The Bulletin

1. Football Is Life

One of my favorite lines about football (the real kind that many of you call soccer) is "Some people think football is a matter of life and death, but I assure you it is much more serious than that." And American football fans all know Vince Lombardi's "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."  
So why am I going there in July when football is dormant? Because in Afula, the central city of our partnership region in Israel, it was agreed this week that Hapoel Um El Fahem, the newly promoted team from the neighboring Arab town, will play their home game in the Afula Municipal Stadium.  
Why is this a big deal? Well, the municipality of Afula has recently been in the news for closing its city park to non-residents, a move that was really designed to deny Arabs from area communities access. That attempt was struck down by the courts, but the news cycle remains.  
With that in mind and with both Um El Fahem and Afula in the same division, this is a big victory for coexistence (check out the video below). In fact, football has always been a place where Israeli Arabs could succeed and star. The captain of Israel's national team is a Muslim and nearly half the team's starters are Israeli Arabs. Last month a similar milestone was reached when Nazareth (you can see Afula from there), a city that is mostly Arab, also agreed to host the neighboring Nof Hagalil team that is from the Jewish town of Upper Nazareth at their stadium. To that I can only add the words (and please imagine them in a Scottish accent) of the great Alex Ferguson, "Football, bloody hell."
Israeli Jewish, Muslim Soccer Players Pray Together
Israeli Jewish, Muslim Soccer Players Pray Together
2. Ignorance Is Bliss

A Pew Research Survey was published this week saying Americans don't know much about Judaism but love the Jews. Well, thank you - maybe recent headline-making instances of anti-Semitism aside, that is.
"Americans who are not Jewish, meanwhile, don't know a lot about Judaism. But they like Jews more than any other religious group. And they think there are more Jews in the country than there actually are." More in this JTA article.
3. Champions, Again

The Detroit Tigers' "Hammerin' Hank" Greenberg at 6'4" was the exception and not the rule. If you are like me, 172.4 cm. and a consistent but still slow triathlete, you notice these outliers. 
Athletic success in a sport, any sport, that is all about being tall is not something expected of Jews.  So with that in mind please read this twice: For the second year in a row Israel's U-20 basketball team has won the European Championship, beating Spain, France and Lithuania along the way. The only other team to ever win back-to-back gold was Serbia in 2007-08. I'm feeling tall now. Very tall.

Israel v Spain - FINAL Highlights - Gold Medal Game - FIBA U20 European Championship 2019
Israel v Spain - FINAL Highlights - Gold Medal Game - FIBA U20 European Championship 2019

4. In a Town Not Far from Here

Liel Leibovitz, writing for Tablet, gives us insight about "Teaching High School Students to Demonize Israel."  And this skirmish is taking place right up the road in Newton.

5. An Englishman in New York

No, not Sting's song. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born in New York City to wealthy English parents and so has dual citizenship. Now that's he's prime minister of England he'll get even more attention than he has in his not-so-subtle past. Jewish Journal gives us five Jewish things to know about Boris Johnson because it matters.
"For British Jews, Johnson is a mixed bag because of his record on Israel, his own Jewish roots and his apparent disregard for how many Britons expect senior politicians to speak about religious minorities."
6. All in the Spice

This Israeli-inspired corn is everything. Who needs Mexican grilled street corn when you can spin it Middle Eastern? It's what's for dinner in my home tonight.

7. A Mule Walks into an Airport

When one thinks about a headline like this (okay, when I do), drug trafficking comes to mind. Perhaps you agree. This however is a story (funny one) about a real mule that wandered into Ben-Gurion Airport yesterday. Did security ask him if his bags were with him the whole time?
8. How Personal Is My Bulletin

In general, when I hear from you in response to the Bulletin, it is with positive feedback. My weekly reports indicate that on an average week 37 percent open and read it. I often hear about specific items and always encourage your response. I try to include information and links worth reading, watching or knowing. My personal opinion is not important and mostly stays out of it. You decide.  
Some people have asked me if the Bulletin - my weekly conversation with you - is perhaps too personal (as in why is it not all about the Federation) which is a good point. But where does my Federation job end and my life begin? The fact Federation is a part-time position and that I wear other hats makes this distinction even harder. I have always believed that for people to remember things and to have any interest in reading ahead, I must tell stories. With luck, relatable stories. If each of you only reads one item of the Bulletin every few weeks - Dayenu. And after more than 250 Bulletins, I think I'll keep the same formula of five to nine items every Thursday at 3:00 PM if that's okay with you.
And in what way is this week different than any other? Well, here's more lines to blur. On Saturday I will participate in the Save The Bay Swim.
Some of you may know that I am an active (but not very fast) triathlete (the picture is from the Whaling City Triathlon last year). I make it to the finish line every time. In general that is a guideline for me as I serve you at this Federation and is true about how I live my life.  
Save the Bay is a different challenge. It will be my longest open-water swim ever(!) and will take about an hour and a half. I have never done a race for a cause and rarely fundraise for efforts outside of the Jewish world. (I know, very Shtetl of me.) But this week I am. And true to form I have decided that if I reach my Save The Bay goal, my Jewish guilt will burn so hot that I will make a matching donation to our Federation's 2020 annual campaign. I have no expectation (really), but if you want to support me please use this link and when you do, I encourage you to donate in "Jewish" increments of $18. I hope to have a picture from the actual swim that launches from the Navy Base in Newport next week. Thank you.  
Through July 31
Art of Summer 2019 Judith Klein Art Gallery
127 West Rodney French Blvd., Door #31, New Bedford


Shabbat Shalom,


The Bulletin is a weekly email from Amir Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford.  I welcome your feedback at amir@jewishnewbedford.org.

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