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White supremacy takes center stage in a new reimagining of ‘The Merchant of Venice’

(New York Jewish Week) — When William Shakespeare wrote “The Merchant of Venice” 400 years ago, he had almost certainly never met a Jewish person. In fact, in 1596 or so, when he created the infamous character of Shylock — a greedy moneylender who thirsts for a literal “pound of flesh” from his Christian antagonist, Antonio — Jews had been banned from England for nearly 300 years.

Like most of Shakespeare’s work, “The Merchant of Venice” — which centers on Antonio’s default on a large loan from Shylock — continues to be performed in the present day, despite its reputation as “the most vexed single play in the Shakespearean canon,” as New York Times film critic A.O. Scott wrote in a 2004 review of the film version starring Al Pacino as Shylock. At the time, Scott noted that “the first task of any modern adaptation is to confront the anti-Jewish bigotry that propels its plot and informs its poetry.”

In his new play “The Shylock and the Shakespeareans,” Edward Einhorn confronts that bigotry head on. Now onstage at the New Ohio Theatre in Greenwich Village, the Untitled Theater Company No. 61 production that debuted June 1 and runs through June 17 reimagines “The Merchant of Venice” from the perspective of Jacob, a Jewish diamond merchant who is called “Shylock” as a slur. In this new version, while still set in an “ancient Venice, of sorts,” a group of white supremacists known as “the Shakespeareans” have co-opted the public discourse, and Jacob finds himself embroiled with them when his daughter falls in love with an Asian immigrant.

Using contemporary events and framing, alongside techniques associated with the Theatre of the Absurd, the play attempts to explore the continuum between the historical and the modern in order to create a conversation about antisemitism as it exists in our current time.

“What’s really interesting to me is how a lot of this resurgence of antisemitism has such old libels embedded in it,” Einhorn told the New York Jewish Week. “You can see whoever is the latest celebrity antisemite coming out and saying something [they think is] new when it’s actually 500 or even 1,000 years old. I think a lot of people don’t realize how historically embedded many conspiracy theories are.”

Despite its old age, conversations about “The Merchant of Venice” continue to be potent — perhaps even more so today, amid rising rates of antisemitic crimes and statements in the United States and beyond. Contemporary artists continue to grapple with what the play can and does mean, often making use of modern-day politics to propel these conversations.

A “race-conscious” production of “Merchant” at Brooklyn’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center last March, for example, tackled anti-Black racism, while a recent United Kingdom production of “The Merchant of Venice” by Tracy-Ann Oberman sets the tale in 1930s Britain, and Oberman portrays Shylock as a version of her own great-grandmother. Both of these versions make no qualms about declaring the inherent antisemitism of the play — and so, too, does “The Shylock and the Shakespeareans,” which sends the message that such hate is alive and well among us today.

When it comes to “The Merchant of Venice,” Einhorn said that “playing it straight, rather than staging it with a point of view [and context] is not the best choice.” In his spin on the tale, the playwright retains the main storylines of “Merchant”: The plot revolves around an unpaid debt to Jacob by Antonio on behalf of his friend Bassanio, who seeks to woo the wealthy Portia; Antonio is an outspoken antisemite who slanders the very Jewish man who is lending him the cash he needs.

The twist in Einhorn’s play is the analogy to modern U.S. politics — and the rub is that it’s not particularly difficult to make these connections. The Venetian citizens who persecute Shylock in Shakespeare’s play become white supremacists, led by a hateful politician called Shakespeare. They call out “Jews will not replace us,” an intentional reference to the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virgina. Portia, originally the central love interest who tests suitors and creates the judicial conditions for Shylock’s unraveling, is also transformed: she becomes an over-privileged brat who plays cruel games with people’s lives, treating her suitors with blatant racism and disregard.

“It’s cute in ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ but here it’s scary,” actor Jeremy Kareken, who portrays Jacob in this new iteration, told the New York Jewish Week. “[Portia] is playing games with people’s lives and their destinies. People end up married, people end up dead — she’s playing games because of her privilege. And the people she chooses to believe as judges [in Jacob’s trial] are deeply suspect. That’s why it’s a kangaroo court — it’s such an obvious miscarriage of justice.”

Justice is a central theme of the play, and something that Einhorn seeks to subvert and question. “[In the original], people just accept these things are happening,” Einhorn said, referring to Shylock’s trial, during which the moneylender attempts to get his revenge on Antonio but instead loses everything — even his own identity as a Jew.

The play also calls into question the idea of Jewish identity itself by highlighting the narrative arc of Jacob’s daughter, Jessica, who leaves her Judaism behind to marry her love.

“Even if you are no longer religiously Jewish, how does that identity impact you in life?” Einhorn mused. “No matter how you’ve chosen to identify previously, when major life events happen, do they bring you back to that upbringing?”

To Einhorn and Kareken, who are both Jewish, it’s not about how one practices the religion or even if one chooses to do so. (Kareken, who is also a playwright of Broadway’s “The Lifespan of a Fact,” is adamant that there is “no wrong way to do it, within the bounds of ethics.”) Instead, it’s about how a person connects to where they’ve come from and how their culture informs the path they take in the world.

At this fraught moment — when polarization among Jews is intensifying and antisemitism is ascendent — these questions feel palpable. Einhorn admits that some audience members have found it too hard to face, walking out mid-play, but overall the response has been one of reflection and consideration.

“It’s working best when the comedy and the ridiculous aspects are working as well as the drama,” he said. “And I could feel that working from the audience reaction around me.”

“The Shylock and the Shakespeareans” will be performed at the New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St.) through June 17. For tickets and info, click here

The post White supremacy takes center stage in a new reimagining of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ 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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