(JTA via J. The Jewish News of Northern California) — When the Sacramento Kings face the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA playoffs starting this weekend, they will be led by their Lithuanian-American — and soon-to-be-Jewish — center, Domantas Sabonis.
The 26-year-old All-Star is in the process of converting to Judaism, according to his Jewish wife, Shashana Sabonis (née Rosen). “We really haven’t talked about it [publicly],” she said in an interview this week. “He loves [Judaism] and really wants to be a part of it.”
Sabonis regularly studies on Zoom with Rabbi Erez Sherman of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Sherman, a Conservative rabbi who hosts the sports podcast “Rabbi on the Sidelines,” told J. that Sabonis is serious about learning more about Judaism.
“After [he had] a triple-double against the Houston Rockets, I get a text, like, ‘Hey can we find time to learn?’ I’m like, you’re for real,” Sherman said. “He’s always asking questions. He keeps kosher, and when he’s in Vilnius, he’s going to the kosher butchers to get chicken.”
While Sabonis is committed to his studies, his wife said, the demands of his job have made it impossible for him to commit to following all of the mitzvot. “He has to fly and he has to do those things, but he’s continuing his learning,” Shashana said. “We keep Passover, we keep Shabbat. We don’t drive, and we do Shabbat dinner every week.”
They have a close relationship with Rabbi Mendy Cohen of Chabad of Sacramento, Shashana said. He put mezuzahs up at their house and recited the Megillah for them on Purim following the Kings game that night. Sabonis attended Chabad of Sacramento’s Purim party this year and signed autographs. In December, he sponsored a sufganiyot giveaway at a Kings home game.
Shashana, who grew up in Los Angeles and went to Jewish day schools, said her husband appreciates the support he has received from the Jewish community.
“People that follow me [on social media] see how we do the holidays and Shabbat, and I think it’s really fun for the Jewish community to see that representation in basketball,” she said.
There are two active Jewish players in the NBA and its developmental G League, Deni Avdija of the Washington Wizards and Ryan Turell of the Motor City Cruise. Former NBA player Amar’e Stoudemire stepped down last year as a Nets assistant coach after two seasons, citing conflicts with his religious observance. Stoudemire converted to Orthodox Judaism in 2020 after being raised in the Hebrew Israelite faith.
Sabonis, who is listed at 7-foot-1 and is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, had a breakout season in his second with the Kings, helping propel the team back to the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons and ending the longest postseason drought in NBA history. He led the league in rebounds with 12.3 per game, while averaging 19.1 points per game, and he made his third All-Star team. He was drafted in 2016 and previously played for the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Shashana said her husband is busy preparing for the Warriors series, which begins April 15 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, and was unavailable for an interview.
How does she think the Kings will fare against the defending champion Warriors?
“[The Kings] are going to win in six games,” she predicted. “We’re a really great team, and everybody is really determined to win.”
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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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