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NY federation CEO offers rare criticism of Israel’s right-wing government



(New York Jewish Week) — The head of North American’s largest Jewish federation made the rare step of criticizing proposed legislation by Israel’s government and “imploring” its prime minister to shelve it.

In an email sent Friday to supporters of the UJA-Federation of New York, its CEO, Eric Goldstein, wrote that he is “alarmed” by recent judicial reforms introduced by Israel’s newly installed justice minister. The reforms, a priority of what has been described as the most right-wing government in Israeli history, would allow Israel’s parliament to override decisions by the Supreme Court and further politicize the selection of its justices.

“The current proposed legislation raises dramatic concerns,” wrote Goldstein, an attorney who was named to head UJA-Federation in 2014. “It eviscerates the role of the judiciary by allowing Supreme Court decisions to be struck down by the barest majority of the Knesset — undermining the very foundations of Israel’s democracy and subjecting all minority groups to the tyranny of the majority.”

“I respectfully implore” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make good on previous pledges that he would block laws that threatened the independence of Israel’s justice system, wrote Goldstein.

Jewish federations — umbrella philanthropies that are set up to serve the range of Jewish denominations and political expressions — seldom publicly criticize the Israeli government, whose social service sector is among their biggest beneficiaries. Goldstein acknowledged as much in his letter, writing that “many insiders advised that off-the-record conversations with senior government officials would be more productive than strident public pronouncements.” (UJA-Federation is a funder of 70 Faces Media, the New York Jewish Week’s parent company.)

In his message, Goldstein is careful to note his pro-Israel bona fides, noting that two of his four children immigrated to Israel and now live in Tel Aviv, including one serving in the Israeli military. And after acknowledging complaints on Israel’s right that the Supreme Court had grown less accountable to the Israeli public, Goldstein wrote, “Judicial reform can be achieved without threatening the fundamental democratic character of Israel.”

Israel’s new right-wing government has sent waves of anxiety through the leadership of America’s largest Jewish organizations, who worry that liberal-leaning rank-and-file Jews will become alienated from an Israeli government that includes far-right ideologues like Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. Last month, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism — representing American Judaism’s largest denomination— wrote that the “extremist political agenda of this new government is profoundly distressing, representing radical policy shifts that are antithetical to the core values of liberal Jews.”

Read more from our CEO, Eric S. Goldstein, on the challenge of proposed judicial reform in Israel.

— UJA-Federation of New York (@UJAfedNY) January 20, 2023

Goldstein addressed concerns over alienation in his letter. “[T]here’s an instinct among some in our community to turn their back on Israel in moments of serious disagreement. But cutting ties or support for Israel is precisely the wrong response,” he wrote. “To the contrary, this is the moment to engage even more, using all the means at our disposal to help sustain a Jewish and democratic Israel.”

To that end, Goldstein wrote that UJA’s Israel office and the Forum of Foundations in Israel are meeting with “dozens” of Israeli philanthropies “to think together about shared strategies for addressing the current moment… and to discuss joint funding initiatives to counter the impact of potential new governmental policies and legislation.”

Representing often fractious communities, especially on Israeli domestic affairs, federations try to avoid political statements or positions. One of the few exceptions has been a decades-long, often public disagreement over policies in Israel that appear to discriminate against the non-Orthodox religious denominations, which represent a majority of affiliated American Jews.

But Goldstein said his concerns over the judicial reforms are consistent with the federations’ support for various causes that some think will be undermined by the new Israeli government’s policies. “We’ve long invested in programs and nonprofits that amplify diverse voices and work to build bridges of understanding, helping to create spaces for all the tribes of Israel — Secular, Haredi, Arab, LGBTQ+, Ethiopian, and more,” he wrote.

The post NY federation CEO offers rare criticism of Israel’s right-wing government 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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