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Michigan GOP candidate who was raised Jewish now says she’s a Messianic Jew



(JTA) – A candidate for chair of the Michigan Republican Party who faced criticism after inviting a Messianic “rabbi” to offer a prayer for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in 2018 has now announced that she is a “Jewish Messianic believer of Christ.”

Lena Epstein, who was raised Jewish, made the comments Tuesday at a candidate forum hosted by the conservative group Ottawa County Patriots at a Baptist church in Holland, Michigan. She said her running mate for party co-chair, Pastor Donald Eason of Metro Church of Christ in Sterling Heights, Michigan, was the one who had “baptized me into the Christian faith.”

Epstein, the general manager of an oil corporation, was the co-chair of President Donald Trump’s successful 2016 campaign in her state. She then ran for Congress in 2018 and for the University of Michigan Board of Regents last year but lost both races.

During her 2018 congressional race, Epstein initially highlighted her roots in the Detroit area Jewish community. But a rift emerged after the Pittsburgh shooting, when she appeared onstage with a Messianic “rabbi” and then-Vice President Mike Pence, who were offering a prayer for the 11 Jewish victims of the attack. The event drew heavy criticism from Jews in Michigan and beyond, and the vice president’s office said Epstein was the one who had invited the rabbi.

Epstein defended her decision at the time by tweeting, “I invited the prayer because we must unite as a nation — while embracing our religious differences — in the aftermath of Pennsylvania.”

A group of Jews across different parties, including several whom she grew up with, subsequently took out an ad in the Detroit Jewish News urging local Jews not to vote for her in that election. 

“Lena Epstein has chosen a side. It’s not ours,” the ad read.

Now, it seems that Epstein has indeed chosen to align herself with non-Jews. Messianic Judaism is a movement whose followers believe in the divinity of Jesus while claiming to practice Judaism; missionary work is part of Messianic practice, and Messianic groups often have ties to explicitly Christian organizations. A 2021 Pew Research Center study of American Jews estimated that about 200,000 Americans identify as Messianic Jews.

In her Tuesday speech, Epstein did not say when she was baptized, but Eason said in his own speech that it had happened prior to her current campaign. “I baptized her into Christ, so when she asked me to be her co-chair, could I really say no?” he said. Eason added that, through his church organization, he had brought Christian nationalist David Barton to speak, and was met with applause. 

Epstein did not respond to a request for comment.

Online, Epstein has continued to present herself as Jewish. Her Instagram shows that she has visited her daughter’s suburban Detroit private school, Cranbrook, in recent months to read stories about Yom Kippur and Hanukkah to students. Epstein has previously identified herself as “a Jewish millennial female who is supporting Trump.”

Elsewhere in her Ottawa County address, Epstein highlighted her family’s history of experiencing antisemitism, saying, “My family fled religious persecution from Eastern Europe.” She added, “Today I stand before you as a fourth-generation American with the religious freedom to be a Messianic Jewish believer, to have a 5-year-old daughter that I’m raising in our faith.”

The election for Michigan GOP chair will be held at the state party convention, Feb. 17 and 18 in Lansing. Epstein is running to replace departing chair Ron Weiser, a Jewish Republican. While Epstein had the full endorsements of the Republican Party for her last two campaigns, as well as that of Trump for her 2018 Congress run, this time she is running against 10 other candidates, all vying to lead a party that lost every major state office race and control of both houses in Michigan’s 2022 midterm elections. 

Among them are frontrunners Matthew DePerno, a former attorney general candidate who is under investigation for allegedly plotting to seize and tamper with the state’s voting machines, and Kristina Karamo, a former secretary of state candidate who has denied the results of the 2020 election and sued in an attempt to stop absentee ballots in Detroit from being counted in 2022.

Epstein has also embraced election denial rhetoric, telling Republicans that election fraud is a “big problem” and that liberal counties have engaged in ballot “dumping.” She has been endorsed by Rudy Giuliani in her race.

She was also arrested in September 2021 for suspected domestic assault, though no charges were filed.

The post Michigan GOP candidate who was raised Jewish now says she’s a Messianic Jew 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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