Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Easter on Purim. Again.

Not on Passover: Those of you following the Abq Jewish Event Calendar and (of course) the Hebrew Calendar as well as the Gregorian "Civil" Calendar have probably noticed that this year Easter Sunday falls right after Purim, and not, as it does so often, right after Passover.

How, Abq Jew hears you ask, can this be?  Are not the holidays of Passover and Easter semi-historically* interrelated?
* While everyone else seems to believe that the Last Supper was the Passover Seder, Hyam Maccoby (in Abq Jew's view correctly) places it during Sukkot, the Festival of Tabernacles. To learn more, see Maccoby's book Revolution in Judaea.
To which Abq Jew must (truly, he must) reply, as he did in March 2016 (see Easter on Purim):

It's complicated.

How complicated? Abq Jew hears you ask.

To which Abq Jew must (truly, he must) reply:

Very, very complicated.

For a "brief" introduction to just how complicated, Abq Jew asks that you review Nineteen and Twenty-Eight, his blog post of April 11, 2013.

Ready to continue? Here are a few important dates to keep in mind.

NOTE: Abq Jew has thoughtfully and probably,
maybe, correctly, updated these dates for 2024.

  • March 10: New Moon (Gregorian Calendar)
  • March 10/11. Rosh Hodesh Adar 2 (Hebrew Calendar)
  • March 19 @ 9:06 pm:  March Equinox in Albuquerque
  • March 23/24: Purim (Hebrew Calendar)
  • March 24/25: Shushan Purim (Hebrew Calendar)
  • March 24: Palm Sunday (Gregorian Calendar)
  • March 25: Full Moon (Gregorian Calendar)
  • March 29: Good Friday (Gregorian Calendar)
  • March 31: Easter (Gregorian Calendar)
  • April 8: New Moon (Gregorian Calendar)
  • April 17: Blah, Blah, Blah Day (Really)
  • April 22: First Seder (Hebrew Calendar)
  • April 22/23: Passover Day 1 (Hebrew Calendar)
  • April 23: Full Moon (Gregorian Calendar)
  • May 5: Easter (Eastern Orthodox Calendar) 

So, having reviewed Nineteen and Twenty-Eight (you did, didn't you?) we understand fully why Passover falls so "late."
In the fourth century, Hillel II established a fixed calendar based on mathematical and astronomical calculations. This calendar, still in use, standardized the length of months and the addition of months over the course of a 19 year cycle, so that the lunar calendar realigns with the solar years. Adar I is added in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of the cycle. The current cycle began in Jewish year 5758 (the year that began October 2, 1997). The current cycle began in Jewish year 5777 (the year that began October 3, 2016).
Chabad.org further explains
While the Sanhedrin presided in Jerusalem, there was no set calendar. They would evaluate every year to determine whether it should be declared a leap year. 
Several factors were considered in the course of their deliberations. The primary factor, which overrode all others, was the spring equinox. If the spring equinox would fall later than the first half of Nissan (i.e., on the 16th or later), then the year was automatically declared to be a leap year. 
However, it wasn’t enough for Passover to fall after the equinox, when it was “officially” spring; spring-like conditions needed to be evidenced. If in the land of Israel the barley had not yet ripened, and the trees were not yet blossoming with seasonal fruit—that, too, was sufficient reason to delay Nissan by adding a second month of Adar. Spring should be felt; it should be bright and green. 
There were also several non-season-related factors which the Sanhedrin considered; for example, if the roads or bridges were in disrepair due to the winter rainy season, impeding the ability of the pilgrims to travel to Jerusalem for Passover. 
In the 4th century CE, the sage Hillel II foresaw the disbandment of the Sanhedrin, and understood that we would no longer be able to follow a Sanhedrin-based calendar. So Hillel and his rabbinical court established the perpetual calendar which is followed today. 

But for Christians, the question then becomes:

Why doesn't Easter always follow Passover?

The simple answer is that the date for Easter has been set for all time according to the Formula of the Council of Nicaea.
In A.D. 325, the Council of Nicaea set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the vernal (spring) equinox
In practice, that means that Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after March 21. Easter can occur as early as March 22 and as late as April 25, depending on when the paschal full moon falls.
The formula was designed to place Easter at the same point in the astronomical cycle every year. And it does that quite well. But there are two key factors that are in tension:
  1. Historically, Easter should always fall after Passover, to preserve the New Testament's recorded sequence of events.
  2. Theologically, Easter replaces and is entirely separate from Passover, and Christians should not rely on the Hebrew calendar to determine the dates of their holy days.
Eastern Christians tend to emphasize #1, while Western Christians tend to emphasize #2. And then there's the astronomically incorrect Julian calendar that Eastern Christians follow, which throws them off from the get-go.

Which brings us to

When, Abq Jew hears you ask, should Purim be celebrated?

To which Abq Jew must (truly, he must) reply:

It's complicated.

How complicated? Abq Jew hears you ask.

To which Abq Jew must (truly, he must) reply:

Very, very complicated.

For a "brief" introduction to just how complicated, Abq Jew herewith joyfully quotes the first mishna in Tractate Megilla (OK, the English translation), which, perhaps not surprisingly, deals with the holiday of Purim and its observance.
The Megilla is read sometimes on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, or on the 15th of the month Adar, neither earlier nor later. Cities which, from the time of Joshua the son of Nun, were surrounded with walls, read it on the 15th. 
Villages and large open towns should read it on the 14th, and inhabitants of villages may read it in advance on the day of assembly. 1 How is this to be understood? When the 14th fell on Monday, inhabitants of villages and of large open towns used to read it on that day, and those of walled cities on the day following. 
When it fell on Tuesday or Wednesday, the inhabitants of villages used to read it in advance (the preceding Monday) on the day of assembly, those of large open towns on that day (the 14th), and those of walled towns on the morrow. When it fell on Thursday, inhabitants of villages and large open towns used to read it on that day, and of walled towns on the following day. 
If it fell on the eve of Sabbath, inhabitants of villages read it in advance on the preceding or day of assembly, and those of large open towns and of walled towns on that day (14th). When it fell on Sabbath, inhabitants of villages and large open towns read it in advance on the preceding Thursday, the day of assembly; and of walled towns on the morrow (the Sunday). 
When it fell on Sunday, in villages they read it on the preceding day of assembly (Thursday), and in large open towns on that day (14th), and in walled cities on the morrow.
In the modern world, such as it is, we've got the the observance of Purim down to
  • The 15th of Adar in Jerusalem.
  • The 14th of Adar everyplace else.

Of course this year this means that

Western Christians will observe Good Friday
just days after Jews celebrate Purim.
Of course this usually means that
Western Christians will be solemn and sad
while Jews are lighthearted, merry, and cheerful.
The exact opposite of the way most Jews remember their European history.

But that was there and then, and we are blessed (but not as blessed as we thought) to be living in the here and now. In Jerusalem and everyplace else, Jews should be dancing!

We danced at the Nova Festival ...

... and we will dance again!

Purim 5784

Monday, March 18, 2024

Live! The NM Jewish Journal!

A Rainbow of Hope: Yes! We happy New MexiJews have a new, independent [online] paper, the New Mexico Jewish Journal, keeping us connected with news, arts, culture, and spirituality. 

Live in New Mexico!

NM Jewish Journal

New Mexico Jewish Journal

You may remember those terrible days in November 2022  (see Train Wreck at Federation and The Federation's Last Day) when the Federation's wheels came off and the whole kit and caboodle hit the sand.

Train Wreck Federation

Among the collateral damage inflicted upon the New Mexico Jewish community by the Federation's demise was the defenestration of the New Mexico Jewish Link, which suddenly found itself without a publisher. Or an editor. Or writers. 

NM Jewish Link

You may also remember that Shlomo Karni founded the New Mexico Jewish Link way back in 1968, just as Abq Jew was graduating high school. And that it had been going strong for more than 50 years when it met its untimely end.

NM Jewish eLink

There was even a time (2014-2016) when the New Mexico Jewish Link went online and added the New Mexico Jewish eLink. Yes, Abq Jew was the Webmaster. There was even talk of dropping the paper edition altogether - which never happened. Instead, the New Mexico Jewish eLink was dropped.

Sandhill Cranes

And thus, it is with great pleasure that Abq Jew announces the exciting development you've all been waiting for:

Live in New Mexico!

NM Jewish Journal

New Mexico Jewish Journal

The force behind the creation and development of the New Mexico Jewish Journal is - no surprise here! - renowned photojournalist Diane Joy Schmidt (see July 2019's Asylum Seekers in Albuquerque, et al).

Diane Joy Schmidt

On the New Mexico Jewish Journal's website, Diane writes:
Many in the community have wanted to see a new publication happen. I was the senior writer for the Link for over a decade and finally, felt compelled to do something. 
This past November, I gathered a group of ten* Jewish citizens from across the state and we began meeting online to discuss creating a paper. The volunteer group included journalists, editors, writers, professionals and board members of Jewish organizations, and a rabbi/chaplain connected across many Jewish groups. Her wisdom helped us bridge our differences in those first meetings.

We agreed that, yes! we want a new, independent paper, and to call it the New Mexico Jewish Journal: keeping us connected with news, arts, culture and spirituality

Our mission statement is to connect, inform, enrich and celebrate the vibrant and diverse Jewish communities of New Mexico and the region. 

Our editorial policy will follow the Society for Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, with a commitment to maintaining journalistic independence and the highest standards of accuracy and fairness.   

Sandhill Cranes

For our theme I chose the Sandhill Cranes, who winter in New Mexico along the Rio Grande and who have been here on earth for more than two million years. 

A sighting of cranes is said to bestow healing, blessings, good fortune and longevity to Native Americans and to other cultures around the world. And, since WWII, through the story of a Japanese girl exposed to radiation who set out to fold a thousand origami cranes, cranes symbolize peace and the innocent victims of war.  

NM Jewish Journal Favicon

Our favicon (the circular icon) is a paper cut art design made by Nan Rubin reflecting our long Jewish history in New Mexico. As she explains, "In the center is the six-petal flower, a symbol used by the hidden Jews of New Mexico, which is overlaid with a Star of David."

End Is Near Beginning 

Now, as a volunteer committee, we have decided to take a first step — so here our story begins, again, with our first online New Mexico Jewish Journal 
We plan to come out online with four primary quarterly editions and intermediate emails with new articles, and to eventually have a print edition.

Happy Adar

The New Mexico Jewish Journal's Editorial Committee* 
is thrilled to announce:

If you sign up with your email,
you'll be assured of getting our publication,
the New Mexico Jewish Journal, free.
Every reader counts! 

And if you subscribe today with a payment,
you'll have the satisfaction of knowing
you are a founding member! Your subscriptions
and community support are only what makes
your very own state-wide community paper,
the New Mexico Jewish Journal,
exist, survive, and flourish. 
Thank you!


The members of the Editorial Committee are:

Diane Joy Schmidt  Publisher and Editor

Sara Koplik, Ph.D.  Director, Hillel University of New Mexico

Rabbi Min Kantrowitz  Rabbi/Chaplain, Albuquerque

Michael Wald  Lawyer; Board, Jewish Community Foundation of New Mexico

Norma Libman  Journalist, author and public speaker; Board, New Mexico Jewish Historical Society 

Claudette Sutton  Editor and writer, Santa Fe

Ron Duncan Hart, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Tolerance Studies, Santa Fe

Nan Rubin  Media consultant; Past President, Temple Beth-El Las Cruces; Co-founder Radio KTAL 101.5 FM Las Cruces

Marla Cohen  Director, Jewish Federation of El Paso and Las Cruces

Abq Jew and the New Mexico Jewish community
thank you all for your dedication!

Sandhill Cranes

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

An Oscar Night Visit

The Zone of Interest: Yes, Abq Jew is entirely aware that Oscar Night was days ago and nobody wants to talk about it any more. Except that everybody - well, everybody Jewish - still wants to talk about it. 

And everybody else should also talk about it.

The Zone of Interest

Jonathan S Tobin, Editor-in-Chief of the Jewish News Syndicate, tells the story. He begins:
‘As a Jew’ Oscar moment shows how woke antisemitism works

Unless you’re a film buff, you may not have heard of Jonathan Glazer before his viral moment at this year’s annual Academy Awards ceremony. 
After “The Zone of Interest”—a highly-praised film about the commandant of the Auschwitz death camp that is very loosely based on a Martin Amis novel with the same title—was named the winner of the Oscar for Best International Feature Film, Glazer appeared on the stage along with the rest of the production team to accept their trophies. 
Standing with producer James Wilson and their billionaire financial backer Leonard Blavatnik, Glazer, who wrote and directed the movie, chose not to speak extemporaneously but instead read the following prepared statement:
Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst. It’s shaped all of our past and present. 
Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness in a Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people. 
Whether the victims of October the 7th in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza—all the victims of this dehumanization, how do we resist?
The tortured syntax of his comments notwithstanding, what Glazer said wasn’t merely deeply offensive. It marked a new low in Hollywood’s descent into fashionable rationalizations of hatred for Jews. 
It also showed us how the new woke antisemitism works, especially when its standard-bearers are Jews with little or no connection to their heritage. 
As such, it was the quintessential “as a Jew” moment in which persons invoke their Jewish identity to denounce other Jews.
Rodger Kamenetz

It would appear that the least of Jonathan Glazer's problems is the syntax of his statement, which he read, carefully, from the podium. So let's deal with that first. Or, better yet, let's let author Rodger Kamenetz (see August 2011's Burnt Books) deal with that. As he did on Facebook.
Apparently diagramming sentences is a lost art. 
Clearly the direct object of refute is the gerund phrase “being hijacked”. That said it is a principle of clear writing to keep related words together. 
In this case the ear would naturally at first hear the adjacent nouns Jewishness and Holocaust as direct objects before getting to the gerund phrase. So a very poorly constructed sentence. 
And the verb refute is incorrect which makes the poor syntax even worse. Altogether a poor sentence and in my opinion it is ill advised to make necessarily brief statements about this complex situation. 
Also I don’t watch boring award shows so I was spared listening. 

But among those who, like Abq Jew, did watch and were listening - once we figured out what Jonathan Glazer meant by what he said - the condemnations were overwhelming, if not universal. 

At His Oscar Moment, Jonathan Glazer
Hijacks His Jewishness and the Holocaust

Shame on Jonathan Glazer for his Oscars speech

A Disgraceful Acceptance Speech at the Oscars

Jew In The City

Of the many, many, many who rightfully condemned Glazer's enigmatic statement, Abq Jew here chooses to amplify the words of Allison Josephs, founder of the exemplary communications channel Jew In The City.
Glazer could have spoken about how the dehumanization of Jews led people to not believe that sexual violence was used against Israeli women or that it was ‘justified resistance.’ 
He could have said that the dehumanization of Jews led people to celebrate and/or deny that October 7 happened at all. 
He could have noted that October 7 was the most deadly day for Jews since the Holocaust.

Instead Glazer used a common refrain from Jew-haters — that the Holocaust is the ‘get out of jail free card’ for Jews. 
He blamed Jews for their own massacre by saying that ‘the occupation led to conflict for so many people,’ which is why he was refuting his Jewishness and the Holocaust being used for this purpose. 
Cillian Murphy accepted his award as ‘a very proud Irishman.’ 
If only we had a SINGLE Jew in Hollywood who could accept their award as a very proud Jew.
Abq Jew

Abq Jew's response to Jonathan Glazer's crypticism, while supporting all those who have proffered condemnation, is, in his own humble opinion, much more succinct, direct, and to-the-point:

What The Hell Is Wrong With You
But it's Adar (again)!
This time we really mean it!
Be happy! Purim is coming!

It's Adar

Thank God it's Adar Bet Adar Sheni Adar II (and has been since we changed the clocks)! When Adar Bet Adar Sheni Adar II arrives, our happiness goes way up. Which is good - because God knows we can use all the happiness we can get.

Chabad Purim Story

Tzvi Freeman of Chabad captures the Purim Zeitgeist:

On Purim, it’s a mitzvah to hear the story of Esther read from a scroll—called a “megillah”—both by day and by night.

The Talmud tells us, “If you read the story backwards, you haven’t read the story.” (Megillah 2a.)

Of course, that means you have to read the story in the order it’s written. But the Baal Shem Tov provided a deeper meaning:

If you read the story of Esther and of her people, of the rise of Haman and his own self-destruction, of secret heroes and hidden miracles…

…if you read all this as though it was all a backstory —something that occurred a long time ago and now provides only historical context —you haven’t read the story.

Because Jews have never had the luxury to retell this story as something we have put behind us.

Haman persists to reappear in his many incarnations, as a dictator, as a terrorist, as an ideology, as an advocate of war, as an advocate of peace, or, most pernicious of all, as the cold apathy that chills our own hearts from within.

He remains to remind us that as a nation, as well as individuals, we rely every day on G‑d's miracles simply to remain the nation we were chosen to be. And when we stand firm and united, we see those miracles.

A Jew looks around and discovers: We are standing in the middle of the story of Purim right now.


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Quilting Patterns

On the Tree of Life: Long a powerful image in Jewish tradition, the Tree of Life has come to represent Torah, deep roots, and immortality. More than that - the passing down of tradition through the generations. 

Tree of Life

March is Women's History Month, and March 8th - this Friday - is International Women's Day.

In which we are reminded (see below) that women have forever quilted the Tree of Life for us, on our behalf. Jewish women in general - and Israeli Jewish women in particular - will, as always, observe these occasions. 

But this year - they will do so from a distance.

UN Finds

After five months of silence, the United Nations has issued a 24-page report that finds evidence of rape on October 7th and after. And that there’s “clear and convincing” evidence showing that hostages were raped while being held in Gaza, and that those currently held captive are still facing such abuse.

President Isaac Herzog

Israel's President Isaac Herzog has issued this statement:
The report issued by UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, and her team is of immense importance. 
It substantiates with moral clarity and integrity the systematic, premeditated, and ongoing sexual crimes committed by Hamas terrorists against Israeli women. 
Hamas and its allies are trying to discredit the report, to escape from this horrific shame. They will not succeed as the testimonies are shocking indeed. 
Therefore, now the world must react strongly by condemning and punishing Hamas. 

Stand With Us 

We must all continue our relentless efforts to bring all the hostages home to their families. 
As we can learn from the report they are constantly under clear and present danger.
Run for Their Lives

In conjunction with International Women's Day, our ABQ chapter of Run For Their Lives - which leads a weekly run / walk for the immediate release of our hostages - will hold a special event on Sunday, March 10th.

International Women's Day

The theme of this year's International Women's Day is 'Inspire Inclusion'. But Abq Jew wonders - as he is sure you wonder, too - 

Are Jewish women invited?

Mara Levine

We must hope. 

In that spirit, Mara Levine - one of Abq Jew's favorite singers (see January 2021's You Reap What You Sow) - has just dropped (as they say) Tree of Life, a new video from her Facets of Folk album.

Of which she says:
March is National Quilt Month and Women's History Month. The 18th is Quilt Day!
In America, quilting is a representation of the fusion of several cultural traditions, including Indigenous people, African American, and European. Every tradition contributes to and borrows from this art form, which continues to evolve, often incorporating social themes.
The song was written by Eric Peltoniemi for the 1983 play "Plain Hearts: Songs and Stories of Midwestern Prairie Women.”  The first two verses consist entirely of the names of quilt block patterns.
Featuring Mara Levine, Caroline Cutroneo (Guitar/Vocals); Hillary Foxsong (Vocals); John Guth (Bass); and Ed Trickett, of blessed memory (hammered dulcimer).
Blind Man's Fancy