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Jewish institutions awaken to climate crisis, with hundreds pledging action

(JTA) — For a decade starting in 2002, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi devoted herself to pro-Israel advocacy. After that, the Jewish philanthropist and activist from Annapolis, Maryland, went all in to fight for disability rights, working in the field for the next decade. Now, Mizrahi is focused on climate change. 

“Let me put it this way: In 2021, we donated to one climate organization, and in 2022, we donated to 17 of them,” Mizrahi said, referring to the small charity fund she runs with her husband, tech entrepreneur Victor Mizrahi. This year, the couple made their largest climate-related donation yet, sending a group of nine climate reporters to Israel to meet tech startups working on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Mizrahi and her husband have also begun commercially investing in such startups. 

“I was hoping other people would solve it,” she said. “But the pace of the change is not nearly meeting the demand at the moment. I felt that even though I don’t know the subject, I’m just going to have to do it because I have kids and I don’t want this world to fall apart.”

Climate change has long ranked at or near the top of a list of issues concerning Jews in the United States, according to multiple surveys, and Jews have been heavily involved in the wider climate movement. But until recently, the issue had a marginal place on the agendas of Jewish communal organizations, which neglected climate even as the subject took on importance in the activism and policies of other religious communities and in the larger philanthropic world.

Mizrahi’s newfound emphasis on climate is an early example of a larger shift that is underway in Jewish philanthropy, a multibillion-dollar world made up of thousands of individual donors, charitable foundations and nonprofit organizations. 

“It’s the beginning of what will become a more widespread focus among Jewish groups,” said Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, the founder and CEO of the Jewish climate group Dayenu. “We’re seeing an awakening to this as a profoundly Jewish issue, and awakening to the role that the Jewish community has to play in addressing the climate crisis.”

Scientists say that decisions regarding carbon emissions made in the next few years will affect life on Earth for thousands of years to come. The most recent warning came in March, when leading global experts with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a new report, stating that “there is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.” 

The large Jewish populations living in the coastal United States are vulnerable to extreme storms, sea-level rise, severe heat and other weather disruptions — a situation dramatized in the recent Apple television series “Extrapolations,” in which a rabbi contends with rising sea waters infiltrating his Florida synagogue. Meanwhile, Israel is experiencing a slew of impacts from drought and floods to security threats tied regional climate-related instability. 

A flooded road after heavy rainfall in the central Israeli city of Lod, Jan. 16, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israeli officials visit the site where a road collapsed into a large sinkhole at Mineral Beach in the Dead Sea on December 7, 2017. Many facilities and beaches have been closed or shut down in recent years following the increase in sinkholes caused by ever-declining sea levels, as climate change strains the country’s water resources. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

The last few months have seen a flurry of new initiatives aimed at both greening Jewish institutions and directing collective action on climate. 

In December, for example, Rosenn’s group published a report calculating that endowments of Jewish organizations, from family foundations to local federations, are invested in the fossil fuel industry to the tune of at least $3 billion. The report launched an ongoing campaign called All Our Might that urges Jewish leaders to withdraw these investments and put the money toward clean energy instead.

Meanwhile, many of the most prominent Jewish organizations in the country — representing local federations, Hillel chapters, summer camps, community centers, day schools and nearly every religious denomination — had already joined a new green coalition organized by another Jewish environmental group and were preparing to unveil pledges to do more in the fight against climate change. 

The unveiling of the climate pledges happened in March, under the leadership of Adamah, a nonprofit created through the merger of two stalwarts of Jewish environmentalism, Hazon and the Pearlstone Center. 

“Climate and sustainability have not been on the list of priorities for the vast majority of Jewish organizations; this coalition and these climate action plans reflect a deep paradigm shift and culture change moving forward,” Adamah CEO Jakir Mandela said at the time. 

The commitments made by members of Adamah’s Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition include sending youth leaders to global climate summits, reducing emissions of buildings and vehicles and lobbying the federal government to pass climate policies. 

More than 300 congregations and nonprofits have joined. For Earth Day, Adamah announced a million-dollar fund offering interest-free loans and matching grants to Jewish groups for projects to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. 

If any single event can be said to mark the debut of the climate issue as a top Jewish communal priority, it is probably the recent annual conference of the Jewish Funders Network, which took place in March in Phoenix, bringing together thousands of donors and charity executives. 

For the gathering’s first event, before the formal opening of the conference, a group of participants went on a field trip to downtown Phoenix to learn about the local effects of the climate crisis. Far more people signed up than organizers anticipated, and with about 55 passengers, the tour bus chartered for the occasion reached capacity. Mizrahi, who was among the participants, said the trip was helpful as a networking opportunity for like-minded philanthropists. 

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, the founder of the activist group Arizona Jews for Justice, took the group to a local church where immigration officers drop off asylum seekers, so that conference attendees could hear about how environmental disasters drive cross-border migration. The trip continued with a visit to a downtown homeless encampment known as the Zone, where participants were invited to imagine the challenge of spending the summer season outside, with temperatures sometimes reaching 120 degrees. The conversation eventually turned to the issue of water scarcity across the state.

“We wanted to expose them to how the existential threats posed by climate change are not long term, but are already here,” Yanklowitz said. “People down in the Zone are dying every summer from heat exhaustion and dehydration.”

Based on his debrief with the group afterward, Yanklowitz feels the trip left an impact on participants. 

“I didn’t hear anyone say, ‘Oh, I’m changing my commitments.’ But I did get the sense that climate change was kind of abstract for many people, and that now it really hit home,” Yanklowitz said.

The rest of the conference featured multiple talks and gatherings dedicated to climate, including on the main stage, and an announcement that Birthright, which offers free trips to Israel for young Jews, was increasing its own climate activism with the help of a new donation. 

In an interview, Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman, children of Birthright founder Charles Bronfman, said their $9 million gift is meant to honor their father on the occasion of his 90th birthday, while also bringing Birthright more in line with the values of a new generation that is environmentally-minded. 

Birthright organizers will use the funding to develop programming focused on climate that could, for example, expose participants to Israel’s clean tech scene. The money is also intended to help Birthright lower its own carbon footprint, potentially by switching to electric buses or adding more vegetarian meals. 

The Bronfmans hope that Birthright’s significant purchasing power in Israeli tourism will nudge the industry toward more ecologically sustainable practices. 

“To me, Birthright is like Walmart — everyone wants to do business with them,” Stephen Bronfman said. “They have the power to dictate terms to their service providers and affect the supply chain.” 

The widespread interest in climate mobilization among Jewish groups comes after years in which the issue languished outside the mainstream. Rosenn, the head of Dayenu, who has attended about 15 conferences of the Jewish Funder Network, noticed a change this year. 

“There used to be half a dozen people at a breakfast before the program talking about climate. And it wasn’t even climate, necessarily — it was the environment writ large,” she said. 

The Jewish world is, in many ways, still lagging behind the larger climate movement. Divesting endowment funds from the fossil fuel industry, for example, is seen as a bold step among Jewish groups even though at least 1,590 institutions representing nearly $41 trillion in assets have already publicly committed to doing so, according to a website tracking such pledges. About a third of the groups on the list are defined as faith-based organizations, but only three are Jewish: Kolot Chayeinu, a congregation in Park Slope, Brooklyn; the Reform movement’s pension system; and the American Jewish World Service, a global justice group. 

Rabbi Laura Bellows, now Dayenu’s director of spiritual activism and education, waves matzah as she encourages major financial organizations to divest from fossil fuels at a rally in Washington, D.C., April 20, 2022. (Bora Chung | Survival Media Agency / Courtesy of Dayenu)

Adamah’s own climate plan doesn’t include a pledge to divest but only a promise that it will investigate the option of doing so for its endowment and employee retirement funds. Instead, the plan touts the group’s education and advocacy efforts, and focuses on reducing emissions at its retreat centers. 

Adamah’s chief climate officer, Risa Alyson Cooper, acknowledged that Jewish community institutions have been “largely absent” from the divestment movement and said her group regards divestment as one of several required tools for addressing the climate crisis.

She said the Jewish community hit a milestone when 12 of the 20 founding members of Adamah’s climate coalition said in their climate plans that they would consider amending their financial practices. That was significant, she said, in light of the organizations’ complex and deliberate governing structures, which can make executing such changes onerous.  

“While the Jewish community may have lagged behind in years past, we are catching up quickly,” Cooper said. 

Such a shift would mark not only a milestone for Jewish climate activism but also a departure from how the Jewish community has historically done philanthropy, said Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, executive vice president of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. 

She said wielding financial holdings for social impact has been a hallmark of advocacy by Christian groups. Last year, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) opted to divest from fossil fuels in light of the climate crisis.

The Jewish community, meanwhile, has tended to act primarily through charitable donations. One of the reasons for the difference, she said, is that the Jewish community is much less centralized with communal assets spread across many endowments, making the actions of any single group relatively less impactful. 

“Adamah had done some really important work to change individual behavior and grow people’s connections to the environment, but the bigger piece of bold collective action to fight the climate crisis was missing,” Kahn-Troster said. “The overall community is late to respond to the urgency of the problem. But I do think that the work of these organizations is very significant, so I’m excited to see it.”

Kahn-Troster’s historical view is informed by the legacy of her father, Rabbi Lawrence Troster, an environmental activist who had pushed for communal Jewish action on climate, and by the passion for climate justice displayed by her 15-year-old, Liora Pelavin, a member of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, an arm of Adamah. 

“Finding a meaningful Jewish space to do grassroots-level climate advocacy that many young people are demanding has been really important to Liora,” Kahn-Troster said. 

The post Jewish institutions awaken to climate crisis, with hundreds pledging action 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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