Your Daily Phil: A new seminary CEO in LA + Debuting a column by Erica Brown

Good Friday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we debut a new column on the weekly Torah portion by Y.U.’s Erica Brown, profile Rabbi Joshua Hoffman, the incoming head of a transdenominational rabbinical seminary, and feature op-eds by HUC-JIR’s Steven Windmueller on L.A.’s Jewish community and by psychologist Betsy Stone on children’s mental health. Also in this newsletter: Donna Hall, Kimberly K. Querrey, Dina Powell McCormick and Jeff Bezos. We’ll start with calls for Adidas to drop Kanye West.

The Anti-Defamation League and the U.K.’s Campaign Against Antisemitism are both calling on sneaker and sportwear giant Adidas to drop its partnership with Yeezy, Kanye West’s fashion label, following West’s spate of antisemitic remarks.

West has repeated prolific range of age-old antisemitic stereotypes since he tweeted earlier this month that he would go “death con 3” on Jews, a butchered reference to the U.S. military’s DEFCON. The hip-hop artist, who now goes by Ye, has since trumpeted tropes about conspiratorial Jewish control of finance, the entertainment industry and the media. He has also repeatedly said that Blacks are the true Jews, another longstanding antisemitic claim.

Adidas has partnered with West since 2013, and in August, CEO Kasper Rorsted told CNBC that West was the apparel brand’s “most important partner worldwide.” According to the Washington Post, Yeezy generates some $2 billion annually for Adidas. But Adidas’ partnership with Yeezy has been under review for two weeks, after West wore a “White Lives Matter” shirt at a Paris Fashion Week and began criticizing Adidas and Rorsted online.

Now, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt is asking Adidas in an open letter to drop West entirely, especially given that antisemitism in the U.S. has risen in recent years. Private outreach to the company, he told eJewishPhilanthropy, was unsuccessful.

“Over the last few weeks we’ve seen Kanye West emerge as perhaps the most public and unapologetic antisemite in memory,” Greenblatt told eJP. “In the private, behind-the-scenes outreach [to Adidas], we did not see the sense of accountability, nor the urgency, that we think was essential in this situation… What else is there to review?”

Adidas is scheduled to release new Yeezy sneakers today and tomorrow which, Greenblatt noted, are in the run-up to Oct. 27, the day the Pittsburgh synagogue attack happened in 2018. “That is adding insult to injury,” he said. “The idea that this didn’t occur to someone at Adidas is astounding.”

Adidas was a partner to one of the ADL’s highest-profile corporate actions, a temporary ad boycott of Facebook by more than 1,200 businesses in 2020 to protest its treatment of hate speech on its platform. Greenblatt said he’s “very” surprised Adidas hasn’t dropped West yet given that its predecessor corporation supplied the Nazi army.

“This is a company that traces its roots back to Germany during the Holocaust, this is a company that did official business with the Third Reich,” he said. “To think that they are not taking this, not just seriously, but treating this urgently, is shocking. It’s appalling.”

The petition by the Campaign Against Antisemitism similarly said that by continuing the Yeezy partnership, “Adidas would be demonstrating that it does not care about racism against Jews.”

Adidas did not respond to eJP’s request for comment.


Rabbi Joshua Hoffman named new CEO of the transdenominational Academy for Jewish Religion in California

Courtesy of Rabbi Joshua Hoffman

During the pandemic, Rabbi Joshua Hoffman — then a pulpit rabbi at Conservative congregation Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, Calif. — did what many pulpit rabbis did during that time of isolation, turmoil and uncertainty: He took to technology to connect with congregants. Pandemic pivots such as his have made the perfect case for an embrace of transdenominational Judaism, Hoffman believes. And he is now in a position to make that case as he becomes the next CEO and president of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California (AJRCA), reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Adapting out of necessity: Despite his Conservative ordination, Hoffman advocates for a Judaism that is not bound by any specific movement, and instead can emphasize accessibility and flexibility in order to meet the changing needs of increasingly diverse Jewish communities. As people embraced technology for services and classes, it was an extension of the “adapting out of necessity… that the Jewish people have been doing for millennia, and that keeps us vibrant and thriving in every generation,” Hoffman told eJP. “The very spirit of approaching Jewish life with a sense of enthusiasm about what Judaism is going to become, as opposed to preserving what it was, is something that I’ve been practicing in my studies and in the first years of my congregation, and now [I] have the opportunity to lead a seminary that really has situated itself at the center of transformational Judaism, trans-denominational Judaism, which is I think, where where we are at as a community at this time.”

Navigating intricacies: Hoffman said he became a rabbi because he wanted to contribute to the world “with a sense of dignity, intellectual curiosity and pragmatism, that is so vital for our lives and every generation.” His pulpit experience taught him how to navigate various programs within an institution, to “bring the right kinds of resources and the right kind of support to each of those programs without placing one as a favored arm of the institution over another,” he said.

By the numbers: AJRCA currently has 73 students from 17 U.S. states, either fully matriculated in degree programs or taking classes, and 180 alumni of its rabbinic and cantorial ordination and master’s degree programs, including 105 rabbis. Alumni have found jobs as clergy, educators and chaplains at a variety of large and small synagogues, organizations and institutions nationwide. Hoffman, who started on Oct. 1, said he is still discovering the fiscal health of the organization, but estimated the annual budget of the school as less than $5 million per year. The school has a staff of 10, and receives significant support from board members and alumni. Hoffman added that the institution is “poised to solicit significant funding from granting institutions” as well.

Read the full story here.


A garden of possibility

Introducing a new weekly column, “The Torah of Leadership,” by Erica Brown, the vice provost for Values and Leadership at Yeshiva University and the founding director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership. 

“The joy of starting the Torah cycle again is twinned with the sense of new interpretive possibilities that once again unfold. We may have read the first chapter of Genesis dozens, if not hundreds of times, but we bring a new self to it this week, a self that is a year older and made wiser through new experiences and insights,” writes Erica Brown, vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University, in this week’s column for eJewishPhilanthropy.

In the beginning: “We’ll begin where our most foundational story began: in a garden. Why a garden? Everything about a garden thrums with new growth and possibility. Remember those little seeds in cups we planted as young schoolchildren? Remember the excitement of watching the first green sprout appear from the soil? In a garden, we cultivate that delight again and again.”

A tree-filled world: “Richard Powers in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Overstory, writes, ‘This is not our world with trees in it. It’s a world of trees, where humans have just arrived.’ The book of Genesis opens with the verdancy of a tree-filled world. We humans only arrive later. On the third day, God said, “‘Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so.”

Read the full inaugural column here.


Trendspotting from L.A.

Layland Masuda

“Will Los Angeles trends define the Jewish future? Will being seen as being on the front lines of change, and being responsive to various social trends, promote creative action and impact future decision-making?” asks Steven Windmueller, emeritus professor of Jewish communal studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Major communal research: “While this supposition may be difficult to confirm, the recently released L.A. Jewish Population Study should nonetheless be seen as a major research undertaking likely to impact policy and practice in this community and beyond. If indeed the West today is setting the cultural and social motifs of this society, then the data here may have some long-term defining influence in shaping 21st-century American Jewish life.”

Community studies data: “Since 2005, the Cohen Center at Brandeis has produced some 25 community studies, with six more now being completed. Collectively, this body of data is most certainly creating a new American Jewish storyline about how Jews understand the role and place of Judaism in their 21st-century lives and what might be the implications of these demographic outcomes on Jewish institutional practice and performance.”

Proactive, not reactive needs: “As with other communities, L.A. is seeing the impact of demographic realities, economic factors and generational practices, as we experience institutional mergers, downsizing and closures. Rather than operating in a reactionary mode, we will need to embrace a proactive plan that can anticipate such structural changes as we prepare the community for these transformative outcomes.”

Read the full piece here.


Changing paths


“Another summer is in the books and another school year has begun. Camps report another year of disordered eating, self-injury and panic attacks among kids and staff. Our children are not OK. They struggle with depression, anxiety, increased aggression and issues of independence,” writes retired psychologist Betsy Stone, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Lives lived: “We have lived through a series of historical events: COVID-19, the murder of George Floyd, Colleyville, Charlottesville and Tree of Life, January 6, Dobbs, the war in Ukraine. We are living proof of the traditional curse, ‘May you live in interesting times.’”

Relearning community: “What if we begin to look at the future through the lens of where we are today, rather than where we have been? What have we learned about human beings, and how do we support the people around us? How do we relate to our own fears and the sorrows of others? We must relearn community, creating rules that allow for personal choices and space.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Nurturing Women Donors: Women are stepping up and more excited than ever to give, post-pandemic, Donna Hall, CEO of the Women Donors Network, told The Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s Rasheeda Childress. “The most immediate challenge organizations face is economic uncertainty, which Hall said is leading charities to wonder if they can depend on their donors to continue to give. ‘One challenge is to help those who can make multiyear commitments and keep them so that these organizations can continue to do their work over a sustained period,’ she said. ‘The kind of change we’re looking for doesn’t come in six months or a year.’ Moving forward, Hall sees an opportunity in giving more women donors the chance to work together. ‘Women are collaborative by nature; they like making group decisions. Our women really like pooling money. I think that there should be a lot more effort to help women do that. It’s productive for the women, and it’s economically advantageous. When people join together and they send one large gift instead of 100 small ones, that makes a lot less work for any particular organization.’” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Tomorrow’s Giving: 
Nonprofits have an outmoded business model that doesn’t bode well for them in the future, Ray Gary writes in NonProfitPRO. Gary provides a list of ways the next generation of giving will look different from today’s, including the acceleration of digital tools and the growing domination of micro-campaigns. “Ordering and delivery of food and consumer goods, telemedicine and hosting business meetings over Zoom — all of these things were already in play before COVID-19. But they really took off as the pandemic took hold. Similarly, the nature of today’s digitally driven society has profound implications for how the nonprofit world must interact with donors. At the end of the day, donors bring the same expectations of streamlined, accessible and responsive experiences to their giving experience. It’s imperative for nonprofits to invest in their donor experience by leveraging technology to make it easy for donors to find, interact, follow and give to their cause. Nonprofit organizations who fail to make this investment aren’t just lagging behind, they run the risk of being obsolete as the population expectations move forward…The days of outbound nonprofit campaigns that rely on multi-layered, legacy infrastructures are numbered. As digital fluency takes greater hold of society, traditional outbound campaigns will evolve in step with a lighter, nimbler array of micro-campaigns — response mechanisms that reflect the always-on, social media-based fabric of our daily lives.” [NonProfitPRO]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Four Pittsburgh-based foundations – the Henry L. Hillman FoundationHeinz Endowments, the PNC Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation – have each committed to a minimum $1 million gift to the Remember. Rebuild. Renew. campaign supporting the reimagined Tree of Life synagogue…

Northwestern University announced a $121 million gift from Kimberly K. Querrey and the estate of her late husband, alumnus Louis Simpson, in support of programs and initiatives at the Feinberg School of Medicine and the Kellogg School of Management

The Kresge Foundation announced $7 million in grants and social investments to support entities that co-develop solar projects in underserved areas across the United States…

Goldman Sachs executive Dina Powell McCormick will become the new chair of the Robin Hood Foundation, which is supported by Wall Street executives and has donated  $3 billion to anti-poverty groups over the past three decades…

Pic of the Day

Galileo Foundation

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, with his partner Lauren Sanchez, at an interfaith philanthropy summit at the Vatican, where Bezos was given the Prophets of Philanthropy award by the Galileo Foundation. Bezos was honored jointly with chef José Andrés, founder of the humanitarian relief group World Central Kitchen.


Getty Images for Children’s Diabetes Foundation

Emmy Award-winning reality courtroom personality, “Judge Judy,” Judith Sheindlin turns 80…

FRIDAY: News anchor who worked for 36 years in Philadelphia, and author of three books on the Beatles, Larry Kane(born Lawrence Kanowitz)… Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard University, Shaye J. D. Cohen… Beverly Hills resident, she is a national executive board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Terri Smooke… Former prime minister of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu… Novelist, screenwriter, journalist and film producer, Amy Laura Ephron… Cardiologist and medical director at the Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, Dr. Nieca Goldberg… Legislative director for Massachusetts state senator Jo Comerford, Brian Rosman… Managing principal and chief investment officer at Penso Advisors, Ari Bergmann… Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla… Austin-based commercial insurance consultant, Mitchell B. Davis… President and CEO of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, David L. Bernstein… Emmy Award-winning television producer best known for her work on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” Marci Klein… Folk and folk-rock musician, he serves as the treasurer of The William Davidson Foundation, Ethan Daniel Davidson… Executive editor of PoliticoDafna Linzer… Classical composer and pianist, she is a graduate of Julliard, Lera Auerbach… Acting administrator and assistant secretary for aging at HHS’s Administration for Community Living, Alison Barkoff… Mayor of Phoenix, Kate Widland Gallego… Israeli musician, model and actress, Ninet Tayeb… Director of Jewish community relations and government affairs at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Joshua Sayles… Dori Tenenbaum… Chief information officer at Aish Global, Dan Hazony… Jerusalem-based journalist, originally from Seattle, Eliana Rudee… Actress, model and writer, Hari Nef… Recent medical school graduate at the University of Tel Aviv, Stuart “Shimmy” Jesin… Occupational therapist, Yael Applebaum…

SATURDAY: Australian billionaire and longtime chairman of Westfield Corporation, Frank Lowy… Pioneer of the venture capital and private equity industries, Alan Patricof… Retired EVP of the Orthodox Union, he was previously chairman of NYC-based law firm Proskauer Rose, Allen Fagin… Actor who starred in many high-grossing films such as “Jurassic Park,” “Independence Day” and sequels of both of those, Jeff Goldblum… Agent for artists, sculptors and photographers, he is a son of Lillian Vernon, David Hochberg… Retired vice-chair of SKDK, she was the longtime CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, Hilary Rosen turns 64… Composer and lyricist, he has won a Grammy, an Emmy and a Tony, and been nominated for seven Oscars, Marc Shaiman… Author of two novels and three other books, Susan Jane Gilman… Bethesda, Md., resident, Eric Matthew Fingerhut… Chief of staff of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Michelle Gordon… Actor best known for playing D.J. Conner on the long-running series “Roseanne” and its spin-off show, “The Conners,” Michael Fishman… Partner at West End Strategy Team, Samantha Friedman Kupferman… Dana Tarley Sicherman… Psychotherapist with a private practice in White Plains, Maayan Tregerman… Journalist and author, Ross Barkan… Actor and producer, best known for his roles as a child actor starting at 6 years old, Jonathan Lipnicki… Israeli singer, Omer Adam… Freelance reporter, Ryan Torok

SUNDAY: Chairman emeritus of the shopping mall developer Simon Property Group and the principal owner of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, Herbert “Herb” Simon… Distinguished professor of American and Jewish Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz, Gerald Sorin… Attorney best known for his role as special master for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and for similar roles in a number of mass torts, Kenneth Feinberg… Filmmaker, actor and producer famous for creating the cult horror “Evil Dead” series, as well as directing the original “Spider-Man” trilogy, Sam Raimi… Founder and CEO of global outsourcing company TeleTech with 62,000 employees on six continents, Kenneth D. Tuchman… Founder of the New Democrat Network and the New Policy Institute, Simon Rosenberg… Former editor-in-chief of The New York ObserverKenneth Kurson… Film director, producer and talent agent, Trevor Engelson… VP of communal relations at J Street, Shaina Wasserman… President of Renco Group, Ari Rennert… Senior advisor to the director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Allison Preiss… Director of development at Ein Prat The Midrasha, Ayelet Kahane… Associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Hogan Lovells, Annika Lichtenbaum… Special assistant at the U.S. Department of Labor, Rachel Shabad… Director of business strategy and corporate development at Barstool Sports, Allison Rachesky… Richard Rubenstein…

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