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This Jewish couple ended their three-country wedding tour with a colorful Oaxacan ceremony

(JTA) — For the third of their three weddings, Hallie Applebaum and Elan Raffel set up a chuppah in Oaxaca, the Mexican city where they first confessed their love for each other.

Oaxaca is a vibrant hub of Mexican folk art and incredible food, but Jewish life? Not so much. Nonetheless the couple chose there to wed in an egalitarian Jewish ceremony led by the groom’s sister, Libby Smoler, on Feb 26. And when seven family members and friends gave their own interpretations of the seven traditional blessings, one of Applebaum’s sisters wished them a lifetime of adventures and delicious meals.

The wedding came just over three years after the pair met — online, from their parents’ houses early in the pandemic.

Applebaum’s parents weren’t subtle about wading into her dating life after she moved home to Portland, Maine, in early 2020, the only one of their four children to do so. Her father showed her a video about dating apps and her mother asked her for a demonstration.

Applebaum, 35, downloaded Hinge. The next thing she knew, her mother was hooked. “She’s swiping and swiping, and saying, ‘This is fabulous,’” Applebaum recalled, adding with a joke, “I told her, ‘You have to have some standards.’”

In Los Angeles, where Applebaum had been living, she had been focused first on her job as a producer of external communications for the educational technology division of the World Bank, and her all-consuming side project as the founder of Future of Women, which hosts breakfast events around the world and hosts a podcast for women leaders.

But in her childhood home, with no timeline for when life would resume, she decided to dive into dating, drawing on her extensive experiences living and traveling abroad to experiment with what would generate the most promising results.

“I put my location as different places, like Mexico City or London, for the fun of it,” she said. “When we were so isolated, to have contact with people in these places was nice. But, then, I put myself in a more realistic location.”

That location was New York City, where she soon encountered Raffel, an attorney in the tech industry.

Elan Raffel breaks the glass during his wedding ceremony with Hallie Applebaum, in Oaxaca, Mexico, Feb. 26, 2023. (Mónica Godefroy)

The pair matched and soon learned that they had a lot in common. Like Applebaum, Raffel had moved back in with his parents at the start of the pandemic — in his case Pikesville, a heavily Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Both had attended Jewish day schools growing up; both had spent time living abroad (Applebaum in Guatemala, Ecuador and while pursuing a master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Raffel in his mother’s native Israel); and both enjoyed fine food and off-the-beaten-path adventures.

After months of phone calls and probing conversations — some fueled by “The 36 Questions that Lead to Love” as appeared in The New York Times — they decided that Raffel would join Applebaum for a camping trip in Maine’s Acadia National Park.

“We had an out,” Raffel recalled. “If either of us had a terrible experience, we could back out.”

That wasn’t needed. Instead, they extended their time together — after kicking it off with an unplanned first meeting for Raffel with Applebaum’s parents when she forgot a cooler of food at their house.

“We joke that our first date was two weeks long,” said Raffel.

Soon after, Applebaum met Raffel’s family for Rosh Hashanah dinner. Then, Raffel rented a home in Los Angeles after Applebaum returned there.

With remote work the norm, and a few months dating now behind them, they began considering living and working elsewhere. They decided on Mexico, spending one month in Merida and one month in Oaxaca.

With its vibrant food scene and colorful arts and culture, the couple both fell in love with Oaxaca, and with each other. It was there that they first said, “I love you.”

Hallie Applebaum and Elan Raffel pose with dancers who joined their public wedding procession in Oaxaca. (Mónica Godefroy)

They returned to Mexico in the summer of 2022 while their new condo in Santa Monica was undergoing renovations; it was there that they became engaged. They now regularly host Shabbat dinners in their L.A. home through the nonprofit OneTable.

The first of their three wedding ceremonies took place on Sept. 30, 2022, when they were legally married at the Los Angeles County Courthouse.

The next event took place in Israel, where Raffel’s mother had long hoped that one of her three children would marry. He was her last hope, so the couple said yes to what they thought would be a small wedding there planned by her.

But Shuli Raffel’s plans grew larger and larger, until finally, Applebaum’s parents decided to come and her London-based sister, too. Rabbi Shira Levine of Kibbutz Hanaton, rooted in the Conservative movement of Judaism, officiated a religious ceremony on Oct. 14 at Bistro de Carmel in Zichron Ya’akov with 90 guests present.

Hallie Applebaum and Elan Raffel held one wedding ceremony in Israel, where Raffel’s mother is from. (Taylor Applebaum)

Levine had guided the couple via video calls in writing their own text for the Jewish wedding contract, the ketubah.

“We spoke to the rabbi about ​our relationship, our household, and how do we make this concrete and what traditional things do we want to modify and make more egalitarian,” Applebaum said, adding, “Since I do a lot of work in women’s empowerment, it was important to me to have a woman rabbi.”

Then, over Thanksgiving weekend, the couple held an Israeli brunch in Philadelphia, attended by their grandmothers — Applebaum’s is 102 — who would not be traveling to Mexico. From there, they flew directly to Oaxaca for a menu tasting, where, because Applebaum is vegetarian, it fell to Raffel to try all the fish and meat options they might offer their guests.

The couple returned to Oaxaca for the main affair — a multi-day event that included a day-long tour to a facility where mezcal, a Oaxacan spirit, is made; visits to craftspeople; and two nights of dinners.

On Feb. 26, they had their third and final wedding in front of 72 guests at Cardenal Oaxaca, an events venue. Spicy pineapple mezcal cocktails kicked off the celebration, and a festive meal that won accolades even from foodie guests followed the ceremony.

At their Oaxaca wedding, Hallie Applebaum and Elan Raffel served guests a native corn milk epazote sponge cake with lime cream. (Hallie Applebaum)

“It was amazing,” said Ori Zohar, a guest who is also the co-founder of spice company Burlap & Barrel. “The wedding meal was a procession of Mexican and Oaxacan specialties with an international twist. Beets were grilled and paired with pumpkin seeds and pickled mustard seeds. Duck enchiladas came slathered in a black mole sauce and aged cheese. The main dishes were shared plates, so each guest got to try a little of everything before going back and polishing off the rest of their favorite.”

In one highlight of the day, the couple partook in a local custom where tall likenesses of the couple are made out of paper maché and carried, and people toast the bride and groom. It was, Applebaum said, a perfect way to show off a beloved place to their friends and family.

“Our guests went from this beautiful ceremony that his sister put together,” she said, “to being immersed in this celebration in the streets.”

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The post This Jewish couple ended their three-country wedding tour with a colorful Oaxacan ceremony appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Comparing European, American, and French Roulette at Canadian online casinos

Roulette is the most popular table game at online and land-based casinos alike. You can easily find a seat at the table, place your bets, and hope that the wheel turns in your favour. But you have surely noticed that the roulette section is quite rich, featuring at least a dozen different tables. Most of them come with a different design and different rules. The most popular roulette variants are American Roulette, European, and French Roulette. In this article, we will try to explain the main differences between each one.

French VS European Roulette

We’ll first compare the French versus the European version of roulette since they are the most similar. The layout of the bets and the wheel is basically the same. Even the table layout is pretty much the same at most online casinos. Depending on the provider some differences can be found, like the layout of the table or the order of the numbers of the wheel. But as far as the odds and gameplay are concerned, European and French Roulette are basically the same. 

Both roulette variants have a single 0 on the board and the same number of slots on the wheel and numbers on the table. There are 36 additional numbers you can bet on, along with the standard Red or Black and Odd or Even bets. This means both games come with a house edge of 2.7%. So, the only difference comes from the introduction of two basic rules in French Roulette. 

  • La Partage
  • En Prison

La Partage

This rule applies to even money bets, and in case the ball lands on the 0 slot. The term comes from the French word which means to divide. All even money bets are divided into half, and the player gets one half, while the other half goes to the house. This rule works greatly in your favour, especially if you’re playing on higher bets. 

En Prison

The En Prison bet is also applied to even money bets and only when the ball lands on 0. Instead of counting as a loss, the bets are held on the table for the following spin, and if you win, you get your bet back. Even though you don’t actually win anything extra, the En Prison rule gives you a chance to get your money back without a loss. 

The introduction of these rules lowers the house edge on French Roulette down to 1.35%. This is why many players prefer the French version, as the odds are better for the player. 

French VS American Roulette

The main and pretty much only crucial difference between American and French roulette is the 00 and the layout of the slots on the wheel. The added 00 on the American version means that the house edge is higher. It climbs up to 5.26%, which is almost double the house edge on European Roulette and a massive difference from the 1.35% on the French version. 

Since there is an added 00 number, the layout of the slots on the wheel is different. On the table, the 00 is next to the 0, so it doesn’t make a big difference to the layout of the table. But the rules in American roulette are quite simple. If your number doesn’t come up, you lose the bet. There are no extra rules like in the French version. 


If you go by the odds alone, it turns out that the best roulette variant to play at Canadian online casinos is French roulette. But this doesn’t mean you will lose more when you play American or European Roulette. Many players prefer to play the American wheel as it’s faster and more exciting. With the right strategy and some luck on your side, you can easily make a profit on any type of roulette game. 

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Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism

niversity of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram

University of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram – “Never would I have imagined that I’d need to fight for my right to exist on campus,” laments Shabbos Kestenbaum, a student at Harvard University who is suing the school because “antisemitism is out of control.”

Jewish students have suffered an unrelenting explosion of hate on American higher education campuses—so far with little relief. They have endured antisemitic rhetoric, intimidation, cancellation and violence. But those charged with keeping campuses safe—whether administrators who govern student and faculty behavior or federal agencies responsible for ensuring that schools adhere to civil rights protections—are failing in their jobs.

Many Jewish students have complained to their colleges’ administrators about the injustices. But instead of responding with measures to ensure Jewish students’ safety—like stopping pro-Hamas protestors from hijacking campuses or expelling militants who incite Jew-hatred— administrators have largely shown indifference. In some cases, college authorities have made things worse for Jewish students by appeasing the riotous, pro-Hamas mobs who have been primary perpetrators of Jew-hatred on campus.

Snubbed by college administrators, Jewish students and their supporters have appealed for federal protection, filing Title VI complaints with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the body tasked with enforcing protections under the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, the OCR, which has the power to levy severe financial punishments against colleges that neglect students’ Title VI rights, has so far rewarded negligent universities with little more than slaps on the wrist.

Until college and university boards of trustees begin hiring administrators committed to Jewish students’ safety—and until the OCR begins seriously punishing antisemitic perpetrators—we can expect no respite. Safe to say, colleges and universities run by arrogant, apathetic administrators will not change until their jobs and schools’ survival are threatened.

College/university administrators don’t take antisemitism seriously. Their reactions to Jewish students raising concerns about Jew-hatred range from indifference to outright hostility. For example, when Mohammed Al-Kurd, who the Anti-Defamation League says has a record of “unvarnished, vicious antisemitism,” came to speak at Harvard, Shabbos Kestenbaum and other Jewish students complained to administrators.

Rather than cancel Al-Kurd’s appearance, which would have been the appropriate action, the administrators ignored the students’ complaints. “Harvard’s silence was deafening,” Kestenbaum wrote in Newsweek. Kestenbaum said he “repeatedly” expressed concerns to administrators about the antisemitism he experienced, but as his lawsuit alleges, “evidence of uncontrolled discrimination and harassment fell on deaf ears.”

Administrators at Columbia University reacted to Jewish students’ complaints about antisemitism even more cynically. In fact, during an alumni event, several administrators exchanged text messages mocking Jewish students, calling them “privileged” and “difficult to listen to.”

When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania if calling for genocide against Jews violated their schools’ codes of conduct, none could say “yes.” The presidents of Harvard and UPenn have since resigned. Good riddance.

Some college/university administrators have outrageously granted concessions to pro-Hamas students. For instance, Northwestern University agreed to contact potential employers of students who caused campus disruptions to insist they be hired, create a segregated dormitory hall exclusively for Middle Eastern, North African and Muslim students, and form a new investment committee in which anti-Zionists could wield undue influence. Brown University agreed to hold a referendum on divestment from Israel in October.

Similar appeasements were announced at other colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, the University of Minnesota and the University of California Riverside.

So far, OCR has failed to take concrete action against antisemitism on campus. This is evident in recent decisions involving the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan. CUNY was ordered to conduct more investigations into Title VI complaints and report further developments to Washington, provide more employee and campus security officer training, and issue “climate surveys” to students.

The University of Michigan also committed to a “climate survey,” as well as to reviewing its case files for each report of discrimination covered by Title VI during the 2023-2024 school year and reporting to the OCR on its responses to reports of discrimination for the next two school years.

Neither institution was penalized financially, even though the Department of Education has the power to withhold federal funds, which most colleges and universities depend on. There are now 149 pending investigations into campus antisemitism at OCR. If these investigations yield toothless results similar to those of CUNY and Michigan, it is highly unlikely that colleges and universities will improve how they deal with antisemitism.

Putting an end to skyrocketing antisemitism on campus involves three things.

First, donors and governments at every level should withhold funds from colleges that fail to hire administrators who will take antisemitism as seriously as they take pronoun offenses or racism directed at people of color.

Second, the OCR must mete out serious consequences to Title VI violators in the form of funding cuts. This may require legislation that specifically mandates withdrawing funding from offending parties. A bill recently introduced by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.)—the University Accountability Act—may be ideal, as it is designed to financially penalize institutions that don’t crack down on antisemitism.

Third, if OCR won’t act, Jewish students and their supporters should turn to the courts. Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the legal director of the Deborah Project, a public-interest Jewish law firm, argues that the CUNY settlement demonstrates the futility of going to OCR and that going to court is more likely to produce “a clearly delineated and productive result,” such as punitive and compensatory fines. As of late May, at least 14 colleges and universities are facing lawsuits over their handling of antisemitism on campus since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

As long as college administrators are allowed to ignore antisemitism on campus and as long as OCR and other government institutions fall short in punishing Jew-hatred, antisemitism will continue to plague Jewish students.

The post Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism first appeared on

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Candace Owens Claims US ‘Being Held Hostage by Israel,’ Suggests Zionists Killed JFK

Candace Owens speaks at CPAC on March 2, 2023. Photo: Lev Radin via Reuters Connect

Political commentator Candace Owens claimed on Friday that the US is being held “hostage” by Israel and suggested that AIPAC, the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US, was behind the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy.
“It seems like our country is being held hostage by Israel,” Owens, a right-wing provocateur, said during the opening segment of her YouTube show, where she interviewed far-left commentator Briahna Joy Gray.
“I’m going to get in so much trouble for that. I don’t care,” Owens lamented.
Gray, who was the guest for this episode, was recently fired from The Hill‘s TV show, Rising, after aggressively cutting off and rolling her eyes at the sister of an Israeli hostage who said that Hamas sexually assaulted women during the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and that people should believe those women. Gray, who claimed her firing was politically motivated, had repeatedly cast doubt on the sexual violence perpetrated against Israeli women during the Hamas-led onslaught.
However, Owens said that part of the reasons she was addressing the subject was that people were being fired because they were “not happy … when an innocent Palestinian kid dies” or for “critiquing a foreign nation.”
Also on Friday’s show, Owens claimed US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was “wading into some dangerous waters” when, during an interview with host Tucker Carlson, he spoke about how effective the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is at lobbying members of Congress and suggested the group should have to register as a foreign agent that is acting on behalf of Israel.
The reason it was dangerous, Owens said, was because “we know there was once a president that wanted to make AIPAC register, and he ended up shot … so Thomas Massie better be careful.”
Owens was referencing the fact that Kennedy wanted the American Zionist Council, a lobby group, to register as a foreign agent. However, there is no evidence the group had anything to do with Kennedy’s assassination.
Owens and The Daily Wire, which was co-founded by conservative and Jewish political commentator Ben Shapiro, parted ways after Owens flirted with antisemitic conspiracy theories for a number of months, especially following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
“In all communities there are gangs. In the black community we’ve got the Bloods, we’ve got the Crips. Well, imagine if the Bloods and the Crips were doing horrific things, murdering people, controlling people with blackmail, and then every time a person spoke out about it, the Bloods and the Crips would call those people racist,” Owens said while still at The Daily Wire. “What if that is what is happening right now in Hollywood if there is just a very small ring of specific people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from any criticism. It’s food for thought, right? … this appears to be something that is quite sinister.”
Additionally, after getting into a spat with an outspoken and controversial rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, she said, “Are you going to kill me? Are you going to kill me, because I refuse to kowtow to you, and I think it’s weird that you and your daughter are promoting and selling sex toys, that’s why I deem you an ‘unholy rabbi?’”
“You gross me out. You disgust me. I am a better person than you, and I do not fear you,” Owens continued.
The list of controversial incidents involving Owens continued to grow longer with time. In one case, she “liked” an X/Twitter post that promoted the antisemitic “blood libel.” The post read, in response to Boteach, “Rabbi, are you drunk on Christian blood again?”
The “blood libel” is a medieval anti-Jewish slur which falsely claims that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children in their religious rituals.

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