Your Daily Phil: Advocates lament flagging Jewish support for Iran protests

Good Wednesday morning.  

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new survey of enrollment in Jewish private schools in New York and a new push by a wide array of Jewish groups in favor of the Countering Antisemitism Act, as well as plans to open a new Lehrhaus tavern/beit midrash in Washington, D.C. We feature an opinion piece by Whitney Weathers that offers lessons learned as a Black Christian woman and DEI practitioner working in the Jewish nonprofit sector in a post-Oct. 7 world. Also in this newsletter: Dale AnglinKing Charles and Anita Zucker. We’ll begin by checking in with Persian Jews in the U.S. who are noting the Jewish community’s flagging support for Iranian protests.

A year and a half after the start of the Women, Life, Freedom protests in Iran, the American Jewish community’s enthusiasm for supporting the people of Iran and their demonstrations against the country’s regime appears to be faltering, as attention shifts to the war in Israel and rising antisemitism at home, reports Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy

All the chaos only serves as a distraction, Matthew Nouriel, community engagement director at JIMENA, told eJP. “This is what [the Iranians] wanted,” Nouriel said, pointing out that with the world’s eyes elsewhere the Islamic Republic cracked down on protesters.

As the world waits to see the outcome of the political upheaval in Iran after the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, known as the “Butcher of Tehran,” in a helicopter crash over the weekend, Iranian Jewish advocates say the greater Jewish community should focus initiatives on celebrating the richness of Iranian Jewish culture and the wealth of history between Jews and Iranians because our futures are interconnected. 

“Everywhere I go, I’m constantly talking about it,” Nouriel said. “Because it’s a coalition that needs to be nurtured.”

Yet in Jewish communities, where there had been a steady stream of programming based around the protest movement in Iran, today there is little acknowledgement of it.

This is true for Persian Jews as well, according to Sharon S. Nazarian, the president of the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation and senior vice president of International Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League. Last March, the Jewish Committee to Support Woman Life Freedom in Iran launched with Nazarian as a member of its steering committee, providing micro grants to support Jewish protesters outside of Iran — principally Persian Jews — but no one has applied for grants for months, she said. 

Nazarian said that sentiment in the U.S. Persian Jewish community is: “Yes, our heart is with the people of Iran, wanting better for our homeland where we were born. But right now, the threat is very personal. It is in our communities where we live today.”

Even though many young Persians in America are unlikely to be seen supporting Israel, the young generation living in Iran, no matter their background, are passionate about fighting the Islamic Republic and see Israel as an ally, Rabbi Tarlan Rabizadeh, vice president at American Jewish University, told eJP. 

“In Iran, they’re loud. They’re literally saying they don’t care if they die,” she said. “I just don’t understand how we’re not helping them.”

And yet Nazarian stressed that all of these things are interconnected: Iran’s Islamic Republic clashing with Israel directly and indirectly, through proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah; the war raging through Gaza; and the protests flaring on American campuses. The “bigger picture” that Jewish organizations should focus on is that “this regime [is] showing up over and over again as an oppressor,” Nazarian said.

She added that Persian Jews can offer a special voice on these cultural trends emerging on college campuses and among young Americans in general, as they both shatter the myth of all Jews being white and can also share their communities experiences, particularly as it relates to student protests. “What happened in ‘78 in Iran and ‘79 started on university campuses. It started with this desire for democracy, for freedom. Then the Islamic Revolution hijacked the democracy revolution. That’s a very important lesson,” she said.

Read the full report here.


Jewish school enrollment rises in New York, particularly among Haredim

Students in Luria Academy, a Jewish Montessori school in Brooklyn, NY. Courtesy/The Idea School

A new survey of Jewish private school enrollment in New York state finds that the number of students increased significantly for Haredi schools while staying steady for Modern Orthodox and other day schools. However, kindergarten enrollment trends may indicate that a shift is on the horizon, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Haredi growth: The study was conducted by the Orthodox Union’s Teach Coalition, based on enrollment data for New York nonpublic schools. (The data reflects the enrollment as of Oct. 1, 2023, meaning it does not take into account any changes as a result of Oct. 7.) The researchers found that Jewish schools grew by 4,181 students, representing a 2.3% increase over the prior year. The bulk of the increase was seen in Haredi schools, particularly Hasidic schools, which saw an additional enrollment of 3,310 students. There was no significant change in coed Orthodox schools or non-Orthodox schools from last year.

Counting kids: A potential indicator of a coming change in that dynamic can be seen in enrollment figures for kindergartens. This year has seen a significant increase in enrollment in Hasidic kindergartens, up from 10,546 last year to 11,710 this year, and coed Orthodox kindergartens, which grew from 1,553 to 1,702. “Given that rising Kindergarten enrollment is a key input for long term enrollment growth, time will tell whether this marks the start of a return to faster growth for New York Jewish schools,” the researchers wrote.

‘Positive sign’: “These trends clearly show the value our communities continue to place on providing Jewish education for their children,” Gabe Aaronson, Teach Coalition’s lead policy analyst, said in a statement. “The fact our schools, and in particular, our kindergartens, are seeing such an increase, are a positive sign for the future. If that trend continues, then it points to faster Jewish enrollment growth in the long term.”


Across political and religious spectrum, 61 Jewish groups urge House to take up antisemitism bill

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) does an interview with CNN at the U.S. Capitol on April 17, 2024 in Washington, D.C. Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

A rare coalition of 61 Jewish groups — encompassing a broad political and denominational spectrum of the Jewish community — came together yesterday to urge House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to promptly take up the bipartisan Countering Antisemitism Act, reports Marc Rod for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Full spectrum: The letter, organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Religious Action Center, National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, highlights broad-based Jewish community support for the legislation. It includes signatories ranging from J Street and the Nexus Leadership Project on the left to the Zionist Organization of America on the right. The full denominational spectrum is also represented, including the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist movements, as well as large nondenominational national organizations.

Bring it to a vote: “We write to urge you to swiftly bring the Countering Antisemitism Act to the House floor for a vote,” the letter reads. It calls on lawmakers to “pass comprehensive legislation to address the threat posed by this unique hate,” and says that the bill “would strengthen desperately needed federal efforts and ensure that the current administration and any future administration are focused on fighting antisemitism.”

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


Lehrhaus, Boston’s popular Jewish tavern/beit midrash, to open in D.C. in 2025

Lehrhaus in Boston, Mass. Courtesy

Soon after Lehrhaus, a self-described Jewish tavern and house of learning, opened in Somerville, Mass., last year, the accolades began to pour in — the kind of buzz that most restaurants, let alone kosher restaurants, only dream of. Esquire named it to its list of the 50 best new restaurants in America. And perhaps most surprisingly, Boston Magazine placed Lehrhaus on its list of best fish-and-chips in Boston, a city where it feels like every other block has an Irish pub serving the dish fresh out of the fryer. Now the popular restaurant and bar is planning to open a second location in Washington, D.C. early next year, the first step of an ambitious nationwide expansion plan that aims to have a Lehrhaus in eight locations by 2030, reports Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch.

No competition: In Washington, the Lehrhaus team sees a city that’s a similar size to Boston, and with a similarly large young Jewish population. Like the Boston area (and Cambridge-Somerville in particular), Washington has very few kosher restaurants. “It’s the energy of the city, and the uniqueness of it. There’s a flavor to what happens in D.C. that we think will be exciting to tap into — the amount of young people that are there and that are constantly flowing through there,” Lehrhaus’ director, Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, told JI in a recent interview. “The D.C. area has some great kosher establishments, and there’s probably room for a world-class kosher cocktail bar and pescatarian restaurant.”

Help wanted: Washington foodies still have a ways to go until they can visit Lehrhaus, which is in the process of choosing a location, hiring a director and raising money for start-up costs. The location will likely be somewhere in Northwest Washington, probably in the vicinity of Dupont Circle, Columbia Heights or Logan Circle. The Lehrhaus team hopes to find someone who knows D.C. well and is a great manager; culinary experience is not required. As for someone who might lead the D.C. location, Schwartz, whose background prior to running Lehrhaus was as a Jewish educator at Hillel International and Brandeis University said: “There are certain roles in the Jewish nonprofit world that if you do them, you can basically do anything. So if you’ve run a summer camp, you can kind of do anything. If you’ve run a Hillel well, you can basically do anything.”

Read the full report here.


Breaking barriers: A Black Christian DEI practitioner’s journey in the Jewish nonprofit field

The author (center) addressing her colleagues during a meeting. Courtesy/Jill Tiongco Photography

“One of the most fascinating things about my journey as a Black, Christian woman working as a diversity, equity, inclusion and justice practitioner within the Jewish nonprofit sector is that I find myself in a place of constantly unlearning everything I thought to be true,” writes Whitney Weathers, managing director of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice for UpStart, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy

Real talk: “Honestly, I previously thought all Jewish people were white, and I thought that all white people lived in safety. I admit my ignorance with both shame and curiosity: How could I, as a woman of color, who herself is a victim of oppressive systems, be so unaware when it came to understanding the plight of others who experience oppression? I’d like to think that one of the reasons is that I have been head down in survival mode, trying to combat the systemic inequities and atrocities facing me and my community. But the attacks on Oct. 7 have taught me that assuming one community’s pain is theirs to bear alone is, well, un-Christian, and it is inhumane. Moreover, there is an element of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) that has stopped working for me: Antisemitism has been absent in many of the DEI trainings in which I’ve participated, and that is a perpetuation of harm.”

More than skin deep: “I am here, in this moment, for a reason. Perhaps that reason is to help break down barriers between our faith communities. Perhaps it is to learn more about myself as a Christian (after all, Jesus was Jewish). Perhaps I am figuring out how to really understand what allyship means… In the words of my friend Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, ‘Our commitment to creating a better world — making it to the Promised Land — must always be so much more than merely skin deep.’” 

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Strange New World: In Newsweek, Harvard University freshman Charlie Covit offers a window into his life as a Jew on campus. “Sitting on my bed in my Harvard dorm room this week, loud chants of ‘intifada!’ echoed in the room. I had been working on an essay, but the noise was not what distracted me. Type the words ‘intifada’ and ‘Jew’ into Google — the first image that comes up is of a man in a keffiyeh holding a knife. Yet, here were hundreds of students calling for an intifada, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, just a couple feet away from where I live and sleep… I stepped out of my room that night to see a mass of screaming students marching in my direction. Standing in the Yard, wearing my Star of David necklace — I’d never felt so alone. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. Barring the ones participating in the rally, there was not another Jew in sight… Those who wish to see the suffering of this brutal war end should be crying out for a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side, in safety and security. But an endless, futile push for a Palestinian state ‘from the river to the sea’ or ‘from the Galilee to Gaza’ means more war and suffering, and many more Israelis and Palestinians dead. Explaining why all of Israel is occupied land will not free Palestine. Removing any mention of Israel from Jewish practice will not free Palestine. And most certainly, calling Zionists ‘Violent to Children’ will not free Palestine. It’s a lonely time to be a Jew at Harvard.” [Newsweek]

Moving Fast, Moving Slow: For Harvard University’s Nieman Lab, Sophie Culpepper interviews Dale Anglin, the director of the journalism grant-making nonprofit Press Forward, which was created last year. “There are very few civic problems in the U.S. — I’ll just stick to the U.S. — where there has not been policy as part of the solution. The government just has more money, period, than all of philanthropy put together. When I ran the COVID Fund in Cleveland, we raised $20 or $30 million. We put out one of our first big grants, like a million dollars, to the food bank, and we were really proud of that as a group of foundations. And yet on the side the state was working on a policy measure to address food insecurity and in the end the state gave $33 million. Policy is a pillar of Press Forward because we will need policy solutions to get to sustainability… The other thing I would say that is hard in journalism philanthropy is that compared to many other ecosystems — I mean, housing and economic development, and all of those things — those things kind of move along. Journalism moves fast. The whole ecosystem is competitive; it was built to be that way. Philanthropy is a field that moves slow. And yet we’re trying to bring them together… Philanthropy probably needs to move a little faster with this particular body of work. And journalism needs to understand that you’re not changing philanthropy just because of your sense of urgency.” [NiemanLab]

Around the Web

Elluminate and the Hadassah Foundation jointly established the Jewish Women’s Collective Response Fund, which is aimed at supporting, elevating and empowering Israeli women. The fund has so far issued five grants of $25,000 to: The Adva Center, the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, Itach Ma’aki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice, the Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center and WePower…

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency spotlights the Israelis protecting trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza from right-wing demonstrators who have been halting them and, in some cases, attacking them… 

King Charles will serve as the royal patron of the United Kingdom’s Council of Christians and Jews. His mother served as the organization’s patron for some 70 years…

A Louisiana state legislative committee blocked an effort by the state’s Jewish community to ban nitrogen gas as an execution method on the grounds that it evoked the gassing of Jews during the Holocaust

Prizmah and the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge created a “playbook” to address the struggles of finding Jewish day school educators…

American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies ordained six new rabbis on Monday: Yael Zipporah Dubin Aranoff, Avram Agamemnon Ellner, Henry Louis Hollander, Benjamin Jeffrey Sigal, Jared Oliver Hoffer Skoff and Ronald G. Wolfson….

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff released a video calling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “a known antisemite” in response to remarks made by the former president about Jewish Democratic voters…

Israel reversed course after seizing broadcasting equipment from the Associated Press that showed a live feed of northern Gaza; the move, announced by Israel’s Ministry of Communications, came under swift criticism from journalists, U.S. officials and some Israeli politicians before being canceled…

Israel recalled its ambassadors from IrelandSpain and Norway after the three countries said they will recognize an independent Palestinian state…

New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined the chorus criticizing a Washington Post report suggesting that a group of wealthy Jewish donors used its influence to push him to send the NYPD to clear out anti-Israel protesters at Columbia University’s campus, saying the article was “antisemitic in its core”…

The Zucker family donated $2.5 million to the College of Charleston to help it attract engineering students. Anita Zucker received an honorary degree from the college and serves on several of its boards and committees…

Bloomberg looks at how University of Pennsylvania alumni, including venture capitalist David Magerman, are approaching their giving to their alma mater in light of the school’s handling of antisemitism and anti-Israel demonstrations on campus…

A federal lawsuit filed this morning against Harvard University alleges that since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel, students and faculty on campus have called for violence against Jews and celebrated Hamas’ terrorism daily as the university ignored harassment — including a physical assault — of Jewish students

Hundreds of Jewish students, faculty, administrators and staff from Rutgers University signed a pair of letters condemning the school’s handling of antisemitism on campus a day before its president, Jonathan Holloway, was scheduled to testify in Congress…

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone sent an email to the campus community yesterday apologizing for a letter he sent last week condemning “genocide” in Gaza and calling for a cease-fire, saying he shouldn’t have “weighed in on deeply complex geopolitical and historical issues”…

The Chronicle of Philanthropy examines the feasibility of universities divesting from Israel

Chicago vegan Jewish deli Sam & Gertie’s is closing after four years in business…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Lawrence Family JCC

Members of Shufuni – an Israeli organization of young artists and performers from Sderot and other communities in the Gaza envelope — perform on Sunday at the “Celebrate Israel: Now and Forever” event at the Lawrence Family JCC in San Diego. 

The event, which drew 4,000 attendees, was one of hundreds held at JCCs across North America in the past two weeks focused on honoring and celebrating major Jewish and Israeli holidays. They were made possible in part by a grant provided by the JCC Association of North America’s partnership with Israel’s Ministry for Diaspora Affairs. 


Jonathan S. Lavine, co-managing partner and chief investment officer of Bain Capital Credit
Courtesy/Schusterman Family Philanthropies

Senior consultant for philanthropy and impact at private equity firm Cresset Capital, Sanford Ronald “Sandy” Cardin… 

Senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, Irwin M. Stelzer… Retired U.S. district court judge from Massachusetts, now a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, Nancy Gertner… Award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker since 1989, Connie Bruck… Former Skadden partner and then vice-chair at Citibank, J. Michael Schell… Cognitive scientist and CEO emeritus of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven, Philip E. Rubin… Director emeritus of policy and government affairs at AIPAC, Ambassador Bradley Gordon… Gloria Woodlock… Charles Scott… Former member of Knesset from the Zionist Union party, he was previously a major general in the IDF, Eyal Ben-Reuven… Immediate past chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Dianne F. Lob… Former member of Congress (D-AZ-1), now a business and transactional attorney in Phoenix, Sam Coppersmith… U.S. Sen. (R-AK) Lisa Murkowski… General partner of Google Ventures where he co-leads the life science investment team, David Schenkein… Former head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, he was the winning coach of the EuroLeague Championship in 2014 with Maccabi Tel Aviv, David Blatt… Actor, he appeared in all five seasons of the HBO program “The Wire” as defense attorney Maurice Levy, Michael Kostroff… British writer, philanthropist and documentary filmmaker, Hannah Mary Rothschild… Partner at Sidley & Austin, he clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist in the 1996 term, David H. Hoffman… Former relief pitcher for seven MLB teams, Alan Brian “Al” Levine… Harvard Law School professor since 2007, he clerked for Supreme Court Justice David Souter in the 1998 term, Noah Feldman… Israeli cookbook author and TV cookery show host, Shaily Lipa… Israel’s minister of communications in the prior government, Yoaz Hendel… Author, actress, producer, model and singer, she served until 2023 as a special envoy of Israel’s foreign ministry, Noa Tishby… Executive director of American Compass, Oren Cass… Co-founder of Facebook in 2004, Dustin Aaron Moskovitz… Retired slot receiver and kick returner for the NFL’s New England Patriots, member of three Super Bowl winning teams, Julian Edelman… Co-founder and former CEO of Tinder, Sean Rad… Film, television and theater actress, Molly Ephraim… Chief Washington correspondent for McClatchy, Michael Wilner… J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School in the class of 2026, he is an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Alex Friedman… Law clerk for a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York, Peter Walker Kaplan… Emma Kaplan… Aryeh Jacobson… Rebecca Weiss… Benjamin Weiss…