(New York Jewish Week) – New York City’s Comptroller sent Yeshiva University a letter regarding the Modern Orthodox institution’s ongoing court case against a student-led LGBTQ organization on campus in an apparent attempt to pressure the university into allowing the pride club on campus.
A letter sent Monday by Comptroller Brad Lander to Yeshiva University President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman states: “As the City’s chief accountability officer, I have been monitoring the situation surrounding your refusal to officially recognize the YU Pride Student Alliance, including the appellate court’s recent affirmance of the lower court’s denial of Yeshiva’s motion to dismiss. Your students are alleging that your current practices are discriminatory and in violation of New York City’s Human Rights Law.”
He continues: “I must urge your institution to change course and offer a secure environment for your LGBTQ+ students and staff to create a supportive space to rightfully express their full selves.”
As comptroller, Lander, who is Jewish, oversees accounting and fiscal health of the city. “All recipients of public funding from the City must attest that they are in compliance with City laws and statutes, including the New York City Human Rights Law. Our records show that Yeshiva University has received some $8.8 million in City funding since 2010,” the letter says.
It goes on to state that “the University’s discriminatory actions may put future funding and associated services at risk.”
In January, three state lawmakers demanded a full accounting from YU in order to determine whether the Modern Orthodox flagship misrepresented itself in order to qualify for more than $230 million in public funds.
Though Yeshiva University is known as a religious institution, it receives public funding and was chartered as a secular organization in order to do so. It was for this reason that a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled last June that the university must follow the New York City Human Rights Law and recognize the student pride club — banning the pride club from campus would be considered discrimination and a violation of the law.
The university argued that the court’s interference is a violation of religious liberty, which is currently a hot-button issue in the nation’s highest court. The university filed an emergency stay motion to the Supreme Court of the United States, which was dismissed. They also appealed the New York Supreme Court’s decision, which was dismissed in an appellate court.
Although attitudes toward individuals who identify as queer have eased somewhat in many Modern Orthodox settings in recent years, gay sex is forbidden by nearly all Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law.
After suspending all student club activities at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, the university announced the “Kol Yisroel Areivim” Club, an administration-approved club that claimed it would represent LGBTQ students “under traditional Orthodox auspices.”
In a statement at the time, the Y.U. Pride Alliance said the new club was “a desperate stunt by Yeshiva University to distract from the growing calls from its donors, alumni, faculty, policymakers, and the business community, who have stood alongside the YU Pride Alliance, as we continue to fight for our rights.”
In his letter, Lander advocates for student-led advocacy groups. “In the past, student-led organizations like the YU Pride Alliance have worked to educate members about their rights as LGBTQ+ people while also creating a safe space for all students,” he writes. “Yeshiva University’s own anti-discrimination policy is wholly undermined by the refusal to allow students to form this group within their own terms and mission.”
“All recipients of public funding from the City must attest that they are in compliance with City laws and statutes, including the New York City Human Rights Law,” Lander writes. “By recognizing the YU Pride Alliance, you can help ensure that the rights of LGTBQ+ students at Yeshiva University are respected, celebrated, and upheld in the City of New York.”
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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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