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Teens consider Jewish stake in abortion battle one year after Dobbs decision



This article was produced as part of JTA’s Teen Journalism Fellowship, a program that works with Jewish teens around the world to report on issues that affect their lives.

(JTA) — One year after the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson reversed the federal guarantee of women’s abortion rights, a group of young activists are encouraging their peers to consider the ruling’s ramifications through a distinctly Jewish and teen-focused lens. 

“I was distraught after the Dobbs decision leak came out, and I did not know how anybody in power could do that,” said Emily Levine, a junior at Scarsdale (New York) High School, after a webinar by and for teens that she co-organized to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, the gist of which was leaked in May 2022. “Especially to me as somebody getting ready to go off to college, feeling like I had no control and it was my body and my life that they were affecting.”

Levine, a participant in the Kol Koleinu Teen Feminist Fellowship — a program of Moving Traditions, a Jewish youth organization — partnered with another fellow, Noa Gezler, to organize the webinar. Held June 11, it included 30 teens.

Gezler, a junior at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in New York, worked on the event in response to the “existential crisis” she faced following the court decision. 

Panelists expert in medicine, law and religion addressed the intersection of reproductive rights and Judaism. 

“The overarching piece that links my Jewish work with my legal work is really about the power of text and interpretation,” said panelist Ariella Dubler, head of school at the Heschel School during the 90-minute event. “Roe[v. Wade], Dobbs, any issue that you care about that has constitutional roots, there are multiple ways to look at that text,” said Dubler, previously the George Welwood Murray Professor of Legal History at Columbia Law School.

Most American Jews and their representative organizations back abortion access, although Orthodox organizations support restrictions that allow abortion only under rare circumstances

Last year Moving Traditions issued a statement calling the Dobbs decision a “horrifying rollback of fundamental rights for all people in the U.S.” 

Dubler urged the teens “to really master a set of skills of interpretation that will let you work with other people to build movements and power around the issues you care about.”

“The best way to fight for what you believe in is to really appreciate the power of your interpretive skills in conversation with others,” said Dubler. “What I hope everyone going off to college takes with you is that you are as powerful as the skills and the communities that you build.”

Panelist Emily Birenbaum, a Jewish obstetrician/gynecologist in Berkeley, California, said that after taking a long break from clinical gynecology, she felt a “moral obligation” to return to her prior field to ensure that young women were receiving appropriate reproductive care in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision. “What brought me back to women’s health was the fact that women’s rights were being trampled and taken away and somebody who was not ready to become a parent was going to be forced into becoming a parent,” she said.

Amanda Kleinman, senior cantor at the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York, reviewed Biblical texts that convey understandings of abortion in Judaism. Kleinman cited a case from Exodus where a pregnant woman sustains an injury as a bystander during a fight and miscarries. The party who shoved the woman is required to pay a fine, but is not held accountable for murder.

Noa Gezler, a junior at the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in New York, co-organized the Moving Traditions event in response to the “existential crisis” she faced following the court decision striking down Roe v. Wade. (Screenshot)

“The fetus holds a status that is different from the status for instance of the mother of the fetus, and the life of the pregnant person is the most important value in this conversation. The Jewish tradition even requires that a pregnancy be terminated if the life of the person who is pregnant is at risk,” she said.

As a native of Texas, which has one of the strictest abortion bans in the United States, she described her “strong obligation as a spiritual leader of a congregation to use the platform that I have to help make sure that members of my congregation have the opportunity to explore this issue [abortion] from a Jewish perspective.” 

After the webinar, Gezler and Levine told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that they became involved with Moving Traditions and designed the webinar to educate other teens about restrictions on reproductive rights and encourage them to act. “It is really hard to get taken seriously [as a teen] and educating yourself and having the facts and knowing what you are talking about. Being able to back that up has been really important to getting what we want [and] to make our voices heard,” said Levine.

She and Gezler want teens to be empowered to fight for social change. “Teens are the future. Teens are the present. Teens have the power to make this change and not only that, but this is our world and we are soon going to be the people in positions of power, in leadership positions, controlling the future of the world,” said Levine.   

Reflecting on the event, Gezler said “the effect it has on me as a Jewish teen is that it gives me hope. Looking at the incredibly wise Jewish adults sharing their knowledge with Jewish teens and rallying the Jewish community in the face of challenge teaches me about my own rights as a Jew but also shows me that my community supports my religious and privacy rights.”

The post Teens consider Jewish stake in abortion battle one year after Dobbs decision 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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