The Bulletin

1. Hope - Maybe

Tomorrow, on Flag Day, I mark the 25th anniversary of becoming a citizen of these United States. If you have not personally gone through what is involved in immigrating - adding a new nationality to the one you are born with whether out of choice or not - I will tell you that it is first and foremost a humbling experience.
No matter the education, socioeconomic background, family, support system, language proficiency or job prospects, moving to a new country is NOT a natural thing. Twenty-five years later I still switch to Hebrew when I do complicated math because all my math studies took place before I moved and were in Hebrew and who needs to use words like factorial in their day-to-day life anyway. Later this year (I gotta do the math for exactly when, but in September I think) I will have lived exactly half of my life in Israel and the other half in the U.S. I am looking for a word to define such an anniversary or equilibrium. Feel free to send suggestions.
Streams of consciousness are a funny thing, but when I read an article by Times of Israel editor, David Horowitz, about Yossi Klein Halevi on the occasion of his book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor being published in paperback and his tour of the U.S. to promote it, I related it to my own personal narrative around nationalities and divides.
The paperback, issued a year after the hardcover, features more than 50 new pages of epilogue filled with Palestinian responses. One of the responders, Mohammed Dajani Daoudi, led a group of Palestinian students on a visit to Auschwitz, which is almost unheard of. Hence the HOPE.
Happy Flag Day - no matter what flag you raise tomorrow, July 4th, on Opening Day or any other day.

2. Birthright - Someone Will Always Find the Negative

Birthright is a fabulous program, one of the best things to have come out of the Jewish community in decades. Seven hundred thousand (700,000!) young adults have traveled to Israel because of the program. Its impact has been profound. That said, from time to time it has come under criticism for not showing enough (or any) of the Palestinian side.  
True, there is some "unease among many young American Jews over Israel's policies. They see Israeli leaders who have been drifting rightward and openly embracing the annexation of the West Bank, land on which Palestinians have long hoped to build their own state." But on the other hand, this is a 10-day free trip funded by the government of Israel and by (mostly American) philanthropists and as such can set its own curriculum many say.
Farah Stockman of The New York Times is the latest to write a more critical point of view and I invite you to check it out: "Birthright Trips, a Rite of Passage for Many Jews, Are Now a Target of Protests."  It is true that the demographics of Jews in North America have changed over the years and, "The Birthright protests also highlight a generational divide between Jews who grew up with the constant fear of Israel's destruction, and younger people today who may be more likely to take Israel's existence for granted, and who focus instead on the millions of Palestinians left stateless by the conflict."
I hope my 26-year-old son goes on Birthright sometime before his 32nd birthday (there's an age limit). I have recently signed a petition to expand the eligibility to younger ages so that high school seniors can go before college and be better prepared for some of the hostile campuses they may spend four years at.
3. Veggie Love

It's not summer yet. I am of the mind, though, that we can never start planning for summer early enough. Fill your calendar with pool parties, barbecues and outdoor adventures. When someone asks what you'll be bringing, raise both hands for Simple Salads for Summer Nights. Moment Magazine gives us everything from Fattoush to Charred Eggplant, Tomato & Red Onion Salad to Watermelon, Feta and Pickled Onion Salad. Be'te-avon!

4. Sex Makes the Bulletin (Finally) - Well, Sort Of
Like, well, everyone I'm a huge Dr Ruth fan. I always smile when I see her and as the picture we took together a couple of months ago shows, she does too.

On Ask Dr. Ruth one reviewer wrote it is "wonderfully emotional - yes, I cried - and it made me realize that Dr. Ruth is so much more than a punch line. The child of Holocaust victims, Karola Ruth Siegel was orphaned at 10, but not before watching Nazis kidnap her father. She still remembers looking out the window and watching him wave, with a sad smile, as he was packed away. She was shipped off to the safety of a Swiss orphanage, where she waited for word to arrive from her parents. It never did. What followed was a whirlwind life in which she compensated for that abandonment by living fiercely and keeping ferociously busy. To this day, she hates to be alone, says her son, Joel."

See the Calendar below for your chance to check out the film locally. Need more persuading? Here are 6 reasons to watch the new Dr. Ruth documentary.
5. ShtiselMania 

Events featuring the cast in New York, New Jersey and LA are sold out. Rabbi David Wolpe was honored with asking the first question at one. Shtisel is everywhere, like Israeli cuisine (I'm having dinner at Balaboosta in New York tonight; feel free to be jealous). Israeli television is on a tear.  
First there was Carrie Mathison then came Doron Kavillio and at the moment it is all about Kive.
I'm a big fan of Israeli culture and enjoy hearing about its global success. That said, I think Shtisel is nowhere near as good as Fauda (best TV show I've seen in years). But I'm part of a tiny minority here. This article in the NJ Jewish News may give you some more insight.
Tuesdays, July 2 and July 9, 2:00 and 7:30 PM
Falmouth Jewish Congregation Summer Jewish Film Festival
Ask Dr. Ruth (7/2)
Promise at Dawn (7/9)


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.

Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford, 467 Hawthorn Street, Dartmouth, MA 02747
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