Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Ending 2023 With a Mitzvah

Starting 2024 With a Mitzvah:  It has become Abq Jew's tradition that the last checks written online donations entered for one year and the first for the next year should be charitable donations to organizations, institutions, and causes that Abq Jew supports.

2023 Jump 2024

If you are looking for ways to to contribute as well, here are three ways to support Israel during this time of war.

Magen David Adom
American Friends of Magen David Adom

Give to Zaka
ZAKA Search and Rescue

FIDF Never Again
American Friends of Israel Defense Forces

But wait

Alas, the Israel-Hamas war is not being fought only in Israel - or in Gaza.
It's being fought in cities throughout the world - in "pro-Palestinian" marches, protests, and demonstrations.

We can all see that antisemitism is on the rise. 

And then there's the fear and tension at many (most?) American colleges and universities, where Jewish students, faculty, and administrators no longer feel safe on what should be their own home turf.

What's going on here?

Eretz Nehederet (A Wonderful Country), Israel’s #1 comedy television show, posted (OK ... last month) a report on the situation at Columbia Untisemity, which should give us some idea. NOTE: Folks, this is parody. It's meant to be funny. In the midst of all the sadness, we need to smile and carry on.

There's recently been a &!@#storm of "controversy" about whether Jesus, the birthday boy, was Jewish or ... not. Eretz Nehederet addresses this issue in The Gospel According to Berkeley. NOTE: Parody again, folks.

And if you think that things are different in the Land of Enchantment - well, you're wrong. Very, very wrong.

Just one recent example: Following a "pro-Palestinian" demonstration on Black Friday (November 24th), KOAT quoted Sara Koplik, Director of UNM Hillel:
My students have faced a lot of antisemitism in the past six weeks, more than they've ever experienced in their entire lives. We're trying to help support them. 

Hillel at The University of New Mexico is one of the important local causes that Abq Jew is proud to support. We need to help Hillel House remain a safe place for our Jewish students.

Hillel UNM
Hillel @ The University of New Mexico

In the meantime .... 
Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Spring 2024 @ OASIS Abq

 Great Courses of Jewish Interest

Star of David

Abq Jew is pleased to inform you that
OASIS Albuquerque has just announced
their Spring 2024 line-up of classes!
Registration opens on

Wednesday January 3
but you can Wish List your selections now.


Exemplary and beloved and soon-to-be-retired 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 Spring 2024

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

Marx Brothers

Zany World of the Marx Brothers
Wednesday February 7 @ 12:30 - #130Z
Instructor: Dan Sherman
What It Is: The grandchildren of immigrants, the Marx Brothers were stars of vaudeville who easily made the transition to Hollywood as they created iconic characters in some of the funniest movies evermade. We review the life and career of these extraordinary entertainers, examine their influence on comedy, and view clips from some of their greatest films. We also discuss Groucho’s later TV career, including his interviews with Dick Cavett.

Pope Pius XII

Revisiting Pius XIand the Holocaust
Thursday February 8 @ 10:00 - #190
Instructor: Christopher Zugger
What It Is: Using recently published research at the Vatican, Christopher Zugger reviews the role of Pius XII before and during the war. Topics covered include the Nazi racial persecution of the Jews, rescue operations of the Holy See and its diplomats, challenges due to antisemitism in Allied states, and what current evidence now shows. Was Pius XII Hitler’s Pope or a living saint? This part of history is challenging, but fascinating.

Human Rights

The Erosion of Human Rights
Rebuilding Democracy
Monday February 12 @ 10:00 - #124
Instructor: Michael Nutkiewicz
What It Is: Drafted after the defeat of Nazi Germany, the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights was meant to fend off future authoritarianism and illiberal populism. Recently, political parties with undemocratic agendas are making huge inroads into the heart of democracy. Has the world made any real progress in the area of human rights? This question is critical when so many are discouraged by world events and have lost heart. How can we implement durable democratic values, especially here in the United States?

Jewish Gangsters

Jewish Gangsters in the 20th Century
Thursday March 7 @ 10:00 - #158Z
Instructor: Naomi Sandweiss
What It Is: You may know their names — Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, and Lepke Buchalter — or the crimes that they committed. But do you know what motivated Jewish individuals to pursue a life of crime?  Why did the phenomena of Jewish gangsters typically last for one generation? Naomi Sandweiss introduces the Jewish underworld and the social forces that led Jews into the mob. Sandweiss introduces a family member, Sammy the Mustache, and describes his experiences as part of Detroit’s Purple Gang.

Women Westward

Women on the Westward Trail
Wednesday March 13 @ 10:00 - #216
Instructor: Norma Libman
What It Is: Everyone knows about the brave men who settled the West. But in recent years, more and more journals kept by the women who traveled beside them or in some cases, ventured out on their own, have come to light. From these journals, learn the role of women in making the great pioneering journey: packing wagons, cooking, caring for the sick and children, bringing new life into the world, burying the dead, and setting up a home.

Exit Sign

Agnostics & Atheists & Nones, Oh My!
Monday March 18 @ 12:30 - #191
Instructor: Babs Mondschein
What It Is: The religiously unaffiliated walk amongst you. “They” are your doctors, teachers, and mechanics. You probably aren’t aware they are a “None,” but they are. Explore how non-believers define themselves and their “whys.” How are they marginalized? Where do they get their moral compass? Can you imagine losing your community? Having to start over? Discover a world of people you know, yet don’t.


The Jewish Dimension in the Relationship 
Between Lewis Strauss & J Robert Oppenheimer
Thursday March 21 @ 10:00 - #217
Instructor: Jack Shlachter
What It Is: This presentation focuses on the Jewish dimension of the clash between J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific leader of the Manhattan Project, and Lewis Strauss, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission who led the charge to strip Oppenheimer of his security clearance in 1954. Discover how their opposing approaches to their respective Jewish heritage may have contributed to the revocation.

Jews Secrets Spain

How the Jews Kept Their Secrets in Spain
Thursday March 21 @ 3:00 - #249
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.

Isaac Unbound

The Power of the Passover Narrative
from Ancient to Modern Times
Mon & Wed April 8 & 10 @ 10:00 - #192
Instructor: Paul J Citrin
What It Is: Paul Citrin discusses how the Passover story has shaped the Jewish worldview, influenced Christianity, and the American Commonwealth. He examines the symbols and liturgy of the Passover celebration. Finally, he provides an overview of the power of the Passover Seder to draw Jews to its celebration who are otherwise secular and to the many churches that hold model Seders. In an age of the disintegration of community, the Passover observance can help us rebuild family and larger communities.

Oasis Albuquerque

Abq Jew Learn

Monday, December 11, 2023

Sour Cream and Apple Sauce

A Festival of Light Calculation: This year (5784/2023), our Hanukkah Festival of Lights began on Thursday evening, December 7. Just as three years ago (5781/2020), Hanukkah/Chanukah/Xanuqa began on Thursday evening, December 10. Surely you remember!

And surely you also remember that Abq Jew wrote about this phenomenon at the time (December 2020's Apple Sauce and Sour Cream). To which you DO NOT have to refer, because Abq Jew has thoughtfully updated that blog post and provided same below. You're welcome!

Now, as then, as we do every year -

Mr & Mrs Abq Jew wish you the happiest of holidays!

Now, if you're a former engineer like Abq Jew - first of all, his condolences. Life in the high-technology mines of Silicon Valley, TPC (The Phone Company), and Big Pharma, Abq Jew recalls, was nothing - absolutely nothing - like Workin' In the Coal Mine. Or like Workin' On a Chain Gang.

Hanukkah First Night

 But still.

One of the perpetual residual effects of an an engineering career, it appears, is a fascination with, you should certainly not excuse the expression in our current anti-science climate ... 

Big Data

This malady has afflicted Abq Jew since he can remember, which, these days, is not as long a period as it once was. On the other hand, Abq Jew can remember all the words to the Cal (UC Davis) Aggie Drinking Song, but ... 

What was Abq Jew talking about?

Chanukah White Sands

Oh yes. Chanukah. Which started on a Thursday night this year. Which you might not think was too extraordinary. You might even think that Hanukkah would start on a Thursday night, oh, about one seventh (14.2857%) of the time.

But you'd be wrong. In fact -

Before 5781/2020,
Xanuqa hadn't started on a Thursday night in 20 years.

And how, you may ask, does Abq Jew know this? Because one of Abq Jew's Facebook friends, Rabbi Gary Gans (see Remembering Jim Croce, MOT) follows the Facebook page Hebrew Calendar Facts. Which Abq Jew now follows, too.

Now, Abq Jew has, on more than one occasion, blogged about the delights and idiosyncrasies of Ye Olde Hebrew Calendar - see, for example, Easter On Purim and Nineteen and Twenty-Eight.

And, Abq Jew has, on more than one occasion, blogged about the fact that

It's Complicated

It's Complicated.

So, Abq Jew would very much like to tell you that his new friend (about whom Abq Jew knows virtually nothing) Hebrew Calendar Facts 

Hebrew Calendar Facts
Hebrew Calendar Facts
Signal fires for the New Month

has uncomplicated the heck out of Ye Old Hebrew Calendar and made it simple to understand. At least, to understand why Chanukah hadn't started on a Thursday night in 20 years. But ... alas ... we'll work with what we've got. 

Direct from the Hebrew Calendar Facts Facebook page. With Abq Jew's minor edits for readability (hah!).

Chanukah begins on Thursday night.

Those words had not been heard in 20 years!

Why is it so rare for Chanukah to start on Thursday night (1st day of Chanukah on Friday), and what are the consequences?

There are 4 days of the week when Rosh Hashanah can fall (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Shabbat), and as a result, every date from Adar (II) through Cheshvan (which includes all of the major and some minor holidays) is also locked into 4 possible days of the week.  

(For example, Shavuot is always 1 day of the week earlier than the upcoming Rosh Hashanah, so it can fall on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.)  

Latkes Apple Sause Sour Cream

But Chanukah has a wider range, because Cheshvan (the month before Chanukah) can have either 29 or 30 days.  

  • In “applesauce years” (with 355 or 385 days), when Cheshvan has 30 days (about 45% of all years), the 1st day of Chanukah is exactly 12 weeks after Rosh Hashanah, so it’s on the same day of the week as Rosh Hashanah.  
  • In “sour cream years” (with 353, 354, 383, or 384 days), when Cheshvan has 29 days (about 55% of all years), the 1st day of Chanukah is one day earlier, on the same day of the week as the preceding Shavuot.

Combining the possible days of the week listed above for Rosh Hashanah and Shavuot, one might think that Chanukah could start on all 7 days of the week.  

But this isn’t quite true, because years starting on Tuesday always have 354 or 384 days, so Cheshvan always has 29 days, so they’re always sour cream years and Chanukah starts on Monday (not Tuesday).  

So there are 6 possible days of the week for the 1st day of Chanukah: everything except Tuesday.  

(Monday is the most common start day for Chanukah, being the only day of the week that both Rosh Hashanah and Shavuot can fall on, so it’s the only start day that appears in both applesauce and sour cream years.)

NOTE: Why can’t Cheshvan have 30 days in years starting on Tuesday?  If it’s a non-leap year, then counting 355 days from Tuesday means the following year starts on Sunday, which is not an allowed day for Rosh Hashanah.  But in a leap year, 385 days is exactly 55 weeks, so the following year would also start on Tuesday, which is an allowed day, so one might think that this would be possible.  

Here’s why it doesn’t happen:  13 lunar months comes out to about 383.9 days, so a leap year with no delays at either end will have either 383 or 384 days.  The way to get the 385-day year is if Rosh Hashanah is delayed at the end of the year.  

For example, if the year starts on Thursday, then the molad of Tishrei at the end of the year might fall on Wednesday, but Rosh Hashanah can’t fall on Wednesday, so the following RH would be delayed to Thursday, for a total of 385 days.  

But if the year started on Tuesday, then there would be no need for this delay at the end of the year, because Monday is a perfectly cromulent day for the following Rosh Hashanah.

So let’s talk about Chanukah starting on Friday (what we had three years ago, and what we have this year).  Ok, it’s actually not THAT rare.  This happens in 10.1% of all years, which is only a little bit less than what you’d expect if all 7 days of the week had equal probabilities.  

The reason it’s less than 1/7 is because Chanukah starts on Friday in sour cream years that start on Shabbat, and years starting on Shabbat are more likely to be applesauce years (65%) than sour cream years (35%).  

(This is because you can’t have a 354-day year starting on Shabbat, since that would put the following Rosh Hashanah on Wednesday, and 353-day years are comparatively rare, since 12 lunar months are about 354.4 days, so the 353-day year only happens when Rosh Hashanah is delayed at the front end.  

Leap years starting on Shabbat are more evenly split, and there are actually more total sour cream years starting on Shabbat in leap years than in non-leap years, even though leap years in general are less common.)

So on average, Chanukah starts on Friday about once per decade.  But the distribution is not uniform; they can clump together.  Most recently before this year, it happened in 1969, 1972, 1976, 1996, 2000, and 2020.  After this year (2023), it will happen again in 2040, 2047, 2067, 2070, and 2074.  

So in 2020, we were coming out of a 20-year gap, and as you can see, these 20-year gaps are not uncommon.  In 2020 we also had Rosh Hashanah on Shabbat for the first time in 11 years, but before that (in 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2009), we had a bunch of years with Rosh Hashanah on Shabbat, but those were all applesauce years, so Chanukah started (and ended) on Shabbat.  

(Figuring out why these longer gaps are so often exactly 20 years is left to the reader as an exercise.  We haven’t delved into this yet, so please let us know if you come up with an explanation before we do.)

Ok, but what is the significance of Chanukah starting on Friday???  (Our readers who are Torah readers have been waiting very patiently for this paragraph.)  

It’s the only time that Shabbat Mikeitz doesn’t fall during Chanukah!  Since the Shabbat during Chanukah has a special haftarah, this means that the regular haftarah for Mikeitz was read in 2020 for the first time in 20 years!  It’s a very well-known story (where King Solomon says to cut the baby in half), yet rarely read in public.

Why is this the only time that Mikeitz isn’t during Chanukah?  As we said above, the 1st day of Chanukah is either exactly 12 weeks after Rosh Hashanah or one day before that.  

This means that the 1st day of Chanukah is either exactly 9 weeks after Shemini Atzeret or one day before that.  If Shemini Atzeret is on a weekday, then the Shabbat that comes a few days later is Shabbat Bereishit.  9 weeks after that would be the Shabbat that falls in the middle of Chanukah, and 9 weeks after the 1st parashah would be the 10th parashah, which is Mikeitz.  

But if Shemini Atzeret is on Shabbat, then Bereishit is an entire week later.  So the Shabbat that is 9 weeks after Shemini Atzeret is only 8 weeks after Bereishit, so it’s the 9th parashah, which is Vayeishev.  

In an applesauce year, that Shabbat is the 1st day of Chanukah, but then there’s another Shabbat on the 8th day of Chanukah, and THAT Shabbat is Mikeitz.  

But in a sour cream year (like this year), Chanukah starts one day before that Shabbat, and then the 2nd day of Chanukah is Shabbat Vayeishev, and then the 8th day of Chanukah is Friday again, and then the following day (Shabbat Mikeitz) is after the end of Chanukah!

See It's Simple

As you probably heard in 2013 (the “Thanksgivukkah” year), Thanksgiving will not fall entirely during Chanukah again (until the calendar loops all the way around).  

However, we’ll have a couple more times when the 1st NIGHT of Chanukah falls on the night of Thanksgiving, in 2070 and 2165.  

Since (by definition) those are years (like this year) when Chanukah starts on a Thursday night, those future Thanksgivukkah years will also be years when Mikeitz is not during Chanukah!

Happy Chanukah to all!

Aha! Abq Jew hears you, his loyal readers, exclaim. This cogent, coherent explanation is marvelous! 

True Truth

But is it true?

Or is it just some really, really good Razzle Dazzle? There are two things (in this very limited context) of which Abq Jew is sure:

Don't Know

Happy Hanukkah

Thursday, December 7, 2023

And Yet, Hanukkah

May Light Overcome Darkness: This year will be one of the most memorable Hannukah’s for our people. As darkness has surrounded us, Hanukkah allows us to turn on the lights. The light from the candles symbolizing the hope for our people. We will persevere!  

Light Shine

Wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah!

Above: the words of renowned Jewish baseball player Kevin Youkilis

As we and Jews all over the world begin our celebration of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, let us pray that simcha - joy - will always take precedence over sorrow.

Together Ashkelon

We are a people who believe in the future – even in the face of sadness. 

And thus - in the festive spirit of this happy holiday - here are The Maccabeats with their latest Hanukkah hit, We're Still Here.

Festival of Lights

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Honoring Guy Illouz, 26

Murdered in Gaza: ICYMI - the newly-formed Jewish Community Relations Coalition of New Mexico (JCRCNM) hosted a Solidarity Gathering on Sunday, November 26 in Albuquerque. 

That was just after the Israel-Gaza truce began on Friday, November 24. The focus was, understandably, on the kidnapped hostages and - for some - their impending rescue. 

They Are Still There

And you might have missed it. The Solidarity Gathering was an impromptu, ad hoc, "drop-in" event that did attract - Abq Jew's unofficial estimate - about 100 people from all sectors of the community.


JCRCNM Co-Chair Alonet Zarum (Jane Wishner is the other Co-Chair) spoke, calling upon the community to unite over Israel, care for each other, and volunteer. 

The group played Israeli music and sang Hatikvah. Organizer Lea Koshkin (the Gathering was her idea) thanked those who helped spread the word and the organizations which supported the event.

There was a table set up with JCRCNM sign-up forms, Israeli flags, blue ribbons, and Kidnapped by Hamas posters - the type that are being regularly torn down by Israel-haters all over the world.


This is the poster that Abq Jew took home with him. From a stack of (alas) dozens, Abq Jew randomly picked Guy Illouz's Kidnapped poster and brought it home.

Having "adopted" Guy Illouz, Abq Jew (of course) set out to learn more about him, and to (hopefully) track his progress home.

חבל. This is what Abq Jew found out a few days ago. From The Times of Israel:

Israeli taken hostage at music festival on Oct. 7 has died, his school announces

Ra’anana high school says it was holding out hope that 26-year-old Guy Iluz would come home, ‘but today we were informed that he will not return again’

Guy Iluz

An Israeli man abducted into the Gaza Strip during the Hamas terror group’s devastating October 7 attack on southern Israel has died, his high school announced Friday.

Guy Iluz, 26, was attending the Supernova musical festival near Re’im when he was taken by Hamas terrorists.

“For many weeks we hoped and prayed for Guy’s return, but today we were informed that he will not return again,” Mor Metro-West High School in Ra’anana wrote in a Facebook post.

No details were provided regarding how he died and when. There was no confirmation from the Israel Defense Forces, which on Friday announced the deaths of several other Israelis who were abducted into Gaza.

According to the school, Iluz is the sixth Mor Metro-West alumnus to have been killed since October 7.

“Guy was a man of love, happiness and laughter,” the school added. “Music accompanied Guy all his life until the day of his death.”

Iluz, a soundman for Israeli musicians Matti Caspi, Shalom Hanoch and others, tried to flee from the terrorists together with four friends in his white jeep. He called his father, Michel Iluz.

“Dad, Dad, I love you,” said Guy. 
“I wanted to tell you I love you
if something happens to me.”


Rest in peace talented musician,
we will never forget you.

Blood Avenge