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Jewish marriage rites are robust. Now a rabbi is innovating rituals for Jews who divorce.

(J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA) — For Lyssa Jaye, throwing the wood chips into the Tuolumne River felt in many ways familiar to the tashlich ritual performed on Rosh Hashanah. But rather than casting off her sins, she was tossing away feelings: shame, resentment, anger.

They were the emotions that had taken residence inside Jaye since her divorce eight years ago, along with a sense of failure. And she had come to a Jewish retreat to rid herself of them.

“I’ve been carrying around these feelings for years now,” Jaye said. “I have a completely different life now, and I needed to let them go.”

Jaye was taking part in Divorce & Discovery: A Jewish Healing Retreat, the first-ever gathering in a series conceived by Rabbi Deborah Newbrun as part of her training, held this month at Camp Tawonga in the Bay Area.

One of the requirements at the Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary, where Newbrun was ordained last year in the first graduating class, “was that each of us had to do an innovation, or something that didn’t exist before,” she said.

Newbrun, who directed Camp Tawonga for more than two decades, has been recognized for innovative programming for such achievements as initiating Tawonga’s LGBT family camp and founding its wilderness department. She even won a prestigious 2018 Covenant Award for Jewish educators. But as she started thinking about how to fulfill the seminary requirement, her first thought was, “I don’t have any ideas left in me.”

Then she began reflecting back on her divorce years earlier. She remembered how she had approached numerous rabbis and colleagues in search of Jewish support around the grief she felt. And how they all came up empty-handed.

That’s when she realized: “I can put together something meaningful and helpful for people going through divorce.”

From the moment participants arrived at Camp Tawonga near Yosemite, they knew this would be no ordinary Jewish retreat. At the opening event, all of the facilitators, several clergy members and a therapist shared their own divorce stories, “to set the standard and normalize vulnerability, transparent sharing and establish that we all know what it’s like to have a marriage end,” Newbrun said.

Most participants were from the Bay Area, with a handful from farther afield. They were in different life stages, from those in their 30s dealing with custody battles over young children, to empty nesters in their 60s. Some had separated from their partners years ago, while others had gone their separate ways more recently. Some split amicably; a good many did not. But all had come up against a lack of Jewish resources or support when navigating this major life passage.

Rabbi Deborah Newbrun, the founder of Divorce and Discovery at the recent weekend. (Photo/Margot Yecies)

Jaye said she left no stone unturned in seeking out support, an experience Newbrun said she heard echoed by many participants. Jaye attended a retreat at a local meditation center. She read self-help books. She joined a support group for divorcees. She went to therapy.

And while they all helped in different ways, none was specifically Jewish.

“I knew I needed some kind of spiritual way forward,” she said. “I needed to do this in my own language, with my own people.”

Even though the retreat came nearly a decade years after Jaye’s divorce, “it was profound. It felt like coming home, and that this is what I needed all along. This model could be extremely powerful. The rituals we did could be taught in rabbinical schools or to Jewish educators so it’s not just ‘sign this get and goodbye,’” she said, referring to the Jewish divorce document.

Rather than create new rituals, Newbrun and her facilitators took familiar Jewish rituals and retooled them.

The tashlich ritual, led by Newbrun and Maggid Jhos Singer, had a call-and-response portion, and participants also could call out what they personally wanted to cast off. “One person ‘tashliched’ their wedding ring into the river and felt it was such a perfect place to let it go!” said Newbrun. 

An optional immersion in the Tuolumne River followed. Jaye, who years ago went to the mikvah alone, with only the attendant there for support, said there was no comparison with how much more healing it felt performing the ritual in community.

A session on sitting shiva for one’s marriage, led by Rabbi Sue Reinhold, allowed participants to share and mourn the loss of what they missed most about being married. That resonated for Robyn Lieberman, who does not attend synagogue services but went to every session at the retreat on innovating Jewish rituals.

“I did need to mourn what I’m losing,” said Lieberman, who had been married to an Israeli. “We had a very public, open house around Jewish religion, and a constant Israeli identity, which fulfilled my Jewish needs.”

Rabbi Jennie Chabon of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Walnut Creek reflected on how much time she has spent with couples preparing for their wedding day, both in premarital counseling and in planning the event, and on how many marriage-related topics are covered in rabbinical school.

“And when it comes to divorce? Nothing,” Chabon said. “We’re all out here on our own trying to figure out how to wander through it.”

She was tasked with creating a havdalah ceremony with a divorce theme, in which she reimagined the wine, spices and flame typically used to mark a division between Shabbat and the rest of the week.

“There’s a fire that burns within each of us, and that flame doesn’t go out,” said Chabon, 47. “When you’re married for a long time, your identity, energy and spirit is so woven into that of another.” Her ritual was meant to affirm that “you are on fire just as you are, and you’re a blessing as an individual in the world. You don’t need a partnership or family to be whole.”

Even the Shabbat Torah service was on theme.

Rabbi Jennie Chabon reads from the Torah during a service at the Divorce and Discovery retreat. (Photo/Margot Yecies)

Rather than focusing on Noah’s emergence from the ark after the flood, Chabon spoke about a lesser-known section of the week’s Torah portion, in which Noah builds a fire and offers a sacrifice to God. But if the entire earth was drenched from the flood, Chabon asked, what did he burn?

“The answer is he must have burned the ark,” Chabon said in recalling her talk at the retreat. “What does that mean for people going through this incredibly painful and tender time in their lives, when what was once a safe container and secure and protected them, they have to burn it down in order to start life anew?

“This is a perfect rebirth metaphor. But what’s being birthed is a new self and a new identity in the world as a single person,” Chabon said. “You have to release and let go of what was to make room for the blessing for who you’re going to become.”

At a ritual “hackathon” workshop presented by Newbrun, participants suggested standing during Kaddish at synagogue to mourn their marriages, and offering their children a Friday night blessing that they are whole whether they are at either parent’s home.

Not all of the sessions centered on Jewish ritual. In a session on the Japanese art of kintsugi, or mending broken pottery, attendees made vessels whose cracks they fixed with putty, symbolizing that beauty can be found in imperfection. Many danced in a Saturday-night silent disco.

Everyone was assigned to a small group, or havurah, that they met with daily, so they could establish deeper connections within the larger cohort.

“To have gone through some of these practices was very meaningful to me,” said Lieberman. “It’s not like I put a seal on my marriage and wrapped it up in a bow and put it behind me, but it was a nice catharsis for completing a transition that I’ve been very thoughtful about.”

Newbrun aims to recreate the retreat in communities around the country. Both Jaye and Lieberman said they found value in being in community with people “who get it,” without the judgment they often face.

“I was a little skeptical that all I’d have in common with people was that we were Jewish and divorced, and that that wouldn’t be enough for me to form a relationship,” said Lieberman. “But having the willingness to talk about it and explore it did open up a lot of very vulnerable conversations. The expert facilitation really made us think about the fact that divorce is not about your paper [certificate], it’s about reexamining the direction of your life and who you want to be.”

A version of this piece originally ran in J. The Jewish News of Northern California, and is reprinted with permission.


The post Jewish marriage rites are robust. Now a rabbi is innovating rituals for Jews who divorce. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

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The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

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