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10 treasures from the New York Public Library’s 125-year-old Jewish collection

(New York Jewish Week) – In the heart of Manhattan, you can page through the Passover story in an Italian haggadah from half a century ago, check out the posters for the most popular Yiddish plays of the 1920s and examine dried flower arrangements from the Holy Land made at the end of the 19th century.

Opened just two years after the New York Public Library itself, the Dorot Jewish Division of the New York Public Library is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Today the collection, housed in the library’s main building on Fifth Ave., boasts over 250,000 materials from all over the world, with the earliest ones dating back to the 13th century.

“People don’t realize the amount of depth we have in this collection chronologically and geographically and it is still growing,” said Lyudmila Sholokhova, the curator of the collection. “I think we have been too modest about what we have here — this library is for everybody and the community needs to know that.”

To celebrate its 125th birthday and spread the word, the Dorot Jewish Division is putting some of its favorite materials on display for an event with librarians, scholars and writers from around the country to discuss the history of Dorot, and its future, on Wednesday, Dec. 14. The event is in person and online.

That history dates to November 1897, when banker and philanthropist Jacob Schiff donated $10,000 to the New York Public Library for the purchase of “Semitic literature” and the hiring of a curator of a Jewish division in the library. Schiff ended up donating $115,000 (nearly $4 million today) over the course of his lifetime.

The head librarian position went to bibliographer and historian Abraham Solomon Freidus, who immigrated to New York from Latvia in 1889. Under his watch, the newly established Jewish Division became a prominent research and reference center for Jewish scholars all over the world. A reading room dedicated to the Jewish Division, where scholars have researched everything from a study of Jews and chocolate to a history of Jewish women in theater, has remained in active use at the library since 1911.

Sholokhova came to the NYPL in 2020 after nearly 20 years working as a librarian at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Part of her mission is to showcase the collection to the public and help bring awareness to the library’s extensive resources.

Through most of its history, the Dorot Jewish Division was used as a reference site while scholars worked on encyclopedias and research. Today, the reading room is still open to the public — and there’s alos an extensive digital catalog available on the library’s website. All New Yorkers need to do is request the items they want to see a few days in advance.

Though the division inherited a few small collections and private libraries, many of its items have been purchased or donated over time.

The New York Jewish Week recently stopped by to see what would be on view during the anniversary celebrations. Here are 10 highlights:

1. Historic haggadahs from Venice and Amsterdam

Traditional illustrated haggadahs from Venice (left) and Amsterdam (right). Printed in the 17th century. (Julia Gergely, design by Grace Yagel)

The Dorot Jewish Division boasts an impressive collection of haggadahs, the guides used at Passover seders. The collection includes the Venice Haggadah with Judeo-Italian translation, printed in 1609, and the Amsterdam Haggadah printed in 1695. Both of these volumes are first editions of what became a standard structure for a haggadah — the Venice Haggadah influenced Mediterranean tradition and the Amsterdam Haggadah influenced Central European tradition.

2. The very first Sunday edition of the Forverts

Vol. 1, No. 1. Sunday edition of the Forverts from May 2, 1897. (Julia Gergely, design by Grace Yagel)

Forverts (or “Forward” in English), the Yiddish daily that circulated in New York throughout the 20th century, is not just one of the most significant publications in American Jewish history — at its height it was the highest-circulation daily in New York. The paper began publishing in April 1897 and paper copies from its first few months in circulation are incredibly scarce. Sholokhova believes Dorot’s original copy of its first Sunday Supplement, published May 2, 1897, may be the earliest known copy of the Forverts in existence.

3. The earliest image of the North American continent in a Hebrew book

An image of the globe in Ma’aseh Toviyah, an encyclopedia of science and medicine. (Julia Gergely)

Published in Venice in 1707, “Ma’aseh Toviyah” (Work of Tobias) is an encyclopedia of science and medicine written in Hebrew, with sections on theology, astronomy, medicine and geography. Written by Toviyah Katz (also known as Tobias Cohn), the book contains the earliest known image of the American continent in a Hebrew book.

4. First Hebrew alphabet printed in the United States

The first Hebrew grammar book, printed for a Hebrew course at Harvard College. (Julia Gergely)

Printed around 1735, “A Grammar of the Hebrew Tongue” or “Dikduk leshon l’ivrit” is the first known book in the American colonies to contain the entire Hebrew alphabet and a lesson on Hebrew grammar. Compiled by Judah Monis, a Hebrew teacher at Harvard College, the book was intended for Harvard students who desired to study the Old Testament in its original language. Monis was born Jewish but converted to Christianity.

5. A palmistry guide according to Kabbalah

A kabbalah palmistry book, dated around 1800. (Julia Gergely)

This book details the art of palmistry, or hand-reading, according to the Jewish mystical tradition of kabbalah. “Sefer Hochmat HaYad,” or “Book of the Wisdom of the Hand,” was compiled by Eliyahu Mosheh Galino, who lived in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) in the early 16th century. The library dates the printing of this copy, notable for illustrations that feature white lines etched into black hands, to sometime around 1800.

6. Farewell banquet invitation for Eliezer Ben-Yehudah, lexicographer of the first Hebrew dictionary

Invitation for a farewell banquet for Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who compiled the first Hebrew dictionary at the New York Public Library. (Julia Gergely, design by Grace Yagel)

One of the Dorot Jewish Division’s most famous researchers, Eliezer Ben-Yehudah, was an early Zionist who became known as the father of Modern Hebrew. During World War I, Ben-Yehudah came to the New York York Public Library to work on the first modern Hebrew dictionary, which he eventually brought back to Palestine. The archive has kept an invitation for Ben-Yehudah’s farewell dinner on Feb. 26, 1919, which includes all the names of the members of the dinner committee as well as the menu in Hebrew and English.

7. A community ledger from Mariupol, Ukraine

The title page ledger with minutes from a mishnah study class in Mariupol, Ukraine. (Julia Gergely)

A pinkas is a census-like ledger kept by Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, recording births, deaths, financial transactions, events and even criminal cases. This illustrated pinkas comes from a mid-19th century Hasidic community in what is now Mariupol, Ukraine, and details the minutes of a Mishnah study class held over the course of a decade. The first entry is dated 1837 and the last is 1848. The pinkas is dedicated to the Trisk Rabbi, Avrohom ben Mordechai Twersky.

8. An 18th-century Megillat Esther

An illuminated manuscript of Megillat Esther, read on Purim. The illustrations, in folk style, were drawn in the late 18th century. (Julia Gergely)

An illustrated scroll of Megillat Esther, the scroll read on Purim, is believed to be from Eastern Europe from the late 18th century. The scroll is significant because it is an illuminated manuscript, with hand-drawn images from scenes in the Book of Esther surrounding the text.

9. Pressed flowers and photographs from 1890s Palestine

Left: An 1899 photo of Jerusalem by Bruno Kentschel. Right: Flowers from Israel, dried and pressed in the 1890s. (Julia Gergely, design by Grace Yagel)

In the 1890s, as the political Zionist movement was beginning to take shape, small books of pressed flowers that were gathered in the Holy Land appeared in the United States. Dorot’s holding features native flowers pressed into the shape of Jewish symbols, and will be shown next to photographs of the landscape of Jerusalem from the same period, taken by Bruno Kentschel, a German photographer who worked from a small studio in Jerusalem.

10. Advertisements from Jewish businesses in the United States

Advertisements , postcards and trading cards for American Jewish businesses. (Julia Gergely, design by Grace Yagel)

The Dorot Jewish Division also has a vast collection of matchboxes, postcard advertisements and trading cards from Jewish businesses across America. The colorful, illustrated advertisements from the 19th and 20th centuries are very often the only traces of Jewish businesses that still exist, Sholokhova explained.

The post 10 treasures from the New York Public Library’s 125-year-old Jewish collection appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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