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Historic flooding complicates the journey home for Passover vacationers in South Florida



(JTA) — Zachary Ottenstein didn’t expect to bond with his dad over chess and classic rock during his trip home from Florida at the end of Passover.

But when Ottenstein switched his phone on after the holiday ended last night, it blew up: Fort Lauderdale was flooded and flights out of the airport — including their flight to New York — were canceled. The city was underwater after the rainiest day in its history.

He consulted with his dad, Matthew: They had enjoyed their Passover week at a hotel, but they wanted to get home in time for Shabbat the following evening.

“We really didn’t fancy staying another two days and finding a place to stay and food,” he said. 

Their story was not unique: Families from across the United States who opt for Passover getaway packages in the Sunshine State found themselves stranded in Fort Lauderdale after the rains Thursday. Travelers to the airport reported seeing the headlights of cars sitting deep in water, accumulating since about a month’s worth of rain fell in an hour on Wednesday. 

Traditionally observant Jews, who don’t drive or fly in planes on Shabbat, faced the prospect of either making it home before Friday at sundown, or spending at least two more days — until Saturday at nightfall — in the Fort Lauderdale area, without the institutional infrastructure that had enabled their Passover vacations.

At first, the Ottensteins looked for other flights, expanding the radius outward from Fort Lauderdale with each search. Finally, they found a barely workable option. 

“There were no flights really other than one flight out of Tampa that was going to Chicago and from there, there was a flight to New York,” Ottenstein said. 

They booked the flight, rented a car, left Fort Lauderdale at 10:30 p.m. and rolled into Tampa at 3 a.m. — right in time for the 5 a.m. flight to Chicago. 

Others opted to stay down south for Shabbat. Mendel Fayershteyn, a Chabad rabbi in the city, put out the word in the community that he was ready to assist any families stranded at the airport.

As it turns out, there were a handful — about six or seven, he said in an interview — and he delivered kosher meals to them and found homes for them to stay in through Sunday, when the airport is expected to be back to capacity. One of the homes was his own — he decamped to his in-laws’ and handed the keys of his house to one of the airport families.

The relief he administered to the stranded Jews, Fayershteyn said, was mostly psychological.

“It was more like, people were panicking, it wasn’t like an emergency,” he said in an interview. “I would say it was more therapeutic just for the people to hear it’s going to be OK.”

Fayershteyn learned to coordinate relief during years of hurricane seasons: He put that experience to use, gathered generators and kosher food, and helped people find shelter. He also helped reunite people with cars that had floated away in the flooding.

“The main thing we were doing today is just helping people getting their cars back,” he said.

As soon as Passover ended on Thursday night, Fayershteyn got the word out on Facebook that he was offering help to Shabbat-observant Jews.

“Stay safe, and if you are in need of assistance please don’t hesitate to reach out,”  the message said. “Hot Shabbat meals going out tomorrow for those that need, please DM us.”

Ottenstein also took to Facebook, posting a selfie of himself and his dad in the car after midnight. “What do you do when Fort Lauderdale airport gets closed and you want to get home for shabbos?” he wrote. “Obviously you drive through the night to Tampa to make an early morning flight home.”

Ottenstein, 24, a schoolteacher on Staten Island, and his dad, 60, a law librarian in suburban New Rochelle, filled the time up.

“The world chess championships are going on and my dad’s been very into it. He can talk for hours about that type of thing,” he said.  “And we bond a lot over music. My dad’s a big 60s, 70s classic rock kind of guy.”

Zachary did the driving. “My dad doesn’t like driving at night,” he said. “No bathroom breaks, no stopping for food. The adrenaline kicked in. It was the kind of plan that was so crazy, it worked.”

The post Historic flooding complicates the journey home for Passover vacationers in South Florida 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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