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For Jewish law authorities, the coronavirus has caused an unprecedented flurry of questions

Covid 191By BEN HARRIS April 3, 2020 (JTA) — As the coronavirus pandemic forces Jews around the world to contemplate a Passover holiday in which large family gatherings will be all but impossible, an unusual question posed to a group of Israeli rabbis led to an extraordinary answer.
The question was whether it might be permissible for families to use internet-enabled videoconferencing to celebrate the Passover seder together even as they are sequestered in separate homes. Orthodox Jewish practice normally prohibits the use of electronics on the Sabbath and Jewish festivals, but might the unprecedented restrictions suddenly thrust upon billions of people permit an exception?



Remarkably, 14 Sephardic rabbis last week answered in the affirmative.
Some conditions were attached. The computer would have to be enabled prior to the onset of Passover and remain untouched for the duration of the holiday. And the leniency would only apply to the current emergency.
But given the unique importance of the seder ritual and the extreme conditions now in effect, the rabbis wrote, the use of videoconferencing technology is permitted “to remove sadness from adults and the elderly, to give them the motivation to continue to fight for their lives, and to avoid depression and mental weakness which could bring them to despair of life.”

The coronavirus pandemic has upended so many parts of life that it’s perhaps little surprise that it’s also having a significant impact in the field of Jewish law, or halacha. The sudden impossibility of once routine facets of observant Jewish life has generated a surge in questions never considered before — and modern technology means that Jews the world over are more able than ever to ask those questions and share their answers.
“I don’t think there’s ever been anything like this because of the proliferation of questions and because of the extraordinary means of communications,” said David Berger, a historian and dean of the Graduate School of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University.

Among the questions rabbis have had to confront during the corona crisis: Is it permissible to constitute a Jewish prayer quorum over internet-enabled videoconference? Can married couples be physically intimate if the woman cannot immerse in a ritual bath because they are closed for public health reasons? How should burials be handled if authorities prohibit Jewish rituals around the preparation of bodies? Can synagogue services be livestreamed on Shabbat?
Rabbis are also beginning to consider some agonizing possibilities. Several Conservative movement authorities have published papers about what Jewish ethics has to say about medical triage, anticipating a moment when doctors may have to make difficult choices about who gets treatment.
“This has been ‘yomam valaylah’ — it’s been day and night,” said Rabbi Elliott Dorff, the co-chair of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, the Conservative movement’s authority on questions of Jewish law. “Once this is all over, this is going to be a really interesting case study of how halacha evolves quickly when it needs to.”

In Romania, the government’s recent declaration that any coronavirus fatalities had to be buried immediately presented Chief Rabbi Rafael Shaffer with a tortuous dilemma: What if a Jewish person died on Shabbat? Burying the body immediately would have resulted in a clear violation of the Jewish Sabbath, but allowing the body to be cremated is also a severe violation of Jewish law.
“The burial should be done on Shabbat if necessary,” Shaffer told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after consulting with rabbinic authorities in Israel. “If it’s the only possibility to avoid cremation, then it should be done on Shabbat by non-Jews.”
For the moment, that situation remains in the realm of the theoretical. But other halachic questions are of urgent necessity. Many of the recent opinions have explicitly invoked the principle of “she’at had’chak” — literally “time of pressure,” a concept in Jewish law that permits a reliance on less authoritative opinions in emergency situations.
“No one thinks you can permit biblical violations for a pressure that doesn’t amount to threatening lives,” said Rabbi Aryeh Klapper, the Orthodox dean of the Center for Modern Torah Scholarship. “But maybe you can rely on less authoritative understandings of what the biblical prohibition is.”

The Conservative movement, which tends to take a more flexible line on matters of Jewish law than Orthodox authorities, has supported a number of leniencies under the rubric of she’at had’chak.
In March, Dorff and his law committee co-chair, Rabbi Pamela Barmash, issued an opinion permitting a prayer quorum to be constituted over internet-enabled videoconference. That opinion, which temporarily suspended a nearly unanimous 2001 ruling that such a quorum was not permissible, would enable the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish by people isolated in their homes. Common practice is that the mourner’s prayer can only be said if 10 Jewish adults are gathered in one physical location.
The law committee also has expressed support for loosening various restrictions around physical touch between married couples should Jewish ritual baths be forced to close. Couples that closely observe Jewish law traditionally refrain from any form of touch for the period of the woman’s menstruation and for a week after, resuming contact only after immersion in a mikvah.

But the committee posted a letter on its website this week from Rabbi Joshua Heller asserting that under certain circumstances, and only for the period of the coronavirus crisis, a woman could resume sexual relations with her husband after showering in 11.25 gallons of water — a rough approximation of the Talmudic measure of 40 kabim.
“I think we are learning from earlier historical epochs of crisis and taking inspiration from the flexibility that our predecessors showed,” said Rabbi Daniel Nevins, a committee member and the dean of the rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

To be sure, not all rabbis have accepted these leniencies.
After Rabbi Daniel Sperber, a liberal Orthodox rabbi in Israel, issued an opinion permitting some forms of physical touch between married couples should ritual baths become inaccessible, another Israeli Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, called the opinion a “complete mistake.”
Israel’s two chief rabbis, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, said the opinion permitting videoconferencing at the seder was “unqualified.”
And Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a leading Orthodox authority at Yeshiva University, wrote recently that a prayer quorum could not be constituted by participants standing on nearby porches — even if they could all see each other.
“The 10 men must all be standing in the same room,” Schachter wrote.

But Schachter, who has personally published no less than a dozen opinions on matters related to coronavirus, has shown flexibility in other areas.
Schachter has ruled that a patient discharged from a hospital on Shabbat can be driven home by a family member because it’s dangerous to remain in the hospital longer than necessary and taxis carry their own risks of coronavirus transmission. He has said that isolated individuals who suffer from psychological conditions that might endanger their lives if they were unable to communicate with family may use phone or internet to communicate on a Jewish holiday.

And in a ruling that has wide applicability at a time when many people are preparing to host Passover meals for the first time, he suggested a workaround for the obligation of immersing utensils in a ritual bath before using them. Since baths are now closed for such purposes, Schachter ruled that one could use the utensils without immersion by first declaring them legally ownerless — a workaround that would normally not be permitted.
Many rabbis have expressed concern that such loosening of the rules, even if expressly done only to address a pressing (and presumably temporary) need, might nevertheless create new norms of behavior that will outlast the current crisis. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time.
According to a recent article by Rabbi Elli Fisher, during the 19th-century cholera epidemic, there were so many mourners that Rabbi Akiva Eger, who led the Jewish community in Poznan, Poland, ruled that it was permissible for many mourners to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish simultaneously. At the time, the practice was that only one person recited Kaddish at a time.
Given the numbers of the dead, that practice would have left people with few opportunities to recite the mourner’s prayer. The practice of reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish as a group remains the dominant one in synagogues today.
“I do think that our people are wise enough and insightful enough to understand the difference between this crisis situation and normal situations

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Popularity of Online Casino Games in Canada

In recent years, the popularity of online casino games in Canada has surged, captivating the attention of a diverse audience seeking thrilling entertainment. With the convenience of accessing these games from the comfort of home, Canadians are exploring the vast world of virtual casinos that offer an extensive array of gaming options.

Diverse Selection of Casino Games:

One of the key factors contributing to the widespread appeal of online casino games in Canada is the vast selection available. There are hundreds of top casino games online, covering every genre imaginable. From classic table games like poker and blackjack to immersive slot machines with captivating themes, Canadian players have a plethora of options to choose from.

The Rise of Online Slots:

Among the various casino games, online slots have witnessed a significant surge in popularity. The ease of gameplay and the potential for substantial payouts make slots a preferred choice for both seasoned players and newcomers. With themes ranging from ancient civilisations to popular movies and TV shows, online slots offer a diverse and engaging experience for players of all preferences.

Convenience and Accessibility:

The accessibility of online casino games is a key driver behind their growing popularity in Canada. Players no longer need to travel to a physical casino to experience the thrill of gambling. Instead, they can enjoy their favourite games with just a few clicks on their computer or mobile device. This convenience has opened up the world of online gambling to a broader audience, attracting both seasoned gamblers and those trying their luck for the first time.

Technology Advancements:

Advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in enhancing the online casino gaming experience. High-quality graphics, realistic sound effects, and seamless gameplay contribute to an immersive environment that mirrors the excitement of traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. Additionally, the integration of live dealer games brings an authentic touch to online gaming, allowing players to interact with real dealers in real-time.

Regulatory Environment:

The regulatory environment in Canada has also contributed to the popularity of online casino games. While each province has its own regulations, the overall legal framework allows for a thriving online gambling industry. This has given rise to reputable online casinos that prioritise player safety and adhere to strict industry standards, ensuring a fair and secure gaming environment.

Social Aspect and Community Engagement:

Online casinos in Canada are not just about individual gameplay; they also provide a platform for social interaction. Many online casinos feature chat rooms and community forums where players can connect, share experiences, and discuss strategies. This sense of community adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the gaming experience, making online casinos a social activity beyond the solitary pursuit of winning.

The popularity of online casino games in Canada is undoubtedly on the rise, driven by a combination of diverse gaming options, convenience, technological advancements, and a favourable regulatory environment. With a wide array of top casino games available at their fingertips, Canadians can indulge in the excitement of gambling from the comfort of their homes. As the online casino industry continues to evolve, it’s clear that virtual gaming is here to stay and will likely continue to captivate audiences across the country.

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Life in Israel four months after October seventh

Orly & Solly Dreman


(Special to the JP&N) Feb. 1, 2024

In every news broadcast that we hear that “The IDF spokesman is permitted to announce”… then every person in Israel sits down, holds their breath and waits to hear the names of the soldiers fallen in action that day. This causes deep sadness to every family in Israel. For example, I found out the son of my T.V technician was killed and my handyman’s son was seriously injured. Death in Israel is so personal.

Our synagogue recently mourned twenty seven year old Inbar Heiman who was kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova music nature party on October seventh and was murdered in captivity. She was a gifted young woman filled with love and compassion. She was a creative artist that was supposed to enter her senior year at university this academic year. We had prayed and wished that she would return until her family received the tragic news of her death.

When we made personal medical visits to the Hadassah hospital, we often heard helicopters overhead bringing in wounded soldiers from Gaza. In the surgery department we saw a reserve soldier being released after six weeks in the hospital. His wife and newborn baby were with him. The department had a touching farewell gathering with Israeli flags, music and cakes. This is how every soldier who leaves the hospital is treated. More than fourteen thousand civilians and soldiers were hospitalized since October seventh with most of the injuries being in the hands and legs, burns, head and eye injuries.

We seldom are in the mood to go to a restaurant these days, but if we do, such outings are accompanied by guilt feelings. Is it right to go when our people are suffering?- the hostages are starving. We all wear the metal disc that says “Bring Them Home now- Our hearts are captured in Gaza”. They occupy our thoughts pervasively. Some of the hostages have suffered untreated gunshot wounds and the hygiene conditions are poor, many of them not showering for four months, sitting thirty meters under the ground in dark tunnels, with no electricity and suffering from extreme malnutrition. Some of them have diseases like Celiac, Asthma, Colitis, Diabetes, Fibromialgia, heart diseases and allergies. They are getting no medications and time is running out for them. Twenty five of them have already perished. What sort of civil society will we be if we abandon them?

Whole families are recruited for combat duty in different areas of the country. It might be a brother and a sister fighting in Gaza or a father in Judea and Samaria while another brother is fighting on the Lebanese border. If you ask soldiers who have lost their siblings in combat if they wish to go back to fight after the shiva, they do not hesitate, even though it is so hard on the parents. This demonstrates the dedication of Israeli citizens and their wish to complete the task of exterminating the Hamas, while at the same time knowing their family member did not die in vain. The grief is intergenerational and we are even acquainted with grandparents whose grandchildren are in combat and they are given the opportunity to go to workshops that help them with their anxiety.

In a Knesset Committee it was recently reported That many survivors from the Nova party have taken their own lives. Others continue to experience the trauma of the horrific events. They cannot sleep nor eat. Many were sexually abused and even though they were not murdered they continue to experience the pain- the sights, voices- cries for help and the fear. They are in a sense also fighters who awaken to a new existence everyday and continue to fight for their existence.

At the military cemeteries there is one funeral process after another and the families are asked to leave the site to make room to prepare for the next funeral. Wounded soldiers arrive in ambulances, on hospital beds or wheelchairs in order to eulogize their fallen comrades.

The reservists who return home after months of combat are having troubles adjusting because this war, like the War of Independence, is very meaningful. It is the most justified war our homeland has encountered. Upon their return there is a big downfall in physical and mental energy. A stranger cannot understand this. These soldiers were disconnected from normal civilian routine for a long time and they had difficult and intimate experiences with their combat mates. They have lost friends and did not have time to mourn. They must release the stress they were exposed to. They are back in body but not always in spirit. They also might be recruited again in the near future to the southern or the northern front, the war is not over. Many men who were injured worry about their future fertility and sexual functioning.

They entertain such existential thoughts as would it be better that I am killed in action before I have children and leave no descendants, or losing my life and leaving behind orphans. Dozens of children remain orphaned from both parents. They also have witnessed their family members being murdered and their homes burned down. Years ago, Solly treated and did a follow up on a family where both parents were murdered in a terrorist attack. Even though the children were adopted by loving relatives they suffered from survivor guilt and this expressed itself in such phenomena as dropping out of school, turning into juvenile delinquents and having trouble in intimate relations.

The evacuees from the south and the north are dispersed in hundreds of hotels in the center of the country. Hence, they have no permanent home, have no privacy and many have no work, nothing to do for months on end and experience feelings of powerlessness. Some pupils are not capable of returning to their temporary schools because of anxieties, depression and fear. Some teenagers have turned to drugs and alcohol which increases violence and vandalism. For them school is experienced as a waste of time. Their friends were murdered, some still have relatives in captivity and everything is falling apart. They also experience sleep disruptions and are in no mood to study. For them life is a living hell. Some families are moved from city to city several times. The children do not have friends in the new locations and they feel lonely and express a lack of social support.

In the realm of parenting many mothers even those who were NOT directly exposed to the dramatic events reported that their children cry more (eighty three percent). Others say the children have difficulties sleeping (seventy three percent), have concentration problems (fifty four percent) and many children are developing eating disorders. In sixty percent the anxiety of the children is so high it hurts functioning. For example, they are often afraid to leave the house. Other disturbances were reported such as bed-wetting, insisting on sleeping with their parents and acts of anger and aggression.

We, as Israelis are also concerned with our Jewish brethren who are experiencing thousands of antisemitic incidents, higher than the number of all incidents in the last decade. There are many Jews in the diaspora who are considering emigration to Israel after experiencing antisemitic events such as seeing their synagogue, Hebrew school, kosher butcher and other Jewish businesses being stoned and burned. For them Israel is their safest haven.

On a more optimistic note the Jewish people have prevailed over thousands of years despite terrible events. In spite of the uncertainty not everything is lost. We are united and strong. The soldiers are full of motivation and good values. I firmly believe that if we are patient and persist, the Jewish people and the state of Israel will prevail.

Orly Dreman is a 10th generation Israeli. Her cousin, Ruvi Rivlin, was a former president of Israel. Orly’s father was a diplomat who served both in North America and in Europe.
By profession Orly is an English teacher. She has dealt with children suffering from ADD.
Since childhood, Orly has been involved in voluntary work with the disabled, the challenged, new immigrants, the elderly and others. 

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The Critical Job Roles in Online Business

More companies than ever are embracing remote working. As of 2023, around 16% of businesses have a fully remote working model, with many more adopting a hybrid one. All of this should come as welcome news to anyone looking for a better work-life balance. As well as saying goodbye to grueling commutes, remote employees can embrace lucrative salary packages, generous benefits, and more. Ready to reap the benefits of online work yourself? Below are just a handful of remote working opportunities to consider.

Video Game and Casino Platform Development

Whether it’s creating Canadian online slots for real money casinos or an open-world epic, great games need talented developers. Thankfully, this is one sector where the typical rules of the 9-5 don’t apply. In the US, an experienced game developer can expect to take home around $103,000 annually. For a midweight casino games developer, a starting salary of around $65,000 is fairly respectable.

Software Engineering

If you have a background in software engineering, you’re in luck. Currently, it’s one of the highest-paid online roles around, with an average salary of $108,000. There’s no one size-fits-all remit for a software engineer, but typical roles include designing applications, testing, and creating system upgrades.

UX Design

User experience is becoming increasingly important as companies strive to make their digital products more accessible. Unsurprisingly, there’s a high demand for user experience designers, with many positions now advertised as remote-first roles. You’ll need to have sufficient software and development experience to excel here. What’s more, you’ll need to work closely with clients to meet the needs of the consumer. If you think you could do well in a role like this, expect an annual salary in the region of $97,000.

Web Design

One role you’ll never struggle to find is that of a web designer. It’s a pretty broad field, so expect a lot of disparity when it comes to job remits and starting salaries. At a minimum, a web designer worth their salt should be able to create accessible websites for a wide range of clients. You’ll also need to be familiar with coding languages and testing. Less experienced web designers can expect to command a starting salary of around $43,000. If you’ve been working professionally for more than a few years and have a solid portfolio to back you up, you can easily negotiate twice that amount.

Entry-Level Online Roles

For digital natives, remote working will come as second nature. Don’t have the skills to land a web designer or developer job? Not to worry. There are an increasing number of entry-level remote roles out there.

Customer service roles are readily available, with positions to cater to all experience levels. At the bottom rung of the ladder, you might be tasked with making sales calls or resolving complaints from customers. A customer service agent can comfortably make around $40-50,000 a year. If you operate on a commission basis or can take advantage of a generous bonus scheme, you could easily double this annually.

Is Remote Working Here To Stay?

Even as many businesses encourage workers back to the office, there’s an deniable upward trend in the number of remote and hybrid-only roles on the job market. Video conferencing technology and collaboration tools are making it easier than ever for remote teams to remain connected. Meanwhile, company executives are finding it hard to argue with significantly reduced overheads and increased productivity.

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