The Bulletin

1. Another Jewish Holiday, Another Synagogue Attack
While we were going about Yom Kippur in a private or communal way, a Jewish congregation in Germany was under attack. It is perhaps a sign of the times that the man who wanted to enter the synagogue in Halle, Germany, was spotted on the surveillance system before he could enter - which allowed those inside to barricade the entrances and probably save many lives. In Germany (and all over the Jewish world) active shooter protocols are now in place for exactly that reason. The local community is unhappy there was no police protection on the holiest of days. While the terrorist failed to enter the building, he did murder one person outside the synagogue and another at a nearby store.
German authorities said the shooter wanted to inspire more attacks against Jews. "Even before the events of yesterday, I wouldn't have left my home with the kippah," said Igor Matviyets, a member of the Halle Jewish community. That quote says everything we need to know about the reality of Jewish life in many places across Europe.

2. In the Bundestag We Trust

Even before the news of the attack in Halle, I thought there was need of coverage here about some developments in Europe in general and Germany in particular. While Neo-Nazis marched in Dortmund, calling on Palestinians to destroy Israel, the city of Dortmund reversed its decision to award a literary prize to British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie because she is an outspoken BDS supporter. The city of Aachen did the same, reversing its decision to award visual artist Walid Raad its artistic award. "The designated prize winner is a supporter of the BDS movement and was involved in various activities for the cultural boycott of Israel," said Marcel Philipp, the mayor of Aachen.  

In Germany the Bundestag already ruled that BDS is anti-Semitic. When Neo-Nazis march in the name of free speech or try to challenge German law, it is easy for many to look at them as fanatics. It is harder to do the same when the issue is dressed up as a visual artist or an author, but when it comes to BDS they are exactly the same. When you call for the destruction of Israel, you can't hide. The decision of the Bundestag is therefore very important even if (ironically) one of those who signed a petition to reverse it is German-Israeli artist Nirit Somerfeld, child of Holocaust survivors. Rights for Palestinians is an important cause, but the destruction of Israel is not the road to get there. Get that, Nirit?
3. A Full 180

There is a long history of Israeli support for the Kurds. In independence rallies a few years ago, Kurds were flying Israeli flags along with their own.  This week we learned that in a significant foreign policy shift, the US has pulled out its support for the Kurds (for several years key to the battle against ISIS). This was immediately followed by a Turkish  encroachment into northeastern Syria and an attack on Kurds in their previously autonomous area of Rojava.  
Why should we care (outside of the humanitarian crisis) and even be worried? Well, let's see. Turkey's Erdogan has essentially used the humanitarian crisis for political gain. It was no longer enough that Turkey received billions of dollars to care for millions of Syrian refugees. Blackmail has reached the next step where the US and Europe must get out of the way while Erdogan takes over Rojava. This or he was going to let those refugees flood Europe. And so they (and we) did.  
This is rightfully an issue of great concern to Israel because Erdogan is an Iranian ally and this move, coupled with the lack of American reaction to the Iranian attack on the Saudi oil fields last month, suggests not just a policy shift but a virtual betrayal of former strategic allies. If it's the Kurds and Saudis today, who is it going to be next? Don't let the Trump-Netanyahu lovefest photos fool you. In the Middle East a full 180 is sometimes so quick it can be measured on an egg timer.  
A Netanyahu election billboard in Tel Aviv last month. 
4. Bimah as Bully Pulpit?

Sometime you just can't win. At least not if you're the rabbi speaking to a congregation during the High Holidays.

Is it really?

In The American Israelite article "The High Holiday Sermon Problem" we read:

"It is possible for a rabbi to raise an issue without speaking in a manner that makes either the synagogue or Judaism itself part of a partisan debate. Skillful sermonizers know how to tiptoe right up to the brink of using their pulpits to advance a particular cause, candidate or political party without crossing over. Asking people to think about the implications of a divisive issue, without committing the institution to one side or another, is entirely legitimate."

"We rabbis are simply humans. We are filled with emotion, personal perspectives and a strong urge to make this world a better place. We do not have answers to the world's many problems, nor do we have solutions to our country's clear political crisis, but we certainly know that standing idly by is never an option."
What do you think?
5. Kvetching Tale Neverending

"I always joke that if the Jews weren't good complainers, we'd all be in Uganda today. But I'm not sure about the 'effective' part. We're good at complaining, at kvetching to each other. We could all use a little help getting results and resolutions to our complaints," said Amy Fish, author of I Wanted Fries With That, in this interview with The Forward's Schmooze columnist.
6. Walking the Walk

Robert Kraft named the new executive director of his foundation this week. Dr. Rachel Fish is the founding executive director of the Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism. She began her new role on Monday.

Kraft established this new foundation in response to the growing rise in antisemitism in the U.S. and abroad, particularly in light of the spread of hateful rhetoric online and the initiation of hate crimes against the Jewish people through social media. He announced the foundation when he was awarded the Genesis Prize in June in Jerusalem, along with his own $20 million founding investment and the generous donations of others.

"I am thrilled to have Rachel lead this new and important effort," Kraft said. "Rachel's education, experience and, most importantly, her commitment make her the right person for this role."

For more about Dr. Fish and her work:

Israel as a Jewish & Democratic State - Dr. Rachel Fish
Israel as a Jewish & Democratic State - Dr. Rachel Fish

7. Harvest Festival Done Up

Jewish Boston shares a collection of Sukkot recipes and What Jew Wanna Eat has more Sukkot recipes if the first didn't inspire. Whether or not you eat them in a Sukkah I leave to you. Happy holiday to you and yours.

8. Scene from the Region - Yom Kippur at Beit HaShita
This week we commemorate Yom Kippur. In 1973 sirens broke the silence of this holiest of days. Israel was under attack, at war. Kibbutz Beit HaShita, located in our partnership region of Gilboa and one of 33 municipalities that make that regional council is uniquely connected to Yom Kippur.
For Israelis, since the Yom Kippur War, the prayer Unetane Tokef, has become symbolic of that war that started with a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria just after 2:00 PM. The war lasted three weeks and 2,500 Israeli soldiers lost their lives. In 1990, songwriter Yair Rosenblum composed a melody for Unetene Tokef while visiting Kibbutz Beit Hashita. Eleven men from the kibbutz were killed during the war, more casualties per capita than any other place in Israel. The melody was inspired by the raw memory of the war.
In this video, Chanoch Albelck, a member of Kibbutz Beit Hashita, sings the song along with the famous  Gevatron Choir from Kibbutz Geva, also located in the Gilboa region.

 Sunday, October 13, 2:00 PM
Connecticut Lyric Opera's production of Der Kaiser von Atlantis, an opera by Jewish composer Viktor Ulmann and librettist Peter Kien who collaborated while imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. They were later sent to their deaths at Auschwitz.
Jackson Arts Center, BCC
Reception immediately following in the Grimshaw-Gudewicz Art Gallery, 3:45-4:30 PM
Support levels: $25 student, $50 individual, $100 sponsor, $200 benefactor

Wednesday, October 16, 12:30 - 1:45 PM
Lunch lecture: "Racial Prophylaxis: Jim Crow and Nazi Race Laws"
Dr. Kathleen Pearle, dean of Division of Social Science and Education, Bristol College

Wednesday, October 16
2:00 PM - Woodland Commons, UMass Dartmouth
6:00 PM Charlton College of Business Auditorium, UMass Dartmouth
Nataly Kogan, a Soviet-Jewish refugee and "happiness expert," is the Rev. Dr. Robert Lawrence Lecture speaker. She is the author of Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Event the Difficult Ones).
Admission is free, but registration is required at lawrence-lecture-2019.eventbrite.com

Wednesday, October 23, 12:30 - 1:45 PM
Lunch lecture: "The Armenian Genocide and the German Connection"
Manya Bark, independent Holocaust scholar and instructor at the Second Half Institute of Fall River

Wednesday, November 13, 12:30 - 1:45 PM
Lunch lecture: "Preserving Czech-Jewish History: Honorable Friendship During the Holocaust"
Dr. Ilana Offenberger, professor of Holocaust History, UMass Dartmouth


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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