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Meet the rabbi who is helping bring legal cannabis to New York 



(New York Jewish Week) — As New York gears up for a new landscape of legal marijuana, one rabbi will bring his experience retailing weed to help others “squeeze more out of life.” 

Rabbi James Kahn is part of a company, “Keep It A 100,” that is one of the first to be licensed to open a cannabis dispensary in the state. When he wasn’t teaching Jewish college students or running chaplaincy services for a Jewish social service agency, he helped run a family-run marijuana business in Washington, D.C. and is the executive director of Liberty Cannabis Cares, the social impact arm of Holistic Industries, a prominent dispensary business in Maryland. 

“Suffering is not a mitzvah,” Kahn, who was ordained at Boston’s Hebrew College and has served as the senior Jewish educator at the University of Maryland Hillel, told the New York Jewish Week. “Giving people permission to use cannabis to enjoy and to take time for self care, for healing, for connecting with people, it’s just another tool that Hashem has given us to live better lives.” 

Keep It A 100 is one of the 36 winners of the state’s Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program, which offered the licenses to sell weed to people and nonprofits who had previously been convicted of marijuana-related crimes. New York’s first dispensary, opening Thursday at 750 Broadway in Manhattan’s Astor Place neighborhood, is being run by Housing Works, the HIV/AIDS service organization.

“When done right, cannabis can be a force for good — for individuals and the communities they live in,” Kahn said. “That is my mission.” 

Kahn has partnered with Marquis Hayes, a Bronx native and former drug dealer who got out of prison in 2007 and has since become a highly regarded professional chef. He will source the product for Keep It A 100, while Kahn will provide capital and expertise. Their first “retail experience” will be on Long Island. 

Rabbi James Kahn, shown with a menorah-shaped bong, saw the benefits of cannabis when his grandfather sought relief from multiple sclerosis. (Courtesy)

“It’s focused on giving licenses to people who have been injured by the war on drugs, who have really worked to not let that injury define them, but have come out of that place and form businesses that were profitable,” Kahn said of the CAURD program. “I wanted to take what I know about how to run a successful and impactful cannabis retail store and share that knowledge with a partner who really deserves this opportunity. I want to make sure he is as successful as possible.”

Kahn does not have a set date for when the dispensary will open, but said that “it will be in a few months.” 

Kahn also worked at the Washington, D.C.-area Jewish Social Service Agency. At Liberty Cannabis Care, he works “to make cannabis a force for good in every state we operate in, and in every neighborhood we’re lucky to be a part of,” according to its mission statement. 

Other partners in Keep It A 100 include psychotherapist Kim Stetz and experienced Maryland cannabis business owner Christina Betancourt Johnson. 

Kahn’s connection to cannabis goes back to his grandfather: When Kahn was a teenager, his mother’s father suffered from “severe” multiple sclerosis and asked Kahn to help him find marijuana. 

“He was hesitant to try cannabis because of the stigma that surrounded it,” Kahn said. “He was not a fan of hippies or cannabis. An aide offered him cannabis and it worked. The first bong I ever saw was my grandfather’s.” 

Kahn’s father, Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn, was a rabbi during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, where many people were “benefitting from cannabis around that time.”

“[My father] was thinking about it back then,” Kahn said. “There were a lot of folks who were concerned about the stigma and shame that was attached to cannabis. Was cannabis kosher? Not just from the technical standpoint — it is just a plant — but from a moral standpoint.” 

In 2011, the family opened the capital’s first medical cannabis dispensary, the Takoma Wellness Center.

Kahn said that he sees his dispensaries as a gathering place for “folks of every kind and background who love cannabis.” 

“It’s a place to be seen and to be valued and to get to talk about their favorite plan,” Kahn said. “Marquis is a world-renowned chef and knows how to create this unique experience.” 

He added that the dispensary will also offer a delivery service, which will “probably open prior to the retail store.” 

He added that while cannabis has not been “at the forefront of the modern Jewish age, the cannabis industry is full of Jews.” A current exhibit at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, “Am Yisrael High: The Story of Jews and Cannabis,” also explores the extensive Jewish presence in the weed industry, legal and not.

“Judaism is relevant because it helps us squeeze more out of life,” Kahn said. “It’s helped me use cannabis in a way that I would call sacred.” 

Kahn said he is fascinated by the history of cannabis within Judaism, mentioning an archaeological dig site in Tel Arad in Israel, where traces of cannabis were found in the ancient remnants of a Jewish temple. 

“This would have created a dense smoke that is responsible for creating a high from cannabis,” Kahn said. 

He added that he has had “interesting experiences reading sacred texts while consuming cannabis.”

“All cannabis is medicine,” Kahn said. “The word ‘recreational’ is often seen as less than. We Jews have long known the value of rest, of stopping. That’s at the heart of Shabbat. In order to have holiness, we need to give ourselves the space to experience it.” 

The post Meet the rabbi who is helping bring legal cannabis to New York  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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