DETROIT, Michigan (JTA) — Predicting the outcome of a basketball game is tricky business, but one observer prior to the start of the Motor City Cruise’s latest home game made an easy call: “There’s going to be a lot of yarmulkes here.”
As the stands at the 3,000-seat Wayne State University Fieldhouse filled up prior to the team’s Nov. 17 match-up with the Wisconsin Herd, that much soon proved accurate.
Dozens of Orthodox observers, mostly young boys, took up seats in the arena to cheer for this NBA G League team. They boogied for the dance cam, played dress-up games emceed by the team announcer during the time outs and posed with Turbo, the Cruise’s blue-haired mascot. All told, the Cruise’s Orthodox contingent made up around a fifth of the game’s total spectators — and they were certainly the loudest fans in the stands.
For them, the main draw wasn’t the team itself, which is 1-6 on the season, but its new recruit: former Yeshiva University phenom Ryan Turell, 23, who joined the team only three weeks prior and was about to take the court for his second professional home game ever.
“Put in Ryan!” the kids chanted as if they were cheering on a close friend. A grinning Turell, a Detroit Pistons-branded yarmulke perched atop of his signature golden locks, reveled in their dedication, though at various points he tried to redirect the group’s cheers to something more team-oriented: pushing them to repeat “Let’s Go Cruise” or the traditional incantation “De-fense” instead of focusing on him.
But it was clear who these kids, most of them situated in a section flanking the Cruise’s bench directly behind Turell, were there to see. When Turell first entered the game at the bottom of the first quarter, the crowd erupted in cheers. They quickly pivoted their chants to “Pass it to Ryan!” When he sank a three, they erupted.
“They listened to us, put in Ryan, and look what happened!” gushed Daniel Rodner, an 11-year-old student at the prominent local Jewish day school Yeshiva Beth Yehudah, who was at the game with classmates Chaim Indig, Chaim Tzvi Seligson and Yoni Perlman. “We’re up five points. Moral of the story: Listen to Ryan. And the crowd.”
In contrast with the antisemitism controversy unfolding elsewhere in the NBA, as Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving served a suspension and delivered multiple apologies after sharing antisemitic content online, an entirely different scene was playing out in Detroit: an image of Jewish joy at the thrill of having a rooting interest in the game.
“Jews love basketball. They really do,” Turell told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after the game. “The Jewish community is incredible, them coming out and cheering me on. It really means the world to me. And it’s special, because it’s bigger than basketball.”
The Pistons franchise has recognized this opportunity, offering kosher hot dogs at their development team’s concession stand. There are plans for an upcoming Jewish Heritage Night on Dec. 4, to feature Hanukkah gelt and menorah giveaways; opportunities for Jewish day school students to high-five and stand with Pistons players during the National Anthem, and a game to be played between two local Jewish day school basketball teams at the Pistons’ practice facility. At the Herd game, staff photographers frequented the Turell fan section, framing images of cheering kippah- and tzitzit-clad children with their favorite player in the background.
It didn’t matter that the Cruise ultimately lost the game 117-105, with the Herd pulling away only in the final minutes. What mattered was that Turell scored five points and saw five minutes of play time — and, in so doing, served as an inspiration to many Orthodox youth. Some of the kids in the stands Thursday said they were fans of the Pistons, or of the NBA more generally, but nearly all of them had followed Turell since his Y.U. days.
“I think that [Jewish] people who would normally, maybe, reject basketball after listening to Kyrie Irving and hearing what he had to say, can find a bright spot with Ryan Turell,” Jonas Singer, who was attending the game with his younger brother Leo, told JTA.
The siblings recalled how they were “freaking out” when they heard Turell would be coming to Detroit: “I was dreaming of him even making the G League,” Jonas said. “And when I heard I was actually going to be able to watch him, I was going insane.”
Turell isn’t from Detroit, but his well-documented quest to become the first-ever observant Jew to play in the NBA has captured the hearts and minds of the Motor City’s Orthodox population (which includes Gary Torgow, the chair of Detroit Pistons sponsor Huntington Bank). Local synagogues and day schools have organized group outings to see Turell play. He’s prayed with them and made a special appearance at Yeshiva Beth Yehudah’s annual fundraising dinner, which has in the past attracted sitting U.S. presidents and top state figures.
Turell credited Pistons vice chair Arn Tellem, who is Jewish, with ensuring that he had all necessary accommodations to be able to remain Sabbath-observant while he plays. The franchise has accommodated him with hotel bookings within walking distance to away games on the Sabbath and kosher meals. Turell has certainly returned the favor by providing the chance to expand into a new fanbase and score a PR coup in the process. At his Cruise debut Nov. 7, one fan, Gideon Lopatin, showed up with a homemade blonde Turell wig.
Scott Schiff, vice president of business operations for the Cruise, said social engagements for the team are up this season but that attendance numbers with Turell on the team were difficult to compare: Last season was the Cruise’s first ever and Turell has only played two home games to date. Still, Schiff said, there was “a core group of the Jewish population coming out to support him every game.”
Turell has also brought out young Jewish fans on the road, including at a game in Cleveland the following weekend, when local Jewish day schools organized a huge crowd to see him play and speak afterwards.
After the Herd game, Jewish kids mobbed Turell when he came out to sign autographs, including a basketball from Chevy Shepherd, one of the few young Jewish girls who had come out to see him play that night. (“Let’s go Ryan,” Shepherd told JTA.)
He also signed Bodner’s yarmulke, which the boy planned to show off at school the next day.
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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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