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These NYC college students want to kickstart a Jewish arts renaissance

(New York Jewish Week) – On a mild Thursday evening in late March, some 100 people gathered at Kistuné, a hip café and bar in the West Village that’s associated with the French-Japanese “lifestyle brand” of the same name. 

Sipping on custom-designed cocktails — like the Refusenik, a Moscow mule with a “resilient mix of vodka, ginger beer and lime” or the Tamar Collinsky, a Tom Collins reimagined and given “very possibly the name of someone you went to summer camp with” — guests mingled, discussing topics as varied as college classes, career choices and their favorite poetry.

Nearly everyone in the room was a Jewish artist or writer; the gathering was to celebrate the launch of “Verklempt!”, a new quarterly print magazine that bills itself as “The Magazine of Jewish Art and Literature.” The 75-page first issue is filled with paintings, photographs, drawings, poetry and fiction solicited from more than 30 Jewish artists around the country. 

“We see the Jewish community as a place where people want to engage with fiction and poetry more seriously,” editor-in-chief Yoni Gutenmacher, a 24-year-old creative writing MFA candidate at Brooklyn College, told the crowd, which included two of his brothers and his parents. “This is a personal dream of mine so I’m very happy that it’s real.”

Specialty cocktails were on offer at the launch party of “Verklempt!” (David Gutenmacher)

The aim of “Verklempt!” (Yiddish-English slang for “overcome with emotion”) is to publish and amplify art and literature with a specifically Jewish lens — hopefully in a way that encourages pursuing art as part of a spiritual journey, Gutenmacher explained. A painting of a man praying with tefillin and tallit; a poem about Leopold Bloom, the Jewish anti-hero of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and a collage of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and a drawing of a half-drunk bottle of Kedem grape juice all grace the pages of the first issue, whose theme is, fittingly, “On Creation.”

“I write fiction and I have a whole friend group and community in New York who aren’t Jewish, and if they are, they’re not really interested in religious or communal Jewish life,” Gutenmacher told the New York Jewish Week. “Then I have my Jewish life on the Upper West Side and all my friends from summer camp and school and everything else who are not really interested in engaging with high quality literature and art. At certain points in my life, I felt like I kind of have to choose.”

By working on “Verklempt!” he’s come to understand that those choices shouldn’t have to be so mutually exclusive, he said.

The journal is a project of Havurah (Hebrew for “fellowship”), an organization founded by two Modern Orthodox sophomores at NYU whose lofty but determined vision is to be the “bearer of a new Jewish renaissance” for young Jews in New York, according to their impressively designed website. 

Founded by Daniella Messer and Eitan Gutenmacher (Yoni’s younger brother), Havurah aims to create a gathering place, a “kehila (community) of frum Jewish creatives” — both virtual and IRL — where Jewish artists can meet and mingle, make art, perform and share ideas about how all of those endeavors connect them to religious life. One of their goals, according to the “manifesto” on their website, is to “invigorate a generation of young Jews and restore the Jewish artistic impulse.” 

While “Verklempt!” has wide-reaching aspirations — the artists they hope to publish can come from anywhere and be of any age — Havurah was founded to appeal to a hyper-specific community: young New York artists who are dedicated to being Jewish and Jews who are dedicated to being artists.

The idea arose during Gutenmacher and Messer’s freshman year of college in the winter of 2022. “I remember going to Israel over winter break, experiencing such an obvious realization that art and creativity is so integral to religious lifestyles,” Eitan Gutemacher, who is studying studio art at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, told the New York Jewish Week. “But [at NYU] for example, in a lot of the artistic programs, if you’re a religious Jew, you are usually the only religious Jew in the classroom, and, more often than not, the only one in the department.”

“Daniella and I wanted to create a community of lively Judaism expressed in any artistic and creative way,” he added.

With funding from the Next Gen Inc., “a start-up style incubator” that’s a project of the World Jewish Congress and World Union of Jewish Students, Havurah pursues their vision through a variety of avenues, including real-life events and performances, such as art fairs, concerts and Torah study conversations held at bars, cafés, apartments and synagogues. 

In addition to the physical journal, the organization’s high-design web site publishes essays, interviews, criticism, reviews and Torah commentaries, as well as “Sessions” for musicians, which are professionally mixed video tapings of live music performances similar to NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts.” 

“When Eitan and Daniella approached us and told us about Havurah, we knew instantly they would be a great fit for our incubator,” Yoni Hammerman, senior manager of the NextGen, told the New York Jewish Week via email. “Their work, to build a university student-run art community, perfectly aligns with NextGen’s mission of amplifying and supporting the voice and the work of Jewish student leaders.”

The Havurah staff — all eight of them are volunteers — believe that their offerings are the first time people who are both deeply involved in their Jewish communities and in their artistic pursuits have had a definable place to gather and collaborate that celebrate both.

“It’s so simple that you’d think it would already exist,” said Yosef Itzkowitz, a 24-year-old artist and poet who has three drawings in the first edition of “Verklempt!” “Jews love writing and art, and love talking about writing and art,” so why not make it happen?” Itzkowitz got involved, he said, after Eitan Gutenmacher reached out via Instagram. 

Of course, similar initiatives have and do exist — for example, the fiction journal publishes original and in translation work from Jewish writers around the globe, while CANVAS matches emerging Jewish multimedia artists with funders and grants. The Jewish Book Council puts out their literary journal “Paper Brigade” with art, interviews, essays and fiction, once a year.

On Tuesday, the inaugural Jewish Writers’ Initiative Digital Storytellers Lab showcased works by creators taking part in an eight-month fellowship supported by the Maimonides Fund. The work shown at Manhattan’s Rubin Museum included animation for Jewish kids, pop songs about women in the Bible and a podcast about the gay Jewish dating scene in Los Angeles.

According to Yona Verwer, founder of the Jewish Arts Salon — “a global network for Jewish visual art” that does regular programming in New York — while what the group is doing may not be “new,” one of the most exciting things about Havurah is how young its members are and how dedicated they are to the cause. 

“Being geared specifically towards people in their 20s” attracts people who have to be “very enthusiastic and very into it,” Verwer said.

“It’s interesting to see this immense interest in Jewish arts” from younger generations, added Verwer, who started the salon in 2008 and now serves as an advisor for Havurah. “When I started the salon, it was something that a lot of people were not interested in. Things have really changed over the years and it’s great to see people so dedicated.” 

Yoni Gutenmacher reads a poem at the launch party of “Verklempt!”, March 30, 2023. (David Gutenmacher)

As of now, contributors are unpaid, though there are hopes that the cover price of “Verklempt!” ($10) may help change that. “There’s a lot of places I see where you submit completely unpaid and it is completely not worth my time,” said Kim Kyne, a 32-year-old painter and sculptor from Los Angeles whose painting was in the first edition of the journal.

“What felt different about this is it feels like everyone’s all in it together,” she added. “Yoni and his brother are super humble and super young. What was really attractive to me about it is being connected with all these other Jewish artists in a way that I haven’t been before.”

Messer and the Gutenmacher brothers understand that the media and literary magazine worlds are very crowded spaces, especially in New York. But for now, they are embracing the heimish vibe and say they’ve seen, first-hand, just how many Jewish artists were looking for a space exactly like this. Submissions are already arriving for the next edition of “Verklempt!”, which is set to be published this summer, and according to Gutenmacher, he doesn’t recognize any of the names — meaning no repeats of last time, and no friends submitting as a favor. 

“Of course, there are Jewish artists all over the world. But it feels different because it has more of a modern take and the younger feel,” Kyne said. “It feels like the beginning of a movement.”

The post These NYC college students want to kickstart a Jewish arts renaissance 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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