(JTA) — Qatar may have caused an uproar by banning alcohol at the World Cup soccer tournament in Doha this month, but for religious Jewish fans, some kosher offerings will be available, thanks to two rabbis.
Rabbi Marc Schneier, from New York, and Rabbi Mendy Chitrik, the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s emissary to Istanbul, worked with Qatari officials to create a kosher catering program to provide for observant Jews who may attend the games. And despite a report that has echoed around the world claiming that Qatar banned the production of kosher food after promising it would be made available, the rabbis say all is still going as planned.
It won’t involve five-course meals or fine dining, but the duo arranged for kosher bagels to be baked in a catering space provided by Qatar Airways and delivered to those who need them during the World Cup.
“We decided to go with the theme of bagels, because while they are not well known here in Qatar, they are very well known in the U.S. and ethnically identified with Jews,” Schneier told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “They’re probably the first kosher bagels being produced and baked here in Qatar.
The kitchen is under the supervision of Chitrik, who manages kosher certification operations in Turkey — one of the world’s largest food producers — on behalf of the Orthodox Union, the Israeli Rabbinate and the Turkish Rabbinate. He has also helped facilitate kosher operations elsewhere in the Middle East, such as the United Arab Emirates. Chitrik’s son Eli, also a rabbi, will stay in Qatar for the duration of the tournament to supervise the facility.
Neither rabbi said they know how much demand there will actually be for kosher food.
“It was really, you know, taking a leap of faith,” said Schneier, rabbi at the Hampton Synagogue on Long Island in New York. “I don’t know if one person needs a kosher meal or if 100 people will need a kosher meal.”
Chitrik, who has been involved in similar projects in the Gulf region in the past, told JTA that he received many phone calls asking if there would be kosher food available.
“From phone calls to actuality, you don’t know what will be, but there were a lot of requests,” he said. “As rabbis in the region, we felt it was our responsibility to respond to those requests and make sure that people have what to eat if they are coming to the games. Some people are staying for a month.”
The kitchen will be operational for the full 30 days of the World Cup tournament. Both rabbis said that if they see high demand, they hope to increase the offerings beyond just bagels.
The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday that Qatar has banned cooked kosher food at the World Cup, and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder released a statement saying he was “outraged.” Both Chitrik and Schneier denied that claim.
“The whole thing was not very organized. Nobody actually came saying they would put up the money to establish a kosher restaurant. Everybody is demanding the Qataris to open a kosher restaurant, and no, they didn’t open a kosher restaurant. I’m sure if someone came with the business plan to open a kosher restaurant, they would have no problem with that. At the end of the day they did open up a kosher kitchen, but it was very last minute so there is no meat. That’s it for now,” Chitrik told JTA.
Schneier believes that the project has value beyond just filling empty stomachs — the bagels could be a step towards normalizing Jewish life in Qatar, which is currently nonexistent.
Both Chitrik and Schneier work in the realm of building Jewish-Islamic relations. Schneier is the president and founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, a nonprofit devoted to improving Jewish-Muslim relations, while Chitrik leads the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States.
Currently, Qatar has no relations with Israel, and its state broadcaster, Al Jazeera,which is often accused of serving Qatari foreign policy, has long taken a hard line against the Jewish state.
Nonetheless, Schneier worked with his Qatari contacts to help bring the first direct flights from Israel to the gulf nation so that Israeli soccer fans could watch the games, unhindered by regional politics. Despite the lack of formal relations, the Israeli foreign ministry negotiated the establishment of a temporary diplomatic mission and consular office to serve their citizens for the duration of the games.
“The leadership of the State of Qatar is performing a ‘mitzvah’ by making kosher food available for members of the worldwide Jewish community, including those traveling from Israel,” Schneier said in a statement. “Furthermore, the Qataris have stood by and followed through on every commitment that was made to welcome Jewish fans to this prestigious event.”
The World Cup isn’t Schneier’s first foray into getting kosher food into sporting events. In the 1990s, when he served as president of New York’s Board of Rabbis, he was involved in the initiative to establish a kosher food stand at Yankee stadium. Since then, kosher food options have become available at many stadiums around the United States.
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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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