The Bulletin


Karina Arayev

Hostage, Day 174

Bring Her Home


When Al Gore spoke about Senator Lieberman yesterday after the news of his passing came out, he said it was "an honor to stand with him." Lieberman was eulogized by people from the entire political spectrum. His fierce independence and faith brought him respect everywhere. It was telling that even after he endorsed his friend John McCain, President Obama insisted that he would remain a Democrat.

It is a safe bet that staying true to your ideas is at the foundation of leadership. When we think about Joe Lieberman, he will be remembered not because he was a senator of 24 years or a vice presidential candidate but because of his integrity, trust, experience and track record.

One person who most likely lost any chance of a universal eulogy in the past few months is Bibi Netanyahu. Friend of New Bedford Tal Schneider (see her video from a couple of years ago on our site) tears into the eternal prime minister in an op-ed for TOI titled "Netanyahu desperately seeks to strengthen his base, at the expense of US ties, hostages." Unlike the principled Joe Lieberman, everything Netanyahu does is pandering to his Likud and fanatic right wing religious base with one purpose only - stay in power! The blood of 1,533 dead Israelis, the souls of 127,000 displaced ones and the flesh of 14,889 Israelis who were physically injured almost guarantee that his place in history will forever be tarnished.

This item about leadership is not without its local angle. This week we learned that Rabbi Kanter, leader of Tifereth Israel Congregation for the past 27 years, will be retiring in a few short weeks. To borrow the words of Al Gore, it's been an honor to stand with you. Last week the letter inviting our community to participate in the Passover food drive went out under both our signatures for the 10th consecutive year. After the massacre in Pittsburgh we stood together on the same stage with all faiths, sharing our pain and offering healing. We first met when my son Jonathan and his daughter Rebecca were in second grade and it was literally the last millennium. It will be a very different place without you, Rabbi.

In the past 20 years I have read dozens of articles about the Jewish leadership pipeline problem - each one lamenting how little we do about the future. Earlier this year (in this very Bulletin) I shared an article from The Atlantic about the struggle of congregations and the short supply of leaders. Fewer and fewer are choosing Jewish spaces for work and as a career. The pool has been getting smaller every year. If the past few months have taught us anything, it is how valuable those who do pick our space are. And for that, my friend, I'd like to personally thank you.

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2.His Word

It is always a positive when Steven Spielberg joins a conversation. Considering the kind of day we’ve been having for the past 174 days, it is also necessary. Since Ben is finishing his semester abroad he did not have a chance to see him in person, but I know he welcomed the visit to USC from afar.

Steven Spielberg decried the 'machinery of extremism' on campus and lamented Israel-Hamas war deaths at a USC ceremony honoring Holocaust survivors. "The renowned Jewish filmmaker spoke at a ceremony Monday afternoon in which the University of Southern California bestowed its prestigious University Medallion on the 56,000 Holocaust survivors who have provided testimony to the USC Shoah Foundation, which Spielberg founded three decades ago. Thirty of the survivors were present at the ceremony."

“We see every day how the machinery of extremism is being used on college campuses,“ Spielberg said. Moments later, he said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. And I am increasingly alarmed that we may be condemned to repeat history, to once again have to fight for the very right to be Jewish.” 

Meanwhile at Columbia University, there's a student event called "Resistance 101" featuring speakers hailing Hamas. The two universities (I have/had a child in each), two coasts, and two stories that could not be more different.

3.Out of Key

"What would you think if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me?" One of the many problems and ugly realities of campus life is that there are fewer and fewer who would lend their ears. More in this WGBH piece, "On campus, Jewish and Muslim students fear for their safety."

"Becca Packer, a senior at Berklee College of Music, said many of her pro-Palestinian peers are unwilling to have difficult conversations about the conflict. 'It's their way or the highway,' said Packer, a Jewish student who belongs to a recently formed Hillel group at Berklee and who has cousins in the Israeli Army.

"Sitting in the back of a coffee shop off Boylston Street on a recent morning, Packer recalled how some of her peers shared antisemitic posts on social media and attempted to deny violence against Israeli women after the deadly attacks on Israel by Hamas. 'People are very quick to jump on a train when there’s a trending view going around,' she said. 'One of my first things that I knew I had to do was get on Instagram and try and be that opposing perspective that people aren't going to see because I knew exactly what was going to happen.'

"Packer said a lot of the antisemitic social media language described Jewish and Israeli people as 'colonizers.' Her classmates also shared infographics saying that American Jews control media and entertainment. "It made her wary of the students in her midst." It is not an easy time to be on campus. I hope Rebecca gets by with a little help from her friends.

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I'm not sure I agree with David Horowitz, The Times of Israel editor, that there may be a silver lining in this ongoing nightmare. Perhaps it is the 597 soldiers killed, maybe it is the recent sexual abuse testimony by Amit Soussana, one of the hostages who were freed, that troubles me. In the less talked about (why?) north of Israel, 2,800 missiles have already been fired with one more casualty yesterday. There are 61,800 Israelis who are not allowed to return to their homes along the border with Lebanon.

No, I'm not blind to the $800 million dollars we raised, of which half has been distributed already. I'm well aware of the mobile distillation units that provide a gallon of water per day for tens of thousands in Gaza. There may even be a change in Israeli law requiring Orthodox men and women to serve in the military. I look forward to listening to the former governor of the Bank of Israel on Tuesday (via Zoom) and learning more about the impact of the war on the economy. Send me a message if you want the link to join as well.

But back to Horowitz, in "Silver Linings in an Ongoing Nightmare", he talks to and about a solidarity mission and that makes the presentation more simple (I think) for anyone who does not live the conflict day to day. Reading this one, which I recommend, is a perfect way to catch up on the war, the UN vote, the Orthodox draft bill, the economy and more.

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5.Where in the World Is Mrs. Maisel

The Borscht Belt is burning: In the Catskills, abandoned resorts keep catching fire. These "hotels were once thriving properties in the Borscht Belt, the nickname for a collection of resorts and vacation bungalows across New York’s Sullivan, Ulster and Orange counties that attracted throngs of Jewish visitors in the mid-20th century and left an indelible mark on American comedy, cinema and culture. More than half a century later, almost all of the formerly prominent hotels are out of business and are now derelict and dilapidated. Over the past two years, they’ve been burning down — and no one knows why."

Maybe you visited with your families and have fond memories. Maybe you only know what you've seen in Dirty Dancing. Either way, it's a compelling chapter in Jewish American lore. Below are two videos -"How Jewish Were the Catskills?" and "Jerry Lewis on the Borscht Belt" - that I hope you enjoy. Lewis, in particular, tells a story you may not have heard before.

6.That's a Wrap

Next time your in the neighborhood, check out everyone's favorite street food, elevated. Shawarma gets a fine dining touch at Spice Brothers in the East Village of NYC.

Below are a few recipes for your home if you don't feel like driving. In addition to typical toppings like tahini sauce, tzatziki and Israeli salad, why not try some Israeli pickles?

(I take mine with everything but tzatziki.)


Cauliflower Shawarma With Pomegranate, Tahini and Pine Nuts

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Chicken Shawarma

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Israeli Pickles

For Your Calendar

Friday, April 5, 9:00 AM - 2:30 PM

Jackson Art Center  

Conference on African Genocide (includes lunch)

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 

Jewish Federation of 
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