The Bulletin

Everybody's Child

The New York Times' piece "Israeli Soldier Who Shot Wounded Palestinian Assailant Is Convicted of Manslaughter" covers the conversation of the hour in Israel, one that will surely last a long time to come both there and here. I anticipate further discussion in the media to follow in the coming weeks.

I applaud the judicial system and the process that took place over the past 10 months getting us to a verdict, regardless of what the verdict is. While public passion and opinion centered on the trial and its outcome have run deep, the judicial system remained steadfast in its pursuit of justice.

The incident on which this trial was based occurred March 24, 2016, in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian assailant, stabbed an Israeli soldier. In turn, Fattah al-Sharif was shot and wounded. Several minutes later, as he lay unmoving on the ground, Azaria shot him in the head, killing him.

In this succinct Tablet Magazine summary we see, and feel, both sides' perspectives -- one in which with occupation "a commensurate moral degeneration follows" and the other in which human beings, often young, act in "the fog of war."

Sergeant Azaria's legal team has already announced plans to appeal the decision.
Mr. Smithstein Goes to Washington

When James Stewart played a newly appointed U.S. senator who fights against a corrupt political system in Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1939, it made his career. It remains to be seen how the 30 new Jewish members of Congress will fare. Of the group, 28 are Democrats and two Republicans.

Just knowing that the percentage of Jews in Congress rose slightly to 5.6 percent in 2017 has to be encouraging news as Jews make up only 2 percent of the American population. A David and Goliath tale for a new political era we can appreciate.
PJ Library Lost in Translation
Sifriyat Pijama is the Israeli version of PJ Library, an American program that promotes literacy and Jewish engagement by sending free books to Jewish and interfaith families. Working with the Israeli Ministry of Education, Sifriyat Pijama distributes Hebrew-language books to Israeli religious and secular preschools and grade schools, serving 330,000 Israeli pupils.

Not everyone in Israel is pleased with this initiative.

Orthodox Jews in Israel say 'No Thanks' to free books from America, which really should not come as a surprise to anyone. They assert PJ library promotes "pluralism," saying that it will corrupt Israeli youth by exposing them to non-Orthodox characters and ideas. They believe (gasp) that the books have another aim - to embrace all streams of Judaism, not just Orthodoxy.
So far, the Ministry of Education hasn't been moved by their petition.

I wonder if the Israeli Orthodox community could be persuaded of the merits of the literacy program if they knew that American singer, songwriter and businesswoman Dolly Parton was a leader in this movement with her Imagination Library, founded in 1995, 10 years before PJ Library's kickoff. After all, this petite, blonde powerhouse is a big fan of the sheitel.

Borrow a Cup of Sugar

The Obamas have neighbors. In the tony Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the Obamas (soon to vacate 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) may find the young family around the corner a little too close for comfort. Jared and Ivanka Kushner are relocating their young family to new digs there as well.

Drool over photos of Ivanka and Jared's to-die-for Washington mansion.


And then take a gander at the Obamas' humble abode.


Adelson Sets the Record Straight

Question: What's a billionaire businessman to do when the beaches of Tel Aviv just won't do?

Answer: Next stop, Hawaii: Sheldon Adelson sets record with 18-hour flight from Israel.

The American Jewish billionaire, reportedly tight with Bibi, flew a direct, northerly route on his private Airbus A345 from Ben Gurion International Airport on the longest flight ever to depart Israel, arriving in Honolulu earlier this week. No word on whether he got leied.
2017, Meet 1967

"Over the past couple of weeks, as I followed the outrage to President Barack Obama's abstention on Resolution 2334 and over Kerry's speech, I wondered whether we Jews, who so ably recollect our ancient past, have lost the ability to remember all this recent history," writes Rob Eshman for the
Jewish Journal.

The recent history to which he refers is the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel launched a pre-emptive strike, to insure its survival, that resulted in the capture of East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then, as now, there is no consensus on how best to move forward in the region. Two states? Status quo? One state??

In "The U.N. resolution, flawed as it is, supports the State of Israel," Eshman explores the history leading to the "normalization" of settlements and the future, perhaps considerably different with a new American administration's input.

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,


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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