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Rabbi of firebombed N.J. synagogue: ‘We’ve unfortunately been preparing for this’



(JTA) — A New Jersey synagogue is crediting recent safety improvements after a Molotov cocktail thrown at its door overnight caused little damage.

Still, Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield canceled activities on Sunday as the police investigated, marking the second time in recent months that the suburban congregation suspended activities because of an antisemitic incident.

Last November, the Reform synagogue of about 500 families near New York City briefly closed its doors while the FBI investigated a “credible threat” against New Jersey synagogues; an 18-year-old man was later arrested for making a threat online.

The latest incident took place around 3 a.m. Sunday when, according to security camera footage, a man approached the synagogue and threw what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail, a homemade bomb, at the door before fleeing. The man was wearing a ski mask and a shirt that appeared to have an image of a skull and crossbones, according to a picture that police distributed.

The building suffered only superficial damage, an outcome that Rabbi Marc Katz attributed to the safety investments made over the past several years, funded largely by state homeland security grants. The synagogue has added shatterproof glass to its door and upgraded its security cameras, which generated a relatively clear image of the man who threw the device.

“Everything worked the way it was supposed to,” Katz told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Sunday afternoon. “We’ve unfortunately been preparing for this day for a while and we were ready.”

The synagogue canceled religious school, where roughly 200 children had been expected, and a rehearsal for the year’s Purim play largely out of concern that it would be upsetting for community members to see evidence of the assault and the investigation, Katz said. On Monday, a scheduled book talk by Rabbi Joshua Stanton, whose recent book tackles the challenges facing American religious institutions, has been postponed to make way for an evening event focused on the incident.

But Katz emphasized, including in his communications to community members, that the community’s normal activities were also ongoing. On Sunday morning, he said, he had officiated at a baby naming, and other activities would proceed as planned on Monday.

Katz said there had been no warning prior to the Sunday incident. But he noted that Montclair has experienced multiple apparently antisemitic incidents in recent years, including swastikas found on playgrounds and etched on desks in the high school.

“Every few months, something happens. But this is the first time that there’s something directly against our congregation to this magnitude,” he said. “If things had been different, like even the wind blowing differently, we could be having a very different conversation. … That’s what’s so scary about this.”

Katz said that even as the incident had left him and his congregants shaken, it was not just antisemitic incidents such as the attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh; Poway, California; and Colleyville, Texas that had created an atmosphere of fear in the community. He said that every year he asks teenagers in the congregation where they feel more unsafe, at synagogue or at school, and every year the answers come back split.

“Our kids are suffering and they’re not just suffering because they’re Jewish,” he said. “So we have to be responding with a bit of a wider lens even than just what our own community is facing.”

In his letter to congregants, Katz noted that Ner Tamid’s trauma stood alongside other crises in the United States, alluding to multiple shootings targeting Asians in California and the release of footage showing police officers beating a Black man to death in Memphis.

“This has been a horrible week for many, for the AAPI community, for the African American community, and yes, for us,” Katz wrote. “If you don’t know what to do in light of this, then offer up support to a community who is equally at a loss. Perhaps in our collective anger and grief, we can find a way out together.”

The post Rabbi of firebombed N.J. synagogue: ‘We’ve unfortunately been preparing for this’ 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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Local News

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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