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In fighting antisemitism, Jews can be our own worst enemies. We shouldn’t be.



(JTA) — Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few weeks, and even if you’re not Jewish, you can’t miss the fact that antisemitism is back in the news again: Kanye West, Kyrie Irving, Nick Fuentes; extremists returning in droves to Twitter; President Donald Trump kowtowing to antisemites over dinner at Mar-A-Lago; “Saturday Night Live” opening with a monologue trafficking in antisemitic tropes; members of the Black Hebrew Israelites intimidating Jewish fans coming to Barclays Center, and an endless feedback loop of antisemitism coursing across social media.

Coming at a time when antisemitic incidents already had reached the highest point in recent memory, this is the kind of mainstreaming of antisemitism that we haven’t seen since the 1930s.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, it is that when it comes to the Jewish people, hatred doesn’t discriminate. When Kanye says Jews control the music industry, he’s not talking about rich Jews or conservative Jews. He’s not singling those who may support Likud or those who back Meretz, two Israeli political parties. He’s not calling out Orthodox Jews versus Reform Jews. He’s talking about us all.

Same with the white supremacists who are circulating Great Replacement conspiracy theories about Jews conspiring to bring more people of color and immigrants into America to “replace” white people. They don’t care if you are a die-hard MAGA voter or a card-carrying member of Democratic Socialists of America. It doesn’t matter: If you’re Jewish, you are in their crosshairs.

Another unfortunate example is the Mapping Project, an insidious campaign that ostensibly accused pro-Israel Jews of conspiring together in Boston. However, it didn’t target only Zionist organizations. They targeted all Jewish organizations, from a nonprofit helping the disabled to a Jewish high school.

And yet, while our enemies see us as one, the Jewish community too often seems riven by discord and infighting.

We are divided around religious practices and beliefs. We are deeply riven by politics. We do not see eye to eye when it comes to the State of Israel, and at times we can’t even agree on the definition of antisemitism itself. At times, absurdly, some Jewish leaders seek to tear down other Jewish leaders even as it tears apart the community, as Steven Windmuller, a retired professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, recently documented. 

I point this out not to diminish the value of debate and dissent — these are fundamental to our tradition. But we need to be mindful of when debate descends into division. 

Indeed, when viewed by those on the outside, these internecine divisions within our community can lead to misunderstandings and confusion. Why can’t Jews agree on anything? At best, hostility makes us look petty, mean and foolish. At worst, it allows antisemites to see within us whatever it is that they hate the most.

Usually in the aftermath of antisemitic attacks such as we saw after the Tree of Life shooting or the hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, Jews from across the political spectrum set aside our differences and come together in a show of unity. We lock arms, proclaim we are one, call on our policymakers to do more, put up our defensive shields and hope for the best.

But at a time when a celebrity with a cult-like following, Kanye West, or Ye as he now calls himself, is using his platform of 38 million-plus social media followers to spread hateful tropes about Jews — the kinds of unhinged and hateful canards, such as Jewish control and power, that have led to antisemitic attacks throughout history — I would argue that the locking-arms response, while effective in the moment, does not have the staying power that we could achieve if we had a more unified and close-knit Jewish community.

What does have staying power? In this uniquely fragile moment, we must choose to embrace our differences, or at least accept them and lean into Ahavat Yisrael, the love for our fellow Jews. We ferociously can disagree internally while standing completely united to external hate.

We are our brother’s keeper, and any Jew suffering from antisemitism is ultimately our responsibility. We must come together, despite our differences, and fight those who hate our people.

How can Jews stand together against antisemitism while respecting our ideological divides? 

First, this isn’t a moment to try to win each other over. This is a moment to declare that every Jew matters and is worth protecting. We may disagree on many things, but we can appreciate that difference doesn’t have to equal division. We cannot allow the toxic partisanship that has seeped into so much of our society to poison our communal spaces. There are no “Tikkun Olam” Jews. There are no “Trump” Jews. There are only Jews, and we need to remember the dictum — you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Second, we should recognize that self-defense starts with self-love and self-knowledge. Jewish literacy is essential to our long-term survival. Many like to remark how Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel prayed with his feet — but he did so in part because he wrapped tefillin with his hands. This is not to say that we all need to observe our faith in the same manner. There are plenty of Jewish people who opt out of ritual entirely, and yet their connection to our peoplehood is as strong and as valid as those who daven, or pray, every day. But shared values that emanate from Torah still bind us as a people — we need to redouble, not just our efforts to pass on these values to our children in ways that relate to the next generation, but we also must relearn these values ourselves.

Third, we must never allow our ideological blinders to gloss over or ignore antisemitism from those who are generally our political allies. We must be morally firm and call out antisemitism where we see it, and not just when it is convenient politically. We must be equally fierce in the political circles where we belong, where we ultimately have more influence and clout, as in simply calling out hatred by pointing to those on the other side.

During his lifetime, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson shared his wisdom about the fact that while every Jewish person is a unique individual, as a people we share a “basic commonality that joins us into a single collective entity.” The Lubavitcher Rebbe understood that this unity has sustained the Jewish people throughout history.

If we look to our ancestors, we can see examples of how holding together at times of strife has made our community stronger. It’s quite possible that we may be living in one of those difficult periods again. I hope we can meet the moment.

The post In fighting antisemitism, Jews can be our own worst enemies. We shouldn’t be. 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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