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How a Kentucky lawmaker’s friendship with a Jewish woman helped inspire her viral speech decrying anti-trans legislation

(JTA) — Pamela Stevenson, a Democratic state representative in Kentucky, was chatting recently with her friend Zahava Kurland about one of Kurland’s duties at her Orthodox synagogue: preparing the dead for burial.

“She was trying to explain to me certain things that had to be done,” Stevenson, who is also a Black Baptist minister, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last week. The seemingly esoteric topic was one of many the two women have discussed over more than a decade of weekly Friday-morning conversations — which cover anything from politics and friendship to faith and being one’s true self. 

Stevenson said her conversations with Kurland have made her attuned to Jewish sensibilities. “She’s always listening for and giving me information” about Judaism and Jewish experiences, said Stevenson, who was first elected to the Kentucky legislature in 2020. 

So Kurland was not surprised when, in a viral speech on Wednesday decrying her fellow lawmakers for signing off on a law that bans gender-affirming care for trans youth, Stevenson also centered antisemitism.

“First, you hated Black people,” Stevenson said, addressing the Republican lawmakers who voted for the legislation. “Then, you hated Jews. Now, you’re hating everybody. So the question is, when the only people left are you, will you hate yourself?”

Kurland said her friend is a listener and naturally empathetic, so she would be sensitive to how hatreds intersect.

“She’s truly well balanced,” said Kurland. “She truly cares about people.”

Stevenson says she looks forward to her Friday morning talks with Kurland. She said the conversations have helped give her a more expansive perspective on life, which drives her to fight bigotry. 

“I really believe that I will never know as much as she knows,” Stevenson said. “But I can develop an appreciation for what it’s like and not use my view of the world as the only view of the world.”

What prompted Stevenson’s floor speech was the overwhelmingly Republican legislature’s override of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a law that bans a range of medical treatments and practices for trans youth. It outlaws doctors from providing gender-affirming treatment to youth; requires them to cease care if it has already begun; bans conversations in schools about gender identity or sexual orientation; bans school districts from allowing transgender students to use the bathroom aligned with their gender identity; and allows teachers to refuse to use a child’s preferred pronouns.

The bill was introduced weeks after state Sen. Karen Berg’s trans son, Henry Berg-Brousseau, died by suicide. Berg, who is Jewish, said that referring to the anti-trans bill as a parents’ rights bill is an “absolutely despicable affront to me personally,” according to The Washington Post. Stevenson, who has appeared alongside Berg at rallies, called her “phenomenal” and said, “This is infinitely more personal for her.”

Stevenson said that she mentioned anti-Jewish hatred in her speech because she believes hatreds are mutually reinforcing, and she connects the anti-trans sentiment she sees with rising racism and antisemitism.

“If you have a model where you have to hate somebody to win, then you always have to have somebody to hate,” she said. “People say it was out of nowhere, but it’s really out of somewhere. We’ve gone through the cycles of the Native Americans, the Black folks have been hated for a long time, the disabled. Everybody is always on the bottom of that model. And in just recent years, it was the Muslims, then it was the immigrants, and then it was back around the Blacks again. And so because of this overflow of hate, there’s been an uptick in antisemitic actions.”

Stevenson said her mission is to make people cognizant of the roots of hatred. “People want to say that all the attacks against the Jewish temples and the Jewish people in recent times came out of nowhere,” she said, referring to reports of a spike in antisemitic attacks. “No, it did not. We just have chosen not to pay attention to what’s been said.”

Kurland, who is a member of Congregation Beth Jacob in Atlanta, and Stevenson, a retired Air Force Colonel and an attorney who is running to be Kentucky’s attorney general, met in 2006 when Stevenson was serving in the Air Force and Kurland was working as an accountant in Atlanta. They attended a three-day course with Landmark, the personal development program that presses participants to face uncomfortable truths about themselves.

“When we were closer-in logistically she came over very often for Shabbos meals,” Kurland said. “I often invite people for Shabbos meals and the holidays and I love explaining, you know, how Judaism gave more to the world than anything, anybody, any person. Torah, Judaism has given the world its whole structure for society.”

The Air Force started moving Stevenson around. “That’s when we started talking on the phone all the time, because we couldn’t get together,” Kurland said.

Stevenson is “a committed listener, someone who’s going to hear you and call you out on your stuff,” Kurland said. “It’s not a friendship where you massage each other’s egos. It’s a friendship where you hold each other to account for who you say you are.”

They each speak with outrage at the lawmakers who, they feel, would breach the relationship between a parent and a child.

“As a mother, how dare you interfere with one of the most intimate relationships?” Stevenson said two weeks ago during debate on the bill, addressing Rep. Jennifer Decker, a Republican who was its lead sponsor. “We have no right to interfere in the parental rights.”

Kurland agrees. “These are all decisions to be made between a child and his parents or her parents and their doctor,” she said. “It has no place for the government to have anything to do with anything.”

And both Kurland and Stevenson say religion is a key part of their identities.

“Judaism is the center part of my life,” said Kurland. “It’s what I am, it’s who I am, it’s what I’m about. And as a Jew, you cannot sit by and let another one of God’s human beings [be excluded]. I mean, when we honor other people, we are doing God’s work. We are honoring God. When we cut people out, then we’re not “

Stevenson likewise calls herself “a woman of faith.”

“I believe what is required, in almost every faith that I know of, is to love one another and take care of the people around us,” she said.


The post How a Kentucky lawmaker’s friendship with a Jewish woman helped inspire her viral speech decrying anti-trans legislation 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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