Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Blood, Spit & Luck (Part 2)

Pōmaika'i (Mazel & Bracha): Surely you, Abq Jew's loyal readers, will recall that in last week's Blood, Spit & Luck (Part 1), he offered just the beginning of this wonderfully interesting and entertaining addendum to his now famous Not Strictly Genealogy Methodology. Dealing specifically with

Finding Uncle Davey
A Not Strictly Genealogy Methodology
Blood, Spit & Pōmaika'i

Uncle Davey
Uncle Davey

Yes, Lisa Wallace Waters' [Great] Uncle Davey - David Charles Buchwald, Abq Jew's father's first cousin - was, indeed, in the Navy. Stationed in Hawaii for a time. Thought to have had a family there. Lived to be 100.

"How interesting," said Abq Jew.

But wait

And then Lisa and Abq Jew took a look
at their Shared Matches on AncestryDNA.

That is to say, DNA Matches that were in both Lisa's list and Abq Jew's. Which turned up the usual list of Buchwald suspects - with a couple of new twists. People that neither Lisa nor Abq Jew recognized.

"How interesting," said Abq Jew.

One of those unrecognized Shared Matches - let's call her Emily Cohen - was at the top of the Distant Family portion of our Shared Matches list. AncestryDNA estimated that Emily and Abq Jew are 4th-6th cousins.

"How interesting," said Abq Jew.

Abq Jew figured - hey, there must be a few hundred Emily Cohens out there. Without another identifying clue - what are the chances he would ever find the one Emily Cohen he's connected to?

Lightning Albuquerque

And then Abq Jew was struck by

Pure Luck

for those who believe in and celebrate ... pure luck. But for many others, himself included  - what Abq Jew subsequently did was a pure example of

Divine Inspiration

Abq Jew scrolled further down the list of his and cousin Lisa's Shared Matches. And found someone named Jessica Sharkfin. Abq Jew figured - hey, how many Jessica Sharkfins could there be in the world?

So Abq Jew went to Facebook and searched. And discovered, right there at the very top of Facebook's Search Results -

Jessica Sharkfin
Jessica Sharkfin

Yes, there is exactly one young woman on Facebook named Jessica Sharkfin. Who shares a relatively (pun fully intended) small amount of DNA with both Lisa Wallace Waters and Abq Jew. Who, thought Abq Jew, is therefore very likely a Buchwald.

And who lives in Honolulu.

said Abq Jew.

So (please!) let Abq Jew explain further: 

Jessica Sharkfin is Number 52 on Abq Jew's Ancestry DNA Matches list (not the Shared Matches list). Jessica and Abq Jew share but 52 cM of DNA - less than 1% - which would not generally be worth spending any time investigating. 

Except for divine inspiration, Jessica and Abq Jew
would probably never have found each other.

Abq Jew consulted with his second cousin, Lynn Buchwald Carlisle Wallace. And thought about it for a while. And then thought about it some more - you never know how these family reunions will turn out. 

In early May, Abq Jew sent a message to Jessica Sharkfin.

Dear Jessica,

After many years building my Family Tree on MyHeritage, I recently did AncestryDNA - and discovered you! 

AncestryDNA says we are 4th-6th cousins - but if you are who I think, you are my 2nd cousin twice (I'm guessing) removed.

You and I share matches with the Buchwald family - my father's family. And Ancestry says you're 13% European Jewish.

I believe you are the great(?)-granddaughter of David Charles Buchwald (1914-2014), who was my father's cousin. And who was in the Navy, for many years stationed in Honolulu.

If this story doesn't sound entirely crazy - or even if it does - I (and a few Buchwald relatives) would love to hear from you!

Your cousin (I'm pretty sure),

Abq Jew (I can explain why my last name is not Buchwald)

And then Abq Jew waited for a response.

Which came about three weeks later, from Nalani Sharkfin Hale, Abq Jew's rediscovered second cousin 1x removed.

Nalani Sharkfin Hale
Aloha Abq Jew!  
My daughter is Jessica Sharkfin, and my mother's biological father's name was David Charles Buchwald. He was an American military man. 

And a few days later, Abq Jew got a greeting from Daveysue Hale, Nalani's mother, Abq Jew's rediscovered second cousin. Yes, David Charles Buchwald's daughter. Who was (obviously!) named for him.

Daveysue Hale 
Hi Abq Jew!  

This is Daveysue Hale,
your cousin from Honolulu, Hawaii.

And after that, the rediscovered Buchwald families (see Family Tree below) began talking and - of course! - exchanging photos. 


 Including one photo from Abq Jew's second cousin Lynn.
Of the person of interest - 

David Charles Buchwald
David Charles Buchwald (Uncle Davey)

God Loves Stories

Pōmaika'i! Mazel & Bracha!

Abq Jew is thrilled to have played a part in this reunion.

You never know how these family reunions will turn out. 
For these two branches of the Buchwald family - they are and,
with God's help, will forever be thrilled to have found each other,
especially after all these years.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Blood, Spit & Luck (Part 1)

Pōmaika'i (Mazel & Bracha)People often ask Abq Jew how he manages to find so many long-lost relatives on his Family Tree.

Family Tree

As Abq Jew first mentioned in his classic blog post Blood, Spit & Years - actually, almost nobody asks. But just in case someone should ask sometimeAbq Jew offers this wonderfully interesting and entertaining addendum to his now famous Not Strictly Genealogy Methodology.

Finding Uncle Davey
A Not Strictly Genealogy Methodology
Blood, Spit & Pōmaika'i

As Abq Jew then wrote: It's a long story that barely anyone knows, but Abq Jew's father, of blessed memory, was semi-adopted.  And it is only through that semi-adoption that Abq Jew's father acquired the current family name.

But we are related - by blood! - to Abq Jew's biological grandfather, whom Abq Jew did, in his blog post, call Robert Beachwood. But his real name was Robert (Isaac/Srul) Buckwald. 

Whether Old Grandad's first name was Robert, Isaac, or Srul (Israel) seems to have depended on who was asking and when. Abq Jew suspects that Robert - as we all "knew" him - was trying out Americanisher names

Similarly, Old Grandad seems to have been the only member to spell his family name (consistently) with a k. Uncle Davey, on the other hand, seems to have switched back and forth.

Uncle Davey's family - and Abq Jew's father's family,
and Abq Jew's family - were and are Buchwalds.


As y'all know, 
Abq Jew has had his DNA up on 23andMe, MyHeritage, and other websites - for years, with plenty of results. But after attending a webinar with genealogist Jennifer MendelsohnAbq Jew decided to spit into the tube for Ancestry, too - Ancestry has by far the largest database. 
Abq Jew received his AncestryDNA results in February. And


A whole new world opened up.

The first thing Abq Jew did, of course, was look at his DNA Matches. And there they all were - first cousins, second cousins, second cousins 1x removed, and the mystery guest: Seymour Tachlis (see Suddenly Seymour).

Abq Jew scrolled down the list (past Seymour) and found the next person he didn't recognize. Number 9 on the list. Which turned out to be someone named (not her real name, for privacy's sake) 

Lisa Wallace Waters
Lisa Wallace Waters

Lisa had prudently placed a minimal pedigree chart on Ancestry. A magnificent pedigree chart, which showed Lisa related to Betty Buchwald (grandmother) and MJ Buchwald (great grandfather). Abq Jew's family!

Lisa (Abq Jew's second cousin 1x removed) and Abq Jew sent a bunch of messages back and forth on Ancestry and Facebook, and even spoke on the phone a couple times. Just sharing what we knew about various relatives - where they started out, where they ended up, where they were in between. 

You know - nice.

Anyway, this is (dates added later) about what Abq Jew's father knew about that wing of the Buchwald family.

Family Tree

Moses (MJ) and Bessie (Betty) Buchwald Carlisle were in Lisa's line. Rachael Buchwald, Lisa sadly disclosed, had a tragic and short life. 

And then there was

Uncle Davey
Uncle Davey

Yes, Lisa's [Great] Uncle Davey - David Charles Buchwald, Abq Jew's father's first cousin - was, indeed, in the Navy. Stationed in Hawaii for a time. Thought to have had a family there. Lived to be 100.

"How interesting," said Abq Jew.

1920 Census

Abq Jew took a look at the 1920 Federal Census - which showed Uncle Davey living in his grandparents Jacob and Mollie Buchwald's house, along with Robert Buchwald, Abq Jew's grandfather. And Boris (Ber), Robert's twin brother.

It seems that Moses (MJ) was ... ahem ... between wives at the time. But by the 1930 Federal Census things were copasetic but different,

1930 Census

with Moses (MJ) and his new wife Anna together, along with Betty and Rachael and David Charles. And Dolores, the new kid on the block. Rose had married Samuel Feldman; Robert had married Abq Jew's grandmother; and Boris was - who knows?

And then Lisa and Abq Jew took a look
at their Shared Matches on AncestryDNA.

That is to say, DNA Matches that were in both Lisa's list and Abq Jew's. Which turned up the usual list of Buchwald suspects - with a couple of new twists. People that neither Lisa nor Abq Jew recognized.

"How interesting," said Abq Jew.

Nothing happened for a few weeks. Then, one day SURPRISE! Lisa's mother,

Lynn Buchwald Wallace
Lynn Carlisle Wallace

posted her DNA Matches on AncestryDNA. Abq Jew found Lynn (his second cousin) on his refreshed DNA Matches list, right where she should be - three notches higher than Lisa. 

Abq Jew and Lynn sent a bunch of messages back and forth on Ancestry, and even spoke on the phone. Just sharing what we knew about various relatives - where they started out, where they ended up, where they were in between.

You know - nice.

Lynn was and is an expert witness. She attended the famous Buchwald parties! She knew all the players on the Buchwald team! And - she knew something of Uncle Davey's story.

Lightning Albuquerque

And then Abq Jew was struck by ... pure luck.

See Part 2 ... next week!

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Pushkin on Jeopardy! Redux

Or, How Do We Know What We Know? Tuesday, May 22, 2018 is a date that will be implanted in Abq Jew's otherwise cloudy with a chance of meatballs memory until he forgets it.

Ah ... but that was then (June 6, 2018; see Pushkin on Jeopardy!) and this, according to most commentators, is now. Alex Trebek, alas, of blessed memory, is no longer with us. Neither is Donald Rumsfeld.

Anna Karenina

And Abq Jew, in support of Ukraine, used the recent Three-Day Yontif to a) study Torah, a little; and b) finish reading Anna Karenina, the famous novel by the more famous Russian author Leo Tolstoy. As Wikipedia tells us:

Anna Karenina (Russian: «Анна Каренина»IPA: [ˈanːə kɐˈrʲenʲɪnə]) is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in book form in 1878. Widely considered to be one of the greatest works of literature ever written, Tolstoy himself called it his first true novel. It was initially released in serial installments from 1875 to 1877, all but the last part appearing in the periodical The Russian Messenger.

The novel was released at the rate of 600 pages per year, until the supply of trees at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy's estate, (thankfully) ran out. Anna Karenina provides an extensive treatment of Russian agrarian policy and politics ("what shall we do with the peasants?") during the late 1800s.

From reviews he has read, Abq Jew has learned (he skimmed a bit) that the novel also includes a romantic love triangle (or rectangle or pentagon or hexagon) or two. For those who are interested in that kind of thing.

But back to Tuesday, May 22, 2018!

For on that date, Abq Jew heard Alex Trebek - in the category 'Famous Russians' - provide the Final Jeopardy! answer

In November 1836 this writer got a letter naming him
to the Most Serene Order of Cuckolds;
in February 1837 he was dead.


And Abq Jew immediately, without thought or contemplation, correctly, from his greyhound-adorned couch, responded

Who is Alexander Pushkin?


Now Abq Jew must remind you that he is, by the skin of his teeth, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Where he received, appropriately, a BS degree in Engineering & Applied Science.


And Abq Jew must remind you that he is, without honors for utterly failing at the somber task of academic writing - but with tremendous gratitude - a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). Where he received, somehow, an MA degree in [Jewish] Education.

Russian Lit

Where is Russian literature?

Abq Jew has read Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Many years ago, and more than once. Just don't ask him who's who in patronymic or, for that matter, matronymic.


Abq Jew has also read Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment - also, many years ago. A delightful, thoroughly enjoyable axe-murder romp that reminds us that you can't chop your mama up in Massachusetts or in Saint Petersburg.

At least, not without some small measure of remorse.

The Idiot

There are those who, perhaps unkindly but not without some small measure of truth, suggest that Dostoevsky wrote one of his classics about Abq Jew

And Abq Jew has - of course - seen David Lean's wonderful, award-winning film made from Bernard Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago. But he's never read the book.

The point - and it's a major one -  that Abq Jew is trying to make here is that


On Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Abq Jew knew nothing of the life and work of
Alexander Pushkin, 'The Father of Russian Literature'.

So, Abq Jew hears you, his loyal readers, ask, where did his immediate 'Alexander Pushkin' response come from?

To answer that question, Abq Jew turns to the purported master of Knowns and Unknowns, our former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

There are known knowns is a phrase from a response United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave to a question at a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) news briefing on February 12, 2002 about the lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups. 
Rumsfeld stated: 
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. 
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. 
But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. 
And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones. 
The statement became the subject of much commentary, including a documentary by Academy Award–winning film director Errol Morris.

In regular American English, Mr Rumsfeld claimed that there are

  1. Known Knowns = Things we know we know
  2. Known Unknowns = Things we know we don't know
  3. Unknown Unknowns = Things we don't know we don't know
What is missing from this series of statements?


4. Unknown Knowns = Things we don't know we know

How can there be such things - things we don't know we know? Where could such hidden knowledge come from? Where did such hidden knowledge go when we needed it? How can we get it back? How much will it cost? Will Medicare cover it?


The universe is full of mysteries.


Or, as Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel said -

Our goal should be to live life in 
radical amazement.
Get up in the morning and look at the world
in a way that takes nothing for granted.
Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible;
never treat life casually. 
To be spiritual is to be amazed.


But back to Final Jeopardy! The Jeopardy! Fan website tells us that, of the three contestants that day

  1. Two responded 'Who is Tolstoy?'
  2. One responded 'Who is Dostoevsky?'
Only Abq Jew, from his greyhound-adorned couch,
was able to question the answer correctly.


And in case you were wondering -

In the fall of 1836, Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (author of the play Boris Godunov and the novel Eugene Onegin) was facing scandalous rumours that his wife Natalia was having an affair with French military officer Georges-Charles de Heeckeren d’Anthès. 
In amongst the scandal was a letter lampooning Pushkin. Heeckeren was accused of being the anonymous author of the lampoon. In an attempt to save Natalia’s reputation, Heeckeren married Natalia’s sister Yekaterina, but this was not enough to settle the conflict, and Pushkin was killed in the eventual duel. 
In the aftermath, Heeckeren was removed from Russia and lived out the rest of his life in France, serving as a Senator in the Second French Empire from 1852 to 1870.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Tikkun Layl Shavuot Returns!

Back Again in 5782: As Abq Jew ® first noted eleven (11!) years ago (wow! like it was yesterday!) in  A Murder of Crows:

10 Commandments

Several thousand years ago, all Jews then living, all Jews ever born, and all Jews ever to be born gathered beneath Mount Sinai to hear God speak to us. None were wearing masks (Moses did put on a mask later, but that was ... different).

We celebrate this wondrous event (hearing the voice of God, not watching Moses put on his mask) every year on the Holiday of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, exactly forty-nine full days (which are, as we know now, seven full weeks) after the Holiday of Pesach.

This year, Shavuot begins on Saturday evening, June 4th. 

Tikkun Layl Shavuot

And we Albuquerque Jews will join Jews all over the world in a Tikkun Layl Shavuot - an all-night (well, late evening) study session. Which we are calling Shavuot b'Yachad - because we're together again (sort of) after a couple years of Covid-19 restrictions.

If you want to stay up all night and study - there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Shavuot on Sefaria will get you started. The Rabbinical Assembly will keep you going. And Chabad, as always, will help you understand the whole megillah, you should excuse the expression.


Many synagogues and Jewish institutions will be offering Shabbat and Shavuot events via the videotelephony program Zoom. The use of which during the pandemic has become almost universal among all but the Orthodox.

And then, there's

Beth El Synagogue

Beth El Synagogue, a Conservative shul near Minneapolis.

Beth El Synagogue has labelled its Shavuot observances Shavuot 5782: War and Peace, and offers several war-and-peace related topics for its all-night (plus a hashkama minyan!) Tikkun. Great news if you're in Minneapolis! 

If you're, say, in Albuquerque - the Beth El Tikkun will not be Zoomed. 

Which is probably just as well. 

Jon Levine of the New York Post first reported on May 28:


which begins:

This was some Sabbath service!

A randy couple who Zoomed into services at a Minneapolis synagogue hosting a bat mitzvah forgot to turn off their camera as they began to make a mitzvah of their own — canoodling in full view of verklempt congregants, who were subjected to the softcore sideshow for nearly an hour.

Then, on May 30, Josh Kaplan of The Jewish Chronicle picked up the story:


And Jackie Hajdenberg of JTA published this particularly interesting story on June 1:


After consulting (via Google) with both rabbinical and secular authorities, Abq Jew has decided not to say more on this subject. As one of Beth El Synagogues administrators told the Post:

I’m aware of the incident and
won’t be commenting on the details.

Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat Shalom, World!
Good Shabbos, Universe!


Hag Sameach, New Mexico!
Good Yontif, Albuquerque!

A Three-Day Yontif!
Better stock up on challah!

OK ... technically, it's one day of Shabbat followed immediately by a 2-day
(outside the Land of Israel) Yom Tov - in this case Shavuot, the Time of the
Giving of Our Torah. But in the vernacular, a 3-day Yontif is what it's called.