The Bulletin

1. This Just In - A Conflict in Gaza

Over the past few days a mini war has been taking place in Gaza. I sometimes fear that we read and digest news like this just as we do when we have a cold weather forecast in New England. While ceasefire was reached at 6:00 AM, it was reported that rockets continued to fall into the morning today.
The ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad was interestingly brokered by Egypt and Hamas. Side bar: The middle of the month is when the monthly $15 million in Kuwaiti cash gets delivered to Hamas by an Israeli envoy, hence the vested interest.
Recap over the three days:
  • Nearly 500 rockets have been fired at Israel.
  • Sirens sounded mainly across the south on an almost hourly basis and were also heard in central Israeli cities including Tel Aviv, Modi'in and Rishon LeTzion.
  • 90% of the rockets headed toward population centers and were successfully knocked out of the sky by the Iron Dome Defense System or ignored by the system when their trajectory was open fields and spots where they would not cause damage.
  • Seventy-eight Israelis have been treated for injuries, including a child who suffered heart failure while running to a shelter, many who fell while also running for shelter, and three shrapnel injuries.
  • Dozens were treated for shock.
  • Tragically 23 Gazans were killed including three civilians (one of them a child).
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said, "This is a tense morning after several days during which the security of Israeli citizens has been under attack... The State of Israel has again proved in this round of fighting that it will not stand idle when our citizens' security is threatened. On the other hand, we made it perfectly clear that we are not interested in escalation and that the response to quiet will be quiet. Even now, many of our children are not yet back to their normal routines, and neither are their worried parents. I want to express my support for all Israeli citizens, who have again shown their resilience and willingness to follow instructions. It is this resilience that allows our security forces to do their vital work as professionally as possible, as they did this time. My thanks and appreciation, on behalf of all Israelis, to our soldiers and their commanders, members of the security, intelligence and rescue forces."
An article in Ha'aretz which I found unique suggests Hamas is now the responsible adult in that conflict, suggesting neither Israel nor Islamic Jihad are. It is not unusual for Ha'aretz to be super critical of Israeli policy, what is unique is that this point of view makes one of the most murderous terrorist regimes in recent memory appear as the good guys.   
2. This Year Invite-Only
For 86 years, Jewish leaders have gathered annually at the Jewish Federations of North America's General Assembly to discuss pressing issues facing their communities. Last year I attended together with more than 3,000 others who gathered in Tel Aviv.
This year, however, was different. Federation President Manya Bark and I represented our community along with 900 people from 97 different communities - a much smaller, invite-only event titled FedLab. Manya participated in a roll-up-your-sleeves deep discussion of communal security and anti-Semitism while I joined the Jewish engagement and community building track. 
3. Goodwill Hunting

"You've heard of the Gutenberg Bible? Call this the Goodwill Torah.

"Its story is full of mystery and unanswered questions. It involves a donor possibly shrouded in priestly robes; an iconic Southern town known for its colonial reenactment; a Ukrainian village whose Jews were nearly all killed by the Nazis; and an anonymous buyer who thought he could flip the Torah for a profit. Three days of dogged investigation have yielded a detailed accounting of the Torah's last three months, but virtually no solid clues of its age, provenance, or rightful ownership."

4. Sesame Street, Fall River

Sesame Street turned 50 years old on November 10. While I didn't grow up watching the iconic children's show, my kids did. So I am familiar with the cast of characters and the music.

In Forward Magazine's "The Gorgeous, Grungy New York Values of Sesame Street," we read, "Oscar cradles a smudged bit of damp newspaper. It's 13 months old, he lets us know, 'I've wrapped fish inside it, it's smelly and cold.' But to him, it's priceless. Its history is specific and telling, a callback to a classic image of immigrant New York, a time when tightly-packed Lower East Side vendors would tie up the fresh catch in the day's Herald, or Evening Post, or Forward."

Of course, Sesame Street wouldn't be nearly as special or recognizable without that theme song. And we have a local son to thank for it. Joe Raposo, the only child of Portuguese immigrant parents, wrote it. Raposo was a graduate of B.M.C. Durfee High School and Harvard College. In addition to the Sesame Street Theme, he wrote many of the show's most popular songs, such as Bein' Green, C is for Cookie, Sing and ABC-DEF-GHI.

Sesame Street: Show Open Season 1
Sesame Street: Show Open Season 1, 1969
5. There Goes the Neighborhood

She must be something special. Oh, wait - she's Israeli. Being beautiful, talented and well connected in the entertainment industry doesn't hurt either.

Quentin Tarantino, the director of Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood once famously said that he would retire before he ever married. Daniella Pick changed all that. Not only is the couple married, they are expecting their first child and renting a home in Tel Aviv.
6. My People in Cartoons

Excerpted from Have I Got a Cartoon for You!: The Moment Magazine Book of Jewish Cartoons, edited and with an introduction by former New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff:  
"If, or should I say when, we are confronted by a galoot, words are our weapons of choice. Maybe not at the time...but later, in a cartoon. The self-deprecating joke is our true specialty, i.e., you can't insult me by calling me an unattractive, self-centered, no-talent nitwit, because A) I already know that, and B) I can hurt my feelings far, far better than you can. After all, I've had a lifetime of practice."
It's a cleverly written piece and may inspire you to buy the book. Check it out here.
7. Baby, It's Cold Outside

With national records being made and broken for low temps at this time of the year in the news and my own personal vendetta with Mother Nature's chill back on, it's no wonder that I was drawn to Forward's article "Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul."  In it you will find recipes for chicken soups from around the globe, including Caldo de Pollo and Chicken Soup of Chinese Aunties. Soup is never a bad idea.

Mind sufficiently numbed by that blast of snow this week, my thoughts (reasonably?) jumped from broth to that controversial song banned on radio stations last year. You know the one - Baby, It's Cold Outside. Never mind that it's a Christmas carol and I'm a Jew. The news that John Legend and Kelly Clarkson updated the lyrics for the #MeToo era left me shaking my head. The new version includes the lines: "What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice) / If I have one more drink? (It's your body, and your choice)." At least he kept the rhyme scheme.

John Legend - Baby, It's Cold Outside (Official Audio) ft. Kelly Clarkson
John Legend - Baby, It's Cold Outside (Official Audio) ft. Kelly Clarkson

8. Scene from the Region: The Valley Train

In 1906, when the Ottoman Empire controlled large parts of the Middle East, it built the railway lines from Haifa to Syria as an extension of the Trans-Jordan/Hijaz Railway. Stretching from Haifa through Akko (Acre) and Samaria, the line was nicknamed Rakevet Ha'Emek, the "Valley Train."  
Three of the historical stops are in our partnership area: Afula, Ein Harod and Beit HaShita. By 1942, under the British Mandate, it was expanded making it possible to travel by train to Cairo, Beirut, Istanbul, Baghdad, Damascus or Amman - from Haifa! During the years of Israel's struggle for independence, the railway lines suffered several attacks, making travel by train almost non-existent at the time Israel became a state in 1948.
But in 2016, after a 65-year sabbatical, The Valley Line was renewed, connecting Haifa to Beit She'an along the same historic route - which means that you can arrive in Afula for a fun P2G visit traveling a scenic route! See you soon.

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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