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A new mural in Nolita celebrates a Holocaust rescuer



(New York Jewish Week) — In the heavily trafficked neighborhood of Nolita, a larger-than-life mural has popped up on the corner of Spring St. and Elizabeth St. Bright orange and pink paint spell out the words “Saved 3,000 Jewish Lives” next to a black and white portrait of Holocaust rescuer Tibor Baranski.

The mural, an art piece designed to combat hate and spark conversation, is the brainchild of “Artists 4 Israel,” a non-profit organization that aims to “prevent the spread of antisemitic and anti-Israel bigotry by helping to heal communities that have been affected by hate through art,” according to its CEO and co-founder Craig Dershowitz.

“Our rallying cry is art over hate,” Dershowitz said. Baranski’s portrait, painted by Fernando “SKI” Romero, a renowned graffiti artist based in Queens, is part of the organization’s “Righteous Among the Nations Global Mural Project.” It aims to establish a network of murals painted in cities around the world that feature other “Righteous Among the Nations” members who helped save Jews during the Holocaust.

“His story was beautiful and it really touched me,” Romero, who is Dominican, said of Baranski, who collaborated with Artists 4 Israel on deciding whom to feature in the New York mural. “The want to paint something came very easily with something so selfless.”

The Baranski mural in Nolita is the third installment of the mural project; eventually there will be 10 murals around the world, said Dershowitz. Each subject is given a mural in their home state or country where they aided Jews: In Portugal, a mural of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a diplomat who helped arrange passports for Jews has become a popular tour bus stop. In Greece, a mural of Mayor Loukas Karrer and Archbishop Dimitrios Chrysostomos led to national media coverage.

Though Baranski was Hungarian, he lived in Buffalo, New York for nearly six decades and felt at home in New York, which is why the Artists 4 Israel chose him for the mural in Manhattan.

In 1944, Baranski was 22 and studying to become a Catholic priest in Slovakia when the Russian Army invaded and he was forced to return to Budapest, where he grew up.

He never returned to the seminary, and abandoned his dream of becoming a priest. Instead, he dedicated the next years of his life to orchestrating the escape of more than 3,000 Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.

After arriving in Budapest, Baranski headed to the Vatican embassy residence of the Papal Nuncio Angelo Rotta, where a long line of people were requesting help. The Vatican embassies in Switzerland, Sweden, Spain and Portugal were some of the only places where Jews and other refugees were able to secure letters of protection and necessary documents to leave their countries.

Carol Romeo, who said her family survived the Holocaust, pauses to touch the mural of Holocaust rescuer Tibor Baranski created by Fernando “SKI” Romero, a Dominican-American artist born and raised in Queens. “I never knew he existed,” she said of Baranski. “And he lived here in New York. Everyone should know his story.” (CAM and Artists4Israel)

Pretending to be a priest, Baranski managed to arrange a meeting with Rotta, where he secured documents for a Jewish family he knew. As the story goes, Rotta soon recruited Baranski to help organize protection letters, baptismal certificates and immigration certificates for Jews trying to escape Hungary. He also helped coordinate food and housing for the escapees. Over the next two months, Baranski saved 3,000 Jewish lives, according to official records — though his sons have said he believes the number was closer to 15,000.

After the war, Baranski was imprisoned by the Soviet army for five years for his anti-communist beliefs. He became a freedom fighter during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 before moving to Rome to start a refugee camp with his wife Katalin.

Eventually the couple moved to Canada and then settled in Buffalo, where they were active members of the community and raised their three children, Tibor Jr., Kati and Peter.

Baranski, who died in 2019, was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1979, and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.

In an obituary in the New York Jewish Week, writer and close friend of Baranski’s Steve Lipman recalls an anecdote Baranski often repeated: “’Why do you, a Christian, help Jews?’ Uncle Tibor told me the Nazis asked him. ‘You are either silly or an idiot,’ he would answer. ‘It is because I am a Christian that I help the Jews.’”

For Dershowitz, who is based in Los Angeles, one of the goals of the murals — and his organization at large — is fighting antisemitism through education about Israel and the Holocaust. By making the art public and accessible, Dershowitz hopes people of all backgrounds will enjoy the art, and learn from it.

“These murals are very much for everyone to enjoy,” he said. “For the most part, they’re not geared towards the Jewish community as much as they’re geared towards a younger demographic, regardless of their religion or cultural heritage.”

Since its foundation in 2009, Artists 4 Israel’s principal mission has been to bring diverse groups of graffiti, street and mural artists to Israel to create projects that “benefit people in a direct, on-the-ground way,” such as painting murals in hospitals, bomb shelters and army bases. The organization has worked with more than 5,000 professional and amateur artists from 32 countries around the world, according to its website.

“When [the artists] come back [from Israel], they’re able to talk about the country and they’re able to speak about the Jewish people and be a window into the reality of Israel in the Middle East to their millions of followers,” Dershowitz explained.

In 2020, when COVID-19 arrived and international travel halted, the organization switched gears and started bringing their advocacy to cities around the world with the “Righteous Among the Nations” project.

For the artist Romero, the work has been especially gratifying. The 44 year-old artist has been involved with Artists 4 Israel since its inception and has visited Israel three times, painting murals for battered women’s shelters, community shelters and army bases.

“I’m creating art with purpose, which is beautiful. I’m also creating a dialogue. There’s a conversation,” Romero said. “This is one of those murals that touches home and it makes you really feel good. It is art that just separates itself from a lot of the noise out there.”

Painted over the course of two days, the mural will remain on the downtown corner for the next nine months.

At the unveiling party last month, which included a performance by singer Neshama Carlebach and blessings led by Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Baranski’s son Tibor Jr. retold his father’s story and emphasized the strong Catholic faith that guided him.

“Tibor Baranski was the merger of intellect and faith,” said his son, who drove from Buffalo for the event. “My father’s deeply held belief in God was uncompromising. It was the core driver in his saving thousands of innocent Jewish lives in 1944 in Nazi-occupied Hungary.”

“I will quote my father since his words captured the essence of our Catholic faith and what this mural that Fernando painted commemorating him represents: ‘Love each other, love each other sincerely. God is love. Love destroys hatred,’” he added.

The post A new mural in Nolita celebrates a Holocaust rescuer 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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Local News

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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