Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Summer 2022 @ OASIS Abq

Great Courses of Jewish Interest

Jewish Star

Abq Jew is pleased to inform you that
OASIS Albuquerque has just announced
their Summer 2022 line-up of classes!
Registration opens on

Wednesday May 4
but you can Wish List your selections now.


OASIS Albuquerque Executive Director Kathleen Raskob and her staff continue (as always) to bring you new and interesting class offerings, and continue to make sure there are plenty of courses of Jewish interest.

OASIS Albuquerque

This summer, OASIS Albuquerque plans to offer many
classes LIVE and many classes via Zoom.


Masks and proof of vaccination
are required for all in-person OASIS classes.

Start Here

This session's courses and instructors include,
but are by no means limited to:

Bernard Zakheim’s Jewish Patriots of the American Revolution
Jewish Patriots of the American Revolution   Bernard Zakheim

Jews & the American Revolution
Monday June 20 @ 10:00 - #203
Instructor: Paul Citrin
What It Is: How did Jews in colonial America view the Revolution against Britain? How did they participate in the Revolution? How did their fellow Americans view them? How was the experience in the Revolutionary period different than experiences of life in Europe? These and other questions will be the source of reflection and discussion to understand the Jewish role in the formation of the United

Not Planning to Die
with “The Kominsky Method”

Tuesday August 9 @ 2:30 - #110
Instructor: Gail Rubin
What It Is: As the saying goes, getting old ain’t for sissies. Aging holds challenges for all of us: physical declines, beloved people and pets dying, and unrelenting changes, many not for the better. With video clips from the award-winning Netflix series “The Kominsky Method,” laugh and learn about planning ahead for end-of-life. Note: Sensitive language warning – brilliant script writing with curse words in many of the clips.


But Wait

Jane Ellen Farewell

Beloved OASIS Albuquerque instructor (and award-winning composer and recording artist, and now Floridian) Jane Ellen also continues (as always) to bring you new and interesting class offerings via Zoom@OASIS or Zoom@Home, and continues to make sure there are plenty of courses of musical and Jewish interest.

Jane's courses this session include,
but are by no means limited to:

Herb Alpert
This Guy’s in Love with You
Friday May 10 @ 10:00 - #178
What It Is: There’s a lot more to trumpeter Herb Alpert (1935- ) than just the Tijuana Brass. Alpert is one of two musicians to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist. He has released five No. 1 albums, earned nine Grammys, and sold 72 million records worldwide. In 1962, he co-founded A&M Records with Jerry Moss. Their label’s catalogue included many major musical acts of the day.

Arthur Fiedler
Half a Century with the Boston Pops
Monday June 27 @ 12:30 - #185/6
What It Is: The son of Austrian Jewish immigrants, Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979), studied in Berlin before returning stateside to work as a violinist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Perhaps best known for leading the Boston Pops, he also worked with the San Francisco Pops for 26 summers and conducted  many other orchestras around the world. He was also an avid sailor and an Honorary Captain in the Boston Fire Department.

The Divine
Bette Midler
Monday August 22 @ 10:00 - #195/6
What It Is: Bette Midler (1945- ) began her career off-Broadway before moving to the Great White Way for Fiddler on the Roof and Salvation in the 1960s. She started to make her mark as a singer accompanied by Barry Manilow in 1970. Since the release of her debut album The Divine Miss M in 1972, the Grammy Award winner has had a string of 14 studio albums, three dozen films (dramatic and comedic), and multiple stage appearances to her credit.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

What? Nachshon Again?

Braving the Swimming PoolAs Abq Jew mentioned just a couple of years ago (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     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.

Nachshon Afraid Swim

No swimming required.

Nevertheless, Abq Jew is convinced that Nachshon knew how to swim. Why? First of all - because it says in the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a) that 
Our Rabbis taught: A father has the following obligations towards his son: to circumcise him, to redeem him, if he is a firstborn, to teach him Torah, to find him a wife, and to teach him a craft or a trade. And there are some who say that he must also teach him how to swim.
Yes, the Mishna (200 CE) and the Gemara (500 CE) were not codified until ... um ... a few centuries after the Exodus (13th Century BCE). 

But let's not let that inconvenient historical fact stop us! For, as Maimonides wrote in his Mishneh Torah (1180 CE):
Although the Oral Torah was not written, Moshe Rabbenu taught all of it in his court to the seventy elders... To Joshua, his servant, Moses transmitted the Oral Torah and instructed him on it....
And second of all - because Just In Case

The Swimming Song
for the Seventh Day of Passover

This summer I swam in the ocean,
And I swam in a swimming pool
Salt my wounds, chlorined my eyes
I'm a self destructive fool
I'm a self destructive fool

This summer I did the back stroke
And you know that that's not all
I did the breast stroke and the butterfly
And the old Australian crawl
The old Australian crawl

This summer I swam in a public place
And a reservoir to boot
At the latter I was informal
At the former I wore my suit
I wore my swimming suit, yeah

This summer I did swan dives
And jack knives for you all
And once when you weren't looking
I did a cannonball
Did a cannonball

This summer I went swimming
This summer I might have drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
And I moved my arms around
Moved my arms around

The Swimming Song is here performed by the Canadian yet so wonderful Kate & Anna McGarrigle, from their first album. The song was written by Kate's (z"l) then-husband, Loudon Wainwright III.

Yes, that's the same guy who Abq Jew is sure that you, his loyal readers, remember from his 2012 blog post Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

Yes, Loudon Wainwright III wrote that classic song, too. You can view it here.

But let's make the timeline Pesachdik once again with these Yom Tov wishes from the Israel Philharmonic!

Hag Sameach, Albuquerque!
Good Yontif, New Mexico!

Monday, April 11, 2022

It's Pesach 5782!

Passover Is Almost Here: A time when we gather very cautiously with a few select friends and family, to celebrate our Holiday of Freedom. 

Passover Table

Not quite like this.

Passover Corona

But not quite like this, either.

Danger Caution

Steve Sheffey, a renowned pro-Israel activist and progressive Democrat who publishes a weekly newsletter, the Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update - and who also happens to be Abq Jew's father's uncle's sister-in-law's father's cousin's brother-in-law's great-grandson - advises us, this week, lest we find ourselves at a Seder with ... Republicans.

 Top Ten Signs That You
Might Be at a Republican Seder

They refuse to answer the four questions
without a subpoena.

They demand a recount of the ten plagues.

They defend not increasing the minimum wage
on the grounds that according to Chad Gadya
it still costs only two zuzzim to buy a goat.

The afikomen is hidden in the Cayman Islands.

They refuse to open the door for Elijah
until they see his immigration papers.

They attack Moses for negotiating a deal
with Pharaoh because - 
why would we
negotiate with our enemies?

They don't understand why the Egyptians didn’t
cure the plagues with hydroxychloroquine.

They omit the parts about slavery from the Haggadah
because it reminds them of Critical Race Theory.

They keep saying “when do we get to
the miracle of the Jewish space lasers?”

They end the seder by singing
"Next year in Mar-a-Lago."


And what would Passover be without videos? Abq Jew here thoughtfully provides three (3) of the classics. You're welcome!

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 is never enough.

And as the Seders approach, Abq Jew must (he must! he must!) take this opportunity to remind us all that Good News, Salvation and Comfort are just one (1) Pesach visitor away.

Echad Mi Yodaya
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

AbqJew.net & AbqJew.com
Your guide to Jewish life in Albuquerque and beyond

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

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Becoming Elijah

Just In Time for Passover! How did the figure of Elijah change over time, from a zealous prophet into an immortal, compassionate being who revisits earth to rescue and enlighten—perhaps the most popular figure in Jewish folklore? How was he reimagined by each generation?

Becoming Elijah Daniel Matt

Abq Jew is happy to inform you that Professor Daniel C Matt, of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA, has answered those questions - and many, many more, in his new book Becoming Elijah.

About which Professor Matt gave a Book Talk this past Sunday, sponsored by The New Lehrhaus, which Abq Jew (and about 100 others) was privileged to attend via Zoom. (Click here for the video and here for the handout.)

Elijah Ascends

As we all know, Elijah is famous because (among other things) he ascended into heaven alive, one of only two human persons the Bible tells us did so:

As they went along, walking and talking,
suddenly a chariot of fire  and horses of fire appeared,
separating the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven
in a whirlwind. Elisha was watching and kept crying out,
“My father, my father! Israel’s chariots and horsemen!”
And he saw him no more. (2 Kings 2:11)

Question: Who was the other one?

For every one of you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, who answered Enoch - mazeltov and l'chaim! You are indeed correct!

And Enoch walked with God, and he was not;
for God took him. 
(Genesis 5:24)

Note: Wikipedia has a fascinating entry for Entering heaven alive, detailing who, in a variety of religious traditions (eight in post-Biblical midrash), had the privilege of entering heaven without dying first. Most of us are not offered this option, which is why we need the Chevre Kaddisha.

Where were we?

Ah, yes. Kazablan! 

As we all knew or learned from the 1974 Israeli film Kazablan, Elijah is offered a seat of honor at every Brit Milah. Why? Because Elijah told G-d that Israel had forsaken this covenant and should therefore be punished. 

Thus, Chabad tells us:
The Midrash says that G‑d rebuked him, saying: “They abandoned My covenant, not yours; they dismantled My altars, not yours; they killed My prophets, not yours. Why are you more zealous than I!?

“I vow,” continued G‑d, “that whenever My children make this sign in their flesh [i.e., whenever there is a circumcision], you will be present, and the mouth which testified that the Jewish people have abandoned My covenant will testify that they are keeping it."

By attending every circumcision, Elijah was given the opportunity to rectify his error by testifying in their favor and to their credit that they do keep the covenant.
Elijah Cup

And then there's Pesach. 

Elijah is certainly invited into every Jewish home every year on Passover, and is given his own cup from which to drink. The Vilna Gaon explains:

We have the custom of pouring a fifth cup and calling it the Cup of Elijah the prophet. The reason is that there is a dispute in the Gemara over whether one needs a fifth cup, and the halakhah is not determined.


Therefore, based on this doubt, the cup is poured but not drunk, and it is called the Cup of Elijah, for when he comes, all doubts will be clarified, including this doubt. 

Zohar Pritzker Double

And then there's the Zohar.

Daniel Matt is the author of The Essential Kabbalah and God and the Big Bang. Among other works, of course. But his greatest accomplishment (in Abq Jew's humble opinion) is the 2018 translation of the Zohar, which has been called "a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.”

About the Zohar Pritzker Edition project, Stanford University Press tells us:

In a monumental undertaking, Daniel C. Matt, one of the world's foremost authorities on Jewish mysticism, has spent 20 years creating a 12-volume, annotated English translation of the Zohar. 

This is the first translation ever made from a critical Aramaic text of the Zohar, which has been established by Professor Matt based on a wide range of original manuscripts. 

The extensive commentary, appearing at the bottom of each page, clarifies the kabbalistic symbolism and terminology, and cites sources and parallels from biblical, rabbinic, and kabbalistic texts. 

The translator's introduction is accompanied by a second introduction written by Arthur Green, discussing the origin and significance of the Zohar.


And then there's Berkeley.

It was pointed out during the Book Talk - and one cannot help but notice - that two of the most important translators of Jewish texts in this generation - Robert Alter (who recently published The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary) and Daniel C Matt - live and work in Berkeley, California.

Berkeley from the Air

Something in the water? Something in the air?