Wednesday, August 30, 2023

August's Super Blue Moon

Last Chance Till 2037: The next Super Blue Moon, the Jerusalem Post informs us, will appear on Wednesday evening, August 30, 2023. 

Hey - that's tonight!

Super Blue Moon

Next Super Blue Moon: Saturday, January 31, 2037

A “blue supermoon,” will rise in the night sky on Wednesday, August 30, LiveScience reported this week.

The expression, “once in a blue moon” has relevance in a real lunar phenomenon. Moreover, as the phrase suggests, they are indeed rare, and the lunar event to take place on Wednesday will not be seen again for some years.

The name, though, is somewhat misleading as the blue moon is not actually blue. The moon will actually appear to have an orange hue.
Blue Moon

So what, Abq Jew hears you ask, is a blue moon?
There are, in fact, two varieties of blue moons, LiveScience explains. The first type, a “calendar blue moon” occurs when two full moons occur within the same month. As a full moon appears every 29.5 days, although rare, it necessarily occurs every two or three years.

The second type is a "seasonal blue moon," which describes a thirteenth full moon in a year as opposed to the typical 12.


And, Abq Jew hears you query, how about that super part?
A supermoon occurs when the full moon is close to its nearest point to Earth in its orbit. The moon's orbit of Earth is elliptical, so every month, it reaches a closest point (perigee) and farthest point (apogee). Moons that come within 90% of perigee in a given month qualify as supermoons.

August's second full moon is the third and closest of four supermoons in 2023. At 222,043 miles from Earth, it will be the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2023, though it will be only 115 miles closer than August 1's full moon, which was 222,158 miles away.


The next full moon will be the Harvest Moon, on September 29. In addition to being one of the best-known full moons of the year, it's the last supermoon in 2023.

The Marcels Blue Moon

A Super Blue Moon! Celebrate we must! Here is the 1961 hit by The Marcels, which begins with the everlastingly eternal lyrics

Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba
Ba ba ba ba ba ba dang a dang dang
Ding a dong ding

So when you go to or come home from shul or wherever tonight,
be sure to look up at the sky and enjoy. 

After all, this only comes around ... well, you know.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Fall 2023 @ OASIS Abq

 Great Courses of Jewish Interest

Jewish Star

Abq Jew is pleased to inform you that
OASIS Albuquerque has just announced
their Fall 2023 line-up of classes!
Registration opens on

Wednesday September 6
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 Fall 2023

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

Fairview Cemetery

Historic Fairview Cemetery
Walking Tour
Monday September 18 @ 10:00 - #195
Instructor: Gail Rubin
What It Is: Back by popular demand! Historic Fairview Cemetery was founded in 1881. There are approximately 12,000 people buried on 17.5 acres. You are invited to walk the cemetery and learn how the people buried here reflect the history of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the United States. Among the well-known New Mexico family names on the tour are Dietz, Galles, Hubbell, Huning, Menaul, Rodey, Ross, and Simms. Wear sturdy walking shoes, a wide brimmed hat, sun protection. Limited enrollment.

Norma Libman
Memoir Writing
How to Tell Your Story
Thursday October 5 @ 10:00 - #164
Instructor: Norma Libman
What It Is: Back by popular demand! Everyone has a story to tell, and now is the time to tell yours. Learn how to retrieve memories you thought were forgotten, how to get them written down, and how to organize them into your own life story. Bring paper and pen for writing exercises and you will have written a start to your memoir when the workshop is over. Limited enrollment.

Jews in the Manhattan Project
Monday October 9 @ 3:00 - #241-NIRR
Instructor: Jack Shlachter
What It Is: Los Alamos officially became a town in 1943 with the creation of the Manhattan Project and the secret science community. A 1945 snapshot of the theoretical division roster at Los Alamos reveals a leadership structure that is disproportionately of Jewish heritage. Of the roughly 80 individuals in the division, four (all Jewish) would go on to become Nobel Laureates. Meet members of this leadership team as well as key Jewish scientists outside the theoretical division. Presented at Neighborhood in Rio Rancho.

Isaac Unbound
Isaac Unbound
A Life of Reconciliation
Monday October 16 @ 10:00 - #170
Instructor: Paul J Citrin
What It Is: This class title is the same as Rabbi Citrin’s newly published novel which deals with the life of the Biblical figure Isaac. While Isaac seems on the surface to be the passive patriarch, he is actually very spiritual as he struggles to fix broken relationships and to overcome his own traumas. Isaac’s life has much to teach us about our own personal relationship challenges.

Jews Secrets Spain
How the Jews Kept Their Secrets in Spain
Thursday October 26 @ 10:00 - #143
Instructor: Norma Libman
What It Is: In 1492 Spain gave all non-Christians (Jews, Muslims, gypsies, anyone who could be defined as a heretic) a choice: leave, convert, or die. Many Jews converted but retained their Jewish practice in secret, risking apprehension for heresy. We look at how the Jews lived their secret lives in Spain attempting to bridge two worlds, and later brought those same secrets to New Mexico and other parts of the New World.

Polluting the Pure:
The American Eugenics Movement
and German Racial Hygiene

Thursday December 7 @ 10:00 - #174
Instructor: Michael Nutkiewicz
What It Is: Michael Nutkiewicz illuminates a key historical moment in the United States and Germany when science supported racial and social discrimination. In the early decades of the 20th century, the American eugenics movement led to forced sterilization. In Germany, where eugenics was known as “racial hygiene,” the government instituted sterilization and euthanasia. American eugenics and Nazi racial hygiene illustrate a peril always implicit in science. Their lessons are well worth our continued contemplation.

Oasis Albuquerque

Abq Jew Learn

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Jacob's Ladder: Beit El

Back to Shul Fest! Yes, Abq Jew is once again dreaming of beautiful downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire (see May 2021's Portsmouth Parking & The Jews).

But first - and, not coincidentally, within the same context, as you will shortly see - Abq Jew must tell you (he must! he must!) that Jacob's Ladder, one of his favorite young Jewgrass bands, has just released Beit El, their first LP album!

Beit El Jacob's Ladder

Yes, Abq Jew has highlighted Jacob's Ladder before - see May's Psalm 121: A Song to the Ascents and July's Are We There Yet?. But still - this is news of the highest quality! Proclaims the band's website:

Our first ever full length album is available on all streaming platforms. This album bends all genres- prepare yourself for an immersive and eclectic listening experience across choral and cantorial traditions finding their way into communal prayer and American folk song.  
Beit El is sourced from the original encounter and location between Jacob and the Divine Presence. This is an immensely powerful and meaningful experience, one that has permeated Jewish thought for millennia. 
The core of Jewish spirituality, belonging, connection and its needed place in our world today sets the tone for this record. 

Which brings us to Sunday, November 5, 2023. This is the day when we in New Mexico - and many of us in the United States - will say goodbye to Daylight Saving Time and return to our winter favorite, Standard Time.

Hebrew Time

Yes, we Jews have holy places and holy people. But what is most sacred to us is time. When we Jews bless Shabbat, Festivals, and Life Events, we sanctify time and declare that time to be separate from the ordinary time that we experience day to day.

Fall BaCK

Yet there are no Jewish blessings or ceremonies associated with the annual (in New Mexico and the United States) Return to Standard Time. 

Why not? Abq Jew hears you ask. Is it because clock changing is (to put it mildly) just a tad post-Biblical, and thus not recognized by חז״ל, Our Sages, of Blessed Memory? 

Well. Chanukah is also post-Biblical, and Our Sages had ... well, only a small problem recognizing it! (Military victory? NO! Let's go with the the Oil Miracle!)

Are you looking forward to Standard Time as much as Abq Jew is? If you are (and even if you're not) - here's a handy countdown timer - so you and Abq Jew can ... well, count down the happy days until we turn the clocks back!

Return to Standard Time in

But weddings, for example? Yes, we Jews bless and sing for weddings. Oh, yes. Jacob's Ladder does indeed do weddings.

Od Yishama, for example, a traditional wedding tune, captures the purest of joy and Jewish expression during this deeply meaningful life cycle event.

עוֹד יִשָׁמַע בְּעַרֵי יְהוּדָה וּבְחוּצוֹת יְרוּשָלַיִם
קוֹל שָשוֹן וְקוֹל שִמְחָה
קוֹל חָתָן וְקוֹל כָּלָה

Yet again there shall be heard,
in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem​
The voice of joy and the voice of gladness,​
the voice of the bridegroo​m and the voice of the bride.
Jerem​iah 33:10-11

Which brings us back to beautiful downtown Temple Israel in beautiful downtown Portsmouth.

Back to Shul Fest

Where the Jewish community of Portsmouth and surrounding areas are planning to hold a Back to Shul Fest this very Sunday.

Jacob's Ladder

At and for which, Jacob's Ladder will perform - as they did last year. 

Abq Jew wishes he could be there  to visit his son Dov the Film Editor; his daughter (in-law) Jessica the Surgeon; his grandchildren Vera and Chuck; and his granddog Dave (see Welcoming New Hampshire)

Sondeim Next Year

Monday, August 14, 2023

It Was 20 Years Ago Today

Two Major Historical Events That Shall Never Be Forgotten: And these two major historical events that (Abq Jew says) shall never be forgotten are -

1. Sgt Pepper Taught the Band to Play

Alright. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles' eighth studio album - was actually released on May 26, 1967. That was not 20 years ago today. That was, in fact, 56 years, 2 months, and 20 days ago. But everyone remembers the opening line -

Sgt Pepper

It was 20 years ago today
Sgt Pepper taught the band to play

Referring, one must presume, to May 26, 1947 - twenty years before the album's release; and 76 years, 2 months, and 20 days ago.

Musicians and music-lovers worldwide, we recall, snapped to attention. But the Jewniverse did not. Instead, our minds and hearts were focused on the seemingly interminable lead-up to what became known as

Six Day War

The Six-Day War

As Abq Jew reported in May 2017 (see Yosemite to Jerusalem), leading up to that war's 50th anniversary:

On May 16, Egypt moved its army into the Sinai
and demanded that UN peacekeepers withdraw.
On May 18, UN Secretary General U Thant acceded to the Egyptian demand.
On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.
On May 26, President Johnson warned Israel not to attack first.
On Monday May 29, the United States observed Memorial Day. 


Abq Jew and his parents z"l spent the entire Memorial Day Weekend at Yosemite National Park, doing what Jews all over the world were doing - watching, waiting, worrying.

Abq Jew Digresses

But Abq Jew digresses.
Here's the real topic of this day's blog post:

2. The Great Blackout of 2003

You don't remember that, do you? Why would you - unless you were living in or traveling to the Northeast on that fateful day? Wikipedia reminds us -

2003 Blackout

The Northeast blackout of 2003 was a widespread power outage throughout parts of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States, and most parts of the Canadian province of Ontario on Thursday, August 14, 2003, beginning just after 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Most places restored power by midnight (within 7 hours), some as early as 6 p.m. on August 14 (within 2 hours), while the New York City Subway resumed limited services around 8 p.m. Full power was restored to New York City and parts of Toronto on August 16.

At the time, it was the world's second most widespread blackout in history, after the 1999 Southern Brazil blackout. The outage, which was much more widespread than the Northeast blackout of 1965, affected an estimated 55 million people, including 10 million people in southern and central Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states.

Since we're talking blackouts, Abq Jew must also tell you (he must! he must!) about the New York City blackout of July 13-14, 1977. Of which Wikipedia, along with Abq Jew, recalls -

Blackout 1977

The New York City blackout of 1977 was an electricity blackout that affected most of New York City on July 13–14, 1977. 

The only unaffected neighborhoods in the city were in southern Queens (including neighborhoods of the Rockaways), which were part of the Long Island Lighting Company system, as well as the Pratt Institute campus in Brooklyn, and a few other large apartment and commercial complexes that operated their own power generators.

Unlike other blackouts that affected the region, namely the Northeast blackouts of 1965 and 2003, the 1977 blackout was confined to New York City and its immediate surrounding areas. The 1977 blackout also resulted in citywide looting and other criminal activity, including arson, unlike the 1965 and 2003 blackouts.

Stewart House

Abq Jew remembers the 1977 NYC blackout because of his youthfully exuberant escapade to rescue his mother-in-law, Great Grand Mama, of blessed memory. 

Who at that time lived in a 1-bedroom co-op apartment on the 19th floor of the Stewart House, 70 East 10th Street, "one of Greenwich Village''s most sought after co-op apartment buildings in downtown NYC."

Yes, Abq Jew, with only his trusty high-powered flashlight to guide him, intrepidly climbed up the 18 [double] flights of stairs (there was no 13th floor!) and brought Great Grand Mama down to safety (no electricity = no water!) and then to Mr & Mrs Abq Jew's 1-bedroom rental on East 18th Street.

211 East 18th Street

To Abq Jew, today's 20-year anniversary of The Great Blackout brings back fond memories of his youthfully exuberant escapade to rescue his son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor, from the Wilds of Weehawken, to which he had escaped from Manhattan.

The lights were out in Weehawken. It was going to be dark along the entire route from our home in Livingston. Abq Jew wasn't sure he had enough gas in the car for the trip - and without electricity, gas stations couldn't pump gas.


To make things even more interesting: cell service was intermittent at best; Dov could not describe, in brief phone calls, where he was (seemed to be a Hess gas station; JFK Blvd?); Abq Jew had never driven in Weehawken-by-the-River; and he had no GPS.

Abq Jew also had no map, and couldn't have read it anyway while driving in the dark.

Robert Velthuizen

Thank G*d for Abq Jew's
dear friend Robert Velthuizen! 

Robert actually worked in Weehawken, had gas in his car, and knew several ways (just in case) to get to the Hess station on JFK Blvd.

And he has always had way more than his share of joie de vivre, i.e. youthful exuberance.

It took a little time (no traffic lights; New Jersey drivers) - but Robert and I found Dov in the dark and brought him safely home.

That was the most youthful exuberance Abq Jew had displayed since he broke his collarbone scoring the go-ahead run at his company softball game on August 31, 1989.

But that's a story for another time and another blog post ....

Those were the days

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Positively Celebratory

A Reason to Smile: It's Summertime, and the living is supposed to be easy. Yet, for an entire plethora of reasons, Abq Jew feels off-schedule and way behind on the many mundane tasks of Life. 

Which have recently included preparing mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially for an upcoming positively celebratory event that we all know must be prepared for months in advance.

Thank God! Ken O'Hara! Yet Abq Jew still feels like he's running behind. 

Horse on 7th Avenue

Never mind. Two weeks ago, Dan Rather wrote The Best Is Yet to Come in his Substack newsletter Steady about Tony Bennett, of blessed memory. Which Abq Jew then copied and published quoted (see Remembering Tony Bennett). 

Well, this week Mr Rather has done it again - written (with Elliott Kirschner) a remarkably uplifting piece about pain, trauma, loneliness, and "the indelible spirit of fighting on." Based on Simon & Garfunkel's The Boxer.
The Boxer: A Reason to Smile

Pain is an inevitable part of life, and none of us emerges unscathed. For some, the traumas are more acute — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But there is also the indelible spirit of fighting on in the face of everything thrown against you. 

There are many songs that capture this quintessentially human experience, and one of the best is Paul Simon’s classic “The Boxer,” which was released as a single in 1969. A year later it was included on Simon and Garfunkel’s fifth and final studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Water. 

Simon later said the song about a prize fighter and the bruises of a hard life was semi-autobiographical. He himself wasn’t a pugilist, but by the time he wrote the song, he had endured his share of criticism and difficult living. It’s hard to believe he was still just in his 20s.

Most of the song’s lyrics evocatively express loneliness, poverty, and struggle, with lines like: 

Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest and 
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go looking for the places only they would know

Now, Abq Jew wrote about The Boxer in December 2021's Singing Engineering. Which was mostly about Abq Jew's year (1970-71) of living Biblically while studying Civil Engineering at the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology.
It was a tough year. But Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel, two Jewish guys from Queens, got Abq Jew through it. Their album Bridge Over Troubled Water had come out in January 1970, and Abq Jew knew most of the songs by heart.

Now the years are rolling by me
They are rocking evenly
And I am older than I once was
And younger than I'll be
But that's not unusual

No, it isn't strange
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
After changes we are
More or less the same

In the clearing stands a boxer .....
Boxer Dog

And that is where Abq Jew left off. Perhaps not surprisingly, this is exactly where Dan Rather picks up -

But in the end, we get the hope of resilience that can emerge from struggle and suffering. 

    In the clearing stands a boxer
    And a fighter by his trade
    And he carries the reminders
    Of every glove that laid him down
    Or cut him till he cried out
    In his anger and his shame
    “I am leaving, I am leaving”
    But the fighter still remains

The song also tells its story through powerful musical composition. It was a painstaking recording process, involving multiple locations and over 100 hours. 
There are wonderful instrumental accompaniments, but one of the song’s signatures is a simple vocal repetition of the phrase “Lie-la-lie.” Originally those sounds were stand-ins for lyrics yet to be written. But Simon chose to keep them. Sometimes we can express more through pure music than words can offer. 

We found, in our own times of struggle and uncertainty, reasons to smile in this remarkable song. We are sharing the original studio recording below. But first, this song has also been covered many times, and one of our favorites has a country style, showing the universality of the message. 

It is from a concert in 2007, when the Library of Congress awarded its first Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Paul Simon. 
Here the close harmony is by two women of immense talent and vocal power: Alison Krauss and Shawn Colvin. 
They are accompanied by the equally brilliant Dobro and lap steel guitar player Jerry Douglas. 
And here’s the original recording by Simon and Garfunkel:

And here, Abq Jew must add - he must! he must! - is the live performance of S&G at Madison Square Garden in October 2009.

Looking for The Concert in Central Park on September 19, 1981?
Click here for the complete concert.
Or click here for The Boxer!

Fighter still remains


Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Cleopatra Meets Barbie

On Tu b'Av: It turns out, Abq Jew has recently learned, that Cleopatra was not Egyptian. This had been a topic of much concern in the New Mexico Jewish community - so Abq Jew is right here to set the record straight. 

Gal Gadot

Well, straighter. The Conversation (Academic rigor, journalistic flair), for example, tells us that Cleopatra’s skin colour didn’t matter in ancient Egypt – her strategic role in world history did. And author Toby Wilkinson goes on to claim -

There is no evidence that Cleopatra’s ethnicity was a matter of debate or interest during her own lifetime. She came from a long line of Greek-speaking kings, but her family had lived in Egypt for 300 years.

There is some doubt about the identity of Cleopatra’s mother. But centuries of royal precedent suggest she too would have been of Macedonian Greek descent.


And while we're talking about mothers: Recent research has revealed that Leonardo de Vinci was, in fact, a MOT. No, Abq Jew is not making this up. Tablet Magazine comes right out and says Leonardo da Vinci was Jewish. Indeed, that -

Italian historian Carlo Vecce set out to debunk
rumors of da Vinci’s foreign origins, but a
newly discovered document changed his mind.

Barbie Jewish Mom

Furthermore, claims author Mark Weitzman - 

In all likelihood, Leonardo da Vinci was only half Italian. His mother, Caterina, was a Circassian Jew born somewhere in the Caucasus, abducted as a teenager and sold as a sex slave several times in Russia, Constantinople, and Venice before finally being freed in Florence at age 15. 

This, at least, is the conclusion reached in the new book Il sorriso di Caterina, la madre di Leonardo, by the historian Carlo Vecce, one of the most distinguished specialists on Leonardo da Vinci.

Tu b'Av

Which brings us, of course, to Tu b'Av, the ancient and modern Jewish holiday of love. My Jewish Learning tells us:

Tu b’Av, the 15th Day of Av, is both an ancient and modern holiday. Originally a post-biblical day of joy, it served as a matchmaking day for unmarried women in the Second Temple period (before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.). 

Tu b’Av was almost unnoticed in the Jewish calendar for many centuries but it has been rejuvenated in recent decades, especially in the modern state of Israel. In its modern incarnation it is gradually becoming a Hebrew-Jewish Day of Love, slightly resembling Valentine’s Day in English-speaking countries.

And - since Abq Jew is sure you were wondering -

The first mention of this date is in the Mishnah (Ta’anit, Chapter 4)), where Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is quoted saying:

There were no happier days for the people of Israel than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards. 


Or, as the Jewish spirituality (really, that's what they claim) website Jewitches states on Twitter ... er, X -

wait til the cottagecore girlies find out that Judaism has a holiday celebrating love where we dress up in white dresses and go dance in the vineyards and fields under the full moon

Full Sturgeon Moon

This year (2023 CE), we not only get the standard Full Moon for Tu b'Av - we get a Full Sturgeon Supermoon! And - on the last day of August, don't ya know - we get a Full Blue Supermoon, just like we did in 2012 (see Blue Moon). And which we won't see again until 2032!

Alex Jake Two Cats

And speaking of love ...

Too Jewish

One can be sure that those who thought Gal Gadot was too Jewish to portray Wonder Woman will surely consider her way too Jewish to portray Cleopatra. However, as ScreenRant points out -
While it's no secret that Hollywood has been guilty of whitewashing various characters for years, the Gal Gadot Cleopatra movie news that declares the film has been whitewashed perpetuates a harmful misunderstanding about Gadot's own background, as she's an Israeli actress of Ashkenazi Jew ancestry. 
Gadot has spoken out about the Cleopatra whitewashing controversy to BBC Arabic (via The Independent), saying -
First of all, if you want to be true to the facts then Cleopatra was Macedonian. We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra.
Barbie Torah

Which brings us, finally, to Barbie. Whose Creator, Ruth Handler, of blessed memory, was indeed Jewish. As is her daughter, Barbara. As was her son, Kenneth z"l.

Now, the Washington Posts's Alexandra Petri (see December 2022's The Battle: Xanuqa vs Xmas, et al) has, in the "true" MAGA spirit, defined Barbie as

Barbie: (noun) Feminist demon enemy of the state.


However - Hey Alma's Abigail Weil asks -

Barbie Biblical

Is the ‘Barbie’ Movie the Greatest Biblical Retelling Ever Made?

While Hey Alma's Evelyn Frick proclaims -

Barbie Shabbat

Greta Gerwig Wants ‘Barbie’ to Feel Like Shabbat

Which is not to mention the cultural phenomenon known as -


Abq Jew's advice - for all of our sakes - is

Don't even

Or else, we end up with -


Told ya not to go there ....