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These almost-too-cute-to-eat hamantaschen are baked for a good cause



(New York Jewish Week) — Baker Michal Prevor, the founder and owner of Babka Bailout, makes hamantaschen at her Jersey City bakery all year long, not just for Purim. Her inventive fillings of the triangular-shaped cookie include guava jam, dulce de leche and date nut.

Ahead of the festive holiday of Purim this year, which begins on the evening of March 6, Prevor decided to kick the creativity up a notch: She’s gone a bit wild, offering a collection of hamantaschen that are decorated to look like animals.

“When I was a little girl I ate with my eyes,” Prevor, 47, told the New York Jewish Week. “I always wanted to buy anything that looked like a character.”

Inspired by some googly eyes that she had leftover in her kitchen from Halloween, Prevor created the fanciful cookies, which sell for $6 each. Decorated as bunnies, kittens, giraffes and bears, the hamantaschen are almost too cute to eat. But make no mistake: Iced with white chocolate or dark chocolate and filled with a choice of nutella, dulce de leche or cookie butter — fillings she feels kids would like — the cookies are meant to be consumed and enjoyed.

As both her animal-themed hamantaschen and the unusual name of her bakery business might suggest, Prevor is not one to do the expected: The mom of two founded Babka Bailout in May 2020 at the height of the pandemic — despite the fact that she had never baked a babka before. Rather, her motivation was to help a friend who had fallen on hard times during lockdown and was having trouble feeding her family of five.

The plan, said Prevor, was to make and sell homemade babka and give the proceeds to their friend. Prevor, who lived in Hoboken at the time, went on a local moms’ Facebook group and wrote that she was selling babkas to help her friend. Within five minutes of posting, she sold 40 nutella or cinnamon babka at $14 each.

“The name for the company was my husband’s idea,” said Prevor. “Some people didn’t have the government to bail them out. Lots of people were left behind and not in great situations. The name was a fun spin — the babka would bail my friend out.”

Prevor’s husband, Grant, a home builder  who bakes as a hobby, made that first batch of babka, while Prevor watched and learned. Their two daughters, Ariel and Amelie, who were 15 and 12 years old at time, pitched in, too. “Everyone was working,” said Prevor. “All hands on deck. It gave us a schedule, and it made my kids busy at a time when a lot of kids were very depressed.”

From there, Prevor started baking every week. “I was making hundreds of babkas a week from home,” she said. “It was quite an adventure. I had to start very early — the babkas had to rise. The oven could only fit eight babkas at a time, and it took 45 minutes to bake the babkas in the home oven at 350 degrees.”

“My oven door literally fell off from all of the opening and closing,” she added.

Prevnor had never baked babka before she launched Babka Bailout in May 2020. Since then, she’s expanded her menu with inventive creations. (Michelle Gevint)

Two months after Babka Bailout launched, Prevor began experimenting with different babka flavors, like cereal milk and oreos-and-nutella (both suggested by her daughters). In March 2021, she added hamantaschen for Purim. Prevor tested more than 40 different recipes for hamantaschen until she came up with an amalgamation that she felt was best — and decided to keep what she calls her favorite cookie  permanently on the menu.

For flavor inspiration, Prevor said she draws upon the diverse populations of New York and Jersey City, in particular, as well as her own multi-cultural background: Prevor spent the first six years of her life on a moshav (an agricultural cooperative) in the Sinai Peninsula where her father, Ofer Rozenfeld, grew melons and flowers.

In 1981, ahead of Israel’s impending withdrawal from from the Sinai, the family moved to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, where her father continued his farming. Then, a few years later, when Prevor’s older brother turned 18, the family returned to Israel so that he, and the other four children in the family, could eventually serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

Following her service, Prevor moved to New York where she attended New York University and double majored in political science and journalism. A year after graduation, she married Grant, a fellow Spanish-speaking Jew who grew up in Puerto Rico. In 2005, when their first daughter was 10 months old, the family moved to New Jersey.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prevor sold irrigation equipment designed by her father. She had her last business meeting via Zoom in March 2020 — and two months later, she came face-to-face with her friend’s financial problems and decided to help. “Giving back to the community and tzedakah have always been indoctrinated into my upbringing,” Prevor said. “My parents took care of anybody they came into contact with who needed help. And I think that is part of having a Jewish soul.”

Babka Bailout’s business has continued to grow — in addition to online orders via their web site, Prevor’s products can be found at Butterfield Market, a gourmet grocery store on Madison Avenue and 85th Street.

Last September, Babka Bailout moved to a commercial kitchen in Jersey City, where Prevor and her family now live. She now has a storefront connected to the bakery where passersby stop in to buy treats — many Manhattanites place advance orders and make the short trip over the Hudson themselves, Prevor said.

“We are getting their hamantaschen for Purim this year,” said Joelle Obsatz, owner of Butterfield Market. “They have faces on it. I have never seen anything like it — I think it will be a hit. We will only be selling our house-made hamantaschen and Babka Bailout’s.”

As for Prevor’s previously down-on-her-luck friend, she now assists Prevor in the kitchen. These days, Prevor donates portions of Babka Bailout’s proceeds to numerous organizations, including Welcome Home Jersey City, an organization that supports refugees arriving in the area. “Whenever there is an opportunity to help, I do, either by baking or donating money,” she said. “Whenever an organization asks, my rule of thumb is to help.”

While Prevor may have never intended to become a professional baker, it’s clear she’s established a perfect niche for herself and her community. “In our little shop, people that pick up our baked goods come from all over — the Arab world, the Philippines, Latin America. Once they try them, they are hooked,” she said. “That kind of ties into all my flavors. I love diversity. I love learning from other people and taking flavors from other countries and making everybody feel welcome.”

The post These almost-too-cute-to-eat hamantaschen are baked for a good cause 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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Local News

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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