Your Daily Phil: A look at the Milken Conference + Israel’s $135m bomb-proof blood center

Good Monday morning!

Welcome to a week in which Cleveland and Los Angeles are hosting two gatherings that will see a list of prominent Jewish (and non-Jewish) names address two very different crowds.

In L.A., the Milken Institute Global Conference began on Sunday, drawing thousands of attendees to hear a marquee roster discuss pressing business, economic and social issues. In Cleveland, JPro22 begins today, attracting 1,200 employees of Jewish organizations for three days of discussion and professional development.

Staff at eJewishPhilanthropy are tuning into both conferences, and Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch will be on the ground in L.A. (Come say hi!) Today’s newsletter previews Milken; tomorrow’s will cover JPro.

The Milken Conference will focus on climate change, recovering from the pandemic, tech innovation and geopolitics, among a range of other issues. The agenda spans everything from a conversation with the president of FIFA to a session titled “A Look into the Metaverse.” Philanthropy is a focus of the convention as well, including multiple sessions on ESG — or environmental, social and governance investing.

The conference features leading names across business, government, media and entertainment — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, MSNBC President Rashida Jones, actor and author Jamie Lee Curtis and more. Notable Jewish names among the presenters include Mnuchin, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Google CFO Ruth Porat, Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, writer Bari Weiss, actor Tiffany Haddish, Meta executive Nicola Mendelsohn, Israeli Chief Scientist Gideon Friedmann and, of course, Michael Milken, the former financier and philanthropist for whom the institute and conference are named.

The conference also includes a handful of Jewish and Israel-related events: A series of events touches on Israel’s role in fostering tech and energy innovation, including an invite-only session on natural gas and sovereign wealth funds in the eastern Mediterranean. In addition, Greenblatt will be discussing his new book about hate and how to combat it, It Could Happen Here. Greenblatt’s event comes on the heels of an ADL audit showing a record number of antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2021.

“This will take a whole-of-society approach from all sectors – business, political, nonprofit and community alike,” Greenblatt told eJP. “In speaking with business leaders at the Milken Conference, I plan to raise awareness to these problems and offer tangible steps for industry leaders and corporations to take to help stem the tide of extremism and hate.” In his book, Greenblatt’s recommendations to businesses include public advocacy by CEOs, an ad boycott like the one the ADL organized against Facebook in 2020 and ensuring fair labor practices.


A new $135 million facility hopes to bomb-proof Israel’s blood supply


In the summer of 2014, when Israel fought its longest and most intense war with Hamas in Gaza, the emergency medical service Magen David Adom (MDA) faced a dire problem — how to continue processing blood donations while keeping its blood bank and processing facility safe from incoming missiles. Now, eight years later, MDA is opening a new facility that will be protected from conventional, biological and chemical weapons, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.

A new reality: The center costs $135 million, which is largely coming from American donors including Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus. A dedication ceremony will take place on Monday for the 500,000-square-foot facility, which is expected to open within three months. The center is the latest medical institution in Israel to embark on a major construction project in order to bomb-proof its activity, including hospitals in Haifa and Tel Aviv.

Safeguarding blood: “We really had to think about a missile attack and what would happen to the national blood supply of Israel if a missile were to hit the current blood center,” Catherine Reed, CEO of American Friends of Magen David Adom, the group’s U.S. fundraising arm, told eJP. “It would be gone. And that would be the end of the blood supply for whatever period of time it would take us to get blood from abroad.” Reed added that the American donors “??serve as an example to the Israelis who have the ability to give, who may not be giving at a level that’s commensurate with their ability.”

Building downward: The protective infrastructure includes reinforced concrete and blast doors. It also has backup power sources in the event of an outage. Much of the most important equipment will be housed in three underground levels that will house protected labs, a logistics center and a space for outfitting ambulances and blood mobiles. The center also includes three floors above ground for blood donation, training, staff space and a breastmilk bank.

Read the full piece here.


When we collaborate, our communities come out stronger


“This week, 1,200 Jewish communal professionals from a diverse array of organizations will convene in Cleveland for the JPro22: Going Places, Together conference in partnership with Jewish Federations of North America and with the support of our local partner, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland,” write Ilana Aisen, chief executive officer of JPro, and Shira Hutt, executive vice president of Jewish Federations of North America, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Collaboration: “The theme of JPro22 is collaboration. According to the Oxford dictionary, to collaborate is to ‘work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something.’ In today’s culture that hails independence and places the individual at the center of attention – think ‘I’-Pad and ‘I’-Phone – discussions about collaboration do not come naturally. Nor are we all comfortable with the topic. But the pandemic taught us so much about the strength of the community and the power of togetherness.”

Complementary assets: “When the idea first percolated in our minds to join JPro22 with Jewish Federations of North America’s two professional conferences, so much was at stake. We are two vastly different institutions with very different structures and cultures. Collaboration would mean compromising on branding, giving up control and adjusting conference content. But it also would mean bringing complementary assets to the table, melding the vast reach and scale of Jewish Federations with the dedicated focus of JPro on professional growth and development, pooling resources and working together towards the much larger aim of improving the vitality of the communities that we serve.”

Read the full piece here.


It’s time to bring back in-person gatherings: Here’s how


“As one of the first major Jewish organizations to hold a large in-person conference since COVID upended our lives two years ago, we have learned a lot about how to return safely to in-person gatherings at a time when the pandemic has abated, but not disappeared — a situation that may continue for a long time,” writes Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu, executive vice president of Jewish Funders Network, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Network-centric work: “While we will continue to supplement our in-person gatherings with online ones, we are an organization focused on building networks and relationships, which need human, in-person connections in order to grow and thrive. Because this is a new world that presents new challenges, we thought that sharing our experience may be of help for the broader community as more of us seek to regain the magic of ‘in person.’”

Accept (and empathize with) different viewpoints: “The pandemic touches on ideology and values, and it’s linked to our most primal fears. So, people will have different views about the necessary precautions. While there’s no way of satisfying everybody, we found that being open and transparent about our decision-making process helped. Even when people disagreed with some of our choices, they were reassured that our decisions weren’t rushed or cavalier.”

Do your homework: “In preparing for the conference and determining our COVID policies, we kept up to date on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to ensure we were complying with them. We also researched the protocols in place as of March 1 in major cities across the United States and in Israel, particularly for major venues and other gatherings.”

Don’t mix in-person and online: “Our conference was fully in-person, with no opportunities for Zooming in. This disappointed some of our members, but we felt like hybrid events provide a less-than-optimal experience for the in-person participants and the online ones, while placing excessive burdens on speakers and presenters trying to include both.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Little Philanthropists: Preschool students at the Learning Experience in New Albany, Ohio, are taking Philanthropy 101 and raising money to benefit children in the Make-A-Wish program, Jamilah Muhammad reports for Spectrum News: “‘It’s the size of your heart that matters and not just your ability to do certain things. It’s just about kindness and what you can do for other people,’ said Rachel Phillips, a classroom teacher for the 3- and 4-year-olds… [Phillips] said it’s important kids not only know their ABC’s, but know how to empathize and care for others. Throughout the month, they’ve had the chance to learn about Make-A-Wish and meet some of the kids in the program. Phillips said while sickness can be a complex idea for kids, it’s important to learn that there’s no age limit to giving back.” [SpectrumNews]

Muslim Charitable Giving: 
Ramadan may be best known as a month of fasting, but it is also a month of charitable giving, when Muslims set aside 2.5% of their wealth for zakat (charitable giving), Liam Stack writes in The New York Times: “Last year, the Islamic Center at New York University raised $2.5 million that was distributed in small grants to needy New Yorkers of all faiths, [Islamic Center executive director] Khalid Latif said. This year, it has raised over $600,000 in humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. ‘Ramadan wants to instill in people a different sense of awareness and consciousness,’ said Mr. Latif. ‘How we are all connected to each other, and how we all depend on each other. Your relationship to others in the community is heavily stressed in Islam.’” [NYT]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

As Israel marks its 74th anniversary on Thursday, the population of the country stands at 9.5 million, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics announced Sunday. That includes nearly 7.02 million Jews, accounting for 73.9% of the population; 2 million Arabs, just over 20% of the population; and 478,000 members of other groups, amounting to 5% of the population. About 79% of Israel’s Jews are native-born…

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust will invest $22.5 million in the Reaching the Last Mile Fund, a 10-year, multi-donor fund launched by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, to eliminate neglected tropical diseases in Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan…

TheRockefeller Foundation announced the launch of a two-year, $55 million initiative to support country-led vaccine efforts in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean…

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation launched an inclusive governance strategy that aims to promote the efforts of underserved populations — especially women and youth — to exercise power to make government more responsive to their needs…

According to “The Transformation of L&D: Learning leads the way through the Great Reshuffle,” a new report from LinkedIn Learning, “The gap between skills possessed by employees and those needed to function going forward has widened since 2021, and executives are increasingly concerned their employees do not have the right skills to execute on strategy”…

Max Glauben, a Holocaust survivor who was among the founders of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, died at 94…

Former Meretz party Knesset member and social justice campaigner Ilan Gilon died at 65…

French singer and actress Regine, who laid claim to the invention of the modern discotheque and once ran a nightclub empire from Paris to Los Angeles, died at 92…

Leonie Lewis, founding director of the U.K.’s Jewish Volunteering Network, died six weeks after being diagnosed with lymphoma; Lewis was a leader of the London Jewish community and most recently mobilized a community support effort for Ukraine. In 2018 she received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), which is awarded for outstanding achievement or service to the community that has had a long-term, significant impact…

Pic of the Day

Barry Halkin

The Weizman National Museum of American Jewish History installed Brooklyn-based artist Deborah Kass’ “OY/YO” sculpture on its grounds at 5th and Market Streets in Philadelphia on Sunday, where it will be on display for at least the next 12 months.


Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former USAID contractor imprisoned by Cuba from 2009 to 2014, Alan Phillip Gross

Former lord chief justice and president of the Courts of England and Wales, Baron Harry Kenneth Woolf… Retired professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir… President of four radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, Alan Merril Gottlieb… Former member of the Texas Senate, Florence Shapiro… Co-founder and president of NCH Capital, he has funded the establishment of hundreds of Chabad Houses at universities throughout the world, George Rohr… Analyst at MSNBC, previously under secretary of state for public diplomacy and managing editor of Time MagazineRichard Allen “Rick” Stengel… Member of the New York State Assembly, David Weprin… Former U.S. secretary of commerce, now chair of PSP Capital Partners, Penny Sue Pritzker… Partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, she is active on many nonprofit boards including Penn Law School and The Jewish Federations of North America, Jodi J. Schwartz… Admiral in the IDF, he served as the commander of the Israeli navy, Ram Rothberg… Director of the Chabad Center in Bratislava, Slovakia, Rabbi Baruch Myers… Founder and CEO of Shutterstock, Jonathan E. Oringer… Deputy chief of staff to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Stephen Schatz… DC-based CBS News correspondent, Julianna Goldman… Founder and president of ETS Advisory, Emily Tisch Sussman… Judicial law clerk at the USDC in Brooklyn, Gabe Cahn… Director of development at Cornell Hillel, Susanna K. Cohen

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