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6 spectacular synagogues from a new book on Manhattan’s houses of worship

(New York Jewish Week) – In the mid 1990s, New York-based photographer Michael Horowitz wandered into the Eldridge Street Synagogue, a historic synagogue that is now dedicated to preserving the history of the Jewish Lower East Side.

At the time, the synagogue was undergoing a massive, $20 million, 20-year restoration. Horowitz, who is Jewish but said he is “not religious,” was moved by the resilience and perseverance of the congregation. Even more so, he was attracted to the building’s architecture and the dedication the community poured into preserving it.

Horowitz returned to Eldridge Street over the years to document each stage of the building’s renovations. It was in 2013, while looking for a new photography project, that Horowitz realized his impulse to document Eldridge Street could be translated to houses of worship throughout the city. He spent the next decade photographing Manhattan’s churches and synagogues — 95 of which are spotlighted in his new book “Divine New York: Inside the Historic Churches and Synagogues of Manhattan.” 

Together, these buildings tell a fascinating New York story of immigration, architecture, faith and progress. “I wanted to open the doors to the public,” Horowitz, 71, told the New York Jewish Week. “I wanted to show everyone what was going on inside these buildings and show them how beautiful they are.”

He worked his way from Lower Manhattan through Harlem to some of the most notable houses of worship in the borough — from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown to the First Roumanian American Congregation, a now demolished Orthodox synagogue on the Lower East Side once known as “The Cantor’s Carnegie Hall.” Since beginning the project, a dozen of the buildings Horowitz photographed have been demolished, he said. 

“Everyone should take the time and view them — even if you’re not religious,” added Horowitz, who has been interested in ecclesiastical architecture since he was a student at Queens College. “Then people will get an idea of what makes that specific group of people interesting and beautiful regardless of the dogma.”

According to writer Liz Hartman, who wrote the text to accompany Horowitz’s photos, these buildings tell the story of New York itself: When immigrant groups first came to the city with few resources, the structures were small and unassuming. Synagogues were built to serve one particular community — the Lower East Side’s Bialystoker Synagogue, for example, whose congregants were new immigrants from Bialystok, Poland. As the Jewish community began to prosper — and as immigrants began to arrive from all over Europe — synagogues became grander, more confident and diverse in membership. 

“New York is the story of immigration, and the churches and synagogues are the story of immigration as well,” Hartman said. “Immigrants — New Yorkers — projected themselves through their houses of worship, and in a way that’s what made the city work. I hope that we can look at this project and see a story of immigrants — and see that we can support this with different groups going forward.”

Eleven of the houses of worship featured in “Divine New York” are synagogues. The New York Jewish Week tasked Horowitz and Hartman with selecting the most historically or architecturally significant synagogues of the bunch —no easy task because every house of worship in the book is a historic and notable one. Keep reading to see their selections and to learn more about these important Jewish sites.  

Eldridge Street Synagogue (12 Eldridge St.)

A prominent stained glass window at Eldridge Street was destroyed in a 1938 hurricane — it wasn’t replaced until 2010, with a design from artist Kiki Smith (right). (Michael Horowitz)

This historic Lower East Side synagogue, dedicated in 1887, was the first synagogue building in New York erected specifically as a Jewish house of worship. “Right from the start, it distinguished itself from other synagogues by welcoming Jews from all over Eastern Europe while other congregations were defined by the towns or cities from which they came,” Hartman writes in the book. “It was also economically diverse; migrants right off the boat, peddlers, sweatshop workers, bankers, and entertainers were among its members.” The synagogue was also Orthodox at a time when New York’s grandest synagogues were being built by Reform congregations.

Eldridge Street Synagogue as seen from the balcony. (Michael Horowitz)

For decades, the synagogue thrived as Jewish immigrants filled the Lower East Side. However, by 1940, facing a dwindling membership, the congregation could no longer maintain the main sanctuary and closed it down. By 1970, the building was in danger of collapse and demolition. Students, journalists and historians teamed up to save the synagogue; the restoration began in 1986 and continued to 2007. Today, the building is known as the Eldridge Street Synagogue and Museum, which features exhibits, history and lectures on immigrant life in New York

The Bialystoker Synagogue (7-11 Bialystoker Pl.)

The Bialystoker Synagogue is found in a Lower East Side building with an unassuming exterior, a holdover from the Methodist Church that was once there. (Michael Horowitz)

Founded on the Lower East Side in 1865, the Bialystoker Synagogue made its home in 1826 church building, purchased from a Methodist congregation, made with schist from Manhattan bedrock. The congregation maintained the austere exterior — though the interior was updated dramatically and boasts a grand ark and floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows. Curiously, an image of a lobster is featured on the elaborately painted ceiling murals — with little explanation for how the non-kosher crustacean might fit into the synagogue’s mission or Jewish identity. One hint is that the panel marks the Hebrew month of Tammuz, which corresponds with the astrological sign of Cancer, the crab. “It was bought from the Methodist Mariner’s Church, and there were a lot of fishermen that belonged to that church,” Horowitz told the New York Jewish Week. Or perhaps a kosher-keeping muralist didn’t know the difference between a lobster and a crab.

An image of a lobster is on the ceiling of the synagogue, in a mural marking the Hebrew month of Tammuz. (Michael Horowitz)

The synagogue, built in a traditional Orthodox style, has a balcony for women worshippers. In one corner of the balcony, a hidden door leads to an attic, which Hartman writes was allegedly a stop on the Underground Railroad.  

The synagogue underwent a renovation in 1988 and is still an active traditional Orthodox congregation.

Central Synagogue (652 Lexington Ave.)

Central Synagogue moved into its Lexington Avenue location in 1872. While most congregations face east, towards Jerusalem, Central faces west. Hartman explains that the real estate was “too good to pass up,” and the congregation decided to have an entrance on Lexington. (Michael Horowitz)

Completed in 1872, the building that houses the renowned Reform congregation in Midtown East seats nearly 1,500 people — a fraction of the congregation’s approximately 2,600 members. That’s a long way from the original 18 members from Bohemia, a region of the present-day Czech Republic, who started the congregation in 1846 in a remodeled church in the East Village.

Central Synagogue was built around the same time and in the same neighborhood as the Episcopal St. Thomas Cathedral and the Catholic St. Patrick’s Cathedral — some of New York’s grandest churches, which are also featured in the book. “Each of the groups were saying, ‘We’re here and we’re proud and we have prosperity.’ They were showing off, but in a really beautiful way,” Hartman said. “For Central, it was very much a message of assimilation. They were as interested in liberty, inclusion and reform as they were in Jewish ritual.” 

Congregation Shearith Israel (8 West 70th St.)

Congregation Shearith Israel, also known as the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, was the only synagogue in New York for nearly a century and a half. The congregation moved several times before finding a permanent home on the Upper West Side. (Michael Horowitz)

Congregation Shearith Israel, also known as the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, was the first Jewish congregation in the United States, made up of Sephardic Jews who had arrived in New York in 1654 via Recife, Brazil. The congregation was the only Jewish one in New York for a century and a half before a faction of Ashkenazi members grew big enough to split off and form B’nai Jeshurun in 1825. While the congregation was housed in several different buildings throughout its history, it has been in its current home on the Upper West Side since 1896. 

Temple Emanu-El (1 East 65th St.)

Temple Emanu-El was named one of eight “religious” wonders in the United States by CNN, writes Hartman. (Michael Horowitz)

Founded by a small group of German Jews in 1845, Temple Emanu-El has become one of the grandest and more well-known synagogues in New York, boasting prominent members like ex-mayors Ed Koch and Mike Bloomberg, as well as hundreds of other influential Manhattanites.

Considered one of the leading synagogues in the Reform movement, Emanu-El made waves throughout the 19th century for translating all-Hebrew services into German, then English, as well as for installing an organ and for abandoning the mechitzah, the traditional divider between men and women during prayer. After several spots downtown, the congregation moved into its current building on 5th Avenue — the former site of John Jacob Astor’s mansion — in 1927. It can hold 2,500 people, making it one of the largest synagogues in the world.

Park East Synagogue (163 East 67th St.)

The architects Schneider and Herter “took a no-holds-barred approach to the elaborate Byzantine-Moorish design of the synagogue,” writes Hartman of the arches, colors, stained glass and ark at Park East. (Michael Horowitz)

Built in 1890 by brothers Jonas and Samuel Ephraim in honor of their late father, Zichron Ephraim, this Orthodox synagogue has elaborate and eclectic arches, cupolas and stained glass throughout its design, reflecting its prominence in the New York Jewish community. “The design of the synagogue is anything but subtle and so, too, is its spiritual leader for more than 50 years, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who is outspoken in his advocacy of religious freedom, human rights, and mutual respect,” writes Hartman.

It was Schneier who invited Pope Benedict XVI to Park East in 2008, marking the first ever papal visit to a synagogue in the United States. Schneier, who is currently searching for a successor, was conferred a papal knighthood for interfaith effort for religious freedom. For many decades, Park East was a haven for Jews who immigrated from the Soviet Union.

The post 6 spectacular synagogues from a new book on Manhattan’s houses of worship 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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