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Disney+ series ‘A Small Light’ tells the Anne Frank story from the perspective of the woman who hid her

(JTA) — The short life of Anne Frank has inspired generations of filmmakers and television producers. The list of past productions range from “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959), whose director George Stevens witnessed Nazi occupation as a U.S. army officer, to the Academy Award-winning documentary “Anne Frank Remembered” — featuring the only known footage of Anne — to the Emmy Award-winning dramatized miniseries “Anne Frank: The Whole Story” (2001).

On Monday night, viewers will get another TV version. But “A Small Light,” an eight-episode series premiering on National Geographic and streaming Tuesday on Disney+, tells the story from a new perspective: through the eyes of the woman who hid the Frank family.

Miep Gies was an independent 24-year-old with a busy social calendar and a dance club membership when she began working for Anne Frank’s father Otto in 1933 at Opekta, his successful jam business in Amsterdam. As Jews were rounded up and deported from the Netherlands in 1942, her Jewish boss asked if she would be willing to hide his family in an annex above the office, and she did not hesitate.

“A Small Light” stars Bel Powley as Gies, Joe Cole as her husband Jan Gies and Liev Schreiber as Otto Frank. It’s named for a quote from the real Gies, who once said that she did not like to be called a hero because “even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can turn on a small light in a dark room.”

That metaphor had literal meaning for the Frank family and four others in the secret annex, who spent two years in a dark 450-square-foot space behind a hinged bookcase. Gies, her husband and four other employees of Otto Frank secretly kept eight Jews alive while running his business downstairs. Gies brought them food and library books, using black market ration cards and visiting several different grocers to avoid suspicion. Anne Frank said in her diary, “Miep is just like a pack mule, she fetches and carries so much.”

In the series, the “dark room” is seen less than Gies’ frenzied bicycle trips across Amsterdam, as she tries to sustain the appearance of a normal life. Her secret pushes her away from friends and family, while her marriage strains under the weight of ever-looming disaster. The creators of “A Small Light” sought to recreate a hero as a modern, flawed, at times even annoying person.

“She’s not some kind of saint,” executive producer Joan Rater told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “She had moods, she had a new marriage, she wanted to hang out with friends. She wanted to take a day off and she couldn’t.”

“I think everyone can relate to Miep,” said Powley, an English-Jewish actress known for starring in several British shows and in American films such as “The King of Staten Island.” “She was just an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances.”

Although “A Small Light” is rife with tense scenes and suspense, the producers fashioned it with young audiences in mind. The show conspicuously avoids the explicit violence and horror typically expected of its subject matter, leaving out concentration camps and murders. Rater and co-creator Tony Phelan wanted children like their own to watch the series. While they were writing it, their daughter was the same age as Anne was when she was writing her diary.

Some young viewers have seen Anne’s story being swept up in literary purges across U.S. school districts, as part of the debate over what should be taught in American classrooms. Earlier this month, a Florida high school removed an illustrated adaptation of her diary after determining that references to her sexuality were “not age appropriate.” The same edition was previously yanked from a Texas school district, although it was reinstituted after public outcry. Meanwhile, a Tennessee school board banned “Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about his father’s experience in the Holocaust, after objections over curse words and nudity last year.

The name “Anne Frank” has long been synonymous with Holocaust education as her diary remains one of the world’s most-read books, with translations in over 70 languages. But the “relatable” rescuer presents another appealing way to teach children about one of the most wretched chapters in human history, said Brad Prager, a professor of German and film studies at the University of Missouri.

“It is the message that people like to hear,” Prager told the JTA. “If you ask a fourth-grader why we watch TV and movies — well, this is so that you can learn to do the right things, or you can learn that in certain circumstances anyone can be a hero.”

Liev Schreiber plays Otto Frank and Amira Casar plays Edith Frank in “A Small Light.” (National Geographic for Disney/Dusan Martincek)

A broader lens on the Netherlands during World War II is less palatable. The Germans and their Dutch collaborators implemented a highly effective system of persecution: Between 1942 and 1944, about 107,000 Dutch Jews were deported primarily to Auschwitz and Sobibor, then murdered. Only 5,200 of them survived.

Although Gies did everything she could to save the Jews in her care, the unwritten ending to Anne’s diary is well-known. Three days after her last entry in August 1944, Dutch police officers led by SS officer Karl Josef Silberbauer raided the annex. Gies escaped arrest by observing that she and Silberbauer shared a hometown.

“My luck was that the police officer in charge came from Vienna, the same town where I was born,” she said in a 1997 interview with Scholastic. “I noticed this from his accent. So, when he came to interrogate me, I jumped up and said, as cheerfully as I could, ‘You are from Vienna? I am from Vienna too.’ And, although he got very angry initially, it made him obviously decide not to arrest me.”

In a valiant last-ditch effort, Gies walked into the German police office the next day and attempted to buy her friends’ freedom. She was unsuccessful. 

Gies found Anne’s notebooks and papers strewn on the annex floor. Without reading them, she gathered and tucked the writings into a drawer, hoping to return them to their owner. Germany had all but lost the war already, with Allied troops less than 250 miles from Amsterdam

The Franks were packed on the last train ever to leave the Westerbork transit camp for the Auschwitz extermination camp. Otto was separated from his wife Edith and daughters Anne and Margot on the Auschwitz platform. In October, the girls were transported to Bergen-Belsen, and Edith succumbed to starvation in January 1945. Her daughters died of typhus a month later, when Anne was 15 years old. 

Some studies have suggested that knowledge about the Holocaust is diminishing. In 2020, the Claims Conference found that 63% of Millenial and Gen Z Americans (ages 18-39) did not know that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. More than 10% did not recall ever hearing about the Holocaust, while 11% believed that Jews caused it. Another Claims Conference survey reported that despite living in the country where Anne hid from the Nazis, a majority of Dutch people did not know the Holocaust took place there.

“In a time that antisemitism is on the rise and there are more displaced people in the world than there ever have been before, it couldn’t be a better time to re-explore this part of history, but through the lens of this ordinary young woman,” said Powley.

While “A Small Light” celebrates the power of the individual, the fate of Anne Frank also represents the failure of the whole world, said Prager. By centering Gies’ perspective, he said, the series risks making Anne a peripheral character in her own brutally aborted story.

“When you decenter Anne Frank, one thing is that you lose the Jewish perspective on the persecution,” he said.

Otto Frank, the sole survivor from the annex, appeared at Jan and Miep Gies’ doorstep after the war and ended up living with them for over seven years. In July 1945, Gies watched as he received the notice that his children were dead.

“He took it in his hands and suddenly he became eerily quiet,” Gies said in an interview for the Anne Frank House. “You cannot explain it, it was a silence that speaks. I looked up. He was white as a sheet. And he handed me the letter.”

Gies read the piece of paper, stood up and opened her desk drawer. “I took all the diaries, with all the separate sheets and everything and handed them over to Mr. Frank,” she said.

She told him, “This is your daughter Anne’s legacy.”

In 2010, Gies died at 100 years old. Every year on Aug. 4 — the day the Franks were arrested — she stayed at home, drew her curtains and did not answer the phone or doorbell

Powley believes the show’s angle gives a fresh perspective on “your mom’s dusty copy of Anne Frank’s diary.” She approached the role of Gies with a heavy sense of responsibility.

“I feel a deeper connection to this story than I have with other projects,” she said. “This offer came to me on Holocaust Memorial Day and it immediately had that special feeling to it. My grandma, the Jewish matriarch of my family, died during COVID. I feel that she would be proud.”


The post Disney+ series ‘A Small Light’ tells the Anne Frank story from the perspective of the woman who hid her 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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