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A new photo book celebrates the very Jewish cafeteria culture of a vanished New York

(New York Jewish Week) – Back in 1975, Marcia Bricker Halperin had just graduated from Brooklyn College with the dream of becoming a professional photographer when she stepped into the Flatbush outpost of Dubrow’s, a cafeteria-style restaurant, for a warm cup of coffee. 

It was there that inspiration hit. “I was wonderstruck,” Halperin writes in the introduction to her new book of photographs, “Kibbitz & Nosh: When We All Met at Dubrow’s Cafeteria,” describing the “cavernous” space with mirrored walls and a mosaic fountain. “It was the most idiosyncratic room I had ever seen.”

“I sensed it was a vanishing world on its last legs, and that impelled me to document it,” she continues. “On many visits, the tables were empty, sans a painterly still life of condiment bottles and jars in the morning light. I also perceived cafeterias as places that embodied a secular Jewish culture, something that was of great interest to me.”

“I attended a lecture by Isaac Bashevis Singer, who was billed as an “Outstanding Anglo -Yiddish” author, at the Brooklyn Jewish Center on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights,” Bricker Halperin writes in the introduction. “I adored his short stories, many of which were set in cafeterias, and I regret never finding the nerve that day to tell him about my own cafeterianiks.” (Marcia Bricker Halperin)

Halperin was prescient: She started photographing these once-ubiquitous eateries one decade before the final Dubrow’s location in the Garment District would close in 1985. The chain’s first location was founded in 1929 on the Lower East Side by Benjamin Dubrow, a Jewish immigrant from Minsk. By the mid-twentieth century, the family-owned company expanded throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan and Miami Beach, with ownership passing to the second generation, and then to the third. In Dubrow’s prime, a stop at one of the cafeterias was practically required for politicians such as John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter.

Nearly 50 years after her first visit, Halperin’s new book is a tribute to this now-defunct New York City cafeteria culture and the characters she met during the five years she regularly photographed there. The compelling 152-page book features her original black-and-white photos along with essays from Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Donald Margulies and Jewish American historian Deborah Dash Moore.

“Although Jews were not the only ones to patronize cafeterias, they preferred them as inexpensive places to hang out to bars, which often attracted an Irish immigrant or working-class clientele,” Moore writes in her essay, titled “See You at Dubrow’s.” “By the 1930s, cafeterias were part of the fabric of Jewish neighborhood life in New York City, a welcome alternative for socializing to cramped apartments, street corners, or candy stores.”

Now living in Park Slope and retired from a career as a special education teacher, Halperin talked with the New York Jewish Week about the city’s lost cafeteria culture and what inspired her to capture it with her camera. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

New York Jewish Week: You took these photos nearly 50 years ago. What made you decide to publish them now? 

Marcia Bricker Halperin: In the 1970s, there was such good feedback on the work. I was given a show, I was collected by a few people, I had a photo in The New York Times. People wrote me letters in the mail: “Ms. Bricker, I’m interested in buying one of your photos.” At the time, I was in a project called the CETA artists project, a federally funded arts project in the ’70s where I was paid to be a photographer. It was very much like the [Depression-era] WPA project, but one of the great differences with the CETA project was anything you shot, you owned. 

So I continued photographing changing New York during those years — some of it by assignment for nonprofit organizations that I worked with, like the Jewish Museum and an organization in Brighton Beach that was resettling the Soviet Jews that were arriving in the ’70s. They wanted photographs to help both the Soviet Jews understand American life and the old Jewish population in Brighton Beach understand Russian life. What a great opportunity!

I was going to be an artist and I did adjunct teaching and different things to make it work. I kind of fell into teaching high school photography and then, from there, I fell into teaching special education — that took over. Thirty-five years later, I retired from teaching. The day after I retired, I took out my negatives and my photography stuff and bought a scanner and all kinds of printers and things. 

So, I was a photographer once upon a time and then taught for many years and, overnight, I became one once again.

A man reads the Forvertz newspaper in Yiddish. (Marcia Bricker Halperin)

How did it feel to see these photos again? Had you developed any of them before? 

Yes, I printed quite a few of them then. I worked as a darkroom lab technician, so I had an opportunity in the ’70s to do a lot of silver gelatin prints. I would bring in a thick envelope of the imperfect prints to the cafeteria and at that point, everybody knew me. I gave out portraits to people. If I hadn’t shot them, they would gather around me asking: “Do you have my picture? Did you print it?” Especially the staff — there was a very international cohort of people working there and they all wanted pictures to send home to their families.

After that, the pictures lay fallow for all these years. I protected them and stored them very carefully. When I had the opportunity to come back and put together a sample book, I started looking through the negatives and I said, “Oh, my God, I don’t remember that picture.” It was a time warp to see some of these photos taken in the 1970s. In Manhattan, the ’60s had happened, but Flatbush in Brooklyn was the “Old Country.” It hung onto the past for a while and some women dressed like they were still in the 1950s.

Dubrow’s Cafeteria, Kings’s Highway 1975. The photographer appears in the top left corner. (Marcia Bricker Halperin)

Dubrow’s closed just ten years after you started shooting there. Could you feel at the time that cafeteria culture was ending?

I kept a journal at the time. When I went back 42 years later to look at it, I had written: “One day I’m going to show up here and this is going to be closed.”

There were other cafeterias in Manhattan and the Bronx and they had all closed. I’ve collected like every article ever written about cafeterias, and there’s one from 1973: “Are cafeterias going to be gone?” So it was fairly well known that this was a vanishing kind of establishment in New York. The automats ceased having the little boxes, Burger King bought them out, they tried to modernize and it got pretty sad. Sometimes during the day, the huge cafeteria would be empty and people would say, “This business can’t survive.” So I knew I was photographing in the vein of needing to document the things that are there and will be gone. It was one of the things that propelled me to get out there and photograph.

Today, things are different. There’s food courts and wonderful little coffee places. There are many businesses, especially here in Brooklyn, trying to perpetuate “grandmother foods” and there are restaurants that are serving “reinvented Jewish-style foods.” So there are some continuations, but in terms of the huge, opulent cafeteria spaces — grand professional murals, intricate woodworking, food with a crazy amount of preparation, 300 items, 30 different cakes — no restaurant could possibly survive like that. The only thing that still exists are my photos of them.

Men and women converse around empty tables at Dubrow’s on Kings Highway. (Marcia Bricker Halperin)

What was the Jewish culture of Dubrow’s and Flatbush like at the time? 

Growing up, we went to a little old “Conservadox” synagogue. We were the kind of family where my mother kept a kosher kitchen at home, but on Sunday nights we’d go out to the Chinese restaurant. Dubrow’s menu was “Jewish-style” but it was also a place you could go out and have your first shrimp salad sandwich, which became their most popular food. They were famous for shrimp salad! 

These cafeterias were all started by Jewish immigrants. But they were democratic for everyone — there was ham on the menu, shrimp. You could choose whether to have just meat or have a meat meal and then have a cream pie for dessert. That was your choice. With cafeteria-style, like religion, you pick and choose what you want and what you want to observe.

When I would go there, all the older people would ask: “Are you Jewish? You don’t look Jewish.” I’d say,“I’m Jewish. I know a few words of Yiddish, my parents speak Yiddish at home.” They would be satisfied with that. There was this sense that it was a club a little bit, it was a Jewish establishment. Not that everybody wasn’t welcome, and everybody socialized with everyone else. 

Socializing was a big thing there, not necessarily eating. Many of my pictures are people sitting around — sometimes it’s a coffee cup on the table, most of the time the table is empty. They were there to meet their friends and talk. Some people said it replaced the synagogues. The old men would go to Dubrow’s and have a cup of coffee with their friends in the morning and gossip and talk.

Kibbitz & Nosh: When We All Met at Dubrow’s Cafeteria” will be published on  May 15, 2023. The photos are on exhibit at the Edward Hopper House in Nyack, New York through June 25. 


The post A new photo book celebrates the very Jewish cafeteria culture of a vanished New York 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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