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A Rube Goldberg machine comes to life — literally — in a new dance piece

(New York Jewish Week) — Are we humans all parts of a meticulously crafted machine? Or are we independent beings, chaotically disrupting one another’s trajectories through time and space? Is there a difference between intentional and unintentional impact? Does it matter whether our movements are prompted by internal or external forces?

These are just some of the questions that surfaced as I watched footage of “Rube G. — the Consequence of Action,” a new work by acclaimed New York-based choreographer and dancer Jody Oberfelder. The piece — at once whimsical and thoughtful — explores the mechanical motions inherent in a classic “Rube Goldberg machine” (a chain-reaction contraption that typically involves levers swinging, cogs twirling, bits and bobs knocking each other on predetermined courses) as expressed through the human form.

Over four years in the making, the piece will make its debut March 4 at the Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center in Lower Manhattan. It will be performed for three consecutive weekends, culminating in a gala event on March 19.

The genesis of this 50-minute piece began four years ago, when musician Frank London of The Klezmatics was organizing an event celebrating 15 Jewish thinkers and creators — from philosopher Hannah Arendt to composer Morton Feldman — at the New York Public Library. Oberfelder, a director, choreographer and filmmaker dedicated to site-specific works that “expand how one experiences dance,” was invited to create a piece inspired by the work of Rube Goldberg (1883-1970), the Jewish cartoonist who drew his eponymous machines starting with Collier’s Weekly magazine in 1929. According to the Rube Goldberg Institute for Innovation and Creativity, these machines “solve simple problems in the most ridiculously inefficient way possible.” A classic example is the “Self Operating Napkin,” which wipes an eater’s face by using a combination of strings, counterweights and even a scythe.

Oberfelder was intrigued and, initially, a bit surprised by the assignment. “[Frank] said, ‘God, you’re Rube Goldberg! This is perfect for you!’ But it wasn’t until I started going deeply into research that I realized [he was right],” Oberfelder told the New York Jewish Week.

Oberfeld has had a long and illustrious career: She’s danced with and for the likes of composer Meredith Monk and choreographer Sally Silvers, and has traveled the world as a performer, guest choreographer and lecturer, from the University of Hawaii to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Still, this new prompt captivated her. “I realized we’ve been living the Rube Goldberg life all along,” she said, referencing the ways in which people are all tied together, an intricate array of human cogs. Soon, she was hooked on the ideas behind Goldberg’s fanciful genius.

An iconic Rube Goldberg cartoon, the “Self Operating Napkin,” was featured on a U.S. postal stamp honoring the cartoonist. (Rube Goldberg Inc.)

The resulting piece for the NYPL event was, according to Oberfelder, “a four-minute blast” that explores this idea.  “We were running through the audience,” she told me, remembering that first dive into the world of order and chaos that is Goldberg’s philosophy. “[It seems like] a whole lot of something for nothing. But it is something — the joy of the moment to moment, while a marble is rolling down a slide, knowing that it [was there] and it worked.”

After that initial performance, Oberfelder wanted to explore more but, of course, the pandemic soon swept away any performance plans. Inventive as ever, she took the ideas she’d workshopped for London and created a second iteration: a film that combined over 300 clips of dancers responding to prompts like “spin” and “pop up.” Dancers and laypeople the world over, despite the social isolation, came together into a global Rube Goldberg machine.

Eventually, as COVID-19 restrictions lifted and the world began to open up, she took her new understanding of the themes and translated the film into a site-specific work that showed at Roulette, a Brooklyn theater, in 2021. That work was really the proto version of this newest take. It had the playfulness, the fun, the tumbling, the twirling. It wasn’t quite there, though. Not yet.

The piece explores big questions, including, as Oberfeld said: “What would a Rube Goldberg machine look like if it was performed by humans?” (Courtesy)

With “Rube G. — the Consequence of Action,” Oberfelder digs even deeper into her big idea —  that everything we do is both influenced by others and influences others in both predictable and unforeseeable ways. To her, this idea has a philosophical connection to Judaism: “Everything here on earth happens and [it’s our lot] to live it to the fullest,” she said, adding that “the way in which we help each other along” is part of a Jewish ethos.

In the current iteration, four performers (including, briefly, Oberfelder herself) move in the space with a curious mix of clumsy and graceful motions. They are the machine — pushing, pulling, whirling in tandem — but their gestures seem, at times, independently determined. Are we all simply reacting to the actions of our peers? I wondered, as I watched one dancer dribble another one across the space like a basketball. Or do we have a choice in the matter?

While the dancers on stage explore the relationship one human has with another, a wild card, in the form of improvised audience participation, is added to the mix. Viewers who attend a performance of “Rube G. — the Consequence of Action,” may, at times, be called to interact with and define the direction of the piece. This element of the unknown will be folded into a meticulously planned piece which, like a Goldberg Machine, has a zillion moving parts that all seem random but somehow fall perfectly into place.

“During COVID, I got to a point where I was really analyzing the nature of performance and what I missed about it,” Oberfelder said. “What I felt was lacking was the effervescence of people coming together with different ideas to present something new…. I’ve tried to create an environment where we’re all here.” To Oberfelder, “all of us” includes the audience — and maybe people everywhere, too.

“It’s sort of like singing in the shower,” she added. “It’s nice, and it’s a great release. But actually, I would like these vibrations to go past my bathroom walls.” To that end, she’s brought her work to a simple space (“it’s just a big white box studio with very simple lighting”) and is welcoming audience members into the dance. As a result, each performance will be one-of-a-kind.

“What would a Rube Goldberg machine look like if it was performed by humans?” Oberfelder wondered aloud when we spoke, mulling over the various possible iterations. Now is our chance to find out.

“Rube G. — the Consequence of Action,” will be performed at The Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, inside the Gibney Dance Center, at 280 Broadway on March 4-5, March 11-12 and March 18 at 7:30 p.m. A gala performance will be held on March 19 at 6:30 p.m. and will include post-performance food, drinks and a live auction. For tickets (from $15) and info, click here.


The post A Rube Goldberg machine comes to life — literally — in a new dance piece 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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