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YouTuber Drew Binsky makes a travel video about Hasidic Brooklyn

(New York Jewish Week) — For eight years now, vlogger Drew Binsky has made a living traveling the world, creating content that aims to lift the curtains on remote communities for his 3.6 million YouTube subscribers. 

He’s visited places as hard to reach as North Korea and South Sudan. But in his most recent video, Binsky, who is Jewish, doesn’t even leave the country. Instead, he takes his camera to Brooklyn to explore the different Hasidic movements, members of what he describes as “the most religious and closed-off community in America.” 

“I’m really interested in different belief systems of every religion,” Binsky, whose real last name is Goldberg, told the New York Jewish Week via phone from his home base in Arizona. “Micro-communities and people that take anything to the extreme are fascinating to me.”

The 43-minute video, twice as long as a typical Binsky production, has garnered nearly 800,000 views since it was posted on YouTube on Monday. In it, Binsky, who grew up Reform, explains the history of Hasidism in New York and the customs and traditions of the insular community.  

The video took six months and a team of five to film and produce, Binsky, 31, said. It begins in Washington Heights, with Binsky on camera talking to Yeshiva University students about how Hasidic Judaism is different from their brand of Modern Orthodoxy — and featuring some seriously delicious-looking shawarma from an Amsterdam Avenue eatery called Golan Heights — before heading to the Hasidic enclaves of South Williamsburg and Borough Park. 

In Brooklyn, Binsky is accompanied by ex-Hasidic community member and transgender activist Abby Stein. Together they eat matzah ball soup, sesame chicken and stuffed cabbage at Gottlieb’s Deli, visit Eichlers Judaica shop and drop by both a newsstand and synagogue to learn more about worship and local customs. At the close of the video, Binsky celebrates Shabbat with the family of Shloime Zionce, a Hasidic Jew and fellow travel vlogger, who lends him a bekishe (a traditional black overcoat) and shtreimel (a fur hat) to help him look the part of a Hasidic man. 

“As a Jew and someone who has celebrated Shabbat in many countries around the world, I must say that this one was the most special,” Binsky says in the video.

The idea for a video about Hasidic Brooklyn stemmed from the years-long online friendship between Binsky and Stein. After connecting on social media, the pair began to plan an excursion to Williamsburg to learn more about Stein’s life and childhood: Stein had grown up in the community, became a rabbi, married a woman and had a son before leaving the community when she came out as transgender in 2012. 

“I think it’s helpful to see Williamsburg and the Hasidic community to really get a better sense of things and the work I’m doing to support LGBTQ people,” Stein, 31, told the New York Jewish Week. “As we were doing that, I think that’s when Drew basically realized, there’s a larger story about the community as a whole.” That, in turn, led the pair to explore Borough Park and its environs as well. Stein explains that Borough Park is slightly more open to outsiders than Williamsburg, and so Binsky may have better luck with interviews. 

Famous for having visited every country in the world, it’s rare for Binsky to make videos about life in the United States — he estimated only 1% of his 1,000-plus videos are about American communities. “It’s nothing against the U.S. As an American, I’m more fascinated with other places because this is my own country. But if I can find these insular pockets, that’s really interesting,” Binsky said. “The most extreme Jews are Hasidic but it wasn’t until I actually went to South Williamsburg and to Lee Avenue, deep into the community, that I really got to learn about it.”

Haredi Orthodox communities have been bristling under the attention they’ve received of late, starting with criticism for the way many members flouted COVID-19 rules early in the pandemic and lately after a series of New York Times investigations said Hasidic yeshivas were failing to provide adequate education in secular subjects

Orthodox activists say such coverage fosters stereotypes that have led to an uptick in street attacks on visibly Orthodox Jews. In January, Agudath Israel of America pushed back with a billboard and website campaign, called, meant to “dispel stereotypes” about the community. Most of its content defends the yeshiva system. 

Stein understands why Americans are fascinated with Hasidim. “Americans and American TV have been obsessed with cults and fundamentalist communities for a long time,” she said. “In some ways, [the fascination] is an opportunity — to lean in, to raise awareness, to help people who have left or people who want to leave, and also to affect potential positive change within the community for people who are happy being there.”

In the video, in which Binsky talks to both members and ex-members of the community of all ages (though aside from Stein, Binsky briefly talks to only one other woman). He’s rebuffed by some passersby but is embraced by others who are eager to share their stories. 

“They really didn’t want to talk to me, they didn’t want to be interviewed,” Binsky said, adding it was one of the more challenging videos he’s made in a first-world country. “To not be welcomed by my own community is really frustrating.”

Still, he said, “I thought I told a well-balanced story. Non-Jewish and secular Jewish viewers have told me it’s the best video I’ve ever made.” 

The only backlash he’s received, Binsky said, has been from a handful of Hasidic community members who criticized his friendship with Stein and his decision to center her narrative in the video. In some emails he’s received, Binsky said she was referred to as “Abe” and misgendered by her ex-community.

“I knew that shooting with Abby would be controversial, but I did it because I wanted to have that story about the community,” Binsky said. “But I also want to be like, look, she’s a real person, and you guys have to deal with it. 

The top comments on the YouTube video are indeed positive. “This was absolutely beautiful,” wrote one user. “As a semi hasidic Jew myself I was touched by your coverage. I was moved to tears watching Shlomo bless his children on Friday night.”

“I have loved every single one of your travel videos — but this may honestly be your best work yet,” another viewer wrote. “To get this level of insight is incredible and brings a human element to the mystery!”  

While the pair acknowledged that the video could be seen as exploiting a community that Americans are already obsessed with, neither Stein nor Binsky felt it was done in bad taste. “I would say when you’re working with people in the community, it’s not that it’s OK for us to tell our stories, it’s important for us to be able to,” Stein said.

In the past, Binsky has made videos about Jews in Ethiopia, Turkmenistan and Yemen, and in 2019 he visited Zebulon Simontov, who was famous for being the last remaining Jew in Afghanistan. He is currently planning a trip and to create a video about the Igbo Jews in Nigeria. 

“I have a very global audience, so I try to educate people about the world and make high-quality content that can be viewed by any age and any nationality,” Binsky said. “My shtick is to have a lot of courage and go to places and just share the real story from my perspective.”

“Am I ‘exploiting’ them? Yes, to some degree,” he added. “But I still feel like I have to do that as part of my mission to tell the story. Otherwise, the story won’t get told.”

The post YouTuber Drew Binsky makes a travel video about Hasidic Brooklyn 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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