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‘Swastika boards’ and ‘surf Nazis’: New documentary explores surfing’s history of antisemitism

(JTA) — When he was 13 years old, Josh Greene moved with his family to San Clemente, California, a city known as one of the best spots for surfing on the West Coast. Greene quickly fell in love with the sport, even holding his bar mitzvah party at a local museum dedicated to it.

As a “skinny, very unathletic” teen, Greene said he endured a significant amount of bullying, including some that “extended itself into antisemitism.” Students at his school would compare his physique to that of a Holocaust survivor.

Surfing provided refuge.

“Surfing was my way to really carve my own niche and find the confidence, courage and physical strength I needed,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

But years after his bar mitzvah, Greene learned that his parents had arranged for the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center to remove swastika-engraved boards that were on display, to avoid disturbing the partygoers. Wanting to learn more, he discovered that the sport’s history is full of Nazi imagery: Particularly in the 1960s, seeing surfboards with swastikas or surfers giving “Sieg heil” salutes was commonplace. Serious surfers called themselves “surf Nazis” as a way to signal their intense dedication to the sport.

An aspiring filmmaker — he received his first “real camera” as his bar mitzvah present — Greene decided to combine his two passions and delve into the dark history.

The result, completed before he graduated from the University of Southern California in May 2022, is a documentary called “Waves Apart,” which chronicles the history of antisemitism in surfing. Directed by Greene, the student-produced film was a finalist in the fall for a Student Academy Award, given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“Waves Apart” made its global debut at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Thursday, before heading to other Jewish and documentary film festivals in California, Denver, Toronto and Maryland.

After chronicling his own journey with surfing and the bar mitzvah incident in the film, Greene interviews surf writer Dan Duane and Jewish history professor Steven Ross, who provide a fuller picture of Southern California’s history of both surfing and Nazism, and their unfortunate overlap. As Duane wrote in a 2019 New York Times article, that overlap runs deep — The first commercially made surfboards made in California are thought to be the “Swastika model,” sold in the 1930s by the Pacific Systems Homes company, which also made prefab houses. The 1960s surfer icon Miki Dora was known to have painted a swastika on at least one of his boards.

Duane cites arguments that claim early surfers, who wanted to be seen as a rebellious subculture, used the swastika only to irk members of mainstream society. But Duane argues back that their antisemitism was part of a clear culture of racism in the largely white surfer community.

“I’ve heard all the predictable excuses for this stuff, like that the swastika was an ancient Sanskrit symbol,” he wrote in The Times. “Putting a swastika on something to anger people means you know that it angers them and very likely why.”

In his movie, Greene also speaks with Jewish surfers, both his classmates at USC and Jewish surfing legends like Shaun Tomson and Israel “Izzy” Paskowitz. Paskowitz shares a story of encountering a surfer with a swastika spray-painted on his surfboard — which his father, the famous surfer Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, destroyed out of anger.

“Right as I was about to graduate, we had the first screening of our film, in our school’s theater,” Greene said. “We drew a packed crowd, and it was so rewarding and such a great sign of confirmation about the film’s message and connectivity with our audience. We saw people crying, people smiling at the end, with the way our film ends with a hopeful tone and message for the future.”

That hopeful message is where Tomson comes in. A former pro surfer and now a motivational speaker, Tomson reached the pinnacle of the sport by winning the 1977 World Surf League championship. He won 19 major professional surfing events in total and is a member of both the Southern California and International Jewish Sports Halls of Fame.

Shaun Tomson is a former world champion surfer. (Courtesy of Tomson)

Tomson, born in Durban, South Africa, also had a surfing experience tied to his bar mitzvah that would prove foundational. Tomson’s father took him on a surfing trip to Hawaii, which Tomson called “the Mount Everest of surfing.”

“For me, it was a total representation of what a bar mitzvah is — it’s coming into manhood,” Tomson told JTA. “And here I was, a young boy paddling out in a 25-foot surf in Hawaii, which was a moment for me that changed my life. I came back to South Africa, and my career and my role in surfing changed after that bar mitzvah present.”

Tomson said he has faced antisemitism before outside of the sport — he was called a “Jew boy” by a fellow member of South Africa’s army as a teenager — but never as a member of the surfing community in the 1970s onward.

“While it’s not an excuse, I think there’s just a lot of ignorance,” Tomson said. “When I say ignorance, perhaps it wasn’t actually directed at Jews, it was more just blatant stupidity, and a lack of awareness of what actually happened in the Holocaust.”

There weren’t many Jewish surfers in South Africa when Tomson grew up, but he said he feels a direct link between his identities as a Jew and as a surfer.

“When you’re out in the ocean, there’s certainly a spiritual and a religious connectivity there, which is totally aligned with Jewish values,” he said.

No experience exemplifies this connection more powerfully than the tragic death of Tomson’s son, Matthew, who died in 2006 at the age of 15 as a result of a schoolyard “choking game” gone wrong. Tomson tells the story in the documentary.

Tomson explained that his particular expertise is tube riding — the picturesque but challenging technique of riding inside a tunnel-like wave. Two hours before Tomson’s son died, he called his father to share an essay he had written about how in tube riding, “the light shines ahead.” Just hours later, Tomson received the devastating news.

“So when I was trying to make sense of the world and my life, and why God had done this to me, I went back to my old shul,” Tomson said. “The old shul where I’d had my bar mitzvah. And I look at that lamp of everlasting light that represents the hope and faith of Judaism. And I thought of the words that my son wrote, ‘the light shines ahead.’ And I realized that Judaism’s about hope.”

The film ends on that hopeful tone: The last scene features a group of Jewish surfers at a beach in Malibu, reciting the Shema prayer in the water, before hitting the waves as the sun begins to set. In the last shot, the group sits down to a Shabbat meal on the beach.

“Surfing can be seen as a microcosm for issues like that and I think we would be doing our sport a great disservice if we ignored our own signs of darkness,” Greene said. “I think that by making a film like this, we can dispel ignorance and divisiveness, and instead promote inclusivity, community and equality for all surfers and all people.”

The post ‘Swastika boards’ and ‘surf Nazis’: New documentary explores surfing’s history of antisemitism 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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