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A Jewish initiative aims to support Asian New Yorkers following Monterey Park shooting



(New York Jewish Week) — After Saturday’s mass shooting that took the lives of mostly older Asian Americans in Monterey Park, California over the weekend, a Jewish organization in New York is seeing renewed interest in an initiative that focuses on solidarity between the Asian and Jewish communities.  

That initiative, called Jews For Asians, is gearing up for numerous vigils in New York this week as the Asian American community processes yet another tragedy. Just two days after a gunman opened fire on a Lunar New Year celebration and murdered 11 people, on Monday, yet another gunman killed seven people in two separate incidents in the California coastal town of Half Moon Bay. 

Jews For Asians brings volunteers to vigils and solidarity events to help mourners feel safe in a public spaces. “This horrible incident on Lunar New Year drove a bunch of interest in Jews For Asians,” Carlyn Cowen, a co-founder of the group, told the New York Jewish Week. “We’re now plugging people in. We train people to offer solidarity support and then we connect people where that support is needed.” 

Cowen started Jews For Asians with Rafael Shimunov after the Atlanta spa shooting spree in March 2021, when a gunman killed eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent. The group is a project of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, a progressive group.

“People just wanted to help,” Shimunov told the New York Jewish Week. “We wanted to use that energy. We saw hundreds of volunteers sign up.”  

Cowen, a Filipnx JFREJ member, said that Jews For Asians also provides security for other communities. In addition, the group offeres trainings on de-escalation, situational awareness, how to interact with the police and more.  

Sadly our Asian siblings in New York are marking lunar New Year with vigils after hate and violence in Monterey Park, California.

If you’d like to join the now 500 #JewsForAsians volunteer list ready to secure those events, sign up here. We’ll train u.

— Rafael Shimunov (@rafaelshimunov) January 22, 2023

Hailie Kim, a Korean American who is holding a vigil this Thursday in Sunnyside, Queens, told the New York Jewish Week that Jews For Asians will send volunteers to the gathering. 

“It is really touching to me that Rafael reached out,” Kim said. “We should all be working together in moments like this and beyond. We shouldn’t only be working together when things like this happen. It should be used as a model for how we behave in our daily lives.” 

JFREJ also used solidarity support tactics in combatting antisemitism with the Haredi community in 2020, and again in 2021 when a mosque was attacked in Brooklyn.

Kim, who is running for City Council in District 26, which encompasses Sunnyside, also said that she is worried about an increase in police presence at such events, and would prefer Jews For Asians volunteers to provide security at her vigil this week.  

“When we ask people what makes them feel unsafe, it’s never that there are not enough police around,” Kim said. “I think having more police presence at events like this isn’t necessarily going to prevent anything.” 

Asian New Yorkers are noticing an increase in the number of NYPD officers in lower Manhattan this week after the tragedy that took place last weekend. The NYPD told Gothamist it had shifted counterterrorism and patrol resources at Lunar New Year events across the city, but had not identified any threats in New York.  

Shimunov, who is a Bukharian Jew and a member of JFREJ, said Jews For Asians shares a wariness about policing; JFREJ maintains that increased police presence and security can “militarize our community spaces” and make “communal spaces less safe for Jews of color, trans Jews, Jews with disabilities” and others.

“When we say we don’t need policing for things like this, or maybe for everything, how do we not just preach that, but even in a small way, how do we demonstrate to the world what that can look like and why it’s better,” Shimunov said.

He added that people in Los Angeles have reached out to Jews For Asians and asked if there was a similar program in California.  

“We are looking to see if there is any group there that wants to take our model and replicate it,” Shimunov said. 

We must stand together in love to protect our neighbors and reject the forces that try to divide us. Join us for a community vigil this Thursday, 1/26, 6:30 pm, at 46st St-Bliss St Plaza in Sunnyside.  RSVP here:

— Hailie Kim (@hailieforqueens) January 23, 2023

Rabbi Mira Rivera, the first Filipina-American rabbi to be ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, who also provides support through Jews For Asians, told the New York Jewish Week that she will be attending this Thursday’s vigil to provide support.  

“We come together for celebrations, but now we have to come together for mourning again,” Rivera said. “The sense of duty is huge. It’s somehow deep within our interwoven cultures: Jews, Asians and Americans.” 

She referred to a Talmud teaching that talks about how it is “our duty in Judaism to mourn with people from other nations.”

“Meaning the people of other cultures, in the same [way] that we mourn for our own people,” Rivera explained. “It is our duty to bury the dead of other nations in the same way as to bury the dead of our own. That’s the moment right now. It’s not just that they’re Asian. It’s all of us.” 

Rivera is also leading a “learning and processing” event on Wednesday with the Asian Jewish organization Lunar Collective. 

“We have different traditions, but not necessarily that different,” said Cowen, who described their father as a “Chicago Jew” and their mom as from the Philippines.  “As a Jewish Asian, I’ve been watching both of my communities experience an increase in hate violence over the last few years. It is very much rooted in white supremacy and white nationalism.” 

“It’s awesome that Jews For Asians is getting more attention,” Cowen added, “but I also don’t want to distract from the fact that it’s my Asian American community that needs support.”

Shimunov said that Jews For Asians is part of a “bigger picture” of building a multi-ethnic, multi-faith coalition that is used to combat against what he calls “the opposition,” which he views as government power, police presence with guns and white supremacy. 

“If we can maintain this coalition, we can win anything,” Shimunov said. “We have all the numbers. It’s such a precarious thing that is always being tested. This is just one of the ways to keep that coalition together.” 

Hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by 339% between 2020 and 2021, according to a report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.  

The post A Jewish initiative aims to support Asian New Yorkers following Monterey Park shooting appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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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.

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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.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

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.)

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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.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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