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A Jewish museum exhibit features the Palestinian flag. Some visitors wonder if it belongs.

(J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — Tucked in the far corner of a large, brightly-lit exhibition hall on the ground floor of the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, there is a delicate-looking piece of art with a strong political message.

At first glance, it appears to be three circular vases with flowers in them. The ceramic vases sit on shelves attached to the wall, and colorful collages hang above them. On closer inspection, visitors will notice that the flowers are made out of paper and that affixed to each vase is an image of the Palestinian flag printed on foam board.

A nearby label written by the curators of the exhibit, titled “Tikkun: For the Cosmos, the Community, and Ourselves,” explains that the piece was inspired by a conversation the artist, Tosha Stimage of Berkeley, had with a Palestinian man. He told Stimage about the plants that are native to Palestine — “a place which he can no longer access due to the ongoing conflict in the region,” the curators write.

The label also includes a note about the flag: “Some may find its presence at The CJM troubling or confusing, while others may find it appropriate and forthright. Stimage recognizes the potential for these divergent responses and hopes to use them as a means of generating dialogue.”

On a Sunday afternoon in October, Maury Ostroff read the label and walked away without inspecting the artwork.

Visitors to the “Tikkun” exhibit are encouraged to share their responses to the artwork via comment cards. (Andrew Esensten)

Asked how the presence of the flag made him feel, Ostroff, who is Jewish and lives in Muir Beach, in Marin County, replied, “Unhappy.”

Why?

“It’s not offensive to me in the same way that a swastika is. My skin is a little bit thicker than that. But I wish it weren’t here.”

He added, “What’s so Jewish about this? What’s so ‘tikkun olam’ about all of this?”

For the “Tikkun” exhibit, which opened Feb. 17 and runs through Jan. 8, the CJM invited both Jewish and non-Jewish Bay Area artists to contribute new works on the theme of repair, however they chose to interpret it. “No one is listening to us,” the piece by Stimage, who is not Jewish, is the first work of art featuring the Palestinian flag to be shown at CJM in recent memory; the museum could not say when or if the flag has been displayed on its walls before.

The piece prompted several internal conversations among CJM staff when it was first submitted and, since it has been on display, has generated a variety of responses from museumgoers who have left comments in a box at the entrance to the exhibit. Intentionally or not, Stimage has raised numerous questions with the artwork, including: Does a work of art that is sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle for statehood belong in a Jewish museum? And what is the role of a contemporary Jewish museum, anyway?

“To truly be a contemporary art museum, meaning embedded in the contemporary issues of our day, our job is to provide a platform for dialogue and to share a diversity of perspectives on our walls,” said Chad Coerver, CJM’s executive director since September 2021. “If any institution [like ours] took the path of withholding artwork that troubled our staff, our board or our community, it would be very difficult to mount exhibitions.”

CJM is a member of the Council of American Jewish Museums, a network of 76 museums across the country. CAJM does not have guidelines about the kind of art its member museums can and cannot display, according to Executive Director Melissa Yaverbaum.

J. reached out to several CAJM member museums in New York, Los Angeles and other places by email to ask if they had ever shown artwork with Palestinian iconography or works by Palestinian artists. The museums declined to answer or did not respond.

In recent years, two Jewish museums have been embroiled in controversy over issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago staged an exhibit in 2008 on Israeli and Palestinian concepts of homeland that included maps and portraits of Palestinians. Following outcry from members of the local Jewish community who felt the exhibit presented Israel in a negative light, the museum decided to close the exhibit after only a few weeks. And in 2019, the director of the Jewish Museum Berlin resigned after the museum tweeted a link to a pro-BDS article in a German newspaper. (The museum previously came under fire for welcoming anti-Zionist scholar Judith Butler and representatives of Iran.)

In a joint interview with J., two CJM staffers who worked on “Tikkun” — co-curator Qianjin Montoya, who is not Jewish, and a Jewish senior curator who served in an advisory role, Heidi Rabben — shared the story of how Stimage’s piece came to be in the exhibit. (Montoya’s co-curator for the exhibit, Arianne Gelardin, no longer works at the museum.)

Since 2009, CJM has invited local artists from different backgrounds to create new work as part of the museum’s annual Dorothy Saxe Invitational. The idea for “Tikkun” was hatched before the pandemic put the planning process on hold. Once the CJM and Saxe — a local philanthropist and art collector — agreed on the theme, the co-curators invited artists “already engaged in healing through their relationship to community or in their practice of daily life,” Gelardin told J. last February.

The 30 artists who accepted the museum’s invitation were given only four months to conceive of and submit new works. That was likely the shortest timeline in the history of the invitational, which has been held 11 previous times, according to the museum. Each artist received a packet of materials compiled by CJM staff, with input from the Shalom Hartman Institute, a non-degree granting Jewish education center, to guide their thinking on “tikkun.”

Stimage was invited to participate because she is “very active” in the Bay Area and because “her work reflects ideas of community and connection,” Montoya said.

The curators said Stimage’s inclusion of the Palestinian flag in her submitted piece came as a surprise and prompted challenging conversations. However, they noted that they found the content of some of the other artists’ work surprising, too, and that it’s not unusual for contemporary artists to push the envelope in their work.

“I wouldn’t say we expected to receive a piece about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but we weren’t steering anyone away from that, either,” Rabben told J., adding that the submission guidelines did not place any topic off limits. “That’s a commitment from the museum to authentically represent the creative spirit of the artists that we’re working with,” she said.

Still, the curators said they engaged in a dialogue with Stimage in order to better understand each aspect of her piece and her overall intentions. Through those conversations, the curators learned that Stimage wanted to explore a moment of “rupture,” and that through her piece she hoped to communicate “that before healing or repair might happen, you have to first acknowledge that rupture,” Rabben said.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco is showing “Tikkun,” an exhibit of works by Jewish and non-Jewish artists on the theme of repair. (Andrew Esensten)

Coerver, who was involved in some of the conversations, stressed that “careful consideration” was given to including the piece in the exhibit. “We felt an artwork addressing the plight of the Palestinians was appropriate in an exhibition on healing and repair,” he said. (No work submitted as part of the Dorothy Saxe Invitational has ever been outright rejected, the museum said.)

Stimage did not respond to interview requests from J. According to a CV on her website, she was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and earned an MFA from California College of the Arts in 2016. She is a past fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and was an artist-in-residence at Facebook in 2018. She also owns a floral gift shop in Oakland called Saint Flora.

Her work often touches on Black identity; she created a piece honoring Sandra Bland, an African-American woman whose 2015 arrest and death in a Texas jail cell sparked protests, and contributed to a 2019 San Francisco Art Institute exhibit on the Black Panther Party.

“I have a responsibility to create things that will, to the best of my present knowledge, do more good than harm, heal, inspire and uplift other humans,” she told the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper in 2015.

Stimage’s precise views on Israel are unknown. CJM referred J. to her artist statement for “No one is listening to us,” which reads: “Olive, sage, and sumac are flowering plants native to the Mediterranean (including regions of Gaza and the West Bank) that have a direct relationship to contested ancestral land and affect the livelihood of so many Palestinian farmers and families caught in the conflict. They are positioned in the space of The Contemporary Jewish Museum as a metaphor for the ongoing conflict over land rights and the desperate need for restoration and healing of an age-old wound.”

The curators told J. that during their conversations with Stimage about her piece, they asked her why including images of the Palestinian flag was important to her but did not request that she remove them.

“We determined that none of [the piece’s] components in and of themselves signified something problematic or concerning,” Rabben said. “Of course, we had the awareness that the symbol [of the flag] will be read in a variety of ways by a variety of people.”

(Rabben pointed out that the exhibit includes other works with national symbols rendered in provocative ways, such as a black-and-white photograph of an American flag that was torn apart and partially reassembled by Mexican-American artist Jose Arias.)

The Palestinian flag — which contains the Pan-Arab colors of black, white, green and red — was adopted by the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964. Since then, it has been the primary symbol of Palestinian nationalism.

For decades, the PLO was considered an enemy organization by Israel, and anything associated with it “had no place in Israeli public life,” said Eran Kaplan, an Israeli-born professor of Israel studies at San Francisco State University. Israel never went so far as to ban the flag. However, during the First Intifada, which lasted from 1987 to 1993, Israeli soldiers sometimes followed orders to confiscate the flag from protesters in the West Bank and Gaza.

With the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, Israel and the PLO recognized each other as negotiating partners. Yet the Palestinian flag remains a contentious symbol in Israel today. Kaplan noted that it recently served as a flashpoint during the funeral procession of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian American broadcaster who was killed in the West Bank in May. (The IDF conducted a review and admitted that the Israeli soldier who shot her had most likely misidentified her as an armed militant.) After warning Abu Akleh’s family not to display the flag, Israeli police attacked mourners in East Jerusalem, ripping flags out of their hands and off of the vehicle carrying her casket.

Today, the flag holds different meanings for Israelis and American Jews from different generations and political persuasions.

“There are large segments in Israeli society who view any form of Palestinian national identity as a threat to the existence of Israel,” Kaplan said. “There are others who view the PLO as legitimate partners in any form of negotiations [over the creation of a Palestinian state], but there’s an absolute split over those questions.”

Given the sensitive nature of Stimage’s work and others in the exhibit, the curators decided to solicit feedback from visitors via comment cards available at the entrance to the hall. Rabben said the museum has received a number of comments specifically about “No one is listening to us,” most of which were positive. “The majority of those comments were ‘Thank you for offering space for this topic at the museum,’” she said.

Last month, a security guard sitting in the “Tikkun” exhibition hall told a reporter that he had not witnessed any expressions of outrage or protest through the first nine months of the exhibit. “When we opened we were afraid of negative reactions, but they’re not stressed about it,” he said of visitors. “We have shown worse things here.” The guard, who has worked at the museum since it opened in 2008, mentioned a 2010 exhibit, “Our Struggle: Responding to Mein Kampf,” which included a copy of Hitler’s autobiography. “Some people were cussing us out” for displaying the book, he recalled.

Meanwhile, on the same floor as “Tikkun,” there is another, smaller exhibit containing potentially offensive art. A sign outside of the room warns visitors that inside is a Hitler marionette created by the parents of puppeteer Frank Oz. “Our intention in displaying this object is to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive through the objects and firsthand stories of those who experienced its persecution, and to encourage conversation and education about the ongoing horrors of antisemitism and authoritarianism today,” the sign says.

Coerver, CJM’s executive director, said he was proud that the museum’s three current exhibits — “Tikkun,” “Oz is for Oznowicz: A Puppet Family’s History” and “Gillian Laub: Family Matters,”  which includes photographs that Laub took of her Trump-supporting relatives — are raising “challenging questions” and providing opportunities for both visitors and museum staff to “expand our horizons.”

“We’ve been wading into some issues that I think are a little thicker than maybe we’ve been confronting in the past,” he said, “and I hope that continues.”

A version of this piece originally ran in J. The Jewish News of Northern California, and is reprinted with permission.


The post A Jewish museum exhibit features the Palestinian flag. Some visitors wonder if it belongs. 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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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

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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