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Michigan man charged with ‘ethnic intimidation’ after harassing synagogue-goers over Israel



(JTA) — A man who was waved away by local police after hassling people arriving at one of the Detroit area’s largest synagogues on Friday was arrested Sunday on charges of “ethnic intimidation.”

Hassan Chokr was arrested Sunday, two days after video emerged showing local police questioning and releasing him, even after he said he intended to head to another synagogue.

Chokr had allegedly shouted antisemitic and racist threats outside at Temple Beth El, a Reform synagogue in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, as families were dropping children at the early childhood center on Friday morning. Beth El was Michigan’s first synagogue, and its architecturally significant building looms over the sprawl of Bloomfield Hills, one of Detroit’s most heavily Jewish suburbs.

“He was hostile and verbally abusive, shouting profanity about ‘F Israel’ and ‘F the Jews’ — and threatening people, yelling at them that if they support Israel, they will pay or he will get them,” Rabbi Mark Miller, Temple Beth El’s senior rabbi, told the Detroit Free Press. Miller said Chokr also used racist language against members of the synagogue’s security team.

The incident comes amid a spate of alarming threats to synagogues in multiple states. In New Jersey last month, an 18-year-old man who had pledged allegiance to ISIS was charged with making a broad threat that affected all of the state’s synagogues, while a man who allegedly posted threats to synagogues online was arrested after traveling to New York City and obtaining weapons.

“Anti-semitic and racist threats or ethnic intimidation of any kind, will not be tolerated in our community,” Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said in a statement announcing the charges against Chokr on Sunday. McDonald created the suburban Detroit county’s first hate crimes office last year.

The charges followed criticism of the Bloomfield Township Police Department for their handling of their first encounter with Chokr after they responded to a call from Beth El’s security director. “The subject was released from the scene pending further investigation and was advised not to return to the Temple Beth El,” the department said in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday.

A video of the traffic stop filmed by a man identifying himself as Chokr and posted by the social media handle “FreedomFighterHassan” shows the encounter in more detail; the police indicated that the video was of the actual traffic stop.

In the video, Chokr tells officers that he does not have any weapons and that he was exercising his freedom of religion by asking synagogue-goers whether they support Israel. He also uses racist language to describe Black people and tells the officers that he did not want to get a Jewish lawyer, as he said some had urged him to, because “Jewish people are killing my people.” Agreeing not to return to the synagogue that day, he then says, “I’m headed to another synagogue.”

At the end of the traffic stop, Chokr is told he is free to go as an officer gives him a fist bump and he is told, “Do us a favor and don’t go back.”

The fist-bump and seemingly genial exchange ignited concerns from local Jews and national antisemitism watchdogs concerned that officers had not responded adequately.

“As a parent of Temple Beth El, I’m beyond disappointed with the law enforcement protocol and the little action taken,” one local woman commented on the police department’s first post. “Disappointed [is] an understatement.”

A police department lieutenant told the Detroit Free Press about the officers’ behavior, “There are some concerns about that.”

Still, the police department defended itself in a second Facebook post Sunday announcing that an arrest had been made.

“We are aware of the social media posts and videos of this traffic stop that are circulating,” the statement said. “Our officers accomplished the goal of identifying the subject while using de-escalation techniques. … We are unable to comment on specific investigative techniques, but we were able to assess that subsequent to the traffic stop the subject would not be an imminent threat to the community.”

Chokr was arrested by police in his home city of Dearborn, about 30 miles from Bloomfield Hills, and will remain in custody until his arraignment on two counts of ethnic intimidation, according to the police statement and local media reports.

The post Michigan man charged with ‘ethnic intimidation’ after harassing synagogue-goers over Israel 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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Local News

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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