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Israel is turning 75. For American Jews, planning the birthday party has gotten complicated.

(JTA) – Like many synagogues have done over time, Congregation Kol Ami in Seattle is partnering with local Israelis to celebrate Israel’s birthday — a big one this year.

But Kol Ami won’t be holding a straightforward celebration for Israel’s 75th. Instead, it’s working with UnXeptable, a group of expat Israeli activists who have been protesting for months against the Israeli government’s plan to overhaul the country’s judiciary, for what they are calling a “family gathering honoring Israel’s democracy.” There, congregants will study Israel’s Declaration of Independence then sign a new copy to “rededicate” it.

“Most cities are just going to do a pareve 75th anniversary of Israel and not recognize the emotional reality of a lot of Israelis right now,” said Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg, using the Jewish term for food that contains neither meat nor dairy — in other words, a safe option.

“We have all these people in our communities who are worried about their friends and family, and we’re just going to be folk dancing and eating falafel?” she asked.

Such is the dynamic at play as Israel celebrates a milestone birthday under the shadow of political and cultural turmoil that people on both sides of the judicial reform fight say could change the country’s character forever — and that has altered the relationship between American Jews and Israel.

Long hesitant to weigh in on Israel’s domestic affairs, many American Jewish groups and leaders, including rabbis, spent the past several months openly criticizing the country’s right-wing government for its effort to sap the power of the Israeli Supreme Court.

Now, with the judicial legislation on pause, many of those groups have turned their attention to Yom Haatzmaut, this year celebrated starting the evening of April 25, and the 75th secular anniversary of Israel’s independence on May 14. Jewish Federations of North America is supporting its 146 local federations in convening “Israel @ 75” programming, while synagogues of all denominations have planned an array of parties, study sessions and special events.

People gather to watch performers from the Independent Women Dance Troupe during celebrations marking Israel’s 73rd Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) in New York City’s Times Square, April 18, 2021.(Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

The question facing all of them: With even Israel’s president warning of possible political violence, just how festive can this year’s birthday feel?

For Kinberg, the answer is clear: An uncomplicated party would be “sort of like celebrating the Fourth of July if we’re in the middle of a civil war.”

American Independence Day offers an instructive example for Rabbi Erez Sherman of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, too — but he has come to a different conclusion from Kinberg. He said his community celebrates Yom Haatzmaut the way most Americans mark the Fourth of July — without tailoring it to the current political headwinds.

“Are we going to spend it pointing at every challenge that Congress has?” he asked. “Or are we going to say, ‘This country is unique’?”

Temple Sinai is partnering with several local Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Pico Union Project and the Jewish Journal, for its weeks-long series of “Israel @ 75” events. Another sponsor is StandWithUs, a pro-Israel advocacy group that is involved in Israel-at-75 celebrations in several cities.

Together, the consortium will host concerts, history lectures, art exhibits and special Shabbat services — and even if the complicated present is expected to come up, it won’t be a focus.

“While we can understand challenges, there is also time for celebrations and birthdays,” said Sherman, who oversees Israel programming at his synagogue. “Israel is not perfect, but a world without Israel would be a lot less perfect than it is now.”

Thousands of Israelis protest against the planned judicial overhaul at the Azrieli junction in Tel Aviv, April 15, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The balancing act has hit home this week for the umbrella group for North America’s Jewish federations, which is holding its annual convention in Israel next week — a plan that was set even before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reelected and formed his right-wing government last fall. UnXeptable called for the group not to feature Netanyahu, who has sworn to restart his push to pass the judicial reform measures. But Jewish Federations of North America rejected the call on Monday, saying that “the opportunity to hear from Israel’s duly elected president and prime minister is a symbol of Israel’s achievement.”

What’s clear is that American Jews interested in engaging with Israel on its 75th birthday will have no shortage of options, from food festivals, children’s carnivals and concerts to headier fare. Experts on Israel are in high demand, with packed schedules of live and Zoom events offering up seemingly unending choices for people with all levels of familiarity with Israel’s history and politics.

For some American Jewish leaders, some of whom have expressed concern about Israel engagement in their communities, the very density and diversity of the offerings is itself a win.

“That’s great that we are in a Jewish community that has so many different forms of expression,” said Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield, executive vice president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, a think tank that is organizing its own series of Israel-at-75 events that begins with a talk at New York City’s Central Synagogue titled “Dispatches from an Anxious Nation.”

For some Jewish communal organizers, celebrating Israel and discussing its future as a democracy go hand in hand, a dynamic eased by the landmark year and its invitation to hold multiple events.

In Cleveland, for example, the Jewish federation is mounting an “Israel Fest” headlined by a concert from the Shalva Band, a group of musicians with disabilities who appeared on an Israeli talent show. But the community is also hosting Israeli journalist Matti Friedman, who has been critical of the judicial reforms, as a guest speaker.

The federation is offering small grants to any Jewish Clevelanders looking to host their own Israel at 75 events, too, and is placing very few stipulations on their content.

If grantees want to use the opportunity to talk about the fight for Israel’s democracy or even debate matters related to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, they can, said Ilanit Gerblich Kalir, assistant vice president of external affairs at the federation. If they just want to host “blue-and-white-themed parties,” she said, they can do that too.

“We have to celebrate what we’re proud of Israel for. There’s a lot to be proud of,” Kalir said. “But at the same time, part of connecting with Israel and part of what’s going on is affected by this country right now.”

The post Israel is turning 75. For American Jews, planning the birthday party has gotten complicated. 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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