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Jonathan Omer-Man, leader in Jewish meditation who met with the Dalai Lama, dies at 89



(JTA) — Jonathan Omer-Man, a rabbi and pioneer in Jewish meditation whose meeting with the Dalai Lama in 1990 was described in Rodger Kamenetz’s best-selling book “The Jew in the Lotus,” died on Tuesday. He was 89.

Omer-Man was part of a delegation of Jews, including rabbis of various denominations, who went to Dharamshala, India as part of an interfaith dialogue with the exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Kamenetz’s 1994 book focused in large part on rabbis and Jewish thinkers like Omer-Man who were looking to infuse Jewish practice with techniques and insights drawn from Eastern religions, and perhaps understand why many young Jews were drawn to traditions other than their own.

To that end, Omer-Man was also the founder of Metivta, an egalitarian, nondenominational Jewish community based in Los Angeles that emphasizes learning Jewish texts and meditation. Omer-Man rooted his lessons and techniques in Jewish mystical traditions, including the Kabbalah and the teachings of Hasidic masters.

“There have always been Jews who followed a traditional mystical path, and there’s never been a rabbinic consensus,” he told an interviewer in 2004. “All there has been is ‘our group versus their group.’”

Born Derek Orlans in Portsmouth, England in 1934, Omer-Man spent years working on a kibbutz in Israel before his legs were paralyzed by polio. He moved to Jerusalem where he found various jobs as an electrician, a teacher and in the publishing industry before he was captivated by the study of Jewish mysticism in his mid-30s.

He received a private rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, and in 1981 he moved to Los Angeles, where he was invited by the Los Angeles Hillel council to set up an outreach program for “religiously alienated Jews” — specifically those interested in faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism.

“He worked for a number of years on a one-on-one basis,” Kamenetz wrote in “The Jew and the Lotus.” “Jonathan had struck up a conversation with some Jewish kids from Los Angeles. When they heard that Jonathan would soon be opening a school of Jewish meditation, they immediately signed up to study with him.”

Omer-Man was one of the founding teachers of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, an organization founded in 1999 that develops and teaches Jewish spiritual practices including meditation, yoga, Torah study, song and niggunim, or the singing of wordless melody. He was the author of multiple essays, short fiction and verse, and taught and lectured widely,

Omer-Man, who resided in Berkeley, California, was married to Nan Gefen, a fiction and nonfiction writer. Their blended family has seven children and 10 grandchildren. The family recently welcomed a great-grandson.

“People are very much into bringing more fun into Judaism,” Omer-Man told Kamenetz in “The Jew in the Lotus.” “But fun is not joy. Joy is ecstatic knowledge with all parts of one’s being, an integrated way of knowing. It’s truly a quest.”

The post Jonathan Omer-Man, leader in Jewish meditation who met with the Dalai Lama, dies at 89 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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