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Gwen Secter1By BERNIE BELLAN
Readers of The Jewish Post & News may be familiar with the long and circuitous process that has taken the members of the Gwen Secter Centre through an agonizing journey, wondering whether they would be forced to abandon their long-time home at 1588 Main Street.

Back in October we were told that an “angel” donor had come forward with an offer to bail the centre out of the dilemma into which it had been thrust when, over four years ago, the  owner of the building (The National Council of Jewish Women) insisted that the building had to be sold, supposedly so that the NCJW could move on to its “next big project” – something to do with addictions.
While an interim deal was struck in 2012 that allowed the Gwen Secter Centre to remain at its current location, that deal was set to expire this month and efforts to extend the deal proved fruitless. (All attempts to discern what was behind the NCJW’s determination to sell the building were also met with obfuscation. Questions about the NCJW’s apparent financial predicament which, this writer constantly alleged was the real reason for the sale of the building on Main Street, were not answered by a spokesperson for NCJW.)
So, while the members of Gwen Secter had been saved from being forced into exile – like the Jews from Eretz Yisroel, we were told that the name of the angel donor would be kept secret. What we did know is that the individual was a woman, and that she was a relative of one of Gwen Secter’s members. (That hardly narrowed it down.)
We were then informed that there would be a rededication ceremony on Sunday, May 15. The suspense built! What would the new name of the Gwen Secter Centre be?

Gwen Secter GlowAfter months of wondering what the new name of the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre would be, we got our answer May 15. The new name of The Gwen Secter Centre is... (drum roll:) THE GWEN SECTER CREATIVE LIVING CENTRE at Syd Glow Place. No explanation was given - or will be given, we were told, for the reference to Syd Glow. Talk about an anticlimax! So, if I was wrong when I suggested it was Donald Trump who was the donor, that the centre was going to become home to a north end Reform congregation and renamed “Trump Temple”, who was the donor then? (I also asked Marilyn Regiec whether it might be Bernie Madoff, trying to clear his good name, or maybe even Ernest Rady, if he had some spare cash left over after donating $30 million to the U of M medical school, after realizing it was only going to cost him $23.6 million in US dollars. Apparently I was wrong on both counts.)

Well, as much as the people who were involved with the rededication of the centre wished to keep the name of the donor a secret, it didn’t take very long for this writer to figure out who it was.
But – out of respect for all concerned, I’m not going to disclose that name.
Here is what Karen Grant, president of the Gwen Secter Centre, had to say, in announcing to the audience that filled the centre for the renaming ceremony, and explaining how the new name came about: “We had an amazing donor come forward – who wants to remain anonymous…I can say two things about this amazing donor: Number one it was her request that the sign be that way – and we will offer no explanation as to why; and the other thing we can tell you about the anonymous donor is it’s not Donald Trump.”
So – while one chapter in this ongoing – and suspenseful saga, has now come to an end, we’ll all be left waiting anxiously for the next chapter to unfold: The creation of a new addictions centre by the NCJW and the Jewish Child and Family Service. If it’s true that the angel donor gave $900,000 for the purchase of the building, that ought to allow for the creation of a very nice addictions centre unless, of course, some of that $900,000 is really intended to bail out the NCJW from its financial jam.
By the way, there’s some corollary fallout from the nastiness that developed between the NCJW and the Gwen Secter Centre. The NCJW was ordered to vacate its office, which had been located in the centre, back in November. We are now told that NCJW has found temporary quarters in the Oreck Centre on Century. Doesn’t that “suck”?