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Israel’s pro-democracy protests go global, with expats planning rallies in NYC and beyond



(JTA) — Protests by Israelis against their country’s new right-wing government are spilling beyond the country’s borders this week, with rallies planned by Israelis in New York City and elsewhere.

The rallies are being convened by a group called UnXeptable, a group formed by Israelis living abroad in 2020 amid protests against then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was returned to power late last year. Those protests focused on the criminal charges against Netanyahu.

Now, UnXeptable is launching rallies to augment those that have taken root across Israel over the last month against Netanyahu’s new government, which includes ministers who want to greatly expand Jewish settlement in the West Bank, curb minority rights and strengthen Orthodox control in matters of Jewish religious status.

“The foundations of Israeli democracy are being challenged,” said Offir Gutelzon, 48, a tech executive who is UnXeptable’s New York City-based cofounder.

The first of the international protests is scheduled for Saturday at noon in Washington Square Park in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The timing on Shabbat drew criticism from some on social media, where the event was being promoted.

There will be a rally this Saturday at Washington Square Park in NYC to protest the Israeli government.

‘NYC Rally In Support Of A Democratic Israel’

— Jacob Henry (@jhenrynews) January 25, 2023

Gutelzon said the timing was chosen to sync with the Israeli protests, which take place there immediately after Shabbat and last week drew more than 160,000 people in several cities. Most were in Tel Aviv, Israel’s liberal heart, but growing protests are also taking place in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

“We call on Jewish Americans, and anyone who cares about Israeli democracy, to join us,” Gutelzon said. “We care about Israel. We care about Israeli Jewish democracy. We want it to survive and flourish.”

Other rallies in North American are planned for Boston, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver.

The protests have taken particular aim at proposed legislation to overhaul the country’s judiciary, a priority of a new government whose members insist that the country’s Supreme Court wields too much power. Those reforms have alarmed even moderates who strongly support Israel, including U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) and Eric Goldstein, CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York. Both wrote essays this week saying the moves could weaken Israel’s democracy by giving lawmakers veto power over the Supreme Court.

Gilad Paz, an Israeli expat who has lived in New York since 2005, said he is planning to attend the New York City rally to show solidarity with his family in Israel, who have attended protests in Tel Aviv that have drawn over 160,000 people.

“Everyone here that wants to be part of these demonstrations, it’s us saying that we support our friends, our families and our neighbors who are still in Israel, who need to know that they are being heard outside of Israel,” said Paz, who served in the IDF in an entertainment unit and now performs in America as part of an Israeli music cover band.

Paz said he was particularly troubled by antipathy toward non-Orthodox Jews within the new government.

“We are back to a position where all American Reform, Conservative and progressive Judaism doesn’t even exist as far as that government is concerned,” he said. “I’ve always towed this line of being Israeli and loving my family and the people there, but … since I left Israel 17 years ago, I’ve only seen it get worse.”

Israelis living abroad are presumed to be more left-leaning than those in Israel, although the community is diverse. The Israeli-American Council, the largest U.S. affinity group for Israeli expats, was funded in large part by the late Republican megadonor and Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, although its leadership insists its membership is politically diverse. At IAC’s annual summit this week in Austin, Texas, public events surrounding Israel’s new government mostly involved Israeli leaders — including Israeli President Isaac Herzog and the new Diaspora affairs minister, Amichai Chikli — assuring conference-goers that Israeli democracy is strong and that the new government is heeding the concerns of Jews abroad.

Gutelzon, who previously served in the Israeli army and has founded two tech startups, also emphasized that the protests are not anti-Israel protests. They have “nothing to do with people who are saying that they want to annihilate the right of Israel to exist,” he said. “We are standing for Israel, not against Israel.”

Gutelzon emphasized that American Jews and Israelis abroad who observe Shabbat and cannot make this week’s protest will be able to attend ones scheduled for several cities Feb. 4. Those will take place in the evening, after Shabbat has ended.

“There is no reason to exclude anyone,” he said. “This is supposed to be inclusive, with people from the left, the right, Hasidic, religious, secular, whoever — whoever supports Israeli democracy and wants to save it is welcome.” 

The New York event page for the protest on Facebook currently has close to 200 people interested in the event.

The post Israel’s pro-democracy protests go global, with expats planning rallies in NYC and beyond 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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