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Thousands of Chabad rabbis convene in New York amid a banner year for their movement



(JTA) — It was unseasonably cold on Sunday morning when thousands of rabbis crowded on risers in front of Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn to snap a photograph.

The group photo is a signature moment during any gathering of the Orthodox movement, allowing the movement to create a visual record of its growth: Unique among Hasidic movements, Chabad is known for sending rabbis and their wives to far-flung locations around the globe to minister to local Jews, regardless of denomination or beliefs. (A picture taken at a smaller gathering of Chabad rabbis in Kazakhstan last year netted the group a $200 fine for violating a ban on large gatherings.)

And the picture taken early Sunday was the largest yet, as some 6,500 rabbis from all over the world descended on Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for the first full-size conference since 2019. Known within the movement as the kinus hashluchim (conference of emissaries), the gathering is a can’t-miss event featuring workshops, prayer, socializing and a gala at which the achievements of the previous year are recounted with great fanfare.

This year, those achievements stretched to a long list as Chabad is in the middle of a push to create 1,200 new institutions — synagogues, schools, camps, ritual baths and more — during the year marking the 120th birthday of the movement’s last leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994.

The international Chabad community has pulled out extra stops for Schneerson’s birthday because of the special significance of 120 in Jewish tradition. Moses was 120 when the Bible records his death, and that age is considered the ideal duration of a good life. “To 120 years” is a traditional accompaniment of birthday greetings for many Jews, especially in Orthodox communities, and Schneerson was a notable proponent of robust birthday celebrations.

Chabad says it is launching centers in more than 120 new locations over the course of year, and announced a new one during a gala Sunday night: in Zambia, which will be the 110th country to house a Chabad emissary. The gala also saw the dedication of 36 Torahs that rabbis will carry home to Kampala, Uganda; Ibiza, Spain; Alameda, California, and other locations where the local Chabad previously did not have one. The group also announced a new $2.5 million overnight camping initiative.

Rabbis from all over the world descended on Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to have their photo taken at the largest gathering of Chabad “emissaries” since the start of of the pandemic, Nov. 20, 2022. (Shmulie Grossbaum/

At the gala, which was attended mostly by rabbis but also about 1,000 guests, often major local supporters, special attention was paid to the movement’s 177 emissaries in Ukraine, who have been scrambling to reboot their operations to meet wartime needs since Russian troops invaded Feb. 24. Videos showcased the relief efforts that the rabbis have spearheaded; Rabbi Yechiel Levitansky of Sumy in northeastern Ukraine spoke about how “40 brave Jews” celebrated Sukkot together despite bombings and curfews. Rabbi Nochum Tamarin, who serves small communities, got a standing ovation following a video about his work during the war.

A traditional roll call of the emissaries by location paused for special shoutouts to the two countries that appear headed for a long winter of war. “Let us welcome the shluchim to the country where it all began, the shluchim to Russia,” the emcee said as music and clapping broke out. The movement was based in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in what was then the Russian Empire.

After the single emissary in Uganda was recognized, the next emissary got a similar ovation: “Please join me in welcoming the shluchim from the birthplace of our dear rebbe, the country of Ukraine!”

The emphasis on Ukraine’s sovereignty was notable for a religious movement that has been in a delicate position since Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24. Chabad has historic roots in both countries and they are home to the largest number of emissaries outside of the United States and Israel, with 202 in Russia joining the 177 in Ukraine. In keeping with Chabad’s ethos that rabbis remain in the community where they are sent, through thick and thin, the Russian rabbis have continued their operations amid pressure from the government to back the war.

The post Thousands of Chabad rabbis convene in New York amid a banner year for their movement 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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