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This Jewish studies professor won $60,000 on “Jeopardy!” — despite missing out on a question about Yom Kippur

(JTA) — The most notable message Melissa Klapper got during her four-night run this week on “Jeopardy!” didn’t come because the Jewish studies scholar was unable to answer a question about Yom Kippur. It also wasn’t an unkind note from a game-show stickler who believed she’d gotten credit for a wrong response.

Instead, it was an email from a past student who recognized herself in the story Klapper told as part of her self-introductory stage banter — a staple of the game show. Klapper, who teaches history at Rowan University in New Jersey, described accusing a student of having plagiarized her paper.

The student then replied, Klapper recalled, that she “didn’t know [it] was plagiarized when she bought it.” The anecdote yielded laughs from host Ken Jennings and the two co-contestants whom Klapper later defeated to notch her third win.

After the episode aired Wednesday night, Klapper heard from the former student, whose name she had previously forgotten.

“She watches ‘Jeopardy!’ and when she was watching that interview, she thought to herself, this is about me,” Klapper told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “And she wrote to me to apologize. She’s a teacher now and, I think, is more understanding of why what she did was really not good. And I really appreciated it. It was kind of brave of her to get in touch with me after all these years.”

The experience was a fitting highlight of Klapper’s run on the show, which ended Thursday with a third-place finish and total winnings of $60,100. She said it was her training as an educator — not her education in Modern Orthodox schools or her scholarship on Jewish women, immigrant children and more — that prepared her for success on the show.

“I’m up in front of people all the time,” said Klapper, who is active in the Association for Jewish Studies and whose most recent book, “Ballet Class: An American History,” was published in 2020. “I do not have stage fright.”

Klapper spoke with JTA about her Jewish background, her research interests and how her most religiously observant friends managed to watch her on TV.

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

JTA: First, I have to ask: Last night, did you end up with $1,800 on purpose? That’s a very Jewish number.

Klapper: No! That’s so funny. It didn’t even occur to me.

How are you feeling this morning? Any initial reflections on your appearance now that it’s over?

These shows were recorded in January, so I’ve had time to come to peace with what happened. I was disappointed not to win another game — or two. But Alec, the guy who won last night, was just unstoppable on the buzzer. Knowing the answers is not enough to do well in “Jeopardy!” You also have to have good hand-eye coordination, which I do not. I would say I knew the vast majority of answers but I often just could not get the buzzer in time. Once I knew I was going to be on the show, I did sort of sit at home and practice with a ballpoint pen, but it’s not the same.

I will say the fact that I couldn’t be fast enough to answer the Yom Kippur clue was pretty frustrating. [The clue was about a Jon Stewart quip about the Jewish day of atonement.] And I heard about that — I got a lot of fun teasing from some of my Jewish friends who were sending me helpful emails with links to the dictionary.com definition of Yom Kippur.

Can you share a little bit about your relationship with “Jeopardy!”, how you came to be on the show and your general reflection about your experience?

I grew up in a household where we watched “Jeopardy!” when I was kid. We had a “Jeopardy!” board game that I would play with my parents and my sister and I actually tried out for the teen tournament when I was in high school. Those were the days that you had to go in person, so my parents very kindly drove me into D.C. when we heard that there would be a tryout. I didn’t get past the first round — I didn’t know anything about sports, and I still don’t know that much, although I answered a surprising number of sports questions.

In the last few years I started to watch more regularly and it occurred to me, you know, I really think I could do OK on this show. I made it into the contestant pool the first time I took the online test, but I did not get called. The day after my 18 months [in the pool] ended, I started the process again, but I sort of assumed I would never hear from them again — especially because they asked you to write down dates when you can’t come and I had to write that I was not available during the semester — and, oh, also on Jewish holidays. But they called me for winter break.

They record five shows in a day, and all of mine were on one day. There’s about 10 minutes between shows when you change your top and can have a drink and then go right back onstage. It was just — really, it was all a blur. If you’d asked me at the beginning of this week what any of the categories were I would have been very hard-pressed to tell you.

You got some clues that seemed ready-made for a Jewish contestant such as one about Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint” and another about Jack Antonoff, the Jewish musician and producer. What is your Jewish background like and were there moments where you felt like that gave you some kind of advantage?

Now I live in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, which has a large observant Jewish community. My husband and I belong to a Modern Orthodox synagogue and we are involved in a partnership minyan, Lechu Neranena.

I went to Jewish day school my whole life, kindergarten through 12th grade, first at Akiba Academy of Dallas and then Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, which was the only girls high school and where I got a very solid education and was encouraged to pursue my intellectual ambitions. I went to Israel right after high school before I started college. So I have a very intensive Jewish educational background, and throughout my education and all the schools that I went to, I found a lot of encouragement for my innate nerdiness.

So I’m not sure I could draw a direct line, but what I will say is that in the Jewish educational environment I grew up in, matched by an extremely Jewish traditional home, there was just a huge, enormous value on reading and books and learning, and I think that makes a difference.

I will say I don’t think I knew about Jack Antonoff because he’s Jewish — I knew him because of Taylor Swift.

Were there Jewish highlights of your experience, either on the show or behind the scenes? 

They do not pay for you to go out to L.A. You’re responsible for your own travel, but they do provide lunch. I asked if it would be possible to get me a kosher lunch, and they immediately said yes, which I appreciated. There was no question or back and forth about it. I got a salad with a ton of protein that could take me through the day.

And then this is a little funny, but I have friends from across the spectrum of Jewish practice, or lack thereof. Some of my more traditionally observant friends don’t own TVs and wouldn’t have TVs in their houses — but they have been watching the show on YouTube every day because they have no other way to watch.

Your scholarship in American history and Jewish studies has been wide-ranging, and you’ve written books about American Jewish women’s activism, American Jewish girlhood and, most recently, ballet. How did your work as a scholar and a teacher prepare you for your appearance or dovetail with it?

I’m a teacher. I’m up in front of people all the time. I do not have stage fright. I give a lot of public talks of various kinds, in academic venues or community settings. And so I did not have any problems speaking or talking to Ken [Jennings] during the short interview period — that is not a problem for me. And for some contestants, it really is. They’re not used to just speaking in public at all like that. My professional background prepared me very well.

I have to ask about the big controversy. [Some viewers believed Klapper offered “Gregor” rather than “McGregor” as the response to a clue about the actor Ewan McGregor.]  What did you make of that, and what do you think it means for the “Jeopardy!” viewership to have such intensity of passion that they referee a professionally refereed show?

First, it’s not a controversy. It’s clear to everyone that I said McGregor on stage, including to my co-contestants who have spoken about this. There should not have been and there should not be any controversy.

That said, I don’t personally sort of participate in any kind of fandom, so the way that this sort of took off is a little alien to me. But I know not just in the “Jeopardy!” community people are really, I guess, just very invested. It’s hard for me to explain.

Has the response been hard for you?

I’m sure that everyone who appears on “Jeopardy!” gets some nasty emails because unfortunately fandom can be vicious and I’m very easy to find. But I do know that women who are on “Jeopardy!”, especially women who do well, really can be targeted. And I do think that is part of what happened. Some of the — most of the emails I got from strangers were extremely nice and positive and, you know, full of good wishes. And I appreciated that, but I also got some really misogynistic, nasty gendered messages.

It’s disappointing because in my mind the “Jeopardy!” community is one of the last nice spaces that exists. I’ve talked about that with other contestants over the years, who have said it’s a congenial space. And I’ve asked them — and now I’ll ask you — what do you think the Jewish community can learn from the “Jeopardy!” community?

As a historian, it’s sort of not in my nature to comment on the contemporary Jewish community. I do think there are shared values around knowledge and education.

I do think there’s a nice community of contestants. Even though we were all each other’s competitors, everybody was just really friendly and encouraging. It’d be nice if all communities would just be like that.

You teach women’s and gender studies. You mentioned one big gender dynamic related to being a “Jeopardy!” contestant. Were there others, or other connections to your scholarship, that jumped out during your time as a contestant?

Not so much gender, but my current research project is about American Jewish women who traveled abroad between the Civil War and World War II. It’s a research interest — I noticed as I was working on all my other projects that the Jewish girls and women I was writing about traveled a lot, way more than you would expect for the late 1800s and early 1900s — but it’s also because I love to travel myself. And that’s another way to learn. There were definitely questions on “Jeopardy!” that I knew because I’ve been there — like about the sculpture in the harbor in Copenhagen of the Little Mermaid. I thought: I’ve been there and I’ve seen that.

So you like traveling and you just won a little over $60,000. Do you have any specific plans for the winnings?

Well, first, I’ll have to deal with the IRS. I’m involved with a bunch of different charities and so I will certainly be giving some of this money to them. And my husband and I already have our big trip for the year planned in May — to the north of England, to Newcastle and Hadrian’s Wall — and so we are going to upgrade some parts of that experience a little bit.

And then let’s go back to the student who reached out to you. What do make of that?

Whatever they’re teaching, teachers really matter, for better or for worse, and that’s where my real impact is. I teach a lot of students a lot of different things and I really value my relationship with them. And as it says in Proverbs, right, I have learned a lot from my students, just like I hope they learned from me. Seeing how excited some of my students have been this week, I do think that, in a way, being on “Jeopardy!” was sort of part of my teaching practice and that it just shows, again, this value of education and knowledge. Yes, it’s trivia, but still it just makes you a better-rounded person. And it was nice to be able to demonstrate that.


The post This Jewish studies professor won $60,000 on “Jeopardy!” — despite missing out on a question about Yom Kippur 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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