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On one foot: Five essential things to know about Abraham Joshua Heschel on his 50th yahrzeit

(JTA) — Last week marked the 50th yahrzeit — or Hebrew anniversary — of the death of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), the theologian, scholar, philosopher, Holocaust survivor and modern-day prophet who was long associated with the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary but whose embrace of “radical amazement” wasn’t contained by any movement or denomination. Monday is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The rabbi and the minister have often been linked thanks to Heschel’s civil rights activism and iconic photographs of them in the front lines of the march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery on March 21, 1965. (See below for events tied to the legacies of both men.)

I confess that Heschel’s lavish, epigrammatic prose and devotion to the living reality of God didn’t speak to a buttoned-down skeptic like me. I might quote his book “The Sabbath,” a lovely articulation of how Shabbat forms an island in time, but I’m more comfortable discussing Heschel’s political views, like his opposition to the Vietnam War, than his ideas on God and humankind.

I suspect others are similarly intimidated by Heschel, and could use a gentle onramp. For help I turned to Rabbi Shai Held, author of  “Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence” (2015) and the president and dean at Hadar, the nondenominational yeshiva. I challenged Held to name five works, articles, films or other media that would help people appreciate who Heschel was and why he remains celebrated.

“I fell in love with Heschel as as a teenager, because I felt he both articulated intuitions about the world that I had but didn’t remotely have language for, and he also was the first person I had heard articulate a vision of what Judaism thought that the good life could look like,” Held told me. “As a day school grad I felt I knew a lot of stuff about Judaism, but if you asked me ‘what is Judaism about and what is it for,’ I would have had no idea what to say. And Heschel gave me that narrative. It was a story that spoke to my mind and my heart at the same time. It was like asking me to become something in the world and that was incredibly moving to me.”

Here are five great ways to access Heschel, with comments by Rabbi Held. I plan to make this an ongoing series of introductions to Jewish thinkers, writers and artists who are making news or are particularly relevant to the current Jewish conversation. If there is someone you’d like to see discussed, drop me a line at asc@jewishweek.org.

(For Rabbi Held’s own introduction to Heschel, see his video, “Why Amazement Matters.”)

“The Sabbath,” (1951)

(In this slim volume, Heschel describes the Sabbath as a “palace in time,” and an opportunity for spiritual communion with the potential to help shape how its observers live the other six days of the week.)

“The number of people I have met in my travels, who tell me about how that book opened them up to spirituality, is staggering. Two things about that book are very moving. One is, at a time when American Judaism was about integration and success, Heschel launched this dramatic insistence that Judaism was about the life of the spirit. I think it landed like a bomb for a lot of American Jews. It was totally revolutionary to them. One of the ways that the book has resonated and continues to resonate is that Heschel is rebelling against a culture of technology, and wants to place a stake in the ground for the value of appreciation and gratitude. One of my favorite sentences in all of Heschel is that ‘Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation.’ That line is from ‘God in Search of Man,’ but I think ‘The Sabbath’ is about Shabbat as a practice of appreciation.

“I also think that people had internalized the Christian, anti-Jewish idea that Christianity was about inwardness and spirituality and Judaism wasn’t. Heschel responds: We gave the world the gift of Sabbath which is about living in the presence of God.”

“God in Search of Man,” part 1 (1955)

(Held calls Heschel’s companion volume to his earlier work “Man Is Not Alone” a “beautiful evocation of what wonder and gratitude look like.”)

“This is Heschel as a phenomenologist: What is it like to have a sense that our lives are not something that we earned and that part of the religious life is to repay this extraordinary gift? He needs to write in a poetic mode, in part, because he’s trying to evoke in his readers a sense of gratitude, a sense of indebtedness, a sense of obligation. What I tried to do in my book is to [delete] sort of argue that amidst all that poetry, there’s an argument: Wonder is what opens the door to obligation. Wonder is about reawakening a sense that all of us, just by the nature of being human, have an intuition that we’re obligated to something and someone.”

“The Prophets,” 1962

(Heschel provides compact profiles of seven biblical prophets and attempts to understand the phenomenon of prophecy in general. Held recommends starting with the chapter titled, “The Theology of Pathos.”)

“Heschel makes the most eloquent case I think any Jew has ever made since the prophets for a God who cares, a God who is stirred to the core of God’s being by human suffering and especially human suffering that stems from oppression. It’s Heschel’s attempt to reclaim the God of the Bible from what he saw as the ravages of abstract philosophy that reduces God to an idea. God is not an idea. God is someone who cares about us. God has a name. There’s this amazing speech he gives to Jewish educators somewhere where he says, ‘I was invited to a conference to talk about my idea of God and I responded to them and said, ‘I don’t have an idea of God, I have God’ —  Hakadosh baruch hu [the Holy one, blessed be God] who makes a claim on my life.”

“Religion and Race,” 1963

(On Jan. 14, 1963, Heschel gave the speech “Religion and Race” at a conference of the same name in Chicago, where he became close to King.) 

“First of all, you see how Heschel’s theology and his activism are so entirely interwoven: The God who loves the downtrodden, the God who loves widows and orphans, is the God who requires us to stand up and fight for civil rights. It’s also extraordinarily beautiful, in that it combines really interesting biblical interpretation with [theological depth and profound] moral passion. Part of what Heschel and King meant to each other is that each one of them saw the other as a kind of living proof that God had not abandoned the downtrodden — and King was very important to Heschel in the context of the theology of of the Shoah: Martin Luther King embodies the reality that God has not abandoned the world. He really believed Martin Luther King was channeling God, nothing less than that.”

The NBC Interview (1972)

(Shortly before he died at age 65, Heschel recorded an interview with broadcaster Carl Stern. It aired on Dec. 10, 1972, on NBC-TV as an episode of “The Eternal Light,” the long-running religion and ethics show produced in conjunction with the Jewish Theological Seminary.) 

“He makes this incredibly beautiful statement about telling kids to live their life as if it were a work of art. Which is just amazing — so beautiful and so simple. And there’s also this really interesting moment where Carl Stern asks him if he’s a prophet and he says, ‘You know, I cannot accept such a compliment. I am not a prophet. I am a child of prophets. But indeed the Talmud says all Israel are the children of prophets.’ I just love that  combination of  humility and elevatedness. That interview [offers a powerful glimpse of him as a human being, and not just a bunch of words on a page. You see a real person]. is also what makes him actually a human being and not just a bunch of words on a page. You see a real person.”

On Monday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. ET, Shai Held will join Arnold Eisen, chancellor emeritus of the Jewish Theological Seminary, for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day conversation reflecting on Heschel’s life, thought and legacy. (Register here for Zoom link.) That same night, at 8 p.m. ET, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah will commemorate Heschel’s 50th yahrzeit with a discussion with his daughter, Susannah Heschel, the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. (Register here.)


The post On one foot: Five essential things to know about Abraham Joshua Heschel on his 50th yahrzeit 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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