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Hadar Institute to open California outpost, bringing its egalitarian Jewish learning to the West Coast



(JTA) — The Hadar Institute, an egalitarian Jewish educational institution, has announced that it will open a branch in California, the latest stage in the New York City-based organization’s international expansion.

The organization has tapped the former associate rabbi of Ikar, a nondenominational synagogue and community in Los Angeles, to lead the venture, which will be based jointly in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Hadar was founded in 2006 and, since 2021, has launched branches in Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and opened a permanent space in Jerusalem. Its rapid growth comes at a time of flourishing informal Jewish education initiatives while formal centers of Jewish study, rabbinical schools, are shrinking.

Los Angeles is home to two denominational rabbinical schools: the Reform Hebrew Union College, which recently went from three campuses to two, and the Conservative Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. Ziegler recently sold its 35-acre campus, shortened its program and slashed tuition in an attempt to attract more students.

Hadar West Coast, as the California initiative is called, will have a different focus: partnering with Jewish community educators and leaders in both cities to provide programming for locals. That could mean a day of learning in conjunction with a synagogue or Jewish community center, or a specific  event that Hadar organizes itself at the behest of community members.

“I see, all the time, people who are hungry for more learning, for some kind of guide or path or direction for exploring their own Jewish tradition, and really not knowing where to go next,” said Rabbi David Kasher, who will be leading Hadar West Coast. “We have some great rabbinical schools in Los Angeles. There are some great Jewish schools and institutions, that kind of higher learning. But there isn’t necessarily an obvious place to go to just begin that journey if you’re an adult and a spark is lit in you.”

Educating both lay leaders and people who work in Jewish settings has historically been the mission of Hadar, which sees more than 29,000 people annually participate in its in-person and online events and learning opportunities. Those range from a months-long intensive fellowship to seminars and individual classes. Its first class of rabbis will graduate in June — the culmination of an ordination program begun in 2019.

Kasher feels that his background and experience suit him to his new  role, in which he will travel regularly from his home in Los Angeles to Hadar’s programs in the Bay Area, where he grew up. Kasher’s father came from a Hasidic family and he describes his mother as a “California hippie.”

“I feel the power of both of those worlds and they were both a part of me,” Kasher told JTA over the phone from a cabin his grandfather built in a forest in Northern California’s Mendocino County. “I’m hoping to play with both of those spirits and to try and find some kind of fusion between them.”

Kasher was ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a liberal Orthodox rabbinical school, and now said he no longer identifies in denominational terms but is an observant Jew. He has taught courses at a range of yeshivas and institutions of Jewish learning, including many that don’t affiliate with a major denomination — such as Pardes, Svara, the Hartman Institute and the Academy for Jewish Religion. He has also taught at HUC. He was an associate rabbi at Ikar from 2018 until last month and will continue to teach there occasionally through Hadar, according to a message sent to members.

“The West Coast has, historically, sort of a frontier mentality,” Kasher said. “It’s a little bit more experimental and creative and kind of willing to play with boundaries and I think that it’s really important for Jewish life out here to be infused with those values.”

What that will mean in practice is as yet unclear. Both Kasher and Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, Hadar’s CEO, hope to let the communities Hadar is serving take the lead in determining the direction of programs and classes.

“This opportunity will allow him to focus all of his energies on educating and really building the meaningful, practicing egalitarian Jewish life that Hadar represents,” Kaunfer said. “The idea is to have David understand the needs of the local community and serve them through the teaching that he will do.”

The post Hadar Institute to open California outpost, bringing its egalitarian Jewish learning to the West Coast 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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