Your Daily Phil: After ditching Penn, Magerman gives $1 million to Israeli college

Good Monday morning. 

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on how BBYO is shifting its summer programs in light of a recent study it conducted about how antisemitism is affecting Jewish teenagers, and feature an opinion piece by Elissa BemporadRabbi Jeni S. FriedmanMagda TeterAnna Shternshis and Steve Weitzman about what we can learn from Ukrainian Jewish scholars. Also in this newsletter: Ofir AmirTanya Hackel and Dr. Miriam AdelsonWe’ll start with David Magerman’s donation to an Israeli college.

Data scientist and venture capitalist David Magerman, who publicly halted donations to the University of Pennsylvania last year over its handling of campus antisemitism, awarded a $1 million grant to Israel’s Jerusalem College of Technology to help the school develop a program to integrate English speakers, he told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Magerman added that he plans to issue similar grants to other Israeli colleges and universities. “We’re doing $1 million grants over five years to JCT, and we’re looking to do similar programs with four other universities,” he said, speaking over Zoom from his home outside of Philadelphia.

“I had originally had a multimillion-dollar gift that was supposed to go to Penn, and I’ve decided to halt that gift. So instead of just saving the money, I decided to reinvest it in Israeli colleges.”

Magerman, who attended the University of Pennsylvania  as did two of his sons (one graduated from the school; the other transferred out) — had been donating to the the Ivy League school for several years, but decided to cut ties with the university in September after it hosted the Palestine Writes Literature Festival, which included a number of speakers with a history of making antisemitic comments.

“I protested the event from behind the scenes and actually had made a decision and announced my decision to stop giving to Penn after the Palestine Writes Literature Festival in September, before Oct. 7, but I did it somewhat quietly. At that point it was just my personal decision not to support the school,” Magerman said.

After Oct. 7, as protests on college campuses grew, Magerman said he decided to go public with his decision, publishing an open letter to Penn leadership on Oct. 15. “The lack of defending the Jewish community and the protests that followed [Oct. 7] were decisive for me, and that’s why I made a public pronouncement about abandoning Penn and moving away from any pledges I’d made and deciding not to give anymore,” he said.

Magerman, who was in Israel on Oct. 7, said he looked to find a way to help the Jewish community, specifically around supporting aliyah. He decided to support efforts to make it easier for such gap-year students to remain in Israel for their studies.

Doni Fogel, vice president of JCT, said the science-focused school, which caters to religious students, had been developing a program that would slowly integrate English-speaking students into its Hebrew degree programs.

The four-year program (one year longer than the standard Israeli bachelor’s program), which Magerman will help fund, is divided into two sections: For the first two years, the participants study core classes as well as Hebrew; and for the final two years, the students join Hebrew-language courses.

Fogel said the program is due to launch in fall 2024 and that there is already “strong registration,” though he did not disclose the precise number of applicants.

“The American Jewish community is realizing that there are enormous opportunities to be had here in Israel, and we are looking to make those opportunities accessible to the English-speaking world,” Fogel said.

Read the full report here.


BBYO shifts summer programs after study shows how rising antisemitism affects teens

Teens from across the country celebrate Opening Session of USY International Convention in Orlando, Fla. with teens from the Metropolitan New York area.
BBYO International Convention 2019 in Denver. Courtesy/Michael Kandel

As Dan Mezistrano, 18, walked from his Denver hotel to November’s Jewish National Fund conference, he was inundated by screaming. “Baby killer! There’s blood on your hands!” protesters shouted at him. “That was my first real experience stepping out and being in a space where I felt really uncomfortable,” Mezistrano, new co-president of the teen movement BBYO, told Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy. “And I was at a Jewish event. It was really hurtful and eye opening to see that people actually believed those things and are willing to yell them at children.”

Antisemitism’s toll: Since Oct. 7, Jewish teens have struggled with an unprecedented influx of antisemitism, in school and online. It’s affecting the extracurricular programs they choose to attend, and the schools they apply to. BBYO recently performed a study that showed that 71% of Jewish teens have faced antisemitic harassment since the Israel Gaza war began, and 54% reported worsening mental health. (For the study, BBYO partnered with First International Resources and Impact Research to collect data on 1,989 high school-aged BBYO members.)

Building resilience: “We forget so frequently as adults, that if we struggle to process things, then what are the teens facing and how are they dealing with it?” Drew Fidler, senior director of the center for adolescent health and wellness at BBYO, told eJP. “If we don’t give teens the tools or the space to speak, then it becomes really challenging for them,” he said. But as antisemitism rises, teens are losing the places they once felt safe, with 52% of teens saying that they or their friends have stopped attending clubs and extracurricular activities they used to enjoy. Fidler said BBYO is looking to create “many positive childhood experiences that are combating the long-term negative impacts” by building resilience, Fidler said.

Read the full report here.


What Jewish studies scholars in Ukraine can teach the world about resilience


“The invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has been pushed out of the news cycle, but bombs are still falling on Kyiv and Kharkiv. The scope of that destruction has only strengthened our commitments to preserve Jewish culture in Ukraine, a core facet of global Jewish history,” write a group of Jewish studies program directors and professors, along with the CEO of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, in a joint opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Wartime efforts: “When the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Jewish studies in the country was flourishing. Ukrainian scholars, Jewish and non-Jewish, were beginning to confront the painful past of pogroms and the Holocaust and explore the Jewish experience as part of Ukrainian history. As the war shattered their lives and interrupted their studies, it also put their research and work into sharper focus.”

Applicable elsewhere: “More than two years since the start of the war, what can we learn from how Jewish scholars in Ukraine strive to deepen their research in a time of war and ongoing disruption? What wisdom do they offer for how to emerge from a crisis with resilience, clarity and purpose?”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Blue and White and Red All Over: In Jewish Insider, Ruth Marks Eglash spotlights a touring exhibition of redesigned Israeli flags, which are meant to capture the country’s post-Oct. 7 atmosphere. “Its design is simple: two blue stripes on a crisp, white background, with a Star of David sitting proudly in the center. Yet for many Israelis and others around the world, especially during this time of crisis and war, Israel’s national flag evokes powerful emotions ranging from fierce love and patriotism to extreme antisemitism and hatred. Now, some 90 Israeli artists have taken the highly recognizable and emotive symbol of the Jewish state and reimagined it using worn-out and weather-beaten flags that once lined a road in the Arava Desert. While the works offer a new dimension to the flag’s design, all express the heartbreak, fear and hope the nation of Israel is experiencing after more than eight months of war… Hannah Rothschild, the curator and brainchild of the exhibition… who is also a trained clinical social worker specializing in the field of trauma, has been working with survivors of the Oct. 7 massacre. It was during a trip south to counsel evacuated residents of the devastated kibbutzim that she came up with the idea to turn Israel’s national symbol into art as a way to identify with the country’s pain and the hostages still being held in Gaza… The works produced by the artists range in type and form, with all expressing their reaction as Israelis to the events on Oct. 7 and beyond.” [JewishInsider]

Around the Web

Correction: Due to a production error, the link to Ilana Kaufman’s opinion piece, “Leaders: Stay the course on DEI through this storm,” in Friday’s edition of Your Daily Phil did not work properly; the piece can be found here

President Joe Biden denounced “the horrific acts of [a]ntisemitism” that took place last week, “including a demonstration celebrating the 10/7 attack, vandalism targeting Jewish homes, attacks on Jewish faculty at college campuses, and harassment of subway riders,” calling them “abhorrent”; “Antisemitism doesn’t just threaten Jewish Americans. It threatens all Americans, and our fundamental democratic values,” Biden added…

El Al is cutting a program instituted after Oct. 7 that deeply discounted baggage containing donations for Israel, a move that will quadruple the fees for such suitcases…

CNN’s Bianna Golodryga interviewed Oct. 7 survivor Ofir Amir, who co-founded the Nova music festival where more than 200 people were killed by Hamas and is producing an exhibition to memorialize the massacre…

The Israeli government extended evacuation orders for Israelis from communities along the country’s northern border and some Gaza-adjacent towns through Aug. 15…

A group of graduates of the American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies who lodged a formal complaint against the seminary with the Conservative movement last year over what they described as a culture of sexual harassment are demanding that the school publicly release the full report of the independent investigation into their claims that the law firm Cozen O’Connor is expected to present to AJU shortly…

More than 25,000 Haredi men attended the Adirei Hatorah event at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia last night, celebrating religious text study…

Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” took home the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival; the show’s stars Daniel Radcliffe and Jonathan Groff won for best actor and supporting actor, respectively; Shaina Taub, who won Best Score for her “Suffs,” quoted Pirkei Avot in her acceptance speech…

Ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival, which began on Saturday night, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released figures on the country’s Muslim community, whose estimated 1.78 million members make up more than 18% of the population…

Tanya Hackel was named Jewish Family Service of San Diego’s next chief advancement officer…

Manhattan’s Park Avenue Synagogue was defaced by vandals who spray-painted “Palestine” on a sign with the text, “How great are your tents O Jacob your dwelling places O Israel”…

The United States imposed sanctions against the Israeli group Tzav 9 over repeated incidents in which it attacked trucks attempting to deliver aid to Gaza…

The United Kingdom-based World Jewish Relief will begin delivering aid to Gaza through the International Medical Corps and in coordination with Israeli authorities…

A U.S. proposal would see sanctions against Israeli tycoon Dan Gertler eased if he sells his mining projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Southern Poverty Law Center is laying off more than 60 employees as it says it undergoes an “organizational restructuring”…

Forward investigation into the Jewish roots of Mexican President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum found that her mother was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, before briefly moving to Mandatory Palestine and then immigrating to Mexico, contrary to Sheinbaum’s claim that her mother was born in Mexico…

Joanna S. Jackson was named the next president and CEO of the California-based Weingart Foundation

The Times of Israel spotlights Israel’s Sussman Family Foundation Human Milk Bank, which saw a surge of donations after Oct. 7 but is now warning of a critical shortage…

Popular sports commentator Pablo Torre claimed on his podcast that the NBA would not allow Dr. Miriam Adelson to serve as governor of the Dallas Mavericks, which she recently purchased with her son-in-law, because of her support for former President Donald Trump; the NBA has denied the allegation…

Bloomberg examines the Adelson purchase of the Mavericks, seeing it as part of an effort by the casino magnates to expand their gambling operations to Texas…

Heather Conn Hendel, a teacher and matchmaker who was active in the New York City and Toronto Modern Orthodox communitiesdied last Monday at 48, days after giving birth to a daughter…

Sidney Lightman, a former assistant editor of the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle who served in the British Royal Navy in World War II and in the fledgling Israeli Navy during the War of Independence, died recently at 100…

Pic of the Day

American Jewish Committee/Facebook

Israel Bonds Philadelphia’s annual Legal & Financial Services Tribute Reception earlier this month at the city’s Congregation Rodeph Shalom brought in approximately $9 million in pledges from the more than 200 people in attendance.

This year’s honorees, Adam Laver and Jeff Schulman (second and third from right), were chosen for their distinguished careers, their service to the community and their support of the State of Israel through the Israel Bonds program. 


Jonathan S. Lavine, co-managing partner and chief investment officer of Bain Capital Credit

One of the world’s best-selling singer-songwriters over the course of seven decades, born Barry Alan Pincus, Barry Manilow

Diplomat and attorney, undersecretary of state for international security affairs in the Carter administration, longtime U.N. special representative, Matthew Nimetz… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics, professor at Georgetown and UC Berkeley, he is married to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin, George Akerlof… Former member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Eitan Broshi… Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission during the Obama administration, Jonathan David (“Jon”) Leibowitz… Deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration during the first two years of the Biden administration, Stephanie Pollack… President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Aaron Dan Peskin… Fashion designer, daughter of Reva Schapira, Tory Burch… Active in interfaith peace initiatives between Judaism and Islam and in encounters for Jews with Eastern religions, Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen (born Genack)… Founder and chairman of Shavei Israel, Michael Freund… British historian, columnist and musician, Dominic Green… Comedian, actor, director, writer and producer, Michael Showalter… International human rights attorney who serves as managing director of the law firm Perseus Strategies, Jared Matthew Genser… Screenwriter, television producer, director and voice actor, Matthew Ian Senreich… Advocacy, philanthropic and political counsel at Chicago-based Beyond Advisers, David Elliot Horwich… Senior vice president for the economic program at Third Way, Gabe Horwitz… Chief philanthropy officer of the Jewish Community Foundation and Jewish Federation of Broward County, Keith Mark Goldmann… Director of government affairs for the Conservation Lands Foundation, David Eric Feinman… Former rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, N.J., now an LCSW therapist in private practice, Rabbi Michael Bleicher… New York City-based media and business writer for The Hollywood ReporterAlexander Weprin… Professional surfer and musician, his family owns Banzai Bagels on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Makua Rothman… Founder and executive director of the Zioness Movement, Amanda Berman… Associate director at the New Israel Fund, Alexander Willick… Senior writer for The Athletic covering college football and basketball, Nicole Auerbach… Member of the U.S. Ski Team’s alpine program, he competed for the U.S. in both the 2014 (Sochi) and 2018 (Pyeongchang) Winter Olympics, Jared Goldberg… Senior art director at InsiderRebecca Zisser… Shortstop for Team Israel at the 2020 Olympics, Scott Burcham… Actress best known for her roles in the CBS series “Fam” and the Netflix series “Grand Army,” Odessa Zion Segall Adlon… D.C.-based freelance foreign media consultant, Mounira Al Hmoud