(JTA) — Abraham Zarem was 28 when he joined the Manhattan Project, the vast U.S. government effort to develop the atom bomb.
Engineers like him gathered in secret laboratories in New Mexico, California, New York City and elsewhere to provide the practical know-how the theorists lacked.
“‘They were geniuses, but didn’t know how to build a f—king thing,’” Zarem recalled, according to his longtime rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, David Wolpe.
Zaum, who went on to a distinguished career in technology, business development and leadership management training, died March 8 in Los Angeles. He was 106, and one of the last surviving members of the army of scientists, technicians, bureaucrats and clerks who helped build the weapon that would force Japan’s surrender in World War II and usher in the Atomic Age.
After the war, Zarem joined the staff of the United States Naval Ordnance Test Station at Pasadena, where as head of the electrical section of the physical research division he developed a high-speed camera used to study intense light sources and other phenomena. Popular Mechanics called the Zarem camera — 25,000 times faster than any movie camera then available — a “miracle.”
In 1963, Zarem served as senior vice president of Xerox, leaving in 1970 to launch a consulting business. He returned to Xerox as founder and CEO of its Xerox Development Corporation in 1975. He later served as founder and managing director of Frontier Associates, a technology consultancy.
Born in Chicago on March 7, 1917, Zarem was valedictorian of his undergraduate class at the Armour Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology), and earned his doctorate on the physical properties of the electric spark at the California Institute of Technology. He headed the Stanford University Research Institute in Los Angeles while still in his 30s.
Later he served as distinguished senior advisor for Neuroscience Technology Transfer for the UCLA Brain Research Institute and a member of the Urology Advisory Board of the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine. Additionally, he served as distinguished visiting executive in Science and Technology for Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
One of Zarem’s companies, Electro-Optical Systems, developed the “world’s first practical ion engine” — an experimental high-energy thruster for spacecraft. It now resides in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Zarem was also a regular at Temple Sinai, where Wolpe said Zarem mentored him as a young rabbi. Zarem and his wife Esther were generous contributors to the congregation; Wolpe remembered Zarem chanting from the book of Jonah on Yom Kippur when he was 99.
“Abe Zarem was a brilliant, buoyant, passionate, pious and philanthropic person,” Wolpe told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency this week. “He had a central role in some of the key scientific events of human history — the atomic bomb, the moon landing — and yet took an interest in everyone lucky enough to meet him. Abe was truly yachid b’mino — unique in his time. He will be greatly missed.”
Unlike with some of his collaborators on the Manhattan Project, there is no public record of Zarem grappling publicly with the moral implications of the weapon he helped develop. Years after their war work at Caltech, a man who worked under Zarem as a lab assistant said he felt no guilt, because without the detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he told a local newspaper, “We would have lost 500,000 Americans in the invasion of Japan.”
But Zarem did go on the record in 1952 on a different topic, in advice he shared with a labor and management magazine: “Keep your feet warm, and your head cool. And watch out for the hotheads with cold feet.”
His survivors include his children, Janet, David and Mark.
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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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