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Why American Eagle now has a mezuzah at its Times Square flagship



(New York Jewish Week) — American Eagle Outfitters now has a mezuzah on the front door of its flagship Times Square location, courtesy of Chabad, the Hasidic outreach movement.

The parchment with Jewish holy text in an oblong metallic case, traditionally a marker of a Jewish home or establishment, was affixed on the apparel brand’s door as part of the recently concluded convention of CTeen, Chabad’s youth group. At a concert in Times Square on Saturday night, thousands of teens from more than 30 countries gathered to sing Jewish songs — and witness the mezuzah being hung.

Out of all the retailers in Times Square, how did Chabad choose American Eagle? 

That question has proven surprisingly hard to answer, as representatives of neither Chabad nor American Eagle agreed to speak on the record about the relationship between the Hasidic movement and the apparel brand. 

But a clue to the reason lies with American Eagle CEO Jay L. Schottenstein, a Jewish philanthropist whose family has donated tens of millions of dollars to a range of Jewish organizations. ArtScroll’s translations of the Talmud, for example, bear the name “Schottenstein,” and the family has given to a range of Jewish institutions in Columbus, Ohio, where the Schottenstein family is based. American Eagle’s revenue for fiscal year 2022 was projected at nearly $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Chabad is among the beneficiaries of the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Foundation, which gave more than $200,000 to the movement’s institutions in 2020, the most recent year for which tax documents are available. Since 2014, American Eagle has also given Chabad access to the retail giant’s gigantic advertising screens in Times Square. 

Rabbi Aryeh Klattman, a Chabad rabbi from Columbus, told the New York Jewish Week that American Eagle “is now the most inclusive brand in America” due to its hanging of the mezuzah. 

“I salute them,” Klattman said. “It meant so much to every teenager who was there. It was an expression of Jewish pride.” 

Stefan Schiff, a senior and tennis star at Bexley High School in the Columbus area, was the conference attendee who placed the Jewish ritual object on the store’s doorpost.  

“This is a big honor for me,” Schiff said in a statement. “I am proud to be a part of such a tremendous display of Jewish pride together with my Jewish brothers and sisters from around the world.”

Chabad said that the ritual object is “Times Square’s first-ever mezuzah,” a bold claim that is almost certainly inaccurate. The New York Jewish Week did not determine conclusively whether a mezuzah is, at present, affixed to any doors in one of the busiest public spaces of the most Jewish city in the country. But less than a decade ago, a building on 40th Street and Seventh Avenue was home to a synagogue, the Garment Center Congregation. That building’s address currently boasts the Margaritaville Resort Times Square. (The synagogue, incidentally, is suing the building’s developer).

Additionally, which set of blocks, exactly, counts as “Times Square” is up for debate, though an expansive definition proposed last year by New York City itself includes parts of the Garment District, which was once heavily Jewish. Those borders also include at least one synagogue.

Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, the Chabad director of outreach, told the New York Jewish Week that Chabad “sent out a couple of the guys to scout the area” to search for a mezuzah.

But Kotlarsky acknowledged that the claim might be debunked.

“We’re walking around Times Square, and in Duffy Square, and we didn’t see any,” he said. “Nobody ever claimed to have put up the first mezuzah.  We are the first to claim it. If somebody came to me and said, “‘I put up the first mezuzah,’ I would say, ‘You’re right.’”

“That’s not what’s important to me,” Kotlarsky added. “What’s important was we were able to do that and the teens were able to connect with it.”  

The event also took place at the end of a Shabbat that a small white supremacist group in Iowa had promoted as  a “Day of Hate,” prompting police warnings. The day ended with no discernible uptick in antisemitic activity, both in New York and across the country.  

“This day was designated by other people as the ‘Day of Hate,’” Klattman said. “The best response to darkness is light and love.”

The post Why American Eagle now has a mezuzah at its Times Square flagship 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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