The Bulletin

On Policy and Parting Shots

It was an unexpected parting shot when the US abstained during a vote in the United Nations Security Council this week. Generally, when one-sided, anti-Israel decisions are on the table, the US uses its veto power to block such votes -- but not this time. While there can be (and there is) discussion about how new or damaging resolution #2334 is, there is less debate about the past and present voting pattern of the US.  In his column "No-drama Obama?" the LA Jewish Journal's Shmuel Rosner suggests this was in part a personal final jab at Bibi Netanyahu for his Congress act earlier in the year.

The Forward's J.J. Goldberg's research offers that not much is new here and that 71 other resolutions the US let pass were worse.

Goldberg also makes a point in a separate column titled "That 'Shameful' UN Resolution Actually Blasts the Settlements -- Not Israel". But others have questioned that interpretation because there could be major BDS ramifications as a result, not to mention the impact on the future of East Jerusalem.

A couple of days after the decision at the UN, Secretary of State John Kerry (who was of course very involved in the UN decision) made what might be his final speech as secretary on the subject. Ending a term where he (like many before him) failed to move the dial, he nevertheless went for a major policy "home run" with a one-hour speech addressing the future of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The speech and vote in such proximity and during a post-election lame duck period is at the very least curious. The aforementioned Shmuel Rosner attempts to organize this for us in "The Kerry speech: Is 'obsessive and messianic' still an insult or now an established fact?"

David Harris of the American Jewish Committee also asks a few important questions in his letter to Kerry.

And if you are looking for a view from outside the Jewish world maybe "What did Kerry's parting shot on Middle East mean?" from CNN is for you.

There is no doubt in my mind that this week will have a major impact on future conversations. While it may be a long-term positive in how Israel addresses its settlements policies, I suspect that the short-term impact will provide ammunition for the BDS movement, create difficulties for the next administration (perhaps part of the plan), and sadly take a more important conversation -- genocide in Aleppo -- off not only the front pages but the corridors of policy. 
A Two-Year Hanukkah

We top the Bulletin with Hanukkah candles for the second week while lighting them into a new year. Goodbye 2016. Welcome 2017. I personally like the fact that for my birthday I get the "full menorah," which doesn't often happen. I also look forward to 2017 because it seems like 2016 (particularly towards the end) was turbulent. Aleppo, the post-election tone across the country (not to mention the passing of favorites like Princess Leia and George Michael) have given me pause. This run seems never ending and I suspect the tribute minute at the Grammys this year may take a full hour.
In our community, however, the year ends on a high. Payments for last year's annual Federation campaign - due by the end of this week - have come in (all but two) and at better than a 99 percent fulfillment rate, we are both fortunate and proud to have you as trusted donors year after year.
This year's campaign has reached the half-way point and already 131 gifts are in. In fact, I was very pleased to see one gift this week that came in with a significant increase over last year. This is very important as we do lose some gifts each year. If you read this Bulletin before 2017 remember that writing and dating your check now (in 2016) will add to your charitable deductions come tax time. You can also go to our website at www.jewishnewbedford.org and donate right there. Your donation is needed and very much appreciated.
Federation's Christmas Dinner and Holiday Cheer

Thank you to Ellen Hull and Stanley Levine for coordinating, once again, the Christmas dinner that brings together members of the greater community in a demonstration of good will and cheer. Thank you too to the many volunteers who helped to continue this tradition, now in its 49th year.

For more pictures and interviews, read The Standard-Times article, "Community comes together to help feed those in need on Christmas."
Hanukkah Sameach

Thank you to Federation members Judith and Andre Klein for inspiring us with this beautiful picture of their Hanukkah celebration.

If you have holiday pictures you would like to share with the community, please send them to office@jewishnewbedford.org. We will feature them in next week's Bulletin.

Who knows the story of Theodore Roosevelt and His Two Menorahs? It's not much of a story, really, but it fleshes out our take on the 26th president as a man who made friends in all the right places.
Cooking Jewishly

For five years running, the Forward's annual list of best Jewish cookbooks has included something by Yotam Ottolenghi, but not this year. Here are some of the 2016 favorite cookbooks.

Like Daughter, Like Mother

A friend, whose son died earlier this year, wrote on Facebook after learning of actress Debbie Reynolds' death yesterday, "But I can't help but think that she only had to wake up one morning and realize that her child was no longer on this earth." And so with a sense of consolation we say goodbye this week to Hollywood icons Carrie Fisher, 60, and Debbie Reynolds, 84 -- daughter and mother -- together in death as they were in life. 

Though she played the part of Jewish mother more than once, Debbie Reynolds was not Jewish. Her first husband and Carrie Fisher's father, Eddie Fisher, was. For an interesting perspective on their shared lives, read How Debbie Reynolds Became Carrie Fisher's Perfect Jewish Mother.

early February, date TBA
lunch time (with lunch served)
Jewish culture book discussion group, reading Plot Against America by Philip Roth
UMass Dartmouth


Shabbat Shalom, Happy New Year, and Chag Sameach


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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