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This organization hired asylum seekers to pack Passover goods for Jews in need

(New York Jewish Week) — At a warehouse in Borough Park, thousands of apples were waiting to be taken off two 18-wheelers, as dozens of volunteers were hard at work putting groceries into bags. 

The scene was one part of a massive $1.5 million operation undertaken every year by Masbia, an Orthodox organization that helps provide kosher food for low-income people, to distribute food for Passover to 10,000 families. 

But this week, the Passover initiative differed from those of previous years. That’s because most of the people in the warehouse were migrants, the majority of whom were bused to New York from Texas during the past year. Because they are undocumented, they lack work permits, and for many of them, working in Masbia’s warehouse is their first job in the city. 

Masbia was one of many organizations to welcome migrants who came from Texas when they arrived at the Port Authority last year, providing them with new shoes to replace pairs that may have broken down during long treks through jungles and other dangerous areas. The group’s executive director, Alex Rappaport, sees employing a group of migrants as another way to help them find their footing in the city.

“Sometimes, you need to turn over every stone to find a way to help people,” Rappaport told the New York Jewish Week. 

Passover is the busiest time for Masbia, with hundreds of pallets of food coming in daily to the organization’s three warehouses in Brooklyn and Queens. At Masbia’s Borough Park location, boxes of potatoes and onions lined the sidewalk and stretched down the block. Inside the garage were piles of other Passover goods, stacked two stories high. Volunteers were busy picking produce off the shelves and putting it into bags for delivery drivers who were waiting near the entrance. The operation starts in December, and food distribution begins two weeks before Passover, which starts next Wednesday night. 

“These people should have been given work permits,” Rappaport said. “They’re here, ready, willing and able to do beautiful work.” 

Masbia CEO Alex Rappaport in front of a truck full of apples in Borough Park, Brooklyn on March 29, 2023. (Jacob Henry)

Rappaport combined the work with a touch of advocacy: Some of the volunteers working alongside the migrants were Jewish high school students, and Rappaport overheard one of them say that “illegal immigrants” were working there. He gathered high schoolers together and began to hold court.

“These people who are working are asylum seekers,” Rappaport told the teens. “They are fully designated as an asylum seeker, meaning to say, they are fully legal, because they have a day in court.” 

Rappaport went on to discuss how if a person jaywalks, they are technically breaking the law, but are not referred to as “an illegal.” 

“There’s never a person that turns into ‘an illegal,’” Rappaport said. “The term is just a very bad term. A person might not have documents, but these are people coming from the border who are looking for a new future. It’s an opportunity. They asked for asylum.” 

The opportunity Masbia is providing comes via a partnership with La Colmena, a nonprofit that helps find jobs for day laborers, domestic workers and low-wage immigrant workers in from Staten Island.

Kimberly Vega, the workforce manager of La Colmena, told the New York Jewish Week that the group saw “an influx of asylum seekers” that began in August and is still ongoing. Vega has a list of 190 workers looking for jobs. Masbia provided work for 15. 

“We’re facing this crisis at the moment,” Vega said. “We have the amount of workers, but we don’t have the jobs. They face all these challenges because they don’t have a permit or any documentation, so we’re very thankful for this opportunity that came up through Masbia.” 

Vega added that many of the workers are staying in homeless shelters provided by the city in Staten Island. Many of the workers drop their kids off at school in the morning, then come to Brooklyn to work throughout the day. “They got shipped on a bus, arrived here and were transported to a shelter,” Vega said. 

According to NPR, it’s estimated that up to 50,000 migrants were moved to New York over the past year by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, called Abbott’s actions “inhumane.” 

In a New York Post op-ed published last August, Abbott wrote that Adams was hypocritical for calling New York a sanctuary city, then complained about the new arrivals.

On Twitter, Adams’ press secretary Fabian Levy wrote that the mayor is “welcoming asylum seekers with open arms.”

Vega said the migrants working at the Masbia warehouse were being paid based on a law that has been used to help undocumented workers earn income. According to the State Department of Labor, nonprofits may give volunteers stipends or reimbursements. Therefore, Vega said, even though a migrant worker is only a volunteer, they can still be paid by a nonprofit organization. Masbia and La Colmena would not disclose how much the workers were being paid. 

Asylum seekers working at a Masbia warehouse in Brooklyn on March 29, 2023. (Jacob Henry)

Gledys, 30, a migrant working at the warehouse, told the New York Jewish Week that she came to New York from Venezuela after being bussed here from Texas last October. 

Gledys, who did not give her full name for fear of her family being harmed, said through a translator that when she was living in Venezuela, “There’s a certain political view that everyone has to have.” 

“If you even think differently, you can’t even speak amongst your community, because then they will turn on you,” Gledys said. “My husband was a police officer there, and because of that reason, we had to leave.” 

When she arrived in New York, Gledys said she was “hit with the reality that it’s hard to find a job because you need certain permits.”

“I’m working really hard [at Masbia] and hoping this will open my doors,” Gledys said. “They’ll be able to see that I’m a hard worker and [I will] gain experience for more opportunities to open up.” 

She added that she was thankful that her children were able to begin attending public school only a few days after she arrived. The city also helped provide daycare for her.

“No other country has done that,” Gledys said. “It’s more than enough. I’m not suffering, and I’m grateful. I’m definitely very hopeful because now I can see a different future for my children, a different future for myself.” 

Another worker named Moises, 39, who likewise did not provide his full name due to fear for his family’s safety, said he came to New York from Venezuela via Texas in January after entering immigration custody.

“During those days, we were still cuffed and I was separated from my family,” Moises said. His wife and children eventually made it to New York, and they were reunited. 

He said that in Venezuela, inflation was so rampant that he was only making $7 to $10 a week.

“People are really struggling,” Moises said. “There are also a lot of political issues as well. If the community tries to step up and do a protest, you have the military stepping in and shooting directly at civilians. We’re really running away, because we were so scared.” 

He said he was worried about how he was going to feed his family, but was also thankful for the help they received when they first arrived, including finding a place to stay in a shelter, and now the job at Masbia. 

“I want to feel independent,” Moises said. “With a job like this, I can be more independent. I understand it’s a temporary job, but hopefully in the next couple of months, I can find something that is no longer temporary.” 

Rappaport feels that there’s a connection between the migrants’ stories and the holiday they’re helping prepare for because the Jewish people were also strangers in Egypt. “The Bible says, ‘You should love the stranger, the newcomer,’” Rappaport said. “There is that idea of people making a long journey to a promised land. These people went through the jungle.” 

He added, “It’s beautiful to connect the Jewish story of Exodus to this story of the challenge of the asylum seekers. 

“People take their whole family and go for thousands of miles through very dangerous terrain,” Rapport said. “They must be running from something. It’s not utopia yet, but we’re celebrating some freedom. And they’re still in the middle of their story.” 

The post This organization hired asylum seekers to pack Passover goods for Jews in need 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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