(JTA) — American Reform rabbis joined Women of the Wall for the group’s monthly prayer service at the Western Wall, weeks after members of the Israeli government introduced, then quickly withdrew, a law that would have banned their activity.
In addition, police intervened to stop Orthodox counter-protesters who tried to disrupt a separate prayer service at a space allocated for egalitarian worship.
Every month for more than a decade, a group called Women of the Wall tries to bring a Torah to the women’s section of the holy site, known in Hebrew as the Kotel, despite objections from the rabbi who oversees the space. Their prayer services occur on the first day of each Hebrew month, when the Torah is traditionally read, and are opposed by Orthodox leaders who see the services as a desecration of the holy space.
Wednesday marked the first new Jewish month since legislation that would have criminalized egalitarian prayer and immodest dress at the Western Wall was proposed, then quickly walked back amid a widespread outcry.
Reform rabbis from the United States were among the crowds of people joining and supporting the Women of the Wall demonstration. The Reform movement brought more than 200 rabbis to Israel this week for a convention, held in the country for the first time since the pandemic. Their Israeli colleagues joined them for a march and the prayer service.
“As a woman, a rabbi, the only woman chief executive in the CCAR’s 134-year history & as a proud feminist, I’m bound by Jewish values to support not only Women of the Wall but to proudly hold the Torah for all women told they cannot worship freely at the Kotel,” Rabbi Hara Person, the head of the movement’s rabbinical association, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, said in a statement.
Gilad Kariv, a Reform rabbi who is a member of Knesset, Israel’s parliament, played the role he has since being elected in 2021. The Orthodox rabbi who oversees the Western Wall Plaza has sought to block women from bringing Torahs by having guards remove them during the security screening at the plaza’s entrance. As a member of parliament, Kariv does not have to undergo those screenings and can bring the Torah scroll in.
Today, Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis & Rabbi Erica Asch, President Elect, with Women of the Wall, MARAM rabbis & #Reformrabbis from across America & around the world joined together at the Kotel to carry the Torah & pray openly. pic.twitter.com/Zb6SEequwC
— CCAR (@ReformRabbis) February 22, 2023
While another Knesset member from a haredi Orthodox party tried to block Kariv’s delivery of the Torah, the prayer service took place as planned. Teenagers associated with the far-right Noam Party heckled the women, as well as men and women praying together at a separate service in an egalitarian space administered by the Conservative-Masorti movement. But police intervened to restrain the Noam protesters, according to local media reports.
The police pledged to deploy additional officers on the first day of the month in the wake of an incident in which Orthodox protesters disrupted the bar mitzvah of an American boy last summer in the egalitarian prayer section, and police officers did not intervene.
An agreement approved by the Israeli government in 2016 would have expanded a the egalitarian prayer area. That deal, however, was suspended the following year after backlash from haredi parties. The Israeli Supreme Court, which the current government wants to disempower, is due to discuss whether the agreement must be implemented at an upcoming hearing.
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.
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.”
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.)
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.
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