Your Daily Phil: 2,500 people gather in Denver for JNF-USA conference

Good Monday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new survey of Jewish educators by M2 and The Jewish Education Project about the effects of the war in Israel and rising antisemitism, and feature an opinion piece by Melanie Roth Gorelick about the need to strengthen female Israeli leaders. Also in this newsletter: Emi PalmorLaura Lauder and Charlotte Knobloch. We’ll start with Jewish National Fund-USA Global Conference for Israel in Denver, which ended yesterday.

Surrounded by hundreds of police officers, some in riot gear, and an equal number of anti-Israel protesters pounding on the glass windows of Denver’s Colorado Convention Center and shouting slurs, about 2,500 Israel supporters packed the hall for this year’s Jewish National Fund-USA Global Conference for Israel — more than double the 2022 crowd. Inside, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ impassioned plea for Israel and the need to fight antisemitism was a sharp contrast from the intense protests ringing the convention center outside, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen from Denver.

The four-day event, which concluded on Sunday, was marked by an unusually somber tone in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in Israel. This year’s conference focused on reconstruction of communities impacted by the massacre. Since Oct. 7, JNF-USA has supported the delivery of 150 bomb shelters in Israel’s north and south. Another 250 bomb shelters are planned, according to the spokesperson. 

JNF-USA unveiled a joint $54 million project with Jerusalem-based KKL-JNF at the conference on Sunday. The project will rehabilitate the Gaza border devastated by the Oct. 7 attacks, JNF said. The collaboration appears to signal a reinstated cooperative relationship between the two organizations after almost two decades of complete separation.

The event kicked off on Thursday night with an opening plenary in the Bellco Theatre, where attendees heard from several keynote speakers including Polis, JNF-USA President Sol Lizerbram and Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan.

The conference welcomed 500 college students and 250 high schoolers, who discussed the rise of antisemitism on campus and at high schools.

Read the full report here.


Rabbi Dina Brawer, executive director of the U.K.-based World Jewish Relief’s American branch, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2023.
Getty Images

Jewish educators from around the world say students and parents feel unsafe, worried, betrayed, confused and angry, but are also developing deeper connections to their Jewish communities and increasingly curious about Israel and Zionism in the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel and rising global antisemitism, according to a new poll by M2 and The Jewish Education Project. Over 1,500 Jewish teachers, clergy and engagement professionals have completed the survey, which the participating organizations began distributing last month, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

‘We are afraid’: In the coming weeks, M2 and The Jewish Education Project, in partnership with the other organizations that co-sponsored the study, will conduct a full analysis of the data, which will be published in mid-January. A cursory review of the responses, however, shows a large number of responses dealing with physical safety concerns in light of rising antisemitism around the world. “We are afraid. It is scary to teach and work in a Jewish setting,” one respondent wrote. “Our families are scared. Security is a daily topic and worry driven by [fear]. We are hopeful but also the despair is real. Seeing how the mood has shifted over the past few weeks and the ups and downs. Our children sense it all but don’t know.”

Growing closer: Alongside the confusion and disappointment, some respondents said they see people growing closer to Judaism and their community. “I just see folks showing up for services more, and seeing people who are not ‘religious’ expressing more connection,” one person said.

Read the full report here.

Women’s Roles

It’s a crucial time for supporting female Israeli leadership

woman with long hair stands with her back to the camera as she speaks into a megaphone on the side of a boulevard
Photo by Maayan Nemanov on Unsplash

“Today, Elluminate is joining the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, the World Zionist Organization, Shazur/Interwoven, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Schusterman Family Philanthropies and a delegation of diverse Israeli feminists at a session at the United Nations to give voice to those who are silenced and to demand that these sexual and gender violations by Hamas are finally and unequivocally condemned and addressed,” writes Melanie Roth Gorelick, CEO of Elluminate, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

What’s next: “Months after the Israeli government moved to diminish the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, and as Israel continues to respond to attacks on the military front and international stage, we must recognize that Jewish women leaders on the home front are on the front lines… The Collective, Elluminate’s international network of Jewish women CEOs running social innovation organizations, includes 13 CEOs and 11 organizations in Israel that have all been part of our Jewish women’s leadership program. As the war extends and short- and long-term needs become more clear, we want to ensure that these women leaders — all using a gender and Jewish lens as they work for social change — are supported with funds and resources and are prioritized as civil society takes a leading role in Israel’s response and recovery.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Comparisons Are Odious: In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jordan Kadosh, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Heartland, and John Bowman, president of the St. Louis County NAACP, argue against seeing the Israel-Hamas war through the lens of America’s racial history. “American Jews do not feel safe. We speak the words ‘never again’ as we memorialize the genocide of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, and yet we find ourselves less than two months from the worst slaughter of Jews since that genocide occurred. The threat that your Jewish friends and neighbors feel is current, not history… It is possible to oppose Islamophobia and antisemitism at the same time and continue to be antiracist. To do so, we must ‘do the work’ to understand the situation half a world away is different from our own… It can be difficult when watching the news to see through the storyline we’re fed. There are two sides; one is powerful, and one is not. Our aspirations for an antiracist society demand we pick a side, but the world isn’t so simple. We all need to ‘do the work’ to make sure we stand against the hate that has been exacerbated by this terrible tragedy.” [PostDispatch]

Creating Pathways to Employment: Kerry Brodie, a former director of communications for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., is one of seven women profiled in a The New York Times feature about turning a personal cause into an organizational mission. In 2016, Brodie founded Emma’s Torch, a restaurant training program for refugees, asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking who have work authorization in the United States. “As the daughter of South African Jewish immigrants and the great-granddaughter of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania, we’ve seen the worst in humanity and what can happen when people turn a blind eye to refugees. I’ve always felt that we have a huge privilege and responsibility to make the world a better place… I saw food as a powerful vehicle for giving on-the-job training in a real-world setting that generates income to offset the program. And with the restaurant industry accounting for an estimated 8 to 10 percent of all jobs in New York City, we saw training in this field as an entree to long-term employment opportunities in restaurants owned by our industry partners, all of whom are eager to invest in our students.” [NYT]

A Large, Messy Mainstream: In the Forward, Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute, describes a reshuffling in the American Jewish community following the Oct. 7 attacks. “I see two clear political realignments that are operating in tandem. The first is that the messy mainstream of American Jews is energized anew toward identification with Israel and the Jewish people, expressing that identification with levels of belonging that represent a reversal of decades of assimilation and decline, and coalescing back into a big tent. The second is a real rupture between the Jewish left and the rest of the Jewish community to which it was once attached, and its coalescence into a separate tent of its own… I see signs of reengagement, reflected in higher turnout at synagogue, Hillel and Chabad events, and expressed on social media as a response to a sense of alienation from a gentile world that does not take Jewish pain and trauma seriously… American Jews who feel frustrated that their liberal allies didn’t show up reciprocally as they themselves stood for racial justice are not now going to abandon their commitments to racial justice or other movements. They are just more likely now than before to be more cautious in their expectations from the whole business of allyship.” [Forward]

Around the Web

Canadian-Israeli businessman and philanthropist Sylvan Adams donated $100 million to Ben-Gurion University in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva. The funds will go to advancing education and campus life at the university as part of a broader effort to rehabilitate southern Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks…

menorah-lighting ceremony in Williamsburg, Va., was canceled after the organizer said the event supported “the killing/bombing of thousands of men, women, and children.” In London’s Havering borough, a menorah-lighting ceremony was initially canceled because of “escalating tensions from the conflict in the Middle East,” but following an outcry, the decision was reversed and the event will go on as scheduled…

A number of large foundations, working with the World Bank‘s private investment arm, created the Allied Climate Partners, a climate-financing venture that is meant to bring billions of dollars in investments to developing countries…

Recently released hostages and the doctors caring for them say the captives have been through physical and psychological torture, including starvation, abuse, denial of medication and isolation…

Emi Palmor, chair of the Tel Aviv-based NATAL-Israel Trauma and Resiliency Centercalled on people to “invest in scalable mental support” for Israelis, or else the country’s economy and society will suffer…

The American Jewish Committee, UJA-Federation of New York and the Anti-Defamation League have held meetings with Shou Chew, the CEO of TikTok, to address rising antisemitism on the social media platform…

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles awarded $2 million in grants to eight initiatives by local nonprofits: The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Project Shema’s Fighting Antisemitism Empowerment Project; Zioness’ Los Angeles Zioness Fellowship Program; Jewtina y Co.’s Dedicated L.A. Presence; JIMENA’s Sephardic Leaders Fellowship; The LUNAR Collective’s Los Angeles Hub Expansion; Friendship Circle’s Creative Center for Adults; Jewish Studio Project’s Activating Creativity to Improve Health in Jewish L.A.; and the Organization for Social Media Safety’s Protecting L.A. Jewish Students’ Mental Health and Well-Being…

Fifteen New York synagogues were targeted with false bomb threats on Friday…

The Tree of Life building in Pittsburgh — the site of the deadly 2018 shooting — was also hit by a “swatting hoax” last week, in which a false report was made to police of an impending shooting, prompting a large number of police officers to arrive on the scene…

Eric H. Koehler was named the next CEO of New Jersey’s MetroWest Jewish Community Center

The Minnesota Council on Foundations found that private foundations based in Minnesota give roughly half their money to nonprofits outside the state…

USA Today spotlighted the Israeli students, whose families fled Israel because of the war, who are now enrolling in U.S. Jewish day schools

Jennifer Kalter was appointed the next director of education and public programs at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City…

A new study found that environmental nonprofits that have diverse leadership and work in disadvantaged areas receive considerably less philanthropic support than their more “mainstream” counterparts. This sends a message that “environmentalism is not for everyone,” one of the researchers said…

Julia Bator was hired as the next executive director of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, which was established by Jewish philanthropist and businessman Jacob Merrill Kaplan

The president-elect of Argentina, Javier Mileiappointed as the country’s next state’s attorney Rodolfo Barra, who was forced to resign in 1996 because of his associations with neo-Nazi groups…

Laura Lauder, who visited Israel last month on behalf of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fundreflected on her trip in an interview with J. The Jewish News of Northern California

Marc Berson, a Newark, N.J.-focused real estate developer and philanthropist, died on Saturday at 79…

Pic of the Day

Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.
Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Charlotte Knobloch, 91, president of the Jewish community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, speaks last week at the VIP Gala For Jewish Culture Days at the Gasteig cultural center in Munich.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Grammy Award-winning violinist, Miri Ben-Ari

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, author of six books and winner of the 1980 National Book Award, A. Scott Berg… Television director and producer, Dan Attias… Tony Sarif… Dermatologist in the Philadelphia area, Merle M. Bari Shulkin, MD… Author and founder of the Adventure Rabbi program based in Boulder, Colo., Jamie Korngold… Fashion director and chief fashion critic of The New York TimesVanessa Victoria Friedman… Publisher and founder of FlashReport on California politics and principal of the Fleischman Consulting Group, Jon Fleischman… Actor best known for playing Stuart Bloom on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Kevin Sussman… Co-founder and co-chairman of Knighthead Capital Management, Ara D. Cohen… Screenwriter and producer, he co-created ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” Adam Horowitz… National security advisor of the UAE,  Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan… Principal at Proxima Media and founder of Relativity Media, Ryan Kavanaugh… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-OH), Gregory John Landsman… Childhood chess prodigy, martial arts competitor and author, the film “Searching for Bobby Fischer” is based on his early life, Joshua Waitzkin… Israeli composer of stage works, orchestral works, ensemble works and classical music, Amir Shpilman… Comedian and former host of the ChangeUp baseball program for DAZN, Scott Rogowsky… Assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, currently on detail as a deputy legal advisor on the White House’s National Security Council, Sam Adelsberg… Senior campaign director at The Hub Project, Sarah Baron… First-round pick in the 2016 National Hockey League draft, he is a center for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, Luke Kunin… Israeli fashion model Sofia Mechetner