Your Daily Phil: $1.5B for Holocaust survivors + URJ high school in Israel merges with JNF-USA

Good Thursday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the merger of the URJ’s Heller High School in Israel program with the JNF-USA’s Alexander Muss High School, and feature an op-ed from Nic Abery. Also in this newsletter: Jose Mugrabi, Nancy Kaplan Belsky and Lisa Apfelberg. We’ll start with a new compensation agreement for Holocaust survivors struck between the Claims Conference and the German government.

The German government agreed to allocate nearly $1.5 billion in direct compensation and home care services for Holocaust survivors for 2024, following extended negotiations with the Claims Conference, the organization announced Thursday, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The Claims Conference, formally known as the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, said the German Federal Ministry of Finance had also agreed to guarantee several existing programs for at least several more years, including a direct compensation program and funding for Holocaust education.

“This year we were very successful,” the Claims Conference’s executive vice president, Greg Schneider, told eJP, crediting the agreements to “a combination of presenting a tremendous amount of data, the political pressure that we bring to bear and the realization, which we make clear again and again, that these are the last few years that the German government will even have the opportunity to help survivors.”

Under the agreements, the German government agreed to provide $888.9 million in 2024 for home care services to survivors, as well as $535 million in direct compensation for survivors in 2024 through monthly pensions or one-time payments, according to the Claims Conference. The German government also agreed to continue funding Holocaust education programs through 2027.

Schneider said the negotiations with the German government, which always include Holocaust survivors, are often emotionally charged and even macabre, dealing with harsh actuarial calculations about life expectancies and medical needs.

“I think grim is a good word,” Schneider said. “They are somber, they’re serious, they’re raw, they’re emotional. We have to speak about numbers. We have to speak about how many people will be eligible, about what’s the cost per person, what’s the cost of home care. There are a lot of numbers, but we are cognizant that this, ultimately, is never about numbers. It’s about people.”

Read the full story here.

So long, Kibbutz Tzuba

The Union for Reform Judaism’s Heller High campus on Kibbutz Tzuba outside Jerusalem. (Courtesy/Union for Reform Judaism)

The Union for Reform Judaism is shutting down its Kibbutz Tzuba campus outside Jerusalem for its Heller High Israel program and will move to the Jewish National Fund-USA’s Alexander Muss High School campus in Hod Hasharon beginning this fall, the movement announced on Wednesday, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Streamlining: Rabbi Josh Weinberg, the vice president of the URJ for Israel and Reform Zionism and a senior advisor to Heller High, told eJP that the merger was meant to make the program more efficient and cost-effective. The move comes as the Reform movement has faced significant financial challenges in recent years. “Why should we be spending the money to run our own program there on general studies when we could do it together with other groups and be more efficient while maintaining the integrity of our program,” Weinberg said. Though he added that the partnership was not the result of one particular budgetary development, but was something the movement has “been thinking about for a long time… and we thought that it was a good time to make the move now.”

Some cuts: The merger will result in the dismissal of several current Heller High staff members, Weinberg acknowledged, though he said the Reform movement is looking to mitigate that as much as possible. “That’s going to be part of additional discussions and negotiations with Alexander Muss as we move forward, but I’m hoping we can keep as many of the people as possible,” Weinberg said. “Part of the beauty of the program is the people who run it, so that’s really important.”

New opportunities: Weinberg, who previously taught in the Heller High program, said the move away from Kibbutz Tzuba, which is located in the Judean hills west of the Israeli capital, was disappointing but highlighted the opportunity that it represented for the future participants to interact with the Reform congregations around Hod Hasharon. “Kibbutz Tzuba is a very special place that many of us have a lot of love and connection to, and that’ll be sad. But Hod Hasharon is also in eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel),” he said. “We have several Reform congregations in and around Hod Hasharon… and I think it’ll be a great opportunity for them to spend more time on the ground with the movement.”

Read the full story here.

global connections

When Jewish educators from across the globe come together, creativity flows

A cohort of M² graduates (Courtesy/M²)

“Today, conversations about all aspects of Jewish life, from communal celebrations to family life to Jewish education, are vital, particularly in communities where sustainability and survival are at the forefront of everyone’s mind, such as in Istanbul, Turkey and Helsinki, Finland,” educational consultant Nic Abery, a member of the Senior Educators Cohort (SEC) at M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education, writes in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Small but mighty: “I have worked in the Jewish education sector for nearly 25 years — in London, which boasts a large Jewish community and many varied Jewish schools, and more recently, in tiny Jewish communities where there is one synagogue and school in the entire country. Smaller Jewish communities comprise about 15% of the Jewish world today. Many have diverse and rich histories and narratives but lack the support systems, infrastructure and vision to ensure their future success.”

Finding new solutions: “To drive their sustainability, creative solutions need to be devised and administered that bring together educators from all different types of communities, large and small, urban and rural, established and developing, to agitate the existing method while striving to bring about long-term change and success. While each community has its own unique challenges, by working together to brainstorm innovative solutions to shared issues, we can strengthen Jewish communities as a whole.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

We’re Not So Different After All: In J. The Jewish News of Northern California, David Kaufman, a member of the San Francisco-Haifa Sister City Committee, reflects on his recent trip to Israel with San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “I had the privilege of accompanying San Francisco Mayor London Breed as she traveled to Israel in May on a mission trip organized by the San Francisco-Haifa Sister City Committee and the Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area… Just the fact that the mayor made and continued her trip despite an uptick in regional violence [in Israel] sent a powerful message around the importance of “being there”… Israel faces a degree of violent conflict that hopefully the Bay Area will never need to face. Instead of “hoping for the best,” Israel has used creativity to “plan for the worst”… To create real resiliency, we need to lean into technological and other creative solutions to protect ourselves from threats both today and tomorrow. In doing this, we can create a place where businesses that focus on resiliency — from climate sustainability to public health — can take root and succeed.” [J.]

What Would the JNF Say?: In The New York Times, Roger Worthington laments a $1 million pledge he made to plant trees in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains and considers how to better use philanthropy to incentivize good ecological practices. “A few years ago, feeling the need to do my part to slow global warming, I pledged $1 million to plant a million native conifer trees, many of them in areas burned by wildfires in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, to remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere… We’re on track to exceed the target of one million trees. I should be happy, right? I wish I was… [A recent assessment of Oregon’s forest reserves] tells me my money would be best invested in safeguarding mature trees and old forests… Time and again, we’ve heard that time is of the essence in slowing climate change by cutting emissions and removing them from the atmosphere. We should continue to plant new trees, of course, targeting fallowed farmlands and urban areas. But for my money, and for the sake of future generations, we need regulatory action from the Biden administration to leave nature’s best carbon absorbers standing tall.” [NYTimes]

Around the Web

Andrew Feuerstein is joining the Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundation as deputy director, responsible for setting its fundraising strategy and strengthening connections with alumni and supporters…

Through its eponymous foundation, the Vancouver, British Columbia-based family of Steven Diamond, who died of a drug overdose, donated $20 million to the St. Paul’s Foundation to create a new Road to Recovery program at St. Paul’s Hospital in the Canadian city…

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who will retire at the end of the current Congress, told the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington in an onstage interview last night that one of his missions before leaving office is to educate young lawmakers about the need for the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel…

Jewish Veg, which encourages “plant-based lifestyles” based on Jewish values, appointed Lisa Apfelberg to serve as its next executive director…

Nancy Kaplan Belsky, president of the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Family Foundation, was chosen to serve as the next chair of the board of trustees of Hebrew College outside Boston…

Hindy Poupkowas promoted to serve as senior vice president of community strategy and external relations at UJA-Federation of New York

Los Angeles’ Sinai Temple, the largest Conservative synagogue in the city, launched a new fellowship – funded by the Jewish National Fund, Paul Singer and Michael and Lisa Leffell – to strengthen ties between American rabbis of all denominations to Israel. Leffell and Singer are also supporting a similar initiative, the Amplify Israel Rabbinic Fellowship, specifically for early-career Reform rabbis…

The Jewish Federation of Edmonton, Canada, won the Canadian Public Relations Society’s silver prize for best special events projects for its Shine a Light on Antisemitism mosaic project…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Maxim Dinstein

Art collector and philanthropist Jose Mugrabi and his wife, Mary, (left) pose for a photograph with Hebrew University Vice President and CEO Yishai Fraenkel, architect Daniel Libeskind and Hebrew University President Asher Cohen, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the institution’s new Albert Einstein House. 

The building, which Libeskind designed, will house exhibits on the “legacy, work, and research of Nobel laureate Albert Einstein, one of the founders of the Hebrew University, who bequeathed all his writings and intellectual property to it,” the university said. Mugrabi made an undisclosed “generous donation” toward the construction of the Einstein House, which is also being funded with $6.28 million in state funds, according to Hebrew University.


Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Chief rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich

Iranian-born British billionaire, Baron David Alliance… Former president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, Stuart C. Turgel… Former president of the National Rifle Association, Sandra S. “Sandy” Froman… Ethicist and professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Laurie Zoloth… Internationally recognized authority on Yiddish folk and theater music, Zalmen Mlotek… VP of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, Alexander Bronstein, Ph.D…. President and CEO of Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman… Israeli Druze politician who served as a member of the Knesset for Likud, Fateen Mulla… Novelist, screenwriter, teacher and journalist, Jill Eisenstadt… First woman certified by the NFLPA as an agent, she is now general counsel for USA Lacrosse, Ellen Marsha Zavian… Director at Citrin Cooperman Advisors, Reuben Rutman… Los Angeles-based attorney, Daniel Brett Lacesa… Regional director of the ADL based in Los Angeles, Jeffrey I. Abrams… Deputy managing editor at The New York Times, Clifford J. Levy… Chief political correspondent for CNN, Dana Bash (born Dana Ruth Schwartz)… Retired news anchor for Israel Public Broadcasting, Geula Even-Saar… Former head speechwriter for Michelle Obama and author of a 2019 book about her rediscovery of Judaism, Sarah Hurwitz… Ethiopian-born Israeli marathon runner, he represented Israel at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Zohar Zimro… Senior global affairs analyst at CNN, Bianna Golodryga… Co-founder of Evergreen Strategy Group, Daniel Baum Schwerin… Director of corporate communications and public affairs at Google, Rebecca Michelle Ginsberg Rutkoff… Global director at Birthright Israel Excel, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani… Diversity recruiter at The Carlyle Group, Victoria Edelman Klapper… Foreign affairs producer at the “PBS NewsHour” and correspondent for “PBS News Weekend,” Ali S. Weinberg Rogin… Analyst at Blackstone, Elli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter… Joel Winton…