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Beatrice Weber, 48, Yaffed executive director



Beatrice Weber, 48, is the executive director of Yaffed, whose mission is to improve the quality of secular education in New York’s Hasidic and haredi yeshivas. A speaker, activist and writer raised in the haredi Orthodox community in Toronto, and a board member of Right to Parent, she is the first person to successfully sue a New York City school for its failure to provide a secular education in accordance with state education law. Weber lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

For the full list of this year’s 36 to Watch — which honors leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers who are making a difference in New York’s Jewish community — click here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ordained as an Interspiritual Minister, I inspire others to tell their stories and become change makers in their own lives and beyond.

Growing up, everything was decided for me. At the age of 18, I was married off to a rabbi in my ultra-Orthodox community. I had never even finished high school. For years, I tried to be the perfect submissive wife. I dressed modestly, even shaving all the hair from my head. I cared for our children and household. For over two decades, I was stuck, living imprisoned in my own life. When I finally left my marriage with my four youngest children, I faced severe opposition from my family and the community. While leaving to a new city and life was a huge victory for me, it also felt like the start of a battle. I had to fight for custody of my youngest children. I had to fight for the very permission to live my own life.

Deprived of a well-rounded education and knowledge of the world as a Hasidic child, I have devoted my life to telling the truth about the institutionalized education deprivation taking place in many Hasidic and haredi communities and advocating for change. Recently, I have been encouraged by invitations to address Jewish communities and put together storytelling events and know that the only way we will effect lasting change is to unite on the issue of education which is core to Jews throughout the world and over the course of our history. I also know that change comes from within and I will continue being a “secret sister” to the ultra-Orthodox men and women who contact me under the cover of anonymity, seeking support in their own life journey to self-actualization.

Who is your New York Jewish hero?

Ruth Messinger, global ambassador of American Jewish World Service and former Manhattan Borough President

What’s a fun/surprising fact about you?

I have 10 kids.

How does your Jewish identity or experience influence your work?

My personal biography is the catalyst for the work I do. I believe in the Jewish ethic of “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” It is unjust to deprive a child of their legal right to an education and to a future bright with possibilities.

Was there a formative Jewish experience that influenced your life path?

Being the grandchild of Holocaust survivors.

Do you have a favorite inspiring quote?

From Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot): “It is not up to you to finish the task; neither are you exempt from taking part.” (2:21)

What is your favorite place to eat Jewish food in New York?

My kitchen!

What is your favorite book about New York?

“All of a Kind Family,” by Sydney Taylor

What are three spots in NYC that all Jewish New Yorkers should visit? 

The Tenement Museum. Hasidic Williamsburg. A guided tour of Union Square, where Jewish progressives have protested and agitated for change for more than a century.

Anything else you’d like us and our readers to know about you?

I am writing a memoir.

How can people follow you online?,  Facebook,  Twitter

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The post Beatrice Weber, 48, Yaffed executive director 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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Local News

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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