Your Daily Phil: 25,000 Haredi men celebrate in Philly + Israel Parade marches on amid protests
Good Monday morning!
In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a mass gathering of Haredi men in Philadelphia in celebration of yeshiva study, and feature op-eds from Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu and Jon Adam Ross. We’ll start with an update from yesterday’s Celebrate Israel Parade in New York.
New York’s Celebrate Israel Parade went off without a serious hitch on Sunday, with tens of thousands of people – unofficial estimates put it at 50,000 – marching down New York’s Fifth Avenue, as dozens of people on the sidelines protested the inclusion of members of Israel’s governing coalition in the annual event, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross reports.
Ahead of the parade, its chief organizer, Gideon Taylor, the CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, told eJP that he predicted the event would be “noisy and chaotic,” and that indeed appeared to be the case.
Within the parade, approximately 1,000 people – many of them Israeli expats who are members of the UnXeptable protest group – marched with the Labor Zionist Ameinu organization, wearing T-shirts and holding signs with slogans like “Zionism = Democracy” and “NYC [loves] Israeli Democracy” in an approved form of demonstration against the Israeli government’s proposed judicial overhaul.
Among the marchers were local and statewide politicians, like New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, as well as national figures like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). More than a dozen Israeli parliamentarians and ministers marched in the parade, though at least three ministers who had initially been slated to attend – Economy Minister Nir Barkat, Science Minister Ofir Akunis and Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Meir Porush – ultimately did not attend.
Dozens of protesters who appeared on the sidelines of the march heckled the ministers and Knesset members in attendance. In most years, New York’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade sees only minor protests by pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist groups, who also appeared at this year’s event, but were largely ignored by the participants.
While the parade itself did not see any serious conflicts or major external demonstrations, hundreds of protesters appeared outside the Jerusalem Conference that was hosted by the Israeli media Besheva Group in New York on Sunday afternoon after the event, where several government ministers and Knesset members spoke. Similar protests were scheduled for Monday outside the Jerusalem Post’s conference, where members of the government were also slated to appear.
Read the full story here.
Some 25,000 Haredi men gather in Philadelphia to celebrate yeshiva study
Another mass gathering of American Jews took place on Sunday in addition to the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York: Some 25,000 Haredi men traveled to Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center for a night of singing and divrei Torah by top rabbis in honor of yeshiva study, eJewishPhilanthropy reports.
Higher stipends: The event, dubbed Adirei Torah – literally, the Greats of the Torah – was organized by Lazer Scheiner, a nursing home magnate and major donor to Haredi causes. The initiative commemorated a major increase in stipends for men studying in the Bais Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, N.J. According to the organizers, the idea for the event came about two years ago, when donors came forward looking to triple the stipends paid to men studying in the yeshiva’s kollel, its place of study for men. “They pledged to nearly triple the kollel check to $13,500 (which includes a [holiday] bonus of $750 biannually,) embarking on a far-reaching campaign – a historic one by all measures – to bring their vision to reality,” organizers said. “The kollel budget had morphed from $17.8 million annually [in 2021] to the current annual budget of $61.4 million.”
Far-flung visitors: In addition to bringing in large numbers of graduates from Lakewood’s Beth Medrash Govoha, top rabbis from Israel flew in for the event, including Rabbi Meir Tzvi Bergman, 93, the head of the Rashbi Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, who was given special dispensation to attend the event despite sitting shiva for his son who recently died of cancer, and Rabbi Dov Landau, 93, the head of the Slabodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.
Read the full story here.
The power of incremental change
“Every once in a while, we have the privilege of experiencing a moment that demonstrates that times have changed. I had one such moment at the Jewish Funders Network conference in March. I sat in the audience listening to two philanthropists, Stacy Schusterman and Teagan Acton, talking about the importance of giving through a gender lens. They did this in a way that made the conversation relevant to everyone on all sides of the political and ideological spectrum,” writes Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu, executive vice president of the Jewish Funders Network, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Change does come: “As a member of the women’s equality movement over the past 30 years, I have seen it develop in the Jewish world and the incremental changes that have happened each time people come to gather to share experiences, think about solutions to issues, and then put them into action. I treasure that day at the JFN conference as a highlight in my career and proof that though change comes slowly, if we keep working for it, the change will come.”
Bit by bit: “Pirkei Avot teaches, ‘You are not required to finish the work, but neither are you permitted to desist from it.’ This wisdom informs the giving I have seen through JFN. Those who participate in the philanthropic community have a dedication to working on issues that they know will likely not be completely solved in their lifetimes. But bit by bit, chip by chip, their work leads to the problem’s erosion. Each chip is profoundly meaningful.”
Read the full piece here.
A Jewish approach to cross-cultural understanding and tolerance
“The In[HEIR]itance Project began as a Jewish idea. Could a process rooted in the Jewish text-analysis technology translate to the devising of new pieces of theater? Could a participatory playmaking process connect neighbors to each other across silos of identity? Could it leverage inherited, sacred texts as tools for good rather than as weapons of division, condemnation and hatred? And could a temporary, hyper-local art project seed lasting collaboration in a community?” writes Jon Adam Ross, founding executive director of the In[HEIR]itance Project, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Building relationships: “With the generous support of The Covenant Foundation, we set out to answer all of those questions in a five-city, three-year experiment that took us to Minneapolis, Charleston, Austin, Seattle and Kansas City. We learned so much in those first years. We learned about the power of a participatory process to build relationships across divisions.”
Connected society: “Ultimately, we learned that we can do the work of tikkun olam (repairing the world) by expanding beyond the work of tikkun shtetl (repairing our own, intimate community). That might be a hot take, but it’s not meant to be. The truth is that we live in a connected world, a connected society. Our communities have challenges that impact the collective and must be addressed collectively.”
Read the full piece here.
A World Without Witnesses: In The New York Times, Sarah Wildman examines the responsibility of Holocaust survivors’ grandchildren, speaking to Anne Berest, the author of The Postcard, a semi-fictional novel that focuses on the same topic. “The third generation’s effort to reconstruct our own past and to understand the present is a means of passing on this legacy. It is also a bulwark against Holocaust denialism. ‘A world with witnesses and a world without witnesses is two different worlds,’ Ms. Berest said to me. Until recently, she continued, ‘The witnesses could say to the deniers: “No. I was there. That is what I saw, that is what I experienced, that is what human barbarity was able to do to another human being.” Without them, it is very dangerous. We know the third generation has a duty of transmission’… Understanding how the Holocaust, and the hatred at its root, was nurtured and enabled by a society that adapted itself to the Nazis is also part of the responsibility we have to the past. And yet it seems as a society that we remain somehow unsettled about what it means to claim responsibility for the horror beyond a shadowy cartoon version of incomprehensibly terrible villains and blameless victims.” [NYTimes]
It’s the Antisemitism, Stupid: In Foreign Policy, Simon Speakman Cordall reports on antisemitism in Tunisia, an issue that is rarely discussed in the country, which came to the fore last month in the deadly attack on a synagogue in Djerba during a Lag B’Omer pilgrimage festival. “Thus far, Tunisia has steadfastly refused to publicly address the anti-Semitic nature of the attack, preferring instead to characterize it as ‘criminal.’ However, the fact that the Jewish tourists and locals gathering to celebrate the festival of Lag B’Omer were specifically targeted by the attacker, 30-year-old National Guardsman Wissam Khazri, is hard to dispute… Of all the Jewish communities that once dotted northern Tunisia, only that on the island of Djerba remains. The synagogue there, whose foundations are said to date back to Jerusalem’s Temple of Solomon, remains a cornerstone of not simply Tunisian Jewish identity, but Jewish identity as a whole… ‘Now when something happens, the state doesn’t address it,’ [Habib Kazdaghli, a Muslim-born historian of Tunisia’s Jewish traditions] said. ‘I don’t think it’s anti-Semitism on their part. It’s more about being scared of even addressing the issue, and that’s worse.’” [ForeignPolicy]
Around the Web
Cheryl Barish Erlick has retired as executive director of the Hebrew Free Loan Society of Greater Philadelphia after eight years in the role…
New York’s Met Council held its annual legislative breakfast yesterday, just before the start of the Celebrate Israel Parade…
Avi Ganon, the deputy director-general of Israel’s Education Ministry, is leaving his current position to head the Israel Venture Network, a nonprofit focused on reducing social inequalities in Israel…
The Jewish Federations of North Americamarked the third annual Holocaust Survivor Day yesterday. Holocaust Survivor Day is an initiative started by the JCC Krakow in Poland to “recognize the contributions that survivors have made to society and to honor their legacies”…
British Jewish businessman Gary Lubnerpledged to donate at least £5 million ($6.19 million) to Keir Starmer’s Labour Party…
The Jewish Agency for Israel’s North American Council gave philanthropist Jane Sherman the inaugural Max M. Fisher Award, which is named for Sherman’s father…
OpenAI co-founder and CEO Sam Altmanmet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog as he visits Israel during an around-the-world tour, including stops in Jordan, Qatar, UAE, India and South Korea…
Israel’s national under-20 soccer teamupset powerhouse Brazil 3-2 in the World Cup quarterfinals over the weekend, advancing to the tournament’s semifinals…
Pic of the Day
Visitors look at the exhibits on display at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem’s Old City, which reopened on June 1 after a three-year, $50 million renovation.
Owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots, Robert Kraft…
Lithuanian-born Holocaust survivor, co-founder of the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, Va., known for his ever-present cowboy hat, Jay M. Ipson… Training director and broker associate of the Santa Monica, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services branch, Saul Bubis… ESG consultant, Dan Yurman… Israeli politician, diplomat and businessperson, he served as consul general of Israel in Philadelphia from 1988 to 1992, Israel Peleg… VP of new business development at Maresco & Partners, Linda Greenfield… Author of eleven personal finance books, Susan Lynn “Suze” Orman… Staff member at Burbank Temple Emanu El, Audrey Freedman-Habush… Portrait photographer and visual anthropologist, she is the author of The Jews of Wyoming: Fringe of the Diaspora, Penny Diane Wolin… Former commissioner on the U.S. International Trade Commission, Dean A. Pinkert… Best-selling instrumental musician, the saxophonist “Kenny G,” Kenneth Bruce Gorelick… Columnist for the New York Post, Andrea Peyser… Counsel for Alan Taylor Real Estate, Sam Kraemer… EVP and managing director at D.C.’s Burson Cohn & Wolfe, Michael Heimowitz… Former member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament for eight years until 2022, Gila Deborah Martow… VP of government affairs at Invenergy, Mark S. Weprin… First-ever Jewish speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates when she was elected in 2020, Eileen R. Filler-Corn… Beth A. Freeman… Member of Congress (D-PA), her father is a Jewish Holocaust survivor from Poland, Christina Jampoler Houlahan… Former member of the British Parliament for 15 years, he served as minister of culture under PM David Cameron, Baron Ed Vaizey… Entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author, Nova Spivack… Professor of Israel Studies at UCLA, Dov Morris Waxman… Actress, she has a recurring role in the Fox series “The Cleaning Lady,” Liza Rebecca Wei… Co-founder of BlueLabs and director of analytics for the campaigns of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012, his father and grandfather were rabbis, Elan Alter Kriegel… Research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, he was previously a member of the New Hampshire state legislature, Jason Bedrick… Training and support specialist at Voyant, Arielle Levy… Account director at M Booth, Maya Bronstein… Co-founder of Boundless Israel, she previously served as associate vice president of Israel and global Jewish citizenship at Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Aviva Klompas… Fact-checker at The New Yorker and a former reporter at The New York Times, Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post, Adam Rasgon… Clara Moskowitz… Susan Stein…
WEEKEND BIRTHDAY: Founding director of AJC’s Berlin office, he is now council chair of Kendal on Hudson, Eugene DuBow turned 91 on Saturday…