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This Jewish temple is providing a home for a historic church in the Village

(New York Jewish Week) — After a six-alarm fire left a historic Manhattan church homeless, a synagogue stepped in to provide a space for church-goers to continue worshiping while they figure out a plan for a new home.

Two years later, the bond between the two congregations has only grown, with a new twist: East End Temple on E. 17th St. is supporting Middle Collegiate Church in its clash with the Landmarks Preservation Commission over plans to rebuild their damaged building in the East Village. 

Dec. 5 marked the two-year anniversary of the fire that brought her church to the Reform congregation, or “out of a place in the wilderness,” as the Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis told the New York Jewish Week. Lewis said that East End’s Rabbi Josh Stanton was one of the first people who reached out to her after the fire, which started next door and destroyed the 128-year-old sanctuary. 

“We just made a covenant to move in there,” Lewis said. “Josh was offering me a tabernacle. This big-hearted rabbi opens the door to a church, in a time of rising antisemitism, that’s just bold, fierce love at work.” 

Stanton told the New York Jewish Week that the relationship between the two faith communities “predates the fire itself.”  

“The reverend has been a friend and a mentor for years,” Stanton said. “When her community’s building went up in flames, I reached out to her and just said, ‘anything you need, just know that I’m here, know that our community is here.’”

Middle Collegiate Church started using the temple’s space on Easter Sunday that spring. The synagogue’s president Brian Lifsec said he was there on the first day.

“It felt like a tent in the desert for these congregants,” Lifsec said.

It’s not all bleak out there.

I went to church last Sunday, where East End Temple, a Jewish synagogue in the East Village, has been hosting @middlechurch for almost two years after a fire destroyed their historic building.

— Jacob Henry (@jhenrynews) December 8, 2022

Stanton said that East End Temple covers “upwards of 95% of the cost” for the church to rent the space.

“That’s because of the generosity of our donors,” Stanton said. “And because our community understands that walking the walk of Judaism means reaching out to people who might themselves not be Jewish.” 

Lewis is the first woman and first African-American to serve as a senior minister for the Collegiate church system, which dates back to the Reformed Dutch Church congregations that formed in the New York area in the 1600s. She is comfortable leading church services in front of an ark, a menorah and Hebrew scriptures, but aches to get back into her own building. 

How and whether she can do that depends in part on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is responsible for preserving New York City’s historically significant buildings. It seeks to protect the historic facade made of limestone that remains standing. The church, following an 18-month study by several architectural and engineering firms, says there is too much damage to the existing structure to integrate it into a new home.

“The walls themselves are historic,” Stanton said. “Despite the church’s best efforts, there is no way to keep them safely up. What is so sad and problematic is that from an architectural standpoint, there is nothing they can do.” 

Lewis said that the church has spent over $4 million to secure the site, clean up debris, stabilize the facade with stainless steel and paint the bricks so they don’t deteriorate — and it is still not safe to rebuild.

“We did that because we wanted the facade,” Lewis said on Sunday after prayer, as she led some church members to the site of the burnt-down building. “We just can’t afford it. We’re wanting to build a building that is appropriate for this historic neighborhood but also has the capacity for 22nd-century ministry.” 

The Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis of Middle Collegiate Church leading services at East End Temple. (Courtesy)

In a phone call last week, Lewis said that she doesn’t want this to feel like she’s in “a battle” with the preservation community.

“But some parts of the preservation community are pretty strident about us keeping up the wall,” Lewis said.  

The church is waiting on a decision from the commission on Dec. 13, which will decide the fate of their building.  

Anthony Donovan, a church member who has lived in Greenwich Village for 31 years, told the New York Jewish Week that “there are deep pockets of real estate that would really love this facade” as part of their own plans.

“Luxury housing would look fantastic behind this facade,” Donovan said. “And they have millions to keep that facade that we don’t have.” 

Village Preservation, an activist group opposed to the demolition of the facade, said in an emailed press release that alternatives need to be studied.

“We are urging the Landmarks Preservation Commission not to grant such permission at this time, because we don’t believe there is sufficient documentation that alternatives to preserve the historic facade have been fully explored, nor that there is sufficient evidence at this time to justify the permanent and irreversible removal,” the organization said. 

 “The facade is on life support,” Lewis said. “We could pull the plug and come back to life. We could have a resurrection.  We could have a new life that is both historic and moves into the 22nd century, and that’s what we want to do.”  

Assembly member Harvey Epstein, who is Jewish and represents the district, gave testimony supporting the church at a previous hearing with the Landmark Preservation Commission.  

“While I understand Landmark’s concerns, I think more important than just what that physical piece is that the actual church and the people behind it get to come back,” Epstein told the New York Jewish Week over the phone.  

He added that Rabbi Stanton is an example of someone “living Jewish values everyday” by allowing the church to worship at East End Temple. 

“It’s really critical, especially in times where you see an increase in antisemitism, that people who are Christian know that people who are Jewish, while having different religious beliefs, are allies to them as well,” Epstein said. 

Stanton said that if it is decided that the walls have to stay up, then the conversation will move into “the realm of heartbreaking decisions.”

“It is not clear if the walls have to stay up, that the church will have to rebuild at all, even if it raises significant funds to do so,” Stanton said. “If they move out of this area, there’s going to be a huge gaping void for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. It just wouldn’t be the same.” 

The building has served the community since 1892. Before the fire, it served as a community hub for other programs, some run by other synagogues, that include soup kitchens and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis of Middle Collegiate Church leads congregants outside the destroyed remains of the previous church building. (Jacob Henry)

It has also played a role in supporting people during the AIDS crisis, helping people pay rent during Covid and more recently, supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia.  

Together, the church and synagogue communities also hold a “food for families” program, where members help feed 1,500 families every Sunday.  

Edna Benitez, a church-goer who has lived in the Village for 27 years, told the New York Jewish Week that when the fire broke out, the church was housing a Torah for another synagogue, The Shul of New York. 

“They had an ancient Torah,” Benitez said. “Our fire destroyed the building, but the Torah stayed. It’s a huge symbol. We’re here two years later celebrating in a temple. We housed the Torah, this incredible, prized possession that meant so much to you, and now you’re housing us.” 

Whatever happens with the Landmarks Commission, Lewis said that she expects her partnership with Stanton and East End Temple “to be lifelong.” 

“We have so many things to do together,” Lewis said. “I know that we’ll be welcome there, and I also know that they know that we need a bigger space. In the meantime, they’ve been incredible hosts and they are offering us ongoing hospitality.”  

Outside the church facade, Stanton spoke out how in a time of troubling antisemitism — fueled by celebrities like Kanye West and Kyrie Irving and propagated by groups like the Black Hebrew Israelite sect — the relationship between his synagogue and the church represents “real life.” 

“While antisemitism is on the rise, so too is allyship,” Stanton said. “The Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis, who embodies allyship at its best, is one of the people who reaches out every single time that something awful happens to a Jewish community.” 

Lewis, who can command a stage (or bimah), led a passionate sermon on Sunday, with the fire on the back of everyone’s mind.  

“Could we do a little interior work as we go along this pilgrim’s journey so that we are not accidentally putting fuel on the fire that is raging and burning down the world?” she said. 

The post This Jewish temple is providing a home for a historic church in the Village 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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