplace

If we all brought our troubles to the marketplace,
hoping to exchange them for the troubles of others -

We'd all go home with our own troubles.

Good Shabbos

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