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Soviet Jewry protest leaders in San Francisco secretly recruited help from Jews for Jesus, FBI file says

(JTA) – Organizers of protests on behalf of Soviet Jewry in San Francisco in the early 1970s might have bolstered crowds by secretly recruiting participants from Jews for Jesus.

The explosive revelation that Jewish leaders turned to a Christian missionary group for help appears in a 1973 FBI memo that the Jewish Telegraphic Agency recently obtained through a freedom of information request.

The FBI file details an apparent relationship between Martin Rosen, the founder of Jews for Jesus, and Joel Brooks and Harold Light, two prominent San Francisco Jewish leaders at the fore of local efforts in the movement to get Soviet authorities to end restrictions on the emigration of the country’s Jewish population. The relationship outlined in the declassified memo has not appeared in scholarship on the Soviet Jewry movement, nor is it known to activists of the movement who were interviewed by JTA. Light, Brooks and Rosen are deceased.

If the FBI’s intelligence is accurate, a successful and cherished social movement that unified much of the global Jewish community in common purpose for decades relied at least to some extent in San Francisco on the support of a group, rejected by nearly all of that community, whose mission is to proselytize to Jews.

“The first thing I thought of was, I’m reading something from ‘The Twilight Zone’ — in my many years in the Soviet Jewry movement, I don’t know if I’ve seen a document as strange as this,” said Morey Schapira, who served in leadership positions in the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews, and the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. “The idea of working with a slimy group like Jews for Jesus, it’s beyond my comprehension.”

The public can request any FBI files that may exist pertaining to deceased individuals. An FBI memo relating Rosen arrived last November in response to one of about 50 freedom of information requests on prominent figures in recent Jewish history submitted by JTA almost two years ago. Most of JTA’s requests are still pending. TO DOWNLOAD THE FBI FILE, CLICK HERE.

Dated May 24, 1973, and written by an FBI informant whose name was redacted by staff at the U.S. National Archive, the memo focuses on Brooks, who was the Northern California director of the American Jewish Congress for about 30 years starting in 1967.

“[Brooks] has heavily utilized the services of the young Jews in the Jews for Jesus group,” the informant wrote. “[He] has used these services to turn out people in his Soviet Jewry demonstrations.”

The informant also cites Brooks as saying that Light, leader of the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jewry, used members of Jews for Jesus in a “hush-hush way” to distribute leaflets and participate in demonstrations.

The memo spells out why such an arrangement would be best kept out of the public eye.

“All of this, of course, is secret, because organized Jewish groups, and the various rabbinical councils have proclaimed that Jews for Jesus are no longer Jews but have become apostates, and should not be palled around with, nor buried in Jewish cemeteries,” the informant writes.

Martin “Moishe” Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus in 1975. (Denver Post via Getty Images)

The upside for Rosen was obvious: His group would gain a foothold in a popular Jewish movement, offering a potential avenue toward legitimacy and a pool of possible recruits. In his 1974 memoir, titled “Jews for Jesus,” Rosen openly discussed being accepted into the movement by Jewish organizers, but he did so without naming Brooks, Light or any others.

He wrote that Jews for Jesus were invited because of their reputation as the “best qualified, best disciplined demonstrators in the San Francisco community. We’ve had more experience than other Jewish groups and are familiar with the applicable laws and regulations.”

Rosen’s group committed to not use the demonstrations as an opportunity to evangelize and didn’t bring any Christian literature or wear outfits that would identify them, according to the memoir.

“Many Jews for Jesus believe in the freedom of Soviet Jewry just as strongly as any other Jews, and we want to be as effective as possible when we demonstrate to support that cause,” Rosen wrote. 

To Schapira, who led the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews for years and knew both Brooks and Light, however, it’s unclear why the Soviet Jewry movement would have wanted or needed Jews for Jesus. Schapira didn’t recall it ever being especially difficult to turn out demonstrators organically. There didn’t seem to be a need to resort to secret deals.

“If you look at the picture of the rallies in those days, they even had people like [American folk music legend] Joan Baez,” Schapira said. “They developed a relationship with her and she would come to the rally and bring her guitar and sing songs for freedom.”

He added, “If we needed an instant rally, we were a grassroots organization and we could produce 10 or 12 people, which might be enough to send a message to the Russians and get some publicity in the local papers.”

At least a few people in the Bay Area’s Jewish community caught wind of the secret relationship between Brooks and Jews for Jesus at the time, according to the memo.

Stephanie Rodgers was a coordinator of the Jewish Defense League, an extremist right-wing Jewish group that was under heavy FBI surveillance. Founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, the JDL applied its often violent tactics to resist Jews for Jesus’ public campaign to convert Jews. Rodgers visited Brooks’ office ahead of a planned demonstration in front of the Soviet consulate in San Francisco and asked about his connection to Rosen and Jews for Jesus, according to the memo.

After Brooks explained how they had been useful, Rodgers “smiled and was very pleasant on the surface,” the memo says. But at the demonstration, Rodgers and a group of other JDL activists showed up even though they said they would stay away, and they found Rosen in the crowd and proceeded to attack him and “kicked him in the groin.”

JDL regularly disrupted Jews for Jesus events; the organization would ultimately claim responsibility for firebombing a bus operated by Jews for Jesus in Brooklyn and abducting an adherent. In the Bay Area, where both groups were active, tensions were particularly high; the Jewish Defense League would sue the local Jews for Jesus chapter over what it charged was the group’s misuse of the JDL’s name and imagery.

Brooks, meanwhile, had more affable ties with Jews for Jesus. It’s unclear how or when Rosen and Brooks developed a relationship, but Brooks noted in a July 25, 1972, letter he wrote to the office of the American Jewish Congress in New York that their ties had started “some time ago.” The letter is found in the records of the Northern California branch of the American Jewish Congress, which are archived at the University of California Berkeley’s library.

A prominent advocacy group in its heyday, the American Jewish Congress — not to be confused with the American Jewish Committee — took a more liberal political stance than that of Jewish establishment groups on many issues.

Brooks had learned that his organization’s national headquarters wanted to undertake a study of Jews for Jesus and he wished to provide insight. He was under no illusion about the group’s objective: “The sole aim of these men is to enlist new converts to Christianity,” Brooks wrote in the letter.

“Through contact with Rosen I have developed a great deal of insight into how his organization operates, their source of funding, budget, etc. which I wish to share with you,” he added.

Then as now, members of Jews for Jesus and other Messianic groups felt unfairly rejected by the Jewish world, arguing that their Christian beliefs should have a place in the community.

In the early 1970s, when Jews for Jesus’ conversion drive was prominent and well funded, Brooks was perceived as more lenient, according to the foreword to the 2017 book “Converging Destinies: Jews, Christians, and the Mission of God.”

“Brooks tried to keep some of us connected to the Jewish community and Jewish life,” Calvin J. Smith wrote in the foreword. “I remember going with another Jew for Jesus to a Jewish consciousness raising session he held at a home in Marin County in the early 1970s.”

Glenn Richter was one of the founders of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and operates as a walking encyclopedia of the movement.

Protestors dressed as prisoners behind bars, alongside a man holding a placard reading “Solidarity with Soviet Jews,” stand together with members of New York’s Jewish community as they take to the streets during the Solidarity Sunday for Soviet Jewry demonstration in protest at the Soviet Union’s treatment of Jewish people, in New York City, April 18, 1975. (Images Press/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

He said the movement did collaborate with many Christians outside of Jews for Jesus. For example, he said there were Scandinavians, who, on weekend trips to Leningrad (today St. Petersburg), brought in Jewish material that was banned in the Soviet Union. Others set up safe houses in Finland in expectation of fleeing Soviet Jews. And the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews raised millions of dollars from evangelicals to help transport Soviet Jews to Israel.

“Of course, among these goodhearted souls are those who have conversion of Jews in mind, but I suspect most have wanted to fulfill their prophecy of ingathering Jews to Israel so that a Christian messiah could return,” Richter said.

In his eyes, Jews for Jesus represented a red line.

“Our Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry office on Manhattan’s West 72nd Street was down the block from a church with a Jewish Messianic constituency, and we would never, ever, try to work with them,” Richter said.

Andrew Esensten contributed research to this story. 

The post Soviet Jewry protest leaders in San Francisco secretly recruited help from Jews for Jesus, FBI file says 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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