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Jewish immigrants and their children are divided by a common religion



This article was produced as part of JTA’s Teen Journalism Fellowship, a program that works with teens across the world to report on issues that impact their lives.

MIAMI (JTA) — When Ricardo Tanur arrived in Miami in the 1990s he had a hard time finding a religious school for his children and finding a synagogue where he felt comfortable. The biggest challenge, however, was leaving his Orthodox community in Mexico and raising his six children in an unfamiliar Jewish community whose religious values often did not align with his own. 

“When I first arrived in Miami, I felt that I was leaving a part of me in Mexico, and did not feel that I truly belonged to the Jewish-American communities,” said Tanur. “I was unsure how I would raise my children in the faith when I didn’t have a temple or community which I felt a part of.”  

Eventually Tanur joined the Bal Harbor Shul and the Skylake Synagogue in Miami Beach because he felt that community could make “a positive impact on his children’s personal and religious values.” This was important to him when raising children in an area whose approach to tradition was more “modern” than what he was used to in Mexico City.

The challenge of raising children in an unknown Jewish community is common for immigrants, especially for those in Miami. More than a third of the Jewish population in Miami are foreign-born adults, higher than in any other American Jewish community. With the continued population growth of foreign-born adults, the immigrant experience affects how young people approach religion by combining traditional and modern practices.

“My approach to religion differs from that of my parents mainly in the external aspect,” said Deborah Tanur, Ricardo’s eldest daughter. The 20-year-old, raised in Miami, said her father expected his daughters to wear the modest clothing typical of his Orthodox community back in Mexico. And yet her peers weren’t wearing skirts that fall below the knee, high-cut necklines or long sleeves. 

Her 18-year-old sister, Raquel, recognizes the strain caused by these different ways of thinking. “The Mexican community is more closed-off and small, whereas in Miami the community is very modern and open,” she said. “This was not always easy for my mother and father to understand, as traditional appearance and practices were something which they believed to be a large part of conserving our faith.”

When Deborah was younger she was drawn to her Jewish friends’ liberal, Ashkenazi services, which were different from those in her parent’s Ashkenazi, Orthodox synagogue. “When I was little, I would sometimes ask to attend a Reform service with my friends’ families,” she said. “My parents did not allow me to do so at first, but eventually my parents and I navigated through our different perspectives in order to find common ground.” 

Differences between children and immigrant parents’ are not only restricted to the level of observance, but also to their approaches to traditions and prayer. This is true for Luiz Gandleman — the son of two immigrants from Brazil and the president of the Jewish Student Union at Gulliver Preparatory in Coral Gables.

“My parents grew up in a very strict Ashkenazi community, so a lot of the prayers and service is heavily Ashkenazi which isn’t necessarily the case with me,” Gandelman said. “There are Jews from all over here [in Miami], so I observe a lot more broadly. I have attended both Ashkenazi services as well as Sephardic services, so I have adapted aspects from both.” Gandelman added that some holidays are observed differently in America than they are in Brazil.

“Hanukkah is observed on a smaller scale in Brazil, at least in my community. My parents didn’t really do anything for Hanukkah besides the traditional practices” of candle-lighting and a few special prayers, he said. “I convinced them to start celebrating on a greater scale with Hanukkah dinners and gift giving. My parents thought it to be an American thing at first, but after much convincing we were able to take the best of both worlds and mix our two beliefs.” 

This different approach to faith is common for many children of immigrant parents, which Senior Rabbi Jeremy Barras of Temple Beth Am, a Reform synagogue in Pinecrest, recognizes in his congregation.

“More so in Miami Beach and Aventura, than Coral Gables and Pinecrest, the parents tend to be more traditional and the kids less so,” Barras said, referring to Miami-area suburbs. “The older generations are more interested in customs and rituals. The younger generations are more interested in culture and spirituality. It means that more creative means are required to engage younger families and the next generation. No longer can we rely on traditional models of observance to drive participation.”

The distinct way of thinking between immigrant parents and their children is not limited to their approaches to religion, but also to their feelings of belonging.  

“Most of the people that are here [in Miami] came from Latin America which wasn’t always as safe and as great of a situation for Jews. In any minute if things got bad you would want to move. because of fear of anti-semitism. Americans don’t really worry about that, Americans never think that they are going to have to leave,” Barras said.

This lack of belonging also affects identity. Such is true for the Guimaraes family, Reform Jews who immigrated from Brazil.

“I would define myself first as Brazilian, and then as Jewish. Personally, I see myself as being merely a Brazilian Jew on American soil,” said Cassio Guimaraes. 

Her youngest child, Ana Catherine, has the opposite view. “My identity is best described as an American Jew,” the 16-year-old said. “I always felt that I had a place here despite my Latina makeup. My traditions and values are well rooted in the community within Miami.

Despite differences between immigrant parents’ and their children, their religion provides common ground. 

“Although me and my parents pray differently, it widens perspective. For example, I pray using a wider range of prayers than do my parents. For example, I recite the amidah while my parents do not. Nevertheless, I love learning how my mom was raised praying and how my dad learned to pray, and they love learning what I know,” Gandelman said. “We end up teaching each other. It is a nice way for us to connect and build on each other’s religious beliefs together.”

The post Jewish immigrants and their children are divided by a common religion 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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