Your Daily Phil: A $6 million MacKenzie Scott gift + An unprecedented Jewish progressive Israel trip

Good Tuesday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report an exclusive on a first-time Israel trip by a coalition of American Jewish social justice advocates, and feature an op-ed by Stefanie Rhodes and Ilana Kaufman on a new Jewish philanthropic resource on racial equity. Also in this newsletter: Mitch Julis, Carole Zawatsky and Michael Siegal. We’ll start with another large donation from MacKenzie Scott.

Earlier this year, Sasha Chanoff’s organization got a call any nonprofit CEO would dream of: It came from the Bridgespan Group, which consults with MacKenzie Scott on her giving. The mega-philanthropist was interested in giving a donation to RefugePoint, the refugee aid group Chanoff, who is Jewish, founded in 2005.

After months of vetting, that donation has come through. The $6 million gift is a significant boon for RefugePoint, which works to resettle refugees and guide them to self-sufficiency, and whose annual budget is approximately $10 million. The donation will contribute to a five-year, $65 million plan to involve refugees themselves as leaders of the organization’s efforts.

Chanoff has not spoken directly with Scott, but recalled to eJewishPhilanthropy that the consultants he communicated with said she was drawn to the organization because of “the fact that we partner closely with refugees, that we’re about transforming humanitarian response so it’s more responsive to the needs of refugees and centers their voices and leadership.”

Refugee aid has been a priority for Scott, who as of yesterday has given more than $13 billion to charity. That includes gifts to several refugee aid organizations, including $15 million to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service this week, and $10 million to the Jewish refugee aid agency HIAS earlier this year.

Chanoff founded RefugePoint to better facilitate refugee resettlement in the United States and elsewhere, and also helps refugees become self-sufficient so that fewer are dependent on emergency aid. It has helped resettle more than 100,000 people, and has a staff of 150 across 35 countries.

“It’s just a really incredible, awesome, awesome thing that will help us do all the work that we have been doing,” said Chanoff, 51, about the donation. His work was also recognized with the $100,000 Charles Bronfman Prize in 2010. “This is going to just promote our work further to partner with refugees to find solutions for them so that they can lead normal lives.”

The Jewish Journal held its inaugural gala last night at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles. The event, titled “The Gift of Community,” honored Canyon Capital Advisors co-founder Mitch Julis.


A view of Jerusalem, where much of the trip will take place.
A view of Jerusalem, where much of the trip will take place.

For some progressive American Jewish groups that are focused on domestic issues, the go-to approach to Israel in recent years has been to say as little as possible. But as discussions about Israel in progressive circles have become increasingly fraught, discourse about the Jewish state has sometimes drawn in even those who sought to avoid it. Now, the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable is leading its first-ever member delegation to Israel, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales has learned.

Meeting peers: The goal is to introduce the Jewish social justice activists to their Israeli and Palestinian counterparts on the ground and familiarize them with progressive activism in the region so that they’re better equipped to respond next time they become embroiled in a controversy about Israel.

Promoting engagement: “This trip is really about moving from avoidance to engagement,” Abby Levine, the roundtable’s CEO, told eJP. “The Jewish social justice field has for many years avoided the issues around Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories because it’s so divisive, and because there’s so much risk involved, and because it hasn’t been the primary focus of our Jewish social justice organizations [which] focus on a domestic justice agenda.”

The rundown: The roundtable’s leadership would not reveal key details of the trip — including the organizations participating, the funders or the exact itinerary. But Levine did tell eJP that the trip has 28 participants representing 23 organizations — more than a quarter of the roundtable’s affiliates — and a few CEOs have acknowledged participating. Many have been to Israel before and engage regularly with the country, but for a handful, this is their first trip. The trip costs $260,000 in total and is funded by private donors. The roundtable’s total annual budget is roughly $1 million.

Read the full story here.

future giving

Introducing Racial Equity Informed Philanthropy: A Funder Resource From a Jewish Perspective

Paper people chain with hearts

“Let’s travel into the future: It’s 2050 and there’s every reason to feel hopeful. Acts of antisemitism and racism have slowed to a trickle. Our planet is healthier. The economy is thriving. Jewish art, Jewish culture and Jewish music are flourishing like never before. Children of all ages are finally getting the education they deserve,” Stefanie Rhodes, CEO of Slingshot, and Ilana Kaufman, executive director of the Jews of Color Initiative, write in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A beautiful tapestry: “In 2050, it’s not that the Jewish community looks radically different than it looks today, it’s that finally Jewish communal leaders understand that the U.S. Jewish community is multiracial. More than 25% of Jews in the United States are people of color, and almost half of Jewish families are multiracial. Jews of color are well-represented as CEOs leading American Jewish organizations and foundations and as rabbis and cantors. Synagogue pews, Jewish day school classrooms and summer camp cabins are full of children of color who see themselves reflected in their teachers, counselors and mentors. Simply put, the tapestry of Jewish communal life in 2050 is powered by Jews of every color — and that tapestry is beautiful. It has existed since the beginning of time, but never in full view. Now we finally see what’s possible — and it is a blessing for all of us.”

Courting change: “So we asked ourselves and each other: How would a shift in paradigm at the intersection of racial justice-informed Jewish philanthropy sharpen our communal focus on the distribution of money and power to build a truly anti-racist Jewish community by 2050? How can funders align their personal passion for racial justice with their professional influence to center the voices and experiences of Jews of color? … These are the very questions that animate Racial Equity Informed Philanthropy: A Funder Resource From a Jewish Perspective  – a new guide produced by the Jews of Color Initiative in partnership with Slingshot.”

Read more here.

Worthy Reads

The World According to Sacks: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was an Orthodox rabbi who worked “both within and beyond the walls that protect his faith,” Rabbi David Wolpe writes in the Jewish Review of Books: “Again and again, when he is caught in the middle, Sacks does what he can to make the best of the situation. ‘Judaism,’ he says in Arguments for the Sake of Heaven, ‘is best understood not as a set of correct positions but as a set of axes of tension.’ …Tension and discord may persist in theology but if the community does not adhere to one standard of behavior, the traditional system collapses. …Elevating tension to an ideal has a certain intellectual appeal but it is not a coherent program. Is there a remedy for reconciling a fractured Judaism? Sacks’ answer seems, in part, to employ the strategy of many controversial Jewish thinkers before him: When there is restlessness at home, embrace the world. In times of dissension within one’s tradition, look beyond it — expand your worldview — and perhaps fret a bit less about internal frictions.” [JRB]

The collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, has sent nonprofits scrambling to replace millions in grant commitments from charitable vehicles as well as members of the “effective altruism” community, Nicholas Kulish writes in The New York Times: “Benjamin Soskis, senior research associate in the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, said that the issues raised by Mr. Bankman-Fried’s reversal of fortune acted as a ‘distorted fun-house mirror of a lot of the problems with contemporary philanthropy,’ in which very young donors control increasingly enormous fortunes. ‘They gain legitimation from their status as philanthropists, and there’s a huge amount of incentive to allow them to call the shots and gain prominence as long as the money is flowing,’ Mr. Soskis said. Mr. Bankman-Fried’s fall from grace may have cost effective-altruist causes billions of dollars in future donations. For a relatively young movement that was already wrestling over its growth and focus, such a high-profile scandal implicating one of the group’s most famous proponents represents a significant setback.” [NYT]

Around the Web

The new institution to be housed at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the site of the 2018 shooting, has hired Carole Zawatsky as its inaugural CEO. The former synagogue will become a museum, memorial and center for education dedicated to combating antisemitism. Zawatsky previously served as the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History’s chief advancement and strategy officer…

Israeli President Isaac Herzogwill award the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor to Michael Siegal, a former board chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel and past chair of the Jewish Federations of North America. The award is the highest civilian honor granted by the Israeli president.

Siegal will receive the award alongside songwriter and poet Rachel Shapira, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Pinhas Buchris, Arab-Israeli educator Dalia Fadila and youth educator Haim Perry

The Anti-Defamation League held its annual Concert Against Hate last night at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C…

Pic of the Day

A Jewish couple in the Dnipro region of Ukraine are among more than 22,000 Jews who will receive aid from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee ahead of a winter season whose severity will be exacerbated by Russia’s invasion, which has led to power outages and destroyed infrastructure and housing. Other funders include the Jewish Federations of North America, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and the Claims Conference.


BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 27: Executive Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Meyer May presents an award onstage during the Simon Wiesenthal Center National Tribute Dinner at The Beverly Hilton on April 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Executive director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museums of Tolerance, Rabbi Meyer H. May

Dean of Ohr Etzion Yeshiva and the leader of the Bnei Akiva Youth Movement, he was a long-time member of the Knesset, Rabbi Haim Drukman… Author of dozens of children’s books and young adult fiction, frequent NPR guest, Daniel Pinkwater… Pianist and conductor, formerly music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim… Boca Raton, Fla., resident, Stephen Wolff… Former Chairman and CEO of Film and Music Entertainment, Lawrence (Larry) Lotman… NYC-based consultant for non-profit organizations, Perry Davis… Retired immigration and nationality attorney in Southern California, Michael D. Ullman… Past president of Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pa., Paul Finkelman… Executive producer and director of television programs, including “Friends,” Kevin S. Bright… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Meir Cohen… Partner in Toronto-based accounting firm Fuller Landau, Jeffrey M. Brown… Senior project manager at T-Mobile, Michael A. Lewine… Member of the Florida House of Representatives, Michael Alan Gottlieb… Former member of Knesset for the Likud party, Nava Boker… Founder and chairman of Perilune Capital and founder of Harspring Capital Management, Carey Robinson Wolchok… Mortgage executive, Joshua Shein… CEO of the Riverdale Y in the Bronx, Deann Forman… As a 12-year-old baseball fan in Yankee Stadium, he interfered with a ball batted by Derek Jeter in the 1996 ALCS that was ruled to be a game-tying home run, Jeffrey Maier… Professional golfer, he won the gold medal at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, Ben Silverman… White House reporter for The Associated Press, Zeke Miller… Legislative and communications liaison at the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, Ben Goodman… Senior client recruiter at SingleSprout, Alison Borowsky… 2L student at Harvard Law School, Micah Rosen

Email to have your birthday included.