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This year’s ‘Jewish Nobel’ is a group prize, going to Jewish activists in Ukraine



(JTA) — A prize established to honor a single inspiring Jew with a lifetime of achievements has been awarded this year to a nameless group whose work is ongoing: Jewish activists in war-ravaged Ukraine.

The Genesis Prize Foundation said the war in Ukraine required a change in the approach it has taken since creating the prize, known by some as the “Jewish Nobel,” a decade ago.

“Recognizing the extraordinary nature of events dominating the past 11 months, The Genesis Prize Selection Committee has decided to depart from the usual custom of awarding the prize to a single Jewish individual,” the group said in a statement.

It added, “Instead, the Committee has elected to announce a collective award to Jewish activists and NGOs who were inspired by the brave citizens of Ukraine and their courageous president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and chose to act on their Jewish values by standing up for freedom, human dignity, and justice.”

The group is also not awarding the traditional $1 million prize that recipients have donated to charity; instead, it says it plans to “continue to make grants to NGOs to alleviate the suffering in Ukraine, as we have done since the beginning of the war.” Those groups have included the JDC, which has distributed emergency aid across the country; United Hatazalah of Israel, which trained Ukrainians in emergency first aid; and Natal, an Israeli trauma response group, according to its Facebook page.

The goal of the prize, its co-founder and board chair Stan Polovets told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, remains to stimulate Jewish giving by raising awareness of particular needs.

“Freedom is one of the most important values of the Jewish people. And this is a country that’s fighting for its freedom. It has a president who has shocked everyone by his resilience and courage,” he said about Ukraine. “We think that the Jewish community worldwide needs to be supportive to the extent it can.”

In going with the group prize, Genesis circumvented the potential pitfalls of honoring Zelensky himself. The Genesis Prize Foundation held Zelensky up as a Jewish hero last October, when its cofounder and board member Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident and 2020 honoree, visited him in Kyiv. Sharansky, who lives in Israel, has been a leading advocate for Israel to dedicate more resources to Ukraine.

Natan Sharansky, the Genesis Prize cofounder and board member, visits with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelesnky in Kyiv in October 2022. (Courtesy Genesis Prize Foundation)

But honoring Zelensky, Ukraine’s most prominent Jew, could have made for an uncomfortable situation at the Genesis Prize’s glitzy awards ceremony: In his efforts to secure more resources for Ukraine’s armed forces, Zelensky has also openly criticized Israel for not being as forthcoming as he would like. (Israel’s particular geopolitical interests have confounded the country’s response to the war since its start Feb. 24, 2022.)

And while some have called Zelensky a “modern Maccabee,” he has not always signaled pride about being Jewish, which prize recipients are expected to show, saying in 2019, “The fact that I am Jewish barely makes 20 in my long list of faults.”

Polovets declined to comment on the selection process. The Genesis Prize has never gone to a current political office-holder; politician and businessman Mike Bloomberg was honored after he left the New York City mayor’s office.

The temporary departure from the Genesis Prize Foundation’s regular approach extended beyond who was chosen as the recipient. The group opened nominations publicly but then did not release a shortlist for a public advisory vote as it has in recent years. It also decided not to hold its traditional awards ceremony in Jerusalem that has in the past been an unusual convening of Diaspora Jewish leaders, Israeli government officials and celebrities. (Last year, the Knesset dissolved itself the night of the ceremony, when Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was being honored; the politicians did not attend.)

While the changes made sense for the unusual moment, Polovets acknowledged potential downsides, including confusion about the Genesis Prize brand and the lack of a celebrity spokesperson for the year’s cause. He also said he anticipated that without a single awardee to guide where donations go, his organization could receive an unusual number of unsolicited applications for aid.

The group will begin discussions about where to direct its giving in about a month, according to foundation officials. That will also be the first anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The tweaks to the selection process are not the first changes at Genesis induced by the war: The three Russian billionaires who helped start the prize stepped down from the board of the related Genesis Philanthropy Group last March, after being targeted by Western sanctions in response to the invasion.

The post This year’s ‘Jewish Nobel’ is a group prize, going to Jewish activists in Ukraine 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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