The Bulletin

1. Elections, Indictment - Which One Next?

Last month Prime Minister Netanyahu failed to form a majority government. Benny Gantz, the head of the largest party, failed as well and returned his mandate to President Rivlin yesterday. Earlier today Israel's attorney general announced that Netanyahu will be indicted for fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three separate cases.
The indictment was uncertain last night when Gantz returned his mandate. Today President Rivlin tasked (implored/begged) the Knesset to do a better job. "When the last two Knesset terms began, I asked you to set aside your election swords and clean away the dirt ... show awareness of our sovereignty, statesmanship and responsibility for the people of this dear land ... political fate does not matter as much as the everyday life of the average citizen ...  consider your obligation to the people."  
For the next 21 days any one of the 120 members can try to form a government, and the indictment could ironically open the door to a unity government. Previously, Blue and White would not agree to a coalition with Netanyahu as prime minister, while Likud remained loyal to Netanyahu and would not agree to anything but. That may now change. But first the AG must ask the Knesset to remove Netanyahu's immunity (which could take 30 days), so we are likely to remain without answers for a while longer.
Speculation about possible outcomes will surely follow the indictment news. (More on this breaking story from JTA.) You can count on me keeping you informed. 
2. Nothing Settled

Secretary Pompeo announced this week that the US does not view Israeli Settlement as a violation of international law. JTA gives us  "Everything you need to know about Israeli settlements and the Trump administration's announcement" for those who want a good review.  I would like to add that I doubt this latest announcement would change anything for Palestinians, Israelis and their opinions on the issue. Perhaps reflect on that when you read this.
3. Not Sitting Down

In October the Anti-Defamation League of New England sponsored a forum called "The Good Fight." It took a daylong look at confronting anti-Semitism both today and tomorrow. Originally the title of a book the ADL published in 2017 with the subtitle, "America's Ongoing Struggle for Justice," ADL is pursuing its century-old mandate to fight anti-Semitism with renewed vigor.

Here's the link to the printable pamphlet The Good Fight Tool Kit.
4. Amy-Jill from the Block

Moment Magazine has a fun new feature called Beshert. Readers are invited to share their love stories. If you feel your love was beshert - "meant to be" - the folks at Moment would love to hear about it (and share it with the entire Jewish media-reading world).

The most recent column was submitted by Jay Geller about a memorable coincidence in his courting history with none other than Amy-Jill Levine from Dartmouth. Amy-Jill is a noted scholar and public speaker who spoke at a TI Ziskind Lecture in May 2010.

Interested in the story? Read it in " 'SHELLY!!!' (Who knew?)"  
5. Cambridge Speaks Yiddish

Twenty-five years ago S&S Restaurant in Cambridge buried a time capsule. It was opened last Saturday with regulars, staff and members of the Mitchell-Wheeler families - including S&S owners and siblings Gary Mitchell and Aimee Baum, whose great-grandmother, Ma Edelstein, founded the S&S - present.

The restaurant has operated in Cambridge's Inman Square since 1919. The S&S's story starts with a Yiddish grandmother as many great stories do. From the restaurant's website:

"Four generations ago, our great grandmother would welcome her customers in Yiddish: 'Es and es' - a very maternal expression for eat and eat. Ma Edelstein's special saying inspired the name for today's S&S Restaurant. Over the years we've changed, but great food and great value are still the order of the day. The Mitchell-Wheeler family welcomes you to the S&S Restaurant to enjoy what's new - and what's old."

You know you're not in Kansas anymore when the menu features chopped liver, knishes, matzo ball soup, borscht, Pearl knockwurst, tongue sandwich, four different Reubens, Nova Scotia lox, smoked whitefish, cheese blintzes, potato pancakes and half-sour pickles. Heck, it's hard to believe you're in Massachusetts with a throwback menu like this!

6. Oh! Porto - Oh! Sefarad

When the news is both Jewish and Portuguese, then it's even more newsworthy for our community in Greater New Bedford. Ready for it? "Tiny Jewish community makes a $1.2 million feature film about its history." 
And there is controversy too: "A former leading member of the community told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on condition of anonymity that the film's budget came from revenues earned by vetting the applications of hundreds of people claiming to be descendants of Sephardic Jews. In 2015, Portugal and Spain passed laws entitling such descendants to become citizens as atonement for past persecution."
Personally I care very little about the funding. I do care about the film (now on iTunes and December 15th on Prime). Check out this 90-minute movie titled Sefarad and please let me know what you think.

7. Discovering Druze

One of the officers in my unit back in the day when I was serving in the Israeli army was a Druze. He was the deputy commander for logistics when I was the operation officer. For a brief period before we moved to temporary tents prior to the war in 1982, we shared a room. Two officers per room was then a luxury. We even had AC. I was thinking about him when I saw this story about food tours in northern Israel. In all honesty my experience with Druze cuisine is limited to what he brought from home and a couple of restaurants on the Golan Heights many years ago with the culinary knowledge of a then 20-something

Tablet Magazine brings us a taste of Druze cuisine: "Israel has the third largest Druze population in the world, after Syria and Lebanon. By the latest estimate, there are approximately 143,000 members of this unique religious and ethnic group in Israel - mostly in the north, particularly in the Galilee and the Golan Heights, with some also living around Haifa. For many Israeli Jews, Druze religion and culture is a bit of a mystery. But Druze food is widely known and beloved."

Want to go deeper? There is Food Republic's "Eating Druze: Seasonal Cooking Is a Virtue in Galilee, the Tuscany of Israel" and Food & Wine's "How This Druze Chef and Entrepreneur Found Success in NYC." (See what I did there in that last link? Provided you with a restaurant only a few hours away to scratch that itch for this Middle Eastern food everyone's talking about. You're welcome.)

8. Scene from the Region: Operation Moses
For centuries, the Ethiopian Jewish community prayed for a return to the Land of Israel. Exactly 35 years ago, on November 21, 1984, Operation Moses - a clandestine mission to bring more than 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel - began. Thousands of Ethiopian Jews embarked on an arduous journey by foot through the deserts of Ethiopia and Sudan. More than 4,000 people died along the way. Those who made it to Sudan were airlifted to Israel.  
The American Jewish communities, including many in New-England, supported and were involved in this operation. Afula, our partnership city in Israel, absorbed many of the new Olim (immigrants in Israel) from Operation Moses, and many more followed later after Operation Solomon and the ongoing effort to bring Ethiopian Jewry home. Nearly 5,000 of the 140,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel live in Afula today. They make up approximately 10% of its population. Kibbutz Bet Alfa (in our partner Gilboa region) is home to Yesodot, an absorption center, where new Olim receive support, allowing for a softer landing in an entirely new country and society.
The picture below shows visitors from New England and two of our partnership office staff members in Afula with three residents at the center during a delicious BUNA coffee ceremony.   

A New Bedford High School Drama Club Production
December 6th and 7th, 7:00 PM
December 8th, 2:00 PM
NBHS Bronspiegel Auditorium, 230 Hathaway Boulevard
Tickets available at the door:
$10.00 students/seniors; $12 general admission

Based on a true account, Letters to Sala is adapted from the book Sala's Gift by Ann Kirschner. This is the heart-wrenching story of a young girl's survival during wartime Germany over five years, seven Nazi labor camps and over 350 hidden letters. Sala Garncarz Kirschner kept her secret letters for over fifty years, concealing her painful history in a box.   


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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