Monday, January 29, 2024

Older Key

Older Roller Skates:  Melanie, the singer who made a solo splash at Woodstock, has died at 76. So reported The New York Times last week. 


Just 22 when she charmed the festival crowd, the Times continued, she went on to enjoy success with songs like “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” and “Brand New Key.”

Old Key

As it turns out - and it always does, doesn't it? - Abq Jew wrote about Melanie way back in June 2012 (see Old Key). 

The prompt then was the above photo, posted by celebrated ABQ accordionist and musician (these are two separate categories) Debo Orlofsky. Whom Abq Jew then thanked for reminding him of just how old he is.

Old Man with Cane

That was 11 years and 7 months ago.

After which thanks, Abq Jew then continued:

Just how old is Abq Jew?  He's so old that he knows exactly what this is.  Not to give it away ... well, yes, to give it away - the picture above goes with the drawing below:

Some of you may still be having trouble with this.  So let Abq Jew explain: this is one of a pair of roller skates.  One used to put roller skates on over one's regular shoes (one skate per shoe); the skates were then tightened (so they didn't fall off) through use of a skate key, which is the object portrayed in Debo's photo.

All of this took place in the years just before photography was invented.

Debo, working with the Archaeological Society of New Mexico (Abq Jew just made that up) was able to recover that old skate key and photograph it.  No old roller skates have ever been recovered, however, which is why Abq Jew had to use the above drawing (artist's conception).

In case you need reminding, here is what roller skates look like now:

Roller Skates

One can see the resemblance in form and function to the roller skates of the ancients, although accurate information about when pink was introduced is missing from the historical record.

And speaking of historical records - Abq Jew is on a roll now! - here is Brand New Key, the famous song by Melanie, of whom, Abq Jew suspects, many of you have never heard.

Caution: This song was considered highly risque in its time!

What's the Jewish connection, Abq Jew hears you ask?  Well, Melanie is (thanks, Wikipedia!)
Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk (born February 3, 1947) ... an American singer-songwriter. Known professionally as simply Melanie, she is best known for her hits Brand New Key, Ruby Tuesday, What Have They Done To My Song Ma , and Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).

Melanie was born and grew up in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York City, New York. Melanie made her first public singing appearance at age four on the radio show Live Like A Millionaire, performing the song Gimme a Little Kiss. She attended Red Bank High School in Red Bank, New Jersey, graduating in 1966. After school, her parents insisted she go to college, so she studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where she began singing in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village and signed her first recording contract.
Astoria?  Red Bank High School?  Parents insisted she go to college?  Do we need further proof?  OK, how about this:  Melanie Safka is listed on the Bellevue Holiday Rentals List of Famous Jews, right between Mel Brooks (who we all know) and Mike D'Abo, former lead singer of Manfred Mann who sang on their hit The Mighty Quinn.

But Wait There's More

The Times tells the "Brand New Key" story - 
Melanie’s biggest hit, “Brand New Key,” might not have happened without an impromptu stop at a McDonald’s.

A vegetarian at the time, Ms. Melanie had just been through a cleansing fast in which she consumed nothing but distilled water for 27 days, she said in 2021 in an interview with the newspaper The Tennessean in Nashville, where she was living at the time.

She was so weakened by hunger that she was almost hallucinating, and a doctor recommended that she eat meat to build strength. One day, on a trip to a flea market with her husband, Peter Schekeryk, she found herself unable to resist the lure of the Golden Arches.

“No sooner than had I finished the last bite of burger,” she told the newspaper, “I wrote ‘Brand New Key.’ It just came into my head. I had one of those little practice guitars in the van with me, and when my husband, who was a record producer, heard me singing, he said, ‘What’s that?’ 
And I said, ‘Oh, some silly song. I’m just playing around.’ He said, ‘No, no — do that part again!’ And I did, and he said, ‘Melanie, that’s a hit!’”

He was not wrong .... 

“Some people say I've done alright for a girl.”

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Escape from Amsterdam

Remembering Grandpa Harry: On November 1, 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated January 27 - the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz - as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

To mark the day, Abq Jew offers a true story - a portion of the extensive foundation story of his mechutan's (his son's father-in-law) family. 

Abq Jew first heard the story a few years ago, when Cousin R. posted it on Facebook. Cousin R. learned the story from her father - and from Grandpa Harry's written testimony.

Pegasus Devotacus

So. Who was Grandpa Harry? That's a story in itself! He was born in Berlin in 1907, studied law and classical philology, and earned his doctorate in 1929 at the University of Leipzig. 

He then studied economics at the London School of Economics, to prepare himself for a job in the tobacco industry - his father [Great Grand Papa David] was a partner in the Reemtsma cigarette factories GmbH. 


In 1935, following warnings from the Reemtsma family, Grandpa Harry emigrated to the Netherlands and worked for the Zionist movement in Amsterdam. 

In 1940, four days after the German attack on the Netherlands in World War II, he and his family managed to escape to England. 

We The People

Cousin R. strongly supports America's long tradition of birthright citizenship, which was then being questioned. 

As for Abq Jew - he is still fixated (see April 2023's Hiding During the Holocaust) on the travails of Dutch Jews during World War II. 

It's all connected.

NY Times Invasion


Cousin R. begins the story:

My paternal grandparents [Grandpa Harry and Grandma Claire] were born in Germany. When the Nazis came to power they stripped all Jews, my grandparents included, of their German citizenship, effectively rendering them stateless—citizens of no where.  
My father’s family was very, very fortunate in that they had international connections because of my great grandfather’s business ties. My grandparents first went to England, where my Aunt C. was born. At that time, England had birthright citizenship and C., by virtue of her birth, was a British subject.
The family then went to Holland, where my father and his younger sister were born. Holland didn’t have birthright citizenship. Children were whatever the citizenship of their parents were. But my grandparents had lost their German citizenship so my father and his little sister were stateless too.

In 1940, when C.was 5 and my father was 3, the Nazis invaded Holland.


An historical refresher: Before May 10, 1940, the fundamental principle and profound hope of Dutch foreign policy was neutrality - as it had been for a century. 

The Netherlands had avoided getting involved in World War I, and - in order to preserve their country's neutrality - the Dutch government had been careful not to take an official stand on the situation in Nazi Germany.

Nevertheless. In the early morning of May 10, 1940, Dutch observers saw bombers from the German Luftwaffe flying in the direction of the North Sea. They assumed that they were on their way to England. But once over sea, the planes made 180-degree turns and flew back to attack the Netherlands. 

The Netherlands was at war.

Germans Occupy Netherlands


Here is how Grandpa Harry begins his story:

In the early hours of May 10th, 1940 -  it is still dark - I am aroused by the thunder of gunfire and the booming of exploding bombs. It is shortly after 3 o'clock. 

I can guess what has happened: rushing down and switching on the radio, I can hear the excited voice of the announcer giving the awful news of the German invasion.  

It has come at last, what we had feared but refused to believe. I rush into my wife's room. She too has been wakened by the guns. "It has come!" She understands me. While the sun gradually climbs higher in a brilliant blue sky, we hurriedly don our clothes. 

The children are still asleep. Am I dreaming all this? No  -  the loudspeaker keeps booming out the horrible truth. 

Claire and I hold a council of war. There is terror in her eyes, but she is trying hard not to show it. Months ago we made our preparations: paltry enough, it is true, but all we could do. 

A large handbag contains our jewellery, and, what is much more important, our papers. 

What is man, and more especially a Jew, without papers? There they are, neatly stacked, certificates of birth and marriage, originals and photocopies and among them C.'s British passport. 

ID Card


Cousin R. continues:

As [the German army] approached Amsterdam, where my father’s family lived, my grandparents frantically tried to flee. Forced to stay inside, because the Dutch considered them German, they struggled to at least save their children’s lives.
The British sent a ship to evacuate British subjects. Because C. had a British passport, in a desperate attempt to save her children, my grandmother sent C. and my father with a neighbor to the British embassy.  
She sent a 5 year old and a 3 year old to go with strangers to save their lives. Think about that.
The neighbor returned with my father. He wasn’t British so they wouldn’t evacuate him.  
“No one wants a stateless Jewish boy,” my grandfather would later write. No one protects you if you are stateless.


Cousin R. concludes:

My grandparents and their youngest two children were eventually able to secure passage on the last ship of refugees leaving Holland.  

SS Bodegraven

The last ship of refugees to leave Holland before ports were closed - a few hours before the Netherlands surrendered - was the S.S. Bodegraven. 

The ship left IJmuiden harbor on May 14, 1940, carrying about 250 refugees - including 74 Kindertransport children, rescued from an Amsterdam orphanage. After five days under attack from German aircraft, the ship finally reached Liverpool. 

This was the last Kindertransport from the European continent.


Grandpa Harry's story does not end there - and Abq Jew has omitted many personal details and world events that make his story even more compelling.

Four Winters

As are all Holocaust stories.


Monday, January 15, 2024

And The Blowfish?

Let's Clear Up The Confusion: There's been a lot of talk lately about Houthi - or, rather, about The Houthis. Abq Jew cheerfully admits he got confused; so this is his attempt to clear things up.

Hootie and the Blowfish

This is a photo of Hootie and the Blowfish, an American rock band formed in Columbia, South Carolina in 1986. Their lead singer (Hootie) was/is Darius Rucker, second from the left. These are NOT the rocket-firing semi-Yemeni Houthis currently in the news.


This is a photo of the Houthis currently in the news. Wikipedia informs us:
The Houthi movement (/ˈhuːθi/; Arabic: الحوثيون al-Ḥūthīyūn [al.ħuː.θiː.juːn]), officially known as Ansar Allah[a] (أنصار الله ʾAnṣār Allāh, lit. 'Supporters of God'), is a Shia Islamist political and military organization that emerged from Yemen in the 1990s. 
It is predominantly made up of Zaidi Shias, with their namesake leadership being drawn largely from the Houthi tribe.

Under the leadership of Zaidi religious leader Hussein al-Houthi, the Houthis emerged as an opposition movement to Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who they accused of corruption and being backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In 2003, influenced by the Lebanese Shia political and military organization Hezbollah, the Houthis adopted their official slogan against the United States, Israel and the Jews. 

Houthi Flag 

Al-Houthi was killed by the Yemeni military in Saada in 2004, sparking the Houthi insurgency, after having resisted Saleh's order for his arrest. Since then, the movement has been mostly led by his brother Abdul-Malik al-Houthi.
The Houthis are an obstinate, murderous, unfriendly lot.
The organization took part in the Yemeni Revolution of 2011 by participating in street protests and coordinating with other Yemeni opposition groups. They joined Yemen's National Dialogue Conference but later rejected the 2011 reconciliation deal.
In late 2014, the Houthis repaired their relationship with Saleh, and with his help they took control of the capital city. The takeover prompted a Saudi-led military intervention to restore the internationally recognized government, leading to an ongoing civil war which included missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia and its ally United Arab Emirates.
Following the outbreak of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, the Houthis began to fire missiles at Israel and attack ships off Yemen's coast in the Red Sea, which they say is in solidarity with the Palestinians and aiming to facilitate entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.


That's enough about the Houthis. How about the Blowfish?


Blowfish - by which Abq Jew means pro-Houthi protesters who have zero zilch understanding of who is doing what to whom in the post-October 7th Middle East, and even less comprehension of why they are doing it  - are turning up all over the world to demonstrate their opposition to US and allied forces' attacks upon those Houthis in Yemen who are a) fighting the Yemeni government; and b) firing missiles at US and allied shipping. And, as of this morning, US and allied forces.

Eagle Houthis

Abq Jew is confused again.

So let's turn from pain to paean - with Dan Rather's article about Darius Rucker (Hootie, remember?) in his Substack newsletter Steady. A reason to smile.

Darius Rucker
Rock ‘n’ roller turned country music superstar Darius Rucker is having a good couple of months. He just received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and released his eighth solo album to positive reviews. Those honors and achievements don’t come as a shock to anyone who has followed Rucker’s career. But another recent award was a real surprise, even to Rucker himself.
The Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation chose Rucker to receive its humanitarian award. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, to anyone.
For decades, Darius Rucker’s music has given us plenty of reasons to smile. His service and philanthropy are just as remarkable and worthy of celebration.

Rucker has helped raise millions to treat children with cancer, and millions more to build a new children’s hospital in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. He also donates his time to Musicians on Call, a service that provides singers to hospitalized patients in need of cheering up. Imagine Darius Rucker popping in for a tune or two?! He’s done it. A lot.

You should click here to read all of Dan Rather's article.  Which concludes with Darius Rucker's video of his song "Wagon Wheel," which won a Grammy in 2014.

But there's way more banjo in Darius Rucker's CMT performance of "Only Wanna Be With You," with which you, Abq Jew's steady readers, may be a bit more familiar.

Rucker recently addressed the issue of race in country music in an Op-Ed for the Tennessean.
The one thing I’ve found, in the places I've been and with the things I've tried to do – which were always unconventional – is that you can change people's hearts. 
You can change people's minds. You can change the way people see the world, if they love you, and if they're friends with you. 
Country music has this stigma of rebel flags and racism, and that's changing. I think it's changing drastically. And I'm just glad. I hope I'm remembered as one of the people that tried to fight that, and one of the reasons that changed.

MLK Zionism

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Building the Iron Beam

A New Jewish Laser: In the midst of tragedy and sorrow, with Israeli combat casualties mounting and our hostages and families still waiting - here is a small, small piece of goodish news.

Rafael is recruiting!

Who or what is Rafael?, Abq Jew hears you ask. And why should Abq Jew or anyone else care? Well. Candice Krieger of the UK's Jewish News reports that

The company powering Israel’s Iron Dome is on a huge recruitment drive

Rafael has an order backlog of over $11billion and plans to take on 2,000 new people this year

Israeli defence giant Rafael plans to hire 2,000 more people this year to meet the critical increasing demand for its services and products.

Rafael has been at the forefront of Israel’s military efforts against Hamas since 7 October – responsible for the development of the Iron Dome, Israel’s main defence system.

Rafael’s Iron Dome is the world’s most deployed missile defence system, with over 5,000 interceptions. 

It effectively counters rockets, mortars and artillery shells, as well as aircraft, helicopters and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) at very close range. 

Iron Dome

Oh yes - the Iron Dome!

Since its very first combat interception on April 7, 2011, Iron Dome has proven to be a groundbreaking air defense system responsible for the resilience and security of the State of Israel. 

Iron Dome was developed in record time of just 2.5 years by a brilliant team of experts led by project manager Chanoch Levin. It has saved countless lives, and indeed may be considered a godsend - or just another Israeli miracle.


But boy, is Iron Dome expensive! (Yes, we all are aware, each human life is priceless - precious, and of infinite value.) And - although its success rate is formidable (about 90%) - Iron Dome does not protect against all types of threats. 

And Iron Dome costs about $50,000 every time it's fired. Therefore -

Please welcome

Iron Beam

Israel's new Iron Beam!

Philadelphia's Jewish Exponent explained it all in December 2023. Starting with the Iron Dome -
The life-saving impact of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system is very well known. We have all seen the footage and heard the delayed booming sound effect of an intercepted missile coming shortly after the image of that missile exploding.

Those pictures and videos have been featured on news programs and social media sites over the past several years — but have been especially featured and appreciated in response to the massive barrages of terrorist missiles launched at Israel since Oct. 7.

The advanced technology and efficacy of Iron Dome is impressive. The system is 90% effective in neutralizing incoming missiles. But it is also very expensive. Each Iron Dome battery (from which the individual defensive rockets are launched) can cost $100 million.

And each rocket interceptor costs between $40,000 and $50,000. When the interceptor cost is multiplied by the thousands of rockets and missiles launched by Hamas and other terror partners, the price tag of Israel’s Iron Dome system is staggering.

In addition to cost, there are also practical limitations. Each Iron Dome battery has an average of 60-80 interceptor missiles. If Hamas or Hezbollah fires 100 missiles at the area covered by that single battery, the system would be overwhelmed, and innocent populations could be put at risk during the time it takes to restock the missile battery.

And then moving to the Iron Beam:

But what if Israel had a laser defense system, fueled by electricity, that could fire an unlimited magazine of defensive laser beams to target and destroy incoming mortars and rockets at a fraction of the Iron Dome missile system’s costs and with added accuracy and reliability? 

Such a system could be a game-changer for Israel. And according to reports, Israel has engaged in a limited deployment of exactly such a system and full implementation is almost there.

Israel’s new Iron Beam system wasn’t supposed to be in service for a few more years. But as part of the Hamas war effort, Iron Beam technology is being woven into Iron Dome usage, to destroy, among other things, short-range projectiles that are too close for the Iron Dome to be fully effective.

Iron Beam’s current technology has limitations — the most important of which seems to be its limited range — as the laser beam dissipates over distance.

However - 

The close to zero cost of firing defensive laser beam interceptors after the system is developed, manufactured and installed and the remarkable reliability and efficiency of the defensive response make the Iron Beam system very attractive. 

With those incentives, we have little doubt that Israel and its research partners will solve the remaining laser and technology issues. 

A fully functional Iron Beam laser defense program will save Israeli lives and frustrate terrorist efforts to rain rockets, mortars and destruction over the people of Israel. 

With the threats facing Israel growing daily, an enhanced defensive shield is both necessary and timely.

As long as

Remember when we were all talking about

Jewish Space Lasers

Jewish Space Lasers? 

That was all the way back in February 2021 (see High-Speed Rail and The Jews). Well, since then, Abq Jew has learned a few things about lasers in general and Jewish lasers in particular. 

First, Wikipedia reminds us that
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The word laser is an anacronym that originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
And then informs us that
The first laser was built in 1960 by Theodore Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories .... 
Theodore Maiman

So - who was Theodore Maiman? Wikipedia tells us
Theodore Harold Maiman (July 11, 1927 – May 5, 2007) was an American engineer and physicist who is widely credited with the invention of the laser.

Maiman was born in Los Angeles to a Jewish family. Abraham "Abe" Maiman, an electrical engineer and inventor, and Rose Abramson. At a young age his family moved to Denver, Colorado, where he helped his father with experimentation in a home electronics laboratory. 
Jewish Space Laser

Just saying

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Beginning 2024 With a Prayer

The Homeland Concert: Well, here we go again. It's a new civil year. Now, in January, we enter a new dimension - with hope, with determination, and with a prayer. Lights of Kabbalah reminds us:

Sacred Time

The past is an interpretation. The future is an illusion. 

The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. 

Eternity does not mean infinite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.

Bring Them Home

Neither a kabbalist nor a philosopher, Abq Jew does not, at present, wish to experience eternal illumination. But back in December, there was the Homeland Concert. Jessica Steinberg of The Times of Israel tells us:

1,000 musicians in Caesarea call to bring hostages home

Local producer creates show combining Ehud Manor lyrics with national anthem, to warm ‘frozen hearts’ after horrific events of October 7

When producer Talya Yarom thought about a giant production of musicians playing and singing for the hostages held captive in Gaza, she kept thinking about bringing 1,000 musicians and singers together.

“One thousand sounds good,” said Yarom. 

“It’s a good place to get to, and 1,000 musicians in Caesarea, which to me is a symbol of the beautiful Israel.”

On December 18, Yarom brought together 1,000 musicians, old and young, rockers and classical players, amateurs and professionals, to the Caesarea amphitheater for a day of recording and filming.

The result is “Homeland Concert,” with a medley of lyrics from Ehud Manor’s classic song, “Home” and part of “Hatikva,” Israel’s national anthem ....

“The concept was a national project,” said Yarom. 

“The nation is crying to the world, ‘Bring Them Home,'” she said, referring to the rallying cry that has echoed nationwide over efforts to bring the hostages back home to Israel.

The lyrics to the Hebrew song include:

Home, home,
It’s time to return,
From hills and foreign fields
The day is fading and there’s no sign.

When Yarom put out a call on social media for musicians, nearly 2,000 people signed up, surpassing the level of interest she had hoped to generate.

On December 18, the 1,000 musicians she ended up working with gathered at Caesarea for the first time, playing under conductor Mark Wolloch and recording a video of the performance during that one, long day.

“It was amazing,” said Yarom, “especially at the end when families of the hostages joined us to sing. They moved us very much.”



This week, Abq Jew also marked the 30th yahrzeit
of his mother, Roselyn Lillian (Wise) Yellin,
of blessed memory, who died on January 2 1994,
at the age of 66 years and 21 days.

Mom & Dad

Abq Jew dedicates the Homeland Concert to her memory.
And - here's to you, too, Dad!