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In Ukraine, Hanukkah candles are a lifeline in the midst of power outages

(JTA) — In the days before Hanukkah, which starts Sunday night, a few men and women from two Conservative institutions in Israel will travel to the small Jewish community in Chernivtsi, Ukraine, with a supply of needed items.

Amid the power outages stemming from Russian attacks, the volunteers will have blankets and  sweatshirts for the cold, as well as menorahs and kippahs for religious observance purposes. 

The 300 boxes of Hanukkah candles will do double duty.

These days, the power in Chernivtsi, a city of around 250,000 (before the war) in western Ukraine, is more off than on. So the candles will do more than allude to the story of the Maccabees — they will help light Jewish homes across the city.

“This year it’s really important” to have and use Hanukkah candles, said Lev Kleiman, leader of the city’s Conservative Jewish community, in a recent Zoom interview.

Although the need is urgent, “We will hold onto the candles until Hanukkah,” Kleiman added, his words in Russian interpreted by Rabbi Irina Gritsevskaya, the Russian-born and Jerusalem-based “circuit rabbi” of the Conservative movement’s Schechter Institutes and executive director of its Midreshet Schechter Ukraine. The organizations are coordinating the transport of holiday supplies to Chernivtsi.

Among a few “couriers” bringing needed items to Jewish communities in Ukraine, Gritsevskaya has made several trips there over the last 10 months. At the start of the war, she urged Jews in other cities to make their way to Chernivtsi, which was far from the intense fighting on the eastern border. 

Chernivtsi, which served as a place of refuge for thousands of displaced people from elsewhere in parts of the Soviet Union threatened by the Nazi army during World War II, is again attracting refugees from throughout the country. Earlier in the current war, Kleiman turned his synagogue into a refugee center for some of the millions of Ukrainians fleeing their homeland. The city also became a gathering site for worldwide faith leaders who have denounced the violence and expressed solidarity with the embattled Ukrainians. 

In addition to no heat and light in Chernivtsi, lack of electricity means lack of TV and radio use, along with spotty internet service. (Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Located on the Prut River, Chernivtsi (known at one time as “Jerusalem upon the Prut” for the strength of its Jewish community) is 25 miles north of the Romanian border and home to one of the country’s most active Conservative communities. The city’s Jewish population before the war began was estimated at 2,000, including many Holocaust survivors. 

And today, following the invasion? The number could be larger or smaller, no one is counting — but some western cities have experienced population growth due to all of the migration.

“No one knows,” Kleiman said. “Many left, but many came.” 

As in other Ukrainian cities, many Jews in Chernivtsi — especially women, senior citizens and children, everyone except draft-age males — have migrated. But uncounted other ones have come to a place of relative safety, either renting apartments or staying in ones under the auspices of the Jewish community. Most of the Jews in Chernivtsi now are those exempt from military service, Kleiman said. Others stayed in order to be with their husbands and fathers who joined the Ukrainian army after the war began, or to care for their aged parents. 

Despite signs of war — rifle-carrying soldiers and policemen on the streets, empty shelves in stores because of shortages, people hurrying to safety when they hear sirens — Jewish life there has continued, according to Kleiman. The most active organizations in the city are the local outpost of the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch movement, the JDC-supported Hesed Shoshana Welfare Center and Kleiman’s Kehillat Aviv Synagogue (his official title is coordinator), which sponsors daily Jewish activities. 

The synagogue — located near the Chabad center, with which it cooperates on relief activities — is housed in a small, two-story building that contains an office, a kitchen and a large multi-function hall. Kleiman says Hanukkah in 2022 will be more important than in past years because in addition to its ability to bring people together,the holiday also asserts Jewish survival. 

“There are a lot of parallels,” Kleiman said of the holiday and his community’s current situation.

Electricity in Chernivtsi flows only a few hours each day, and at night, no street lights are on, thanks to incessant Russian bombing of Ukraine’s infrastructure, and to government-imposed restrictions designed to conserve the little available resources.

A holiday of lights sans lights? “We’ve never done it before,” Kleiman said, adding that the Jews in his city understand the holiday’s symbolism. 

Some will come to the synagogue for a communal candle-lighting, according to Kleiman. Others will light their candles at home, in their windows. Like all other buildings in Chernivtsi, Kleiman’s office and apartment are subject to periodic electricity blackouts, often announced in advance. 

“With G-d’s help we will soon have a generator” – and 24/7 lights and heat in the synagogue, he said. Until then, he and the other residents of Chernivtsi will shiver. The temperature in the city was 29 degrees Fahrenheit during the Zoom interview, and a light snow was falling. 

Lev Kleiman is shown with his community’s Torah ark. (Courtesy of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies)

Though no Russian missiles have fallen inside Chernivtsi itself, some have reached the outskirts, causing damage to the area’s infrastructure and utilities. Other parts of the country have not escaped the Russian onslaught; two months ago more than 4,000 Ukrainian towns, villages and cities had experienced outages, and 40% of the country’s grid was crippled. The bombing of power stations is a major part of Vladimir Putin’s plan to weaponize Ukraine’s weather to bully the country into submission as winter sets in. (In addition to candles and other supplies, some Jewish groups are sending generators and heaters.)

Home in past years to such prominent Jews as actress Mila Kunis, the late Israeli writer Aharon Appelfeld, former Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein and the late poet-translator Paul Celan (born Paul Antschel), Chernivtsi has an honored place in the country’s history. On the eve of World War II, some 45,000 Jews lived in the city, about a third of the country’s total Jewish population. The collaborationist Romanian authorities, who ruled the area, established a ghetto in Chernivtsi where 32,000 Jews, including many from the surrounding region, were interned; from there, they were shipped to concentration camps in the nearby Transnistria area, where 60% died. 

A third of the city’s Jews survived the war. The population grew to about 17,000 when widespread migration from the USSR began in the late 1980s. Like many cities in the former Soviet Union, Chernivtsi has experienced a modest Jewish revival since Communism fell and open expression of Judaism was allowed again. The revival was spurred largely by the arrival of Chabad emissary couples and programs sponsored by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. 

But though Chabad, an Orthodox movement, is the prime Jewish mover in Ukraine, there is also a growing non-Orthodox presence in the country. The Israeli branch of the Conservative movement sent its first full-time representatives to Ukraine a decade ago. The movement’s Jerusalem-based Masorti Olami organization sponsors a network of synagogues, schools, camps, youth groups and kosher certification services across Ukraine. A few decades ago, Kleiman attended the Midreshet Yerushalayim day school in Chernivtsi and Camp Ramah Ukraine. 

In addition, the Reform movement’s World Union for Progressive Judaism has established 10 congregations in the country; the movement estimates that 14,000 Ukrainian Jews identify as members. 

Even though the need is urgent, Kleiman said his community will wait to use the candles until the start of Hanukkah. (Courtesy of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies)

These are boring days in southwest Ukraine. TV and radio are only available when electricity is available, and internet and cellphone service is always spotty. Kleiman calls the war a test of the people’s mettle, a spur to their growing national unity. As a form of solidarity, many have switched the language of their conversations from Russian — the lingua franca during the Soviet days — to Ukrainian. 

Nobody in Chernivtsi’s Jewish community is starving, Kleiman said. Kosher food is available at the synagogue, and volunteers bring supplies to people unable to travel. Overall, the morale of the Jewish community is good, he says. Native-born members of the community “support each other,” while some people from other parts of the country, separated from their families, with fewer personal connections, are depressed, he said.

In the boxes of materials that Rabbi Gritsevskaya is to bring to Chernivtsi from Israel are also some Israeli-style dreidels, whose Hebrew letters stand for the words “Nes gadol haya po”: “A great miracle happened here.” On dreidels used in the Diaspora, the last word usually is sham, “there.” 

The linguistic symbolism in a land under siege is clear, said Kleiman, who plans to explain the message to the members of the community taking home a dreidel. 

“I understand — they will understand too,” he says. “I hope the miracle will also happen in Ukraine.” 

The post In Ukraine, Hanukkah candles are a lifeline in the midst of power outages 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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