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Three-time war veteran and longtime JTA correspondent Tom Tugend dies at 97



(JTA) — It was the kind of story that Tom Tugend loved to tell, except he lived it.

He left Berlin, aged 13, on Adolf Hitler’s birthday, in 1939, driven out by the ideology reflected in the swastikas on the banners fluttering in the streets. Six years later, he was back in Germany as an American soldier interrogating the Nazis who had driven his family out.

“I had been a refugee a few years before,” Tugend told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2021. “They kicked me out, they were the masters. And suddenly they couldn’t be nice enough, and couldn’t do enough for us. And of course, each one, some of his best friends were Jews.”

Tom Tugend, who fought in three wars — two for the United States and one for Israel — spent decades as Jewish media’s gentleman correspondent, covering, among other beats, Hollywood.

He died at his home in Sherman Oaks, California, on Wednesday at 97, his daughter Alina said. 

“His authenticity came through to anyone who knew him,” Alina Tugend told JTA Thursday. “He was a hero to many people.” 

Tugend was unfailingly kind and soft-spoken, including in an interview last year with the JTA, in which he shared story after story, from firing swastika-emblazoned anti-tank guns in Egypt to his experience facing antisemitism as a young German immigrant in the United States.

Born in 1925, Tugend was raised in a well-to-do German Jewish family. His father, Gustav Tugendreich, a respected pediatrician, understood the danger of Hitler’s rise and left for the United States in the mid-1930s after securing a lectureship at Bryn Mawr College. 

When he was able to bring them over, he urged his family to follow him, but life remained good enough in Germany that they resisted until it was almost too late — they left four months before World War II started.

It was Hitler’s 50th birthday, April 20, and the city’s trees and poles were draped with massive swastika banners. “Gee, I mean, they may not like the Jews, but it’s very nice of them to give us such a nice sendoff,” Tugend recalled last year with a laugh.

The transition to life in the United States was not easy. The family encountered antisemitism in their new home.

In eighth grade, for example, Tugend’s class read Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” which famously includes Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, as a main character. One of Tugend’s classmates, whom he had considered a friend, raised his hand and asked the teacher, “Wouldn’t you rather buy from an American than a Jew?”

“I don’t generally talk about it because it goes so counter, it sounds almost disloyal that you say I had a more difficult time initially in the United States than I had in Germany,” Tugend recalled.

He was restless, and joined the army when he was 18 — where he found more antisemitism. He was deployed in March 1944 and spent time in Marseille helping the French army fight SS units. When his commanders learned he spoke fluent German, they sent him to that country to interview Nazis.

He returned to the United States in March 1946 but remained unsettled. Two years later he saw an opportunity.

“Since a Jewish state is established only every 2,000 years, I was afraid I might not be around the next time,” he said, so he enlisted in the nascent and notoriously strapped Israeli army, which got its material where it could.

Tugend served as a squad leader in an English-speaking anti-tank unit, where he wound up using German guns that featured large swastikas on the barrel. 

When that war ended, Tugend returned to California to complete his journalism degree. That stay was short-lived, too — he was drafted again in 1950 but was spared combat. Instead, he went to San Francisco to edit an Army newspaper.

After Korea, Tugend said, he ran out of wars. He shifted his focus to writing. He spent 30 years working at the University of California, Los Angeles and also had a parallel career in Jewish journalism, starting in 1964. He would go on to write for the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, and he spent decades as the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s West Coast correspondent.

Lisa Hostein, the longtime former JTA editor-in-chief and current executive editor of Hadassah Magazine, remembered meeting Tugend on a Jewish press trip to Argentina in 1986. She told JTA last year that Tugend was “always the consummate professional and gentleman.”

Over the years, Tugend was honored by the Greater Los Angeles Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. He also received a lifetime achievement award from the American Jewish Press Association.

His last published article was last month in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles; it was an obituary for Edward Robin, a Los Angeles philanthropist and businessman, who was 80, 17 years Tugend’s junior.

Weeks before his own death, Tugend infused the article with his gentle and generous warmth. “A mere listing of his leadership roles in Jewish organizations worldwide would call for a book-length article,” Tugend wrote about Robin. 

Honored at last month’s Jewish Journal gala, which he attended, Tugend never lost his love of writing. “You still get a certain kick in seeing your byline,” he told JTA last year.

Tugend is survived by his wife of 66 years, Rachel, and their daughters Alina Tugend, Orlee Raymond and Ronit Austgen.

The post Three-time war veteran and longtime JTA correspondent Tom Tugend dies at 97 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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