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Before election, Israel approved $2.3 million plan to improve its image among Reform and Conservative Jews: Report



(JTA) — Concerned that progressive values widely held by American Jews were fueling growing skepticism about the Jewish state, the Israeli government launched an unprecedented plan to counter the trend, according to internal documents obtained by the Israeli watchdog newsroom Shomrim.

The documents reveal a $2.3 million partnership between Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and the Reform and Conservative movements in the United States focused on pro-Israel advocacy among young and liberal American Jews. 

Shomrim’s Uri Blau reported that the fate of the plan is uncertain following Israel’s recent election, which saw major gains for the far right, including a politician who has called Reform Judaism a “fake religion.” 

With negotiations among political factions underway, the final shape of the country’s next government has not yet been determined, but the various scenarios on the table have made many American Jews uneasy because of the racism and homophobia espoused by some of those who were elected. Reform leaders have said Israel’s democracy is in peril. 

A government that includes ultranationalists “will almost certainly lead to challenging moments in U.S.-Israel relations and will be painful for Jews worldwide who will not see the Israel they love and believe in reflected in these leaders, nor in the policies they pursue,” the Union for Reform Judaism said in a statement about the election.

Israeli’s outgoing minister of diaspora affairs, Nachman Shai, told Shomrim that while past Israeli governments have been reluctant to engage with the Reform and Conservative movements, he made it a priority of his office. He said the tensions between the two sides have to do with values. 

“That’s why it was very important for the current government to emphasize values shared by both us and them, such as diversity and minority representation,” Shai said. “We want to demonstrate that we nevertheless share common values.”

The leaked documents from Shai’s ministry show that he and other Israeli officials are paying attention to evidence that American Jews have grown more critical of Israel over time

Whoever authored the analysis in the documents blames the embrace of progressive values among U.S. Jews for rising anti-Israel currents in the community. The situation is the result of “the internalization of the progressive discourse framework among a growing number of Jews,” the documents say, according to Shomrim.

The analysis also says that American Jewish identity, unity and communal character are under threat amid changing attitudes toward Israel.

The budget for the plan is reportedly earmarked toward bringing American youth to Israel for trainings and educational trips, holding community events in the United States and other related advocacy.

The documents obtained by Shomrim make no mention of the issues that many American liberal Jews say bother them about Israel, including religious pluralism and the occupation.

“The terms ‘Palestinians,’ settlements,’ ‘Western Wall, ‘equality,’’ and ‘intermarriage,’ and a long list of topics that are at the root of the conflict with American Jewry are not in there,” Blau reported. 

Leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements were interviewed by Shomrim before the election but declined to speak on the topic further after the Nov. 1 vote, which has positioned Benjamin Netanyahu to return to power with the support of the Religious Zionists political bloc.

On Tuesday, the Zionist arm of the worldwide Masorti-Conservative movement, MERCAZ Olami, released a statement suggesting that a coalition including far-right extremists could threaten the ties that the government initiative was meant to strengthen.

“It is impossible to ignore the fact that the coalition which appears to be in the making, will include politicians whose positions regarding basic elements of democracy and diversity (such as Jewish pluralism, LGBTQ and vulnerable minorities) significantly differ from the values which have guided Zionism since its inception,” read the group’s statement, which was endorsed by nearly a dozen groups associated with the Conservative movement. 

It went on, “The bridges between Israel and world Jewry could be severely damaged if a step back will be taken on sensitive issues like the Egalitarian Kotel, conversion, and who is a Jew.”

The post Before election, Israel approved $2.3 million plan to improve its image among Reform and Conservative Jews: Report 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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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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