(New York Jewish Week) — Taffy Brodesser-Akner may have told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that she doesn’t find “Fleishman Is in Trouble,” her best-selling novel about the fallout from a painful divorce, to be a “Jewish” story. But she did admit that the book — and its TV adaptation that premieres Thursday on Hulu, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes and Lizzy Caplan — is set in a very Jewish New York City milieu and features plenty of Jewish references.
“All I can say is that I am made out of Philip Roth,” she said, name-checking the late novelist who rejected the “Jewish writer label.” “I’m so formed by his books.”
Brodesser-Akner, who grew up on Long Island and in Brooklyn, is also inspired by the Jewish places and institutions that she has experienced. Here are five from throughout her life and career that either show up in the “Fleishman” show or influenced her as she constructed the story.
The New York Public Library
Brodesser-Akner thinks of this “as a Jewish place for some reason.” Jews are the people of the book, after all, and among the books to have been written by Jewish authors in the library’s main branch on Fifth Ave. are “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro, “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Friedan, “Ragtime” by E.L. Doctorow, and “A Great Improvisation,” by Stacy Schiff.
“I don’t know, I don’t have a comment on it,” she said.
Temple Shaaray Tefila
The show filmed a bat mitzvah scene at this Reform synagogue on the Upper East Side — and the series’ location scout didn’t know that Brodesser-Akner worked there while she was in college.
“I was like, I taught Hebrew School here!” Brodesser-Akner said.
The 92nd Street Y
This Jewish cultural center, which was founded in the 19th century, features in the book as the place where protagonist Toby Fleishman’s children go to camp. (A spot in its pre-school is so coveted that there’s a cottage industry of consultants who can try to get your kid in.) Rumor has it that it delayed rebranding itself to “92NY” until after the show had finished shooting.
The diner featured in “Fleishman” doesn’t have a name, but Brodesser-Akner said that B&H, an iconic kosher dairy restaurant on Second Avenue and Eighth Street in the East Village, was the inspiration. It was big news when a gas main explosion in the East Village forced the 70-plus-years-old B&H to close in 2015, and even bigger news when it reopened a few months later.
After high school, Brodesser-Akner studied at this university in Ramat Gan, Israel, not far from Tel Aviv. “I did it so that I could live outside of an Orthodox household for a year,” said the author, whose family had become followers of the Chabad Hasidic movement.
While Bar-Ilan is referenced in the book, in the “Fleishman” show, the main characters note that they all studied together at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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