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Israeli Consulate to screen incredible film about Israeli photographer Amos Nachoum – produced by Nancy Spielberg

Israeli underwater photographer
Amous Nachoum (right)
had a lifelong obsession
with photographing polar bears
in their natural environment – underwater!

By BERNIE BELLAN Two and a half years ago we published a story by Martin Zeilig about a new documentary produced by Nancy Spielberg about an incredibly brave Israeli deep sea photographer by the name of Amos Nachoum. From April 22-29 you can watch that amazing documentary at Click on Read more to find out about how this film was made and how you can interact with the film’s director, Yonatan Nir on April 29.


Here is the information we were sent by the Israeli Consulate in Toronto: “This film follows the journey of world-renowned underwater wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum in his effort to photograph a polar bear up close while swimming with it – an incredibly dangerous and nearly impossible feat – all the while painting a nuanced picture of Nachoum’s complex life and relationships. Nachoum is the only underwater wildlife photographer in the world to attempt (and succeed at) this shoot, with the help of a couple local Inuit. The film also reminds viewers of the disruptions these polar bears experience in their ecosystems due to environmental changes, and stresses the importance of preserving it.”

On April 29 the Consulate will be holding a webinar with Yonatan Nir. Register here:

Here is the story that Martin Zeilig wrote in 2019 about the film and about his interview with the film’s director:PICTURE OF HIS LIFE (Directors: Yonatan Nir and Dani Menkin Hey Jude Productions Playmount Productions– Executive Producer: Nancy Spielberg 2019)
review/interview By Martin Zeilig
At one point in this remarkable and awe-inspiring documentary film, world renowned Israeli wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum is interviewed while sitting on a rock on the barren shores of Baker Lake, Nunavut.
“Believing in yourself, and going on with it, no matter what the obstacle, this all the power of being here. This is life,” the stocky 65 year old says with a deep-seated emotion in his voice, while raising a clinched fist in fierce determination as he shifts his gaze slightly to the camera.
It’s a stirring moment.
The film follows Nachoum in the Canadian Arctic, as he prepares for his decisive challenge- to photograph a polar bear underwater, while swimming alongside it.
“It’s his final remaining photographic dream,” says the film’s publicity material.
As the journey unfolds, so does an intimate and painful story of dedication, sacrifice and personal redemption.
“Amos to me is one of the best ambassadors of the ocean,” Jean Michel Cousteau, the celebrated Oceanographic Explorer, says in an off camera commentary. “He takes huge amount of risks to bring those images, which no one has ever been able to capture.”
“He comes back with images that no one has been able to get,” adds Adam Ravetch, Emmy Award winning cinematographer, who is part of the team filming the documentary. “He is probably the best underwater still photographer in the world.”
Marine biologist Sylvia Earle, the female chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, also attests to Nachoum’s prowess as an underwater wildlife photographer.
We see some of the striking shots that Amos has captured over the years: an open jawed leopard seal moments before it’s about to chomp into a penguin in the waters of Antarctica; amazing (and chilling) close-ups of great white sharks; blue whales; anacondas in the Amazon; snow leopards in the Himalayas; a huge crocodile resting on the bottom of an African river, and much more.
The film’s US premiere was July 25 at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, with a follow-up screening July 28 and a separate screening in San Rafael on August 2, noted an article earlier this summer in The Times of Israel (In Arctic, polar bear is final frontier for famed Israeli wildlife photographer). Earlier this year, the film debuted at Docaviv in Tel Aviv, with Nachoum attending the screening.
‘“Be calm and collected with wildlife,”’ Nachoum, who was interviewed by The Times of Israel, said in the article. ‘“The biggest mistake all photographers do is be quite aggressive.”’
Nachoum has a fractious relationship with his father. On a visit home, the father belittles his son for not living up to his standards. He wanted his only son to become a carpenter and to settle down with a wife and children.
Another scene shows him on life support systems in a hospital room calling for Amos.
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Nachoum served with an elite unit. The experience left him shattered.
“Speaking about his service still left him “very emotional, my hair standing still,” he says in The Times of Israel article. He was also a war photographer in Israel.
He left for the United States shortly after his stint in the army to pursue his dream of becoming an underwater wildlife photographer.
“Calmness is important even when photographing the polar bear – which can include Homo sapiens as part of its diet,” he said in The Times of Israel story, and which Adam Ravetch emphasizes in the film.
A male polar bear can weigh up to 750 kilograms and are exceptional swimmers. “Polar bears usually dive 3 to 4.5 m i.e. 9.8-14.8 feet deep into the cold water of arctic and can hold their breath for Researchers really don’t know that actually how deep can a polar more than three minutes,” says the Zoologist website. “But they estimated that it can dive as deep as 6m i.e. 20 feet.”
Nachoum’s first effort at photographing a polar bear in arctic waters occurred in 2005. It “nearly proved deadly” for him, noted The Times of Israel .
‘“I was scared to death,”’ he said to the reporter. ‘“I was laughing about it, but I was scared. My heart was pounding. Yet, I wanted to do it again.”’
“His second attempt, in 2015, helped Menkin and Nir culminate what they describe as a 10-year odyssey to make the film,” the Israeli newspaper states.
Nachoum and his crew, including, of course, their Inuit guides, have a five day window in which to find and photograph a polar bear in the water.
Their first sighting takes place on Day two. It’s a big male polar bear.
Nachoum is ready to with full scuba gear. He plunges backwards into the icy waters from the side of the boat.
The aggressive bear dives after this camera totting intruder. It’s a heart stopping moment.
The screen goes blank for several seconds. But, Nachoum managed to elude Nanook in the nick of time.
He’s a bit shaken by the experience and disappointed.
Without giving away too much, success is achieved on the final day.
A mother bear and her two large cubs are spotted swimming in the lake. Nachoum dives into the water. It’s a miraculous moment.
The final scene shows Nachoum returning to Israel to visit his father’s gravesite. He places a special gift on the gravestone– a small framed photograph of the three bears taken underwater.
A voice over of the late Canadian poet/musician/novelist, Leonard Cohen, singing his song, Anthem, plays as the credits begin to roll: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

The directors agreed to an email interview with this newspaper.
The Jewish Post & News: 1)What were some difficulties involved in making this film?
Menkin: There are two sides to this question. One is technical and the other is psychological / personal. The technical issues were huge– starting with selling a film about a man who is 65 years old and wants to do something that no one ever done before him, and that when HE tried to do it before – he almost got killed.
So prior to the shooting in the Arctic many potential financiers said: “Please keep us posted, it sounds amazing – call us when you come back… alive….”
Then when we finally raised the money, we had to build the whole infrastructure for the production by ourselves. There are no diving clubs over there, no hotels or transportation. We had to ship compressors, ice diving equipment, generators, food, fuel, and so on. I had to fly on nine flights from Israel to the location of the shooting.
Then to live there in the middle of nowhere and to find the right bears and create the opportunity for Amos to get into the water and have a peaceful encounter with these magnificent animals… it is all very complicated.
We could not have done it without ADAM RAVETCH – who is not only the best Arctic Cinematographer in the world (and not only in my opinion), but also has 25 years of experience working with the Inuit people in the high Arctic.
Of course we could not have done it without the Kaludjack family. Two members of the family, Billy and Patrick Kaludjak, who were with us on the shoot, died a year and a half later when their snowmobile broke through the ice.
Our film is dedicated to the memory of these two wonderful human beings, who we had the privilege to know even if it was for a short period of time.
The other difficulty was to get our protagonist open up and talk about things that he kept inside for 40 years. It is always a complicated issue to get someone’s trust; it’s more complicated when it’s on film and it’s even more complicated when your protagonist is one of the best and most famous in his field.

JP&N: How long did it take to film?
Nir: It took us 10 years to get this movie off the ground. It was also how Yonatan and I have met, and started to work on this and DOLPHIN BOY (another of their films). The main reason it took us so long was that we had to raise a feature film budget for a documentary; and we were deferring to go with Amos all the way to the arctic and try to take his picture.

JP&N: Please share some anecdotes/incidents in the making of the Picture of His Life.
Menkin: One day, we left Adam and Billy Kauldjack RIP on a small island, maybe 50 meters by 10 meters with a camera and a drone.
We wanted to get a shot of Amos alone in the water in the empty Arctic sea… we never used that shot in the film BTW (by the way).
We sailed away from them (to allow) Adam to fly the drone back and forth above Amos with no boats in the frame. The time passed, strong winds, maybe 20 minutes (later).
When Adam reported to us that he got the shot, we sailed back to Amos to take him out of the water. He was very cold, so we warmed him up with some hot water and tea when suddenly I hear screaming from the little island.
I looked back terrified. I thought a bear got on the island or something like that, and to my amazement there was no island, literally.
The tide came in very fast and almost drowned Adam and Billy with our expensive gear. We sailed as fast as we could to get them out of there in the very last second.

JP&N: How long have you two been working together?
Nir: After (his first film) 39 POUNDS OF LOVE, I met Yonatan when I was approached by a producer to direct the film about Amos. We joined forces on DOLPHIN BOY and now PICTURE OF HIS LIFE while we both have our own films. Yonatan focuses on documentaries, like MY HERO BROTHER, and I’m writing and directing fiction and docs. We are good friends and both like road trip movies and wanted to give this story all the elements we have in our previous work.

JP&N: What has been the response in Israel to the film?
Menkin: The response is unbelievable. We are in cinemas all over the country, and sold out almost every screening. The story of Amos with the Yom Kippur war is the story of a whole generation.
People love adventures and inspiring human beings who chase their dreams and are fighting their own fears, doubts and inner demons. To my happiness, people in Israel are starting to care about the future of our planet more and more, and our film is also about that. There is something to relate to in our film for everyone.
The most touching feedback to the film was from my eight year old daughter who said, “Abba I liked the film very much. I just didn’t like it when Amos father was yelling at him and I didn’t understand why did you have to include wars in your film?”
I didn’t know how to answer that.

JP&N: Anything else you’d like to add?
Nir: We just premiered PICTURE OF HIS LIFE in North America, and got incredible reviews and standing ovations. We are excited to tour with it around the world (in Canada as well) and spread the message.

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A Jewish Perspective on the Hidden Gems of Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta

Nestled along Mexico’s Pacific coast, Nuevo Vallarta and its neighboring city, Puerto Vallarta, have become popular destinations for travelers seeking sun, sea and cultural experiences. For Jewish travelers, exploring these cities offers a unique blend of relaxation and discovery; from pristine beaches to vibrant local culture, here’s a perspective on the hidden gems these destinations offer.

Traveling to Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta

Barceló Puerto Vallarta: A Tranquil Haven

Among the myriad of accommodations in the region, the Barceló Occidental Nuevo Vallarta (with bookings at stands out as a serene retreat. Situated on Mismaloya Beach, this resort combines traditional Mexican architecture with modern amenities. Its all-inclusive packages cater to families, couples and solo travelers, providing an ideal base for exploring both Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta.

Exploring Nuevo Vallarta

Embracing Nature at El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary, located a short drive from Nuevo Vallarta. This sanctuary not only preserves native wildlife but also offers educational tours that delve into the region’s ecosystem. For Jewish travelers, it provides an opportunity to connect with nature while appreciating Mexico’s biodiversity.

Cultural Insight at the Marina Vallarta

The Marina Vallarta, known for its upscale ambiance and waterfront dining, offers a glimpse into local life. Jewish travelers can explore boutique shops and art galleries while enjoying a variety of international cuisines. The marina’s lively atmosphere during sunset, with boats bobbing gently in the marina and street performers entertaining passersby, creates a memorable experience.

Discovering Puerto Vallarta

Historic Exploration in the Zona Romántica

Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romántica, also known as Old Vallarta, beckons history buffs and culture seekers. Cobblestone streets wind through quaint neighborhoods lined with colorful colonial architecture. Jewish travelers can visit the Zona Romántica’s eclectic art galleries, boutique cafes and the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Artistic Marvels at the Malecón

A stroll along the Malecón, Puerto Vallarta’s oceanfront promenade, reveals a treasure trove of sculptures and open-air art installations. From the whimsical Seahorse sculpture to the thought-provoking Millennium sculpture series, each artwork tells a story of Mexico’s artistic spirit. Jewish travelers can engage with local artists and appreciate the vibrant cultural tapestry that defines Puerto Vallarta.

Culinary Delights

Savoring Kosher-Friendly Cuisine

While kosher options are limited in Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta, some restaurants and resorts offer kosher-friendly menus upon request. The culinary scene in both cities blends traditional Mexican flavors with international influences, ensuring there is something to satisfy every palate. Jewish travelers can indulge in fresh seafood ceviche, traditional tacos al pastor and refreshing aguas frescas while soaking in the coastal ambiance.

Community Engagement

Connecting with Local Jewish Communities

For Jewish travelers interested in community engagement, both Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta host small Jewish communities. Synagogues and Jewish community centers welcome visitors seeking spiritual connection and cultural exchange. Engaging with local Jewish communities provides a deeper understanding of Mexican-Jewish heritage and fosters meaningful connections across cultures.

Final Note

Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta offer Jewish travelers a blend of relaxation, cultural exploration and natural beauty. Whether basking in the sun on pristine beaches, exploring historic neighborhoods or savoring culinary delights, these cities provide a rich tapestry of experiences. With accommodations like the Barceló Puerto Vallarta offering comfort and convenience, travelers can immerse themselves in Mexico’s Pacific coast while appreciating its hidden gems from a unique perspective.

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Gambling Statistics Shine Light on Canadian Gambling Culture

Explore pivotal statistics that highlight Canada’s gambling culture. Get a concise overview of the trends shaping the nation’s betting landscape.

Canada’s gambling culture is as diverse as its landscape, and recent statistics shed light on this thriving sector. From coast to coast, Canadians engage in various forms of betting, each with its own set of trends and numbers. This article delves into the data, uncovering the patterns and preferences defining gambling nationwide.

Canadian Gambling Statistics

User penetration refers to the percentage of consumers engaging with a product or service beyond the expected audience. Despite a 47% decline in 2023, the online gambling industry is projected to expand.

By 2027, it’s forecasted that the gambling market will cater to 20.38 million individuals. This trend suggests an increasing preference among Canadians for online gambling over traditional brick-and-mortar casinos.

The industry boasted a 97% return on investment in 2022, outperforming land-based casinos, which only saw a 61% return. With the rising interest in online betting, Canada’s online casino industry is experiencing the highest user penetration rate.

What Is the Average Expenditure on Gambling by Canadians?

Many enjoy the thrill of the occasional game of chance. The fact that you can retain all of your earnings, as there are no taxes on gambling profits in Canada, adds to the allure of gambling. In Canada, winnings are subject to taxation only for professional gamblers with a sustained winning streak.

In recent years, the trend toward online casinos has changed. The pandemic-induced closures of land-based casinos accelerated this change. It’s a profitable industry, as 60% of Canadians say they spend money gambling each month.

Canadian gambling statistics:

  • Six out of ten Canadians have gambled.
  • The monthly average expenditure for gaming and gambling in Canada is $6.75.
  • A month’s worth of gaming expenses is reported by 63% of males and 57% of women.
  • According to 73% of Canadians, gambling-related issues have gotten worse in their region.

The Increasing Attraction to Online Casino Gambling in Canada

An increasing number of Canadians are using online casinos, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. They offer various benefits regular casinos do not and are more convenient. Over time, land-based casinos’ revenue has decreased due to the growing popularity of online gambling sites.

The pandemic shutdowns accelerated the drop. For instance, the land-based casinos in Alberta no longer make as much money as they once did. Consequently, the Albertan government opened an online casino, and other governments quickly adopted similar strategies.

Casino Games at Online Casinos in Canada

Online casinos in Canada offer various games that cater to different preferences. Some of the most popular casino games at Canadian online casinos include:

  • Slots: These are the most common and varied, with themes ranging from classic fruit machines to the latest online slot games with advanced graphics and features.
  • Table Games: Classics like blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat are available in multiple variations.
  • Live Dealer Games: These provide an immersive experience, allowing players to interact with real dealers and other players in real time.
  • Video Poker: A favourite for many, combining elements of slots and poker in a unique format.
  • Progressive Jackpots: Games that offer the chance to win life-changing sums of money with a single spin.
  • Canadian Legalities for Online Gambling Sites
  • Casinos are legal in Canada, but each province and territory has the authority to establish its gaming regulations and issue online gambling website licences. Saskatchewan is the only province that does not host multiple online gaming sites.
  • Authorities in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba issue licences without a specific requirement, but these online casinos must operate exclusively within their respective provincial borders. Online gaming sites seeking to operate beyond these borders need a special agreement.
  • In Canada, only land-based casinos face penalties; foreign operators can only function by obtaining local licenses. Although offshore casinos cannot legally target Canadian players, they can accept them.
  • Statistics on Gambling Addiction in Canada
  • While the majority of gamblers do so without experiencing issues, there are hazards and health issues associated with it for some people. Because of this, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) carries out studies and creates resources aimed at assisting Canadians in making wise decisions regarding their gambling, both generally and, in particular, high-risk scenarios, like when they’re using alcohol or other drugs.
  • Here are some key statistics on gambling addiction in Canada for the year 2024:
  • 64.5% of Canadians aged 15 or older actively participated in gambling activities within the past year.
  • 1.6% of Canadian gamblers, representing approximately 304,400 individuals, face moderate-to-severe gambling addiction risks.
  • Canadian males reported higher gambling participation and addiction risks compared to females.
  • Indigenous Canadians showed a higher tendency to gamble (72.4%) and experienced greater susceptibility to gambling problems (4.5%) than non-Indigenous people.
  • In Canada, responsible gambling is promoted through various programs and initiatives, ensuring that individuals engage in betting activities within their means and maintain control. The emphasis is on providing resources and support to prevent gambling addiction and encourage safe, enjoyable gaming experiences.
  • Reflecting on Canada’s Responsible Gambling Journey
  • The statistics we’ve explored offer a revealing glimpse into Canada’s gambling culture, highlighting both the widespread appeal and the responsible practices of Canadian bettors. As the industry evolves, it reflects the country’s commitment to balancing entertainment with economic benefit and social responsibility. The future of gambling in Canada seems poised to be driven by informed choices and a clear understanding of the risks and rewards involved.
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Caesars Windsor Reduces Operating Hours for Sports Betting Counter

Sports betting has rapidly evolved into a major attraction, drawing a diverse audience ranging from casual participants to dedicated enthusiasts, and its popularity is only increasing with the proliferation of online platforms. In particular, Canada has seen a notable rise in sports betting activities since the legalization of single-event sports betting in August 2021, which opened doors to a multitude of betting avenues, both in physical locations and online. 

The shift towards online sportsbooks has been especially significant, marking a notable change in the landscape of sports betting. Given the expansive range of online sportsbooks available to Canadians, experts like Neil Roarty provide critical reviews and comparisons that guide bettors through the complex array of online options. These sites delve into the nuances of each platform, evaluating everything from user interface and betting options to the perks and security features they offer (source:  

Despite the rising trend in online betting, traditional sportsbooks like those in casinos are adjusting to the new landscape. Caesars Windsor, for instance, has recently made significant changes to its sports betting services. Initially projected to increase job opportunities and enhance visitor footfall, thereby boosting various service-related positions within the casino, the reality has somewhat shifted. 

The casino’s CEO, Kevin Laforet, had expressed optimism at the sportsbook’s inauguration in January 2023, citing anticipated growth in employment opportunities due to expected higher traffic. This optimism was rooted in the broader economic benefits typically associated with casino expansions, such as increased employment for local and migrant communities including roles like dealers, bartenders, and security staff.

However, recent developments have seen Caesars Windsor recalibrating its approach to sports betting. According to a spokesperson from the casino, after a detailed review of betting trends at their facility, adjustments were necessary to align the sportsbook’s operations with actual guest preferences and patterns. 

As a result, the sportsbook has scaled back its operating hours to 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. each day, which has led to minor staffing changes. Importantly, all affected staff members have been retained, and the sportsbook continues to operate during peak times, especially during significant sporting events, with kiosk betting available 24/7.

Jessica Welman, editor of the Canadian Gaming Business, remarks on the overwhelming preference for online sports gambling over traditional brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. The convenience of placing bets via a smartphone or computer is a significant draw for many, enhancing the accessibility and appeal of online betting. 

Welman further noted that the market for online betting in Ontario has expanded consistently each quarter since its legalization, highlighting a robust growth trajectory that underscores the market’s potential.

However, the relationship between online gambling and its impact on physical casino revenues is complex and not well-documented. Sports betting reporter Greg Warren pointed out that most casinos do not specifically track how much of their revenue comes from sports betting as opposed to other gambling activities, which muddles the ability to analyze precise trends. 

Yet, experiences from the United States suggest that both in-person and online sportsbooks can experience growth simultaneously, indicating a synergistic relationship rather than a competitive one. According to Warren, the distinct experiences offered by online platforms and physical sportsbooks mean they can coexist and cater to different preferences.

Welman supports this view, suggesting that despite the convenience of online options, there is an enduring appeal for the physical experience of in-person betting. She argues that brick-and-mortar casinos provide a unique atmosphere that can’t be replicated online, serving as a draw for those who prefer the tangible excitement of a live betting environment. 

In line with its diverse offerings, Caesars Entertainment also maintains an online gaming app, which complements its physical sportsbook operations. This app is designed to offer users a seamless integration between the convenience of digital betting and the engaging atmosphere of in-person wagering. 

While specific details on the app’s impact on the casino’s overall business were not disclosed, it represents an integral part of Caesars’ strategy to bridge the gap between traditional and digital gambling experiences. This dual approach not only caters to a broader range of consumer preferences but also positions Caesars to capitalize on the growing trend of mobile and online betting.

As the landscape of sports betting continues to evolve, the interaction between online and in-person gambling platforms will undoubtedly remain a key area of focus for industry observers and participants alike. By maintaining a strong presence in both arenas, Caesars is well-equipped to adapt to changing consumer habits and technological advancements that have seen real money online casinos cornering many gambling markets worldwide, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of the gambling industry. 

This strategic integration highlights the potential for more synchronized growth and innovation within the gambling sector, shaping the future of how sports betting is experienced across different platforms.

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