Your Daily Phil: AI tools to counter antisemitism in the workplace

Good Thursday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report from this week’s Rohr Jewish Learning Institute leadership summit in Florida, and on a new survey of Jewish teenagers by BBYO. We feature an opinion piece by Adina H. Frydman about how encounters between North American Jews and Israelis have changed post-Oct. 7, and another by Eran Vaisben about the need for Diaspora Jewish communities to also discuss the “day after” the Israel-Hamas war. Also in this issue: Jeff Schoenfeld, Scooter Braun and Kenneth Stern. We’ll start with a new artificial intelligence-powered tool to help young Jewish professionals cope with antisemitism in the workplace.

For Gila, everything came crashing down at work five days after Oct. 7. On her job’s donation matching platform, coworkers put out a call to help those suffering in Gaza, asking for contributions to organizations with antisemitic pasts. There was no acknowledgement of attacks in Israel or the hostages taken. Coworkers flooded the post with praise.

She burst into tears in the middle of a meeting. “I’m sitting here like, ‘What do I do?’” she told Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropyShe didn’t want to debate coworkers on a public forum. “I wouldn’t bring a war to work just like they had done.” (Gila asked to be identified only by her Hebrew name.)

Many young professionals like Gila have been thrust into a job market that is often hostile towards Jews and those who identify with Israel. It’s emotionally taxing to reply to antisemitism when your energy is meant to be spent working. Most people aren’t afforded the opportunity to tell coworkers off.

In a bid to address the problem and equip Jewish workers with coping strategies, the nonprofit Career Up Now is releasing a 32-page “Self-Advocacy Guide for Addressing Workplace Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment” on Thursday as well as a beta version of an artificial intelligence tool.

The goal was to create something quick and simple for young professionals to use when they experience antisemitism, Bradley Cook, executive director of Career Up Now, told eJP. “You could just say, ‘Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom.’ Take your phone with you and type in what happened at work and then have what you need to go back with,” he said.

The guide and AI tool were funded by the Suzanne Dryan Felson’s Fund, Etrog Fund #1 and the Schusterman Family Philanthropies ROI Real Time Challenge Grant, a grant available to members of the ROI community, a network of 1,700 Jewish activists and social entrepreneurs.

Founded in 2016, Career Up Now cultivates personal, professional and Jewish connections for students and emerging professionals. Recently, the nonprofit sent a survey to its 2,500 members, asking what support they need in a post-Oct. 7 world. Members shared horror stories of encountering antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment at work. They didn’t have confidence in their ability to respond and feared conflicts escalating.

David Guccione, a Career Up Now member, said that he even found himself lying about being Jewish. “For the first time in my life, I felt scared for people knowing that piece of my identity,” he told eJP.

Antisemitism has always been there, and Jews have always struggled with how to respond, Cook said. “The difference now is that, in the workplace, what was just flippant comments [in the past] like, ‘You’re Jewish. You should be on the finance committee.’ [Now] there’s a vitriol to go with them.”

Read the full report here.


Chabad’s Rohr Jewish Learning Institute leadership summit aims to give handpicked attendees tools for a post-Oct. 7 world

Raheli Baratz-Rix of the World Zionist Organization moderates a panel with former U.S. ambassadors Gordon Sondland, Clifford Sobel, Stuart Bernstein and John Rakolta at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute’s leadership summit in Delray Beach, Fla., in March 2024.
Raheli Baratz-Rix of the World Zionist Organization moderates a panel with former U.S. ambassadors Gordon Sondland, Clifford Sobel, Stuart Bernstein, and John Rakolta at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute’s leadership summit in Delray Beach, Fla., in March 2024.

Maya Makarovsky flew to Delray Beach, Fla., from Boston for less than 24 hours amid a busy courseload to share her experience as a Jewish student at MIT, an environment the third-year student calls “hostile for Jews and Israelis.” Makarovsky and two other Jewish university students were there to address the 120 attendees at the first invitation-only leadership summit of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement’s Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen from the gathering.

How Jews live: Rabbi Efraim Mintz, executive director of JLI, told eJP that the summit was a preview of JLI’s plans to expand — specifically with engaging middle and high school students who may not be receiving a Jewish education. “It’s been in the works since Oct. 8,” Mintz told eJP at the summit. “This was a launch for what we want to incorporate.” Mintz emphasized that while the terror attacks on Oct. 7 and subsequent rise in global antisemitism were catalysts for the event — and mentioned several times throughout the two days — the conference’s theme was life. “The message here is that we can continue,” he said. “Instead of what’s done in Holocaust education, telling us how Jews were killed,” Mintz continued, “[the summit] is telling us not how Jews died, but how Jews live.”

Practical know-how: “A lot of conferences are theoretical,” Jay Eisenstadt, who frequently attends JLI events and courses and has donated to the institute for years, told eJP. “This one was relevant and real. As a Jewish community we are now more in tune to the threat out there, so this was more about orders and solutions to what can we do.” He continued: “Coming from here, I’ll be better educated back in New York in terms of what and how to respond to people who are adversarial.”

Read the full report here.


BBYO survey finds most Jewish high schoolers experienced in-person antisemitism since Oct. 7

American politician Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office after she was elected mayor of San Francisco, at San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco, California, circa 1978.
Courtesy/Michael Kandel

More than 7 in 10 Jewish high school students report experiencing antisemitic harassment either in person or online since Oct. 7, a new study conducted by BBYO found. The survey is the first of its kind to look at the impact that the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel and the subsequent rise in antisemitism across the world has had on high school students. “The results are surprising and sad… antisemitism is having an impact on students’ mental health and friendships and the feelings they have about going to school,” Matt Grossman, BBYO’s CEO, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Mostly in-person: The survey — conducted in partnership with First International Resources and Impact Research between Jan. 23 and Feb. 5 — polled 1,989 public, private and day school students in ninth through 12th grades across the U.S. and Canada. It found that 71% of Jewish teens have experienced antisemitic harassment or discrimination, with 61% experiencing the bias in person, 46% experiencing it online and 36% experiencing antisemitism both online and in person. Nearly half of the students surveyed reported being harassed for wearing visibly Jewish clothing or symbols, such as Jewish camp/youth group apparel, a kippah or a Star of David. More than 40% reported that someone attempted to intimidate them for wearing or owning pro-Israel items. 

Can youth groups help?: “BBYO gives Jewish young people a place to feel safe,” Grossman told JI, pointing to additional results of the survey that indicate 72% of BBYO members say the youth group has influenced their ability to express views about Israel and/or antisemitism, while 65% reported that spending time with their peers in local BBYO chapters provided comfort. The study tracks with other recent polls that found that Jewish college students are facing a dramatic increase of antisemitism since Oct. 7.


Minding the gap: Preparing for a radically different mifgash

Participants in the author’s Young Judaea trip to Israel at the graveside of Gili Adar, who was murdered in the Oct. 7 attack at the Nova Festival outside Kibbutz Reim, Israel. Photo by Adina Frydman/Facebook

“For most of us in the Israel travel sector, crafting the perfect encounter, or mifgash, with an Israeli can be the difference between experiencing Israel academically or intellectually and letting it enter your heart and your being. Building deep and real connections with Israel through the people is the best way to experience the real Israel,” writes Adina H. Frydman, CEO of Young Judaea Global, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A recent interaction: “An activist, writer and podcaster, for months before Oct. 7 Noah joined together with thousands of Israelis to march at Rabin Square for the Israel they longed for. After Oct. 7, Noah is now back to marching every week, but this time for the return of the hostages, struggling to feel that same sense of idealism he had before. This is the biggest crisis Zionism has experienced in the last 150 years, he told us, speaking about the long list of disappointments that he and his friends are struggling with, falsehoods they used to hold to be true that have collapsed since Oct. 7. This is hard for us to hear; having come to Israel for inspiration and connection, it is a very different experience to be faced with the pain and the disappointments of Israelis today… It was a turning point in our trip, when we realized we were the ones who needed to be doing the comforting, providing inspiration and newly igniting the hope.”

Paradigm shift: “[A]s powerful as mifgashim continue to be, the nature of the encounters post-Oct. 7 is radically different than they were the day before, and we will need to adjust to meet the moment — not only so we maximize the impact of the mifgash, but because we need to realize that these mifgashim are bidirectional and are impacting Israelis, too. At Young Judaea, we say we will continue to travel to Israel so long as we can ensure the safety of participants to the best of our ability and ensure that we can provide a meaningful educational experience despite necessary changes to the itinerary. But now, I suggest that we add a third consideration: that we ensure that our encounters with Israelis are impactful, empathic and bidirectional.”

Read the full piece here.


The Diaspora’s ‘The Day After’ dilemma

Hundreds of people rally outside Sproul Hall at UC Berkeley on Oct. 26, 2023. Screenshot via YouTube

“I recently met a woman at a local synagogue social event whose daughter is a first-year student at UC Berkeley. ‘Oy, it must be difficult to be a student there with all the antisemitic activities,’ I said to her. ‘There is no antisemitism on campus,’ the woman replied. Her daughter just decided to avoid walking through Sproul Plaza and other places where the anti-Israel demonstrations are located,” writes Eran Vaisben, executive director of the Hillel Inland and Desert in Southern California, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

In denial: “This indifferent and naïve response surprised me. How could she be in such a state of denial? How can she not see the parallel of her daughter’s choice to the decisions of German Jews in 1936? At that time, Jews avoided walking through specific streets or public parks to evade Nazis. Today, Jewish students at one of the best public universities in the world feel intimidated walking through the main campus square. If this is not antisemitism, then what is it?”

Thinking ahead: “There is a lot of talk in Israel about ‘the day after the war,’ but Jewish communities in the Diaspora need to start to discuss their own ‘the day after the war’ dilemmas. Will we be able to forget this period of time and move on? Can we still use the phrase ‘Never again,’ or has it lost its meaning? Do we just see these past few months as an ‘inconvenient’ period and start walking through Sproul Plaza after the war is over? These and many more questions will need answers.” 

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Of Reluctant Warriors: In the first article in a three-part series based on interviews from her recent time in Israel, Free Press founder Bari Weiss places the country’s post-Oct. 7 population in a historical context. “On a recent Tuesday morning I found myself two kilometers from Gaza. Every few minutes we could hear the boom of a 155 mm howitzer sending fire across the border, but I was trying to focus on the historian Michael Oren, who was talking to me not about the war raging around us but about Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a Roman general who walked the world 500 years before Jesus was born, some 200 kilometers from the spot we were standing… ‘The Cincinnatus myth was the foundational myth for the American Revolution, specifically for Washington himself,’ Oren said. ‘It is also the most foundational Israeli myth. It is David Ben-Gurion. It is Moshe Dayan. It is Ariel Sharon. These people just wanted to farm. But they were called to pick up arms and defend their country. Israel is the Cincinnatus nation.’… On the morning of October 7, ordinary Israelis left their offices, closed their laptops, and abandoned their fields to pick up weapons, in many cases without waiting for instructions from the state or its army… For twenty-first-century inhabitants of the Middle East’s start-up nation, such individual and collective courage had become something to be studied in the past — not enacted in the present. Not inside the land of Israel. Not in the twenty-first century. And certainly not by them. But I met successors to Cincinnatus everywhere I went.” [FreePress]

A Concrete Endeavor: A wave of investors and entrepreneurs are looking to make one of the world’s worst pollutants — concrete — greener, reports Konrad Putzier in The Wall Street Journal. “Concrete accounts for more than 7% of global carbon emissions, according to some estimates. That is roughly the same as the CO2 produced by all of India and more than double the amount produced by the global aviation industry. Most of those emissions are caused by [the production process for] cement, the glue that binds together sand and gravel to make the concrete used to build roads, bridges and tall buildings… Big cement producers and startups including Brimstone and Partanna, a startup based in the Bahamas and headed by three-time NBA champion [Rick] Fox, are developing new technologies to produce cement while producing less CO2. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which was founded by [Bill] Gates and is backed by [Jeff] Bezos, Jack Ma and Michael Bloomberg among others, Fifth Wall and other venture firms have poured tens of millions of dollars into these companies. These companies are being motivated in part by the federal government, which is dishing out grants and setting aside billions to decarbonize materials such as cement. Local regulators are also encouraging these new technologies.” [WSJ]

Jumping the Shark: In The Atlantic, Phil Klay dissects the recent controversy at the arts journal Guernica, in which most of the all-volunteer staff quit to protest the publication of an essay by Israeli writer Joanna Chen. “Blowups at literary journals are not the most pressing news of the day, but the incident at Guernica reveals the extent to which elite American literary outlets may now be beholden to the narrowest polemical and moralistic approaches to literature. After the publication of Chen’s essay, a parade of mutual incomprehension occurred across social media, with pro-Palestine writers announcing what they declared to be the self-evident awfulness of the essay (publishing the essay made Guernica ‘a pillar of eugenicist white colonialism masquerading as goodness,’ wrote one of the now-former editors), while reader after reader who came to it because of the controversy — an archived version can still be accessed — commented that they didn’t understand what was objectionable. One reader seemed to have mistakenly assumed that Guernica had pulled the essay in response to pressure from pro-Israel critics. ‘Oh buddy you can’t have your civilian population empathizing with the people you’re ethnically cleansing,’ he wrote, with obvious sarcasm. When another reader pointed out that he had it backwards, he responded, ‘This chain of events is bizarre.’” [TheAtlantic]

Around the Web

A spokesperson for Len Blavatnik told The Hollywood Reporter that the producer and philanthropist had not been informed in advance of the content of a speech made by Jonathan Glazer, who directed “The Zone of Interest,” on Sunday night in which he criticized Israel…

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency interviews Jeff Schoenfeld about how the Jewish Federations of North America is allocating the nearly $800 million that it has raised for Israel after Oct. 7…

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta announced that it has raised $12 million toward that JFNA Emergency Israel Fund

A new study by the Israel Democracy Institute found that Arab Israelis’ trust in all Israeli institutions rose, in some cases more than doubling, from June 2023 to December 2023, including trust in the Israel Defense Forces, which grew from 21% to 44%, making it their second-most trusted institution after the Supreme Court. The same is not true for the overall Israeli population, whose trust in institutions largely stayed the same or decreased, save for the police, which rose from 35% to 58.5%…

Scooter Braun announced a new effort — including a personal donation of $200,000 — to support both CARE International and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum in Israel, saying that one “can say, free the hostages, and also want the Palestinian people who are innocent to be protected from Hamas and this war”…

The New Yorker interviews Kenneth Stern, one of the drafters of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, about his reservations about governments’ use of it to moderate speech…

Adidas is donating more than $150 million to groups fighting antisemitism and other forms of hate from the sales of Yeezy shoes after it severed ties with Ye for his repeated antisemitic remarks…

The New York Times spotlights the bureaucracy that has prevented the descendants of a Jewish woman whose art was looted by the Nazis after her death from reclaiming a 17th-century painting that a Dutch court ruled they should receive 17 years ago…

Nelson France began his position as the inaugural Jewish Community Relations Council director of the Jewish Federation & Foundation of Northeast Florida

South Africa’s foreign minister said that Israel Defense Forces officers who hold South African citizenship will be arrested if they attempt to enter the country…

In The Liberal PatriotYair Zivan, a top adviser to Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapidargues for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and not just “managing” it, as he says the government has done for years…

Murray Lewis Solomon, a prominent member of the Columbus, Ohio, Jewish community, who served two terms as president of the city’s Jewish federation, died earlier this month at 85…

Bernard L. Schwartz, the longtime head of Loral Corp. and a major Democratic donor, died on Tuesday at 98…

Pic of the Day

Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.

Israeli Reform rabbis cover their eyes as they say the Shema prayer on Tuesday during the annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which was held in Philadelphia this week.

Eighteen rabbis from MARAM: Council of Reform Rabbis in Israel participated in the gathering. “They shared songs, prayers, poetry and stories centered on remembering the hostages, spiritual healing and lasting peace,” a spokesperson for CCAR said. “During the service, each Reform rabbi in attendance was given a pair of Shabbat candles and the name of a hostage in whose honor they can light candles.”


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Vaugh Rodley/SportsFile via Getty Images

Heiress to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, philanthropist, former child actress, Liesel Pritzker Simmons

Professor emeritus of chemistry at Tel Aviv University, winner of the 1982 Israel Prize, Joshua Jortner… Founder and retired president of Los Angeles-based Skirball Cultural Center, Rabbi Dr. Uri Herscher… Dean of Yeshiva Toras Moshe in Jerusalem, Rabbi Moshe Meiselman… Senior lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Marshall Ganz… Canadian criminal defense attorney, Brian Greenspan… Actor, writer, producer, director and comedian, Billy Crystal… Retired in 2023, after 28 years, as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Shane Elizabeth Pendergrass… One-half of the eponymous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Jerry Greenfield… Retired Hebrew teacher, Eliezer Cohen Barak… Co-founder of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation and the president of Stand By Me, Gila Milstein… Partner at Hefter, Leshem, Margolis Capital Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in Highland Park, Ill., Steven Hefter… Founder and leader of ChangeCommunications, Jo-Ann Mort… NYC-based restaurateur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer… Professor in the department of Jewish philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Menachem Lorberbaum… Of counsel in the Minneapolis office of Maslon LLP, Jonathan S. Parritz… Past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Denise (Davida) Eger… Owner of Baltimore’s Tov Pizza which he founded in 1984, Ronnie Rosenbluth… Owner and COO of EJM Development Company, Jon Monkarsh… Microgrid architect at Urban Ingenuity, a D.C.-based consulting firm for advanced clean energy infrastructure projects, Shalom Flank, Ph.D…. Film and television actress, Meredith Salenger… Entrepreneur, musician, songwriter and record company executive, Josh Gruss… Screenwriter and film director, Etan Cohen… Canadian fashion stylist, Jessica Brownstein Mulroney… Oldest of three sisters who are members of the rock band Haim, Este Arielle Haim… Former NASCAR driver, he is the sole inductee into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in the “Auto Racing” category, now a credit trader at TD Securities, Jon Denning… Former point guard at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the Ivy League player of the year in 2012, Zack Rosen… Product quality specialist at The Topps Company, Philip Liebman… Four-time Israeli national champion in the skeleton event, he competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Adam Edelman… Coach for first-time founders, Sophie Galant