“We will never give up,” the account tweeted. “After all, Moses was once a basket case.”
While the quip couldn’t stave off the team’s ultimate 10-0 loss, it came in the course of a win for Avi Miller, the 30-year-old marketing veteran who runs the @ILBaseball account. For Miller — who tweeted the tournament from 3,000 miles away — the World Baseball Classic was a breakout moment, nearly doubling Team Israel’s social media followers and exposing countless baseball fans to jokes straight out of Hebrew school.
Miller told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that his ambition was to do for Team Israel what the World Baseball Classic, an international Olympic-style baseball tournament, aims to do for baseball itself: deepen fans’ interest.
“Of course virality is nice, because it creates more of a following. But then once you have a following, what are you doing with it?” Miller said. “So for me, and it’s even continued through today, and it will tomorrow and so on, is to create engagement with people, create interest in it, help to create and raise the fundraising efforts, help to create awareness of these programs.”
Team Israel won its first game but dropped the next three to exit the competition early. Some of those games were brutal: Across 15 innings on March 13 and 14, Israel managed just one base runner against its opponents.
But on the team’s Twitter account, the hits kept coming. One breakout post, seen more than 100,000 times, showed a photo of a seemingly apoplectic Jakob Goldfarb (who was actually celebrating, despite what his expression suggests). Miller’s caption reflected contemporary meme culture: “When she says a latke is just a hash brown.”
when she says a latke is just a hash brown pic.twitter.com/K0jkVNHfeN
— Israel Baseball (@ILBaseball) March 12, 2023
In another popular post, the account outlined its “bubbie rankings,” using the Yiddish word for grandmother used in some Jewish families — and a homonym for the first name of one of the team’s pitchers. The list: “1) my bubbie 2) Bubby Rossman 3) other bubbies.”
From joking about storing a cooler of Manischewitz in the dugout to leaning into the “nice Jewish boy” vibe of the team, which was almost entirely composed of American Jewish ballplayers, the account’s sense of humor seemed to resonate.
Bill Shaikin, an award-winning baseball writer for the Los Angeles Times and a member of the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, called Israel’s Twitter “the best social media account in the tournament.”
“I thought the account was a wonderful mix of baseball information and witty nods to what your Jewish mother might say,” Shaikin told JTA. “If you know, you know. But, if you didn’t know, it still worked.”
The USA doesn’t need the World Baseball Classic to popularize baseball within its country.
Other countries do. Here’s a thread from one (from the best social media account in the tournament): https://t.co/fyifV9H1lF
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) March 15, 2023
Miller was well positioned to tell Team Israel’s story. A marketing consultant living in San Diego, he worked in communications for sports teams and the NCAA before expanding his portfolio to include tech clients. He’s also been involved with the Israel Association of Baseball in different capacities for a few years, mostly helping with social media and video editing. The Baltimore native is a Jewish day school graduate and cofounded a Moishe House in San Francisco.
“I’ve had these two worlds collide,” Miller said. “I have a mentally strong relationship with baseball in my life, and then I have a bond to Judaism, from my entire upbringing. And for me as a passionate storyteller, my goal has been, both in years past and this World Baseball Classic, it’s been to help tell that story.”
That story, which included a late-game comeback win over Nicaragua and an impressive performance by Orthodox prospect Jacob Steinmetz, took place entirely in South Florida — a few thousand miles from Miller’s home in San Diego. Miller had been planning to be present at the tournament but was not able to — though no one would have been able to tell from the tweets.
Paging r/mademesmile – just watch Jacob’s face light up here in the dugout after his debut outing.
— Israel Baseball (@ILBaseball) March 14, 2023
“I think it’s similar to what a great YouTuber or videographer would tell you, is that to make the best video you don’t need the best camera ever made,” Miller said. “What I needed was the passion and the storytelling ideas behind it. Between that and then having contact with almost every single guy on the team and people on the ground, it gave me plenty of ideas to work with when it came to telling that story in a fun way.”
Miller said the feedback was overwhelmingly positive — and came from all levels of baseball fandom, from those who know little about Israel baseball, or even baseball, to die-hard fans.
“That to me is the best response to it, making it something that was approachable for all, but then still getting the signs of respect from the deep baseball people,” Miller said.
He also said there were, predictably, some negative responses. Miller said he made a conscious effort to shy away from politics, including keeping his own personal opinions out of the mix. Not everyone followed that tack.
“Could I have engaged with every single person that wrote in on any platform and was sending us messages about ‘Free Palestine,’ and [said], ‘Oh, you respect our boundaries now, because you don’t like the strike zone,’ all these different things?” Miller said. “Sure, I could have been sassy and responded within those spaces, one hundred percent. I could easily talk smack with anyone any day. But at the end of the day, that wasn’t the goal.”
Part of that restraint, Miller said, had to do with channeling the voice and priorities of the team itself.
“If you talked to Ryan Lavarnway, you talk to Josh Zeid, any of those guys about their views on Israel baseball, I can’t imagine the Palestinian conflict comes up as part of it because it’s simply not,” he said, referring to a Team Israel player and coach, respectively. “It doesn’t make that not an important thing to talk about, but in this case, the story was aside from that.”
In general, Miller said he worked to build relationships with the players and other members of the Israel baseball organization, to help craft an authentic presence of the team’s social media accounts — from the underdog mentality to the emphasis on team camaraderie.
And in that vein, it was tweets showcasing players’ talents that Miller said made him most proud. Not only did the players’ families appreciate the content, but some of their agents did, too — with one pitcher even asking Miller for video highlights he could send to teams considering bringing him on. Miller declined to share who it was, but at least one Team Israel pitcher landed an MLB contract after the tournament, Rossman with the Mets.
“The most meaningful to me are ones where I can put out content that showcases an individual or multiple individuals and then knowing that that impacts that guy in some way,” Miller said.
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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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