Your Daily Phil: Abramovich’s new partnership with Yad Vashem + Leon Cooperman’s ‘capitalism with a heart’

Good Wednesday morning!

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, and Israeli Russian businessman Roman Abramovichannounced on Tuesday a new five-year strategic partnership aimed at strengthening Yad Vashem’s endeavors in the areas of Holocaust research and remembrance.

Abramovich, the owner of the English Premier League Chelsea Football Club, is considered to be one of the wealthiest men in Israel, and has given more than $500 million to Jewish causes around the world. He also played a leading role in Chelsea’s “Say No to Antisemitism” campaign, launched in January 2018, which educates team members about antisemitism and the Holocaust. The partnership with Yad Vashem continues Abramovich’s global charitable work in promoting Holocaust research and education.

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan told eJewishPhilanthropy that he met Abramovich during the “Say No” campaign, and began discussions about a potential partnership when Dayan assumed the chairmanship last summer.

The pledged funds — the specific amount has not been made public — will help to support Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research, and will also back the creation of two new versions of the museum’s Book of Names, which contains information on more than 4.8 million individuals killed during the Holocaust. The new books are expected to be ready for use by 2023. “One of the new Books will be permanently featured at Yad Vashem, while the second will serve as a traveling commemorative display, raising global awareness of the murder of some six million Jews during the Shoah,” Dayan told eJP. “Both versions will be displayed for the public to see. The Book of Names is an additional way for people to connect to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.”

The partnership will also bolster Yad Vashem’s efforts to expand and develop its mapping of the deportations of Jews from across Europe, its project documenting “killing sites” around the former Soviet Union and its research into Holocaust history broken down by region.

“These findings have majorly contributed to our understanding of the events and history of the Holocaust as well as being the basis for meaningful Holocaust education and remembrance,” Dayan told eJP. “This new strategic partnership will expand and bolster Yad Vashem’s research activities, at a time when Holocaust distortion, denial and politicization are rising alarmingly worldwide.”


Cooperman’s credo: capitalism with a heart

Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

In a virtual conversation last week with brothers of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, investor Leon Cooperman outlined a philosophy that could be described as “work hard, give hard,” reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales. The chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors, who joined the Jewish fraternity as an undergraduate at Hunter College before going on to manage a hedge fund for 25 years, has a net worth of $2.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Overview: Cooperman encouraged his audience, should they grow wealthy, to donate generously. According to the most recent available tax forms, the Leon & Toby Cooperman Foundation gave $22 million in charity in 2019 and the beginning of 2020, including to a range of Jewish organizations. A recent article in The Washington Post, headlined “The Moral Calculations of a Billionaire,” depicted both Cooperman’s success — it reports that he made $700 million in 2021 — and his intention to give away almost all of his wealth. The article included Cooperman’s relatively modest lifestyle: He hunts for specials at Costco and drives a Hyundai, a detail he also mentioned in the AEPi talk. 

‘Share your success’: “When you have achieved financial security, share your success with others less fortunate than yourself,” he said on the call. “In the Biblical sense, we are our brothers’ keeper, and we have a moral obligation to help others in need.” Following the Post article, he said, he’s gotten 300 requests for donations. “When you read these letters — and I read them all — the amount of suffering out there is legendary.”

Read the full story here.

intermarriage is an opportunity

Conservative Judaism’s new narrative on Jewish intermarriage


“When I was newly pregnant in 2001, my partner of another faith and I went ‘shul shopping,’ visiting multiple Jewish congregations to find our spiritual home and community. We arrived at the Shabbat service at a Conservative synagogue and sat down. An usher approached and asked my spouse, ‘Are you Jewish?’ The usher held a kippah and tallit in their hands, ready to hand them over if they answered ‘yes.’ The intention was a good one, however the impact was that we felt alienated and did not join that synagogue. Identity is personal and being asked about one’s religion questions one’s right to be in a Jewish space,” writes Keren R. McGinity, an interfaith specialist at United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy

Continuity crisis: “The Conservative movement has evolved in its thinking about intermarriage since my family, and undoubtedly many others, had that personal experience. The ‘continuity crisis’ narrative that dominated communal discourse for decades was based on assumptions that people who intermarry cease to identify as Jewish, be involved in the community or raise Jewish children. This linear thinking equated intermarriage with extinction, labeled it a ‘threat’ to Jewish continuity, and held communal consciousness in a vise grip until quite recently.” 

Today there is growing momentum to be more inclusive: “It simultaneously ignored change over time, and the rise of new ethnicity, feminism and evolving gender roles found in more interdisciplinary research. Today, Jewish families look different than they did according to the heteronormative and Ashkenormative thinkers who ignored the diversity within the Jewish community. Leaders in the Conservative movement are increasingly eager to embrace the complexity of Jewish families, and there is growing momentum to be more inclusive of interfaith couples, which are often faith/faithless rather than dual faith, or mixed heritages. When I asked Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, CEO of USCJ and the Rabbinical Assembly, he responded: ‘Intermarriage is an opportunity, not a curse. We need to stop seeing intermarriage as a failure or betrayal, [and start] seeing that these are people engaged in loving relationships. We need to support them and engage them in loving ways in Jewish life.’”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Pride of Columbus: In Columbus Monthly, David Ghose profiles the Schottenstein family, which, for generations, have been business power brokers in the Ohio capital. “The Schottensteins might be? Columbus’ most remarkable family. With their profound achievements, enduring influence and far-and-wide reach, they have shaped the city in numerous ways, from retail, to real estate, to homebuilding, to civic affairs, to religion, to philanthropy. And they’re not done. Yet few fully understand what the Schottensteins have accomplished or how they all connect to each other. They consist of hundreds of descendants of two Lithuanian peasants, Yoneh and Chaya Gerzhevsky. With so many family members — and so many branches — it’s hard to keep track of such an expansive genealogy…. So what’s it like to be part of this sprawling, brawling, impactful and high-profile family? For some, their name makes them feel special, a member of Columbus royalty, providing community goodwill, access and financial resources. For others, it can create false impressions and make them feel like they’re under a microscope.” [ColumbusMonthly]

‘4D’ Spiritual Communities: Facing economic challenges and possibilities, religious leaders need to examine their communities through a “multi-dimensional economic reality of religious institutions,” and acknowledging the four dimensions: personal, organizational, local and systemic, Elizabeth Lynn writes in the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Insights newsletter. “They are interconnected, not separable. Attention and resources put toward one dimension will likely pull attention and resources away from other dimensions. But the act of naming may make it easier to work through those hard decisions together and to see not only old challenges but also the places where new opportunities abound.” [Insights]

‘Charity’ or ‘Philanthropy’?
: Surveying a number of nonprofit professionals, Rob Webb asks in Non Profit Pro what developing a “culture of philanthropy” really means, and how it differs from a “culture of charity” in the day-to-day life of a nonprofit professional. “My takeaway from this informal, totally unscientific social media survey is this: When you reduce fundraising to a transaction, you are creating a culture of charity. When I think of charity, I think of one-time giving appeals like a disaster. I want to help but I have no intention of developing a relationship with the organization I am giving to. When I think of philanthropy, I think of a nonprofit that puts people first and truly cares about their best interests. That philosophy permeates in everything they do and includes staff, board members, donors, volunteers and the people they serve.” [NonProfitPro]

Community Comms

Excel: Applications now being accepted for Spertus Institute’s accelerated Master’s program for Jewish communal executives. Complete your degree in 18 months.

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Word on the Street

The Israel-based ILTV news outlet launched ILTV+, a new subscription-based application on “Everything Israel”… 

The Chabad-Lubavitch Library in Brooklyn, N.Y., has made available a digital collection of almost 3,000 volumes of rare manuscripts that have not previously been seen by the public…

A new Jewish National Fund-USA initiative will allocate $15 million of matched funds for participating Jewish day schools that send students on long-term study-abroad experiences at Alexander Muss High School in Israel… 

Recent gifts by MacKenzie Scott included $50 million to the National 4-H Council and $8 million to the National Council on Aging

Apollo Global Management announced the launch of its corporate foundation with a commitment of more than $100 million over the next decade….

Independent schools (private, nonprofit K-12 institutions) reported a 25.8% average return on their endowment assets in fiscal year 2021, a sharp increase compared to the 2.8% returns in FY2020, according to an annual report from the Commonfund Institute…

Maura Pally, formerly executive vice president of the Clinton Foundation, is joining the Blackstone Charitable Foundation as executive director…

Yuval Frenkel, CEO of Amigour Senior Housing, died

Pic of the Day

Image courtesy of David Polonsky and Michael Faust

Legend of Destruction,” the art-driven story of the Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire, debuted Sunday on Israel television. The film is comprised of 1,500 individual paintings by Academy Award-nominated artists David Polonsky and Michael Faust, where each scene can be minted as an NFT. 


Agudath Israel of America

Chairman of Agudath Israel of America and CEO of the sportswear line, OuterStuff, Sol Werdiger… 

Senior counsel in the Baltimore office of DLA Piper, former president of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Shale D. Stiller… Former New York City comptroller, Harrison J. Goldin… EVP emeritus of the Orthodox Union and editor-in-chief of the Koren Talmud BavliRabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb… Bethesda, Md., resident, Lois Copeland.. Philosopher, novelist and public intellectual, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein… Madison, Wis., resident, Mark Jacobs… Billionaire investor Alexander Mashkevitch… 25-year veteran of USAID’s Foreign Service, she was recently the mission director for USAID in the West Bank and Gaza, Monica Stein-Olson… Strategic communications consultant, Joe Berkofsky… Political consultant and pollster, he is the founder of Luntz Global, LLC, Frank Luntz… Founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, Michael Dell… Best-selling author of young adult novels, Nova Ren Suma… Actor, comedian and singer, Josh Gad… CEO of film production firm Benaroya Pictures, Michael Benaroya… Financial consultant and organizer for nonprofit organizations, Johnathan Morpurgo… Chief operating officer and director of research at The Lawfare Project, Benjamin Ryberg… Director of press at USAID, Rebecca Chalif… White House reporter for BloombergJennifer Epstein… Senior front-end web engineer at Business InsiderReuben A. Ingber… Program officer for U.S. Jewish grantmaking in the DC office of Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Mary Ann Weiss… Political reporter for the Texas Tribune in Austin, Patrick Svitek… Managing director at London-based Bidversity, Gidon Feen

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