(JTA) — Players of the video game “The Sims” can now bake a challah or dish up a bowl of matzo ball soup, after updates made by the game’s creator that are designed to increase Jewish representation.
The new updates add traditional Jewish foods to the expansive menu available to users of “The Sims,” a best-selling life simulation game in which players customize characters and build homes and communities. The game’s developers periodically release expansion packs offering additional items for use in the role-playing.
On Tuesday, the developers released an update focused on one family of characters, the Calientes. But it also added Jewish foods that some users had mounted an extended campaign to secure.
“Get ready to dig in because today’s Sims Delivery Express adds matzah ball soup & challah bread to The Sims 4 recipe book for the whole family to enjoy,” the game announced on Twitter. An accompanying GIF showed a table with four loaves of challah, two covered by a tree-motif cover. The table is surrounded by diners scooping soup and speaking with their hands.
The announcement elicited gratitude from the community of players, known as Simmers, who had been pushing for Jewish additions to the game.
“The Sims team HAVE LISTENED and have finally brought Jewish food to The Sims 4!” tweeted a user who goes by HufflePom on social media. “Thank you to everyone who has liked, retweeted, commented and supported my posts over the last 462 days. We did it!”
Later, HufflePom tweeted a picture of a multicolored challah and thanked a programmer who had been working on the addition “for doing such a beautiful, thoughtful and respectful job.”
After 462 days tweeting for rep for #SimJews. Yesterday we got it! Thank you for your support it means so much to me. A massive thank you to @SimGuruBat & the rest of @TheSims team for doing such a beautiful, thoughtful, & respectful job. I share this Challah with all of you. pic.twitter.com/d9JSsM8Udf
— HufflePom (@HufflePom) May 17, 2023
HufflePom was the leader of a movement to press “The Sims” and its parent company, Electronic Arts, to add more Jewish options to the game.
“Sims” players have long come up with creative workarounds to permit Jewish practice in the game, such as letting their Sims keep kosher by changing their characters’ traits to “vegetarian.” Some players let their Sims celebrate Shabbat by baking bread and setting it on a table and lighting decorative candles. Players who use “custom content” modifications not created or endorsed by the game developers have also long created Jewish content for The Sims, such as kippahs, other versions of menorahs, chuppahs, Torahs, shofars, mezuzahs and dreidels. Some have Sims performing Jewish rituals, such as stomping on a glass at a wedding.
But other than a menorah that permitted players to light individual candles for each night of Hanukkah, there was no Jewish content provided by the game’s creator. HufflePom and others had noted gaps in other additions over time: An expansion set aimed at providing culturally diverse wedding options, for example, did not include a chuppah, or Jewish wedding canopy.
Neither HufflePom nor the programmer responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.
An online petition launched last year by another Sims user noted HufflePom’s advocacy. “For over a year, Simmer HufflePom has been asking for Jewish representation in The Sims 4 by adding Jewish head coverings and food like challa, babka, hamantashen and brisket,” said the petition, which drew nearly 800 signatures. “This has been done for other cultures like Muslims and it’s important for all cultures to feel represented in their beloved life simulation game.”
Some people who signed the petition said they were Jewish and wanted to have more true-to-life options when they played the game.
“I am Jewish and am tired of not being able to have Jewish Sims,” wrote a signer named Michelle Jackson. “Stuck eating just turkey or fish during grand meals.”
But others said their support for the Jewish expansion was less about their own identity than about an abiding belief that their favorite game should offer flexibility for users of all backgrounds.
“Everyone deserves representation. We need more cultural items and gameplay so people from anywhere can play their own lives because that has always been what the Sims is about,” a signer named Madison Graham wrote in November. “We did it with skin tones and pronouns, we can do it for Jewish rep too. No rep is too much or needless.”
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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.
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.”
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.)
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.
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