(New York Jewish Week) — The singer and actor Ben Platt spends most of his time these days on West 45th Street in Manhattan, where he performs eight times a week as Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was lynched by a Georgia mob in 1915.
But he took a detour on a recent afternoon to Brooklyn, for visits to Frank’s childhood home and the Prospect Heights building where his body was briefly taken before his burial in Queens.
“It looks the same,” Platt said, according to the New Yorker writer who accompanied him on the sojourn and wrote up their walk in a pithy “Talk of the Town” vignette. “The door is the same, these railings are the same.”
The show, its first revival since it opened on Broadway in 1998, made headlines last month when a group of neo-Nazis protested outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on the first night of previews, roiling the Broadway community.
“Platt hadn’t expected Nazis, but he had expected some hate,” writes the New Yorker’s Zach Helfand. “He’d prepared for the show’s heaviness by painting his dressing room pink. ‘I figured it should be a brighter space,’ he said. ‘I also just love ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and Glinda.’”
Helfand notes that Platt is wearing a “North Face jacket and baggy jeans, with a Star of David necklace,” as they head first to Clinton Hill, where Frank lived at 368 Lafayette Ave. as a student attending the Pratt Institute (the art and design school briefly had a high school at the end of the 19th century).
Then, Platt walked to Frank’s parents’ home at 152 Underhill Ave. in Prospect Heights, where the family sat shiva and where Frank’s body was briefly brought from Georgia before he was buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery in Queens.
Along the way, Platt reflects on playing Frank, his own Jewish identity and, somewhat inexplicably, his hydration habits and bladder capacity. He notes that he is both trying to drink more water and also mindful that his role requires him to sit on stage throughout intermission, without the bathroom break that audience members can take.
“Parade” is Platt’s first Broadway role since he won the 2017 Tony Award for best lead actor in a musical, as the star of “Dear Evan Hansen.” Portraying Frank, Helfand writes, “is less taxing physically but more fraught personally.”
“The trauma involved in this one has a lot more to do with me,” said Platt, who is 29, the same age Frank was when he was accused of murder in 1913.
Frank had left Brooklyn for Atlanta as an adult — an unusual move at the time, but one that resonated with Platt. “My mom’s side ended up in Kansas,” Platt said. “They were one of very few Jewish families. There was a synagogue that’s now been renamed for my grandma.”
A manager of an Atlanta pencil factory, Frank was accused of murdering a girl whose body was found there in 1913. Despite little evidence, Frank was found guilty of killing Mary Phagan, who had worked at the factory, and was sentenced to death. In 1915, when Frank’s sentence was commuted to life in prison, he was kidnapped by an armed mob and lynched.
The case spurred both the creation of the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish civil rights group whose activities include monitoring neo-Nazi activity, and the revival of the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist hate group. The consensus view is that Frank was innocent, but contemporary neo-Nazis reject that view and he has not been officially exonerated under the law.
After the neo-Nazi protest outside the theater last month, Platt spoke out on social media. “It was definitely very ugly and scary, but [also] a wonderful reminder of why we’re telling this particular story, and how special and powerful art and particularly theater can be,” he said in an Instagram video.
Platt’s foray into Jewish geography extends beyond Leo Frank to the present. He notes during his walk that the uncle of his fiance, Noah Galvin, is part of the Pratt family behind the Pratt Institute. He also reveals that the sister of his friend and collaborator, Jeff Levin, who released his studio albums on Atlantic Records, lives at Frank’s family’s Prospect Heights address. He’d learned that after a castmate visited the site and left a note.
“She had no idea,” Platt told the New Yorker about Levin’s sister. “I figured — based on Jewish geography, and, just, New York — maybe I’d find some connection to the person there. But it was like an hour later.”
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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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