The Bulletin

1. Give Bigotry No Sanction

Standing in the cold Fall River wind on Tuesday evening,  with the hundreds of other people attending the vigil at the desecrated Hebrew Cemetery, I was reminded of Washington's letter to the Jewish community of Newport just down the road. The words written in 1790 are as relevant and true today - "For happily the government of the United States gives to bigotry no sanction."
Many members of our Greater New Bedford community were in attendance as were people from Rhode Island and of course Fall River. As a community we should all thank Rabbi Elber and his wife Cantor Shoshana Brown who organized the vigil for their leadership, thank everyone who attended, and not forget to thank the FBI and Fall River police for their efforts to find those responsible.  
This morning I went back to the cemetery to see the stones for myself after the clean-up and repair took place yesterday. I took a picture of one gravestone bearing the name Cohen (no relation but of personal interest obviously) last week and again today. The clean-up, repair and restoration work were performed expertly.
Journalist Matt Hanson, originally from our community and writing for the Forward, covers the story in depth in "Gravestones Are Mockingly Vandalized, And Those Left Behind Mourn a Second Time."   
Hanson shares that Jeffrey Weissman, the cemetery groundskeeper and Congregation Adas Israel president who discovered the vandalism, "put that $5,000 (received in the mail from 'Muslim Americans') gratefully into a pot that now amounts to $16,510 and includes a donation from the Anti-Defamation League as well. The community plans to use the money to restore the stones, purchase a security system and reward anyone who helps in the arrest and conviction of the vandals."

Let us look forward to justice and away from outrage and sadness. 


2. Rockets, Heights and Thumbs on Scale

In Israel and at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington we had a very interesting week when politics and war (recent and not) were all mixed into a continuous debate.  
Fact: Rockets (from Gaza) were fired at Southern Israel in great intensity this week. It is NOT news because they have become so regular it is hardly newsworthy. Fact: A rocket (from Gaza) landed in central Israel (see picture) for the second week in a row. It is news. I reported about the one last week while I was there. The one this week destroyed a home where fortunately no one was killed. It made bigger news because in central Israel this is not a usual occurrence.   
 As the events unfolded, Prime Minister Netanyahu was on his way to Washington for the AIPAC conference and to meet with President Trump amidst reports (that came true) that the US was going to reverse its long-time stand and recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
On April 9th Israel holds elections and the events in Gaza can have an impact on the results.
"Traditionally we would say that a security escalation before elections would be good for the incumbent because it portrays him as someone in charge. However, it is unclear if the latest escalation would have such an effect," says Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israeli Democracy Institute in the JTA article "Gaza escalation holds both promise and perils for Netanyahu."
Like the decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem last year, recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the  Heights is politically complicated. Personally I am not against either. American presidents past and current have all spoken about and debated it. What is trickier this time is that making this bold move less than three weeks before the elections in a White House ceremony is a not so subtle message our president is sending Israeli voters. True, President Trump is not the first to send messages to Israeli voters through actions in Washington and he probably will not be the last, but that does not make the timing of this proclamation right.
3. To Be Young (and Jewish)

A simple question that, as it turns out, has as many answers as the people you ask - which is exactly what Moment Magazine did, interviewing 18 millennials.

"But we found a group who feel deeply Jewish - even as they also value other parts of their identities. They are at home in multiple worlds and proud of it. And like generations before them, they are evolving: For some seeing the rise of the alt-right and encountering anti-Semitism for the first time has led them to reconnect with their Jewishness; for others parenthood has enhanced their commitment to their faith and heritage. They value text study, have reimagined rituals and enjoy celebrating Shabbat - although often differently from the way they were raised. We think you'll enjoy meeting them."
 Every generation - yours, mine, theirs - redefines what is relevant. Thanks for the insight, Moment.
4. Pass(over) the Feast

Ask your family to take a vote and I'm pretty sure brisket beats chicken every time. So now that we've established the winning protein that must make an appearance on your holiday table, I offer this refresher course (or new spin): VIDEO: How to Make Classic Holiday Brisket.

Ever wonder how horseradish became a holiday staple? Wonder no more and wow your guests with your knack for knowing things.

5. Passover Appeal

In the coming days you will receive the annual Passover appeal. I hope that you will respond generously, helping the Federation provide kosher-for-Passover food to local community members in need. The families and individuals we assist are always deeply appreciative. Thank you in advance for your support.
6. Scholarship Applications Available

Children and grandchildren of Federation members are invited to apply for scholarships for undergraduate and graduate programs from teh Federation adn New Bedford section of the National Council of Jewish Women.

To request an application write to office@jewishnewbedford.org or call (508) 997-7471.
Thursday, April 4, 4:00 PM
Speaker Carolyn Enger, concert pianist and director of the multimedia program Mischlinge Exposé 
Jackson Art Center, H-209/210, Bristol Community College
Friday, April 12, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Conference on Women and the Holocaust featuring keynote speaker Sheri Sandler, managing director of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda and workshop leader of Echoes and Reflection, a resource center for the teaching of the Holocaust
Jackson Art Center, Bristol Community College 

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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