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The settlers’ attack on Huwara is not the Orthodox Judaism I grew up on



(JTA) — Nighttime in Huwara, a small Palestinian town in the West Bank. Jews in large skullcaps and sidelocks, prayer fringes dangling from their waists, responding loudly to the cantor: “Yehei shmei raba mevurach leolam u’leolmei olmaya” (“May His great name be blessed, forever and ever”) — the words of Kaddish, a regular daily prayer that can also be said to mourn the dead.

The gloom outside is illuminated by an enormous bonfire of cars, shops and homes belonging to the Palestinian residents of the village, which the Kaddish-reciters have set on fire, in revenge for the horrific and heartrending murders, hours before the pogrom, of brothers Hillel and Yagel Yaniv (may their memory be a blessing) and for other recent terror attacks in the area. 

One Palestinian was killed during the rioting by these Jewish settlers. Dozens of wounded Palestinians were evacuated to hospitals, some from smoke inhalation, others from beatings and stabbings. A family was evacuated by IDF troops, moments before they might have perished in the flames that took their home.

This wasn’t just any Kaddish, yet another one of those said and repeated by any observant Jew multiple times a day, sometimes in mumbling fashion. This time it was a Kaddish for Judaism itself. 

I grew up in a small town in central Israel, in a classic “dati leumi” or national religious community whose ideology combines Zionism and Orthodox Judaism. I studied in typical religious institutions: a school in the state-religious education stream, a high school yeshiva and a “hesder yeshiva,” which combines advanced religious studies with military service. I was also very active in the religious Zionist Bnei Akiva youth movement, as an educator and leader.

Even today I live in a religious community in Jerusalem, and my young children study in schools that belong to the state-religious education stream. 

The Judaism that I know and by which I try to live is a Judaism that operates according to the commandment “walk in His ways” (Deuteronomy 11:22) and the Talmud: “As He is gracious you should also be gracious, as He is compassionate you should also be compassionate” (Shabbat 133b:4-6). This Judaism operates according to the verse from Leviticus, “The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land belongs to Me, for you are strangers and [temporary] residents with Me.”

By contrast, the Judaism that the militant settlers imbibed — or distorted — led one of the pogromchiks, he too in skullcap and sidelocks, to speak in Hebrew words I understood but whose language I could not not comprehend. “There is something very moving here,” he told a reporter. “Jews won’t be silent. What the army can’t do, what the police will never do, simple Jews come and carry out a simple act of vengeance, setting fire to anything they can.” 

The same Judaism led Davidi Ben Zion, deputy head of the Samaria Regional Council, also an observant Jew, to say blithely, shortly before the pogrom, that “Huwara should be wiped off the earth — no room for mercy,” and “the [Jewish] guys in Huwara right now are behaving precisely like guys whose brothers were massacred in cold blood at point-blank. The idea that a Jew in Samaria is a diasporic Jew who will be stabbed in the heart and politely say thank you, is childish naivete.” 

That same Judaism led Israel’s finance minister, Betzalel Smotrich, the de facto governor of the West Bank, to publicly support a tweet by another coalition member calling to “wipe out” the village.  

In the name of this Judaism, denizens of hills and outposts abuse the Palestinians daily, with the aid or under the blind eye of the IDF. A national Jewish settlement endeavor has been taking place for two generations now, which despite the good intentions of some of its practitioners, has included land theft, institutionalized discrimination, killing and hatred. An endeavor under which the current coalition, the most observant ever, only grows and intensifies.

In ordinary times life is not black and white. The Palestinian side also has a significant part in the story. The violence comes in great force and cruelty from there as well, and its many victims and circles burn the soul and draw many good people into the cycle of vengeance. The solution, too, is complex and hard to see, even far off on the horizon. But there are moments when things are actually very clear, clarifying the gray areas, when the choices are between life and death, and good and evil.  

This evil version of Judaism is a lethal drug, which through a historical twist of fate gained ascendance over our ancient tradition. Combined with nationalism and majority hegemony in the Land of Israel, it has become a conflagration, one that has long since spread beyond religious Zionism — what Americans might refer to as “Modern Orthodox” — to the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox sector, and Israeli society in general. 

An entire generation of Jews has been raised on this Judaism of hate, contemptuous of anyone who is not Jewish, of any display of weakness, of compassion. To whom Judaism is not the keeping and continuation of our tradition, observing commandments or studying Torah, but a worship of “Jewish might” (“Otzma Yehudit,” the name of a far-right political party) and limitless greed. In this Judaism, traditional values like modesty, pity and charity are signs of weakness, or remnants of a pathetic and feeble Christian morality that under no circumstances are to be shown to a stranger, the other, those who are not like us.  

What we need now is not accommodation, nor soft words and platitudes. Neither will an obvious and empty condemnation of the pogrom do a bit of good. What we need now — having seen the elected officials who represent this religious population, having witnessed their nationalist Judaism — is a policy rooted in a tradition they abandoned. We should treat those who distort Judaism as the Mishnah tells us to treat all evildoers: “Distance yourself from an evil neighbor, and do not cleave to a wicked person” (Ethics of the Fathers 1:7). We need to announce that we want no part in the feral growth that has sprung up here, that this is not the tradition we grew up on, this is not the Torah we studied, and this is not how we wish to live our lives and raise our children.

Let us return to tradition and start over.

The post The settlers’ attack on Huwara is not the Orthodox Judaism I grew up on 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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