The Bulletin

1. Was There an Election or Was It a Dream?
Netanyahu and Gantz, l-r 
A few years ago I was on an Acela train and chatted with some members of the Australian Parliament for a couple of hours en route to New York. In Australia, they told me, people are required to vote by law and nearly 100% do. On Tuesday 69.4% of Israelis voted, an increase of 1.5% from the stalemate elections four months ago. Thirty parties participated; more than half of them will have no Knesset seats. Most of the added votes came from Israeli Arabs. The significant increase in the size of the Arab United Party is a game changer because without it or Israel Beiteynu, Netanyahu won't be able to form a new government. Both promised not to join a Netanyahu-led government.  
It appears that a majority of parties will recommend to President Rivlin assigning the task  of forming a government to Benny Gantz, the leader of Blue and White. With 98% of the votes counted, Netanyahu's Likud with 31 seats trails Benny Gantz and Blue and White with 33. For the first time in more than a decade a centrist government may actually be formed. An unprecedented partnership with Arab parties to join the government does not seem impossible either. Who would have thunk it?
There is of course a call for a unity government (rightfully so) and if both sides agree to that it will be better for a now very polarized Israel. It will limit the bargaining power of the small parties that are motivated by sectorial special interests and provide more stability. It will however require Netanyahu to join without being prime minister - something that before the elections seemed impossible.  
One other point I want to make is that a situation where Netanyahu walks away and in return several investigations into his conduct while in office are closed may also emerge. With such a scenario, Likud can join the government as a the second largest party. While Bibi sails into the sunset a new era of Israeli politics without him may begin. This process will take weeks and will likely occupy some space in next week's Bulletin as well.
Let the negotiations begin.  
For more reading check out:
2. An Affirmative Battle

I like to read Bari Weiss's work in The New York Times. Last week she wrote about how to fight anti-Semitism which is also the title of her book. It goes from Tree of Life to Poway and through the horror of regular assaults on Jews in New York City. "T
here were four times as many hate crimes against Jews as against blacks in 2018. These physical horrors - beaten with a brick; whipped with a belt - are the tips of anti-Semitic icebergs found on both the left and the right that have moved definitively and rapidly into mainstream waters."   
I think that her main argument is that it is about our values and about our pride and that those are key elements to keep in our tool kit. "Jews did not sustain their magnificent civilization because they were anti-anti-Semites. Our tradition was always renewed by people who made the choice in the face of tragedy that theirs would not be the end of the Jewish story, but the catalyst for writing a new chapter. The long arc of Jewish history makes it clear that the only way to fight is by waging an affirmative battle for who we are. By entering the fray for our values, for our ideas, for our ancestors, for our families, and for the generations that will come after us. This is not an exhortation to embrace religion in all its strictures. It is a reminder that Judaism contains multitudes, and that those who point the finger at other Jews as a way to keep the target off their own backs - insisting that the real problem are those with their kippot or their Zionism - at once distorts our history and the fact of our peoplehood. In these trying times, our best strategy is to build, without shame, a Judaism and a Jewish people and a Jewish state that are not only safe and resilient but also generative, humane, joyful and life-affirming. A Judaism capable of lighting a fire in every Jewish soul."   
I hope you enjoy her piece and if you wish to go ahead and get the book here's a link for that. Before you do, if you are looking for book reviews, here's Talia Zaks in the Forward suggesting Weiss has answers but isn't asking the right questions. And there's Hillel Halkin in The New York Times who adds, "It is in writing about the left, however, that Weiss is at her most passionate. Here she is, after all, on her home territory - a home that she feels lately has rejected her, precisely because she is a proud Jew and lover of Israel (though one critical of its current policies). She writes about how others who share her feelings have been forced to deny who they are. 'I meet such people in every Jewish community I speak to,' she relates. 'They tend to wait until late in the evening, after the crowd has thinned out or after they've had a few glasses of wine, to make their confession. But the confession is always the same: I'm in the closet. It's not their sexuality or gender expression they are closeting. It is their Jewishness and their Zionism'." Not a bedtime read, but we do have the Jewish High Holidays ahead.
3. The Spy Who Loved Israel

The Vibe of the Tribe crew binged the new six-part series The Spy, starring Sacha Baron Cohen as real-life Israeli spy Eli Cohen. The Netflix limited series focuses on how Cohen, an Egyptian Jew, managed to infiltrate the highest echelons of Syrian society in the 1960s and provide valuable intel to Israel.

The team discusses training montages, spy craft in the '60s, the strategic importance of the Golan Heights, Sacha Baron Cohen's remarkable mustache and the recurring symbolism of bread and butter.

Here you go: The Vibe of the Tribe Podcast - Episode 79: Netflix's "The Spy" with Sasha Baron Cohen. And below is the official trailer to get you hooked.

THE SPY Official Trailer (2019) Sacha Baron Cohen, Netflix Series HD
THE SPY Official Trailer (2019) Sacha Baron Cohen, Netflix Series HD

4. An Instagram-Worthy Celebration

Whether you're hosting or invited, be the one to shake things up this holiday season. From Kveller, there is "5 Hacks for the Best Rosh Hashanah Ever."

Or take My Jewish Learning's suggestion: "To emphasize the newness of the year, you might try doing something new right before or after the holiday. For instance, you might learn a new game, visit a place you've never been, or try a new hobby. Enjoying a new experience or acquiring new knowledge can spark a conversation about what else new might happen in the coming year."
5. Magical Realism Meets Holocaust

Only Alice Hoffman could introduce elements of magic into a story about the Holocaust and get away with it. The author of Practical Magic and 37 other novels talks about her newest novel in this Moment Magazine interview.

"And yet The World That We Knew, out in September, is still a departure for the 67-year-old author. It checks all the boxes of the now-familiar Holocaust blockbuster genre: a sweeping, multicharacter plot; danger, bereavement, resistance and survival in multiple stories that snake through wartime Paris, Berlin and the safe-haven village of Le Chambon; narrow escapes; and ghastly outcomes for the brave. Since it's an Alice Hoffman novel, there's also a wild card, in the form of a golem - a female golem, at that - created by a rabbi's daughter for a desperate mother who hopes that a golem can shepherd her daughter to safety," writes Amy Schwartz.

An interview excerpt:

In the preface of The World That We Knew, you describe meeting a survivor who wanted you to tell her story, and you said, "No, no, I don't do that." But then you did. What changed?

Getting older was part of it, and seeing what's happening around us. I really began to write this book after the 2016 election. I was working on another book, and I set it aside. I see a lot of similarities between then and now, and it's very scary. It's really important to keep this story in mind.
6. Street Food at a Cost

A tourist was charged $2,800 for a shawarma platter in Jerusalem. Was it the most amazing shawarma platter ever? One would hope so.

The owner told Israel's Channel 13 that the transaction was a mistake. A former employee, however, told the morning news program on Israel's Channel 12 that the owners had used the tactic several times before. He said that sometimes the owner would quote the price in shekels but then charge the number quoted in dollars or euros. The employee added that some tourists gave up trying to recover the money that they were overcharged.

To save you the hassle of flying to Israel and haggling over a bill, I suggest you try this Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma recipe featured in The New York Times instead. Might not be authentic, but it'll do.


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

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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