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After I stopped an attack on the subway, the victim and I bonded over Katz’s pastrami sandwiches



(New York Jewish Week) — You definitely don’t want to have what she was having at that moment.

It was December, on a Friday. I was in the tunnel that leads to the subway that runs beneath the American Museum of Natural History on West 81st St. Walking just ahead of me were two women, chatting with each other. I didn’t know them, but I watched as a man, disheveled and bearded, wearing a black knit cap with a sparkly “NYC” on it, came from the other direction. He veered a little too close to the taller of the two. Suddenly, he shifted and grabbed her from behind.

I often wondered what I would do in this situation. Standing only steps away, I no longer had to wonder. After a moment’s hesitation, I sprang into action, grabbing the man and pulling him off her. Then the woman, her friend and I hightailed it through the turnstiles. All in a New York minute.

The woman said she was OK, just worried her attacker would hurt other women. I called 911 but the operator could only speak in subway platforms, not quite grasping it occurred under the museum. How could a visitor be expected to explain the location? And why was there no attendant or police patrol in one of New York’s most visited neighborhoods? I happen to be getting a PhD in tourism studies at Purdue University, but it’s a no-brainer how bad that is for visitors and locals alike.

The 20th Precinct and Transit District 1 responding officers were polite but seemed focused on whether the attack was sexual. Later, the woman would tell me she sensed they thought nothing actually happened, despite a clear crime. “I don’t know,” she said, “one moment I’m walking in the subway and the next someone grabs me from behind. But I wind up OK, so there’s no problem?” 

They nabbed the guy, holding him against the tiled wall in the very place the attack occurred. One officer said something like, “He has no ID, no nothing. He’s babbling to himself and doesn’t seem to know where he is.” A sense of pity rose in all of us. The woman did not want to press charges. Even the police were sympathetic, expressing how helping the mentally ill is beyond their capacity. The consensus seemed to be that they would take him somewhere for mental help.

As we waited for the train — mine to Washington Heights, the women’s to Queens — we realized we all had just come from the New-York Historical Society’s “I’ll Have What She’s Having” exhibit on Jewish delis, named for the iconic Katz’s Delicatessen scene in the 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally.” We laughed about what struck us as an ironic way to spend a Friday Shabbat evening days before Hanukkah.

Still perhaps cautious of our surroundings, we shared thoughts about the exhibit. For instance, the surprising amount of Los Angeles material and the signage explaining terms someone Jewish or from New York might take for granted — like mohel or mikvah — and Yiddish words that have long entered the local vernacular, no matter your religion.

The woman who was attacked didn’t want to be identified here, saying “I don’t want people to Google me and this is the first thing they see” — something I understand, having myself been a crime victim in 2014. Later, she texted to say she arrived home safely, adding that, despite the attack, she was “grateful to live in New York, because you restore my faith that people are there for each other.” I don’t think of myself as a mensch or hero. I just did what had to be done. And, like I said, I had a moment’s hesitation.

The situation called for dinner plans. A Jewish deli, of course, considering the circumstances. And it had to be Katz’s.

I arrived at the deli, laden down with a few free Chabad menorahs I picked up along the way after coming from the Union Square Holiday Market. I almost rushed past her standing outside the restaurant, worried about being late. We encountered a chaotic, noisy scene inside, and I realized I had not been there since before the pandemic. A man behind us in the haphazard line, there for the first time, nervously wanted advice. Have what we’re having, I suggested: pastrami on rye with mustard. No cheese, a kosher nod in this place long without such restrictions.

If fate’s bad luck brought us together, serendipity now ruled. Our sandwich maker looked familiar, and I realized he appeared in a video at the deli exhibit. As Esteban pushed our sandwiches over the glass divider, the famous table from the fake orgasm scene in “When Harry Met Sally” suddenly emptied, a family bundling up to leave. I ran to grab it, even mid-sentence talking with Esteban about the exhibit.

Yes, it was touristy! But considering what we had encountered only days before, it was a relief to feel like a tourist in a crowd of tourists. There were locals too, of course, like a diminutive old couple, smiling and saying hello to select tables. We asked a gorgeous Greek tourist we at first thought was an influencer — her dress a one-of-a-kind, hair in flowing, pop queen curls — to snap our picture.

We talked for hours about jobs, travel, family, the men in our lives and how there is no city like New York, with its museums and culture and its ethnic and religious diversity. The ultimate way to say “to life,” l’chaim.

Crime impacts everyone differently, especially when it happens to you. Yet I also know the city is vastly safer than when I was young. At 54, I remember the  1970s, ’80s and ’90s, when murders peaked at something like six a day.

If I learned anything from the subway experience, it is that our time on earth is a gift more precious than anything we might unwrap on Hanukkah or Christmas. And if anyone saw us sitting at that famous Katz’s table wondering why we laughed so much, they should ask to have what we were having: a profound appreciation that, like the sandwiches in front of us, life is delicious and should be enjoyed in big portions, despite what fate throws at us.

Michael Luongo is a freelance travel writer and photographer, online writing instructor for UCLA, and a PhD student at Purdue University researching how conflict zones rebuild their tourism sectors. His bylines include the New York Times, CNN, The Forward, Bloomberg News, Gay City News and many other publications.

The post After I stopped an attack on the subway, the victim and I bonded over Katz’s pastrami sandwiches 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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