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Actor Danny Burstein dishes on his latest Jewish role on Broadway

(New York Jewish Week) – In “Pictures from Home,” a new Broadway play, a photographer takes on a nearly 10-year project to chronicle the lives of his aging parents. As the son snaps pictures and interrogates his parents in their Southern California home, the three offer very different versions of their shared past and spar about the very meaning of “truth.”

“Loads of emotions came up during the show,” said Broadway veteran Danny Burstein, who plays the son, Larry. “Larry’s desire and passion to know more and to not just look at others critically but himself critically as well is inspiring to me. It’s a beautiful story.” 

Written by Sharr White and directed by Bartlett Sherr, the play is based on the 1992 photo-memoir by Larry Sultan, an acclaimed photographer who died in 2009. Nathan Lane plays the father, Irving, a Brooklyn-born Jew who struggled as a salesman but eventually became a vice president at Schick, the razor company. Acclaimed British actress Zoë Wanamaker plays the mom, a real estate agent who sometimes feels underappreciated as a breadwinner following Irving’s early (or was it forced?) retirement. Irving, raised in part in a Jewish orphanage, bitterly recalls the antisemitism he faced – and swallowed – on his way up the shaky ladder of success. 

And father and son clash not only over the project, but Larry’s career. Irv can’t quite understand how his son actually makes a living as a photographer and asks: “Where’s the rigor?”

Throughout the play, real recordings, home videos and the blown-up photos of his parents that appeared in Sultan’s photo-memoir are projected on the set behind the actors.

Burstein, 58, was nominated for a Tony Award for his portrayal of Tevye in the most recent Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”  A week after the opening of “Pictures,” he spoke to the New York Jewish Week about the Jewishness of the show and how it has impacted him so far. 

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Danny Burstein, who plays photographer Larry Sultan, won the 2020 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role at Harold Zilder in “Moulin Rouge!” (Courtesy)

New York Jewish Week: The concept of the show is a bit challenging to describe — it’s a play based on a memoir based on a series of photographs. How would you describe what the play is about?

Danny Burstein: It’s based on the beautiful book by the same title, which has incredible pictures in it but also contains the memoir of his time with his parents. It’s all a bit convoluted, but it comes together in a beautiful way. A play has not been told in this particular way before and it is quite unique. So it’s different, and you have to let people know that it is different from anything they’ve ever seen before, as far as the storytelling goes. It is a story of family and it’s also the story of the creation of art — sometimes it’s quiet, sometimes it’s passionate and volatile. Sometimes it’s extremely funny. It’s all those things when you’re making a piece of art.

You “feel all the feels” in other words. That’s the beautiful thing about the play. Larry winds up discovering things about himself and about his history and his parents.

Were you familiar with Larry’s work before the show or did playing him bring you closer to who he was?

I was not familiar with his work at all before the play, but at the same time now I feel very, very connected to the work and to who he was. One of the things that I’m very grateful for is that Larry’s [widow], Kelly, provided us with some of the actual tapes and recordings of conversations with his parents, so I got to listen to them actually talking. It was all of a sudden a very different kind of animal. 

It’s dramatized for our show and there was sometimes volatility, but mostly it was a lot of the two of them just sitting down and loving one another and chatting and reminiscing and hearing their origin stories, like how the family got to California from Brooklyn. It’s really a beautiful story and there’s a lot of love in the family. I also love Larry’s artistic pursuits and his artistic sensibility in finding several different meanings in one picture, maybe hundreds of meanings. He believed each person subjectively finds their own meaning in a piece of art and I love that about him.

Nathan Lane (Irving Sultan) and Danny Burstein (Larry Sultan) in “Pictures From Home.” (Julieta Cervantes)

How do you think the family’s Jewishness impacted the way they interacted with the world and with each other?

It [their Jewishness] absolutely affects the way they exist in the world. I always think of [Larry’s] artistic journey as being very Talmudic — it seems to me that he’s constantly asking questions and trying to get to the heart of the matter. That’s fundamentally Jewish. That practice of always questioning, and bringing that questioning not just to religion but to everyday life and to art is also fundamentally Jewish. I don’t want to make it sound like only Jews are exceptional intellectually, but that that level of intellectual pursuit is part of the Jewish culture.

So Larry’s Jewishness certainly informed his intellectual and artistic pursuits. How do you think your Jewish background informed the way you approached this character and characters you’ve played in the past? 

I was raised in a certain way: to question things. I can see a lot of my own relationship with my own father in the relationship between Larry and Irv. I’m sure I drove my father crazy. When I told my parents I wanted to be an actor, they were not dismissive of it. They didn’t say, “you’re wasting your life,” but they weren’t exactly supportive, either. They remained very neutral and said: “If this is what you want to do, then you’re going to have to work your ass off in order to make your dream come true.” So it wasn’t so much about the pursuit of financial success, the way Irv says, but it was about them worrying whether I could actually make a living at it and survive. 

I guess it’s the same kind of fear that any parent would have. My younger son is a musician and my older son is a first [assistant director] on films. Those are not exactly the kinds of things you’re going to go into to make a lot of money. They’re pursuits of passion. I guess I felt the same way, I was worried for them. But knowing my own journey and knowing my father’s journey, who wanted to be a writer — he studied with Philip Roth at the University of Iowa — and then decided to leave all that to to pursue a career in ancient Greek philosophy. So I guess he understood, too, the way I did. I guess it all comes full circle. So, I did not run up against the kind of wall that Larry ran up against, where basically Irv would call him a loser, as he does in the show, because he was not more of a financial success.

Pictures from Home is currently playing at Studio 54 (254 W. 54th St.) through April 30, 2023. Tickets and informationh here.


The post Actor Danny Burstein dishes on his latest Jewish role on Broadway 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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