The Bulletin

1. Groundhog Day, Israeli Style: Election Day 2019 II

As you are reading this week's Bulletin I am either on my way to Israel or already there. I will be in Israel during Tuesday's elections which I am sure will be an interesting experience. It always is. The May elections led to a dead end with eternal Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu staying in office (because he was already in the post). Unable to secure a future government, Tuesday's elections were called and there is (ugh) little guarantee that after Tuesday Bibi, or anyone, will be able to form a new government.
In many of the past elections Netanyahu's Likud ended up with more seats than the polls and even exit polls showed. It turns out that when push comes to shove, alone in the voting booth, many Israelis vote Likud.
On Monday, Matti Friedman wrote a piece for The New York Times that got a lot of attention in the Jewish world. I think it is worth reading. When the election results start coming out Tuesday night and Wednesday consider his words: "No single episode has shaped Israel's population and politics like the wave of suicide bombings perpetrated by Palestinians in the first years of the 21st century. Much of what you see here in 2019 is the aftermath of that time, and every election since has been held in its shadow."
Navigating between the narrative of Born in Jerusalem and Still Alive, a new film with a title that applies to many (including me), political events and Tuesday's election, Friedman signs off with, "So when Mr. Netanyahu declares in an election ad that 'in the stormy Mideastern sea we've proven that we can keep Israel an island of stability and safety,' we all know what he means, even if we don't vote for him. That's his strongest card, and if he wins, that will be why. The scenario we're afraid of is clear even if it doesn't have a name. It doesn't need one." It is worth reading the full piece.

For more of the basics, JTA sorts it out in "Here we go again: A beginner's guide to Israel's 2nd election in 2019."
2. On Sovereignty

On Tuesday, one week before the election, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that after the elections Israel would impose Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea, effectively staking claim over about a third of the land in the West Bank. Reports suggest he was ready to announce it as "effective immediately" but was talked down. The political ramifications of such a move when and if it happens aside (it could ignite the West Bank), this is classic Bibi reaching out to the voters on the right who may be leaning elsewhere with their votes. For more on this story.
3. More Than Just a Building Lost in the Fire

Fire destroyed a 120-year-old synagogue in Duluth, MN, this week. To date no accelerants have been found and an investigation into the cause is ongoing. But for those in the community, the loss is a lot more personal and less clinical.

"Still, it felt easy to be Jewish there, among the Frozen Chosen. The worst thing that might happen is you run into a bear while walking to shul. As a kid, my mother attended catechism with her Catholic best friend and Job's Daughters with her Lutheran best friend, and somehow had a bat mitzvah in the middle. She flirted with Unitarianism in old age. Our prairie Jewish homeland was so companionable.

"The image of a synagogue on fire suggests the worst Jewish nightmare, a fresh Kristallnacht. Given cryptic statements from fire department and police officials, it seems the politics of blood and soil may have touched my family seat. I am disoriented and in mourning. But Jews have felt this way as long as we have been Jews. It is almost definitional."

4. Apology Accepted

Just in time for the High Holidays, there is "The Art of the Apology." Apparently there's more to the dos and don'ts of apologizing than meets the eye - or ear, in this case.

Where to start: "Maimonides says to state clearly what you did wrong and show remorse. You cannot just say, 'I'm sorry.' Also, regret is not an apology, but a description of what you feel. Apologizing is what the other person feels. State what you did. It's much more taxing upon the apologizer to do that, but it's important. 'I am sorry I did X, Y and Z.' Show the other person you understand what you did. Specificity is very important. You need to take responsibility for your apology."

Serious stuff. Here's some apology levity (and an example of how not to) to lighten the mood:
Wife (signing divorce papers): "I'm sorry I ever married you."
Husband: "Apology accepted."

And here's my favorite reference to the subject of apology. This clip is part of the legendary Last Lecture of Dr. Randy Pausch which everyone should listen to or read.
5. Another Moment 5

Here's another round of recommendations in Moment from some of the world's foremost Jewish thinkers: Five Books to Be an Educated Jew: Part II.

Have some ideas of your own? Moment provides a link to send your selections. What five books would you recommend to be an educated Jew?

6. Deconstructed Hummus

When you cannot stomach another pastrami on rye (does that even happen?) or egg salad or PB&J, there is this: the Smashed Chickpea Salad fix. Hear that? That's the sound of pita around the world rejoicing.

The food blogger advises, "If you want to doll it up, here are some ideas: A slice of roasted red pepper, a slice of pickled garlicky red pepper, and a few leaves of sharp greens, such as watercress or arugula. Or, as shown right above this recipe, on an open-faced slice of toast first schmeared with a tahini dressing. Make tahini dressing with a big spoonful of tahini, one minced garlic clove, a squeeze of lemon juice, and thinned with water to a loose but spreadable consistency. Season well with salt and pepper."

Monday, September 16, 4:00 PM
Immigrants in Film: Classic Hollywood and the Ethnic American Experience
Raphael Shargel, associate professor of English at Providence College
Grand Reading Room, Claire T. Carney Library, UMass Dartmouth

Thursday, September 26, 12:30 PM
Lecture: "Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Atrocity"
Dr. James Waller, professor of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Keene State College
Jackson Arts Center, BCC, Room 209

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

November 6 - 17 (Save the Dates)
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.

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