These Boots Were Made for Praying

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					August 2011                                            A Service of the Jewish Federation of New Mexico                                                       The New Mexico Jewish Link 9



 These Boots                                                              Lost Tribes and Found
                                                                          Communities: An Inaugural
 Were Made                                                                Speech by JCC President
 for Praying
                                                                          Art Gardenswartz
                                                                                 speaks at the
                                                                            “Burn the Mort-
                                                                              gage” event on
                                                                               June 12, when
                                                                             enough pledges
                                                                           were received to
                                                                            allow the JCC to
                                                                              pay off the last
                                                                            $500,000 of the
                                                                          original $2 million
                                                                                building debt.

  By Heather E. Shore                 “you know this is for a rabbi,
                                      not a big-time wrestler.” The
      Since becoming the reli-        end result was a black ostrich      By Art Gardenswartz                                   is named. Ronnie was born in               before us.
  gious leader of Congregation        boot, with three Stars of David                                                           Alamosa, Colorado with Jewish                  The JCC and the Jewish Feder-
  B’nai Israel in Albuquerque,        and the word ‘Rabbi’ stamped            As the new president of the Jewish                parents, but there were almost no          ation represent our entire commu-
  Rabbi Arthur Flicker has given      along the sides of each boot.       Community Center of Greater Albu-                     Jews in his home town. He moved            nity. I hope by working with Fed-
  up all other kinds of foot wear          The last pair of Judaically-   querque, I have become re-engaged                     to Albuquerque long before we had          eration President Hank Crane, we
  and now only wears cowboy           themed boots Rabbi Flicker          in working on behalf of our commu-                    a JCC at age 30, but never found           can offer some new and exciting
  boots, year-round.        If you    purchased is also made of           nity. My inauguration gives me a                      himself, as a person or as a Jew. He       events to make all of you want to
  haven’t looked too closely at       ostrich. These books proudly        chance to reflect on the reasons.                     wound up taking his own life at the        participate in making our commu-
  the Rabbi’s footwear, then you      display the flag of Israel twice        We have a long history of Jews                    young age of 42. I believe had there       nity stronger and more vibrant. I
  may not have noticed that he        on each boot.                       disappearing in New Mexico, reach-                    been a JCC he might have figured           had never lived in a community
  has quite a variety of boots.            “Every time I go to Israel     ing all the way back to 1510, when                    out who he was.                            that had a JCC. I am inspired by the
  Amongst the twenty pairs            these are, of course, the boots     the second big wave of settlers                           Growing up in New Mexico, at           dedication of leaders who came
  he’s purchased are three very       I take with me,” Rabbi Flicker      arrived from Spain. It is believed                    the beginning, I was also ambiva-          before me. We have a great board
  unique pairs.                       says of his Israeli flag boots.     that about half of the 2000 immi-                     lent about why we needed a JCC,            of directors but we still need com-
      About seven years ago, not      And when Israelis see them          grants were Conversos or hidden                       after all we are so accepted here          munity help and participation.
  long after Rabbi Flicker joined     they simply say: “Whoa!”            Jews who did not have the option                      compared to other communities.                 We are lucky to live in America
  Congregation B’nai Israel, he            Since he purchased these       of practicing Judaism or even iden-                   After visiting Israel this past fall, my   and in New Mexico where we have
  bought his first pair of special-   last pair of Judaica boots, the     tifying themselves as Jews. For the                   wife Sonya and I realized that the14       the opportunity to be part of the
  ly made boots. This particular      Rabbi has been having fun vis-      most part, they were permanently                      million Jews in the world (approxi-        melting pot of acceptance, while
  pair has a reddish lizard upper     iting the El Paso warehouses        lost.                                                 mately 6 million in the US, 6 million      not losing our identity as individ-
  and displays a hand carving of      to buy ‘seconds’. Seconds are           There is the story of Solomon                     in Israel, 2 million elsewhere) are a      uals or as a people. It is my belief
  the Congregation B’nai Israel       boots that the manufacturer         Bibo, a German-Jewish trader who                      very small percentage of the 7 billion     that this is what makes our com-
  logo. These boots are perfect       deems unworthy to send to re-       married a woman from Acoma                            people on the planet. Out of propor-       munity, our state and our country
  branding for the congrega-          tailers, boots with some kind       pueblo and became its governor                        tion to our numbers, we have made          stronger. The JCC is stronger than
  tion’s rabbi.                       of flaw. Rabbi Flicker and his      in the 1880s. Half a century later,                   immense contributions to the world.        ever with 2,000 household mem-
      The company he bought           wife have purchased multiple        many of the post-war German                           We need to stick together because          berships, and a family that includes
  his custom-made Judaica             pairs of ‘seconds’ and he says      Jews were almost embarrassed to                       we know we will be tested again            the David Cooper Family Enrich-
  boots from is based in El Paso.     it’s like a game to try and find    be Jewish and tried to assimilate as                  the future, as has happened count-         ment Center, the Solomon Schech-
  Rabbi Flicker became familiar       the flaw. A game he hardly          best they could.                                      less times throughout history. Most        ter School, and David Spector
  with the company when he            ever wins.                              I am most reminded by the                         importantly, Judaism gives us and          Shalom House. We intend to
  bought a pair of their boots on          Over time, the Rabbi has       sad story of my cousin Ronnie                         our children a sense of who we are         work hard to improve everything
  Ebay. Initially, he had a hard      replaced all his shoes with         Gardenswartz for whom the JCC                         and the 60 generations that came           we touch.
  time fitting into boots. The        cowboy boots. When asked if
  boots from this company fit         that was all he wore now, he
  pretty well, so he looked into      replied, “Yes. Well, that and
  their made-to-order boots.          Naot.”
  While the size of the boot is            Rabbi Flicker enjoys vis-
  standard, the Rabbi has gotten      iting El Paso once or twice a
  creative on the upper part of       year and stocking up on ‘sec-
  the boot.                           onds.’ Buying these shoes at
      This company makes it           such a reduced price lets him
  easy to design custom boots.        have fun and flexibility with
  All he needs to do is fax them      his footwear. He can purchase           Our Pastrami Sandwich
  a copy of the design he would       four or five pairs of seconds for           is loaded with a
  like. They take it from there,      what he would spend for just            half pound of Pastrami!
  and the Rabbi gets final ap-        one pair of custom boots.
  proval on the boot’s design.             Rabbi Flicker has so many
      Rabbi Flicker likes buying      pairs of boots that he usually
  boots because he feels that he      saves his Judaica boots for
  “can have fun with boots the        Federation, synagogue or Isra-
  way you wouldn’t with shoes.        el Bond meetings. A few years                                       Mention
  I mean nobody (no man, most         ago, he wore his Israel boots         • We slice                     this ad
  likely) is going to go out and      when he went to a dinner for            our authentic               for a 10%
  buy a pair of eel shoes.” He        the Israel Ambassador at the            pastrami daily              discount
  then shows off his eel boots,       Governor’s mansion.                   • Catering
  also custom-made, that have                 Rabbi Flicker hasn’t            Available
  the Albuquerque Police Chap-        bought a pair of custom made              Two locations to serve you at
  laincy badge affixed to them.       boots in a long time, but that        6125 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque
      When working with the           doesn’t mean he won’t ever                    505-730-4507
  company on his second pair,         buy a paid again. “You never                    and Santa Fe at
  the design became a little gar-     know,” Rabbi Flicker says, “if             648 W. Alameda, Santa Fe
  ish. Rabbi Flicker told them:       something stirs my soul.”                     505-316-6303
                                                                             Not valid with any other discounts or promotions

				
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