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The real Jewish history in ‘History of the World: Part II’: Part I

Spoilers for “History of the World: Part II” follow.

(JTA) – Finally fulfilling the promise Mel Brooks made in 1981, the long-belated “History Of The World: Part II” brings us … “Hitler on Ice.”

For a sketch first teased during the end credits of Brooks’ film “History Of The World: Part I,” the leader of Nazi Germany can be seen attempting to land some difficult moves (perhaps a triple Axis?) at an Olympics-like skating competition. 

Needless to stay, Hitler wasn’t known as a figure skater. But some aspects of the sketch — such as why collaborationist Vichy France would give the Nazi leader’s routine a perfect score — might benefit from a more detailed understanding of the real history that’s being pilloried. 

The same goes for the sendups of Christianity, the Russian Revolution and Henry Kissinger — all historical events and figures depicted in the first episodes of the series, which landed on Hulu on Monday. Produced by Brooks and offering up its share of his Catskills-style Jewish humor, the eight-episode, four-night romp through history stops frequently on items of Jewish interest. Some sketches  recur throughout the series.

So here is your guide to the real-life Jewish history of “History of the World: Part II,” to be updated daily as new episodes drop.

The Russian Revolution

In a longer narrative first introduced in Episode 1, the show’s depiction of the fall of the Russian Empire is a high-wire blend of parodies and stylistic influences, as well as a crash course on Russian antisemitism. 

It begins with a grody depiction of early-1900s Jewish shtetl life borrowing heavily from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Mud-pie dealer and patriarch Shmuck Mudman, played by Jewish actor Nick Kroll, uses a truncated song-and-dance number (“Submission”) to encourage his feisty son to follow Jewish traditions and stay away from cosmopolitan life in Moscow. But his son is unconvinced: “The shtetl stinks, it’s no place for a Jew.” Like Anatevka, the tiny Jewish village from “Fiddler,” the Jews are heavily implied to be living in the “Pale of Settlement,” the only region of the Russian Empire where Jews were permitted to live starting in the early 19th century and lasting until the Russian Revolution in 1917. State-backed schooling and “Russianization” programs sought to erode Jewish communal identity and replace it with a Russian national identity; a small number of Jews were allowed to work or study beyond the Pale if they had special skills

In “History,” the Mudmans, including a mother played by Jewish comic Pamela Adlon, are menaced by the Cossacks, the Ukrainian mercenaries and feared horsemen who carried out a series of pogroms agains the Jews often at the behest of the Russian state. Meanwhile, the gilded Romanov family are depicted as Kardashian-like beauty influencers headed up by Tsar Nicholas II (Danny DeVito), who discovers their empire is on the brink of collapse.

In real life, the Russian Revolution liberated the state’s Jewish population with the fall of the tsar in 1917, and a large percentage of Communist party members at the time were Jewish. (Like DeVito, Nicholas II in real life was a short man, around five-foot-six.) In the decades to follow, Communist rule would come to have a devastating effect on the Jews of the Soviet Union, suppressing their religion and culture, and purging many of the Jewish party members.

Hitler on ice

It’s hard to impress a team of international judges when you’re the genocidal maniac who tried to conquer them.

In the skit, Hitler is despondent when judges from the countries in which he waged war all give him zeroes — with the exception of Vichy France, which awards him a perfect score, and Poland, which awards him an expletive. (It’s an uneasy restaging of the line “Winter for Poland and France,” from “Springtime for Hitler,” the musical highlight in Brooks’ “The Producers.”) 

The scores reflect Nazi Germany’s relationship with the countries: It conquered France and installed a puppet government that acquiesced to Hitler’s orders to round up and denationalize the country’s Jews. Meanwhile, the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, dividing up its rule with the Soviets and murdering much of its Jewish population in the Holocaust. Unlike the French government, which signed an armistice with Germany after heavy losses to clear the path for Vichy rule while preserving the Republic in name, Poland does not acquiesce to a collaborationist narrative; decades later, it is illegal in Poland to suggest that the country was complicit in Nazi atrocities.

But these wartime victories make Hitler the loser of “Hitler on Ice.” Accompanied by his “coach” Joseph Goebbels (the Nazis’ propaganda minister) and partner Eva Braun, this Hitler hangs his head in shame as he trudges away to the jeers of the crowd, intending to go shoot himself in his Berlin bunker in a repeat of his actual death by suicide at the end of World War II. 

“If you put concentration camps in people’s countries,” offers one of the sportscasters (played by Jewish comic Ike Barinholtz), “you better be flawless on the ice.”

Jesus (Jay Ellis) and Judas (Nick Kroll) in a scene from the “Curb Your Judaism” sketch in “History of the World” Part II.” (Aaron Epstein/Hulu)

The betrayal of Jesus Christ

Titled “Curb Your Judaism,” the show’s dramatization of the events following the Last Supper is styled in the manner of Larry David’s long-running HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Kroll plays Judas like he’s Larry David, and his betrayal of Jesus is depicted as a series of comic misunderstandings — which, like the original “Curb,” often revolve around questions of Jewish identity. “Curb” regulars play supporting roles as disciples, with J.B. Smoove as Luke and Richard Kind as Peter.

Besides aping the “Curb” mannerisms, including Judas’ grumblings about foot-washing and the size of the portions at the Last Supper, much of the comedy of the Jesus segments revolves around to what degree Jesus himself (Jay Ellis of “Insecure”) has formally renounced his Judaism. The segment depicts how Christ endeared himself to his followers, and introduced Christianity, by relaxing many of the requirements of Jewish tradition, including kosher laws and circumcision. “Something’s off with this Jesus guy. He’s trying to phase out his Judaism,” Judas remarks.

Jewish scholars have generally viewed Jesus Christ as a teacher, but not as a prophet or messiah as Christians believe. Jews have granted differing levels of respect to Jesus depending on Jewish-Christian relations at any given point throughout world history (Jews weren’t such big fans of Jesus during the Spanish Inquisition, so memorably depicted in “Part I”). 

Whether Jesus really did instruct his followers to disregard kosher laws and other Jewish practices is disputed by New Testament scholars and interpreters of the Gospel of Mark; other scholars believe Jesus intended to live as any other Jew. But “Curb Your Judaism” does depict Jesus as ultimately perishing at the hands of the Roman Empire, with whom Jews had a contentious relationship at the time, rather than at the hands of Jews, which was a popular belief used to justify antisemitism among various Christian denominations for centuries. “Nostra Aetate,” the influential 1965 papal decree, finally “absolved” the Jews for Christ’s murder, at least according to official Catholic doctrine.

Henry Kissinger

A sketch that imagines Shirley Chisholm, the first Black female member of Congress, as the star of a 1970s sitcom modeled on “The Jeffersons” includes a role for Kroll as Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s Jewish secretary of state. (Kroll is also an executive producer on the entire series, which helps explain his regular onscreen appearances.)

Historians generally view Kissinger, a refugee from Nazi Germany, as the lead architect of the Nixon administration’s most controversial decisions, including prolonging the Vietnam War and orchestrating a secret bombing campaign on Cambodia. Some call him a war criminal.

The Kissinger of “History” catches some of that criticism. A throwaway line further suggests he is an immortal demon.

Check back in throughout the week as JTA brings you Jews in space… the history space, that is.


The post The real Jewish history in ‘History of the World: Part II’: Part I 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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