(JTA) — A massive mural of a Jewish mother lighting Shabbat candles has just gone up in a Jewish neighborhood of Los Angeles, the first in a series of anti-hate murals planned across the city.
Painted by the Iranian-Jewish artist Cloe Hakakian, “The Common Thread” was painted on the exterior of an event venue in Pico-Robertson, a heavily Jewish neighborhood known for its abundance of synagogues and kosher restaurants representing a range of Jewish traditions. In February, two Jewish men in Pico-Robertson were shot on two separate days by an individual whom officials said had “a history of animus towards the Jewish community.”
Flames painted on the mural take the form of the Hebrew words “l’dor v’dor,” a term meaning “from generation to generation” that describes how Judaism is passed down over time. She said she had drawn upon the insights that community members had been invited to offer in planning workshops.
“I’ve done a lot of community murals, but this one was special because the community and each individual contributed to it. They shared their experiences and struggles of being Jewish. Public art has a huge role in social change and in revolutions, past and present,” Hakakian told The Los Angeles Daily News ahead of the mural’s unveiling.
“So a mural out in public, where people are driving by, will hopefully reach folks even outside of this community, and encourage them to talk and ask questions. That’s a powerful first step in fighting both antisemitism and all hate crimes,” she added. “And I hope it makes Jews feel seen and know they’re not alone.”
In addition to the shootings in Pico-Robertson, which took place just blocks from the mural’s location, several other high-profile incidents have put Los Angeles Jews on high alert in recent years. A city councilman representing the historically Jewish Fairfax neighborhood said he saw antisemitism in the damage that occurred there during racial justice protests in 2020. Last October, members of the hate group Goyim Defense League held up signs above a Los Angeles freeway that read “Kanye is right about the Jews,” a reference to antisemitic comments by the rapper Kanye West. The Anti-Defamation League’s audit of antisemitic incidents identified 237 in Los Angeles last year — an overall increase of 30% from 2021 — including 143 incidents of harassment.
“At a time when we see antisemitism and hateful messaging on the rise, it’s more important now than ever to highlight the experience and contributions of Jews and other marginalized communities in our city,” Jeffrey Abrams, the ADL’s Los Angeles regional director, said in a statement. “We know that exposure to other cultures and experiences can reduce bias and hate and that is exactly what we hope this mural will accomplish.”
“The Common Thread” is the first of a series of murals to be released throughout the city as part of the “L.A. vs. Hate: Summer of Solidarity” campaign, organized by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. Other projects will similarly use the arts and community events throughout the city to tackle hate crimes and address social and political issues, and more murals honoring Black and LGBTQ+ communities will be unveiled later this summer.
“We are proud to help lead this unifying collaboration, which heightens our sense of awareness of the uniqueness of communities across Los Angeles,” Joanna Mendelson, senior vice president of community engagement of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said in a statement. “The Summer of Solidarity initiative provides an opportunity to reflect the diversity of our Jewish community, and provides a moment to capture the cultural, historical, and spiritual influences that embody the Jewish Angeleno experience. We are prioritizing efforts to build bridges with our neighbors across Los Angeles, and recognize art, such as this mural, is a powerful vehicle to unite.”
In her statement, Hakakian also pointed out details from her mural that “celebrate the diversity of Jews within our community and the cultural experiences shared across time and place.”
In the folds of the woman’s headscarf, Hakakian says, “there is a young child held in the arms of her mother as older generations stand behind her, each figure wearing a pattern from the diverse cultural diasporas in Los Angeles county. Footprints move through the desert toward a bright horizon, a metaphor for migration, healing, and resilience within the Jewish community. Silhouettes of culturally significant Los Angeles county landmarks sit on the horizon, reminding the viewer of the greater community within which the Jewish community thrives.”
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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