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‘The Gett,’ a play about Jewish divorce, stems from an unlikely marriage between a Brooklyn synagogue and a theater company

(New York Jewish Week) — Despite being named for a Jewish bill of divorce, ‘The Gett” is a new off-Broadway play that began as a marriage between a Reform synagogue in Brooklyn and a West Village theater company that specializes in “diverse, challenging and provocative” works.

At Park Slope’s Congregation Beth Elohim, Associate Rabbi Matt Green had been trying to expand programming for “cultural Jews” — those who don’t necessarily feel religious or connected to a denomination, yet know they are Jewish and want to be Jewish. 

Meanwhile, at the Rattlestick Theater, artistic director Daniella Topol had just put on a play about the Catholic nuns who started downtown’s St. Vincent’s Hospital in the 19th century, and wanted to direct a play about Judaism for her next project. 

When Topol and Green were introduced in 2018 by Rosalee Lovett, who sat on the boards of both institutions, co-commissioning a play seemed like a natural fit — however unconventional.

The result is “The Gett: Or How a Woman Created Herself,” an original play produced by Congregation Beth Elohim and showing at the Rattlestick through Dec. 11. The 95-minute production — written by and starring Liba Vaynberg — centers on Ida, a recent divorceé navigating her relationship with herself, her mother, her ex-husband Baal, Judaism and God. With the plot points structured around the seven days of creation, Ida’s relationship with her Baal (in Hebrew the word can mean “master” or “husband”) is laced with a double meanings. The viewer can see the couple’s sometimes dangerous and sometimes loving relationship as a metaphor for the Jewish people’s relationship with God. 

“These are organizations that have gone deeply into what they do and do it well,” Vaynberg told the New York Jewish Week. “CBE is bringing the best it has and Rattlestick is bringing the best it has — as opposed to a situation where everybody’s bringing half. It’s a very full marriage.” 

“What’s powerful about this play is that it has been a really community-based development and a really thoughtful development in partnership between a synagogue and a theater,” said Topol, noting that this is the Rattlestick’s first-ever Jewish play, and first partnership with a synagogue.

Despite the biblical trappings in “The Gett” — which also stars Jennifer Westfeldt, Ben Edelman and Luis Vega — the play is funny and modern. “We’ve tried a number of different things, but so far, this is one of our greatest successes to offer content that’s serious for people who call themselves culturally Jewish,” Green told the New York Jewish Week. “It’s really important to me that this play fosters a broader conversation, even in some small way, about what our institutions can be doing differently.”

Performances have been full so far at the 99-seat theater, with CBE encouraging congregants to see the show by offering group trips and programming surrounding the play, including talkbacks with Rabbi Green that explore the Jewish themes in the show. On Friday night performances, CBE holds Kabbalat Shabbat gatherings with the audience before the show.

Ben Edelman and Liba Vaynberg in “The Gett.” (The Chamber Group)

“We tend to deride cultural Judaism as if it’s somehow flimsy, or unserious, but if you look at the Pew study, it’s the fastest growing self-identified demographic in our community,” added Green, who also leads Congregation Beth Elohim’s “Brooklyn Jews” cohort, which is a community of younger congregants who are looking to engage Judaism through culture, food and ritual. “Yet we spend very little time as a Jewish establishment trying to really understand what cultural Judaism is.”

Other recent efforts to include these “cultural Jews” include reading and discussion seminars on queer Jewish writers, a meditation group and, perhaps most notably, an “intergenerational mixer” held in partnership with the lifestyle brand “Old Jewish Men of New York,” which got a write-up in the New York Times Styles section.

As for theater, the play really stemmed from CBE and Rattlestick’s desire to work together after realizing their mutual ambitions and interests. 

At the Rattlestick, “We really focus as a theater on finding ways to look at stories that deal with the complexity of our culture,” Topol said. “I had been thinking for a while that we wanted to do something that related to the complexity of the American Jewish experience.”

It was something the theater community clearly was interested in as well: When Topol and Green opened a call for submissions, they received over 100. Vaynberg’s play was selected in early 2020.

For Topol, who is Jewish but always saw her Judaism as separate from her directing career, it was a theme close to her heart. “In terms of what Jewish stories are represented on the stage, it feels like there’s some room to really explore some of those key questions that American Jews are wrestling with: identity, intermarriage, having children, ritual, how much do you carry on ritual or not, what your affiliation is or isn’t with Israel, with the Holocaust, with politics,” she said. 

“It’s a swirl of all of those sorts of questions that felt kind of worth some creative expression in terms of the theater,” Topol added. (As it happens, “The Gett” will be the last play Topol directs in her six-year career with the Rattlestick — next, she will switch careers and study to become a nurse.)

Once Vaynberg’s play was selected in early 2020, the playwright unexpectedly had extra time to finesse the show. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rattlestick closed temporarily and put the production on pause.

Vaynberg used the extra time to increase community involvement. She spoke with several women who are synagogue members who had gone through a divorce. She and Green conducted several roundtable discussions and focus groups to further explore congregants’ Jewish identities and how it has manifested in their relationships.

Vaynberg and Green created a “chavrusa,” a study partnership, to explore biblical and religious implications of the questions she had about creation, Jewish marriage and divorce and how much power a person has in their relationship with God. 

Some themes in the play probe the same questions about cultural Judaism that Green had been asking at CBE. Protagonist Ida, for example, deeply cares about her Judaism and Jewish identity, and yet has trouble explaining just why and how it’s so important to her on a date with a non-Jewish man.

“By going to this play, you are engaging with Judaism,” Green said. “It’s not just about inspiring people to be involved with Judaism, but actually, it is a Jewish act to see this play.” 

“This isn’t something synagogues do — it’s sort of strange,” Green remarked. “We want to do things differently and we as a congregation, want to inspire other congregations, other Jews, to do things differently.” 


The post ‘The Gett,’ a play about Jewish divorce, stems from an unlikely marriage between a Brooklyn synagogue and a theater company 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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Obituaries

Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN

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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