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Book bans, Ukraine and the end of Roe: The year 2022 in Jewish ideas

(JTA) — Jewish eras can be defined by events (the fall of the Second Temple, the Inquisition, the founding of Israel) and by ideas (the rabbinic era, emancipation, post-denominationalism). A community reveals itself in the things it argues about most passionately.

It’s too early to tell what ideas will define this era, although a look back at the big debates of 2022 suggests Jews in North America will be discussing a few issues for a long time: the resurgence of antisemitism, the boundaries of free speech, the red/blue culture wars.

Below are eight of some of the key debates of the past year as (mostly) reflected in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s opinion section (which I have a hand in editing). They suggest, above all, a community anxious about its standing in the American body politic despite its strength and self-confidence.

Antisemitism and the Black-Jewish alliance

The rapper Kanye West spread canards about Jews and power. Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving shared an antisemitic film on Twitter. And comedian Dave Chappelle made light of both incidents on “Saturday Night Live,” suggesting comics like him had more to fear from cancellation than Jews did from rising antisemitism. The central roles played in these controversies by three African-American celebrities revived longstanding tensions between two communities who haven’t been able to count on their historic ties since the end of the civil rights era. The war of words was particularly vexing for Jews of color, like the rabbi known as MaNishtana and Rabbi Kendell Pinkney — who wondered whether “my mixed Jewish child will grow up in an America where she feels compelled to closet aspects of her identity because society cannot hold the wonder of her complexity.”

Jewish attitudes toward Ukraine 

Russia’s war on Ukraine stirred up complex feelings among Jews. It led to an outpouring of support for the innocents caught up in or sent fleeing by Russia’s invasion, and the Jewish president who became their symbol of defiance. It reinvigorated a Jewish rescue apparatus that seemed to have been in hibernation for years. And it probed Jews’ memories of their own historic suffering in Ukraine, often at the hands of the ancestors of those now under attack.  

Jews and the end of Roe v. Wade

In June the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn Roe v. Wade. It was an unthinkable outcome for liberal Jewish activists, women especially, who for 50 years and more had regarded the right to an abortion as integral to their Jewish identity and political worldview. Before the decision came down, Jewish studies scholar Michael Raucher questioned long-held Jewish organizational views that justified abortion only on the narrowest of religious grounds without acknowledging that women “have the bodily autonomy to make that decision on their own.” Conversely, Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel of America welcomed the end of Roe on behalf of his haredi Orthodox organization, writing that the rabbis “who guide us indisputably hold that, absent extraordinary circumstances, terminating a pregnancy is a grave sin.” Responding to Shafran, Daphne Lazar Price, an Orthodox Jewish feminist, argued that even in her stringently religious community, getting an abortion is a “conscious choice by women to follow their religious convictions and maintain their human dignity.”

Colleyville and synagogue safety 

A police chaplain walks near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas Jan. 15, 2022. (Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images)

After a gunman held a rabbi and three congregants hostage at a Colleyville, Texas synagogue in January, Jewish institutions called for even tighter security at buildings that had already been hardened after the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre in 2018. And yet for some, the sight of armed guards and locked doors undermines the spirit of a house of worship. Raphael Magarik of the University of Illinois Chicago argued that the Colleyville incident shouldn’t lead to an overreaction, especially when congregations are struggling to come back together after the pandemic. Rabbi Joshua Ladon warned about the “impulse to allow fear to define our actions.” Meanwhile, Jews of color said armed guards and police patrols can make them feel unsafe. In a powerful response, Mijal Bitton and Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein of the Shalom Hartman Center wrote that Jewish institutions must think in “expansive and creative ways about how to fight for our combined safety in a way that takes into account the rich ethnic and racial diversity of our communities.” 

Anti-Zionism, antisemitism and “Jew-free zones”

When nine student groups at UC Berkeley’s law school adopted by-laws saying that they will not invite speakers who support Zionism, the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles ran an op-ed with the provocative headline, “Berkeley Develops Jewish Free Zones.” In the essay, Kenneth L. Marcus, who heads the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, argued that “Zionism is an integral aspect of the identity of many Jews,” and that the bylaws act as “racially restrictive covenants,” precluding Jewish participation. Defenders of the pro-Palestinian students countered that groups often invite only like-minded speakers, and that while being Jewish is an identity, Zionism is a political viewpoint. Faculty, politicians and activists weighed in on both sides of what has become a central debate on campuses and beyond: When does anti-Zionism become antisemitism, and how do you balance free speech rights against the claims by some students that their personal safety hangs in the balance?

“Maus” and school book bans

A Tennessee school board voted to remove  “Maus” — Art Speigelman’s epic cartoon memoir about the Holocaust — from middle-school classrooms. (JTA photo)

Caught up in an epidemic of book-banning were Jewish books for children and young adults, a list that includes “The Purim Superhero,” “Family Fletcher” and “Chik Chak Shabbat.”  A Texas school board removed a 2018 graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s diary. But perhaps the highest profile case of a Jewish-interest book being banned came when a Tennessee school board voted to remove  “Maus” — Art Speigelman’s epic cartoon memoir about the Holocaust — from middle-school classrooms, citing its use of profanity, nudity and depictions of “killing kids.” Coverage of the ban misleadingly depicted “Maus” as an introduction to the Shoah for young adults, while Speigelman recently noted that he had become a reluctant “metonym” for the book-banning issue. Jennifer Caplan explained why the book is indispensable: “‘Maus’ forces the reader to bear witness in a way no written account can, and the [illustrations] are especially good at forcing the eye to see what the mind prefers to glide past.”  

Artificial intelligence and real-life dilemmas

Artificial intelligence, or AI, has become a fact of corporate life, with computing advances that power robotic automation, computer vision and natural-language text generation. But what captured the public imagination — and dread — this year were sites like Dall-E, which threatened the livelihood of graphic designers by generating original, credible illustrations with no more than a simple prompt, and ChatGPT, which is able to expound cogently and humanly on practically any topic. Beyond everyday ethical dilemmas (“Can I write my book report using ChatGPT?”) AI raised profound questions about what it means to be human. “Rabbis have historically been very open to the idea of nonhuman sentience and have tended to see parallels between humans and nonhumans as an excuse to treat nonhumans better,” wrote David Zvi Kalman in an essay on the prospect of creating artificial life. Similarly, Mois Navon suggested in JTA that “if a machine is sentient, it is no longer an inanimate object with no moral status or ‘rights’ … but rather an animate being with the status of a ‘moral patient’ to whom we owe consideration.

A Pulitzer for “The Netanyahus”

Author Joshua Cohen won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his novel “The Netanyahus.” (Roberto Serra—Iguana Press/Getty Images)

Joshua Cohen was the somewhat surprising winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his novel “The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family.” Or maybe not so surprising: The book is a fictionalized treatment of a real-life visit in the late 1950s by the Israeli historian Benzion Netanyahu for a job interview at a university very much like Cornell. With Benzion’s son Benjamin angling for an ultimately successful return to office in real life, a satire about Jewish power, right-wing Zionism and Israeli self-regard might have seemed to the judges very much of the moment. As critic Adam Kirsch wrote in a JTA essay, Cohen concludes that both American and Israeli Jewish identities “are absurd, crying out for the kind of satire that can only come from intimate knowledge.” Others weren’t amused. Jewish Currents criticized the novel for being derivative of both Philip Roth and Saul Bellow, and the Jewish Review of Books said that the novel includes “a capsule history of Zionism that is so blatant a distortion that I just gave up.”

The post Book bans, Ukraine and the end of Roe: The year 2022 in Jewish ideas appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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