(New York Jewish Week) — Two men pled guilty this week for attacking Joey Borgen, a Jewish man who was severely beaten in 2021 while walking to a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan.
Waseem Awawdeh, one of five men who punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and beat Borgen with crutches, pled guilty on Tuesday for attempted assault in the second degree as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. The Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed his plea to the New York Jewish Week. It was first reported by Jewish Insider.
The beating, which took place amid a spike in antisemitism surrounding Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas in Gaza, drew national attention. And the court battle that followed led to criticism from activists in the city’s Jewish community that District Attorney Alvin Bragg was being too lenient with Awawdeh. Earlier this month, Borgen’s father, Barry, was invited by the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee to testify at a hearing in New York City on Bragg and violent crime in Manhattan.
Awawdeh will serve a total of 18 months in jail, and will be sentenced on June 13, Bragg’s office said. That includes 12 months for the attempted assault charge, and six months for the criminal possession charge, to be served consecutively.
Another defendant, Faisal Elezzi, pled guilty to attempted assault in the third degree as a hate crime on Monday. He will be sentenced on June 8 to three years’ probation and is required to continue compliance with anti-bias programming. Both Awawdeh and Elezzi were required to make a public apology.
Awawdeh’s sentence is longer than a six-month plea deal Bragg had reportedly offered him months ago, which had spurred backlash from Borgen, his family and Jewish activist groups, which demanded a longer sentence.
But Borgen told the New York Jewish Week that he still is not “happy about” the sentences, which he believes should be harsher. He pointed to a report that Awawdeh had said he would “do it again.”
Borgen was wearing a yarmulke while heading to a pro-Israel rally, the same day Hamas and Israel announced a ceasefire after 11 days of conflict, when he was attacked on the street in Midtown on May 20, 2021 by five people, including Awawdeh and Elezzi. Awawdeh also yelled “dirty Jew” while beating Borgen, who was sent to the hospital and needed surgery on his wrist.
A two-year court battle ensued. The Manhattan DA’s said in a statement that “antisemitic hate has no place in Manhattan.”
“These defendants have now pled guilty to hate crime charges and apologized for their actions following a thorough investigation by the Office,” the statement said. “We will continue to seek accountability for the remaining defendants, who are all facing significant state prison time if convicted.”
The prosecution of Borgen’s case puts it in the minority of hate crimes complaints in Manhattan. According to NYPD statistics, police precincts in the borough received 241 hate crime complaints in 2022, and made 118 arrests based on those complaints.
Bragg’s office told the New York Jewish Week that 92 hate crimes were prosecuted in Manhattan last year. As of late March, his office had 20 currently open hate crime cases related to antisemitism from this year. A report last year in The City, a local publication, found that most hate crimes charges are dropped before any convictions take place.
The next court date for the remaining three defendants — Mohammed Othman, Mohammed Said Othman and Mahmoud Musa — is May 11.
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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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