RA’ANANA, Israel (JTA) — Recurring bouts of laughter were some of the most remarkable moments of the funeral of Elan Ganeles, the 27-year-old Jewish American from West Hartford, Connecticut, who was shot dead this week when driving through the West Bank.
Descriptions of an incredibly kind, open minded, funny, brilliant and humble young man came in sharp contrast to calls by the official representative of the Israeli government at the funeral to avenge the death of those who harm Jews in the Land of Israel.
“No one will raise a hand against a Jew in the Land of Israel,” said the representative, Rabbi Michael Eliyahu, who serves as Israel’s minister of heritage and is a member of the far-right Jewish Power party.
The contrast played out throughout the funeral, attended by nearly a thousand people in Ra’anana, a suburb of Tel Aviv.
Friends and family members remembered Elan as a caring and unique individual who brought joy to their lives, while those who did not know the recent Columbia University graduate, who was in Israel for a friend’s wedding, framed his heartbreaking story as the latest tragedy in Israel’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians.
As Ganeles’ brothers and friends took turns, standing before his body wrapped in a shroud and laid out before them, they alternately choked up and laughed as they told stories about his love for learning and, for his friends, his disarming frankness and his “annoyingness.”
“Elan was intelligent, curious, goofy, idiosyncratic – and most famously lovably annoying,” said Akiva Raklin, a close friend of Elan, who knew him “since birth,” as people laughed aloud. “I know calling someone annoying at their funeral is a little less than traditional, but Elan was the only person on the face of the earth for whom this characteristic was absolutely positive in every way.”
Ganeles, recalled Raklin, would pose “intrusive questions” to his closest friends, making them “blush and cringe,” but they all saw his behavior for what it was: an expression of closeness and caring. “With every comment he made, no matter how irritating it was or how uncomfortable it would make someone, it would just make them closer to him,” he said, sparking chuckles and laughs from those who clearly knew him well.
Some of Ganeles’s friends came from abroad to attend the funeral, as did his family’s rabbi from Young Israel of West Hartford, who accompanied his physician parents on their trip to Israel.
“Elan was the ultimate friend,” said Ari Zaken, his roommate from New York, recounting a conversation they had in which Ganeles pulled out a list of over 100 close friends he made sure to keep in touch with.
Ganeles, an avid learner, traveler and birdwatcher, lived a life packed with knowledge and friends.
“He completed two majors in college, only one of which he planned to use, just because he loved to learn,” said his younger brother, Gabe. “He worked two jobs simply because he had so much interest in what he could learn from both. He was our resident expert in geography, history, travel, birds. He loved trivia and made trivia games for family and friends and he was able to finish the hardest crosswords in record time.”
Gabe ended his eulogy, breaking down in sobs: “Elan was my brother, my best friend and a huge inspiration to me. And I will miss him,”
On Monday, Elan dropped Gabe off at a train station in the north and then made his way south on Route 90, which passes through the length of the West Bank, alongside the border with Jordan, on his way to attend a friend’s wedding in Jerusalem that night. On the road that goes around the city of Jericho, he was shot by a Palestinian gunman.
“I was so lucky that I got to spend the last week of his life with him,” said Gabe, recalling their trips through historical sites in Israel in the past week. ”He used his unique skill of complete unabashedness to bring people together at every chance he got,” said Gabe. “Despite his brashness, Elan was the most thoughtful person I know.”
The Ganeles family tried to avoid turning his funeral into a political event and reportedly requested TV networks not to attend the ceremony. “He’s a friend of ours, not just another victim,” said Jamie Landau, 27, who went to a five-month ulpan in August 2015 with Elan Ganeles on kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. Afterwards, both joined the Israeli army. Elan served in the Mofet Unit as a computer programmer, working on soldiers’ salaries.
Nevertheless, Heritage Minister Michael Eliyahu had a clear message: “I tell you as a minister in the state of Israel … I say, ‘we failed’ and we need to do everything so that won’t happen.” The newly appointed cabinet minister went on to call for revenge following Elan’s murder. “It’s not acceptable that a Jew who comes to this country will be scared to be here,” Eliyahu said. “And if we do have haters, may God avenge their blood and we will avenge their blood.”
As the funeral was being held, Israeli forces raided a Palestinian refugee camp adjacent to the city of Jericho, not far from where Ganeles was killed, and apprehended four Palestinians, one of them suspected of carrying out the shooting attack that killed Ganeles and the other of assisting him. Another Palestinian was killed during the raid.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral, filling Ra’anana’s old cemetery to the brim. More watched from outside the cemetery walls, listening to a live feed of the eulogies on each others’ cell phones. The majority were religious and did not know Ganeles, showing up out of a sense of duty and a wish to pay respect to the slain Jewish American visiting Israel. Some marched in with large Israeli flags, giving the private funeral ceremony an air of a national event.
Elan Ganeles was raised in a Modern Orthodox family in Connecticut and attended yeshiva in Israel after graduating from high school. He then decided to stay in Israel and served for two years in the IDF before returning to the United States to attend college.
Liora Lutrin, a 15-year-old student from Amit Rananim religious girls’ high school, who made aliyah a year and a half ago, stood with her classmates singing “Our brothers of all of the House of Israel.”
“We came with our school to show respect,” said Lutrin, who had five earrings in her right ear and wore a gray T-shirt and an above-the-knee black skirt. “He sacrificed his life to come here and be a soldier in Israel and even though he didn’t die as a soldier, he supported our country and now it’s our turn to support him.”
Or Cohen, a 25-year-old student wearing sandals, who came during a lunch break from his yeshiva in Ramat Gan, said it “was the least I could do.” Cohen, originally from Otniel settlement, said, “I heard he’s a new immigrant, someone whose parents don’t live here. I came in identification with the pain of the people, to show respect for my brother, who was murdered. This is bigger than us.”
After the funeral ended, dozens of people lingered near the grave.
Joining them was Mordechai Goldberg, a 70-year-old religious beggar with a stained white shirt and a cheap black suit jacket, who arrived from Jerusalem to attend and to panhandle at the cemetery, a common sight in Israeli cemeteries. Goldberg entered the circle of people around his grave and began saying the Kaddish prayer. The crowd automatically answered with ‘Amen.’ When the prayer ended, he began calling for the death of Arabs. “We will all pray to God that all of the Arabs die under our feet, now,” said Goldberg as some of the people responded with ‘Amen,’ while others remained baffled by the call.
“I don’t think that would represent Elan’s opinions,” said a young religious woman with an American accent, whose eyes were red from crying, and whose brother was another of Elan’s ‘best friends.’ “He wasn’t like that,” she said.
Indeed, Elan’s uncle, Dov Ganeles told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Elan marveled over his uncle’s friendship with an Arab colleague.
“He thought it was lovely that such a relationship could exist and be normal,” said Dov Ganeles. “He was proud of that, that that relationship could exist. It was something to cherish.”
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.
The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.