(JTA) — Last July, Abby Meyers helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in women’s basketball at the Maccabiah Games, or the “Jewish Olympics,” in Israel. Starting next week, she hopes to embark on a run towards another championship: a Division I NCAA tournament title.
Meyers, a graduate transfer at the University of Maryland, is the starting shooting guard for a Terrapins team ranked sixth in the nation going into this Sunday, when the March Madness bracket seedings will be revealed. She averaged 14.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season and was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team, an honor that singles her out as one of the best players in the powerhouse conference.
Last week, Maryland lost to Iowa in the Big 10 tournament semifinals. Last March, they lost in the Sweet 16 round to Stanford.
“I think it just gives us more motivation going into the NCAA tournament,” Meyers said. “Especially if you’re a competitor, no one likes losing. But that’s part of the game, right? You live, you learn. And we’re lucky to have another opportunity.”
One particular group could help motivate her during what she hopes will be a deep tournament run: her Jewish fans.
“There’s an amazing following of Jewish students who come to my games, who support me and love the fact that I’m Jewish,” she said. Her school has one of the largest populations of Jewish students in the country, at around 6,000.
Growing up in Maryland’s Montgomery County, she attended synagogue at the Reform Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C. and was surrounded by Jewish friends in the DMV area — the colloquial acronym for the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia region. She didn’t begin playing basketball competitively until high school.
She played with her two sisters, Emily and Olivia, in high school, then went first to Princeton. There she played with two Jewish teammates, Kira Emsbo and Maddie Plank, who also played with Meyers at the Maccabiah Games last summer.
“I see myself as a female Jewish athlete, and I think it really came to fruition this past summer when I went to the Maccabiah Games in Israel and was able to play alongside so many amazing, talented Jewish athletes from all over the world,” Meyers said. “That was different for me, because I’ve never been around so many Jewish athletes before.”
Meyers had tried out and made the Maccabi USA women’s basketball team in 2017, but decided not to play because she was about to enter college — a decision she now calls naive. The Maccabiah Games is a quadrennial sports competition that convenes thousands of Jewish athletes from around the world for an Olympics-style tournament in Israel.
So when the 21st Maccabiah Games were set to return in 2022, Meyers didn’t want to miss out again. She found out that Plank, who now plays at Davidson College in North Carolina, would be trying out, and that her assistant coach at Princeton, Lauren Battista, was a Maccabiah alum. Maccabi USA women’s basketball coach Sherry Levin also reached out to Meyers, and chose the 6-foot guard as team captain early on.
“I can’t speak more highly of a player that I’ve coached than Abby Meyers. And I’ve coached a lot,” Levin said. She hailed Meyers’ basketball IQ, her selflessness on the court and her leadership. “She checks every box.”
Meyers, who had never been to Israel, said the experience was “by far the most fun I’ve ever had.”
“It’s way more than just basketball. It’s really learning about your history, your ancestry and just appreciating all things Jewish,” Meyers said.
In addition to winning the gold medal, Meyers said her visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem stood out to her.
“To be there, in Jerusalem in that moment, it was really just a reflective moment,” Meyers said. “It made me just appreciate the opportunity I had to represent my country being a Jewish athlete, and to also have that opportunity to be there, in person, to be safe, to be healthy, and to just appreciate those who came before me.”
Plank echoed Levin’s praise for her teammate.
“Abby is probably the most basketball-loving, passionate, driven character that I’ve ever been around in my life,” Plank said. “She just leads by example. It’s such a pleasure being on the court with her.”
Plank said she and Meyers keep in touch now that they’ve both left Princeton (they played against each other this season — Maryland beat Davidson 70-52). She said she hopes to see Meyers in the WNBA one day.
If that WNBA dream doesn’t come to fruition for Meyers, she said that she is open to the possibility of playing professionally in Israel.
Meyers joined her close-to-hometown school as a graduate transfer last year after three seasons at Princeton, where she was unanimously named the Ivy League Player of the Year and earned First Team All-Ivy honors in her final year. She made the move in part to be closer to her family, including her grandmother, who she said has not been able to see many of her games.
Back at Maryland, Meyers isn’t surrounded by many Jewish players on the court. But she does appreciate the opportunity to explain concepts such as synagogue, Hebrew school and the Holocaust to non-Jewish teammates.
“I’m always happy and proud to be able to not educate, but to inform them on what it’s like to be Jewish,” she said. “There’s plenty of Jewish stereotypes out there, whether it’s looks, or that we’re just hardworking go-getters, which I love, because we are. But it’s special to have that kind of interaction with them where they’re open and willing listeners and learners.”
On campus at both Princeton and now Maryland, Meyers said she has engaged with chapters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement — which performs outreach and holds programming for a wide range of Jewish students on campuses across the country — and other centers of Jewish life.
“I was able to meet so many cool Jewish students who knew me and knew that I play basketball and have been to my games,” Meyers said. “It was just great to tap into that community, because automatically you feel like they’re your immediate friends.”
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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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