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‘We have to be here fighting’: Deborah Lipstadt opens up on her Poland-Germany trip with Douglas Emhoff

BERLIN (JTA) — Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff made headlines late last month during a trip to Europe, where he met with other foreign leaders working to combat antisemitism and returned to his ancestors’ town in Poland.

But the trip was originally Deborah Lipstadt’s mission.

The historian, an authority on Holocaust issues and now the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, had planned to go to Krakow and Berlin on behalf of the Biden-Harris administration. The trip included a visit to the memorial and museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau on the 78th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation by Soviet troops and, in Berlin, a meeting with special envoys and coordinators who, like Lipstadt, are charged with the task of countering hatred against Jews. 

The itinerary fit perfectly with Emhoff’s own anti-antisemitism campaign, so he asked Lipstadt late last year if he could come along.

As she reflected in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after returning home, Emhoff was not the only one to get emotional on the trip.

This interview has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity.

JTA: You met with special envoys on antisemitism from other countries, as you and Emhoff continue to work on a national plan to fight antisemitism at home. Did any concrete policy suggestions come out of those meetings?

DL: The meeting with the special envoys on antisemitism now is the third meeting we have had together. 

But I think it was very important to send the message that we are all government appointees, and we speak government to government. So we have already gotten into that rhythm, and it was a very useful meeting. It was also a useful meeting because there were people there from the White House, from my staff, who are involved in this interagency process, and they got to hear from the people who are composing, writing, who have written national plans. And I think that was very helpful. So it was one of the most productive meetings. 

You also attended an interfaith meeting with Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim participants, hosted by the Central Council of Jews in Germany in Berlin. What came out of that?

That actually went very well. The groups tended to talk about what they do together. …One of the things I urged the group, and it may have been bringing coals to Newcastle, but it is a sort of a new effort on their part… is that [talking about things that affect multiple faiths] is a good way of building relations. For instance, [my office had] a meeting in October, convened by the EU but with very strong support from the State Department, from my office, on ritual slaughter. Which of course affects both Jews and Muslims, kashrut and halal. So here is a tachles [goal], a brass tacks area which we could work on together. And that was an excellent meeting, a whole day at the EU.

What do you see as the main challenges in fighting antisemitism and hate today?

You know, some people say this is just like the 1930s. It is not. Back then, you had government-sponsored antisemitism. Whether it was Germany, whether it was other countries, even in the United States. We didn’t have government sponsored antisemitism, but there was a failure of the [U.S.] government [to respond].

On Monday morning, we were sitting in Topography of Terror [Berlin’s museum and archive on the history of the Gestapo], and it was government officials discussing “how do we fight antisemitism?” And everybody around that table is paid by the government. They are government officials, officially appointed. That’s a big difference. That is a humongous difference. That is a sea change. 

And then we had the second gentleman there who could easily have said, “We came into office, we put a mezuzah up at our residence. We had a Chanukah party, a Rosh Hashanah party, we had a seder…” [Instead, it] is really clear that he has taken to this issue. He has really said it a number of times… and his wife [Vice President Kamala Harris] says, “He didn’t find this issue. This issue found him.”

RELATED: We’re visiting Auschwitz because the fight against antisemitism didn’t end with liberation

On the first day I met him, which was before I was sworn into office, he said he wanted to meet me and I spent some time with him. He said, “I want to work with you.” And then in October, we had a sukkah event at Blair House [the state guest house], where the State Department brought a sukkah, and we invited ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission from Middle Eastern and Muslim-majority countries. So sitting around the table were the Israeli ambassador, the Turkish ambassador, the Pakistan ambassador, the deputy chief of mission from Qatar, the deputy chief of mission from Saudi Arabia… And [the Second Gentleman] and I were standing in the kitchen waiting to be escorted into the room, when people took their seats. And he said to me, “Deborah, where are you traveling, where are you going?” I said “Well, in January I am going to Auschwitz-Birkenau for the 27th.” And he said “I’m in.” And that’s how it happened.

You have been to Auschwitz many times…

Dozens of times, I can’t keep count. You know I have been many times, but I work very hard so that it never becomes de rigeur. That it becomes “min haminyan” as you would say in Hebrew. … All you have to do is remind yourself of what happened there. And so it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or your 15th time. If you are cognizant of what happened there, it sits with you.

…When I go to Auschwitz, especially when it was around my trial [after being sued by British writer David Irving for calling him a Holocaust denier], I had to look at things in a very forensic way, you know: How do we prove this, how do we show that. And that of course sits with me still. But I was well aware that this was [Emhoff’s] first time and what an emotional impact this was having on him. … The thing that always strikes me about Auschwitz, the thing that you hear resounding in your ears in a thunderous way, is the silence. The absence. The little kid that would have worn the shoes that you saw in the display. The people who wore the eyeglasses. The men who shaved with that shaving stuff. 

So that is always there. And it hits me at moments and then I become the historian. Analyzing. But it was very powerful, and what was also powerful was, in a way, though this seems counterintuitive, going to Poland first, which was just laden with emotion, especially for him, he went to the town where his family comes from, and got a lot of information. And then going to Germany. One would have thought, go to Germany first and then go to Poland, but in a way the emotional part became the backdrop for the business meetings in Germany. 

[Emhoff] very kindly at one point described me as his mentor. Well, if I am his mentor, he is an A1 student. He is really intent on showing not just his passion about the issue but in learning about the issue. He is an accomplished lawyer, an experienced lawyer, and he knows that feeling is not enough, you’ve got to have information, and he gathered that every place he went.

Do you really have the feeling that antisemitism is on the rise or is it just more acceptable to express it?

I think both. I am not out there crunching the numbers statistically, but certainly it is more acceptable. Certainly, it is increasingly normalized. Whether it’s among comedians, whether it is articles in the newspaper, whether it is at demonstrations, it is increasingly normal. And even becomes fodder for entertainers. So whether those same people felt the same before and didn’t say anything or they now suddenly feel that, I don’t know. But many people who might otherwise have been more reticent about expressing certain things previously seem to feel freer to say antisemitic things now. 

If antisemitism keeps coming back, what gives you hope? 

First of all, what gives me hope, what gives me strength, is I know what I am fighting for, I am not just fighting against. I have a very strong sense of my Jewish identity, I have a very strong sense of who I am, Jewishly. I am lucky, I had a great education, etc. 

Earlier this year, I guess it was September, the president did a phone call, it was his practice during the vice presidency, before Rosh Hashanah, or between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to do a phone call with — this time I think it was 1,200 rabbis. And I came along after he spoke with them to answer questions. And one of the questions was what gives me joy and what gives me strength. And what I said to the rabbis was that I never want to become a “because of antisemitism Jew.” Driving me out of the woodwork because everyone dislikes me, hates me, or wants to harm me. Not everyone — but there are people who want to harm me. 

On Monday when I was at all those meetings [in Berlin], it was Jan. 30, 90 years after Hitler came to power, right there where we were standing. Not far from there people were marching in the streets with tiki torches! Championing among other things “death to the Jews.”

And here we were, back: Yes, the good news is here we are back, openly talking about fighting [antisemitism], here we are back, government officials tasked with fighting it, someone at the ambassadorial level from my country, the second gentleman, anxious to help in this effort, but nonetheless we were back there fighting. So on one hand, you can say, “Great, we have the special envoy, great we have the second gentleman who was so open to taking this on. This is unbelievable.” But we are here fighting. We have to be here fighting.

What was your most memorable experience from the recent trip?

On Saturday night [in Poland], one of the members of the White House staff that was with us after Shabbos had hired a car to go to the little village, shtetl, whatever, that her family came from. She wanted to go to the cemetery to see if she could find any names. Now the chances of her finding the names, in the daylight, when it is 70 degrees out and comfortable [would be hard enough]. Here it was below freezing, snow was falling, the ground was icy, and it was pitch black. We were with a genealogist, but the cemetery was locked. So we thought we would have to climb the fences. I thought, “Oh my God, we are going to have an international incident!” But our driver got the key to the cemetery from the people across the street, and I asked, “How did you know?” And he said, “The people across the street always have the key.”

So we didn’t have to break in. She wanted to say a prayer, and she was totally capable of saying the prayer herself but obviously she was deeply moved, and she asked me to recite the “El Maleh Rachamim” [prayer for the soul of a person who has died] for her. And when I stopped, she gave all the names of the people, many of whom were buried there but we couldn’t find the exact places. And then I said “shenikberu” [“who is buried here”], and the person holding the flashlight for me, I couldn’t see, it was tiny print, and he’s Israeli, he said, “po.” Here, here, here! I had never said an “El Maleh Rachamim” for people who were caught up in this tragedy, here. In situ. It was very powerful.

And then on the 30th [in Berlin] after our special envoy meeting, we all walked over to the [city’s] Holocaust memorial. And Felix [Klein, Germany’s special commissioner on antisemitism and Jewish life] had brought stones. And we were standing there, and to borrow a phrase from Herman Wouk’s “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial,” there was this pregnant pause. And I said, “Would you like me to recite a prayer?” And I recited the prayer, another “El Maleh Rachamim,” and I became totally verklempt [overcome with emotion]. Because I was just a 12-minute walk, if that long, from where it was planned and carried out, and that was very powerful as well.

So the trip was pregnant with meaning, but I think more than just meaning, hopefully also impact. 

The post ‘We have to be here fighting’: Deborah Lipstadt opens up on her Poland-Germany trip with Douglas Emhoff 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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