(JTA) — A three-minute trailer teases a new reality show called “Unseen Housewives,” and features women describing their experiences as child brides in forced marriages.
“I was groomed by a pedophile at age 14 and married by age 16,” one of four young women in the trailer tells the camera.
“I turned into a housewife at 14 but no one seemed to care when it happened,” says another.
There is no such reality show, although the trailer, making the rounds on social media, is describing a real issue. The video was produced for Unchained At Last, a nonprofit that’s been battling forced and child marriages for the past 12 years.
Founded by a woman who left what she calls an abusive forced marriage in a haredi Orthodox community in Brooklyn, Unchained At Last hopes the video will draw attention to its efforts to outlaw marriage for children under the age of 18, regardless of their background.
“We’re trying to solve a problem that most people don’t even know exists,” said Fraidy Reiss, Unchained At Last’s founder and executive director. “Most Americans have no idea that child marriage is legal in the U.S. Child marriage is a nightmarish legal trap.”
Unchained At Last has led a campaign that has outlawed child marriage in seven states, including New Jersey and New York. Legislation prohibiting marriage until the age of 18 is currently pending in 11 states: Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, South Carolina, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, California, New Mexico, Washington and Hawaii. The organization is particularly optimistic about the chances for passage in Vermont and Connecticut. Reiss said the group expects similar legislation to be introduced in Michigan this week.
The idea for the video came from Bruno Guimaraes, the creative director at Area 23, a Manhattan ad agency that specializes in health care campaigns, said Reiss. Guimaraes’ wife, the psychiatrist Morgan Fallor, interviewed survivors of child marriage and prepared their stories for the project.
Guimaraes’s colleague, Jihane Ghostine, produced the “Unseen Housewives” video.
“I just wanted to shed light on this topic,” Ghostine said. “I come originally from Lebanon where it’s actually legal to marry at a very young age. I think through our art and our crafts, we are maybe able to change the world in some kind of way. And this is what pushed me to do this.”
Ghostine said Gustavo Lemme, the director for the trailer, came from Sao Paulo, Brazil to helm the video. The actresses who appeared in the trailer worked at a discounted rate because they support the cause, she said.
The lines in the video are based on the real-life stories of women who were married when they were legally considered children. The trailer was shot in Tampa, Florida.
Reiss, married at 19, left her marriage after 12 years and went on to attend Rutgers University. In 2011, after working as a reporter at the Asbury Park Press and as a private investigator at Kroll, the global investigations company, she founded Unchained At Last. Initially it helped both Jewish and non-Jewish women leave arranged and forced marriages and seek custody of their children in civil court. Reis now describes herself as “a devout atheist.”
The organization has since begun pushing for legislation prohibiting marriage for children — which is legal in 43 states with parental consent or judicial approval. Opponents say child marriage is related to sexual exploitation, increased poverty, a higher risk of health complications and lower educational attainment.
Although the issue crosses various social and religious lines, Reiss has sometimes found herself facing off against Orthodox Jewish communities like the one she left and where, she said, friends were already married in high school. In 2018, the haredi Orthodox advocacy group Agudath Israel of America called the New Jersey legislation too strict, saying it wanted to see an exemption made for older teenagers who want to wed. The bill stalled under Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and was signed into law by his Democratic successor, Phil Murphy.
Reiss hopes the “Unseen Housewives” trailer will go viral on social media. She plans to screen it during her spring travels to promote Unchained At Last’s legislative agenda.
The group plans to continue with its “chain-in” events, in which women wearing wedding dresses appear in street protests with chains on their wrists and their mouths taped shut. More than 100 wedding gowns, some dating back to the 1940s, have been donated for the demonstrations.
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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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