BOSTON (JTA) – A month after Rev Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel stood on the front line of the 1965 march from Selma, Alabama, to demand voting rights for African Americans, another march unfolded in Boston.
There, on April 23, 1965, King led more than 20,000 people on a march from Roxbury, the city’s historic Black neighborhood, to the Boston Common. They stretched for nearly a mile, in a historic moment for Boston and its Black community.
Now, in honor of both King’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of Heschel’s death, Boston Common is home to marchers again. On Friday, Jewish Bostonians and allies walked in a procession from the nearby Central Reform Temple to the park for the city’s dedication of a new monument of King and his wife and civil rights partner Coretta Scott King.
“We thought this would be a wonderful moment to rekindle the alliance between the African American Civil Rights community and the Jewish community,” Rabbi Michael Shire, the synagogue’s rabbi and a faculty member at Hebrew College told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a phone conversation a few days before the event.
King had professional and personal ties to the city he came to call his second home. He had earned his PhD in theology at Boston University. It was also the place where King first met and courted Coretta Scott, who was earning her master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music.
The Embrace, a massive sculpture and public memorial designed by renowned artist Hank Willis Thomas, honors the couple’s legacy and the role this city played in their lives. Unveiled Friday, the 20-foot-high bronze sculpture evokes the Kings in a hug that was inspired by a photograph taken in 1964, soon after the announcement that King had been chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Embrace is the largest American-made bronze sculpture in the country, according to Imari K. Paris Jeffries, executive director of Embrace Boston, the nonprofit leading the memorial.
“It is Boston’s Statue of Liberty,” he told WBUR.
The procession, which drew about 100 people, was meant to evoke the bond between the two giants of faith and the ties between the Black and Jewish communities represented by the Selma march, when Heschel famously carried a Torah scroll.
Rain cleared enough for the Boston Jews to carry a Torah of their own, which was rolled to this week’s portion, the beginning of the Book of Exodus. “It is a story of freedom and liberation,” Shire said before the procession. “As we march today, we will think about how that story is ever present in all of our lives.”
Jill Silverstein, a synagogue board member who cofounded its racial justice committee following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, said the committee members studied slavery and racism today, and engaged in self-reflection, said Silverstein, who watched the monument’s progress from her home nearby and called it “exquisite and different.” She said the march on Friday, which the synagogue group discussed with Embrace Boston leaders, is a first step in taking action as partners with others to combat racism.
“It‘s a rekindling of our commitment to racial justice, equity and equality,” Silverstein said.
The march comes at a moment of challenge. Antisemitic incidents and sentiments are on the rise, according to watchdog groups; Boston has been home to several in recent years, including the stabbing of a rabbi in 2021 that ignited shows of solidarity within the Jewish community. What’s more, several recent episodes have challenged Black-Jewish relations, including an extended antisemitic outburst by rapper Kanye West and the promotion of an antisemitic film by NBA star Kyrie Irving.
Emmanuel Church, an Episcopal congregation where the synagogue is located, and Congregation Mishkan Tefila, a Conservative synagogue in Brookline, were early partners for the event that the two synagogues intend as the first step to deepen their work with Black churches on pressing issues of racial and economic justice.
“In this atmosphere of antisemitism and racism, Blacks and Jews need to speak loudly in support of each other and against hatred and prejudice,” said Rabbi Marcia Plumb of Mishkan Tefilah in an email. (Plumb and Shire are married to each other.)
Among others who marched was Rabbi Jim Morgan, who leads congregations at both Harvard Hillel and for residents of Hebrew Senior Life communities, which sent a handful of residents to the event.
“There are people in my community who had taken part in the civil rights movement in the 1960s,” Morgan said.
Other cosponsors include the American Jewish Committee New England; the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston; Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action; the Miller Center at Hebrew College and Center Communities of Brookline, residences of Hebrew Senior Life.
On Friday evening, Reverend Liz Walker, co-chair of the Embrace Boston committee and the pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, will speak at Central Reform’s Friday night Shabbat service,
“The moment is almost beyond words … because of what the Kings meant here in Boston,” Walker, one of Boston’s most prominent Black clergy members, told JTA by phone. She said she planned to speak about how, at a time of divisiveness and polarization, a memorial “that speaks of love, unity, courage and justice” stands out.
Describing King and Heschel as prophetic voices, Walker said, “Those relationships [between faith leaders and the community] are more vital than ever and have to be lifted up because they are going to guide the world through this kind of minefield of negativity and animosity.”
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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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