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This is what an $8 million synagogue renovation looks like



(New York Jewish Week) — Ansche Chesed, a historic Conservative synagogue located in a large, Romanesque- and Byzantine-inspired building on the Upper West Side, has completed an $8 million, two-year renovation project.

The updates to the landmarked 53,000-square-foot building, which began construction in 1927, included adding an elevator, which will improve the building’s accessibility; tripling the size of the lobby, and adding bathrooms, a coat room and a lounge. Upgraded security measures include a security booth near the entrance, an updated camera system and an electronic seal on interior doors. 

Located at 251 W. 100th Street, the 600-family congregation will have a rededication ceremony and celebration during services on Saturday.

“We’re feeling fabulous,” said Jeremy Kalmanofsky, the congregation’s senior rabbi who has been at Ansche Chesed since 2001.

“We have evolved the various ways in which we use it,” Kalmanofsky said of the 96-year-old building, and why the congregation, which was founded in 1829, decided to renovate. “It was dark and it was not terribly welcoming and now we’ve opened it up in so many ways — greater light, more welcoming and easier to get around, especially for folks who use wheelchairs and walkers.”

The ground floor main entry lobby tripled in size and was renovated with updated lighting and HVAC system. It also includes a coat room and updated bathrooms. (Courtesy of Studio ST Architects)

The synagogue partnered with New York-based Studio ST Architects on the project. “In our work, we tried to really capture and maintain the nature of that congregation. The word they used is heimish — a Yiddish word for homey and welcoming,” said the principal architect Esther Sperber. “They wanted it to be nice, clean and comfortable, but down to earth. They didn’t want it to be fancy and they weren’t looking for lots of marble or gold.”

“We shared a real sense about what it means to be building up Jewish ritual communal spaces,” Kalmanofsky said.

Both Sperber and Kalmanofsky noted that the largest improvement to the space — and the biggest undertaking of the renovation — was adding a small elevator from the lobby to the sanctuary, which seats 1,200 people. Before, congregants who needed it had to use a “clunky chairlift” that could only be used one at a time and required a second person to operate. 

“It really was not a dignified way for people to enter the space and it made them feel as if they were potentially not welcome,” Sperber noted.

Another angle of the updated basement lobby. An elevator was added to get from the lobby to the sanctuary, which substantially improved the synagogue’s accessibility.(Courtesy of Studio ST Architects)

Nearly every part of the ground floor and basement levels was renovated — except for the sanctuary, Sperber said. “The sanctuary is a beautiful, historic space,” Sperber said, adding that it had recently been repainted. “We updated the fire alarm system, added the elevator which now reaches the sanctuary … but the design of the space was kept.”

The social hall was expanded with new flooring and lighting and will now be able to accommodate extra seating for High Holiday services and major celebrations. (Courtesy of Studio ST Architects)

Renovation on the building began in the winter of 2021, and it stayed open while undergoing construction, though Kalmanofsky noted that during 2021 the building was used far less due to the pandemic. 

Sleek bronze signage was added to the exterior of the building with the name and address of the congregation. The architects also upgraded the building’s HVAC systems and relocated the office spaces from the first floor to the fifth.  

The newly renovated offices (left) are on the fifth floor of the building, rather than in a windowless space off the lobby (right). (Courtesy of Studio ST Architects)

“Our offices, which were literally in windowless dungeons, are now much more filled with light,” Kalmanofsky said. “It’s easier for people to feel happy to be in them when our members come into the office to see us.”

The renovation also updated the lighting and floors of the social hall, which was last renovated in the 1980s, Kalmanofsky said. “We have a social hall space now that is worthy of larger and more elegant celebrations, both of our own members and maybe, if we’re so fortunate, other people will want to celebrate in our building as well,” he said.

Bathrooms were updated on the ground level. (Courtesy of Studio ST Architects)

“When you enter the building, it doesn’t feel like you’re entering an old building — it feels like you’re entering something contemporary,” Kalmanofsky said. “It’s nice and inviting and modern.”

The post This is what an $8 million synagogue renovation looks like 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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