(Jewish Press of Tampa Bay via JTA) — She may not have the same velocity on her fastball as an MLB pitcher, but Helen Kahan still had plenty to be proud of as she threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees took the field on May 5 — her 100th birthday.
Kahan stood confidently on the Tropicana Field pitcher’s mound with her daughter and son by her side. It didn’t matter that the throw only made it halfway to home plate. The crowd of more than 25,000 gave her a standing ovation as Rays relief pitcher Kevin Kelly, who caught the pitch, congratulated her with a smile and a handshake.
Kahan, of Seminole, Florida, who survived multiple Nazi concentration camps, was triumphant.
“I never could have imagined celebrating a birthday like this, let alone my 100th!” said Kahan. “I’m so grateful that I am here to tell my story and help the world remember why kindness and empathy are so important for us all.”
Helen Kahan turned 1⃣0⃣0⃣ years young today!
Born in Romania, Helen survived Nazi control during the Holocaust until being liberated by the Red Army. She moved to the US in 1967 with her husband and kids and now calls St. Pete home
Tonight, she threw the first pitch pic.twitter.com/pBAXrgBCiG
— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) May 6, 2023
Born in 1923 in Romania, Kahan was forced into a ghetto as a young adult before being deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, then Bergen-Belsen and Lippstadt. As the end of the war approached, she escaped from a death march before the camp was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945. In 1967, Kahan fulfilled a lifelong dream when she and her family immigrated to the United States.
Bally Sports Sun, the Rays broadcaster, featured an in-game segment on her inspiring story.
“They heard how I lived… that I have a number from Auschwitz,” Kahan told the Jewish Press, pointing to the Nazi tattoo on her arm that reads 7504.
Many of Kahan’s family members — two children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren — were at Tropicana Field to witness the big moment.
“It was very nice,” Kahan said. “Everybody celebrated; everybody made it bigger than me.”
She said the experience was special because she never got to play sports when growing up, explaining, “I always had to make a penny in the family.”
To prepare, Kahan watched her grandsons and great-grandsons play catch so she could get the pitching motion in her head.
Afterward, Kahan received lots of media attention, including segments on the local news and social media posts from global outlets, including ESPN.
Kahan said she relished the experience and was grateful for the opportunity.
“I love it… I came from a Hitler camp that did not give me anything but numbers,” Kahan said, pointing at her tattooed arm once again.
Kahan’s daughter, Livia Wein, said that watching her mother throw out the pitch was one of the best things she has ever experienced.
“It was probably the coolest thing for our entire family,” Wein said. “Having a lot of our friends in the stands also made it very special.”
Kahan and Wein are both avid Rays fans; however, Kahan prefers to keep her favorite player a secret. She said it was a pleasure to meet several of the players and coaches before the game.
In addition to honoring Kahan, the Rays announced a $10,000 partnership grant with the Florida Holocaust Museum during the pregame festivities. Kahan has been a longtime volunteer educator at the St. Petersburg museum.
Whether it was Kahan’s charisma and courageous spirit or simply great defense and timely hitting, the Rays defeated their rival Yankees by a final score of 5-4.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Jewish Press of Tampa Bay. It is reprinted here with permission.
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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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