(New York Jewish Week) — A tip from a Jewish security organization helped lead to the arrest of two suspects Saturday in connection with online threats to attack a New York City synagogue.
The Community Security Initiative, a group created by UJA-Federation of New York and its affiliated Jewish Community Relations Council, discovered threatening tweets on Friday morning and brought the information to law enforcement, according to a UJA spokesperson.
In a news conference at City Hall on Monday, UJA CEO Eric Goldstein said that after they shared the lead with the New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement “immediately sprung into action.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said during the news conference that Metropolitan Transit Authority police officers arrested the suspects — Christopher Brown, 21, of Aquebogue on eastern Long Island and Michael Mahrer, 22, of Manhattan — at Penn Station, adding that they had “an alleged plan to murder members of the Jewish community in our city.”
“This was not an idle threat,” Adams said. “This was a real threat.”
Join me, @NYPDPC Sewell and other law enforcement leaders at City Hall to discuss the efforts that stopped a potential attack on the Jewish community in New York City this past weekend. https://t.co/WyVz2qe44Q
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) November 21, 2022
Adams added: “Hate is on the rise in America. This hate cannot be allowed to take hold and build and gain further ground. We must reject the hate and the division that drives it.”
On Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul, responding to the arrest and Saturday night’s deadly shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado, said state police would increase surveillance and protection efforts at synagogues and other vulnerable sites.
Steve Weill of Flatbush Shomrim, a Jewish community watch organization in Brooklyn, said at the press conference that he received a call on Friday night from NYPD Inspector Ritchie Taylor, an Orthodox Jew, who advised him that there was “a credible threat to the community.”
“We put a plan in place where hundreds of trained volunteers would reach all the synagogues and all the houses of worship in the areas and warn them,” Weill said.
The suspects were caught before that plan was implemented. Weill added that the Jewish community has “an unprecedented relationship” with Adams.
“The information that flows is incredible, that we can get such sensitive information and that they can have the trust in us to relay that to the community in a calm and professional manner,” Weill said.
The Daily Beast reported that the NYPD intelligence division had become aware of Brown’s tweets talking about “shooting up a synagogue and dying.” MTA police, state police, the NYPD and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force worked together on the investigation, according to Hochul’s office.
According to the Daily Beast, the hunt for Brown led police to an apartment on West 94th St. in Manhattan, where his acquaintance Mahrer was said to live with his parents. Neither Brown nor Mahrer were at the apartment, but detectives found a backpack with a Glock semi-automatic pistol and ammunition . In an intelligence alert, police said Brown had “a history of mental illness.”
What police described as a white supremacist Twitter group operated by Brown was taken down. After being caught, Brown was held on a weapons charge, and Mahrer was charged with illegal weapons possession. Each pleaded not guilty to state charges and are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 23.
The New York Post reported that Mahrer is Jewish and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.
UJA-Federation of New York and the JCRC of New York created the Community Security Initiative after the deadly attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. CSI helps provide protection and safety training to Jews and Jewish institutions in New York City, Westchester and Long Island.
The arrests come just weeks after the FBI warned synagogues in New Jersey about a “credible threat” made to them; the NYPD heightened security at city synagogues as a precaution. The FBI later announced that a 19-year-old man who said he had sworn allegiance to ISIS had been arrested for making the threat.
The arrests also come a time of heightened anxiety about antisemitism in New York City and beyond. The NYPD has recorded an increase in the number of reported antisemitic incidents.
Meanwhile, celebrities Kanye West and Kyrie Irving have ignited concerns about antisemitism with their comments and tweets, and turmoil at Twitter has fueled a rise in hate posts, including about Jews, according to watchdogs who monitor the social media platform.
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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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