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Chabad women come together once a year in person. The rest of the time, there’s Instagram.

(JTA) — The first post on Rivky Hertzel’s Instagram account — which she and her husband signed up for last year ahead of a planned move to Zambia — depicts a classic Chabad activity: a mock matzah bake for children that the couple organized in Lusaka, the country’s capital, ahead of last Passover.

But like many Instagram posts, the cheerful photo didn’t exactly tell the whole story:

The kids’ chef hats were made out of paper, their aprons were made out of garbage bags, and their rolling pins were actually the detached handles of toilet plungers — wrapped in Saran Wrap — that Hertzel picked up on the fly at a local store when she realized she was short on baking supplies.

Only after the bake was done did Hertzel, 22, reveal the origins of the “rolling pins.”  Much to her relief, the kids’ parents had a good laugh about it.

And months later, in a “Throwback Thursday” post, Hertzel shared a photo of the deconstructed toilet plungers themselves. The red ends of the plungers sat in rows next to the separated handles.

“What do you think we used the plungers for?” she wrote. One viewer responded, “Moshe’s staff.” Another wrote, “As a plunger:).” She then revealed that they were rolling pins, to her followers’ delight.

“I have friends in Alaska and in New York and anywhere else, and I think they were excited and kind of inspired by that,” Hertzel told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “When you’re living in New York, what are you thinking about Jewish kids in Africa? No one’s thinking about it. They were inspired by the lengths that we were willing to go to make a special Jewish experience for kids.”

Hertzel’s experience is an example of the increasingly significant and versatile role Instagram is playing in the lives of Chabad’s women emissaries, known as shluchos. Nearly 4,000 shluchos gathered this past weekend for a conference that concluded with a massive gala dinner at a New Jersey convention center. But during the rest of the year, many of the emissaries live without a robust local Orthodox support system, often taking the lead in organizing Jewish activities in far-flung locales with few, if any, other observant Jews.

To fill that gap, some have turned to Instagram as a vehicle to document both their work and personal lives. And as a younger generation of emissaries begins taking up posts around the world, the way they portray their Jewish outreach cuts across Instagram’s many vibes. Some stick to curating a beautiful photo grid, while others use the platform to broadcast the messier parts of raising a family while running a Jewish community. Some keep their accounts private, viewing social media primarily as a way to reach friends and relatives across the globe.

“There’s so many wonderful, beautiful things that social media can be used for,” said Chavie Bruk, the Chabad emissary in Bozeman, Montana. “The more we can talk about the day-to-day struggles and the day-to-day life and the not-glorified part about being a shlucha, I feel like it just creates community and comfort and support.”

Bruk, 38, has been on Instagram for about 10 years, and started using it regularly about three years ago. Her Instagram is a combination of colorful family photos on the permanent grid, and front-camera facing 24-hour stories where she “doesn’t sugarcoat things” about her life as parent to five adopted children, one of whom is Black and another has a seizure disorder, living in a mostly rural state with only 5,000 Jews.

On Wednesday, she posted a story about a blockage in the septic tank of her house, which is not connected to the city sewer system.

“This has been two days of trying to figure out where is the blockage and they cannot figure it out,” Bruk says in the video. “And we’ve tried everything. Which means we haven’t really been able to use a lot of water in the house. So now it means that we have to get a backhoe. We’re very lucky that our neighbor has one. So Montana!”

Until the blockage is found, Bruk says in the video, her family has to limit their consumption of water.

“I show up how I am,” Bruk told JTA. “Just because you’re doing something really awesome and just because you even love what you’re doing, doesn’t mean it’s not going to be hard.”

She added, “My parents’ generation, there wasn’t room for that. There wasn’t room for expressing hardship. I think [in] that generation, the shluchos were looked at as superhuman. They just were able to pull it all off without their hair being ruffled… We need to embrace that and really be like, ‘You know what? No. We’re shluchos, we do amazing things. We do things that are superhuman, but we’re not superhuman.’”

Other emissaries use Instagram as a way to broadcast a fashionable version of themselves in an effort to connect with young Jews. Emunah Wircberg, 31, a shlucha and director of a Philadelphia art gallery called Old City Jewish Arts Center, is also a fashion blogger. Wircberg and her husband Zalman primarily serve Jews in their 20s and 30s, and they usually meet at the gallery for art-themed social events, networking opportunities and chic Shabbat dinners.

Wirchberg’s Instagram is largely beige, black and white, showing off her modest style of silky skirts layered with chunky knits, oversized blazers and coats, and a variety of wide brim hats, all with a loose silhouette. Some of the photos are shot in Philadelphia and others are taken in Israel, posing in front of the iconic Jerusalem stone.

Wircberg also posts stylized pictures of her family life and Jewish ritual, such as shots of her family’s Purim costumes, Hanukkah and pre-Shabbat candle lighting. Some of them are inflected with Chabad teachings, including references to Chaya Mushka Schneerson, the wife of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Chabad leader known as the Rebbe.

Emunah Wircberg is a Chabad emissary and a modest fashion blogger. (Screenshots via Instagram)

With 20,000 followers, Wircberg’s friends have asked her why she doesn’t try to monetize the page, though she does include links to donate to local Jewish institutions. “I view my Instagram as part of my shluchos, so I don’t want it to be a place where I’m trying to make money,” she said.

Wircberg also posts videos of her Shabbat cooking — recounting one time when she accidentally used an unkosher mustard for a chicken that she had to throw out — and shares artist-centered events and other activities.

Wirchberg said she appreciates “every opportunity that you have to show your life as a shlucha, Chabad Hasidic woman.” She added, “Showing that to the world and showing that to your followers and connecting with them in that way is actually a really cool, great channel to be able to do that.”

Other shluchos shy away from using Instagram as a public platform. For Esther Hecht, the 26-year-old emissary in Auckland, New Zealand, making phone calls to her friends and family in England and the United States often feels like an impossible task — a distaste that, polling shows, she shares with other members of her generation.

Instead, she finds the asynchronous nature of social media to be a helpful alternative when it comes to catching up with people.

At the conference, in between speaking at the podium in front of the nearly 4,000 guests, she found herself handing out her phone to exchange social media handles. Asked why she focuses on the platforms, she said, “It keeps me connected.”

Esther Hecht, the shlucha for Auckland, New Zealand, speaks at the annual conference for Chabad women emissaries. (Courtesy of Chabad)

The post Chabad women come together once a year in person. The rest of the time, there’s Instagram. 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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