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The first Passover haggadah in Ukrainian marks a community’s break with Russia

(JTA) — For Michal Stamova, the challenge of translating Passover’s core text into Ukrainian started with the title.

The haggadah — the book containing the Passover story — starts with an “h” sound in both Hebrew, its original language, and English. In Russian, the primary language of organized Jewish life in Ukraine until recently, there is no such sound, so the book has long been known there as an “agada.”

Ukrainian does have an “h” sound. But the character representing that sound conveys a different sound in Russian: a “G.” So for many Ukrainian Jews, the cover of Stamova’s translation will read as “Gagada.”

The journey of that single sound reflects the complexity of the task Stamova took on to aid Ukrainian Jews celebrating Passover a year into their country’s war with Russia. A musicologist from western Ukraine who fled to Israel shortly after Russia’s invasion, Stamova was recruited to create a Ukrainian-language haggadah, a powerful sign of the community’s rupture with its Russophone past.

Stamova knew she wanted to base her translation not off the preexisting Russian translation, but from the original Hebrew and Aramaic. That proved challenging because much of the text of the haggadah is lifted from other sources in Jewish canon, but Jewish translations of those texts to Ukrainian are only underway now for the first time.

“At first, it was very difficult to start, because we don’t have the sources in Ukrainian,” Stamova said. “We don’t have Torah in Ukrainian. We don’t have Tanakh in Ukrainian. It was very difficult to know what words to find.”

Stamova’s text, titled “For Our Freedom,” was released online earlier this month in advance of the Passover holiday that starts April 5. It is one of a growing number of efforts to translate Jewish texts into Ukrainian. Translators affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement have produced a book of psalms and are working on a daily prayer book, with their sights set on a full translation of the Torah. An effort is also underway now to translate a chapter of a newer text associated with Yom Hashoah, the Jewish Holocaust memorial day, in advance of its commemoration this year on April 18.

The absence of those texts until now, despite Ukraine’s significant Jewish population, reflects the particular linguistic history of Ukrainian Jews. Under the Russian empire, Jews living in what is now Ukraine in the 19th century tended to adopt Russian rather than Ukrainian, usually in addition to Yiddish, because Ukrainian was perceived as the language of the peasantry and conferred few benefits. That tilt became more pronounced after World War II and the Holocaust, when Yiddish declined as a Jewish vernacular and Russian became the main language of the Soviet Union. The history helps explain why, even as the number of Ukrainians speaking Russian at home fell sharply over the last decade, Jews remained largely Russian-speaking. (Russian and Ukrainian are related linguistically, though their speakers cannot understand each other.)

A sample page of text from the haggadah. (Courtesy of Project Kesher)

Over the past 30 years, the vast majority of printed material used by Ukrainian Jewish communities, including haggadahs for Passover, were created in Russian by groups such as Chabad, which is the main Jewish presence in both countries. But after Russia’s invasion, those materials became a liability at a time when being perceived as having ties to the enemy could be dangerous.

Indeed, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year prompted many Russian-speaking Ukrainians to switch languages as a marker of national solidarity — and sparked a push to translate Ukraine’s Jewish life into the Ukrainian language.

“Ukrainian Jews always spoke Russian. That really was the norm. With the advent of the escalation of the war, that has shifted, and Ukrainian Jews who are in the country are shifting as fast as they can over to Ukrainian,” said Karyn Gershon, the executive director of Project Kesher, the global Jewish feminist nonprofit that commissioned the new haggadah.

Gershon said the haggadah offers an opportunity to elevate a Ukrainian Jewish identity in other ways, such as by including tidbits about famous Jewish writers from the area that comprises modern Ukraine who in the past might have been characterized only as “Russian.”

“In most of the Jewish world, the things that make a haggadah unique are the special readings,” Gershon said. The new Ukrainian haggadah includes alongside the traditional text, she said, “prayers for the defenders of Ukraine, prayers for peace in Ukraine, but also [passages] reclaiming writers who were always categorized as Russian, but because they came from places like Kyiv, Odessa and Berdichev, are more accurately Ukrainian.” 

For example, the haggadah includes passages from the 1925 book “Passover Nights,” by Hava Shapiro, a Kyiv-born Jew and journalist who authored one of the first Hebrew-language diaries known to have been written by a woman.

The additions offer an element of pride for some of the Ukrainian Jews who plan to use the new haggadah.

“It is bringing you to the roots of those Jews who were living here before the Holocaust,” said Lena Pysina, who lives in Cherkasy, southeast of Kyiv. “It’s about rebuilding the Jewish communities in Ukraine as ‘Ukrainian Jews.’”

Pysina said the switch to Ukrainian and the embrace of Ukrainian Jewish history in some ways echoed the themes of the Passover story, which describes the Israelites fleeing slavery in Egypt.

“It’s like an exodus for us. It is not comfortable, because we get used to what we get used to. But we have to be proactive, we have to find our identity,” she said. “It took us 70 years of Soviet times to … celebrate the Jewish holidays and Jewish traditions. And it took us 30 years to understand that we have to build Ukrainian Jewish communities, too.”

Those communities are very much in flux a year into the war, with millions of Ukrainians internally displaced or having relocated overseas. Stamova undertook the haggadah project from Israel, where she is one of an estimated 15,000 Ukrainians who arrived since February 2022. 

Stamova grew up in western Ukraine, where the use of the Ukrainian language is more common than in the east. Like most other Ukrainian Jews, she still grew up speaking Russian at home, but her school, university and most of her life outside the home was conducted in Ukrainian. That made her a natural fit for the translation project, along with her background in Jewish liturgy, which she had studied at a Conservative yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Over the past 30 years, the vast majority of printed material used by Ukrainian Jewish communities, including haggadahs for Passover, were created in Russian. (Courtesy of Project Kesher)

The challenges went beyond phonetics. One frequent question was whether to use Russianisms that are widely known in Ukrainian and would be more easily understandable to a Jewish audience, or to use uniquely Ukrainian words.

The most difficult section of the text, she said, was Hallel, the penultimate step of the Passover seder. Hallel is a lengthy song of divine praise heavy with poetry and allegorical language — making for challenging translation work in any language.

Stamova said she sought to stick to the traditional understanding of the text while also making some adjustments for the contemporary seder attendee. For example, the section of the haggadah about the “four sons” with varying relationships to Judaism is rendered gender-neutral and changed to the “four children” in Stamova’s translation — an adjustment that has been made in other languages, too. 

Most of all, Stamova said, she hopes the haggadah offers some solace to Ukrainian Jews whose entire lives have been turned upside down. 

“The Jewish tradition of Pesach is that we every year have to remember that we escaped from Egypt, from slavery. It’s very therapeutic,” Stamova said, using the Hebrew word for Passover. “How is it like therapy? Yes, we every year remember this difficult story, but then we have a plan for the future, we say next year in Jerusalem. So we have to have a plan. We have to see the future.”

The post The first Passover haggadah in Ukrainian marks a community’s break with Russia 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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