Wednesday, June 29, 2022

A Fourth of Courage

Keep On Truckin': These past few days have been filled with anger, anxiety, fear, and sorrow. And yet. There have also been (too few) moments of courage and hope, as we approach our Independence Day.

Cassidy Hutchinson

Max Boot writes in The Washington Post:

On June 25, 1973, former White House counsel John Dean shocked the country with his testimony to a Senate committee revealing President Richard M. Nixon’s complicity in the Watergate coverup. He recalled “telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and that if the cancer was not removed that the President himself would be killed by it.” He thereby set in motion the process that led to Nixon’s downfall a little more than a year later.

It has taken 49 years, almost to the day, but on Tuesday afternoon we finally heard congressional testimony about presidential misconduct whose shock value might rival Dean’s. 

The question now is whether the Republican Party will finally realize that former president Donald Trump is not fit to hold office — that, indeed, our democracy might not survive another Trump term. 

Or will the GOP shrug this off, as they have every other Trump scandal, as a trivial distraction from what they regard as far more important issues, such as the price of gasoline?

Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked as an aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, electrified a television audience, Dean-style, with her firsthand account of Trump’s actions in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, and on that infamous day itself. There were too many jaw-dropping moments to count.

Wait a minute

OK ... Abq Jew felt he had to start off with something upbeat, if nevertheless worse than we thought (and we thought it was pretty bad). So let's turn to Facebook, always a source of mirth and good times.

This Rabbi Will

Since last Friday's traumatic, heartbreaking announcement of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v Wade, Abq Jew has been seeing a lot of rabbis (most, but not all, women) and one cantor (a woman) posting images - like the one shown above - on his Facebook timeline. You too?

What a wonderful proposal! 

It is, however, about 48 years too late. But it does say "no exceptions" .... 
Nevertheless. Abq Jew must, at this point in his life, respond:

No Thanks

Abq Jew must apologize. It turns out that many of these proposals actually come with the caveat (which, Abq Jew admits, may not be fully applicable in his particular circumstance) -

as you access reproductive care

And then there are all the offers to go camping. Wow! To which Abq Jew must once more respond:

No Camping

No thanks. Abq Jew really doesn't do camping. But if you find yourself, as one does, in need of a new, high-quality guitar, Abq Jew would be more than glad to accompany you to his friend Stan Burg's

Guitar Vista

Abq Jew must apologize. Again. It turns out that many of these offers are not about camping at all. In fact, it turns out that they're using "camping" as a secret code - that actually stands for something else. 

That only you, Abq Jew, and everyone else
on this planet who reads English will understand.

Prayer Football

And then, there's the Supreme Court's bizarrely inexplicable ruling in Kennedy v Bremerton School District that having the football coach lead his players in "private" prayer is really just fine.

On the 50-yard line. After the game. 

Yes, what the Supreme Court is talking about here is largely Christian prayer. Nevertheless, other groups may choose to take advantage of this dominionist opportunity. Case in point:

Chabad Mitzvah Tank

You knew that Chabad would be ready, didn't you?


Max Boot concludes his column in The Washington Post:

If there is any justice in the world, Hutchinson’s testimony will finally break through the force field of indifference enveloping the Republican Party. 

But having seen Trump survive too many other scandals that should have ended his disgraceful political career, I cannot be overly sanguine that he has finally reached his rightful reckoning. The cancer has been exposed but could still continue to metastasize.

When reading a haftarah that ends on a sad note, we Jews overcome by repeating the happier penultimate verse: 

If there is any justice in the world, Hutchinson’s testimony will finally break through the force field of indifference enveloping the Republican Party. 

4th of July

Abq Jew wishes all of us a happy and meaningful 4th of July.
His offer to accompany you to Guitar Vista still stands.

Hopalong Cassidy
h/t Vanessa Paloma!

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.