Your Daily Phil: $5 million boosts major Holocaust Museum LA expansion

Good Monday morning!

The Holocaust Museum LA has received a $5 million gift from Eric and Susan Smidt, of The Smidt Foundation, which will help the museum expand its physical footprint, eJewishPhilanthropy has learned.

Beth Kean, the museum’s CEO, told eJP that the Smidt Foundation gift is the largest-ever contribution to the Los Angeles museum from a family or foundation whose members are not descendants of Holocaust survivors or victims.

The museum was founded in 1961 by Holocaust survivors and their relatives, making it the oldest Holocaust museum in the United States. Its mission is to house their personal artifacts safely and in perpetuity, to memorialize their lost loved ones and to educate the public.

“We have been watching the rise in hate crimes against Blacks, Asians, Latinos and so many other communities across the country with great concern,” Eric Smidt told eJP. “And the dramatic rise in hate directed at Jews only a few generations following the Holocaust is deeply disturbing… We think education is the key to reversing these terrible trends.”

The museum has raised 80% of the approximately $45 million needed for construction, including the Smidt gift, and is planning to break ground at the end of the summer. The new museum space will extend its footprint outward, with new outdoor reflective spaces, a 16,000-square-foot Learning Center Pavilion that will house special exhibits, a 200-seat theater, two classrooms, a gift shop and a café.

It will also include a theater for the USC Shoah Foundation’s “Dimensions in Testimony” program, which enables visitors to interact with a hologram of a Holocaust survivor. On top of the building’s existing structure in Los Angeles’ Pan Pacific Park, the museum will add a 2,500-square-foot pavilion to house an authentic Nazi-era boxcar found outside the Majdanek death camp in Poland.

The museum currently serves 50,000 visitors annually. The expanded campus is slated to open in 2024, and Kean expects the number of visitors to spike, reaching 500,000 by 2030, including 150,000 students.

Read the full story here.


With small payments, Repair the World hopes to allow lower-income Jews to also serve those in need


Arnold Lau, a 26-year-old freelance actor based in New York City, felt that the 10 weeks he spent volunteering with the Jewish service organization Repair the World between March and May were invaluable. Crucially, for him, the experience was also affordable thanks to $700 in economic assistance he received from Repair, reports Daniela Cohen for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Meeting needs: Repair began providing economic assistance, beyond the stipend, to volunteers, fellows and staff in 2020, after starting a part-time service corps that summer to meet the needs both of local organizations who were short of volunteers and young people who wanted to serve during the pandemic, Kate O’Bannon, Repair’s chief strategy officer, told eJP. “It was important that,even though folks were giving of their time, they did need some sort of funds to be able to reduce the economic barriers that were coming into play,” she said.

Following a paradigm: Repair’s financial assistance is inspired by Avodah, a Jewish service group whose flagship program places young Jews in one-year positions at anti-poverty nonprofits around the country. Avodah created an Economic Accessibility Task Force in 2018, which made its program accessible to those who wanted to serve but may not have had the financial resources to immerse in a year of service work, said Avodah CEO Cheryl Cook. “For people to take a year out of the full-time paid salary job market to spend a ton of time as a full-time [stipended] volunteer is actually a privilege that some of us can do, but not all of us,” she told eJP.

Read the full story here.


Activism takes action

Lord Henri Voton

“These days, people call themselves activists when they post content supporting those in need on social media. But that is not advocacy; it does not go beyond ‘thoughts and prayers.’ Activism takes action, and that means stepping out of your comfort zone and away from your phone to help others,” writes Emmy-nominated actor, director and filmmaker Yuval David in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Helping me help others: “When I took an active role in fighting for the rights of LGBTQ people throughout the world, my goal was to help people in desperate need. I wanted to utilize my reach and my network, pushing my contacts to help me help others.”

Network weaving as advocacy: “This mentality led me to meet recently with officials at the White House, the State Department and foreign service. We discussed specific cases of individuals overseas who are desperately seeking to escape their life-threatening situations because of their LGBTQ identity. I asked these government officials what they can do to help people in desperate need of being rescued. My approach was to connect government agencies, nonprofit organizations and the victims in need. This manner of advocacy made me a liaison between those who can help and those who need help.

Tikkun olam: “When I met with these top officials, I made it clear that there are specific cases of people who are in desperate need of immediate help. These are urgent matters that can save people’s lives… As a Jewish leader and activist, it is my duty to help these people. This is what Judaism is about: Love thy neighbor as thyself, whoever saves one life saves the world and the ultimate concept of tikkun olam, repairing the world.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Putting the ‘New’ in Revenue: There are several ways that your nonprofit can diversify how it brings in revenue, Korri Piper writes in NonProfitPRO, including shopping and text fundraisers, matching gifts and volunteer grants: “Similar to matching gifts, volunteer grants are donations that your volunteers’ employers make, meaning they can be collected at no additional expense to your organization or your supporters. The amount donated through a volunteer grant will depend on the employer. Some organizations require their employees to have volunteered for a minimum number of hours, while others will donate per hour, starting right when your volunteers first get to work.”  [NonProfitPRO]

Restoring the Past: 
A new effort is underway to preserve the 16th-century synagogues in Venice’s Jewish ghetto for its small Jewish community and for tourists, Chris Warde-Jones writes in The Associated Press: “For nearly two years, restorers have been peeling away paint and discovering the original foundations of three of the ghetto’s synagogues, which are considered the only Renaissance synagogues still in use, art historian David Landau said… ‘I was really deeply offended by the state of the synagogues,’ said Landau, a Renaissance specialist who bought a home in Venice 12 years ago. ‘I felt that the synagogues were in very bad condition. They had been altered beyond recognition over the centuries, and needed to be kind of cared for and loved.’” [AP]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Fifteen camps have been selected by the Foundation for Jewish Camp for the fourth and final round of grants, totaling $3 million, through its Yashar Initiative to increase accessibility for campers and staff with disabilities…

The former campus of the Reform movement’s Kutz Camp in Warwick, N.Y., is now the set for a forthcoming Ben Platt movie called “Theater Camp”…

Mark Regev, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom, appears to be emerging as a consensus candidate for the position of chair of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel…

Alon Beer, the recently named CEO of the Israeli government-funded Jewish volunteer organization Shalom Corps, has been called in for an immediate hearing pending termination for personal social media attacks on senior Israeli Health Ministry officials throughout the pandemic…

With the support of the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund, JIMENA, a Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish group, will launch the first national cohort of the Sephardic Leaders Fellowship on Aug. 16…

Focal Point Fest, the annual conference of Olam, the umbrella group for Jewish international aid organizations, will be held as a hybrid event July 11-14…

Debbie Strimling was named Women’s Philanthropy Council chair for Jewish Nevada, the state’s federation…

Lael Gray has been named chief operating officer of the Peninsula JCC in Foster City, Calif. Gray is currently CEO of Jewish Silicon Valley…

The Center for Arab American Philanthropy announced the appointment of Tamara El-Khoury as its new director…

Sasha Suda, director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, is joining the Philadelphia Museum of Art as director and CEO….

The Cummings Foundation in Woburn, Mass., announced 140 grants totaling $25 million in support of Boston-area nonprofits…

Yana Vishnitsky, president and CEO of Jewish Family Service of Colorado, died at 75…

Pic of the Day

Beth Singer Design

Saul Shamash (left), Rudie Riet and Lloyd Greenberg pedaled 50 miles around Washington, D.C., on Sunday during the Wheels of Love event to raise funds for ALYN Hospital, Israel’s only pediatric rehabilitation center. 


GALI TIBBON/AFP via Getty Images

Retired justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, previously attorney general of Israel, Elyakim Rubinstein (left)…

Professor at UCLA, he played an influential role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the internet, Leonard Kleinrock… Founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff… Senior advisor for George Soros’ Open Society Institute, Morton Halperin… Former chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co., chancellor of Brown University and CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert… Member of Congress and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Nadler (D-NY-10)… Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Dr. Michael J. Elman… National political correspondent for National Public Radio, Mara Liasson… Tech entrepreneur and co-founder and general partner along with Marc Andreessen of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Benjamin Abraham “Ben” Horowitz… Internet entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Overtime, Daniel Porter… Yoga instructor, Jenny Eisen Verdery… Family court judge of the City of New York, serving in Brooklyn, Judge Erik S. Pitchal… White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Eli Stokols… Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, Michael Stern… Principal at SKDK, Marissa Shorenstein… Policy advocate at Protect Democracy, Ariela Rosenberg… Actor Max Samuel Spielberg… Film and television actress, Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings… Fashion blogger and creator of Something Navy apparel stores, Arielle Noa Charnas… Deputy editor at Real Clear InvestigationsBenjamin H. Weingarten… Retired NFL football player after four seasons, he is the co-founder of Stryve Biltong Snacks, Gabe Carimi… Founder of Moishe House Mosaic in Fairfax, Va., Samantha Magnes… Speed skater who represented the USA at the Winter Olympics, Emery Lehman… eJP contributing editor and pop culture commentator/podcaster Esther Kustanowitz

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