The Bulletin


271 Days - 120 Hostages

Bring Them Home

1.Force and Fourth

This is the 4th time I have been away on the 4th since becoming a US citizen 30 years ago. One thing that always stands out is the fact that outside the US, it's just another day.

This year everything feels different. Since I left on this trip two Americans hoping for four more years in the White House failed miserably in instilling any confidence should they be given the chance. When I was growing up here in Israel, where I will stay for one more week, we lived on an air force base and my toys as a kid were real flying machines. Helicopters to be specific. My brother and I could think of nothing better to do than to climb into the cockpit of an S-58 on a Saturday morning. My father was the commander of the "sword" squadron. Fifty-five years ago, when we left the base it was the last time I was at the squadron, but today I came for a visit.

The S-58s are long gone and In their place are the outrageously cool Blackhawks. I did not however go for the flying machines. My visit was about a family story that is part of the squadron's illustrious history. Escorted by the deputy squadron commander we walked in to the center of operations named after my father (they name everything). Something buzzed and someone had to attend to some situation in Gaza. Blackhawk up.

And so we went to the library where an AK-47 that was given to my father in 1968 is now on display (in that glass box next to me). In the months after the Six-Day War terrorists started infiltrating Israel from Jordan. Together with the ground forces, the book was being written about deployment by helicopters to search and destroy before any harm was done. In recognition of the squadron's contribution they gave my father the pictured gun that was taken from a terrorist. After more than 50 years in a dusty closet at our house (I kid you not) it is now (without the pin) a memory on display. I missed the dedication a couple of years ago. With the war in Gaza raging I thought this would be a good time to check it out. I made some new friends today. Young brave pilots who are now added to the list of people I worry about in this war. But I was also reminded today what heroes look like. At our annual board meeting (Monday, July 15) I will add a word or two to this and other stories. Until then, Happy 4th of July and may the force be with them.

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2.American Humble Pie

You don't have to agree with every point the writers - immigrants both, like me - make to be moved by this impassioned, patriotic piece in Tablet this week. It begins with:

"What, to an immigrant, is the Fourth of July?

"For the two of us immigrants—a Christian from Lebanon and a Jew from Israel, respectively—Independence Day, in addition to hot dogs on the grill and fireworks in the sky, is about taking a moment to reflect on the seminal decision of our lives: the decision to come to America to be part of a great and good nation.

"We left behind our native countries because we believed that in America we could find the freedom to pursue our passions without being encumbered by the chill of chaos or the yoke of a restrictive society judging you based on the accidents of your birth rather than the content of your character. We were moved by the signs, the sights, and the sounds we’ve seen and heard as young boys: American music, swinging with optimism and propelling us to explore new boundaries. American films, telling stories that gave us new insights into our own selves. American literature, painting magnificent vistas in a language pulsing with a unique rhythm. American democracy, boisterous but confident in the self-evident truths of its foundation. All those, we believed, came to us courtesy of something we understood as the American spirit, partaking in which is a divine gift. In short, becoming American, to us, is not a universal right; it’s the most supreme privilege imaginable, an invitation to write a sentence or two in the greatest story of the modern era, the story of American exceptionalism."

While my personal experience is not like theirs I encourage you to read the full Tablet Magazine article, "American by the Grace of God." It will give you plenty to think about and maybe stir up some emotions. America (for me) is at its lowest point in my 34 years on these shores - of them, 30 as a naturalized citizen. One thing she always does no matter the highs and lows and that is humble me.

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3.Where the Weaklings Are

If you didn't know it before, you surely will after reading this thoughtful opinion piece. Rabbi David Wolpe is a masterful thinker and doer who has a way with words that both informs and enlightens. Some of you had the privilege to hear him speak at Tifereth Israel very recently.

He shares his thoughts about his recent experience on a leading American campus in JTA's "My Year at Harvard."

"In a place where discourse and argument should prevail, certain suggestive silences took their place. In silence and stealth, hostage posters were ripped down and defaced. Complaints from Jewish students to the administration were met with silence. 

"More times than I can count I went to administrators and insisted that what they were treating as a slow burn was, in fact, a five-alarm fire. I was reminded again of that sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach: What I saw so clearly seemed shaded from the sight of those charged with fixing it.  

" . . . At the same time, many of the leaders and administrators with whom I met and spoke were people of both good will and genuine perplexity about how to address the problem. But as is often the case, they were the voices that remained quiet, or 'worked behind the scenes' which here is a synonym for avoiding the whiplash of public positions. They were afraid of, or in thrall to, the very students whom they were supposed to teach."

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4.Divergent Thinking

When national news is debated on an international stage, the lines are bound to blur. Netanyahu, this week, pushed back against reports of army pressure to end the war, accusing officials of "defeatism."

I don’t believe a word he says. I didn’t before the war and now when subterfuge is always a consideration, I believe it even less. Did Israel “make a mistake” when the director of Shifa Hospital (a terrorist in disguise) was "released"? Was he turned? If he is found murdered in an alley we will know what Hamas thinks. You get my point.

“Anonymous sources briefed The New York Times that Israel will be prepared to end the war before all of its objectives are achieved,” Netanyahu said Tuesday. “This will not happen. The war will end once Israel achieves all of its objectives, including the destruction of Hamas and the release of all of our hostages.”

The article "reported  that Israeli military officials feel a ceasefire with Hamas, even before it is fully defeated, is the best means of returning some 120 hostages still held by the terrorist group from its deadly Oct. 7 invasion of Israel. A ceasefire, the article said in the name of the senior military figures, would also allow the military to refocus its capabilities on the north, where deadly exchanges with Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon threaten to erupt into a full-scale war. Another concern is the exhaustion of overextended troops in Gaza and diminishing munitions."

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5.Money Talks

"If you had trouble understanding former President Donald Trump’s answers to questions about Israel’s war with Hamas in his debate with President Joe Biden, that’s for a good reason: He wasn’t talking to you.

"The audience for his answers wasn’t viewers, Israelis or the Palestinians, and certainly not the moderators. It was Dr. Miriam Adelson.

"In May, the Israeli-born widow of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, pledged $90 million to Trump’s campaign, through the Preserve America super PAC. But she hasn’t yet given over the vast majority of the funds. And Trump’s quest to get her to sign the money over might have dire consequences for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, encouraging further Israeli encroachment in the occupied West Bank and imperiling prospects for a Palestinian state," writes Rob Eshman in Forward. Agree with Rob or not, I hope Miri thinks twice before she signs anything.

6.Bo Knows

I hope the strange headline does enough to intrigue you. If not, this is a sports item and Zeev Buium (drafted higher than any Jewish NHL player ever) made the news this week just days after another NHL Jewish star, Zach Hyman, had what is likely the best NHL season ever by a Jewish player. For more there's this JTA piece.

But the best story for me this week (and this opens my Olympic report - and, no, I never watch the Olympics - not even the 100 meter and never-never-never gymnastics) is Michaela Moshe who was a back-up rhythmic gymnast for Team Israel. She decided that was not good enough. She picked up archery and in 18 months won the Israeli championship and will now compete in Paris. Thank you, Katniss Everdeen? I wonder if for Los Angeles 2028 she might pick up swimming or soccer. Maybe Bo knows.

7.Hot Dogs, Get Ya Hot Dogs Here

It doesn't get more basic than a grilled hot dog on a summer day. While you may have already consumed one or two today, here's some historical perspective and a few recipes for future dog days.

Here's Moment Magazine's "Talk of the Table: Hot Diggity Dog!"

"It didn’t take long for Jewish immigrants—many of whom would have learned about German sausages from their neighbors on New York’s Lower East Side—to horn in on the hot dog scene. Charles Feltman, a German Jew, opened the first hot dog cart at Coney Island in the 1870s and eventually expanded to a full-service restaurant.

"But to the masses, Coney Island hot dogs will always be associated with a different Jewish immigrant. In 1912, a few years after Feltman’s death, his restaurant hired Nathan Handwerker, a Polish Jew, as a grill-and-bun worker. According to Hersh, Handwerker saved $300 working at Feltman’s, quit the restaurant and—along with his wife, Ida—began selling hot dogs from his own pushcart in Coney Island in 1916. His hot dogs (which were Ida’s family recipe) sold for half the price of Feltman’s. 'With Nathan Handwerker, the hot dog becomes a thing,' notes Katharina Vester, professor of history and American Studies at American University. This would eventually prove fateful for countless rest stops across America."

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Garlic Bread Hot Dogs

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Jalapeno Popper Dogs

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Pretzel Buns with Grilled Dogs and Spicy Cheese Sauce (Feel free to sub your own toppings. The homemade pretzel buns are the star here.)

For Your Calendar

Through September 2

"Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away."

For its regional premiere, the most comprehensive exhibition ever presented on Auschwitz is coming to Boston and The Saunders Castle. The exhibition features more than 700 artifacts of immense value to world history and all of humanity.

Tickets at The Castle at Park Plaza

Visit our website

Shabbat Shalom and Am Israel Chai,


The Bulletin is a weekly email from Amir Cohen, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford. I welcome your feedback at 

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