From:                              Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford

Sent:                               Thursday, September 17, 2015 1:21 PM

To:                                   'New Bedford Jewish Federation'

Subject:                          The Bulletin -- A Community Update for Septmeber 17, 2015

The Bulletin - A Community Update for September 17, 2015




On Bar Mitzvahs and Tangents



Jews have bar mitzvahs. Jews attend bar mitzvahs. I’d hazard a guess that more than one of us have witnessed speakers at these momentous occasions go off on tangents, some small and endearing and some long and circuitous. Last week at my son’s bar mitzvah I found that rabbis are just like the rest of us – tangential.

For Kiddush at the bar mitzvah I brought a family heirloom, a 169-year-old Kiddush cup that was lost during the Holocaust and found again after the war. The person who found it was Salo Baron, a famous Jewish scholar who also happens to be a relative. So impressed was the rabbi with the Salo connection that he almost got lost talking about it. How much more might he have said if he had known Salo’s daughter, granddaughter and great grandson were seated three rows from the bimah?

What is even more interesting is that Tablet Magazine picked last week (of all weeks) to publish a “love letter” Uncle Salo wrote some 30 years ago about his library. We are the people of the book year-round, but our connection to the book (or books) is perhaps more profound this time of year. We also remember our past – whether it is scholarly and famous relatives or, as bar mitzvah Ben so eloquently put it in his D’var Torah, it is inclusiveness and not forgetting the “wood choppers and water carriers” that make the collective that is the Jewish people. Thus ends this tangent.

The Days Ahead

While one should never take Yom Kippur lightly, this story about occasionally oberservant Jewish gangsters who made it to Yom Kippur services is one exception I’m okay making.

“Perhaps the greatest influence on the ‘Jewishness’ of these men were their mothers. Many of the major Jewish mobsters, including Meyer Lansky, Dutch Schultz, Lepke Buchalter, Longy Zwillman, and Mickey Cohen, as well as those I interviewed, revered their mothers. Family and friends recounted to me how these men doted on their mothers and treated them with utmost kindness and respect,” writes the author of this 2014 article in The Tablet.

Even bad men can still be good Jewish boys it would seem.

Not Going Away #1

The growing refugee situation in Europe remains in the news, as it should. The Forward’s J.J. Goldberg makes a good argument that neither the refugee crisis nor the Iran nuclear deal meet the criteria for a holocaust, though, as several writers and news outlets have suggested.

He writes, “Let’s be clear: What’s happening in Europe is a humanitarian crisis of the first order. But it’s not genocide. It shouldn’t need to be said that the Holocaust was the determined effort by one of the world’s leading industrialized powers to murder all the world’s Jews in the course of a nearly successful effort to conquer the globe. Those Jews weren’t fleeing a civil war or seeking a better life.”

Not Going Away #2

Speaking of Iran. Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) just issued this position statement in which they accept the reality of the Iran nuclear deal and urge unity in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon in future years.




He said what?! Good wishes for the New Year from world leaders are to be expected. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin all issued public statements. And then there’s our man in Iran raising the white flag of diplomacy and felicitations via Twitter. Huh.

May our shared Abrahamic roots deepen respect & bring peace & mutual understanding. L'Shanah Tovah. #RoshHashanah



Shabbat Shalom and G’mar Chatimah Tova


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