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Al Jaffee, iconic Mad Magazine cartoonist who also inked Chabad comic, dies at 102



(JTA) — Perhaps the greatest influence on Al Jaffee, known to readers of Mad Magazine as the creator of the “Fold-In,” was the time he spent living in a Lithuanian shtetl as a child.

Jaffee had been born in Savannah, Georgia, but returned to his mother’s native country with her after she became disillusioned by the irreligious character of life in America. Living in her small town, Zarasai, from ages 6 to 12, he became steeped in both the Yiddish and the “anti-adultism” that would infuse his work. He also gained fluency in comics through strips mailed by father, who remained in the United States.

Jaffee died Monday in New York City at 102, nine decades after returning from Lithuania and less than three years after the iconic cartoonist retired from Mad, where he had inked the end-page feature since 1964.

The “Fold-In” defined Mad Magazine ever since Jaffee invented it as a cartoon satire of the centerfold in publications like Playboy. The feature allowed readers to interact with the pages to form multiple images — the first one depicted Elizabeth Taylor’s divorce from Eddie Fisher and, after a fold, her subsequent marriage to Richard Burton.

A generation of comedians credited Jaffee and his fellow Mad contributors — the self-described “usual gang of idiots” — with shaping their comic sensibilities. “RIP Al Jaffee. He had a profound influence on my mind when I was a kid. One of the greats,” the Jewish comedian and podcaster Marc Maron tweeted Monday.

For a swath of cartoon consumers — those associated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement — Jaffee’s most important contribution came not in Mad’s pages but in a different publication, The Moshiach Times. There, Jaffee for decades inked a strip for children called “The Shpy,” depicting a rabbinic secret agent who battles the forces of evil. It was, he told a Chabad publication in 2020, shortly after his retirement at 99, a deeply personal endeavor.

“‘The Shpy’ wasn’t just some superhero. I couldn’t do that,” Jaffee said. “I had to draw a character I could get into.”

Jaffee was born Abraham Jaffee on March 13, 1921 in Savannah, where his father, an immigrant from Lithuania, had been recruited from New York City to run a dry-goods shop. His mother, who had immigrated from the same town as his father, never took to life in the South, where Orthodox Judaism was unfamiliar and kosher food hard to come by. When Jaffee, the oldest of four brothers, was 6, she bundled the children up and took them back to Lithuania for a visit that stretched for six years.

Jaffee’s biography characterizes his time in Zarasai as one of both deprivation and invention, in which he was forced to come up with entertainment because there was little provided for the children. After Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in nearby Germany in 1933, his father retrieved him and two of his brothers, later sending for the third. Jaffee never saw his mother again after he returned to the United States; the Jews of Zarasai were executed by the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators on Aug. 26, 1941.

Back in New York, Jaffee’s artistic prowess earned him a spot in the first class of the High School of Music & Art, where he connected with classmates who would be his partners for many years to come. He would create comics for several shops before settling in as a freelancer at Mad, where his high school friend Harvey Kurtzman was the editor and where Yiddish peppered the pages even as the humor magazine reached a wide audience. While Mad was recognizably Jewish to many Jewish readers, it did not proclaim itself as such — an approach that Jaffee told an interviewer in 2016 was intentional.

“I lived through a period when Jewish people were very nervous about flaunting their Jewishness,” Jaffee said in the interview, published in the Forward, in which he explained that he still tended to think in Yiddish. “Even after the war, you were aware that there were people out there who wanted to kill you just because you were Jewish. And it’s still around.”

His side gig as the Chabad cartoonist began in 1984, after a young rabbi recruited him and other Mad contributors to add a contemporary aesthetic to a magazine with a circulation of about 10,000. Though Jaffee had a complicated relationship with Jewish observance, he signed on quickly, according to the Chabad feature about his tenure that was published in 2020.

In the story, Jaffee recalled highlights of his life in Zarasai, which had largely been described in negative terms in his earlier biography. “My brother Harry and I would spend the whole year sketching and planning what we’d do to improve the design of lanterns,” Jaffee recalled about celebrating the fall holiday of Simchat Torah. “Then when the holiday came, we’d march around the bimah [prayer platform]. It was so much fun.” He also said that he aspired to be like the Shpy, whose wispy beard resembled his own.

Jaffee announced his retirement in June 2020, months after the death of his wife of 42 years, Joyce Revenson. A previous marriage, to Ruth Ahlquist, with whom he had two children, ended in divorce. He is survived by his children, stepchildren, grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The post Al Jaffee, iconic Mad Magazine cartoonist who also inked Chabad comic, dies at 102 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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