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Eric Adams wants to combat hate in NYC through interfaith dinners. Can that accommodate Orthodox Jews?

(New York Jewish Week) — Mayor Eric Adams is famous for his love of the city’s nightlife, and that mood was on display last Thursday as he hobnobbed with more than 100 people at the 40/40 Club, an upscale bar and restaurant in the Barclays Center, while dining on lamp-warmed samosas and chicken skewers.

The gathering came with a goal: to jumpstart a program, called “Breaking Bread, Building Bonds,” that aims to bring together leaders of the city’s diverse ethnic and religious communities over food. The attendees, mostly city workers and nonprofit employees, were there to experience what such a dinner could feel like, and to learn how to host one of their own.

“We are going to finish with 1,000 dinners,” Adams said, speaking to the crowd. “Ten thousand people will become ambassadors for our city. Then those 10,000 people will branch out and do their dinners, turn into 100,000. We will continue to multiply until this city becomes a beacon of possibility.” 

The dinner initiative was conceived with the Jewish community at its center — launching at a JCC in partnership with one of the city’s biggest Jewish nonprofits. Now, it faces an additional hurdle: Engaging the large haredi Orthodox communities in Brooklyn that have experienced a series of street attacks — and that observe a set of strict religious laws surrounding food that could hinder their participation in some interfaith meals.

Some haredi New Yorkers have attended the “Breaking Bread” dinners, and members of at least one large Hasidic community are planning to host one of the meals. But other haredi activists in the city told the New York Jewish Week that they’re skeptical the program can be sufficiently sensitive to their dietary and religious restrictions, which include close adherence to kosher laws and, for some, gender separation at public events.

The first catalyst dinner for New York City Mayor Eric Adam’s ‘Breaking Bread, Building Bonds’ initiative was held at Barclays Center on Thursday, March 2. (Jacob Henry)

Speaking on the sidelines of last week’s dinner, Adams said the initiative does account for the needs of observant Jews. When he held similar dinners as Brooklyn borough president in 2020, he said, the meals were always “considerate of Shabbos.”

“We allow the dinners to happen throughout the week,” Adams told the New York Jewish Week. “Those who can’t come on a Friday night or until sundown, we do that. If they eat kosher, we do that. We keep the meals simple, nothing complicated, so that everyone can feel at home at the same time.” 

But the event where Adams was speaking did not, in fact, include kosher food, according to Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov, who leads Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavat Achim, a Bukharian community synagogue in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens.

“It was a mistake,” Nisanov said. “I didn’t eat the food, I only had the drinks. I was complaining about it.” 

However, three of the dinners hosted so far have been certified kosher, and many local Jewish activists — including Orthodox leaders — said they support the initiative and believe it can accommodate a broad portion of the city’s Jewish spectrum. 

Devorah Halberstam, an adherent of the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement and longtime campaigner against antisemitism, said she plans to host a dinner in the future. 

“It’s actually not that complicated,” said Halberstam, who serves as director of foundation and government at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn. “You invite people to a table and you have conversations. If it’s Muslims, we’ll have halal stuff covered. Kosher food is in another setting. Ultimately, it ends up working.” 

The initiative aims to hold 1,000 dinners across the city that bring together community leaders in the hope that eating together will foster mutual understanding that will trickle down to rank-and-file New Yorkers of different backgrounds. At the kickoff event at the Marlene Meyerson JCC on the Upper West Side in late January, Adams called the dinners a “potent weapon” against hate.

Breaking Bread is supported by multiple city agencies and Jewish organizations, including the UJA-Federation of New York; the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York; The People’s Supper, a non-profit that facilitates meals between people of different identities that began holding similar dinners in 2017; and the New York City Office of the Prevention Of Hate Crimes, which is overseen by the mayor. UJA is partially funding the program by reimbursing up to $150 per dinner. 

The Adams administration, and organizations supporting Breaking Bread, declined to provide key pieces of information about the initiative, including a budget, list of hosts or people who had signed up or a list of scheduled dinners. 

The initiative is designed around dinners of roughly 10 people each. The host is given a guide that includes instructions on how to facilitate a dinner and sample questions to ask fellow diners. One question asks attendees to describe “a time, recent or long passed, in which you were made to feel… fully seen, heard and like you fully belonged.” 

Rabbi Bob Kaplan, who is the executive director of the Center for a Shared Society at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, told the New York Jewish Week that the organization is “taking this program very seriously.” 

“We will be looking to encourage as much of this as we can throughout the city,” Kaplan said. “We really think that Breaking Bread opportunities are incredible ways of bringing together leadership and community leaders to really talk to each other.” 

The few dinners hosted thus far have included religious leaders, city officials and leaders of nonprofit organizations. Anyone can sign up to host or attend a dinner via a city website. Hassan Naveed, executive director of the OPHC, told the New York Jewish Week that thus far, nearly 500 people have signed up as hosts or participants. 

“There is so much interest happening,” Naveed said. “We want this to be something that is movement-building, that brings folks together from different parts of the city, to really build a relationship between communities.” 

There have been several dinners in the weeks since Breaking Bread launched, including one that Naveed attended last month at Talia’s Steakhouse, a kosher restaurant on the Upper West Side, where the mayor himself made a brief appearance. Diners ate Jamaican cuisine, served by chef Kwame Williams, in honor of Black History Month. Other attendees ranged from a senior city official to Tenzin Tseyang, a community liaison for Queens City Councilmember Julie Won; UJA’s Rabbi Menachem Creditor and others. 

Other dinners have taken place at the Manhattan JCC and at Manhattan College, both of which were also kosher. The JCC dinner included the executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project and a representative of the Asian-American Foundation, in addition to Jewish leaders and cosponsors of the initiative. 

“Those who are seated around the table with one another will be able to call on one another for both simple and hard things,” said Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn of Congregation Tehillah in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale, who hosted the Manhattan College dinner. “When we strengthen our own communities, we’re more able to reach out to other communities.” 

Bringing New Yorkers together to break bread is one of the best ways we can talk through differences and defeat the pipeline of hate.

Last night’s Breaking Bread Building Bonds event at Talia’s Steakhouse on the Upper West Side did just that.

— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) February 17, 2023

Nisanov, the Bukarian rabbi from Queens, said he believes in the concept and has hosted his own dinners with neighborhood Muslim leaders. 

“We sat together at my synagogue with people from the Muslim faith because people didn’t know each other,” Nisanov told the New York Jewish Week. “Now, they know that kosher is the same as halal.” (Jewish and Muslim dietary laws are similar, but they are not the same.)

The initiative has not yet involved some large segments of the Brooklyn haredi community, including a major Satmar Hasidic organization. Moishe Indig, a prominent activist affiliated with another faction of Satmar, and a close confidante of the mayor, has also not attended. City Council member Lincoln Restler, who is Jewish and represents South Williamsburg, which is home to a large number of Satmar Jews, told the Jewish Week in a statement that he is “in touch with City Hall and eager to convene Breaking Bread gatherings” in his district.

“This is a wonderful new initiative building on the mayor’s work as borough president,” Restler said. “We will never arrest our way out of hate violence, so we need to deepen cross-cultural understanding to address our collective safety.” 

Adams does have a close relationship with the Hasidic community. The mayor appointed Joel Eiserdorfer to the role of advisor in his administration, the first Hasidic Jew to hold that title. Adams received considerable Hasidic support in his 2021 election victory. 

But despite that relationship, some Orthodox leaders and activists still have their doubts that the dinner initiative will successfully engage the haredi community.  Some spoke to the New York Jewish Week anonymously, out of a fear that their criticism could hurt their community’s relationship with the mayor. 

One Orthodox leader who works in government told the New York Jewish Week that “at this moment, it feels like this initiative doesn’t exist.”

“Personally everyone is rooting for the mayor on this,” the leader said, but he added that the initiative was “not comprehensive” in terms of reaching out to major Orthodox groups.

“Most of us haven’t heard of it,” another Orthodox community activist said. “The mayor’s head is in the right place. I’m sure this program is well-intentioned.” But he added, referring to kosher restrictions and norms of gender separation, that ”on a practical level, it’s hard to see how it will work in this community.”

He added that he believes leaders in the Hasidic community may participate, but “we don’t need to bring together leadership… We need people on the street to understand each other.”

Nisanov believes the Breaking Bread dinners can help accomplish that task by helping community leaders influence their constituents.

“It starts from the leaders and it goes down to the regular people,” he said. “It’s going to take a while, but at least when the elders do it, it will trickle down to the young.  We will have to include young people to show and explain.”

He said that there are some people within the Jewish community who “would like to live in a secluded world.”

“That’s not possible,” Nisanov said. “There will always be restrictions. God will not change. We will always have that, but we have to learn to coexist.”

Motti Seligson, a Hasidic communal leader and Chabad spokesman, told the New York Jewish Week that “there are dinners already planned in neighborhoods like Crown Heights that will certainly have participation from the Hasidic Jews.” He added, “Building these bonds is something that Mayor Adams has not only seen and experienced first hand… he also created many of them through events like the Breaking Bread dinners in Brooklyn, which he organized.”

Deborah Lauter, the inaugural director of the OPHC, said Breaking Bread “has enormous potential” but acknowledged that navigating the range of haredi groups takes time.

“There are so many different factions within the haredi community,” Lauter said. “Some will be more inclined to participate than others. There’s a lot more work to get people on the ground to know each other.”

The post Eric Adams wants to combat hate in NYC through interfaith dinners. Can that accommodate Orthodox Jews? 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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