Your Daily Phil: A new center advancing Rabbi Sacks’ legacy + An obscure U. of California scholarship
Good Tuesday morning!
In today’s Your Daily Phil, we cover an obscure Jewish scholarship at University of California schools, and feature an op-ed by Alex Sinclair and Jonathan Kessler sharing results from a recent roundtable of emerging Jewish thought leaders. Also in this newsletter: Martin Perlmutter, Els Salomon-Prins Bendheim, Pamela Lewis Kanfer and Marc Worth. We’ll start with a new Israeli educational institute advancing the teachings of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
At a time of polarization among Jews in Israel and around the world, Israel’s Bar-Ilan University is seeking to establish an educational and research institute focused on studying the teachings of the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who aimed to advance pluralism.
“I think Rabbi Sacks was a unique religious leader, unique both as a rabbi and as a religious leader in general,” professor Jonathan Rynhold, head of the university’s political studies department, which has begun designing the institute’s infrastructure and study program, told eJewishPhilanthropy on Monday. Rynhold added that Sacks “stands out as a powerful, passionate, articulate voice for bridging these differences – religion and science, individual and community, universal and particular, tradition and modernity.”
Sacks, who died in November 2020, served as the chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth in the United Kingdom from 1991-2013. He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II and was awarded a life peerage in the House of Lords.
Rynhold, who shared with eJP a detailed proposal for the new institute, said that plans for the new center’s research and study programs would be formally announced this week at a two-day conference dedicated to Sacks’ legacy, which is being held at the university starting this evening. A similar institute — the Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership — was founded at Yeshiva University in 2021.?
Rynhold said the conference and the creation of such an institute were particularly essential today because “we are living in… a world in which the loudest voices and the strongest accusations dominate discussion,” and, he said, Rabbi Sacks found a way to speak to everyone.
One of the central elements of the new institute will be the creation of a study program centered on democracy, citizenship and leadership. Of the 20 students to be selected for the program, four spaces will be reserved for Haredi students and four for Arab students, said Rynhold. The proposal also includes M.A. and Ph.D. graduate degree programs, an advanced interdisciplinary seminar, a visiting lectureship and an annual “public intellectual” prize.
“I think that what Rabbi Sacks does is he finds a way within the Jewish religious tradition to see the dignity of every other human being,” Rynhold said, pointing out that in Sacks’ writings, one of the points he outlines is “how we can go about building a society in which different groups can work together to maintain a free and democratic society, a society that reflects the Jewish religious tradition, not in its state institutions, but in the quality of the way it looks after its citizens.”
Read the full story here.
Why there’s a University of California scholarship for Jewish orphans studying aeronautical engineering
Joshua Cook didn’t know the backstory of the Malcolm R. Stacey Memorial Scholarship when he applied for it in 2016 while attending University of California, Irvine; he just knew that his advisor recommended he shoot for it. The scholarship was initially intended for Jewish orphans with financial need who were studying aeronautical engineering, and Cook didn’t exactly qualify, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Jay Deitcher.
Narrow terms: The scholarship was established in 1977 by Harriette Stormes, a computer operator in the payroll and accounting department at Standard Oil in San Francisco who graduated from UC Berkeley in 1926, in honor of her late son, Malcolm R. Stacey. Stormes is no longer alive, but the scholarship and its narrow terms live on. Today, on the UC common scholarship application, under “ethnicity, national origin, or religion,” there’s still a dropdown option for “Jewish orphan studying aeronautical engineering.” On one version of the online application, it’s sandwiched directly between checkboxes for students of Swedish and Mexican descent.
Ballooning: From 1977, when the scholarship launched with $350,000, to 1987, no one qualified for the Malcolm R. Stacey Memorial Scholarship under its original terms. After a decade of sitting in the bank, the endowment had bloated to more than $900,000, the equivalent of more than $2 million today. The UC Financial Aid and Loan Collection Office took the Malcolm R. Stacey Memorial Scholarship to court, and today, it’s much easier to attain.
Discussion and discomfort: lessons from a roundtable conversation
“In a recent piece on these virtual pages, Heart of a Nation described a roundtable conversation we facilitated in which a selection of American Jewish thought leaders was encouraged to talk among themselves about their red lines regarding conversation and dialogue. We wanted to know how they determined with whom they would and wouldn’t engage. Many valuable insights were shared. We’ve subsequently followed up with another roundtable, this time with a group of six emerging thought leaders in high school and in college, some of whom are active on campus with AIPAC or J Street, while others are not yet affiliated with any national organization,” write Heart of a Nation’s Alex Sinclair and Jonathan Kessler, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
New audiences, new insights: “A moderator their own age asked them the same questions that the first group had been asked; we observed silently, interested to see if the conversation might play out differently. The conversation was rich with new insights, anecdotes and recommendations. Three main themes stuck out: Intent matters most, growth requires dialogue and people deserve respect.”
Intent, from two perspectives: “In our first conversation with the American Jewish leaders, the idea of intent came up a lot, mostly in a self-reflective way about their own intent. Why was I going into this conversation? What might I have to lose? How can I hone my own thought process about whether or not this is a good idea? Intent was a major theme for the young people too, but from the opposite perspective. They were thinking about the intent of the other person. Does this potential interlocutor have malicious intentions? Where are they ‘coming from?’ Are their problematic positions the result of ignorance through no fault of their own? Can I stretch myself to be more patient with their missteps or prejudices? These young people seemed willing to go much further than their older counterparts in identifying and separating out the range of possible motives of the other person and using that as a criterion in their decision whether or not to engage.”
Home of Loans: An impact-lending program that began in March 2020, when San Francisco-based nonprofit Hebrew Free Loan received a record number of loan applications and reached out to the local Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund for help, recently funded a $250,000 loan to Oakstop, a combination coworking, event and gallery space, with five locations in Oakland and one in Richmond, Calif., writes Lillian Ilsley-Greene in J: The Jewish News of Northern California. “By April, the Federation had raised $5 million from donors and supporting foundations and added another $1 million from its own coffers. Hebrew Free Loan was presented with a $6 million loan to be paid back in full after five years, which helped the nonprofit make 359 more loans to the community… As of May 2022, the Federation had pooled a total of $21.1 million for the impact lending program, spreading those funds to 13 community-based lending partners…” [J.]
Sharing Power with Parents: When a group of parents, pediatricians, nonprofit leaders and donors gathered to talk about healthy childhood development, some of the language medical professionals used alienated the people and communities the group hoped to support, Mia Halthon writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. So they replaced the medical terminology with language preferred by the parents. “This seemingly minor adjustment reverberated throughout the coalition. Parent leaders and families in their networks became more invested in shaping the emerging field of early relational health because they knew their lived experiences and expertise were valued and respected. The group’s work was more accessible and had a wider reach because we took time to incorporate diverse viewpoints that span ideological, racial, socioeconomic, and geographical differences. While there is much talk within philanthropy about bringing people with diverse experiences to the table, it’s clear more still needs to be done to ensure that community members are given opportunities for participation and decision making equal to the so-called traditional experts…It takes time to build trusting partnerships with parents and others whose expertise derives to an important degree from their own life experiences. For grant makers, these relationships are fundamental to achieving lasting results in the communities they support and should be a central focus of any effective investment strategy.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]
Around the Web
After weeks of severe weather and flooding in the San Francisco Bay Area, community foundations are partnering across local counties to provide disaster relief funding to local nonprofits…
After a process lasting 20 years, Hillel of San Diegoopened The Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center, an $18.7 million, 6,500-square-foot facility. The three buildings of the center are clustered around a central courtyard on a one-acre campus next to San Diego State University. A lawsuit from a group called Taxpayers for Responsible Land Use — claiming the project presented “potential impacts to aesthetics, community character, land use, traffic, parking, and growth”— was dismissed in 2018…
The Belfer family, a New York oil dynasty that was also a client of Bernie Madoff and lost a major investment in the demise of Enron, had also invested in the recently collapsed crypto company FTX, according to court documents. The Belfer family has supported many organizations and institutions, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yeshiva University…
Martin Perlmutter, director of the College of Charleston’s Jewish Studies Program from 1991 until his retirement in 2019, died at 79. Perlmutter helped launch the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, among other contributions…
Els Salomon-Prins Bendheim, who founded Yad Sarah, died at 99. She and her late husband Charles were founders of both Manhattan Day School and Yeshiva University High School for Girls. She also donated to the Yad Sarah health service organization in Israel and Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. She had seven children, 45 grandchildren, 209 great-grandchildren and 37 great-great-grandchildren…
Pamela Lewis Kanfer, a reading teacher who pushed for changes to Ohio state law to better serve dyslexic students, and a founding trustee of the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, died at 72. In the mid-1990s, she advanced the idea that Purell, then a little-known product being sold to medical facilities, had potential in the consumer market. In March, Kanfer was meant to receive the H. Peter Burg Community Leader Award from the American Red Cross…
Marc Worth, a British philanthropist, chair of UK Israel Business and founder of the festivals Tel Aviv in London and London in Tel Aviv, which took place in 2017 and 2019 respectively, died at 61…
Pic of the Day
Participants in Masa Israel Journey’s five-day Global Leadership Summit met last week with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at his residence in Jerusalem.
Film and stage actor best known for his roles on “The West Wing” and “The Big Bang Theory,” Joshua Malina…
Former two-term member of Congress from Iowa, he is the father-in-law of Chelsea Clinton, Edward Mezvinsky… Host of television’s tabloid talk show “Maury,” originally known as the “Maury Povich Show,” Maury Povich… Former reporter, columnist and editor covering religion, education and NYC neighborhoods for The New York Times, he is the author of four books, Joseph Berger… Retired president of the Supreme Court of Israel, now teaching at University of Haifa Law School, Asher Dan Grunis… Australia’s chief scientist until last year, he is an engineer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and former chancellor of Monash University, Alan Finkel… Economist, professor, New York Times best-selling author and social entrepreneur, he has written eleven books and is the founder of six companies, Paul Zane Pilzer… President and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, Steve Rabinowitz… Journalist-in-residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Joanne Kenen… Chair of zoology at the University of Wyoming, she was the Democratic nominee in the 2020 U.S. Senate election in Wyoming, Merav Ben-David… Majority owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans and dozens of other companies, Dan Gilbert… Professor of Law at Harvard University, Jesse M. Fried… Film director, television director, screenwriter and film producer, Bartholomew “Bart” Freundlich… President at NYC-based Rosewood Realty Group, Aaron Jungreis… President of the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute, previously a member of the Knesset for the Kadima party, Yohanan Plesner… D.C.-based partner at PR firm FGS Global, Jeremy Pelofsky… Professional dancer who has competed in 17 seasons of “Dancing with the Stars,” Maksim Chmerkovskiy… Film and television actor, Scott Mechlowicz… Director for foundation relations at J Street, Becca Freedman... CEO of Gather Inc., Rachel Gildiner… Impact finance attorney in the NYC office of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Perry Isaac Teicher… Film and television actor, Max Adler… Retired player for MLB’s San Diego Padres, he also played for Team Israel in 2013 and 2017, Cody Decker… Business administrator at the City of Hoboken, Jason Freeman… Senior director at Penta Group, Rebecca Berg Buck… Digital media director for U.S. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Alyssa Franke…