(JTA) — Police in San Francisco have arrested a man they believe is responsible for shooting blanks during a study session inside a Jewish center there.
The San Francisco Police Department announced an arrest early Saturday in the incident, which took place on Wednesday but was not reported to authorities until the following day. They said they had detained a man in the city’s Richmond District and uncovered evidence in a search tying him to the incident at the Schneerson Jewish Center and to a different incident in a local theater.
The police did not release the name of the man they arrested, but the San Francisco’s Sheriff’s Office shows that Dmitri Mishin, 51, was booked early Saturday morning on charges of disturbing a religious meeting and drawing or exhibiting an imitation firearm. He remained in the county jail as of Monday morning.
Mishin appears to have posted a video on social media days before the shooting showing something burning outside the Schneerson Center, according to a report in The San Francisco Standard, a local news organization; a Twitter account that appears to have been his also posted antisemitic imagery in the days before the shooting incident.
People at the Jewish center, which largely serves Russian-speaking immigrants, did not call police when the man brandished a gun during a study session. They said they thought the man was mentally ill.
“At the beginning, we weren’t sure. I wasn’t so upset,” Mattie Pil, who runs the Schneerson Center with her husband Rabbi Bentziyon Pil, told The Standard after learning about the shooter’s identity. “But now I’m getting to the point that I’m disturbed a little. It’s not a simple case like I thought.”
Mattie Pil also addressed the incident in a short video about the weekly Torah portion that she uploaded to YouTube on Friday.
The incident has returned the Pils to headlines decades after they first landed in the spotlight because of legal troubles related to nonprofits that they ran at the time. In the 1990s, The Wall Street Journal raised questions about the financial practices of the couple’s used-car donation nonprofit; Bentziyon Pil ultimately pled guilty to a financial crime after a sprawling investigation spurred by the newspaper’s reporting and was sentenced to nine months in a halfway house.
Pil and her husband are followers of the last Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, but they are not official emissaries of the Chabad movement. In fact, shortly after the Wall Street Journal expose ran, the couple received Chabad’s first-ever formal request to stop using Schneerson’s name, which they then used for an elementary school they operated. Bentziyon Pil said at the time that he did not intend to comply.
The shooting incident has also drawn attention to a different Jewish community center serving Russian-speaking immigrants that opened in San Francisco last year less than a mile from the Schneerson Center. (The reclusive founder of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, donated to buy the $3.5 million building.)
Rabbi Shimon Margolin, the center’s founder, issued a video statement in Russian on Facebook and sent viewers to the center’s page for more information.
“The Russian-speaking Jewish Community of SF Bay Area expresses our sympathy, support and solidarity with the community of the Schneerson Jewish Center,” the center said in a statement that outlined its own security practices, which it said had been supported by federal authorities and the local Jewish federation.
“No one can enter our community center at will — the doors are locked at all times and someone has to knock and be screened in order to enter our building,” the center wrote. “We are in the process of adding material improvements to our building that would enhance the security even further.”
As for the Schneerson Center, its website displayed a bright red banner over the weekend. It read in all capital letters, “Schneerson Center shooting update: Thanks to God, everyone is fine.”
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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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