ON AIR

Norine Dresser  recording her Multicultural Minutes for KTAL-LP. Photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2017.

YOUR MULTICULTURAL MINUTE

“No Molesta” [Duration: 1:57]

Station Identification:

This is station KTAL-LP, 101.5 FM in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Music: Introduction: “Ekoneni” (Mark Dresser)

<<FADE UNDER>>

Voice: Introduction –

Hello. This is Norine Dresser presenting, “Your Multicultural  Minute,” true stories about       how cultural differences can create miscommunication.

Narrative:

Each weekday morning, several moms on the block happily drop off their toddlers            at Rosa’s house. She is their Mexican baby sitter and takes excellent care of their       children.

One afternoon, Rosa’s 13-year-old nephew, Ernesto, accompanies her as she walks the children back to their homes. When they arrive at Emma’s house, her father, Fred, greets them.

Ernesto says, “Your daughter is very beautiful.” Fred thanks him, and Ernesto responds, “No molesta.”

A strange look crosses Fred’s face. Then when he sees his daughter kiss Ernesto goodbye, Fred becomes enraged.

¿Qué Pasó? What Happened?

Fred jumped to the conclusion that “no molesta” meant Ernesto didn’t molest her. But in Spanish, the verb ”molestar” also means “disturb.” What Ernesto was saying was, “She’s no trouble; she’s no bother.”

Music Exit: “Ekoneni” continuation

<<Fade Under>>

Voice Exit:

Thanks for listening, and if you have a cultural miscommunication story you would like to share, contact me at www.norinedresser.com. That’s spelled n-o-r-i-n-e-d-r-e-s-s-e-r.

XXXX

Hi Friends and Family,

I am very excited to announce that I’m ON THE AIR, with two-minute shows, “Your Multicultural Minute.” Yes, on July 26, 2017, Las Cruces inaugurated a community radio station called KTAL, the radio symbol for “¿Qué Tal?” that in Spanish means, “What’s happening?”

I have already produced numerous episodes like the one above based, in part, on Multicultural Manners stories from my books and award winning Los Angeles Times column.

Although we already have a public radio station here in Las Cruces, KRWG, most of their programming originates from National Public Radio. In contrast, KTAL aims to focus on local issues and events, especially, the arts.

This station has been a two-year dream of Nan Rubin, a community radio activist, and Kevin Bixby, Executive Director of the Southwest Environmental Center in Las Cruces. Thanks to them, their hardworking volunteers, and local support, that dream has come true. Now, I am proud to say, “I’ll see you on the radio.”

 

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who delights in announcing her affiliation with radio KTAL- LP, 101.5 FM in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

These Cups Runneth Over With…Mystery, History, and… Angst?

Mystery Kiddush Cups.  Photo by Rachel Stevens.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2015

Mystery Kiddush Cups. Photo by Rachel Stevens. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2015

What would you do if the religion you practiced were outlawed and death was the penalty for not converting to the mainstream religion?

Would you leave the country you loved where you had family and property? Would you comply with the new law?   Or would you overtly practice the new religion but worship covertly?

In a nutshell, that was the dilemma for hundreds of thousands of Jews and Muslims living in Spain and Portugal in the 15th century during the Inquisition when Spain forced Christianity upon its population.

Historians disagree as to how many were murdered – from 6,000 to 31,000, in one example. Another estimate has Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, single-handedly responsible for the deaths of 35,000. Those Jews who remained and converted to Catholicism were called New Christians, Conversos or Anusim and even held government and church positions. Those Muslims who claimed to convert to Catholicism but practiced their faith secretly were called Moriscos.

The expelled Jews fled to North Africa, the Middle East, Europe as far north as Scandinavia. Others traveled to the Caribbean and Mexico. Alas! The Inquisition occurred in the New World, as well, so many Jews journeyed from Mexico into Northern New Mexico to escape scrutiny. Nonetheless, they were still wary of openly practicing Judaism for fear of being discovered. So it was that for centuries Crypto-Jews (Hidden Jews) lit Sabbath candles in concealed parts of their homes, abstained from eating pork, practiced male circumcision, placed Jewish symbols on gravestones, and heralded the Sabbath by blessing the bread and drinking wine from sacred goblets, called “Kiddush Cups.”

            ***

Knowing the above history, can you imagine my excitement when hearing about Rachel Stevens, a Las Crucen art professor at NMSU, who had two mysterious Kiddush cups (pictured above) given to her by a former student who found them abandoned in an old apartment?

As a member of the Society for Crypto-Judaic studies, I immediately assumed that these cups might be evidence of Crypto-Jews living in Las Cruces. I envisioned all kinds of horrendous scenarios. So imagine my disappointment when I actually saw the Kiddush Cups and realized that these were not ancient relics. Instead they were manufactured in recent times – most likely the 20th century.

Hebrew letters that translate as Pri Hagofen.  A prayer for the blessing of the wine.  Photo by Rachel Stevens.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2015.

Hebrew letters that translate as Borei P’ri Hagafen. Prayer for the blessing of the wine. Photo by Rachel Stevens. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2015.

 

New questions arise:

When were the cups manufactured and where?

Why were they discarded?

What happened to the owners?

Is it possible that they lost or misplaced the cups?

Is it possible that someone surreptitiously took them? If so,

why did they not end up in a pawn shop?

Despite my let-down, I still have hopes of discovering a Crypto-Judaic presence here in Las Cruces. Accordingly, my colleague, Rachel Spector, and I visited a large Catholic cemetery. Although the omnipresence of Christian symbols prevailed, we still spotted small rocks deliberately placed on or next to memorial stones on several graves.   Putting stones on grave markers is a Jewish custom to mark one’s visit to the departed.

 

 

Rocks on Catholic Grave.  Photo by Rachel Spector.  © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2015.

Stones on grave at St. Genevieve’s Cemetery. Photo by Rachel Spector. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2015.

Stones on Catholic graves. Photo by Rachel Spector.  © Norine Dresser Photo collection, 2015.

Stones on grave at St. Genevieve’s Cemetery.
Photo by Rachel Spector. © Norine Dresser Photo collection, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it just a coincidence that these stones are there?

 

Or is this a secret way to let insiders know that the family has Jewish roots?

 

Speculation is the core of research. And although at this time there is no way to positively ascertain the meaning of these anonymous rocks, I long to discover the truth.

 

Norine Dresser is a folklorist, who as a child, enjoyed listening to a radio show called, “I Love a Mystery.” Although that program no longer exists, she still loves a mystery.

Peter O’Toole at the Deli

My late husband, Harold, was a movie buff, and his favorite film was “Lawrence of Arabia.”  He saw it dozens of times and was always transported by the larger-than-life Lawrence, the music (We even bought the film score.), and the magnificent spectacle of this David Lean masterpiece.

Harold's hero.  © Text by Norine Dresser, 2013

Harold’s hero. © Text by Norine Dresser, 2013

In 2006, when Harold was diagnosed as terminal and I cared for him in home hospice, he occasionally requested that I drive him to Canter’s Delicatessen to have a hot pastrami sandwich on rye, dill pickle, and a chocolate phosphate.  As he neared his life’s end, there was no need to continue dietary restrictions, so I happily made the one hour round-trip drive to accommodate his wishes.

One wintry Sunday when some of the children were visiting, Harold asked if we all might go to Canter’s.  While there, a solitary customer wearing a woolen cap pulled low, caught our attention.  His piercing blue eyes betrayed his desired anonymity.  It was Peter O’Toole.  What a thrill for us all, especially Harold.

We refrained from going over to tell him about Harold’s admiration, and Harold was content just to bask in the shared environment of the aromatic delicatessen with his hero.  For the rest of us, it seemed like an omen, and unstated last wish for Harold.

Rest in Peace, Harold Dresser.  Rest in Peace, Peter O’ Toole, and thank you for bringing joy to my husband and millions of other moviegoers.

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who shares her late husband’s appreciation of Lawrence of Arabia.