Your Daily Phil: 50 years of Lions of Judah + Yoga for the youth

Good Tuesday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on a University of Haifa honorary degree ceremony in Manhattan and feature an op-ed by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz on the importance of yoga at a young age. Also in this newsletter: Ted Deutch, Jonathan Greenblatt, SBF, Rabbi Laurie Matzkin and Jamie Simon. We’ll start with a gathering of Jewish women philanthropists in Phoenix.

Half a century after two Jewish women created a program urging their peers to donate $5,000 to their local Jewish federations — the cost of resettling a Soviet Jewish family — 1,000 women gathered in Phoenix to celebrate the initiative.

Fifty years later, the amount hasn’t changed. But the initiative — called Lions of Judah and known by the 14-carat gold leonine pin of its members — has grown. Today, there are 18,000 Lions of Judah, and the initiative raises $200 million annually. A Jewish Federations of North America spokesperson told eJewishPhilanthropy that the minimum donation hasn’t risen, despite inflation, so that the program can be accessible to more donors. A $5,000 donation in 1972 would be equivalent to more than $35,000 today.

The program of the International Lion of Judah conference, which began Sunday night and ends this afternoon, looks much like a standard Jewish federation conference. The first night’s plenary focused on women’s leadership, while the next day’s centered on federations’ work around the world and the third day’s on fighting antisemitism and addressing mental health.

The difference was that, unlike at many national conferences, the stage was populated mainly by women. Sunday’s plenary included news anchor Katie Couric; Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a former chair of the Jewish Federations of North America; and former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ). Subsequent plenaries included United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and actor Marlee Matlin.

Sessions on Monday also covered issues of particular concern to the attendees. One focused on “middlescence,” or staying vibrant in ones 50s and 60s. Another concerned the challenges and opportunities of the state of reproductive health care in the United States.

The group also gave a posthumous award named for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the late Norma Kipnis-Wilson, one of the cofounders of the Lion of Judah, who died last year.

Carolyn Gitlin, JFNA’s chair of national women’s philanthropy, estimates that the conference will bring in $35 million. Though times have changed in the past 50 years, she still feels there’s a place for a philanthropic movement focused on women’s giving. She cited research showing that women will inherit more on average because they are likely to inherit assets from both spouses and parents.

“It is women who are making the philanthropic decisions more than men in their homes,” Gitlin told eJP. “It’s women who are looking toward the future.”

pomp and circumstance

Bill Clinton (center) receives an honorary doctorate in New York City from the University of Haifa on Dec. 12, 2022.

A ceremony that felt at once formal and intimate honored two former presidents for their work building enterprises across the globe — one a former leader of New York University, and the other the former leader of the free world, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.

First, we take Manhattan: The two men, John Sexton and Bill Clinton, received honorary doctorates from the University of Haifa at an hourlong event last night at New York University, in an auditorium across the street from Manhattan’s Washington Square Park. Sexton presided over NYU at a time when it opened up outposts worldwide. It now has three campuses that grant degrees — in New York, Abu Dhabi and Shanghai — as well as a dozen more campuses worldwide, from Madrid to Sydney to Tel Aviv. Clinton received the doctorate in recognition of his activities as president and of his work at the Clinton Global Initiative.

Remembering Rabin: In his speech, Clinton recalled seeing an interfaith group of NYU students travel to New Orleans to help in the recovery effort after Hurricane Katrina. He also praised the artist who embroidered his robe, Batia Shani, because he learned that she first met him at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, with whom Clinton worked closely before Rabin was assassinated. “I will treasure this for the rest of my life,” Clinton said. “I loved him very much, and I miss him still.”

Read the full story here.

youth yoga

Returning to restfulness

Asian yoga students observing and practicing during class

“More and more, upon getting home from school, my 4-year-old son Shay tells my wife Shoshana and I how much he loved that day’s yoga session. Over the years, my kids have been exposed to this kind of practice throughout their preschool experiences, and seeing its impact on my son, how he seems more centered and more thoughtful, has made me wish this experience were given to kids of all ages throughout the Jewish world and in society at large,” writes Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, the author of numerous books on Jewish ethics, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Yoga for mind and body: “There are so many areas of development in preschool, from letters and numbers to social skills to moral growth. But with all that noise (holy noise!), I want to make the case for just how important it is to learn how to breathe, calm oneself, sit in silence, expand one’s consciousness and increase one’s attention span. We know all about how to get our kids ahead in math and science, but what are we doing to help them learn to boost their sense of self-awareness, increase their oxygen circulation and reduce their stress? Mindfulness education is necessary for numerous reasons. We all know of the importance of physical health. Yoga and meditation are helpful not just for the mind, but for our kids’ growing bodies.”

Prioritizing mental health: “Also, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mental health studies from 2016 to 2019 show that 9.8% of children have ADHD, 9.4% suffer from anxiety, 8.9% have behavior problems and 4.4% suffer from depression. In a world in which technology has contributed toward making mental health one of the greatest crises of our time, the need to proactively improve our kids’ mental strength and spiritual resiliency cannot be ignored.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Volunteers Are Future Donors: Donors and volunteers are often treated as two different populations, but do they need to be mutually exclusive? That’s the question Lisa Zola Greer asks in Philanthropy451, citing sources that note 85% of volunteers are also donors to the same nonprofit where they volunteer and that volunteers are 66% more likely to donate financially to the organization they support than those who do not volunteer: “In terms of dollars, this study found that Americans who volunteer at nonprofits give an average of 10 times more money to charity than people who don’t volunteer… So what does this all tell us? It tells us that putting volunteers into one ‘box’ and putting donors into another, mutually exclusive box, isn’t helpful. In fact, the new donors who can sustain our organizations long term may be right in front of us — and we just don’t see them. This isn’t only true for young people. Witness bequests, where receiving ‘surprise’ gifts from donors that aren’t on your ‘major donor’ list is a common occurrence. Most nonprofits are surprised to find out that, although the bequest donor wasn’t on your ‘list,’ they had been volunteering for your organization. And you had no idea they existed.” [Philanthropy451]

Be Transparent on Pay: 
With New York City now requiring salary ranges in job advertisements and California and Washington State on the road to do so next month, more and more nonprofits are becoming transparent about pay, writes Drew Lindsay in The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Since the pandemic, nonprofit workers increasingly assess the values of a nonprofit and are grateful to find groups that are upfront about pay, [senior consultant with the Development Guild Mary] Plum says. ‘It’s showing trust, honesty, respect — all of that. I’ve had people thank the organization for sharing the information.’ The seemingly simple act of telling job applicants what salary to expect has cascading effects. Publishing salaries in job ads can raise awkward questions about pay equity and fairness, particularly within an organization where salaries may be lagging [behind] market rates. Simply put: Staff will compare salary ranges listed in ads to what they earn and ask about differences… Nonprofits leaders agree that the changes are for the better, but at least a few organizations are paying lip service to transparency by defining salary ranges so broadly as to be useless. ‘I have seen one organization post a salary range of $0 to $200,000,’ says Lisa McKeown, a compensation expert with Nonprofit HR. ‘That says you’re really not taking this seriously.’” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Around the Web

The Biden administration announced an interagency group that will coordinate government efforts to fight antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate. The formation of the group comes on the heels of a White House summit on combating antisemitism that was attended by leading Jewish groups, many of whom called for such a response.

American Jewish Committee CEO Ted Deutch, a former Democratic congressman, said in a statement that the approach is “needed more than ever… A whole-of-government approach is essential so government agencies can quickly and effectively combat the world’s oldest hatred as it morphs into contemporary forms.” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that “it is critical for all Americans to see that the Administration is dedicated to fighting this hate.”…

The FBI report on hate crimes in 2021 did not include data from a slew of major cities, including New York City and Los Angeles. That lack has led to the report showing a huge drop in antisemitic attacks that, Jewish leaders and antisemitism watchdogs say, does not reflect reality. In response, Jewish groups called for law enforcement agencies to improve their hate crime reporting systems…

Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas after criminal charges were filed in the United States against him. The failed cryptocurrency entrepreneur and former philanthropist has been charged with wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and money laundering, according to The New York Times

Sefaria, the digital library of Jewish texts, has added four texts of the Chabad Hasidic movement to its collection, including an English translation of the Tanya, a core philosophical book written by the movement’s founder, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, also known as the Alter Rebbe…

Rabbi Laurie Matzkin joined Peninsula JCC in Foster City, Calif., as chief Jewish experience officer. She previously was family educator & PJ Library manager at Jewish Silicon Valley…

Jamie Simon was named chief program officer at the Foundation for Jewish Camp. She formerly served as CEO of Camp Tawonga…

Pic of the Day

Representatives from the Israeli nonprofit Larger Than Life, which provides support to children with cancer and their families, lit the menorah at a Hanukkah reception yesterday at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., hosted by Ambassador Michael Herzog and Shirin Herzog.


WASHINGTON – MARCH 1: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill March 1, 2011, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Former chairman of the Federal Reserve, now a distinguished fellow in residence at the Brookings Institution, Ben Shalom Bernanke

Retired chairman and CEO of Loral Space & Communications, Bernard L. Schwartz… Former New York State senator for 28 years, Suzanne “Suzi” Oppenheimer… California-based real estate developer active in the revitalization of downtown San Jose, he is a former co-owner of the Oakland Athletics, Lewis Wolff… Real estate developer and a minority-owner of the Minnesota Vikings, David Mandelbaum… Past president at UCLA Faculty Women’s Club, Bette Billet… Senior rabbi emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood and a national co-chair of the rabbinic cabinet of J Street, Rabbi John Rosove… Executive chairwoman and chief media officer of Eko, Nancy Tellem… Chair of the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Poverty and Social Exclusion at the University of Haifa, Roni Strier… Hedge fund manager, investor, writer and adjunct professor at Columbia University, Joel Greenblatt… Former assistant secretary for management at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, now operating partner at Princeton-based Edison Partners, David F. Eisner… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017 (D-MD), Jamin Ben “Jamie” Raskin… Dean of NYC-based Bard Graduate Center, Peter N. Miller… Chairman and CEO of Fontainebleau Development whose holdings include the landmark Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Jeffrey M. Soffer… Co-founder and principal of The Lead PR, LLC, a NYC based public relations firm, Jeffrey W. Schneider… Mayor of New Rochelle, N.Y., Noam Bramson… Comedian and actor, known by his stage name and alter ego, Wheeler Walker, Jr., Benjamin Isaac Hoffman… Florida commissioner of agriculture and consumer services until her term ends next month, Nicole “Nikki” Heather Fried… Head of communications at Google Assistant, Riva Litman Sciuto… American-Israeli basketball player who played for three NCAA collegiate programs, now on the roster of Maccabi Haifa, Eli Abaev…