Connect with us
Seder Passover
Israel Bonds RRSP
JNF Canada


‘Stop Cop City’ activists infuse Jewish rituals into their protest against Atlanta’s planned police training center

(JTA) — As the sun set on Feb. 5, signaling the start of Tu Bishvat, a group of Jews carried shovels into the South River Forest southeast of downtown Atlanta.

In the day’s declining light, they planted saplings — seven paw paws, three fig and two peach — to honor the holiday, Judaism’s “new year of the trees.” They recited the Shehechiyanu prayer, and a rabbi led them in singing “Tzadik Katamar”: “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon,” from Psalm 92.

The traditional holiday observance doubled as a protest against “Cop City,” the name that self-described “forest defenders” have given the city of Atlanta’s plan to build a $90 million, 85-acre police and fire training center on 300-plus acres that it owns just over the city line in DeKalb County, Georgia.

Two years into protests against the plans, a “week of action” that began over the weekend swelled the protesters’ ranks and brought an even greater police presence to the site of the planned training center. On Sunday night, a group of activists broke from a nonviolent protest, burning police vehicles and, police said, throwing rocks at officers. Dozens of people were arrested.

The violent turn throws into question other plans for the week, which include a Purim celebration on Monday night and a Shabbat service on Friday, the latest Jewish milestones in nearly two years of controversy and confrontation.

“They’re living Jewish values more legitimately, more sincerely than some of the biggest institutions,” said Rabbi Mike Rothbaum of Atlanta’s Reconstructionist Congregation Bet Haverim, of the Jewish protesters. Rothbaum attended the Tu Bishvat event and is scheduled to lead this week’s Shabbat service; he was speaking before the weekend’s events.

Comparing their worship to a mishkan, the portable sanctuary that the Israelites carried in the desert, Rothbaum said of the protesters, “They go to shul at ‘Cop City.’”

A sukkah constructed in October 2023 at the “Cop City” protest site in the Atlanta forest was destroyed in a police raid in December. (Courtesy of Jewish Bird Watcher Union)

Until about 200 years ago, South River Forest was home to the Muscogee (Creek) tribe, who called it Weelaunee — “brown water,” the name painted on protest banners strung between trees. White settlers drove out the Muscogee, and the land later became a slave plantation, a Civil War battlefield and a city prison farm. Portions have been a police firing range and used for explosives disposal, and it has also been the site of illegal dumping.

In April 2021, Atlanta announced plans to build a police training facility in the forest. Opponents immediately launched a protest. They oppose the redirection of natural resources to the police and want the forest maintained as a natural sanctuary.

After two years as a primarily local issue, national and international attention spiked on Jan. 18, when a protester camped in the woods was killed during what police called a “clearing operation.” The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Manuel Paez Teran fired a handgun, wounding a Georgia State Police trooper, then was killed by return fire. An independent autopsy reported that the 26-year-old known as “Tortuguita” was struck by at least 13 rounds. An Atlanta police vehicle was torched in a subsequent protest downtown. Charges against more than a dozen of those arrested include violating the state’s domestic terrorism statute.

Across Intrenchment Creek from the city property is a DeKalb County park that bears the waterway’s name and is the subject of an associated protest. Much of the “Stop Cop City” activity has taken place in the 136-acre Intrenchment Creek Park. Legal challenges are pending against a land swap in which the county gave 40 acres to the now-former owner of a film studio, whose crews leveled trees and tore up a paved path until a judge issued a stop work order.

Conservation groups and community organizations in the surrounding majority Black neighborhoods fear that any development will degrade the tree canopy in Atlanta — which calls itself the “city in the forest” — and exacerbate flooding in low-lying areas.

The larger, decentralized protest movement includes a number of Jews, most in their 20s and 30s, who have made their stand by holding Jewish rituals in the forest, some under the banner of the “Jewish Bird Watcher Union.” They have held Shabbat services, performed the Tashlich ritual on Rosh Hashanah, slept in a sukkah during Sukkot, lit Hanukkah candles, and planted trees on Tu Bishvat. Prayer books were adapted for Shabbat and the High Holidays, with illustrations by the Jewish artist Ezra Rose.

Digital fliers advertising Jewish activities during a “week of action” by protesters opposing Atlanta’s planned police training facility. (Shared on social media)

Most of the Jewish events have been held in Intrenchment Creek Park. At the entrance, signs attached to a crumpled gazebo denounce the “film site” property owner. Improvised memorials and slabs of stone bearing spray-painted slogans dot the parking lot. To frustrate machinery drivers, some trails were blocked by barricades formed from downed trees, discarded tires and anything else handy.

The day before Tu Bishvat, three of the young Jewish activists met with a reporter, in an unheated community center a short drive from the forest. Expressing concern about their personal security, given the heated atmosphere around the issue, they spoke on condition that they be identified only by their first names and that their photographs not appear.

Cam, 24, is a labor union activist who grew up in Atlanta, attending Conservative and Reform congregations. Ray, 24, is a software engineer and Georgia Tech graduate, who grew up attending a Reform synagogue in Maryland. Ruth, in her late 20s, works in “regenerative landscaping” and moved to Atlanta with her Israeli family as a child. All said they feel disconnected from the mainstream Jewish community in Atlanta, religiously, politically and ideologically.

“Mainstream Judaism has completely lost touch with the radical history and radical tradition of the Jews,” Ruth said. “The things I like about Judaism, I want to live them in real life.”

She added, “When Sukkot came around and we built a sukkah in the forest, this is the closest I’ve been to relating to the story of traveling, of being in the desert and sleeping under the canopy.”

A makeshift memorial for environmental activist Manuel Paez Teran, who was allegedly killed by law enforcement during a raid to clear the construction site of a police training facility that activists have nicknamed “Cop City” near Atlanta, Georgia, as seen Feb. 6, 2023. (Cheney Orr/AFP via Getty Images)

Upwards of 50 to 60 Jews have participated in the forest-based worship, and hundreds of people have streamed into the “living room” section of the woods. “I don’t know if they’re all gathering for Shabbat or not but they all gathered around with us and listened to us sing prayers and light candles,” Ray said.

Rothbaum said he admired what he saw the Jewish protesters doing. “Whatever your opinion of the activists at ‘Cop City,’ you have to admire their commitment,” he said, adding, “These kids are reacting to the assimilation of a great heritage of meaning and justice.”

The sukkah survived for two months past the end of Sukkot, until a Dec. 13 police raid against encampments on both sides of Intrenchment Creek. A photo posted on Twitter showed the dismantled poles and torn sheets. The disappearance of the large menorah from the Intrenchment Creek parking lot after Hanukkah was blamed on crews working for the film site owner.

May the candle lights of Khanukah ignite the flames of rebellion. @defendATLforest

— Fayer – פֿײַער (@FayerAtlanta) December 22, 2022

The morning after Tu Bishvat, city and county SWAT teams, along with state police, were deployed as construction equipment was brought into the police training center site. Two weeks later, at a Shabbat dinner in the forest following the Jan. 18 raid, attendees recited a Mourner’s Kaddish for Manuel Paez Teran and sang the traditional prayer “Oseh Shalom Bimromav” — “They who make peace in their high places.”

The Jewish activists see parallels between their activism on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what’s happening in their local forest.

“Anti-Zionism was a major part of what brought us together in the first place, even before the forest movement,” said Cam, who said he saw the two issues as “related struggles.” Opposing Israel is “a big part of what leads us to feel alienated from most mainstream Jewish communities and the inability to be accepted there, and the necessity of forming our own.”

Ruth participated in activism on behalf of Palestinians while visiting family in Israel last summer. “I was hearing and seeing old ancient olive orchards that were destroyed, burned or cut by settlers in order to disempower Palestinians from living there,” she said. “It made me really feel, like, defend the forest everywhere.”

Atlanta officials say they do not plan to defile the forest and argue that the city’s police training facilities are inadequate. The planned complex would serve the police and fire departments, the 911 call center and K-9 units. It would include a shooting range, a “mock city” (with a gas station, motel, home and nightclub) and a “burn building.” The remainder of the land will be developed for recreational use, officials say.

“This is Atlanta and we know forests. This facility will not be built over a forest,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said at a January news conference. “The training center will sit on land that has long been cleared of hardwood trees through previous uses of this site decades ago.”

Activists accuse the city and county of a lack of transparency throughout the process. In a February interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dickens conceded that the city could have done a better job selling the project. “We didn’t do that. And because we didn’t do that it started getting painted by anybody that had a brush,” he told the newspaper.

The mayor’s words have not deterred activists, whose goal is nothing less than cancellation of the project.

“They have destroyed a lot of the beauty already,” Cam said. “They have created this place of desolation and death and destruction, and that is in opposition to our task as Jews to create a world of beauty and joy and holiness. By coming to this place and planting trees, we are reclaiming it, making a place of peace and joy.”

Rabbi Mike Rothbaum, seen here in Massachusetts in 2017, is an Atlanta rabbi who has participated in “Cop City” protests. (Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The local Jewish protesters have lately gotten a boost from a progressive Jewish organization based in Philadelphia. The Shalom Center launched in the 1980s to oppose nuclear proliferation and now focused largely on climate justice.

“Our sacred text is called ‘The Tree of Life,’” wrote the center’s founder, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, and national organizer Rabbi Nate DeGroot in a Feb. 28 letter to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that noted Jewish law’s prohibition on uprooting trees. “We pray that the trees of the Weelaunee Forest remain trees that support the flourishing of sacred life for generations to come.”

Rothbaum said he was inspired by the young Jewish activists. “They are reminding us of the Jewish values that come to us through Torah, through the rabbinic writings, that are timeless,” he said. “They are reminding us of what we’re supposed to be. And we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Ruth had a message for Atlanta’s Jewish congregations and communal organizations, most of which have not engaged publicly on the issue: “I would invite them to join us, to put their Jewish values into action,” she said. “Everything we’re doing here is really Jewish.”

The post ‘Stop Cop City’ activists infuse Jewish rituals into their protest against Atlanta’s planned police training center appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


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.

Continue Reading


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.  

Continue Reading



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.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News