(JTA) — Today, we will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We will represent the United States and honor the lives of 6 million Jews and millions of others murdered. While at Auschwitz, we will also express gratitude to the survivors and speak of the lessons learned in that era of terror.
As we reflect on history, we know that the bigotry that fueled the Holocaust did not end when the camps were liberated. Antisemitism may be considered one of the oldest forms of hatred, but its insidious impact and its deep dangers are not relegated to the past.
Antisemitism is increasing at home and abroad. Hatred of Jewish people simply for being Jews is real and rising. We can only stop this scourge if governments and community leaders declare it unacceptable and inconsistent with our values.
With that in mind, we will convene community leaders in Poland to discuss efforts underway to combat antisemitism. Then, we will travel to Berlin, where we will meet with foreign government officials, who are also dedicated to turning the tide of hate. Our goal is to deepen our relationships with European partners — in and out of government — to combat the rise in antisemitism.
We can learn from each other and share our best practices. We can lead through our shared values of equality, diversity, and human rights. This moment calls on us to take action, together, based on these values.
It’s too often that we hear stories about attacks on Jewish communities. We see vandalism, threats, and violent, hateful rhetoric. People used to be afraid to say the ugly epithets and lies out loud. Now they are literally screaming them.
In 2018, a horrific antisemitic assault stole the lives of 11 innocent people at the Tree of Life synagogue. In 2019, a gunman opened fire at California’s Chabad of Poway, killing one and wounding three more people in an attack motivated by antisemitism. And just last year, in Los Angeles, we saw antisemitic banners hung over a freeway.
Heinous and senseless acts of violence bring pain to the Jewish community. We’re heard from parents who are worried about sending their children to preschool at their Jewish community center because they fear for their safety. They must explain to their children why the synagogue they attend has an armed guard at the entrance while the church across the street has none.
In December, we both attended a roundtable at the White House convening Jewish leaders in the United States. We spoke about the impact antisemitism is having on their communities including issues of safety, education, and accountability. Under the leadership of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, we have increased funding for physical security of nonprofits and synagogues, and appointed leaders to focus on hate crimes and track and fight antisemitism.
Through a whole-of-government approach, the Biden-Harris Administration is crafting a broad-based national plan to address antisemitism. The first mandate of the interagency is to create a U.S. National Action Plan on Antisemitism.
But we know there is more work to be done. We each need to do our part to educate those around us and instill knowledge in the next generation of leaders to help fight antisemitism. We cannot and will not allow this to be normalized and politicized. We all have a responsibility to speak out and make clear that antisemitism is wrong, just like every other prejudice. We must all condemn antisemites as dangerous and also call out those who don’t. In the face of evil, there is no neutrality. Standing silent is not an option. Indeed, silence is what allows vile oppressors to thrive and this malicious virus of hate to grow.
It is time — yet again — for us to replace the silence, of the past and present, with a chorus of voices making antisemitism a relic and this horrific hatred a thing of the past.
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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.
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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