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A Jewish diplomat tells his story in PBS documentary about the Iran hostage crisis

(New York Jewish Week) — After a “traditional, religious” Jewish childhood in Brooklyn where he attended yeshiva, Barry Rosen fell in love with Iran.

Rosen was 22 when he joined the Peace Corps and set out on a two-year stint in Iran in 1967. There, Rosen felt deeply connected to the people and culture of the country — he loved the food, the clothing, the language, and the sights, sounds and smells.  

“I was told by members of the Peace Corps that Jewish kids did very well in Iran,” Rosen says at the beginning of “Taken Hostage: The Making of an American Enemy,” a new two-part documentary on PBS that explores America’s role in the Iranian Hostage Crisis of 1979. “I felt to a certain degree that there was a warmth there that I could see in my own family. There was a sense of kinship that I felt for Iranians.”

Twelve years after first arriving in Iran, however, Rosen, would become one of the 52 hostages attached to the American embassy in Tehran who were held by Iranian college students for 14 terrifying, pivotal months. When he returned as a press attaché for the US Embassy in 1979, the country he loved was on its way to becoming the oppressive religious republic it is today.

That year, its citizens staged a revolution and overthrew the corrupt, American-backed shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, to make way for Ayatollah Khomeini, the Muslim cleric and “supreme leader.” 

In November, 1979, students took control of the American embassy and demanded the shah return from exile to be tried for his crimes. Pahlavi, who had always maintained strong relations with the United States, was in New York for cancer treatment.

Barry and Barbara Rosen have spent the last four decades reliving the trauma of their experience while also advocating for hostages worldwide. (Frankie Alduino)

“It’s a story of perseverance,” Rosen told the New York Jewish Week in a Zoom interview from his apartment in Morningside Heights. “You look back and you say, ‘oh my God was that me? Was that us?’ It was so long ago but also the pain of it is very self-evident and it is still near in many ways.”

As a hostage in Iran, Rosen faced mock executions, days in complete darkness — what he calls “modern state-sponsored terrorism.” 

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, his wife Barbara Rosen found herself at the center of media attention as she advocated for her husband’s release. She and their two young children, Alexander and Ariana, woke up every morning to an onslaught of press ready to exploit her every move, though she had no information about Barry or the situation in Iran.

“It is part of my DNA. I feel personally responsible [to tell my story],” Barry said, sitting beside Barbara. “I was the first member of this honorary group of hostages taken by Iran and I feel that we owe every hostage something so that they can escape that horror.”

“Taken Hostage” tracks America’s connection with the politically volatile Iran, beginning with a 1953 coup d’etat to depose Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, organized in part by the CIA. The shah consolidated power, modernized the country and maintained strong relationships with the West, especially the administration of President Jimmy Carter, but maintained a fearsome and dictatorial reputation among the citizens of Iran. 

The documentary traces the story of the revolution and the establishment of power by Khomeini, who undid the Westernization of the previous decades and declared the country the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Along with Rosen, the documentary features Gary Sick, who was a member of the National Security Council at the time and discusses what it was like to navigate the hostage crisis from inside the White House. Foreign correspondents Hilary Brown and Carole Jerome describe risking their lives to report on the crisis from Tehran.

Rosen was one of three Jewish hostages, and though Barbara did not publicize his Judaism out of fear for his safety, American synagogues and Jewish organizations managed to send him mail.

After a year in captivity, Rosen appeared to the public via broadcast and wished his family a Happy Hanukkah. “I really wanted to make sure the American Jewish community knew that I was safe,” he said. 

The hostages were released on the day of President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration on Jan, 20, 1981. The settlement unfroze nearly $8  billion of Iranian assets, terminated lawsuits Iran faced in America, and forced a pledge by the United States that the country would never again intervene in Iran’s internal affairs.

Barbara and Barry Rosen at a welcome parade in New York City. (Courtesy Barry Rosen)

Returning stateside was complicated for Rosen, who suffered from PTSD and had to separate his love for Iran from the experience of what had happened to him.

What was waiting for Rosen was “a huge outpouring of love and support from everyday people in the United States,” he said. “I think that was the most joyful part of it. There’s no doubt about it that everybody in the United States thought they knew me. At least in New York, it seemed as if American New Yorkers looked at me as a New Yorker who went through the pain. So I think that was a tremendously helpful and healing thing.”

Both Rosens were disappointed with the behavior of the United States. “It was an embarrassment of the foreign policy establishment. They wanted to wipe it out immediately,” Barry recalled. “They never held Iran accountable for what it did.”

“There was so much that each of the people needed to do to heal, and then after a year, there was never any follow up on any kind of medical or psychological investigation,” Barbara said. “We were both very disappointed in our own government and the way we were treated.”

Barry went on to a career in research and education — he conducted a fellowship at Columbia University doing research on Iranian novelists, served as the assistant to the president of Brooklyn College, and eventually was named the executive director of external affairs at Teachers College at Columbia.

The Rosens, who now have four grandchildren, wrote a book about that period in their lives.

“Personally, I don’t like going back and thinking about it or reflecting on this. It wasn’t a very happy time. It was a difficult time in my life,” Barbara told the New York Jewish Week. 

But the documentary, the Rosens said, manages to tell the story of the crisis while reminding viewers how deeply personal it was for those involved. It’s a lesson the Rosens have taken with them as they watched and experienced similar crises over the last few decades, from the war in Ukraine to unrest in Iran over the death in September of a woman who was detained for breaking the hijab law.

“All history is a personal event. Each thing that happens is happening to people,” Barbara said. “It was a story of people being plucked out of their normal jobs, their diplomatic life, the security of just feeling that you’re safe. All of a sudden, you’ve lost all of that. You’re tied up in a chair for a month and not allowed to speak to somebody. Families here had no idea what’s happening to their loved ones in Iran.”

“It’s easier for human beings to think about the abstract issue rather than the personal issue. Get into personal issues, people start to walk away, they feel uncomfortable,” Barry added. 

Despite everything, Barry  still feels an attachment to the culture and people of Iran that he experienced in his early twenties, calling himself a “child of divorce” between the United States and its former ally, a relationship that he said he doesn’t see improving in his lifetime. 

He also continues to tell his story because of his lifelong work with hostage victims around the world. Currently, there are three American hostages and more than a dozen international hostages in Iran. Barry works with Amnesty International, Hostage USA and Hostage Aid Worldwide to advocate for their release.  

“I want to make certain that the American government and the American people stand by all those who were taken by Iran and all governments that take hostages, whether it’s China, Russia, Venezuela — but for me, especially Iran,” he said. “I say this because I really feel the need to make this an important issue. The American public needs to understand this very well. People’s lives are being taken away.”

“Taken Hostage,” an “American Experience” documentary, will air on PBS in two parts on Nov. 14 and 15. The film is also available to stream on

The post A Jewish diplomat tells his story in PBS documentary about the Iran hostage crisis 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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