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The Bulletin

6.20.2024

257 Days - 120 Hostages

Bring Them Home

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1.When in Israel


How ironic that two of the main topics this week are 1.) the extension of the reserve-duty limits for soldiers and 2.) legislation that keeps it legal for Israel’s ultra-Orthodox population to avoid any kind of service. So despicable is this unfair distribution that some members of the Orthodox community are seeking new ways to contribute and are, in essence, telling the politicians who allegedly represent them how immoral their behavior has become. (Read more about it in The Times of Israel.)


Like the war that seems to be stuck, this 76-year-old practice that began as a temporary compromise by Ben Gurion threatens to derail coalition members in Bibi’s coalition. Sadly, I expect hubris and hedonism to win out and for the small-minded politicians to betray Israel’s needs for personal gain. After all, that's the model of leadership they have seen in 14 out of the past 18 year under Netanyahu.


I have three more Bulletins to write before I return to New Bedford in time for our annual meeting and I will keep an eye on this (and other) events and processes while I’m here. I will unfortunately miss the Ziskind lecture on its new date this coming Monday but look forward to hearing from you about how it went.

2.Israel via Europe


I had to see it from up close. Europe (more than many places) is going through a wave of antisemitism and radicalization - not entirely unexpected. I thought I'd benefit from seeing it personally. Walking through the streets of Amsterdam (among the less hostile places) it is hard not to feel the burden of the past. Anne Frank's tiny statue, the golden tiles paved into the sidewalk outside the Jewish museum, visible security near the Portuguese Synagogue are reminders. It isn't hard to imagine a ghetto. It feels even more horrifying when the news from Paris is of a 12-year-old Jewish girl being raped by several of her classmates as punishment for the war in Gaza.


When I was in the fourth grade my mother worked on Spinoza Street in Tel Aviv - not too far from where I am now, writing this Bulletin. I asked her once who he was and without hesitation she said "the smartest man who ever lived." From what I read, Thomas Jefferson felt the same way. I stopped to have a chat with him, his impressive statue surrounded by canals and bicycles (like everything in Amsterdam). I thought he might have an inspiring thought. Sadly all I got was a recommendation to go and have the apple pie at 43 Winkel Street. Covered in whipped cream, the world is easier to swallow. A few hours later, having spent a 63 eye-opening hours on the ground, I boarded a flight to Tel Aviv. Europe and Israel are a little like cause and effect. In the coming weeks I may shed some more light on what that means to me in 2024.





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3.Northern Exposure


Will there be a full-blown conflict is the question everyone is asking as the border has been pushed de facto 10 miles south and more than 100,000 Israelis have left their homes and are unable to return.


"Israel and Hezbollah have been in a low-grade war since the Iranian-backed group fired at Israel in a show of solidarity with Hamas after the beginning of the war in Gaza last October. The exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israel has intensified in recent weeks, and Israelis have been eyeing the possible beginning of a full-out war in the north. The Israeli military has been preparing for such a conflict." For Israelis near the Lebanon border, war with Hezbollah feels inevitable.

 

Just yesterday, the head of Hezbollah threatened Israel and Cyprus in a televised address. "Nasrallah said his group would fight with 'no rules' and 'no ceilings' in the event of a broader war. He was speaking at a memorial event for a commander killed in an Israeli strike last week - the most senior Hezbollah figure to be killed so far in the current conflict with Israel.

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4.If a Tree Falls in the Forest


"U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed colleagues planning to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to Congress, drawing a link between members of Congress and anti-Israel campus protesters." (He is of course wrong and his words are 100% politically motivated.)


“The scourge of antisemitism is a blight on once-prestigious institutions across our country, and unfortunately, it reaches from college campuses right here to the U.S. Capitol,” McConnell said in a Senate floor speech on Tuesday. (While antisemitism is a major issue, let us not mistake for one second that it is central to the senator's views. If it were he would have spoken about it without an expectation of political gain.)


"When Netanyahu last addressed Congress in 2015, 58 Democrats skipped the speech, in part because it was organized solely by Republican leadership in the House and Senate. This time, Netanyahu received an invitation on behalf of all four of the congressional party leaders, despite an initial negotiating delay from Democrats." (Personally I wish he didn’t because he is - like the senator - only interested in his political survival even at a dire diplomatic cost to Israel.) "An even larger number of Democrats might boycott Netanyahu’s July 24 address, over objections to his handling of the war in Gaza." Read the full JNS article here.

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5.Show Me the Money


"Willie Mays was in the prime of his career in 1963, but his finances were a mess. The Giants’ star outfielder had plunged into debt amid divorce proceedings, and even with more than half of his career home runs under his belt, was staring down bankruptcy. Then he met Jacob Shemano.


"Shemano was a banker whose kid, Gary, was shagging fly balls during warmups that day at Candlestick Park. They connected in the locker room afterward, where Mays asked Shemano to help him smooth out his money problems. Shemano agreed on one condition: He wouldn’t take a dime for his work.


"What began with Shemano rescuing Mays from bankruptcy evolved into a close friendship that spanned generations and made Mays an honorary member of sorts not just in the Shemano family, but also in the San Francisco Jewish community. Mays in 1964 told the San Francisco Examiner the Shemanos were 'the best friends I’ve ever had in my life'.” Here's the Forward article: "Willie Mays' Treasured Bond With a Jewish Family."


And here's a piece about his life and career: "Willie Mays, the Giants' electrifying 'Say Hey Kid' dies at 93."

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6.Rush-ed


"How does a son of Auschwitz survivors get a name such as Geddy Lee? So begins My Effin’ Life, the compelling memoir of the Canadian rock-and-roll bassist, vocalist, keyboardist and co-writer for the legendary rock band Rush, written with his friend Daniel Richler. 'Geddy,' Lee has told interviewers, is how his Polish-born, Auschwitz-survivor mother pronounced his given name, Gary. (His original name was Gary Lee Weinrib.) A gifted storyteller, in this book Geddy Lee brings about a balance between the personal and professional. He also manages to combine two very different genres—the autobiography of a rock star and that of a child of survivors." For the full read, check out Moment's "Book Review: Making Music Was the Best Revenge."


"After Rush had become a widely recognized rock group, Lee told the group's drummer and lyricist, Neil Peart, about his mother's early life. Peart then wrote the lyrics to Red Sector A, which was inspired by her ordeal. The song, for which Lee wrote the music, was released on the band's 1984 album Grace Under Pressure." Watch a live performance below.

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7.An Affair to Remember


"In December of 1912, Nathan Goldfarb, a Jewish watchmaker in New York, had an affair with a boarder who was staying in his home named Minnie Schechter. After Goldfarb’s wife, Lena, caught the wayward couple in the act, the pair absconded, leaving behind Goldfarb’s three children.


"Lena Goldfarb, who ran a restaurant in the Lower East Side, filed a report with the National Desertion Bureau, a newly-formed social services agency that tracked down missing Jewish husbands. The bureau filed an indictment against Goldfarb for child abandonment, numbering the case M7, one of its earliest investigations.


"The Goldfarb affair — one of 18,000 case files recorded by the National Desertion Bureau in the archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research — is just one of the stories featured in a new exhibit about the bureau, 'Runaway Husbands, Desperate Families: The Story of the National Desertion Bureau' that opens Monday at YIVO’s headquarters at 15 West 16th St. in Manhattan.


In a fascinating look at the root causes of the phenomenon, JTA shares, "Jewish immigrant men abandoned their wives in droves a century ago. Their stories are getting a new look."

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8.I Scream, You Scream


We all scream for ice cream. Especially here. The Northeast region (including some non-New England states) buys more ice cream than any other part of the country, a CBS News report found.


The news, then, that Russ & Daughters' classics inspired a limited-edition line of ice cream treats may or may not be relevant information to you. I guess it depends on how far you're willing to travel (NYC) or how deep your pockets are for home delivery ($110 for two of each of the three treats). Below are some frozen desserts that can be made closer to home for a lot less.

Vanilla-Almond Ice Cream With Cherries and Pistachios (No ice cream maker required.)

Salted Watermelon Ice Cream

Banana-Rum Ice Cream in Cheddar-Cracker Cones

9.Apply Now for Scholarships


If you are an active member of the Federation who has made a gift to the annual campaign in the current fiscal year, please encourage your student(s) - children or grandchildren - to apply for a higher education scholarship. Write to office@jewishnewbedford.org to request a 2024-25 application now.


There are also summer camp scholarships available.

For Your Calendar

RESCHEDULED

Monday, June 24 - 7:00 PM: Speaker, 8:00 PM: Wine & Dessert Reception

Ziskind Memorial Lecture 2024: Featuring Rabbi David Wolpe

"The Campus, Antisemitism and Israel: Where Do We Stand?"

Tifereth Israel, Free Live Event

REGISTER HERE



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,


Amir


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 
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