Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Shabbat Nachamu 5782

Consolation for What We Lost: Following Tisha b'Av, there are seven prophetic readings of consolation - all from Isaiah - that comfort us after the Black Fast and prepare us, emotionally and spiritually, for the upcoming High Holidays.

7 Console

Yes, Shutterstock (a purveyor of stock photography) seems to connect consolation with console, which, of course, has more than one meaning.
And with this bit of levity,
Abq Jew begins a solemn journey through the calamitous events of this week just past.

1. Operation 'Breaking Dawn'

Iron Dome

Abq Jew first published this image last year (see For Ashkelon: May 2021) during the Hamas rocket attacks. This year, the rockets were fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as depicted in this image:

Iron Dome 2022

The phenomenal success rate (other report 97%) of Israel's Iron Dome -

Breaking Dawn

prompted Arsen Ostrovsky, a leading international human rights lawyer, political analyst, and commentator, to propose that Danny Gold, inventor of the Iron Dome, win the Nobel Peace Prize.


2. Murders in Albuquerque's Muslim Community

Islamic Center NM ABQ

Four members of Albuquerque's Muslim community have been murdered in recent months, three in just the last few weeks. After the fourth death last Friday night, the Albuquerque Journal reported that "People are beginning to panic." 

On Tuesday, the Albuquerque Police announced an arrest in the case. KRQE's Chris McKee wrote:

Albuquerque Police have arrested a suspect in the investigation tied to the murder of four Muslim men. Police say 51-year-old Muhammad Syed was taken into custody last night near Santa Rosa, roughly 118 miles east of Albuquerque.

According to APD, Syed is currently being charged two of the four homicides under investigation. Those include the July 26 shooting of Aftab Hussein and the August 1 shooting of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain. 

APD says detectives connected Syed to those two cases through bullet casings recovered at the respective crime scenes and several guns recovered in the case.

Even after the arrest was announced, Albuquerque faith communities united to show their support for the Muslim community here. CBS producer Anam Siddiq wrote:

Abq Supports Muslim Community

The Islamic Center of New Mexico has no space to sit or stand right now as an interfaith group of people from the community come to show their love and support to Albuquerque Muslims, hours after the suspect was revealed by police.

3. David McCullough, Historian, Dies at 89

David McCullough

No, David McCullough was not Jewish, nor did Abq Jew know him personally. But Abq Jew and everyone else sure knew his work. As Wikipedia tells us:
David Gaub McCullough (July 7, 1933 – August 7, 2022) was an American author, narrator, popular historian, and lecturer. 
He was a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In 2006, he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States' highest civilian awards.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, McCullough earned a degree in English literature from Yale University. 

His first book was The Johnstown Flood (1968), and he wrote nine more on such topics as Harry S. Truman, John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Panama Canal, and the Wright brothers. 

McCullough also narrated numerous documentaries, such as The Civil War by Ken Burns, as well as the 2003 film Seabiscuit, and he hosted American Experience for twelve years.

McCullough's two Pulitzer Prize–winning books, Truman and John Adams, were adapted by HBO into a TV film and a miniseries, respectively.

4. Roger E Mosley, Actor, Dies at 83

Roger E Mosley

No, Roger E Mosley was not Jewish, nor did Abq Jew know him personally. But Abq Jew and everyone else sure knew his work. As Wikipedia tells us:

Roger Earl Mosley (December 18, 1938 – August 7, 2022) was an American actor, director, and writer best known for his role as the helicopter pilot Theodore "T.C." Calvin in the CBS television series Magnum, P.I., which originally aired from 1980 until 1988.

5. Judith Durham, Singer, Dies at 79

Judith Durham

No, Judith Durham was not Jewish, nor did Abq Jew know her personally. But Abq Jew and everyone else sure knew her work. As Wikipedia tells us:
Judith Durham AO (born Judith Mavis Cock; 3 July 1943 – 5 August 2022) was an Australian singer, songwriter and musician who became the lead singer of the Australian popular folk music group The Seekers in 1963.

The group became the first Australian pop music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States and have sold over 50 million records worldwide....  
And about The Seekers, Wikipedia tells us:
The Seekers are an Australian folk-influenced pop quartet, originally formed in Melbourne in 1962. They were the first Australian pop music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States. 
They were especially popular during the 1960s with their best-known configuration of Judith Durham on vocals, piano and tambourine; Athol Guy on double bass and vocals; Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar, banjo and vocals; and Bruce Woodley on guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals.

Stegasaurus Sing
Stegosauruses had beautiful singing voices, and they
knew all the words to The Seekers' greatest hits.

Here is a video of The Seekers performing Morningtown Ride during their  2014 Farewell Concert Tour. In the background is their original video from 1966.

The Seekers were the first Australian pop group to have a Top 5 hit in all three countries – Australia, UK and US. Australian music historian Ian McFarlane described their style as "concentrated on a bright, uptempo sound, although they were too pop oriented to be considered strictly folk and too folk to be rock."

The distinctive soprano voice of Durham, the group's vocal harmonies and memorable songs encouraged the British media, including the national broadcasting agency on radio and television, the BBC, to give them exposure, allowing them to appeal to a broad cross-section of the young British folk, pop and rock music audience.

6. Olivia Newton-John, Singer-Actor-Activist, Dies at 73

Olivia Newton-John

No, Olivia Newton-John  was not Jewish, nor did Abq Jew know her personally. But Abq Jew and everyone else sure knew her work. As Wikipedia tells us:

Dame Olivia Newton-John AC DBE (26 September 1948 – 8 August 2022) was a British-Australian singer, actress, and activist. 

She was a four-time Grammy Award winner whose music career included five number one hits and another ten Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and two Billboard 200 number one albums, If You Love Me, Let Me Know (1974) and Have You Never Been Mellow (1975). 

Eleven of her singles (including two Platinum) and 14 of her albums (including two Platinum and four 2× Platinum) have been certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). 

With global sales of more than 100 million records, Newton-John is one of the best-selling music artists from the second half of the 20th century to the present.

In 1978, Newton-John starred in the musical film Grease, whose soundtrack remains one of the world's best-selling albums of recorded music. It features two major hit duets with co-star John Travolta: You're the One That I Want – which ranks as one of the best-selling singles of all time – and Summer Nights.  

Newton-John was an activist for environmental and animal rights causes, and advocated for breast cancer research. She died of breast cancer after decades of fighting the disease.

Although she lived in the United States for most of her adult life, she considered herself an Australian. 

Max Born

And then there's the Max Born connection. Wikipedia tells us:

[Newton-John's]mother was born in Germany, and had come to the U.K. with her family in 1933 to escape the Nazi Regime.

Olivia's maternal grandfather was German Jewish Nobel Prize–winning physicist Max Born; her maternal grandmother Hedwig was the daughter of German Jewish jurist Victor Ehrenberg....

Yes, Olivia Newton-John's Jewish grandfather was Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Born, who fled the Nazis in 1933. In her memoir she wrote, 

“In 1933, my Jewish grandfather fled from Germany with his wife, Hedwig, to escape Hitler’s regime. He was not only a brilliant mind but also a humanitarian who helped Jews escape Germany. I’m extremely proud of my peace-loving grandfather.” 

Yes, this Max Born, shown here with a few friends at the fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Photons, held in October 1927. 

Einstein Group
17 of the 29 participants were or became Nobel Laureates.

Here is a video of Olivia Newton-John speaking about her Jewish grandfather (first half) and her activism (second half).

And - one of Abq Jew's favorite videos - John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John at the 2002 Grease DVD Release Party.

May her memory be a blessing.

7. 'They Even Broke Into My Safe'

Peter Falk Columbo

You didn't think Abq Jew could pass this consolation up, did you?

Here is a video (from Monday night) of MSNBC host (et al) Rachel Maddow and former US attorney (et al) Chuck Rosenberg explaining it all for us.

And if that didn't grab you, here is a video of Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.

One more thing

To Albuquerque, the US, and the World -

Sabbath Consolation

a Sabbath of Consolation and Peace

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Spartacus and The Jews

Ancient History, Modern History: A few weeks ago, Abq Jew posted a photograph with a story on his personal Facebook page.

Starbucks Spartacus

Some (about a dozen) of Abq Jew's personal Facebook friends got it; others (more than 600, including friends of his friends) didn't. So. For those who are too young to remember or too old to recall, Wikipedia reminds us:
Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Dalton Trumbo, and based on the 1951 novel of the same title by Howard Fast
It is inspired by the life story of Spartacus, the leader of a slave revolt in antiquity, and the events of the Third Servile War
It stars Kirk Douglas in the title role....

As it turns out, (arguably; but isn't everything?) the most famous scene in the movie is when the army of Crassus surrounds the army of Spartacus. A herald or tribune from (where else?) the International Herald Tribune announces to those assembled:
I bring a message from your master Marcus Licinius Crassus, commander of Italy. 
By command of His Most Merciful Excellency, your lives are to be spared. Slaves you were and slaves you remain. 
But the terrible penalty of crucifixion has been set aside on the single condition that you identify the body or the living person of the slave called Spartacus.
Whereupon, as many of us,  young and old do surely recall, this happens:

And yes, Abq Jew can clearly hear you, his loyal readers, asking -

What Do 2

To which Abq Jew must respond (he must! he must!) -

Hang on ride

First of all - it will come as no surprise to many of you that, before Spartacus was a film, it was a book. As Wikipedia tells us - 

Spartacus is a 1951 historical novel by American writer Howard Fast. It is about the historic slave revolt led by Spartacus around 71 BC. The book inspired the 1960 film directed by Stanley Kubrick and the 2004 TV adaptation by Robert Dornhelm.

Now, Abq Jew has read the book. And Abq Jew noticed two things: 

  1. The whole "I am Spartacus" thing was not repeat not in the book. Abq Jew suspects that Dalton Trumbo (one of the Hollywood Ten), Stanley Kubrick, or Kirk Douglas came up with the scene. It's very powerful; it makes the movie; and it is widely remembered. But it (apparently) is not from the pen of Howard Fast.
  2. Here is something that is from the pen of Howard Fast: the Jewish connection. In the book, Spartacus not only quotes Homer's Iliad - he also subscribes to the International Herald Tribune. Thus, Spartacus knows all about the Maccabean Revolt. The Jews' victory gives him hope that his revolt can also succeed.

Howard Fast

And then there's the author of Spartacus the book - Howard Fast. Who was, to say the very least, an extremely interesting character. As Wikipedia tells us:
Howard Melvin Fast (November 11, 1914 – March 12, 2003) was an American novelist and television writer. Fast also wrote under the pen names E.V. Cunningham and Walter Ericson.
Now, there are many reasons why an author might choose to publish using a pseudonym. But in this case, let's revert to Occam's razor (aka the law of pasrsimony) to point us to an explanation.

Howard Fast was blacklisted because he was a communist.
As in, "a member of the Communist Party."

Yes he was, and for many years. And, for many years (until he quit), proud of it. But we return to Wikipedia:
Fast was born in New York City. His mother, Ida (née Miller), was a British Jewish immigrant, and his father, Barney Fast, was a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant who shortened his name from Fastovsky upon arrival in America...  
Howard credited his early voracious reading to a part-time job in the New York Public Library.

Fast spent World War II working with the United States Office of War Information, writing for Voice of America. 

In 1943, he joined the Communist Party USA and in 1950, he was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities; in his testimony, he refused to disclose the names of contributors to a fund for a home for orphans of American veterans of the Spanish Civil War (one of the contributors was Eleanor Roosevelt), and he was given a three-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress.

While he was at Mill Point Federal Prison, Fast began writing his most famous work, Spartacus, a novel about an uprising among Roman slaves.

Blacklisted by major publishing houses following his release from prison, Fast was forced to publish the novel himself. 

It was a success, going through seven printings in the first four months of publication. (According to Fast in his memoir, 50,000 copies were printed, of which 48,000 were sold.)

He subsequently established the Blue Heron Press, which allowed him to continue publishing under his own name throughout the period of his blacklisting. 

Just as the production of the film version of Spartacus (released in 1960) is considered a milestone in the breaking of the Hollywood blacklist, the reissue of Fast's novel by Crown Publishers in 1958 effectively ended his own blacklisting within the American publishing industry. 

And in case you were wondering -
Fast's son Jonathan Fast, himself a novelist, was married to novelist Erica Jong; their daughter is the pundit Molly Jong-Fast. The writer Julius Fast was his younger brother.
And also, in case you were wondering - here is a must-see profile of Howard Fast, with emphasis on his passionate appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC): 

Why does Abq Jew bring this up now? Because of -

Tisha b'Av

The holy day on which we recall the immense cruelties of the armies and inherent cruelty of the culture of Rome, which Howard Fast showed in great, tragic detail in his novel Spartacus

The fate of Spartacus and his army of freed slaves?

The armies of Spartacus launched
their full strength against Crassus's legions
and were utterly defeated. Of the survivors,
some 6,000 were crucified along the Appian Way.

But more important - the legacy of Spartacus and his army of freed slaves? 

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, shares the World War II story of Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds:

Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds
Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds [1919-1985] of Knoxville, Tennessee, served in the US Army during World War II. He participated in the landing of the American forces in Europe and was taken prisoner by the Germans. 
Together with other American POWs, including Jews, he was taken to Stalag IXA, a camp near Ziegenhain, Germany. 
In line with their anti-Jewish policy, the Germans singled out Jewish POWs, and many of them on the Eastern Front were sent to extermination camps or killed. In some cases in the west Jewish POWs were also separated from the others. 
Sometime in January 1945 the Germans announced that all Jewish POWs in Stalag IXA were to report the following morning. Master Sergeant Edmonds, who was in charge of the prisoners, ordered all POWs—Jews and non-Jews alike—to stand together. 
When the German officer in charge saw that all the camp’s inmates were standing in front of their barracks, he turned to Edmonds and said, “They cannot all be Jews.” 
To this Edmonds replied, 
“We are all Jews.” 
The German took out his pistol and threatened Edmonds, but the Master Sergeant did not waver and retorted, 
“According the Geneva Convention, we have to give only our name, rank, and serial number. If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes.” 
The German gave up, turned around, and left the scene.

Incredibly, Roddie never told anybody about his wartime heroism.

It wasn’t until long after Roddie’s death in 1985 that the story came out. His children, curious about their father’s wartime experiences, started reading the diary he’d kept...

In 2015, Roddie Edmonds was honored by the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. 
26,000 non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust have been so honored, but Sgt. Roddie Edmonds is the only U.S. serviceman on that list.
A Blessing