Your Daily Phil: $34M donation for cancer research in Israel + ‘Love the Convert’ Shabbat

Good Friday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on an initiative by Israel’s ITIM religious advocacy organization to highlight the mitzvah of “Love the Convert” on the Shabbat before Shavuot, and feature op-eds from Erica Brown, Betsy Stone and Alan Halpern. We’ll start with a $34 million donation to Israel’s Beilinson Medical Center to create a new cancer research institute.

For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: Naftali Bennett’s big bet; Showtime’s ‘Ghosts of Beirut’ examines CIA-Mossad op that brought down one of world’s most elusive terrorists; A hotel of firsts reopens in Tel Aviv after a 70-year hiatus; White House faces pressure from the left to buck mainstream antisemitism definition; Lipstadt praises IHRA definition, but declines to say if it will be included in White House strategy; More than 175 American, global Jewish groups urge U.N. to endorse IHRA definition; Abu Dhabi grad school aims to help bridge AI programmer gap; and Chabad rabbis and rebbetzins from far-flung locales gather in Morocco. Print the latest edition here.

Henry and Susan Samueli donated $25 million to Israel’s Beilinson Medical Center, which was matched with an additional $9 million from Clalit Health Services, to create a holistic cancer treatment institute, which is meant to both treat patients and perform research, the incoming chairman of the institute told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The $34 million donation is the largest one of its kind in Israel’s history both in terms of its size and its purpose. Unlike most philanthropic donations to hospitals, which tend to focus on funding new buildings or equipment, the Samuelis donation to create the Samueli Integrative Cancer Pioneering Institute will go primarily to funding research, with the goal that the findings will be shared around the world.

Beilinson Medical Center, located in the central Israeli town of Petah Tikva, is one of the country’s top-rated hospitals and is home to the Davidoff Center, which functions as a cancer hospital within a hospital. The Davidoff Center, which recently doubled its capacity, currently treats one out of every seven cancer patients in the State of Israel, according to its director Dr. Gal Markel, who now also serves as the chairman of the newly formed Samueli Institute.

According to Markel, the goal of the new institute is to develop new, more holistic cancer treatment methods and practices. The institute’s research will look at everything “from the level of the molecule to the full person, along the full course of treatment, asking questions that are important not just from the investigator’s perspective, but from the patient’s perspective and from the community’s perspective.”

Markel said the donation and the formation of the new institute were more than five years in the making. Henry Samueli, a co-founder of the Broadcom Inc. semiconductor company, and his wife, Susan, made multiple donations over those years to the Davidoff Center to fund a number of different studies, specifically focused on melanoma and immunology. While significant, Markel said those donations were on a far smaller scale. Building on that existing relationship,Markel said the hospital approached the couple and their family foundation about the institute.

According to the Samuelis, the “true measure of success” for the institute will be how many of the new techniques, procedures and guidelines that it develops are implemented at “leading institutes throughout the world.”

Read the full article here.

Ve’Ahavta Et HaGer

Religious advocacy group organizes ‘Love the Convert’ Shabbat in U.S., Israel before Shavuot

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Religious communities across Israel and the United States will dedicate this coming Shabbat to the mitzvah of loving the ger, or convert, ahead of next week’s Shavuot holiday, which is traditionally associated with the concept of conversion, as part of an annual initiative organized by Israel’s ITIM religious advocacy organization, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Holiday connection: While this is the fourth year that ITIM has organized the “Ve’Ahavta Et HaGer” (Love the Convert) Shabbat, this will be the first year that communities outside of Israel will take part, ITIM’s founder and director, Seth Farber, told eJP. “It’s the Shabbat before Shavuot. One dimension of Shavuot is the story of Ruth, who is the prototype, so to speak, of the convert to Judaism. Another is that it’s the holiday of Matan Torah (Reception of the Torah) and part of that is getting access to the Torah [through converting],” Farber said.

U.S. and Israel: More than 100 communities across Israel will take part in the initiative as will 33 in the U.S., most from up and down the East Coast, but also in Memphis, Tenn., Dallas and Oakland, Calif. “A lot of them will have the rabbi speak but some will have a convert speak about the concept of Ve’Ahavta Et HaGer,” he said.

Not for my kid: A recent survey conducted by ITIM found that the majority of people who identified as religious Zionist – 59% — said that they would not want their children marrying a convert. (Roughly half of people who identified as secular said they didn’t want their children marrying a convert, and approximately 80% of Haredi Jews said the same.) “We have to address that fear. The best way to do that is to educate, that’s that point of this Shabbat,” Farber said.

Consideration and inspiration: One of the American rabbis taking part in the initiative, Rabbi Jonathan Muskat, who leads the Young Israel of Oceanside, N.Y., said he was inspired to participate to both encourage his congregants to be more considerate toward converts and to view them as a source of inspiration. “‘Love the convert.’ It says that many times in the Torah. But in practice – probably more due to lack of education or awareness – we who aren’t converts may not be sensitive enough to their needs,” Muskat told eJP.

Above politics: In addition to getting rabbis of Jewish communities on board, Farber also contacted a number of lawmakers to endorse the initiative. Representatives from the Religious Zionism party, Likud party and Yesh Atid party all agreed to take part. “We tried to cut across party lines to make a statement that this is something we should all be rallying around,” Farber said. “People understood that this was above and beyond politics and some ideological agenda.”

Read the full story here.

The Torah of Leadership

Navigating uncertainty: Thoughts on Parshat Bamidbar


“[The] embrace of uncertainty is stamped all over the book of Bamidbar, or Numbers, that we open this week to read the Torah portion that carries the same name. The Israelites spent a long time in a state of unknowing,” writes Erica Brown, vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University and director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center, in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy, “The Torah of Leadership.”

A place you cross: “The wilderness is often characterized by silence, but our wilderness trek was filled with noise. We complained. We threatened. We cried. We challenged ourselves. In the wilderness, a donkey spoke while some leaders were silenced. An enemy gave us a blessing. Someone recently asked me why there is not one recorded circumcision in the Book of Numbers. I responded simply that there are no births recorded in this book. There are only deaths. There is a steep price to pay when you travel in the wilderness. It’s a place you cross. You cannot stay there. The midbar is a provisional bridge between points of stability that can untether us if we stay too long.”

Read the full piece here.

The search for self

Do Jewish spaces support meaning making?

Jose A. Bernat Bacete

“Jewish practice and thought have evolved over centuries. What we do in our communities would be unfamiliar to our great-grandparents and unrecognizable to Jews of 1,000 years ago. Whether the changes that followed the destruction of the Temple or the advent of the Enlightenment, Jewish practice is full of creative adaptations,” write Betsy Stone, a retired psychologist, and Alan Halpern, a retired synagogue executive director, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Accommodation: “Our leaders and communities have adapted ritual and practice to accommodate, then welcome Jews of different identities and abilities and then turned those innovations back toward the entire community because they were richer, more personal and/or more meaningful.”

Tensions exist: “But the tension remains between those who would preserve the practices and ways of thinking of our grandparents and those who would change them to meet the needs of ourselves and our children. The presence of multiple generations pushing and pulling in opposite directions acts as one brake. The structure and inertia of our institutions and donors acts as another.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Teach Your Children Well: In the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle, Lisa Wimborne describes the challenges of filling positions at her Jewish nonprofit and offers a possible solution. “As CEO of a Jewish charity, I often ask members of our community for support; either their time through volunteering or much-needed donations. However, I am increasingly finding myself having a different conversation — and one I feel we as a community need to be having more often. For the last year, job openings in England have consistently outnumbered job-seekers. Every colleague I speak to in communal organisations is facing the same challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining quality staff. It’s a job-seeker’s market out there and we are doing all we can to ensure we remain competitive in a crowded marketplace. Or are we? Maybe not… As our children often look to us for guidance and advice, maybe we should point them towards the community if they are considering a career where they can make an impact.” [JewishChronicle]

Around the Web

The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s Jewish volunteer center has received a $2.5 million gift from the family of Sidney Kohl. Kohl’s wife, Dorothy, was ranked one of the best U.S. tennis players in the 1950s…

Congregation Kol Emet in Yardley, Pa., unveiled a new outdoor contemplative space with benches and enough seating for around 100 people…

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev gave honorary doctoral degrees to six people during Tuesday’s annual Board of Governors meeting, including global health activist Chelsea Clinton, philanthropist Patrick Drahi and former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein

A new grant-making effort funded by the philanthropic arm of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie Ballmer, will provide $42.5 million over the next five years to support 100 Black-led nonprofits focused on improving economic mobility…

Philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz donated $180 million through his foundations to transform the 119-year-old former Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company’s central power station and more recently home to squatters and underground raves — into a multidisciplinary hub of artistic production called Powerhouse Arts

The Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego announced a $5 million gift from Ernest and Evelyn Rady and an additional $500,000 in gifts from alumni in support of the school’s entrepreneurship programs…

Real estate investor Sam Zell, who bought out the Tribune Company in 2007, died at 81…

Betty Rosskamm, a member of the founding family of JoAnn Stores and community philanthropist, died at 95…

Pic of the Day

Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli teenage boys wave flags and dance at the Western Wall to mark “Jerusalem Day” yesterday. 


Jemal Countess/Getty Images for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival

Chaplain for NYU and chief rabbi of the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue of the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna

FRIDAY: Retired senior counsel in the D.C. office of Blank Rome, Harvey Sherzer… Retired chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, now of counsel in the NYC office of Latham & Watkins, Jonathan Lippman… Clinical psychologist, author, teacher, public speaker and ordained rabbi, Dennis G. Shulman… Former member of the California State Senate, Hannah-Beth Jackson… Israeli novelist and journalist, Edna Shemesh… Nurse and former member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Sandra (Sandy) Pasch… Harvey D. Harman… Retired chief of the general staff of the IDF, now a member of Knesset, Gadi Eizenkot… Chief rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar… Journalist, teacher and playwright, Gersh Kuntzman… Born in Kyiv, he is a professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, Alex Eskin… Author of 28 novels that have sold over 40 million copies in 34 languages, Jodi Picoult… Business manager for NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, Estee Portnoy… Former CEO of Bend the Arc, Stosh Cotler… Israeli-born chef and owner of multiple NYC restaurants, Einat Admony… Israeli actress and fashion designer, Dorit Bar Or… Canadian food writer and cookbook author, Gail Simmons… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party since 2019, Ofir Katz… Pitcher for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, now pitching coach for the UC Davis Aggies, Zachary “Zack” James Thornton… Activist and advocacy educator, Natalie Warne… Professional ice hockey forward currently playing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, Brendan Leipsic

SATURDAY: CEO at Kings’ Care – A Safe Place, operator of multiple drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment centers, Ilene Leiter… Canadian businesswoman and elected official, she served in the Ontario Assembly and in the Canadian House of Commons, Elinor Caplan… Former member of the New York State Assembly until 2020, Ellen Jaffee… Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-CT) for 20 years, he was born in a DP camp in Germany after WW2, Sam Gejdenson… Chagrin Falls, Ohio, attorney, Robert Charles Rosenfeld… CEO emeritus of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Michael S. Miller… Seamstress and weaver, Bernice Ann Penn Venable… Five-time Emmy Award-winning producer and writer who has worked on “Saturday Night Live,” PBS’ “Great Performances,” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” Alan Zweibel… U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)… Former director of international affairs, policy and planning at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Michael Alan Salberg… Professor at Tulane U, he retired as president of the Aspen Institute in 2017, Walter Isaacson… Born in upstate N.Y. as Michael Scott Bornstein, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and then a member of Knesset, Michael Oren… CEO and founder of Abrams Media, chief legal analyst for ABC News and the founder of Mediaite, Dan Abrams… NYC location scout and unit production manager for feature films and television commercials, David Brotsky… EVP of Resolute Consulting, Ami Copeland… Emmy Award-winning singer and songwriter, Rachel Platten… Manager of privacy issues for Amazon’s public policy team, Philip Justin (PJ) Hoffman… Program officer at the Michigan-based William Davidson Foundation, Vadim Avshalumov… Founder and CEO of Berkeley, Calif.-based Caribou Biosciences, a genome engineering company, Rachel Haurwitz, Ph.D…. Floor director and legislative director for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Lauren D. Wolman… Senior communications advisor at the U.S. Department of State, Susan Sloan… VP of digital advocacy at McGuireWoods Consulting, Josh Canter… Miss Israel 2014, she is now chief of staff to the chairman at Ampa Capital, Doron Matalon… Senior associate at Number 10 Strategies LLP, Aylon Berger… Conservative political activist, he is a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Kyle Kashuv

SUNDAY: U.S. postmaster general under Presidents Reagan and Bush 41, Anthony Melchior Frank… Former U.S. senator from Minnesota, he was previously a comedian, actor and writer, Al Franken… Guitarist and composer, Marc Ribot… EVP of American Friends of Bar-Ilan University, Ron Solomon… Chief rabbi of Mitzpe Yericho and dean of Hara’ayon Hayehudi yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yehuda Kroizer… CEO of the Boston-based hedge fund Baupost Group, Seth Klarman… Former legal analyst at CNN, Jeffrey Toobin… Founder and former co-owner of City & State NY, Thomas Allon… Director of antisemitism education and associate director of the Israel Action Program at Hillel International, Tina Malka… Actress and playwright, Lisa Edelstein… Former head of Dewey Square’s sports business practice, now a freelance writer, Frederic J. Frommer… U.S. cyclist at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, she is now the director of transportation for Newton, Mass., Nicole Freedman… President and CEO of the Michigan-based William Davidson Foundation since 2015, Darin McKeever… Senior principal at Cityfi, Brandon Pollak… Professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, Scott Joel Aaronson… SVP and general counsel at Sinclair Broadcast Group, David Gibber… President of Mo Digital, Mosheh Oinounou… International fashion model for Versace, Sharon Ganish… Managing partner at Miller Strategy & Creative, Steve Miller… Windsurfer who represented Israel in the Olympics (Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016), she is now a project manager at SolarEdge, Maayan Davidovich… Player on the USC team that won the 2016 NCAA National Soccer Championship, she is now an associate in the L.A. office of Foley & Lardner, Savannah Levin… Comedian, actress and writer known for starring in the HBO Max series “Hacks,” Hannah Marie Einbinder