Andrew Mandel, 45, is the spiritual leader of the Neighborhood, Central Synagogue’s virtual Jewish community, which has emerged as a major force in the world of online Judaism — an area that has continued to thrive post-pandemic. He is also the founder of Tzedek Box, a new Jewish ritual for those who seek to improve our world. As an innovator in Jewish communal life, Mandel, who lives in Long Island City, Queens, was selected as one of the New York Jewish Week’s 36 to Watch.
For the full list of this year’s “36ers” — which honors leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers who are making a difference in New York’s Jewish community — click here.
What’s a fun/surprising fact about you?
A number of years ago, I decided that I didn’t know enough about the city I love, so I bought one of those hefty “Blue Guide” books about the five boroughs and spent weekends going to different sections of the city. After about a year, I took the New York City tour guide exam just to see what I had learned, and I ended up using my license to give a few tours. I have loved guiding around the Lower East Side, where I’ve used an Ancestry account to find out where people’s immigrant relatives may have lived and orient my tour around those addresses.
Who is your New York Jewish hero?
Ruth Messinger. She is the exemplar of a locally-rooted, global citizen driven by Jewish values. She was our Manhattan Borough President in the 1990s, outspoken and tough in all the right ways. She was the president of the American Jewish World Service, leading campaigns against genocide in Darfur and raising hundreds of millions for non-profit organizations in developing countries. Now in her 80s, riding her bicycle around the city, she continues to advise Jewish justice organizations and leaders every day. She’s a living legend.
How does your Jewish identity or experience influence your work?
For me, Judaism is a primary lens for living. My day begins with [the prayer] “Modeh Ani,” a simple statement that expresses both gratitude and a sense of responsibility for the gift of life. I love that it ends with “Raba Emunatecha,” that there is a great faith in us and what we might do in this world. For all of the smallness I can perceive in my own existence, I am quite moved by the idea that all that is Eternal has faith in us. The question becomes: What will we do with that faith?
Was there a formative Jewish experience that influenced your life path?
I spent a year taking in Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “God in Search of Man” chapter by chapter each Shabbat. It helped me awaken to the wonder of the universe, which became a foundation for cultivating an attitude of amazement every day.
Do you have a favorite inspiring quote?
“Pursue justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God,” from Micah 6:8.
What is your favorite place to eat Jewish food in New York?
A waitress once ladled me matzah ball soup at the Second Avenue Deli while saying (in a fantastic New York accent): “I’ll be the pourer so you’ll be the richer.” I was hooked.
What is your favorite book about New York?
I love “Time and Again” by Jack Finney. Time travel through New York, plus a genius ending.
In one sentence, what was your best experience as a Jewish New Yorker?
The most meaningful Jewish experience I have had in New York was standing in the rain, protesting the Muslim ban with hundreds of other Jews at the tip of Battery Park within eyeshot of the Statue of Liberty, living our values in the public square. I felt that our ancestors would have been proud.
What are three spots in NYC that all Jewish New Yorkers should visit?
Join us on Friday night at Central Synagogue. Make your way to one of our botanical gardens for a Shabbos stroll. Then, find the time to volunteer at Rikers Island to witness what needs to change for us to live up to the motto “The Greatest City in the World.”
Anything else you’d like us and our readers to know about you?
I’m proud that I was born in Manhattan, my mom is from Queens (where my partner and I now live), my dad is from Brooklyn (where my brother and his family now live), my first job was in the Bronx, and my favorite restaurant, Enoteca Maria, is on Staten Island. At Enoteca, a different grandmother is the chef every night. Tell Joe I sent you.
How can people follow you online?
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.
The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.