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Mayor of Missouri town apologizes after saying trash collectors are ‘not trying to Jew anybody’



(JTA) – The mayor of a Missouri town has apologized for saying a local trash company is “not trying to Jew anybody” at a recent public meeting, writing in an open letter that the remark was “not in keeping with the beliefs and values” of the town.

Stephen Wright, the mayor of Odessa, made the remark at a Monday meeting of the local Board of Aldermen, amid a discussion of changes to trash pickup in the town of 5,500. On Wednesday, Wright posted an open letter on the city government’s Facebook page, addressed “to our Jewish Community” and apologizing for the statement. 

“Those statements were not in keeping with the beliefs and values of the City of Odessa,” Wright wrote. “It was not my intent to degrade or marginalize anyone, or any group of people, nor to further any negative stereotypes based upon their heritage or belief.”

Odessa, located 30 miles east of Kansas City, does not appear to have any organized Jewish presence. Joe Spaar, the co-publisher of a local paper, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “I’ve lived here my whole life and I haven’t met one Jewish person.” 

“It’s not a thing that’s in your consciousness here,” Spaar said, adding that he assumes Wright also doesn’t know any Jews. “There’s no Jewish community. … There’s no Jewish church or anything around here.”

The town removed video of Monday’s meeting from its social media channels, and the mayor’s apology letter did not specify what he had said. Odessa’s city clerk, Karen Findora, said the city had removed the video because the mayor’s comments had “violated our social media policy.” She would not comment on the mayor’s statement itself, but said Wright would likely make a more detailed apology at the next board meeting, scheduled for Monday.

JTA obtained video of the meeting via a public records request.

Referring to getting “Jewed” on a financial arrangement is a classic antisemitic trope referencing the stereotype that Jews are cheap. Other local government officials have gotten into hot water for using similar language: A Tampa Bay, Florida, city council member apologized for using the phrase in 2020 and subsequently met with a local Jewish leader. And last year, two state lawmakers in Kentucky apologized for using the phrase “Jew them down.”

The mayor’s remark did not elicit any audible reaction from the handful of people at the meeting, though one attendee who had been nodding along with him appeared to look away uncomfortably after he uttered the slur.

Some Facebook commenters said they supported the mayor and believed his apology was sincere, while others called for his resignation.

Among those sympathetic to the mayor is Spaar, co-publisher of a publication called The Odessan. Spaar told JTA he considered the mayor’s comments at the meeting “a very innocent-type remark.”

“He wasn’t being mean or trying to disparage anyone,” Spaar said. “He was just using an antiquated colloquialism.”

Spaar lamented that the city removed the video.

“They should’ve just taken their lumps,” he said. “They’ve got to realize that if you make a public comment, it’s public.”

The post Mayor of Missouri town apologizes after saying trash collectors are ‘not trying to Jew anybody’ 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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