Shabbat shalom to all my JNR friends!
Well it seems as though the mysterious man behind the curtain decided to flip the New England weather switch and turned the dial to the summer setting before we could even get used to spring temperatures. We will hit the 80’s today, which should make for some sweaty gardening this afternoon.
Shout out today to the Bruins and Celtics. While our Red Sox continue to falter and try to find their footing, there is nothing like two game seven playoff matches to make the weekend a magical one for New England sports fans. I am admittedly a fair weather fan, having lost interest in the NBA shortly after the Bird era, but I have recently renewed my interest in the Bruins, mostly out of respect for my son Michael’s crazy passion for the home town hockey team. I grew up during the Big Bad Bruins era and was just as crazy about them back then. The poster of Bobby Orr flying through the air while scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal hung in my bedroom for years, and I still remember the old saying, “God saves, but Esposito scores on the rebound!”
Speaking of fanaticism, what a freaking awful week in Israel. More on that in a bit, but before I go there, amidst last week’s abortion kerfuffle, I neglected to mention Israel’s celebration of their Independence day. Israel turned 74 years young on May 4th, and what I find interesting is that the country deliberately timed their independence day celebration immediately following their Memorial day, as a reminder that freedom and independence come at a price. And therein lies an interesting and I think uniquely Jewish duality, the happiness and bitterness of life.
Memorial day is considered one of the holiest of days in Israel, and usually transcends politics, except this year. Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Prime Minister currently ruling over a very tenuous coalition, was delivering a speech to the bereaved families of the fallen, a yearly tradition in Israel. While delivering his speech, ironically on the topic of unity, he was interrupted by hecklers from the bereaved families and by a Nut-and-yahoo supporter. During the endless 5 minutes of heckling, Bennett stood silent with his hand over his heart, never responding, until the heckling stopped. That my friends, is a demonstration of true leadership.
But, no sooner had the independence day celebrations worn off, the following week was one of tragedy, bitterness and a really bad look for Israel. A little context: over the last 6 weeks, 19 Israelis have been killed by terrorist attacks. In the midst of this violence, the IDF has been pro-actively conducting anti-terrorist actions in and around the west bank. During one of those actions, a well know and respected Al Jazeera journalist, Shireen Abu Aqleh was shot to death during a battle between the IDF and terrorists in Jenin. Fingers started pointing right away, and after 4 days we are no closer to the truth of what actually happened. But that’s not the worst of it. While I am certain the IDF did not wake up on Wednesday and decide it was a good day to assassinate a Palestinian journalist, (there are actually some making this claim), I am also certain it was not a good idea for Israeli police to start brawling with mourners at her funeral procession, throwing stun grenades and almost causing her coffin to tumult to the ground. I have watched the video, and it is horrifying, and no matter what excuse is given, a really bad decision and tough one to explain. Let’s hope the latest agreement to a 3rd party investigation helps to quell the situation and that justice somehow prevails.
By now, I am certain you must all be clamoring for more news on the Jews, carefully curated by myself for your reading pleasures. Clamor no more, here you go:
- What happened to Shireen Abu Aqleh? This opinion piece gives you a sense of the dynamics fueling this tragedy. I agree with her that an independent, international inquiry into Abu Akleh’s killing, launched immediately with the full cooperation of Israeli and Palestinian authorities, is the best way to help Palestinians, journalists — and Israel. I believe the Palestinian Authority thankfully agreed to this earlier today. Click here for more.
- 🇮🇱 With funding from a hedge fund billionaire, a new group is aiming to be a New York version of AIPAC – The new group is called the New York Solidarity Network and is trying to establish a counter balance to the the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and the Democratic Socialists of America. They intend to funnel money to stridently pro-Israel candidates in the state. “You put three Jews in a room,” said Liz Krueger, a state senator from Manhattan, “and you get four or five organizations, because none of them can get along.” (New York Times)
- Is “The Music Man” the last great goyish musical? One of my favorite musicals as a kid, there is a new version out now starring Hugh Jackman in Robert Preston’s role as Professor Harold Hill. This critic believes the new version ain’t great, but the score carries the day anyway. But why did it win the Tony against the even more iconic “West Side Story”? “Despite its reputation as a bland feel-good musical, The Music Man harbors a deceptively complex message. It’s about insiders and outsiders, and the difference between illusion and delusion.” Click here for more.
- 🍷 Manischewitz a gateway drink? Selma Blair, the actress best known for “Cruel Intentions,” wrote in her new memoir that her decades-long battle with alcoholism began with “small sips” of Manischewitz at a Passover Seder. “The first time I got drunk it was a revelation,” she writes. “A light flooded through me, filling me up with the warmth of God. But the year I was 7, when we basically had Manischewitz on tap and no one was paying attention to my consumption level, I put it together: the feeling was not God but fermentation.” (People)
- On Culture: Israel’s Bridgerton, can it succeed even if it’s not good history?Throw some steamy sex into a period piece, and my guess is the answer is a profound yes! ‘The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem’ spans the decades from Ottoman rule to nationhood. Yet somehow, the politics and events of the era are missing from the show. For more click here.
- ✍️ More than 100 prominent Harvard faculty and alumni have denounced the student newspaper’s recent endorsement of a boycott of Israel. The Harvard Crimson’s recent endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movementhas attracted far more wide-ranging attention than a typical student paper’s editorial page, as faculty and alumni of the Ivy League institution have lined up to denounce the student paper’s op-ed and condemn the shift in Israel discussion on college campuses. The open letter – signed by Alan Dershowitz, Larry Summers and others – said that the editorial “merely coarsens the discourse on campus and contributes to antisemitism.” (JTA)
Finally, best wishes to the Queen of England, who at the age of 96, appears to be having some health issues. She was notably absent from the opening of Parliament this year, the first time ever during her 70 year reign she has missed this important formal event.
That’s all I have for the week. But hey, the surge continues here in New England, so continue to be careful out there.