Your Daily Phil: Already vulnerable, Oct. 7 attacks hit Holocaust survivors hard

Good Monday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on this weekend’s Chabad emissaries conference and feature an opinion piece from Meredith Levick. Also in this newsletter: Zvi Noé, Andrew Weinstein andDr. Qanta Ahmed. We’ll start with how the Oct. 7 attacks have affected Holocaust survivors.

Holocaust survivors, a vulnerable population in the best of times, have been hit hard by the Oct. 7 attacks. Some Israeli Holocaust survivors have been evacuated from their homes and need blankets and food, aid workers at Jewish nonprofits report. Others have been re-traumatized by the barbarity of the attacks. But perhaps more importantly than any food package or session with a trauma counselor, nonprofits are finding as they step up their outreach, survivors want aid workers to take a seat on the couch and talk to them, reports Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy.

“We had a [staff member] who was bringing food [to survivors], and the survivor desperately needed the food because they hadn’t gone out of their apartment because they’re afraid of the rockets,” Greg Schneider, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany’s executive vice president, told eJP. “The person who delivered the food said, ‘I’ll come back in a week and bring another package.’ And the survivor said, ‘I don’t care if you bring the food. Can you just plan to stay for an hour and sit and talk to me? It’s more important.’”

As of the beginning of this year, there were 147,199 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, thousands of whom have been displaced from their homes in the Gaza and Lebanon border areas. “It is a very difficult feeling to be evacuated from your home, from your village and from those you love and those we lost,” Reuven Rosenberg, an 88-year-old survivor who was evacuated from his home near Gaza, told eJP.

Yossi Heymann, the director of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) Eshel program that develops services for older adults in Israel, said that along with ensuring essential needs are met, JDC and its partners make sure services are in place, especially for those evacuated and those who chose to remain in places under fire. If a home health aide isn’t able to travel with them or was called into the reserves, JDC gets another aide. If social services have been affected by travel, JDC helps set them back up. In addition, JDC has volunteers calling and visiting frequently to check in.

Many volunteers and employees working with survivors are also drowning in despair after the massacre. Working with survivors gives them hope.

“The greatest day for [employees and volunteers] over the past month has been the days when they go and sit with survivors and hold their hands and listen to their stories,” said Schneider. “You just feel better when you touch someone’s life, when you can make them feel better. You’re strengthened by their story.”

Read the full report here.


Thousands of Chabad emissaries pose for a photograph outside the movement’s headquarters in Brooklyn on Nov. 12, 2023. (Shmulie Grossbaum/

At first glance, the iconic photo of thousands of Hasidic rabbis dressed in traditional garb and posing in front of 770 Eastern Parkway, Chabad’s headquarters in Brooklyn, appears the same as it is every year at the annual International Conference of Chabad Rabbis, or Kinus Hashluchim. From the photo, one couldn’t tell that this weekend’s 40th annual conference, which consisted of three days of workshops culminating in a gala on Sunday, came at a fraught time for Jews worldwide — just over a month after Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel on Oct. 7 and amid a subsequent rise in global antisemitism not seen in at least a generation, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

A light in the dark: Rabbi Yosef Kantor, the chief rabbi of Chabad in Bangkok, Thailand, told eJP that he has participated in kinus every year since 1993 — including when it was held virtually during the pandemic — said the message at this year’s conference was “really about reconnecting to our internal values and tradition and finding resilience and strength to be a source of light that is some sense engulfed in darkness.” He added: “Everyone recognizes we’re living in unprecedented times and this unfolding situation isn’t in the handbook for community leaders… There’s a great awakening and everyone understands we need to stand firm, proud and together.”

Twelve seconds: Avraham Pizem, the 9-year-old grandson of Chabad of Sderot’s leader, Rabbi Moshe Ze’ev Pizem, addressed the crowd in person at the conference gala in Edison, N.J., wearing the child-sized bulletproof vest and helmet that he sometimes has to wear in his hometown. In his speech, Pizem shared his experiences of running for shelter in Sderot — located so close to the Gaza border that residents have just 12 seconds to protect themselves from incoming rocket and mortar fire — and sometimes not making it in time. He encouraged the crowd to recognize the significance of 12 seconds and how much they could accomplish in even such a short time. “In 12 seconds, you can simply embrace a Jew, to bring them joy, you can support him, you can make him believe, you can give him life,” he said, drawing applause.

Read the full report here.


Leadership involves taking risks — let’s begin

Rudzhan Nagiev/Getty Images

“In a macro sense, adaptive leadership is a toolbox, a way of approaching complex problems and emerging crises to experiment towards systemic change. In a micro sense, it has the capacity to transform how we see ourselves, others and the world around us,” writes consultant Meredith Levick in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Time for honesty: “As individuals, as teams, as institutions, we all have things we do well, and things we do less well. If ever there was a moment in our lifetime for the Jewish people to acknowledge their individual assets and leverage them, now is that moment. Equally so, this is a moment for humility — to recognize our growing edges and vulnerabilities and where we are willing to step back so others can step in. … Leadership, as defined by the adaptive leadership methodology, encourages collective accountability, ensuring loosened timelines and expectations in times of crisis if needed while also increasing honest conversation.”  

Take courage: “Adaptive leadership encourages us to dance at the edge of our leadership, to support ourselves and those around us in moving from status quo into a zone of experimentation. … This could be speaking up in a meeting when you otherwise would hold your tongue, suggesting an alternative opinion that may be unfavorable to the mainstream, or even responding with silence. Sometimes it can be the not-doing that allows the heat to rise in a given situation, and that discomfort serves as a gateway to something new, unanticipated and, ultimately, productive.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

No Other Word For It: In The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Qanta Ahmed reflects on her recent visit to Israel and how she came to the conclusion that the Oct. 7 attacks were genocidal. “As a doctor, I had a rare and panoramic view of the aftermath: the targeted people’s long, agonizing journey to death. This isn’t the first time I have seen Islamist jihadism or even Islamist genocide. I’ve been to northwestern Pakistan and met child Taliban operatives groomed for suicide missions. I still attend to 9/11 first-responders in New York. I’ve been to post-ISIS Iraq to meet with Kurdish and Yazidi survivors of genocide. I’ve spoken with former ISIS child soldiers and the Peshmerga veterans of that brutal and bloody three-year war. The Oct. 7 genocide was different, more barbaric than anything before it… Israelis I met were still searching for how to recount their experiences. Some talked about a second Shoah, a second Holocaust. One Israeli detective disagreed: ‘We can’t call this a holocaust—not because of the numbers—but because the Nazis were systematic and institutionalized the killing, and we can’t call it carnage, because “carnage” is too nice a word.’ He looked at me with a painful gaze. I found my own words strangled in silence, except one: genocide.” [WSJ]

Heiress Extraordinaire-ess: Before MacKenzie Scott, there was Joan Kroc — that is the parallel drawn by Lisa Napoli and the Associated Press in her portrait of the philanthropist and wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, featured in Fortune. “[L]ong before Scott’s benevolence, Kroc developed her own deeply personal and unorthodox brand of giving. An early and innovative leader in alcoholism education and treatment, she funded the creation of a groundbreaking medical school curriculum in the 1970s to teach doctors-in-training to diagnose addiction. To advocate for nuclear disarmament in the 1980s, she purchased newspaper ads nationally, urging concerned citizens to take action. At the same time, she quietly supported early efforts to combat the emerging AIDS crisis. In the late 90s, after touring poor neighborhoods in the Southern California area she’d called home since Ray’s purchase of baseball’s San Diego Padres decades earlier, Kroc planted the seeds of what would become her ultimate gift.” [Fortune]

Around the Web

Antisemitic incidents in the United States increased by 316% in the month following the Oct. 7 attacks compared to the same time period last year, according to a new survey by the Anti-Defamation League

Columbia University temporarily suspended Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voices for Peace on the grounds that they violated campus policies and used “threatening rhetoric and intimidation”…

Jewish groups and the University of Maryland denounced a rally organized by SJP at the College Park, Md., campus, in which participants called for an “intifada revolution” and one wrote in chalk “Holocaust 2.0,” comparing Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza to the Nazi genocide…

More than 1,600 members of the Harvard College Jewish Alumni Association are demanding that Harvard University take concrete action to address antisemitism on campus. “For centuries, the posture of Jewish people has been one of conciliation, nursed by the hope that if we show the non-Jewish majority that we are conciliatory, we may escape harm, persecution, and extermination. Those days are behind us,” they wrote in an open letter…

Israeli and Jewish students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said they were physically blocked from attending classes by a group of anti-Israel protesters last week…

Likud MK David Bitan, chair of the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee, and Yisrael Beitenu MK Oded Forer, chair of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, sent a letter to the Jewish Federations of North America thanking the group for its efforts since the Oct. 7 attacks. The organization has so far raised at least $638 million for Israel and allocated $175 million…

Demonstrators held a protest in Tel Aviv demanding that women’s groups around the world take a stand against Hamas’ attacks on Oct. 7, which included multiple acts of rape and violence against women and children. Some of the organizers have launched a campaign criticizing the silence from feminist groups called “Me too — Unless You’re a Jew”…

The board of trustees of Britain’s United Jewish Israel Appeal selected entrepreneur and philanthropist Zvi Noé as its next chair, beginning next April. Noé will succeed Louise Jacobs

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel interviewed Jewish attorney Andrew Weinstein, a public delegate of the U.S. at the United Nations, about his involvement in the administration’s efforts to combat antisemitism at the international body…

Protesters disrupted a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces gala in the Bay Area last week…

Also in the Bay Area, first responders from the Magen David Adom ambulance service visited local Jewish communities, speaking about their experiences on Oct. 7 as part of a fundraising effort for the organization…

National Public Radio profiled the work of the Jerusalem Civilian Command Center, which grew out of the capital’s protest movement and has become its largest volunteering and donation operation…

Philanthropist and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus endorsed Donald Trump as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Israeli Immigration Ministry

Children who recently immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia sing a song as part of a celebration for the holiday of Sigd, which began last night, at the cultural center in the Hof Hacarmel region on Israel’s northern coast. The children, who had been living with their families in an absorption center near the Gaza border, were evacuated and moved to a hotel in the northern Israeli community of Nir Etzion. 



Managing director of the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge, Sharon Freundel

Israeli industrialist, Gad Zeevi… Chief rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Shmuel Riccardo Di Segni… Publisher of the “Political Junkie” blog and podcast, Kenneth Rudin… U.S. attorney general, Merrick Garland… Israeli businessman, Nochi Dankner… Former member of the D.C. Board of Education for eight years, Ruth Wattenberg… Former editor-in-chief of British Vogue for 25 years, she is a strategic advisor to Atterley, Alexandra Shulman… U.S. senator (R-AK), Dan Sullivan… Producer and writer, Matt Weitzman… San Jose, Calif., resident, Katherine 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, he has served as minister of communications and then minister of housing, Ariel Atias… Founder of Pailet Financial Services, a predecessor agency of what is now the Dallas office of Marsh & McLennan, Kevin Pailet… Conservative rabbi, 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… Member of the House of Representatives (R-OH), one of two Jewish Republican congressmen, Max Leonard Miller… 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… Vice president of Israel and global philanthropy and director of Christian friends of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Danielle Mor… J.D. candidate at the University of Houston Law Center, Cole Deutch