(New York Jewish Week) — A Brooklyn-based Orthodox activist wants her community to be the last one targeted by a possible serial flasher who crashed an online chat she was leading last week.
Adina Miles-Sash, who is known to her 61,000 followers as Flatbush Girl, also says her community’s reaction to the flashing incident underscores the changes needed if women are to feel respected and secure.
In the past, Miles-Sash has battled for women’s representation in Orthodox media, where their faces are frequently blurred or omitted; advocated for Orthodox victims of sexual assault, and joined an Orthodox women’s ambulance corps that fought for its right to operate. So after a man exposed himself to more than 3,000 viewers on an Instagram chat she was hosting with Shifra, a support group for Jewish women with unplanned pregnancies, she knew just how to spring into action.
She gathered information about other online sessions that had been infiltrated by a flasher in an apparently identical space and pose — even finding one featuring “Bachelor” contestant Chelsea Vaughn. She contacted both the NYPD and FBI, concerned that the presence of minors among the viewers elevated the disturbance into a more significant crime.
She even floated hiring a forensic analyst to try to piece together other clues from the limited view captured on tape — though she moved away from the idea after posting that it would require a $15,000 retainer just to subpoena Instagram to find the flasher’s IP address and when the majority of her followers said they would not donate to cover the costs.
On Tuesday night, she revealed a breakthrough: screenshots from a third event interrupted by what appeared to be the same man. This time, the host was Daryl-Ann Denner, a Christian influencer in Southern California with 1.3 million Instagram followers.
“I’m assembling soooo much evidence you have no idea,” Miles-Sash told someone who messaged her with praise about her detective work, according to a screenshot she shared.
For Miles-Sash, the incident and its aftermath suggest both the strength and the challenges of the tight-knit online Orthodox community.
“I just really hope we can crack this case as a COMMUNITY cause he has done this to NUMEROUS other groups but he messed with the wrong crowd!!!” she messaged the fan.
But she also has been vocal about how the reaction to the initial interruption from some quarters of Orthodox social media had disappointed her. A handful of commenters blamed her for the interruption, citing what they said were her transgressions of mainstream Orthodox norms, and some even suggested that she had fabricated the incident to draw attention to her favored issues.
“Sorry, but u had this coming,” said one message that Miles-Sash shared with her followers. (Miles-Sash did not post the names of the accounts that sent the messages she shared.) “U knew eventually things like this would pop up. Esp the fact that you talk about sex and bisexuals on ur platform.”
“You definitely set that up on purpose to try and make men look bad,” read another direct message that Miles-Sash received, sent from an account whose profile picture showed a man praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “We’ll expose you for exposing the young and innocent to such horrible acts.”
Miles-Sash and her allies also said they expected more denunciation of the incident from rabbinic figures and other Orthodox leaders.
“Here’s a presumably Orthodox guy who’s literally naked and swinging himself in front of a camera,” said Shoshana Keats-Jaskoll, an American-Israeli activist on Orthodox women’s issues. “And instead of the Orthodox world screaming that is not OK, they’re actually accusing Adina of having set the whole thing up.”
Miles-Sash reserved particular scorn for Laibel Weiner, the host of the Orthodox comedy podcast MisLaibeled, who joked about the size of the man’s “shlong” on his Instagram page the day after the event. Many comments on that post condemned Weiner’s comments, including YeahThat’sKosher, a popular food blog in the Orthodox community.
“There is nothing humorous about this,” the comment said. “Get your priorities in check.”
Weiner said later in the week that he continued to find the whole situation humorous — but that he also valued Miles-Sash’s advocacy.
“There are times in life where jokes surrounding bad things that occur can be funny. I think this is one of those situations,” Weiner said. “That’s my personal opinion. I appreciate that Flatbush Girl has been able to use her platform to bring attention and awareness to important issues in our community. It doesn’t matter what her opinion is on a particular matter, I am glad she has the opportunity to share what she feels is right.”
Many of Miles-Sash’s followers expressed support all along, and particularly after she criticized the response from within Orthodoxy, some produced videos denouncing attacks on women, which she shared.
“Please know that you are in the eyes of so many women a true warrior,” wrote Melissa Chapman, an Instagram influencer with over 100,000 followers. Using a Hebrew name for God, she added, “May Hashem continue to give you the strength and fortitude to continue doing the life changing work you are so committed to doing.”
Whether the flasher targeted an Orthodox women’s event in particular and whether the flasher has any connection to the community is unclear. He used the name of a friend of Miles-Sash to enter the Instagram chat — but he had done the same thing in previous interruptions, she said. Nothing in the limited view of the man’s room indicated a Jewish identity.
To some, the incident was a reminder of lessons learned during the pandemic’s pivot to online events: Be wary of Zoombombing, as it takes only a single bad actor to derail thousands of people’s experience.
“I tried to kick him off the screen as fast as I could, but even within that full five or six seconds, a lot of damage was done,” Miles-Sash said.
“These women have more followers than any rebbe,” Keats-Jaskoll said. “If Jewish leadership was smart, they would harness the power, passion and potential of Jewish women to improve the community.”
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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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