Tuesday, January 11, 2022

How Many Bagels Does It Take?

Eli's Hot Bagels Has Closed: It is with deep sadness that Abq Jew must inform you of the permanent passing of Eli's Hot Bagels of Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Eli's Hot Bagels

Abq Jew fully recognizes that you, his loyal readers, may never have heard of Eli's Hot Bagels. Or even of Aberdeen, New Jersey. And that thus, you may not appreciate the enormity of this event.

Well, Aberdeen was for 18 years (1982-2000) the hometown of Mr & Mrs Abq Jew, their kids, and their cats. Yes, their cats. All of us there depended on Eli's. Some weeks, we almost lived there.

Anyway - in 1977 (you may recall), Aberdeen Township split off from Matawan Borough to become its own, identifiable place.

Close to Shore

Now Matawan Borough Abq Jew is sure you've heard of, since that's where the shark attacked in July 1916. Swam right up Matawan Creek, it did. Attacked and killed 11-year-old Lester Stilwell and 24-year-old Watson Stanley Fisher. Also attacked 14-year-old Joseph Dunn, who survived.

But Abq Jew digresses. Eli's Facebook page provides a history of the shop:
Eli's Hot Bagels has been serving the Aberdeen, Matawan and surrounding areas since 1974. We were voted as the Best Bagel Store In Monmouth Country for 3 consecutive years by the Asbury Park Press. 

Eli's Hot Bagels first opened its doors in 1974. Eli, and his brother Sam opened a small store, which quickly grew in size and reputation. In 2008, Eli's Hot Bagels was purchased by the Glasser and Schwartz families with the hopes of rebuilding this local landmark back to what it used to be!
And Patch.com provides a fuller description of this community catastrophe:
Beloved Aberdeen Bagel Shop Permanently Closes
Until it closed this past weekend, Eli's Hot Bagels had been in business since 1974, when it was opened by two brothers.
ABERDEEN, NJ — Eli's Hot Bagels, a beloved Aberdeen bagel store that had been in business for decades, has permanently closed its doors.

The bagel shop announced the closure Sunday on Facebook, however Aberdeen locals have been speculating for days that it is closed, ever since seeing the dark and shuttered storefront off Rt. 34.

"Hi All, Eli's Hot Bagels in Aberdeen is permanently closed," wrote the business on Facebook. "As with all small businesses during the pandemic it has been a struggle. Unfortunately our landlord hasn't made it any easier. We wish all of our loyal customers the best and thank you all for your continued support."

Eli's Hot Bagels had continuously been in business since 1974, when it was opened by two brothers, Sam and Eli. It was voted the "Best Bagel Store In Monmouth Country" for three consecutive years by the Asbury Park Press.
In 2008, the business came under new ownership.

Much has changed in that Aberdeen shopping complex: The Bow Tie Cinemas that used to be located right next door to Eli's Bagels is now a brewery.

NOTE: Eli's Hot Bagels in Freehold Township, owned by family members
of the original owners of the Aberdeen store, remains open.  

Eli Provdo

You can read more about Eli Provdo (that's his mostly unknown family name - Abq Jew never knew it!) in the [PDF version of the] January 17, 1990 edition of the Bayshore Independent (see cover and page 30).

As it turns out - there are no coincidences, are there? - Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg just published an illustrated article in The New York Times that asks, and attempts to answer, the question 

How Many Bagels Does It Take
to Keep a Place in Business?

Here is one answer, from Joe Morena, owner of St Viateur Bagel in Montreal:

Joe Morena


Let's see. That's

12 ovens
x (35x12) bagels per hour
x 12 hours per day
60,480 bagels per day

Or maybe that's 60,480 bagels per day for all the ovens - not each oven. That's only 5,040 bagels per day. And, Mr Morena adds - 


Melanie Frost, owner of New York's Ess-a-Bagel, says


So that's 35,000 bagels x 4 locations = 140,000 bagels per week. Which translates to 20,000 bagels per day.

A Tribute
Moe Eagerman Baigel
To Morris "Moe" Eagerman

Abq Jew cannot think about - and certainly not blog about - bagels without mentioning the wonderful Eagerman family. Bagel business royalty - in Boston, Natick, Chicago, and Miami Beach.

Moe was, Abq Jew believes, the last of the Eagerman bagel-makers. His 2004 obituary tells us that Moe was:
Of Wayland, formerly of Natick & Boston. Former owner of Eagerman's Bakery. Entered Eternal Rest December 16, 2004. 
Dear brother of the late Ida Shubert, Bessie, Isadore, Charles, Julius, Jack and Frank Eagerman. Loving brother-in-law of Gladys, Eleanor and Ruth Eagerman. 
Cherished uncle of many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews. Devoted friend of the Gadman, Jacobs and Buckley families. 
Beyond that - Moe claimed that it was his “Original King Bagel” Eagerman's in Natick where he originated the cinnamon raisin bagel, and where he invented much of the modern manufacturing equipment for bagel-making.

Why does Abq Jew care about this? Because, in Spring 1974, when Abq Jew journeyed from California to New York, he went via Miami Beach (of course). 

Where he met Julius and Ruth Eagerman and their son Brad, who were very good friends of his Great Aunt Lil and Great Uncle Ben, whom he was visiting. 

Where the beloved Eagerman family was, to put it mildly, in the bagel business. And where Ruth Eagerman was known to one and all as

Bagel Ruthie
"Bagel Ruthie"

They're all gone now - Julius in 2004; Ruth in 2014. Their son (and only child) Brad -  with whom Abq Jew schlepped around Miami Beach one glorious June day - died in 1994. From Brad's obituary in the Chicago Tribune:
By Jan Ferris and Tribune Staff Writer
Chicago Tribune     July 25, 1994
Bagels have been in the blood of the Eagerman family since the end of World War I, when a Polish baker's apprentice arrived in Boston with his boss' daughter in tow and a recipe in hand.

Samuel Eagerman and his wife raised eight children and founded a bagel-making business that in following generations would spread to Florida and Illinois.
That heritage proved a source of strength and grief last week for Julius Eagerman, 72, as he began packing up what remains of Eagerman Bagels & More, which his only child opened in DuPage County 13 years ago.

"This is eating my heart out," he said, standing next to refrigerated cases once loaded with chopped liver and cream cheese. "This is his baby. It was my baby too."

Brad Eagerman died July 8 at the age of 46, three weeks after a predawn gas explosion at his Lombard deli left him burned and comatose. 

Eagerman was lighting the oven pilot light when the gas ignited. He placed the emergency call himself, police records show. Few traces of the small explosion remain. 

Julius Eagerman, who ran bakeries in Boston and North Miami Beach for nearly 30 years, is stumped.

"Those ovens are built to last 100 years," he said, flicking a switch that sent the rack rotating to show that the electricity flow was intact.

Julius Eagerman said he never thought his son would continue the tradition begun in Ruvno, Poland, by his great-grandfather. 

Though he helped out as a teen, Brad Eagerman at first opted for a corporate job in the food industry. But in 1981, he chucked the suit and tie for an apron and opened up shop in DuPage.

"He really was a believer in bagel," his father said. 

For several days, friends and relatives sat shiva, the Jewish mourning period. 

Then Julius Eagerman returned to the shuttered storefront to sort through his son's paperwork and clean out the shelves. 

Goldfish Driver

Not all stories end happily. But almost all of Abq Jew's blog posts do. So - here's a story from The Washington Post's Rachel Pannett:
Fish in the driver’s seat: 
Israeli scientists teach goldfish to operate vehicle

Israeli researchers have taught goldfish to drive, according to a study that offers new insights into animals’ ability to navigate — even when they’re literally fish out of water.

For the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Behavioural Brain Research, the goldfish were trained to use a wheeled platform, dubbed a Fish Operated Vehicle. The FOV could be driven and have its course changed in reaction to the fish’s movements inside a water tank mounted on the platform.

Their task was to “drive” the robotic vehicle toward a target that could be observed through the walls of the fish tank. The vehicle was fitted with lidar, short for light detection and ranging, a remote sensing technology that uses lasers to collect data on its ground location and the fish’s location within the tank.

The researchers, from Ben-Gurion University, found the fish were able to move the FOV around unfamiliar environments while reaching the target “regardless of their starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies.”

The goldfish in the tank were placed in a test arena and tasked with driving toward a target. Upon successfully hitting the target, they received a food pellet reward. The scientists said that after a few days of training, the fish were able to navigate past obstacles such as walls, while eluding efforts to trick them with false targets.

“The study hints that navigational ability is universal rather than specific to the environment,” said Shachar Givon, one of the study’s authors, in a statement. “It shows that goldfish have the cognitive ability to learn a complex task in an environment completely unlike the one they evolved in.” 

But - can they remember where they parked?

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

More About Broken Promises

Spain's Law of Return: It is with mixed emotions that Abq Jew informs you that the response to Spain's Broken Promises to atone for the Alhambra Decree and the horrors of the Inquisition has recently received a bit more publicity.

Abq Jew is, of course, deeply saddened by the need for such publicity. But he is heartened to see that the publicity is coming - from many quarters, now.

A few days ago, Michael Tashji wrote in the Santa Fe New Mexican:

Teresa Leger Fernandez
U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández speaks Oct. 11 as members of the American Sephardi
Federation demonstrate in front of the Spanish Consulate General in New York.
Leger Fernández has appealed to the government of Spain on behalf of descendants
of expelled Jews who are being denied the right of return.   Courtesy Philos Latino

Barriers arise for descendants of Spanish Jews seeking right of return

More than 500 years after Spain banished tens of thousands of Jews during the Inquisition, the Spanish Parliament made an attempt to atone for the transgression by offering descendants a right of return and a path to citizenship.

The program, approved in 2015, proved popular. But after receiving an onslaught of applications, perhaps over 50,000, Spain recently changed its rules, leaving many applicants in limbo and flatly rejecting others — a move that risked reopening wounds the nation had sought to heal.

Several New Mexico descendants of banished Jews were among those whose applications had stalled. They turned to elected officials for help.

In October, U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández and U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján joined other Democratic lawmakers in making an appeal to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Mr Tashji explains that in 2015, Spanish King Felipe VI delivered a speech to Sephardic Jews and their descendants, apologizing for harms of the past and welcoming them back to Spain.
“Thank you for having kept, like a precious treasure, your language and your customs. They are ours, too,” he said. “Thank you, too, for making love prevail over rancor, and for teaching your children to love this country.”

Over the next four years, Spain accepted tens of thousands of applications for citizvenship from the descendants of Spanish Jews. The situation looked very promising. But, Mr Tashji continues -

Recently, however, a number of major bureaucratic changes to the right of return program have slowed — and even stopped — the process.

Leger Fernández and her colleagues wrote in their letter to the prime minister, “Before this year, only one person had been turned down, and some 34,000 have been accepted. This year, thousands have been rejected, and even more haven’t received a response.”

“Although Ambassador [to the U.S. Santiago] Cabanas has stated to our offices that the process for granting nationality through this channel has not changed, it appears that there are numerous changes that have caused rejections,” the letter continued.

Those changes include overriding the authority of notarios to verify Sephardic ancestry, denying certificates of Sephardic origins issued by authorized Jewish organizations, changing the requirements of the genealogical documents already submitted and retroactively requiring a “special connection” — such as a donation to a Spanish charity — to have occurred before the right of return was offered.

“We urge you to rescind these changes. The broken promise of the noble gesture of reparation wounds more than if Spain had never made the offer of return in the first place,” the U.S. lawmakers wrote.

Many people in New Mexico seeking to establish their genealogical heritage for a right of return received assistance from the Sephardic Heritage Program at the Jewish Federation of New Mexico (JFNM).

Broken Promises

In August 2021, the JFNM joined with the American Sephardi Federation to present Broken Promises, a webinar that showcased the troubles affecting Spain's right of return offer. 

And yes, US Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez was a featured speaker at that important event - which was recorded


As it turns out - in December 2021, Capitol Hill reporter Marc Rod wrote a very interesting piece about Representative Leger Fernandez that ran in the Jewish Insider (JI). It begins:
Leger Fernandez charts uniquely New Mexican path in Jewish community relations
While she’s largely stayed out of the spotlight on Israel issues, the New Mexico congresswoman has been a leader in advocating for descendants of conversos

In early December, a small group gathered around a Zoom screen in a living room in Northwest Washington to hear from a perhaps unusual set of speakers — two officials from Givat Haviva, a nonprofit run by Israel’s Kibbutz Federation, and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM), a first-term New Mexico congresswoman who has not been particularly outspoken on Israel issues during her time in office.

The event earlier this month, organized by Heart of a Nation, a pro-Israel group launched earlier this year by former longtime AIPAC official Jonathan Kessler to bring together progressive Americans, Israelis and Palestinians, appears to be one of Leger Fernandez’s first forays into the national pro-Israel space.

The congresswoman’s remarks focused primarily on her personal background and New Mexico’s history of mixed indigenous, Spanish and Sephardi backgrounds and cultures.

And about Israel -

Ron Duncan Hart, the former president of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, told JI that Leger Fernandez “identifies with the Jewish community” and “has close contacts within the Jewish community.” He added that she has “expressed her support for Israel very clearly.” 

But - perhaps most importantly - about the Sephardic connection to Spain -

The freshman congresswoman’s most prominent engagement with Jewish community issues has been in a niche deeply connected to New Mexico’s history, as a vocal advocate for restored Spanish citizenship for descendants of Jews and conversos expelled from Spain during the Inquisition. 

Leger Fernandez’s ancestors include Jews who fled Spain, and one relative was burned at the stake in Mexico City due to his religion.

Descendants of Sephardi Jews — both Jewish and non-Jewish — are a significant population within her district as well, and Leger Fernandez frequently emphasizes New Mexico’s unique history of cultural “integration,” noting in her Heart of a Nation speech, “in our cathedral we have the Star of David because the Jewish community helped construct the cathedral.” 

Representative Leger Fernandez described the Spanish government's apparent backtrack as “antisemitic” at a recent Hanukkah event in her district. According to Dr Sara Koplik, who led [with Rabbi Jordi Gendra] the Sephardic Heritage Program at the Jewish Federation of New Mexico -

“Everybody is connected to somebody who used to be Jewish 400 years ago, 500 years ago. Leger Fernandez was concerned that this program, which had such promise, was looking like it was falling apart.

Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez showed [an] incredible amount of leadership and interest in the issue. She really cares about this issue. She really cares about the converso experience throughout the world… 

Why it’s a political issue for her is because of her community and because of her constituents — so many of them have this heritage… This is a central issue because it crosses so many different communities and so many different parts of her constituency."

Segovia Jewish quarter
The former Jewish quarter of Segovia, Spain. The country was once home to one
of Europe’s most thriving Jewish communities, which for centuries produced major
poets, historians and philosophers.   Emilio Parra Doiztua for The New York Times

This all started (in a manner of speaking) with the July 2021 exposé that Nicholas Casey wrote in The New York Times, and which Abq Jew wrote about in August' 2021's Broken Promises. Which begins -

Spain Pledged Citizenship to Sephardic Jews. Now They Feel Betrayed.  In 2015, Spain said it would give citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled during the Spanish Inquisition. Then rejections started pouring in this summer.
Juderia Segovia
Let's keep this issue alive until the problems are solved!