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Seymour Stein, Jewish music mogul who discovered Madonna and The Ramones, dies at 80



(JTA) — Seymour Stein, one of the most influential music executives of the 20th century, who frequently throughout his career referred to his Jewish Brooklynite roots, died at 80 on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles.

The cause was an unspecified form of cancer, according to reports.

Stein, born Seymour Steinbigle in 1942 and raised near Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, signed artists to his Sire record label ranging from pop superstars like Madonna to punk rockers like The Ramones to New Wave pioneers like the Talking Heads. He also helped found the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the early 1980s and was inducted with a lifetime achievement award in 2005.

As he details in his 2018 autobiography, Stein’s father became closer to Orthodox Judaism in his 30s and 40s, regularly bringing his family to a nearby synagogue, where he was a vice president. Stein wrote that his father stopped by the synagogue at 6 a.m. before working in Manhattan’s Garment District and then again after work on his way home every day.

He described the Jews of 1940s Brooklyn in detail in “Siren Song: My Life in Music”:

We had every flavor of Ashkenazim — Russian, Polish, Baltic, Romanian, Austrian, Hungarian, German, and Czech Jews, including about fifty thousand survivors from the concentration camps. We had lost tribes you didn’t even know existed — Syrian, Iraqi, Persian, Yemeni, Ethiopian, even some Sephardic Jews whose family trees had curled through Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, and South America…. [E]ach Jewish community was distinct, often with its own native food and language.

In 1966, Stein — who shortened his last name on advice from an early mentor, the Jewish executive Syd Nathan — co-founded Sire Records, which would go on to sign and promote artists from a range of burgeoning genres in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s: British indie rockers like The Smiths and The Cure, electronic innovator Aphex Twin, the rapper Ice-T.

“He knows all the lyrics to every song you’ve ever heard,” said Chrissie Hynde, the famed leader of The Pretenders, another Sire band.

Along the way, Stein wrote and mentioned in interviews how he found camaraderie with other Jewish executives and stars, after having grown up in an era when Jews were implicitly banned from some professions in the United States but found a haven in the entertainment industry. In his autobiography, for instance, he calls Lou Reed and New Wave electro-rocker Alan Vega fellow Brooklyn Jews.

“It’s amazing now that so many doctors and lawyers are Jewish,” he said in a 2013 interview with Tablet magazine. “Jews in America weren’t allowed in those professions 120 years ago. Music is something Jews were good at and they could do. All immigrants into America tried their hand at show-business.”

Stein signed Madonna from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from an open-heart surgery in 1982. She would release three top-of-the-charts albums with Sire before creating her own imprint in 1992.

In 1975, his wife, Linda, encouraged him to look into The Ramones, a group of scrappy punks in ripped jeans from Queens (two of whom were Jewish). She would co-manage the band for a time before becoming a real estate agent.

Stein, who later came out as gay, wrote that “the roles were a little confused” in his marriage and that he felt pressured to hide his attraction to men in part because of his traditional Jewish upbringing. “Just because I may have been gay didn’t mean I wasn’t Jewish,” he wrote. He and Linda had two children but eventually divorced.

In the Tablet interview, Stein mentioned that he stayed observant, though not Orthodox, throughout his life. He visited Israel several times and worked with Israeli pop star Ofra Haza on multiple albums. In the 1990s, he visited the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman, Ukraine, a small town where thousands of Orthodox Jews gather each year on Rosh Hashanah.

“I feel a strong attachment to Nachman’s teachings,” he said.

Linda Stein was murdered by her assistant in 2007, and their daughter Samantha died in 2013 from brain cancer. Stein is survived by their other daughter Mandy, a sister and three grandchildren.

The post Seymour Stein, Jewish music mogul who discovered Madonna and The Ramones, dies at 80 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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