Your Daily Phil: Adidas partners with the ADL + Teaching Sephardic Heritage

Good Friday morning, and thank you on this Veterans Day to all who served.

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on a conference promoting Sephardi perspectives in education, and feature a column by Yeshiva University’s Dr. Erica Brown about the weekly Torah portion. Also in this newsletter: Michael Eisner, Sam Bankman-Fried and Amy Spitalnick. We’ll start with a new chapter in the Adidas-ADL story.

Just weeks after Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt accused Adidas of an “appalling” lack of action against Kanye West’s antisemitism, the sportswear giant is donating more than $1 million to the Jewish organization, and embarking on a partnership to educate athletes against bigotry, eJewishPhilanthropy has learned.

Greenblatt hinted at the partnership in a speech yesterday morning at the group’s daylong “Never is Now” conference in New York City. He detailed how the ADL had pushed Adidas in private, and then in public, to end its lucrative partnership with West’s fashion label, Yeezy, after West’s string of antisemitic remarks. After Adidas ended its Yeezy collaboration last month, following a precipitous drop in its stock price, Greenblatt praised the company.

“While I wish they did it sooner, Adidas – to their credit – made it abundantly clear that they would not do business with bigots,” Greenblatt said. “And today I am so pleased that they are here at Never Is Now to announce an incredible commitment that demonstrates that their dedication to fighting antisemitism will last long beyond this moment.”

An ADL spokesperson told eJP that Adidas is giving the ADL a four-year, seven-figure donation, and that the two will embark on “a formal partnership to combat antisemitism and hate in sports.” The partnership will entail a new anti-bigotry curriculum for student athletes, and will enable the ADL to more widely disseminate its educational efforts. The partnership also aims to engage professional athletes in fighting hate.

At the conference, Imam Abdullah Antepli, who has worked to build bridges between Muslims and Jews, won an award named for journalist Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by al-Qaida in 2002. President Joe Biden also gave a video address, telling attendees, “In America, evil will not win, hate will not prevail, and venom and violence and antisemitism will not be the story of our time.”

At the conference’s closing session, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who is descended from Holocaust survivors, won the ADL’s Courage Against Hate Award, and warned about the dangers of disinformation in his speech.

“We cannot allow the passage of time to cause us or our children and grandchildren to be any less horrified, or any less vigilant than we are, because although it pains me to say so, the reality is this: It could happen again,” he said regarding the Holocaust and the rhetoric that led to it.

Regarding disinformation, he said, “This is as straightforward as it gets: Something is true or it isn’t… We have an obligation to do our part, We must continue to speak the truth and fight indifference and complacency.”

culture class

Three panelists converse during a session of JIMENA's "Journey to the Mizrah" conference this week.
Three panelists converse during a session of JIMENA’s “Journey to the Mizrah” conference this week.

As a child attending Hebrew school during the mid-’80s, Sarah Levin recalls “never, ever learning about half of my heritage… I was really young, maybe like 6 years old, and learning about Purim, and Purim somehow felt viscerally connected to my Sephardic identity. And that was the only lesson that connected me to my Middle Eastern or my Sephardic heritage,” she told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Jay Deitcher.

Gathering educators: Today, Levin is executive director of JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, a Sephardic and Mizrahi organization that held its second educational conference on Wednesday and Thursday. The virtual conference was geared toward day school and Hebrew school teachers, as well as school administrators, throughout the Jewish community, and aimed to help support those attendees “as they work to integrate Sephardic studies into their classrooms and learning spaces,” Levin said. More than 150 people attended.

Lesson plans: Along with five Zoom sessions, the conference offered an online curriculum with 12 sessions that can be adapted for students ranging from kindergarten to college and that explore Sephardic and Mizrahi life. The lessons prompt students to delve into their own family history. The curriculum was launched at JIMENA’s first such conference, an in-person event held in San Francisco in January 2020. Since then, according to JIMENA, which has an annual budget of $750,000, the lesson plans have been downloaded and used by over 500 educators in seven countries.

Expanding the story: “There is a larger narrative to the Jewish experience, to Jewish thinking, than what’s typically taught in many Jewish schools, which is Judaism from a Eurocentric perspective,” Rabbi Daniel Bouskila said, adding that Sephardic culture is often reduced to being about just food and music, rather than philosophy or intellectual pursuits.

Read the full story here.

the torah of leadership

Still, he delayed: Vayera


“There’s an incredible moment in Parshat Vayera that happens just as the sun is about to rise. It’s the time of day when possibility opens, when another morning is about to unfold and with it, a sense of limitlessness. It’s the moment that explains why he who hesitates is lost. Tentativeness can make us unsure of who we are. Our indecision can make us feel untethered,” writes Erica Brown in a column for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Don’t delay: “It is at this liminal hour when Lot was approached by an angel with an important message: the angel told Lot to save himself and his family from the catastrophe about to plague Sodom and Gomorrah: ‘As dawn broke, the angels urged Lot on, saying, Arise, take your wife and your two remaining daughters, lest you be swept away because of the iniquity of the city. Still he delayed.’ (Gen. 19:15-16)”

He who hesitates is Lot: “Lot ignored the metaphor of the dawn. With doom on the horizon but the glimmer of light that this day could be different for him and those he loved, ‘still he delayed.’ Rashi writes that Lot delayed to save his property, putting money above his life and that of his family. Radak, a medieval French commentator, expands on this reading, pointing out that earlier, in Genesis 19:12, the angel permitted Lot to take what he could with him. As time passed, every hour became increasingly consequential. Lot was forced to forgo his possessions and leave at dawn with only the clothing on his back. Hesitation has its costs. Still, Lot wasn’t ready.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Polio Policy: Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch looks at an effort by the New York State Department of Health to distribute information about polio to Jewish New Yorkers, following a confirmed case over the summer. “There’s no one single action or publication or outreach that’s going to seal the deal. It’s going to have to be an emergency response when there’s an emergency and a constant state of education. Constant. We can’t ever drop the ball on educating about vaccines,” said [writer and health educator Shoshana] Bernstein, who is at the forefront of that work. She worked with local, state and national public health authorities to create a booklet called ‘Tzim Gezint,’ Yiddish for ‘to your health’ (a phrase commonly used after a person sneezes). It offers a comprehensive, easy-to-digest overview of vaccines and why Orthodox families should vaccinate their children.” [JI]

The Family That Gives Together: 
For Michael Eisner, who ran the Walt Disney Company during the late 1980s and 1990s, giving together as an intergenerational family creates a particularly strong bond; he calls it “a very good thing to do, not only for philanthropy, but for your own family,” Wendy Paris reports in Inside Philanthropy. “Today, with more than $170 million in assets, the Eisner Foundation combines the family’s generations-old philanthropic know-how with contemporary Hollywood wealth, using its heft to tackle one the most under-resourced challenges facing America today — our aging society… Bringing people of different generations together for creative, positive interaction is also a great workaround in an era of intensifying polarization. Many divides today seem impossible to overcome. The generation gap? It’s relatively easy to bridge.”  [InsidePhilanthropy]

Here’s to More Rapport: The COVID-19 Philanthropy Commons was launched in September 2020, an effort to coordinate philanthropic support for needs created by the pandemic, and despite its best efforts, it has not “changed funder behavior or improved the utilization of the Commons platform,” Melissa Stevens and Greg Tananbaum report in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. But what did participants learn?: “From a technical standpoint, the project was successful. The Commons grew to encompass a customized opportunity-sharing and co-funding platform that, at least theoretically, could be used to reduce friction and increase speed and coordination within the philanthropic ecosystem. The Commons also hit its marks in terms of sourcing nearly 200 funding opportunities related to the pandemic and developed a custom taxonomy to help members find opportunities that fit their mandates. Ultimately, though, the COVID-19 Philanthropy Commons fell short of its ambitions to meaningfully shape members’ giving to COVID-related efforts or spur coordination among funders.” [SSIR]

Word on the Street

The Jewish LGBTQ organization Keshet held its annual gala in New York City last night, honoring Amram Altzman, S. Bear Bergman, Keshira haLev Fife, a kohenet, or Hebrew priestess, and Carson Gleberman

The Jewish publishing house ArtScroll hosted a siyyum, or completion, of its translation of the Jerusalem Talmud on Wednesday at the Trump National Doral hotel in Miami. More than 1,000 people attended the event, which included a performance by singer Yaakov Shwekey…

A group of staffers from the FTX Future Fund team, which oversaw some of the cryptocurrency company’s philanthropic efforts, resigned on Thursday following days of uncertainty after a leaked report revealed questionable business practices on the part of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried

Amy Spitalnick, who was set to start as the executive director of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action next week, is stepping down from the role, citing “a long transition” that “has led us to mutually agree that it’s best for us both not to move forward.” She will remain a senior adviser to Human Rights First…

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, Calif., announced its forthcoming exhibition, “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away,” scheduled to open for its West Coast premiere in March 2023. The exhibit was previously shown at New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage…

Israel donated housing supplies to more than 150 families in Puerto Rico who were victims of Hurricane Fiona…

Pic of the Day

Aliza Bloch and Steven Fulop, respectively the mayors of Beit Shemesh, Israel, and Jersey City, N.J., signed a sister city agreement on Wednesday in New Jersey.


NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 19: Yuri Milner attends the Forbes Media Centennial Celebration at Pier 60 on September 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Russian-born venture capitalist and physicist, Yuri Milner

FRIDAY: Retired psychiatric nurse now living in Surprise, Ariz., Shula Kantor… Retired television and radio sports broadcaster, Warner Wolf… Former Democratic U.S. senator from California, Barbara Levy Boxer… Author, best known for her 1993 autobiographical memoir Girl, InterruptedSusanna Kaysen… Television personality, Marc Summers (born Marc Berkowitz)… Founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman… Founder and president of D.C.-based Plurus Strategies, David Leiter… President at American Built-in Closets in South Florida, Perry Birman… Aish HaTorah teacher in Los Angeles, author and co-founder of a gourmet kosher cooking website, Emuna Braverman… Talk show host and president and founder of Talkline Communications, Zev Brenner… Founder of NYC-based alternative investment firm Portage Partners, Michael Leffell… Professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Steven M. Nadler… Former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, Amb. Norman Eisen… Founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based IKAR, Melissa Balaban… Israel’s commissioner of police, Kobi Shabtai… Emmy Award and People’s Choice Award-winning television producer, Jason Nidorf “Max” Mutchnick… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Orly Levy-Abekasis… Tel Aviv-born actor and screenwriter, Eyal Podell… Defender for the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, Daniel Steres… Deputy campaign manager in the Nevada attorney general race, Shelly Tsirulik… Advocate against gun violence, Cameron Kasky, CEO of AIPAC, Howard Kohr

SATURDAY: Co-founder and rosh yeshiva of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky… Professor emerita of history at Columbia University and expert on Japan, Carol Gluck… Author and senior fellow at USC’s Annenberg School, Morley Winograd… Accountant in Phoenix, Ariz., Steven M. Scheiner, CPA… Board member of the New York State Thruway Authority and former state senator, he is a descendant of Rabbi Shmuel Salant, the former Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Stephen M. Saland… Sportscaster for Thursday Night Football on Prime Video after more than 50 years at NBC and ABC, Al Michaels… U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)… Attorney in Brooklyn, Bernard C. Wachsman… Member of the New York State Assembly, Linda B. Rosenthal… Author of young-adult fiction and winner of the National Book Award for Challenger DeepNeal Shusterman… Author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Naomi Rebekah Wolf… University of Chicago professor, in 2019 he won the Nobel Prize in Economics, Michael Kremer… Mayor of Oakland, Calif., since 2015, Elizabeth Beckman “Libby” Schaaf… Rabbi of the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest, Róbert Frölich… Partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, Sanford E. (Sandy) Perl… COVID-19 response coordinator for the first fifteen months of the Biden administration, Jeffrey Zients… British journalist and political correspondent for BBC News, Joanne “Jo” Coburn… SVP and general manager of MLB’s Minnesota Twins, Thad Levine… Former member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Robert Ilatov… Restaurant critic and food writer for the Boston GlobeDevra First… Israeli fashion model and actress, Nina Brosh… Former member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism party, Eliyahu Hasid… Actress and director, Jordana Ariel Spiro… Campus support director at Hillel International, Aviva Zucker Snyder… Actress best known for her roles on “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” Kelly Kruger… Visiting assistant professor of Jewish studies at Oberlin College, Matthew D. Berkman, Ph.D…. Director of strategic talent initiatives at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Spencer F. Lucker… New Jersey-based primary care physician known as Doctor Mike, he is an internet celebrity on YouTube and Instagram, Mikhail Varshavski, DO… Activist and law school student, Adela Cojab… Founder of Before[dot]dev, a job platform with the mission to end bias in the hiring process, Dave Weinberg, Dr. Ari Rosenberg

SUNDAY: Israeli industrialist with holdings in energy, real estate and automobile distributorships, Gad Zeevi… Chief rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Shmuel Riccardo Di Segni… Publisher of the independent “Political Junkie” blog and podcast, Kenneth Rudin… U.S. attorney general, Merrick Garland… Once the controlling stockholder of a large Israeli conglomerate, Nochi Dankner… Managing director of the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge, Sharon Freundel… Former editor-in-chief of British Vogue, she is a strategic advisor to Atterley, an Edinburgh-based fashion marketplace, Alexandra Shulman… U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK)… San Jose, California resident, Katherine (Katya) Palkin… Somali-born activist who has served in the Dutch parliament, she is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Ayaan Hirsi Ali… Former Israeli government minister for the Shas party, Ariel Atias… Founder of Pailet Financial Services, a predecessor agency of what is now the Dallas office of Marsh & McLennan, Kevin Pailet… Conservative rabbi and wife of former U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica S. Fitzgerald Haney, Andrea Dobrick Haney… President and CEO at the U.S. Travel Association, Geoffrey Freeman… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Meirav Ben-Ari… Television journalist employed by Hearst Television, Jeff Rossen… President of baseball operations for MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, Andrew Friedman… Israeli rapper and record producer, generally known by his stage name “Subliminal,” Yaakov (Kobi) Shimoni… Judoka who won three national titles, she competed for the U.S. at the Athens Olympics in 2004, Charlee Minkin… Senior director of policy and communications at Christians United For Israel, Ari Morgenstern… Political communications consultant, Jared Goldberg-Leopold… PR and communications consultant, Mark Botnick… Michael Schwab… Staff attorney for the ACLU’s voting rights project, Jonathan Topaz… Former relief pitcher in the Colorado Rockies organization, he pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, now an EMT in Los Angeles, Troy Neiman… Senior financial analyst at YieldX, Cole Deutch

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