The Bulletin

1. A New Year - New Beginnings - Old Challenges
First and foremost I would like to wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year.  
In the coming days we will gather with friends and family and more of us will attend services in synagogues than at any time during the year. We are a Jewish community every day, but perhaps more so than at any time, this week. I wish for all that we enjoy this time and suggest that we forget about complaints and troubles and divisions and celebrate how fortunate we are. In a year that saw some of our Jewish practices come under attack, let us all hold our heads high and be proud. I know I am and I will.
2. Emma's New Year

"The same year that Emma Lazarus wrote her famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty, 'Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,' she also wrote a far more obscure poem commemorating the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. The New Year, written in 1883, foreshadowed the growing division of the Jewish people. 'In two divided streams the exiles part, One rolling homeward to its ancient source, One rushing sunward with fresh will, new heart. By each the truth is spread,' Lazarus wrote, anticipating what would become the defining internal conflict of Jewish life more than a century later: the deep communal rift between American Jews and Israel, which forms the subject of Daniel Gordis' new book, We Stand Divided."
Ari Blaff's Tablet Magazine article "Between Two Promised Lands" is a smart read that travels through these conversations. Perhaps you'll travel there too?
3. Drawing Straws?  
Yesterday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the chance to form a government and four weeks in which to do it. Despite coming in second with 32 seats to Blue and White's 33, "Netanyahu has the best chance to form a government," Rivlin said.

Polls suggest a majority of Israelis would like to see Likud replace Netanyahu with another candidate (which could open the door for a unity government), but failing that would prefer Netanyahu go first in a rotation of the prime minister's office with Benny Gantz.

Rivlin said he gave the mandate to Netanyahu because he received 55 recommendations from MKs, compared with Gantz's 54. He called upon parties to stop disqualifying each other and lamented that a unity government was not formed.

Netanyahu, with a bloc of 55 MKs from his Likud Party and allies in Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism, must find another partner and thus far all have refused his offer.

"My inability to form a government is slightly less than that of Gantz," Netanyahu said in accepting the mandate - not missing the opportunity to take a shot at his main opponent. Netanyahu also called on Gantz to form a government led by him, citing security, diplomatic and economic reasons and raising the prospects of both war with Iran and a peace process with the Palestinians led by US President Donald Trump.

If Netanyahu fails, Rivlin could give the mandate to Gantz or to another Likud candidate. In his address, Rivlin noted that by law, after the candidate with a mandate fails to form a government, instead of giving the mandate to another candidate, the Knesset can choose a candidate with the support of 61 members - an unprecedented approach and line of thinking.
Gantz reiterated after Netanyahu was given the mandate that his party would not enter a government led by him while possible indictments are waiting in the wings. He blamed Likud for the failure to form a unity government because Netanyahu's party refused to give up the other parties in its political bloc. "Blue and White is committed to the idea of unity, but this requires negotiations among the two largest parties alone in order to reach agreement on the content and essence of the next government," Gantz said.
A very interesting few weeks are ahead no doubt. There may still be a third election. Let the games begin.  
4. Gary's Entertainment - Not Mine

Gary Rosenblatt, editor of New York Jewish Week, has something to say about the story Shtisel doesn't tell. Shtisel, the hit Israeli television series focused on a Haredi family living in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem, is far more popular in the US than in Israel - which may provide a clue as to why personally I'm less of a fan, though I am watching.
 Rosenblatt (one of the most respected journalists in the Jewish media field) gives us pause to dig deeper into the Jewish community's fascination with the story of "the other" within our own ranks:  "But the show avoids the kind of social, political and religious conflicts that are quite real and played a significant factor in Israel's national elections this week. Issues like the effort to compel charedi young men to serve in the IDF or perform some other form of national service, or to allow public transportation and stores to remain open on Shabbat and religious festivals - all amidst the wider debate over whether Israel's destiny is to be a religious-national state or a Jewish democratic state with humanistic values.
"These are serious issues that impact on the future of Israeli society as it struggles with the predictions that, given the growth in the charedi and Israeli Arab population, in the not too distant future the majority of the country's population will be non-Zionist or anti-Zionist."
5. Blow Your Horn

If you ever questioned whether Jews have a voice in the entertainment industry, doubt no more. The shofar has popped up in some interesting places over its extensive history. Classical and avant-garde music,  West Side Story, The Howard Stern Show and The Planet of the Apes all feature the shofar.

Want to know where else our favorite instrument makes an appearance? Check out: "From Star Wars to Madonna: 7 Times Shofars Showed Up Outside Shul."
6. Clueless Anti-Semites

I was hardly surprised when a Trenton City Councilwoman used the term "Jew down" this week. In my experience (and as of this week I have officially lived more than half my life in these United States), it is an expression (perhaps the only one) people use without malice. It has been said to me by people who know I am Jewish and I know are not anti-Semitic. Some think it is comic maybe (think soup Nazi). I'm not sure.  
So here are two questions - What does "Jew down" mean, and why do people find it offensive? - addressed in the linked JTA article and in this excerpt: " Like 'gyp' and 'welsh,' 'Jew down' emerged from an impression of a group as a whole and survived. If the Jewish community wants to eradicate the use of the objectionable term, or what Brandeis professor Jonathan Sarna calls 'linguistic insensitivity,' they have to call out the people who use it. Language helps to shape the community we live in."
What do you think. Please share.
7. Food for Thought (and Prayer)

The countdown is on. Make your lists, shop, preheat your stove and chop. Tradition may rule in your home. If so, you're coasting. But if you like to shake it up every now and then, I am here to feed that urge with Jewish Boston's collection of  High Holiday recipes and Jewish Journal's Sephardic celebration of foods. Enjoy.


 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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