Your Daily Phil: 560,000 L.A. Jews + Addressing the camp counselor shortage

Good Wednesday morning!

The first population survey of the Los Angeles Jewish community in a generation reveals a tale of two cities. The community is growing, with 25% more Jewish households than there were in 1997, when the last survey was conducted. But a broad swath of it is lonely: nearly a third of households include a single adult living alone. More than half of Jewish adults have had the time or means to travel to Israel, yet nearly one-fifth of Jewish Angelenos are struggling to make ends meet.

And when it comes to young Jews, the survey reveals great hope and great heartache: Younger people appear more engaged in Jewish life than their elders, and their Jewish identities are strong. Yet the level of their mental health needs “shocked” Rabbi Noah Farkas, the CEO and president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, he told eJewishPhilanthropy.

But while the federation study contains some sobering realities, Farkas is buoyed by its findings, especially as they relate to younger people, and for what that means for the community’s future.

“[It’s] the first time I read a study where the future looks brighter than the past,” he said. “Affiliation, denominational structures for how to create Jewish identity, synagogue business models, they’re all in decline, but Jewish life isn’t in decline. Jewish life is ascending, is rising…. Younger people who are Jewish and living in a Jewish household in almost every category are more engaged in Jewish life than older people. They consume Jewish media more, they talk about Jewish topics more, they wear Jewish symbols more, they make some version of Shabbat more.”

One way the community of 560,000 has changed can be encapsulated in a single word: diversity. In the last survey of Los Angeles’ Jewish population, the word “diverse” appears only once, in the context of geography, while the word “diversity” does not appear at all. The term “Jews of color,” which was then rarely used, was likewise absent, as was “non-white.”

But the new study includes a section titled “Diversity,” and shows that the city’s share of Jewish immigrants and Jews of color is significant and likely to rise.

Read the full story here.


From asylum seekers to antisemitism, an Israeli-American Jewish student dialogue broaches tough issues

Students walk on the Bar-Ilan campus last year.

Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua via Getty Images

How should Jews define “freedom?” What’s Israel’s responsibility to non-Jewish asylum seekers within its borders? What should American Jews do to combat racism? These questions were just some of the thorny ones tackled by a group of two dozen college students, half in New Jersey and half in central Israel, in a series of five conversations this spring that attempted to bridge the divide between the two countries by addressing sensitive topics head-on, reports Madison Hahamy for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Two crises in one: For decades, national Jewish organizations have fretted about the state of Jewish life on campus, and about a growing gap between Israeli and American Jews. This program, which involved students from Rutgers University and Bar-Ilan University, attempted to address both — by pairing a dozen Jewish college students at New Jersey’s flagship school with their peers at a Modern Orthodox university outside of Tel Aviv. The discussions took place every Sunday for five weeks and involved text study, small-group discussions and meetings between and within the two cohorts.

Identity discourse: The discussions that were the most “generative,” said Rabbi Jason Cook, Rutgers Hillel’s senior Jewish educator, were those that focused on issues related to identity, such as Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish state. For example, when students discussed immigration issues in Tel Aviv, Cook said, a large part of their discussion centered around what it means to be a Jewish state in the wider framework of responsibility and accountability to others. While American Jews have tended to be outspoken in advocating for immigrants, the status of African asylum seekers has divided Israeli society.

Read the full story here.


Season of change: The importance of being a camp counselor

Courtesy of Foundation for Jewish Camp

“As the world changes, camps are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the best staff. While the pandemic has certainly exacerbated the problem, recruitment and retention rates amongst young seasonal camp staff have been in decline for several years now,” writes Julie Finkelstein, senior director of program strategy and innovation at the Foundation for Jewish Camp, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Peers and role models: “Attendance at Jewish camp as a camper gives children a network of Jewish peers and role models, enhances Jewish knowledge and increases their commitment to Jewish life. This impact is only magnified further when these young people come to camp as staff and have a formative Jewish experience of their own while creating these experiences for campers. For those who did not attend Jewish camp as a child, joining a camp community as a young adult staff member is an extraordinary on-ramp to a lifetime of meaningful Jewish connections, and an opportunity for camp communities themselves to diversify and bring in new perspectives that strengthen camp.”

15,000 strong: “While the broader Jewish community remains concerned about the affiliation and commitment of teens [and] college-aged and young adult Jews, the field of Jewish camp is replete with more than 15,000 of these highly engaged Jewish role models each summer. Deeper investment in this population is a major opportunity for Jewish camp to have a growing impact on the Jewish world.”

Read the whole piece here.


Five key lessons about making application processes more equitable


“One of the joys and challenges of my work at the intersection of philanthropy and Jewish life is that I am always on a learning journey. Every day, I am reminded of what it takes to improve philanthropic systems so that they work for everyone, not only for the privileged few. In my work at Slingshot, I’m grateful for the philanthropic leaders who are pushing Slingshot to reimagine philanthropy [that is] rooted in principles of openness, equity and care,” writes Rachel Hodes, chief program officer of Slingshot, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Our barriers: “As Slingshot has grown, we have become increasingly aware of the barriers that prevent innovative projects from flourishing. In the fall of 2021, as we prepared to select our third cohort of ‘10 to Watch,’ we took a close look at how our own practices, such as a lengthy application process, biases in our language and complex selection criteria, might limit or exclude the people and projects we aim to support.”

Bold change: “Given the strains on time and resources that may disproportionately affect marginalized communities — including Jews of color, Jews with disabilities, LGBTQ Jews and Jews who do not live in urban centers — we did not require ‘10 to Watch’ applicants to fill out a standard application form. Instead, we invited applicants to submit a piece they had already written — such as an existing report, a recent grant proposal or an annual report — to demonstrate the power, purpose and relevance of their work. Our hope was that this approach would ease the burden on applicants and make it possible for more organizations and projects to apply.”

Read the whole piece here.

Worthy Reads

Don’t Bore the Donors: Meaningful relationships with donors of all levels is essential to reduce turnover among those donors, Jeff Jowdy writes in NonProfitPRO. “‘Cultivation is your lifeblood,’ Pamela Barden, founder and president of PJ Barden Inc., said. ‘You can spend your entire fundraising career finding new donors and churning through them, or you can invest in the lives of your existing donors. Those are the people you can count on in good and bad times.’ Deepening relationships takes a commitment of time and resources. It means respecting the relationship by being as personal, relevant and fresh as possible. ‘Too often, we bore our donors. We don’t take the time to share the right results and stories for them to get excited about what we do,’ Barden said. ‘We recycle the same old stories and copy — so why would a donor want to read or respond? Our job is to keep our donors interested. One of the biggest reasons for donor attrition is that we fail to keep them motivated and interested.’” [NonProfitPRO]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

At a conference concerning nonprofits held Sunday and led by Israel’s Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Chen Schreiber, the organization’s president, criticized the state’s treatment of nonprofit organizations, and claimed that “the state harms their ability to raise funds and help underprivileged populations in Israel”…

In an agreement finalized this week, the Israeli government will partner with Colel Chabad and its Blavatnik Food Bank on a new $44 million program to help Israel’s most vulnerable families access healthier food and sustain themselves financially…

Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, one of the nation’s leading children and family services organizations, received an $8 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The gift supports the organization’s work for children and families through services that help families stay together and navigate difficult life circumstances…

In its May campaign for yeshivot and seminaries in Israel, World Mizrachi assisted over 20 gap-year institutions in raising more than $6 million to cover infrastructure, educational programming and student scholarships. The donations came from more than 12,000 individual donors in the United States, Israel, Belgium, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom…

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of a London Orthodox Jewish housing charity in its long-running dispute with a single non-Jewish mother of four who was unable to access its housing…

Tipper Gore, separated wife of former vice president and presidential candidate Al Gore, gave $1 million to the Ukrainian-American nonprofit Razom to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians in need as a result of the Russian invasion…

Country music singer-songwriter Dolly Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville to support pediatric infectious disease research…

The Stephen & Christine Schwarzman Animal Medical Center in New York City received a $10 million joint gift from the Denise and Michael Kellen and Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen foundations in support of the hospital’s expansion…

Dartmouth College announced it will transition to a no-loan financial aid policy for undergraduates and will replace loans with expanded scholarship grants…

Józef Walaszczyk, a member of the Polish resistance who rescued dozens of Jews during the Nazi occupation of Poland, died at 102…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy of JCC Chicago

JCC Chicago Apachi Evanston’s campers on the first day of camp as they reunite with friends. 


Srdjan Stevanovic/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Israeli-born forward who played 11 seasons in the NBA, Omri Casspi (left)…

A leading securities, corporate and M&A attorney, he is a founding partner of the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Martin Lipton… U.S. senator  since 1992, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)… Former DC-based vice president of Israel Aerospace Industries, Marvin Klemow… Jerusalem-born 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry, she is the director of a research center at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ada Yonath… Retired U.K. judge, who chaired high-profile hearings on ethics in the media, prompted by the 2011 News of the World phone hacking affair, Sir Brian Henry Leveson… Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for physics, he is a professor at Brown University, J. Michael Kosterlitz… Retired justice on Israel’s Supreme Court, Edna Arbel… U.S. Sen.  Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)… Member of the California State Assembly since 2012, Richard Hershel Bloom… AIPAC director for Greater Washington, Deborah Adler… Past president of the UJA-Federation of New York, Alisa Robbins Doctoroff… Member of Congress since 2001, he is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA-28)… Former member of the Knesset for the Hatnuah and Zionist Union parties, Robert Tiviaev… Founder of tech incubator Playground Global, an $800 million fund, he is the Creator of the Android operating system which he sold to Google, Andy Rubin… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, he was the speaker of the Knesset until last year, Yariv Gideon Levin… SVP at Red Banyan PR, Kelcey Kintner… Program director at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Rafi Rone… Senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and author of a biography of Bibi Netanyahu, Anshel Pfeffer… Israeli jazz vocalist and composer, Julia Feldman… Executive director at Mesivta Netzach HaTorah in Woodmere, N.Y., Ahron Rosenthal… Retired MLB second baseman, he played for Team Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2021, Ian Kinsler… Russian-Israeli internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Russia’s largest social network VK, Vaizra Capital investment fund, and Selectel network centers, Lev Binzumovich Leviev… Baltimore-based endodontist, Jeffrey H. Gardyn… Former outfielder in the Washington Nationals organization, he started all three games for Team Israel in the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier round, Rhett Wiseman

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