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The founder of Peru’s only Jewish bakery looks to educate non-Jews through food — and Instagram stories

LIMA, Peru (JTA) — The story of Lima’s only Jewish bakery begins on Christmas.

On the eve of the holiday in 2016, Deborah Trapunsky was baking challah for a non-Jewish friend who wanted a unique gift for her boyfriend. Her friends had always loved her challah, and she enjoyed sharing this aspect of her culture with them. But on that night, Trapunsky figured that she would see if anyone else would be interested in some challah to go with their Christmas dinner. So she posted on Facebook. 

The response was overwhelming.

Trapunsky ended up receiving nearly 100 orders, and without a professional oven, she barely kept up with the demand. Using her parents’ small kitchen to complete the orders, Trapunsky said that she had to “colonize” her parents’ apartment — using every countertop to knead dough, laying out challahs throughout the rooms to cool down and then packaging them. 

As she drove around Lima on Christmas day completing all the deliveries, as the majority of Peruvians were celebrating with their families, Trapunsky hatched a plan to turn the unexpected response into a business. 

“I was really surprised when the orders started to grow and grow,” she said. “I had no idea about anything, no idea how much challah I could bake, no idea how to do the packaging…but that’s how it all started.” 

She named her creation Oh-jalá — a bit of wordplay, as “ojala” means “I hope” and jalá is the Spanish word for challah, the braided Ashkenazi bread traditionally made on Shabbat and holidays.

Seven years after that Christmas Facebook post, the bakery has moved from a cramped 120-square-foot kitchen to a 1,200-foot brick and mortar space that opened in 2020 in a garage of an old colonial home in the posh neighborhood of San Isidro.

Trapunksy, who is 30, has gone from selling four flavors of challah to 12 — including vegan and nutella varieties — and has expanded from only selling challah to offering coffee, hamantaschen (for Purim), a variety of sweetbreads and even bagels. (She made sure to add the disclaimer that hers are not on par with New York bagels but that they suffice for the traveler in Peru who is craving the Jewish-American staple). 

Over the years, Trapunsky’s clientele has also shifted from mostly Jewish customers — who found her after the initial Christmas rush — to mostly non-Jews. She therefore sees Oh-jalá as more than a job: it’s her attempt to combat stereotypes, encourage the integration of Jews into Peruvian society, and perhaps most importantly, it’s her attempt to forge a unique Jewish-Peruvian identity for herself. 

The bakery is housed in a garage of an old colonial home in the posh neighborhood of San Isidro. (Courtesy of Deborah Trapunsky)

“Here in Peru people like ‘different’ [cultures and cuisines], and being Jewish in Peru is very different,” Trapunsky said. “And I really enjoy having a bakery that exists at the intersection between this minority community and the larger Peruvian world.”

Jewish Peruvians make up fewer than .01% of the country’s population of 34 million and are mostly concentrated in the capital Lima. Trapunsky and her family are currently close with other members of the community here, but they didn’t always fit in. 

Like many South American Jews, her family mostly descends from Eastern Europe. Before 1998, they lived in Chile, but looking to leave financial struggles behind, the Trapunskys left for Peru. Siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles all lived together in an old house in Lima. Trapunsky recalled these memories fondly, as she was only a child and enjoyed being with her cousins. But she also remembers the tension between her parents and uncles and aunts, as their economic hardships were compounded by feeling like outcasts among Lima’s Jews. 

Oh-jalá includes bagels on the menu. (Courtesy of Deborah Trapunsky)

Lima’s Jewish community of around 2,000 is very wealthy, and the Trapunskys came to Peru with almost nothing. Starting from scratch, they had to fight for a place within a community that Deborah describes as “hermetic.” She spent much of her childhood feeling like she didn’t belong in the traditional but not Orthodox community that was supposed to embrace her. It made her bitter.

“The Jewish community here is very closed-minded. When [my family] arrived in Peru, we didn’t have any money…I was young but I remember feeling the struggle of my family trying to exist in an unwelcoming community,” Trapunsky said. “So although I’ve always felt grateful for being Jewish and for the Jewish community here, I also have always felt a little resentment.”

After graduating from Peru’s only Jewish high school, she went to university and immersed herself in the non-Jewish world. She quickly discovered that the majority of Peruvians know very little about Jewish people, and what they do know is often based in stereotypes and anachronisms. She often tried to educate her peers about Jewish holidays, traditions and food, and through that process felt more Jewish than she ever had.

“Sharing my culture with friends helped me discover what made me feel Jewish. When I was only spending time with other Jews, I lost the ability to identify myself by contrasting myself to others,” she said. “But being immersed in Peru’s secular world gave me the opportunity to connect to my Judaism in a very different way.” 

She added that she thinks the insularity of Lima’s Jewish community leads non-Jewish Peruvians to view the community with suspicion and reinforces negative stereotypes about Jewish people. With Oh-jalá, Trapunsky is trying to change that — to foster interaction between local Jews and others, and to show Peruvians how Jews enrichen their society.

Trapunsky is shown with some of her employees inside Oh-jalá. (Courtesy of Deborah Trapunsky)

“Food is a safe and secular space,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to share cultural information in a non-political manner.”

But Oh-jalá’s physical space is not the only tool that Trapunsky uses in her mission — she also uses the bakery’s Instagram account to educate Peruvians about Judaism. With more than 18,000 followers, she does educational Instagram stories on Sukkot, Pesach, and other Jewish holidays. She even did an Instagram live video on “Judaism 101.” In a series of highlighted stories on her page, she talked about topics ranging from the fasting on Yom Kippur to why Jews don’t celebrate Christmas to, of course, the origins of challah. 

As a result, she has received hundreds of positive direct messages from Peruvians eager to learn more about the religion and compare Judaism to their own Catholicism. She said this was her exact goal.

“I want to overturn the hermetic reputation of the Jewish community and turn it into something accessible, open to the public, and even trendy,” she said. “I want everyone in Peru to be able to get to know us… and explore our culture.”

Starting Oh-jalá has also helped her let go of the resentment. She now not only feels more secure in her identity as both Peruvian and Jewish, but also more of a valued member in the Lima Jewish community. 

As the financial success continues, Deborah is focused on the future. She wants to franchise her bakery and plans to open another one on the other side of the city. 

Ever the entrepreneur, she also made sure to tell the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that she’s looking for investors — and for a Jewish boyfriend. 

The post The founder of Peru’s only Jewish bakery looks to educate non-Jews through food — and Instagram stories 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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