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




Ed Asner Up


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