(New York Jewish Week) — After police officers arrested two armed men at Penn Station last November and accused them of planning to attack Jews, it soon emerged that a local Jewish security agency had provided the tip that thwarted the attack.
In fact, the tipoff and arrest were due to the work of multiple Jewish security groups all active in the New York City area, leaders of those groups say. Evan Bernstein, the CEO of the New York-based Community Security Service, said it received intelligence about the men from a Jewish watchdog in the United Kingdom. It then passed that information on to the Community Security Initiative, which shared it with law enforcement agencies.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, meanwhile, found that one of the men had tweeted a stream of antisemitic and misogynistic messages, according to Gothamist.
Now that partnership between the organizations, which have similar missions and similar names, is being formalized, leaders of the groups announced at a press conference on Tuesday. A new umbrella coalition called the Jewish Security Alliance will aim to act as the central point of contact for New York City-area and New Jersey law enforcement on issues affecting the Jewish community. The organizations all signed a “memorandum of understanding” formalizing the partnership, which they said has existed informally for the past six months.
“Coordination and intelligence in moments of crisis is critical,” Bernstein said at the press conference. “It is something that needs to be replicated across the United States. We cannot afford to be operating in silos. This type of working partnership makes our Jewish community safer.”
The new alliance is a partnership between the ADL, a national antisemitism and anti-extremism watchdog; the Community Security Initiative, which coordinates security for local Jewish institutions; and the local branch of the Community Security Service, whose main mission is to train volunteer security patrols at synagogues. The partnership also includes a number of Jewish federations in metro New York City and New Jersey.
Tuesday’s press conference was held at the ADL’s investigative research lab, in front of a wall of computer screens highlighting incidents of hate across America that resembled the headquarters of a surveillance agency in a James Bond film.
“There may be an incident that happened in Rockland, Nassau County and New Jersey, and because of the different geographies and different jurisdictions, no one law enforcement agency would necessarily know about it,” said Mitch Silber, executive director of the CSI, who previously served as director of intelligence analysis at the NYPD. “Because we’re that connective tissue between the communities among the different agencies, we can connect those dots.”
In addition to liaising with law enforcement agencies, the partnership will provide security training and recommendations to Jewish institutions and their members, according to a press release. It will also aim to be a “reliable and inclusive source of information on threats or other security issues” and will collect incident reports from Jewish institutions and community members. The ADL has established several other partnerships with Jewish organizations, such as Hillel International and leading organizations of the Conservative and Reform movements, to facilitate reporting of antisemitic incidents.
The announcement of the partnership comes days after the ADL released its annual national audit of antisemitism for 2022, which reported a 36% rise in incidents relative to the previous year. More than a quarter of the 3,697 incidents included in the report took place in New York state and New Jersey. The audit also found that the majority of the 111 antisemitic assaults in 2022 targeted Orthodox Jews, and that nearly half of the assaults, 52, took place in Brooklyn, which the report called the “epicenter of assaults.” An additional 14 took place elsewhere in New York City.
At the press conference, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also highlighted another recent report by his organization that found that there are more people in the U.S. harboring antisemitic beliefs than anytime in the past 30 years.
“This is personal to me,” Greenblatt said. “I live here. This is my community. I go to synagogue every Saturday. My kids are at Hebrew school every week. I get angry. I’m outraged. We’re seeing those [antisemitic] beliefs create real harm.”
Scott Richman, the regional director of ADL’s New York-New Jersey office, called the partnership, “a formal declaration of a reality that has existed for some time.”
Bernstein said that before this partnership was formed, Jewish community organizations were “not really communicating” with one another.
“Everybody was repeating themselves and being off message a little bit,” Bernstein said. “As we react to something, if we have a unified force, for law enforcement to see that unification, and for the community to see that unification, and for it to have collectively the same voice across the board, is very important.”
After the press conference, Bernstein told the New York Jewish Week that this is “a pilot program” that he would like to see expand nationwide. According to a map of antisemitic incidents displayed at the press conference, Southern California and Miami were also hotspots of antisemitic activity. Bernstein said that CSS has branches in both those areas.
“This will be a case study,” Bernstein said. “If it does well, everybody is excited about this not becoming a one-off program. It’s gotta have some serious legs here to show that this really works long-term before we can think about other communities.”
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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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