Your Daily Phil: A new group for Jewish day camps + NYC’s support for Holocaust survivors

Good Tuesday morning!

UJA-Federation of New York is asking the New York City Council to maintain last year’s $4 million in funding for the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Survivors Initiative, and planning to ask next year that the mayor’s office assign the initiative to a specific agency, which would obviate the need to request new funding each year, Louisa Chafee, UJA-Fed NY’s senior vice president for public policy and external relations, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

The federation and Councilmember Mark Treyger, whose district includes the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Coney Island and Gravesend, hosted a virtual rally yesterday in support of the initiative, which provides food, health and other services for low-income Holocaust survivors. The initiative started in 2015 at $1.5 million under the sponsorship of Councilmember Rafael Espinal and is part of a $340 million pool of money controlled by the City Council that is separate from the broader $98 billion budget, Chafee said

“Data and logic show is that while the population shrinks over time, the complexity of aging combined with the factor of surviving the trauma of the Holocaust adds to the complexity of serving Holocaust survivors,” Chafee said.

About half of New York City’s 35,000 Holocaust survivors live in poverty, Chafee said. Most financial support for survivors comes from the German government through the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, but the U.S. federal and New York State budgets also include funds earmarked for this group. The city must pass the budget by July 1.


Day camps get their moment in the sun


As COVID-19 vaccination rates rise across the country , some Jewish day camps are seeing higher-than-expected registration rates, Aaron Greenbeger, the founder of Jewish Day Camp Network (JCDN), a new organization created specifically to serve them, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Career move: “I never thought I would be an entrepreneur,” said Aaron Greenberg, a former JCC employee who was laid off when pandemic-related stay-at-home orders forced JCCs to shut their doors. At that time, overnight camps cancelled their summer seasons, and the prospects for day camps looked grim. Some did manage to open, however, and he realized his services might still be needed, which spurred him to create the JCDN. “I have a social work degree. I joined the field because I was a JCC kid, and a BBYO kid,” he said.

The financial engine: Day camps do not enjoy the same mystique that surrounds Jewish overnight camp. The sleepaway camp experience is so beloved that it’s been enshrined in such pop culture staples as the movie “Wet Hot American Summer” and has even been turned into adult programming by Trybal Gatherings, a nonprofit that brings millennials and Gen Zers to campgrounds for Jewish weekend experiences that offer both spiritual and romantic possibilities. Overnight camps’ daytime counterparts, however, are important both as a source of Jewish education for children who might not go to overnight camp, and as a generator of revenue for the institutions to which many of them are attached. “Day camps drive the rest of the machine,” said Greenberg, who for 16 summers ran the JCC camps at Medford in southern New Jersey. “They’re why we had an $800,000 surplus at the end of each summer.”  

Business model: According to the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), there were about 300 Jewish day camps in 2019. Of that group, 157 participated in the FJC’s 2019 census, which recorded 15,000 total staff members serving 75,454 campers. About 140 day camps opened last summer, said FJC CEO Jeremy Fingerman, which provided a strong foundation for enrollment this summer. About 25 of Greenberg’s members are “concierge” clients who receive his consulting on such topics as whether they should seek accreditation by the American Camp Association — he says yes — and how to cope with capacity restrictions and other pandemic-related challenges. The non-concierge members pay a subscription fee to receive a weekly email and access to webinars. All the network members are nonprofits, and all of them have a Jewish mission that typically includes a form of Shabbat observance and some Israel education.

Read the full story here.


Turning a synagogue into a Jewish cultural campus


“Temple Beth Am in Miami is a large Reform congregation that owes much of its success to the vision of its founding rabbi, Rabbi Herbert Baumgard, z”l. A pioneering rabbi in many respects, Rabbi Baumgard’s lasting legacy is punctuated by his belief that in order to flourish and remain viable, Temple Beth Am needed an exemplary Jewish day school,” writes Rabbi Jeremy Barras in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

The way we were: “About five years ago, one year after I arrived, one of our major donors was waiting for his wife while she attended a program on campus. He went for a stroll around campus and recognized that our relatively new main sanctuary and administrative building was incongruent with the outdated and much older remaining buildings on campus. He engaged me in a conversation about our congregation’s future and it became clear that in order for our day school to succeed, it would have to be as technologically advanced as the other excellent public and private schools in our area.” 

Game changer: “As we began to conceptualize a capital campaign whose main goal was to rebuild our school, we realized that we could also utilize this campaign as an opportunity to transform the way our Temple functioned as well. Believing that old models of rolling out a mish-mosh of programs, prayer services and learning opportunities no longer captivated the masses, we developed a vision that would constitute a Jewish ‘game-changer’ for our neighborhood and our community.”

A new home: “Enter the 88th St. Center. While this is not yet the official name for our new cultural and activity center, we decided to build a new building that could serve as a central home for our community. Our vision is that this new center will be a downtown Jewish campus that could become our community’s home away from home. After studying the best program centers in the Jewish world, we attempted to design a campus that could offer the widest range of cultural opportunities available.”

Read the full piece here.


Disagreeing over much more than we thought possible


“We have found it impossible for honest open discussion between Jews about Israel to avoid disagreements along the way,” write Robbie Gringras and Alex Pomson in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Deficiencies: “The current crisis facing the Jewish world in relation to Israel is not only a result of events in Israel and Gaza, but also the reflection of ongoing deficiencies in Israel Education vis-a-vis the ‘conflict.’ Avoidance or simplification were never enough, and they are certainly neither sufficient nor possible today.”

Complexity: “For much of the last decade we had thought that advocating for “complexity” in Israel education might help this enterprise find a way out from the cramped corner in which it was stuck in the uncomfortable company of the ‘conflict. ‘Complexity’ would make it possible to address the relationship between Israel’s dynamic and sometimes disturbing qualities, and Diaspora Jewry’s dynamic and sometimes disturbing qualities. 

Different definitions: “Many different Israel education and advocacy organizations have indeed adopted this word. Yet over time we have begun to realize that everyone has chosen to define the word in their own image. As a result, we no longer know if ‘complexity’ is a euphemism, a derogative, a content description, a pedagogical approach, or a smokescreen.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

? Early Take: In Inside Philanthropy, Philip Rojc analyzes the initial grants of the $500 million committed to racial equity last December by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), and finds a both a shift in grantmaking strategy and a politically savvy move by CZI to mitigate the problem of its association with Facebook, which has been criticized for being insufficiently aggressive in its policing of hate speech. The first 11 gifts, to a diverse array of populations and strategies, demonstrate a new determination to support grantees by building infrastructure rather than dictate to them. “CZI and its founders have come under fire from external critics — and from the philanthropy’s current and former employees — for harboring blind spots around racial equity and white supremacy,” Rojc observes. “In such a climate, there really isn’t much of a downside for CZI to move in a progressive direction on race.” [InsidePhilanthropy]

Web of Deceit: Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman dives into the decades-long relationship between Les Wexner and Jeffrey Epstein speaking to dozens of individuals who knew one or both of the men and could elaborate on their confusing and complicated relationship that often served to bolster Epstein’s standing. “Sources say Epstein occupied different roles in Wexner’s life depending on the audience…Whatever the nature of their relationship, Epstein’s long-standing connection to one of America’s richest men inarguably aided his public profile, adding to his air of legitimacy and thus his power.” [VanityFair]

Both/And: Doug Heske, a money manager, donates 5% of his firm’s revenue to nonprofits such as “EarthEcho,” a climate organization founded by Philippe Cousteau, Jr., scion of a family famous for its environmental advocacy, reports Chaka Booker in a Forbes interview with the pair that delves into their shared enthusiasm for impact investing as a means of propagating a more hopeful vision of the future. Heske favors companies who operate with a “stakeholder” approach that considers employees, customers, community and the environment rather than a “shareholder-only” approach — but says shareholders also benefit from the stakeholder approach. “Investing in companies elevates the potential for shareholders to use their power to demand that morality be present in how value is created,” Heske said. “It would be irresponsible to ignore the public investment space.” [Forbes]

? Remembering Greenwood: The Tulsa Massacre that killed as many as 300 Black residents of the Oklahoma city and destroyed 35 blocks of their prosperous Greenwood neighborhood was particularly devastating in its attack on one of the biggest post-Civil War centers of Black wealth and prosperity, yet within two decades it had been rebuilt by the community without the help of government, Patrice Onwuka writes in a blog post on the Philanthropy Roundtable’s website. In the years that followed, government policies that ended discrimination against Black people had the negative unintended consequence of diluting the economic strength of Black enclaves, and community redevelopment projects appropriated land and further eroded Black economic power. “Although rebuilding Black metropolises across America may not be feasible or even desirable, the entrepreneurial spirit, self-reliance and community-building aspects of their ancestors can be replicated to inspire future generations,” Onwuka concludes. [PhilanthropyRoundtable]

? Striking Asymmetries: When candidates need to invest significant time in the process of applying for a nonprofit job, by going through multiple rounds of interviews or submitting work products such as memos or strategy papers, nonprofits should seriously consider paying them for their time, urges commentator Vu Le on his blog, Nonprofit AF. Of course, an employer always has more power than a potential employee, but the employer should also recognize his or her own need for job applicants to fill the open position, and feel some appreciation accordingly: “Let’s make gratitude a two-way street,” Le writes. “And while we’re at it, it’s not a bad idea either to send job seekers a thank-you note for going through our laborious process instead of always expecting them to follow-up with the thank-note and punishing them when they don’t.” [NonprofitAF]

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Word on the Street

The Covenant Foundation announced the recipients of the 2021 Covenant Award, honoring three Jewish educators — Helene Drobenare-Horwitz, Anna Hartman, and Judith Turner — who are forging change in the field of Jewish education… Israel’s prospective unity government plans to implement a currently frozen deal to expand the pluralistic prayer pavilion at the Western Wall… Project Interchange, the American Jewish Committee’s signature educational institute introducing Israel to leaders from the United States and countries around the world, plans to host delegations of policymakers and opinion influencers from countries that signed the Abraham Accords last year… An abandoned synagogue in eastern Hungary is getting a facelift thanks to actress Jamie Lee Curtis… According to the recently released FEG 2021 Community Foundation Survey, community foundations continue to have more interest in responsive investing and are looking to increase exposure in private investments while decreasing exposure to hedge funds and fixed income… Canadian donors gave almost $1000 to charity, on average, according to the 2021 What Canadian Donors Want survey…

Pic of the Day


The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and a 400-person audience gathered last week in the amphitheater of ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, a provider of residential care for individuals with severe disabilities, for a concert that included a video of ADI residents playing various musical instruments.


Jewish Agency

Head of North America for the Jewish Agency and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development (JAID), Daniel Elbaum
Hebrew University mathematics professor and 2005 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Aumann… Partner in the Cincinnati-based law firm of Aronoff, Rosen & Hunt, he was a member and then Senate President of the Ohio State Senate (1967-1996), Stanley J. Aronoff… Founder of the Family Dollar Stores chain in 1959, he remained chairman and CEO until 2003, Leon Levine… Guru of alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil… South African businessman and philanthropist, formerly the Chairman of De Beers, Nicholas F. “Nicky” Oppenheimer… Hedge fund manager and founder of the Paloma Funds, Selwyn Donald Sussman… Detective novelist, best known for creating the character of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky.. Founder and CEO of Sitrick And Company, Michael Sitrick… Classical pianist, teacher and performer at the Juilliard School and winner of a Grammy Award, he is the child of Holocaust survivors, Emanuel Ax… Community affairs coordinator at UCLA’s Leve Center for Jewish Studies, Mary Enid Pinkerson… Former member of Knesset (2015-2019) from the Zionist Union party, professor at Ben-Gurion University, Yosef “Yossi” Yona… Barbara Panken… Senior advisor at Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based O2 Investment Partners, Robert Harris “Rob” Orley… Journalist, stand-up comedian and author, Aaron Freeman… AVP for campaign at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Patti Frazin… Co-founder and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets… Star of the long-running TV series “The Good Wife,” Julianna Margulies… Actor and screenwriter, married to the sister of baseball executive Theo Epstein, Daniel Paul “Dan” Futterman… Former Congresswoman (2007-2012), she survived an assassination attempt in 2011 and is married to U.S. Senator Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords… Actor who starred in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” he also wrote and created the CBS series “9JKL,” Mark Feuerstein… Executive director at Consulate Health Care in New Port Richey, Florida, Daniel Frenden… Deputy chief of staff for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Michael Emanuel Vallarelli… Senior educator at Hillel Jewish Student Center at Arizona State University, Suzy Stone… Businesswoman, art collector and founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Dasha Zhukova… Fourth generation supermarket executive at Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland, Marshall Klein… Corporate litigation associate at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, Daniel Kirshenbaum… SVP of social media for CBS News, CBS Sports and CBS Entertainment, Eric J. Kuhn… CEO of the Bnai Zion Foundation, Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm… Offensive tackle for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs until this past March, his Hebrew name is “Mendel,” Mitchell Schwartz