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In ‘Jew,’ comic Ari Shaffir delivers a raunchy love letter to the religion he says he left behind

(New York Jewish Week) — “You never know how people are going to respond,” says Jewish comedian Ari Shaffir, referring to his new standup special, “Jew,” which has more than 3 million views (and counting) on YouTube. 

The self-released, 90-minute showcase of stories and jokes goes deep into his life story, including his studies at a Jerusalem yeshiva. Shaffir, who eventually left Orthodoxy behind, balances Talmud lessons with the neuroticism of Jewish culture.  

The show gives the entire backstory of Judaism, starting with Adam and Eve, interweaving tales about Hanukkah and Passover, going through customs and traditions. It’s an oral history of Judaism, told through a brutally honest comedic lens.

After it was released two weeks ago, the special has been praised by numerous comics in the podcast world, including Tim Dillon, Shane Gillis, Chris Destafano and Joe Rogan, whom Shaffir calls a longtime friend.

There are also over 25,000 comments on the special, most of them positive. One goes as far to say that it is “the best special of the century so far.”

Shaffir, who lives in the East Village, said he has not received much negative feedback for the special, which is rare for a comedian who once received death threats and had to cancel shows for joking about NBA player Kobe Bryant’s death in 2020.

“Jew,” which was shot and performed in Brooklyn, was released Nov. 2. The date, Shaffir told the New York Jewish Week, was set far in advance — but it arrived at a moment when antisemitism became a national conversation topic, thanks to recent tweets from rapper Kanye West and Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving

“I was worried for a minute — I thought for a second it was going to derail it,” he said of the timing, adding that he  “wasn’t looking for this kind of press” in regards to his special.

The conversation only grew more intense last week, after Dave Chapelle delivered a monologue on “Saturday Night Live” abut the West and Irving controversies that critics, including the Anti-Defamation League and Simon Wiesenthal Center, called antisemitic.

“They’re ready to say that, regardless,” Shaffir said. “The complaints were already written. Most people think it’s funny.” Jewish organizations, he said, are “not known as great comedy critiquers.”  

“People don’t understand that we enjoy that,” Shaffir added, referring to the criticism. “I can speak for Chapelle on this. We’re only here to make people laugh, but we also enjoy when dorks get mad.” 

Shaffir, 48, has made a career off of making dorks mad, weaving tales about drugs, sex and Judaism into world tours, a podcast, spots at the Comedy Cellar in New York and the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.  

While he’s known for his edgy humor, Shaffir appears more introspective and personal in “Jew” when compared to his previous work. On his Comedy Central show “This Is Not Happening,” which ran for four seasons between 2015 and 2019, he talks about planting weed for strangers and fans at sports arenas and shopping malls (the police weren’t amused). He also appeared in a sketch called “The Amazing Racist,” where he spoofs “The Amazing Race” by playing a character who constantly brings up offensive stereotypes.

With “Jew,” by contrast, Shaffir has channeled his persona into a hyper-focused, cohesive take on all aspects of Judaism, including mikvahs, Yom Kippur chicken rituals and the minutiae of when certain foods can be considered kosher. At the same time, he keeps the material palatable for a non-Jewish audience.

“You can make anything accessible,” Shaffir said. “It’s the same thing as saying, ‘My dad does this weird thing, or my country does this weird thing.’ You just explain it and you’re fine.” 

Ari Shaffir holds the crown as my favorite j-w. He’s Moshiach in my eyes.

— Adam Green – Know More News (@Know_More_News) November 14, 2022

While Shaffir may have turned away from religion as a young man, he said he has since found “a love for how interesting and cool it was.”

“I now see that Judaism leaves your kids with intelligence, where they value education and family,” Shaffir said. “It’s great stuff and I wanted to show that.”

When the special was released, Shaffir left a note on his web site saying that it is his “love letter to the culture and religion that raised me.”

He tells a story in the special about meeting with his rabbi from the Jerusalem yeshiva and telling him he was a standup comedian. “All he wanted to know was, ‘do you still use the teaching?’” Shaffir says in the special.

Shaffir then talks about how the rabbi gave him a lesson about Noah’s Ark, which he then turns into a bit about anal sex — all while leaving the audience with a positive spin on Judaism.

“Not all religion is stupid,” Shaffir says in the special. “It’s a good lesson, especially in this day and age.”

Shaffir was born in New York and spent most of his childhood in North Carolina and Maryland. He was “a Modern Orthodox Jewish kid” who attended the Hebrew Academy of Greater Washington (now the Berman Hebrew Academy). After high school, Shaffir went to Bris Medrash L’Torah, an Orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem, which he said was the “standard track” for a Jewish kid at his age, but eventually he had “a crisis of faith.”  

“I just came home and really thought about it and I was like, ‘I’m out,’” Shaffir said. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Since then, Shaffir said he does not believe in God, but believes in the “shared history” of Judaism.

And while he’s had moments of Jewish jokes and stories in his previous specials, this is his full show on the topic, going deep within himself to find the humor within the religion, even in the darkest of places.

Shaffir’s father is a Holocaust survivor from Romania, who moved to Israel following the war. Shaffir said his story of survival was “a major part of our upbringing.”

“Their village got taken later in the war,” Shaffir said of his father’s family. “Most of the family was wiped out. I don’t know all the details exactly.” 

He now has a good relationship with his parents and said they saw him perform the special live. “They liked it,” Shaffir said. “They probably liked it more than my other specials, where I was talking about [having sex with] chicks with herpes.” 

While working on the special, Shaffir workshopped his material at the Fat Black Pussycat, the “sister showroom” of the Comedy Cellar in New York’s Greenwich Village. There, an audience member once asked him a question about “the pillow” that Jews carry. 

“I was like, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Shaffir said. “But then it hit me: It’s tallis and tefillin,” the velvet bags containing prayer shawls and phylacteries that Jews carry to synagogue. “It looks like a pillowcase. You can look at it from an outside perspective, their point of view: It looks like a pillow. Their questions would get me to riff.” 

He later took his special abroad, including Israel, where “it did not work,” he said. “They knew too much about it. All the exposition, they were like, ‘We know.’”

In contrast, he performed the material in places where there were few or possibly no Jews, such as Perth, Australia and Reykjavik, Iceland, where it went well. “Places where they are like, ‘I’ve never heard of [Jews],” Shaffir said. “I had to make sure it went well there because it’s gotta be accessible.” 

He also performed a version of the show as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, which he said greatly inspired the special.  

Another aspect of the Shaffir’s special is countering the narrative of Orthodox Jews as outsiders. “They work regular jobs,” Shaffir said. “There are ambulance drivers with yarmulkes.  There’s just some weird stuff that they do. We would play basketball and we would have tzitzit [ritual fringes] and a yarmulke on, but we were on the courts with everybody.”

Shaffir has a joke in the special about using a yarmulke as a move to distract a defender during a basketball game.  

This year, Ryan Turell became the first Orthodox player drafted into the NBA’s developmental G League

“I love it,” Shaffir said. “Hopefully it goes well for him and he loses his religion. That would be cool.”

The post In ‘Jew,’ comic Ari Shaffir delivers a raunchy love letter to the religion he says he left behind 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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