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Teens push back on school mascots that celebrate persecutors of Jews

This article was produced as part of JTA’s Teen Journalism Fellowship, a program that works with teens across the world to report on issues that impact their lives.

(JTA) — The New Braunfels Unicorns. The Gabbs Tarantulas. The Fisher Bunnies. High school mascots like these may encourage spirit and community, but other schools’ mascots have been called out in recent years for being racist and insensitive, especially to Native Americans and the descendants of the enslaved. 

And some mascots can be perceived as antisemitic as well. In 2018, the name of the student publication at Monroe-Woodbury High School in Center Valley, New York was changed from “The Crusader” to “The Wire” when its editorial staff spoke up against what had been the public school’s long-time mascot.

For many Christians, the medieval crusades are associated with European armies’ attempts to recapture the Holy Land and ensure safety for Christian pilgrims visiting sacred sites. And yet they were also occasions for massive outbreaks of antisemitism, like the 1190 massacre of Jews in Norwich near England’s eastern coast. Muslims have complained that glorifying crusaders is Islamophobic. 

In their letter to the principal at Monroe-Woodbury High asking for a change, students also noted that the Ku Klux Klan’s official publication is known as “The Crusader.” 

“The Ku Klux Klan is a white supremacist organization that uses fear, hatred and violence to achieve its goals; we do not wish to be associated with this group in any way,” the students wrote. “We want our school’s student publication to be a place where all students will feel comfortable sharing their ideas and we would like our publication to be a place where all students feel comfortable reading those ideas.” 

Hailey Lanari, a junior at Monroe-Woodbury, says fellow students are ignorant of how Crusaders might be seen as antisemitic. “I don’t think that people are really aware of it,” she said. “I think it kind of just normalizes certain things. I think it just makes it normal for us to be like, ‘Yeah, it was this really bad thing, but it’s ok cause it’s just our school’s mascot.’”

She doesn’t trust that the school would take public steps to address any complaints, and suggests that is why “The Wire” hasn’t written about the mascot in the context of the school. There was, however, a statement released when the paper changed its name.

Out of 231 high schools with “Crusaders” as their mascots, 208 of them are Catholic with little to no Jewish populations, according to MasseyRatings, a mascots database. 

Other schools, like the Latin School of Chicago, use “Roman” as their mascot, a reference to the glories of the Roman Empire. But that same empire targeted Jews and destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. “As someone who finds themselves very involved with the community and plays a lot of sports, it is just something I have come to not enjoy so much,” said Lauren Altman, a student at Latin School and a head of the Jewish Student Connection club.

“Latin School was created to follow this Latin model which is very much about celebrating what is referred to as a Western Civilization,” Latin history teacher Dr. Matthew June said. He argues that the mascot isn’t problematic from a religious standpoint because the two groups clashed politically, not necessarily relating to religion. The destruction of the Second Temple predates the empire’s embrace of Christianity, when attitudes towards Judaism itself became more hostile.

In the past 12 years, 79 schools with Native American mascots across the country changed their mascots, according to The National Congress of American Indians. The NCAI says Native American mascots “remind Native youth of the limited ways in which others see them” and “undermine the ability of Native nations and people to portray themselves accurately as distinct and diverse cultures.”

The mascot of the Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago was the “Indian” for over a century before the local school council voted unanimously to change it in the summer of 2020 because of its stereotyping of Native Americans. Prior to the start of the current school year, the school officially rebranded to the Champions.

The Latin School of Chicago adopted its mascot, the Roman, in 1950 based on the suggestion of a sports writer from the Chicago Daily News, according to the school’s archivist, Teresa Sutter. Since then, one of the few conversations about the term occurred nine years ago, when some complained that the symbol was white and gendered.

But those aren’t the only issues with the Roman. The Romans are accused of crucifying Jesus, destroying the Second Temple and turning from a republic to an empire, said Dr. Jeffrey Ellison, a teacher of the Holocaust and the history of antisemitism at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School in Chicago and a former teacher at Latin School. He suggests schools ask themselves, “Is this the symbol that we want to be using to represent us? [The Romans] were just brutal.”

Some mascots, like the Trevians of New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Il., aren’t seen as obviously offensive, and are not being discussed in schools. The mascot wears the Roman-era costume of a soldier from Trier, a town in present-day Germany where Jews were persecuted by crusaders and ostracized repeatedly beginning as early as the third century

The mascot and logo of New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Il., is based on a soldier from Trier, a town in present-day Germany.

“I don’t think anyone’s ever made that connection before,” said Kimberly Hafron, the Hebrew teacher at New Trier. “They’re just this weird mascot.” 

Hafron was hesitant to bring the issue to students, because she didn’t want to cause commotion in the community. “I think it would cause one of those ruckus’ where people are like, ‘Oh my God, is there latent antisemitism that we don’t know about?’” she said. “If the people who they could potentially offend don’t have any idea they’re being offended, then the question is, is it offensive?”

For Stella Dale, a Hebrew student at New Trier, the answer is no. “As a Jewish woman, I do not condone antisemitism in any form, but I do think that the mascot itself is not an antisemitic” symbol, Dale, 17, said. “I think that this extension of the Romans destroying the temple is obviously inappropriate, but in my day-to-day life, I really have no hate with the Trevian.”

Overall, because so few students at schools like Monroe-Woodbury and New Trier are aware of the significance of their schools’ mascots, it rarely affects feelings of inclusion at school.

At Latin, however, the Roman mascot does impact a sense of belonging at the school for some Jewish students. Altman said, “If you say you are a Latin Roman, and the Romans did try to kill the Jews, that is going against yourself — saying I am representing somebody who tried to kill my group.”

The Anti-Defamation League has not gotten any reports of discomfort regarding these types of mascots, according to Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg. “We have spoken out in support of fighting prejudice and discrimination and hurtful stereotypes particularly in the professional sports arena,” Goldenberg said. “We do think it’s important to move away from the use of hurtful and offensive names, mascots and logos.” 

The ADL has not, however, taken action regarding mascots like the Crusaders, the Romans, or the Trevians. Because no complaints have been filed on this subject, the ADL has not acted on the matter.

Goldenberg added, “I think one of the things that we are looking [at is] not necessarily the name of a mascot, but we would look at how certain images are adopted by extremist groups or that become extremist symbols.”

“I think there is a real good opportunity to think about what it is that we want to bind us together.” Dr. Ellison said. “What’s that symbol?” 

The post Teens push back on school mascots that celebrate persecutors of Jews 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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