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Team Israel’s baseball players were also filmmakers for a new documentary about their 2020 Olympic run

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(JTA) — When a group of mostly American Jewish baseball players arrived in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics, they had multiple responsibilities.

First among them was to represent Team Israel in its first-ever Olympic baseball outing. Many of the players were new Israelis, having obtained citizenship just to satisfy Olympics eligibility rules.

But they were also tasked with making a movie about their experience. A documentary had followed Team Israel’s Cinderella run in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, and the filmmakers wanted to make a sequel. But there was a catch: No media was allowed in the Olympic Village in Tokyo, due to strict pandemic restrictions.

Instead, the filmmakers distributed small cameras to the players to document their own experience. The result is the new documentary “Israel Swings for Gold,” which premieres Saturday at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

“It was sort of amazing, because they got stuff that we never would have gotten, had we had cameras there,” Daniel A. Miller, one of the filmmakers, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The intimacy that is offered, these moments where they win, and even when they lose, their sort of daily experiences with antisemitism.”

The official movie poster for “Israel Swings for Gold.” (Courtesy Ironbound Films)

Miller is one third of the team behind Ironbound Films, the production company that made “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel.” He said the reception of that movie had surprised him.

“‘Heading Home’ had this huge following that we never expected,” he said. “People loved seeing these players who grew up playing baseball through high school, through college, and they never really explored their faith so much. Their faith was baseball.”

The sequel follows the team from their Olympic qualifier in New York through their citizenship process, visiting Israel and ultimately playing in Tokyo. Ironbound was able to shoot all the footage in Israel and in the United States, but once the team arrived in Tokyo, the players were on their own.

Miller said making the film with the help of the players was “supremely interesting” — and that the resulting perspective widened the series’ lens on what it means to be an Israeli ballplayer.

“It was moving on to what being Israeli meant — associating with Israel and all its problems, and having to identify on a world stage with Israel,” he said.

The film includes moments like the moment of silence held during the opening ceremony to honor the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

It also shows the Israeli players being turned down by other countries’ athletes for the traditional Olympic pin-swapping — a detail that did not grab headlines at the time, but which corresponds with experiences that Israeli athletes have had on other stages.

Because it is shot largely by the players, the documentary takes on a real behind-the-scenes feel throughout — especially during scenes in the players’ Olympic Village dorms, where they cut each other’s hair, make TikToks and spend most of their time shirtless.

After its Atlanta debut this weekend, Miller said the film will be shown at Jewish film festivals across the country, including in New Hampshire and at the Gold Coast International Film Festival on Long Island. The documentary will also have a theatrical release, beginning in South Florida next month.

Miller said his team plans to make its next sequel at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, which takes place in Miami next month.


The post Team Israel’s baseball players were also filmmakers for a new documentary about their 2020 Olympic run appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Obituaries

PHYLLIS POLLOCK

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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

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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

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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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