Your Daily Phil: A gala for Jaffa + Returning to Georgia

Good Thursday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we cover remarks on the state of political discourse in Israel by Israeli President Isaac Herzog at a gala this week, and feature an op-ed by Lisa Bodziner on returning to her roots. Also in this newsletter: Dani Dayan, António Guterres and DVF. We’ll start with claims that the financial services firm Morningstar has not followed through on its commitments regarding anti-Israel bias — as well as Morningstar’s response.

Tensions are flaring between financial services firm Morningstar and a coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel groups that have been lobbying the company to eliminate purported anti-Israel bias in its ratings products, our partner publication Jewish Insider reports.

In a letter sent to the company last month, the groups allege that Morningstar had failed to meet its commitments to update its ratings and procedures, provide sensitivity training to its staff and engage outside experts to advise it on issues related to Israel and antisemitism. Morningstar defended its actions in a response letter last week, saying that the company had made progress, while attributing some of the delays to the groups themselves.

Morningstar’s subsidiary Sustainalytics has been accused of engaging in anti-Israel bias in the environmental, social and governance ratings it provides to companies that operate in Israel. The company reached an agreement with a coalition of Jewish and pro-Israel groups last year, commiting publicly to address issues related to its ratings of companies that operate in Israel and the West Bank.

“After months of working with Morningstar in good faith, it appears that Sustainalytics is failing to do its part to implement the commitments that Morningstar made to eliminate the pervasive anti-Israel bias in Sustainalytics’ ESG ratings,” the coalition letter, sent on Dec. 30 and obtained by Jewish Insider, alleges. “We have grave concerns about the rate and direction of progress and have observed what we believe to be several alarming deviations from the October commitments.”

Morningstar insisted that it is continuing to work to fulfill the October commitments. “We have done our best to be responsive to the coalition group’s concerns and specific requests throughout this process; have already implemented a number of changes; and have operated in good faith throughout this process,” Morningstar spokesperson Sarah Wirth said in a statement. “There’s been no change in our commitment to this work or to working productively with these organizations.”

Read the full story here.

Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is commemorated tomorrow, two new surveys shed light on how much respondents in the United States and the Netherlands, respectively, know about the Holocaust.

Results released by the American Jewish Committee found that about three-quarters of respondents knew that the Holocaust took place in the 1930s and 1940s, and a higher percentage said that Auschwitz was a concentration and death camp. A majority knew that approximately 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and fewer than 40% knew that Adolf Hitler came to power through democratic means. The survey,?? part of a larger study to be released next month, polled approximately 1,000 adults in October, with a margin of error of 3.8%.

A survey of Dutch adults by the Claims Conference, meanwhile, found that 23% of millennial and Gen Z respondents said the Holocaust is a myth or the number of Jews killed has been greatly exaggerated, compared to 12% of respondents overall. Similar percentages of both groups said it’s acceptable for someone to support neo-Nazi views.

In addition, a majority of all Dutch respondents did not know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Nor did most respondents name their country as a place where the Holocaust happened, even though it’s where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis. The survey polled approximately 2,000 adults in December, with a margin of error of 2%.

scene this week

Israeli President Isaac Herzog addresses the 40th anniversary gala for the Jaffa Institute on January 24, 2023 outside of Tel Aviv.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog addresses the 40th anniversary gala for the Jaffa Institute on January 24, 2023 outside of Tel Aviv.

On Tuesday, under a ceiling of TV screens beaming the logo of the Jaffa Institute, the nonprofit educational and social welfare organization hosted a gala so large it required three staff members armed with maps to help the 1,100 guests locate their correct seat out of more than 100 tables in an event space near Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. The scope of the event was a sign of how much the organization has grown since it was founded 40 years ago with $50,000, raised from 25 people on a young leadership mission from the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, reports Melanie Lidman for eJewishPhilanthropy.

The program: The evening, which featured Israeli President Isaac Herzog and a performance by singer-songwriter Hanan Ben Ari, raised just over $1 million for the institute’s programming. Herzog, who opened the gala, used his speech to air a warning about the state of Israel’s political debate. Recent weeks have seen mass protests of the judicial reforms proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which would significantly limit the power of Israel’s court system.

What he said: “I am very worried about what’s happening in Israeli society, we are at a fateful hour,” Herzog said. “I am a great believer in the perpetuity of Israel and its strength, and [of] the incredible people in the nation of Zion, but we all need to take responsibility for what we have built here, to defend the ability to live here together, to be able to argue without, God forbid, descending into places where we don’t want to be.”

Funding sources: The Jaffa Institute has an annual budget of more than $10 million and runs more than 40 programs serving 9,000 people per year — through food distribution, after-school programs, homes for at-risk youth, mobile science labs for under-resourced schools and social programming for the elderly. The organization receives a third of its funding from the Israeli government, a third from Israeli donors and a third from foreign donors. “When I started 40 years ago, 95% of our funding came from abroad,” co-founder David Portowicz said in a speech. “But today, two-thirds of it comes from within Israel, and that’s incredible.”

Read the full story here.

georgia on her mind

Coming home to Savannah to build on my family’s legacy of philanthropy

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) speaks during annual Jerusalem Post conference at Gotham Hall.

“On Aug. 10, 2022, I turned 40 and celebrated my birthday with family and lifelong friends creating a newly formed social community in Savannah, home to the second-oldest synagogue in the country. It was a homecoming, bringing my husband and children with me. My husband and I had promising careers, family, friends and community in Baltimore. Life was good. The choice to move and uproot your life, your comforts and all that is familiar, is most definitely scary, refreshing and a profound challenge. I have come to learn that changing your life is a state of mind (and a privilege),” Lisa Bodziner writes in an opinion piece in eJewishPhilanthropy.

All in the family: “I wanted to make an even greater impact on Savannah than I had in Baltimore. In recent years, when I came back home for visits, I would see my parents’ and grandparents’ faces on the walls of Jewish institutions (starting to look right back at me), and funds designated via the Savannah Jewish Federation in my grandparents’ names. It got me thinking: How can I carry on my family’s name and legacy in Savannah as a philanthropist, lay leader, community organizer and changemaker if I am not, in fact, in Savannah?”

Giving and doing: “Philanthropy is so much more than giving away the money you have. As a professional fundraiser, Jewish educator and striving philanthropist, now in a small town, I realize that when it comes to impact, giving and doing carry equal weight. How are we as philanthropists, community builders and preservationists of history meant to keep small communities growing if we aren’t, in fact, present?”

Read the full opinion piece here.

Worthy Reads

Adapt or Perish: Where’s philanthropy headed, and what will survive as the field and its practices evolve? Reinterpreting Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution — survival of the fittest — as survival of that which is the best fit for changing times might provide an interesting metaphor, write Gabriel Kasper, Justin Marcoux & Jennifer Holk in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The trio identifies big shifts in philanthropy and urges philanthropic organizations to adapt: “The world isn’t going to stop changing. And funders seeking to maximize their impact will increasingly be pressured to adapt. They don’t have to change — to be sure, there’s value in commitment and consistency in the midst of great dynamism. But many of the shifts impacting the world right now will be hard to ignore, even for philanthropy. It’s less about the probability of if they will affect the field; it’s a matter of when. The events of the last few years suggest that funders who aren’t at least open to adapting their practices to match the shifting realities of their communities may be leaving potential impact on the table.” [SSIR]

Channeling Your Inner Marketing Pro: 
Different avenues for marketing each have weaknesses and strengths, Chris Foster writes in NonProfitPRO, so those crafting marketing strategies should consider which channels effectively accomplish which goals. “Knowing the job of each channel is a simple and extremely effective way to place that channel in the overall marketing plan. The job refers to the very specific thing that you want the recipient to do when receiving the message… Knowing what a channel does well or poorly is the key to positioning that channel to be effective. For example, digital and offline display advertising — online ads, billboards, bus wraps, etc. — do a great job of conveying a quick, emotionally powerful image and headline, usually with an easy-to-read button, website or QR code. But please don’t ask it to create direct donations. Getting a direct donation is not the job of display advertising… Direct mail is excellent at engaging recipients and driving response, whereas social media is wonderful for sharing stories, and garnering likes and interest.” ?? [NonProfitPRO]

Around the Web

To mark International Holocaust Memorial Day, Israeli President Isaac Herzogdelivered a speech at the European Parliament today in which he called on the continent’s leaders to “read the warning signs, detect the symptoms of the pandemic of antisemitism, and fight it at all costs.”…

In New York City, at the United Nations, an installation will be opening today bearing the names of 4.8 million Holocaust victims in alphabetical order. Called The Book of Names and developed by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, the structure is more than six feet tall and more than 26 feet long. It holds groups of pages sectioned off from each other, bearing the victims’ identities and — when possible — other personal details, such as their birth dates, hometowns and places of death. Dani Dayan, the chairman of Yad Vashem, will be present at the exhibition’s opening, along with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and fashion entrepreneur Diane Von Furstenberg, who is a child of Holocaust survivors…

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, a Catholic-affiliated charity, allocated $165 million in more than 500 grants to New York nonprofits providing health services. Grants went to a number of Jewish groups, including the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, which received $900,000; the UJA-Federation of New York, which received $350,000; and the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, which received $100,000…

The Kranzberg Family Foundation, which is affiliated with the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, is allocating $75,000 to 15 local Jewish organizations…

The Simons Foundationgranted $1.2 million to aid 405 Ukrainian scientists and doctoral candidates, their staffs and their laboratories…

Victor Saul NavaskyThe Nation’s former longtime editor, publisher and editorial director, died at 90…

A co-founder of the Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), Lloyd N. Morrisett Jr., died at 93Morrisett was an American experimental psychologist who worked in education, communications and philanthropy…

Pic of the Day

JQ International, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Jews of Color Initiative, the Skirball Cultural Center and the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, gathered LGBTQ+ young adults of Iranian descent and their families on Sunday for the first Persian Pride National Summit.


(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Argentinian real estate developer, president of Chabad Argentina, president of Hillel Argentina and president of Taglit Birthright Argentina, Eduardo Elsztain… 

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, Jules Feiffer… Actor, film director and playwright, Henry David Jaglom… Pioneering computer scientist, Barbara Bluestein Simons, Ph.D…. Singer-songwriter, socialite and political fundraiser, Denise Eisenberg Rich… Economic and social theorist, author of 23 books, Jeremy Rifkin… New Haven, Conn.-based personal injury attorney, Herbert Ira Mendelsohn… Publishing professional, Agnes F. Holland… Professor emeritus of modern Judaic studies at the University of Virginia, Peter W. Ochs… Emmy Award-winning film and television director, her 2018 film is a biographical legal drama based on the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mimi Leder… President of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Rabbi Marc Schneier… Co-founder of the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund, Laura Heller Lauder… President of HSK Consulting focused on strategic planning and fundraising services, Hilary Smith Kapner… Former CNN anchor and correspondent and author of two books, Daryn Kagan… Co-founder of Boardroom One, Brent Cohen… Actress, comedian and television screenwriter, Claudia Lonow… Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy… Major general in the IDF, he was recently appointed as director general of the Ministry of Defense, Eyal Zamir… Senior strategist and consultant at Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach, Jill Weinstock Deutch… Oakland County (Michigan) Clerk and Register of Deeds, Lisa Brown… Middleweight boxing champion, he retired in 2003 with a 37–1–1 record, now a loan officer, Dana Rosenblatt… Retired tennis player who was the top-ranked player in his age group at the ages of 12, 14, 16 and 18, then as an adult he won 15 doubles championships, Justin Gimelstob… Actress, she hosted The CW reality series “Shedding for the Wedding,” Sara Rue… Co-host of Jewish Insider‘s podcast and of counsel at Morrison Cohen LLP, Jarrod Neal Bernstein… President of the Palm Collective, Tamar Remz… Former Olympic figure skater, now a product marketing manager for Meta / Facebook, Emily Hughes… Blues and jazz musician, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton… Fay Goldstein