Your Daily Phil: Antisemitism and Hollywood Summit in the wake of Hamas terror

Good Friday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a summit on Hollywood and antisemitism hosted by Variety magazine and feature opinion pieces fromShuki Friedman, Arthur Sandman and Uri Cohen. Also in this newsletter: Rabbi Warren Goldstein, Andrés Spokoiny and Shoshan Haran. We’ll start with an interview with Jewish Federations of North America President and CEO Eric Fingerhut. Shabbat shalom.

For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: National Council of Jewish Women leads push to secure release of hostages taken by Hamas; Pro-Israel progressives begin to crack down on growing far-left extremism toward Israel; As death toll rises, Israelis fuming at government’s failures; Biden’s visit: A loving embrace or a bear hug? Print the latest edition here.

Days after the Hamas terror group committed a deadly terror attack in southern Israel last Saturday, killing more than 1,400 people, injuring thousands more and taking over 200 people hostage, the Jewish Federations of North America launched what it has described as a “historic” $500 million fundraising campaign.

As of this week, the umbrella organization has raised over $388 million toward that goal. In order to begin allocating those funds, JFNA has created an allocation committee led by long-time Jewish communal figures Jeffrey Schoenfeld and Stephen Hoffman, who will work with representatives of Jewish federations from across North America and with other philanthropic organizations with deep ties to Israel.

JFNA President and CEO Eric Fingerhut, who flew to Israel on Wednesday, spoke with eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross about how his organization is raising and allocating funds, as well as how the group is working to advocate for Israel in the U.S. and Canada.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Judah Ari Gross: We saw the announcement about the $388 million that has already been raised by JFNA. I assume the numbers have even gone up since then. But I haven’t seen as much about where the funds are being allocated. There was an initial announcement about $10 million in immediate funding. Of course, $388 million is a lot of money that can go to a lot of different places.

Eric Fingerhut: It is a lot of money. Unfortunately, it’s going to get used up quickly.

So first of all, to put that $10 million in context. We want to make sure that we have the most comprehensive, collaborative and really sophisticated process in place for identifying the needs as quickly as possible. Really in our history, this is an unparalleled crisis. But we also knew that [setting that process up] would take a couple of days and we didn’t want to wait to get some immediate dollars up the door. So our officers actually acted as our allocations group on the first day to approve the first $10 million that went out. Several federations also have ‘partnership’ cities or somewhere they can send some dollars quickly. And we estimate at least $50 million went out in the first week.

Read the full interview here.


President and chief media analyst of Variety Intelligence Platform Andrew Wallenstein speaks with Israeli actor Swell Ariel Or during the Variety Hollywood and Antisemitism Summit in Los Angeles on Oct. 18, 2023. (Araya Doheny/Variety via Getty Images)

An estimated 300 entertainment professionals gathered at the 1 Hotel West Hollywood to discuss antisemitism and the entertainment industry in a daylong summit created and hosted by Variety magazine, which was held in the shadow of last week’s brutal terror attacks in southern Israel in which the largest number of Jews were murdered in a single day since the Holocaust, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz from the event.

Eye-opening: The summit had been in the works since June, but the massacres on Oct. 7 and the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas gave the proceedings a greater emotional and political valence. “I wasn’t really aware of how much the world hates us,” Israeli actor Swell Ariel Or told the conference. “I’m trying to navigate between feeling the pain of the people I’ve lost, feeling scared of every notification of rockets on Tel Aviv, of every friend who’s texting me that he’s now on the way to the border, and do whatever I can in the same time — I’m speaking wherever I can. I’m working a lot on social media. I’m using my voice.”

Not alone: “I want to thank all the Jews for being here and the non-Jews for being here too,” said Daniel Loeb, CEO/CIO of Third Point LLC who helped sponsor the event through the Margaret & Daniel Loeb Foundation, in his opening remarks. “We often feel like we’re alone in this fight,” he said. “I think we’ve even felt a little left alone by some of our allies.”

Read the full report here.


The American Jewish heart beats in time with Israel’s

Jewish students attend an evening vigil in support of Israel following the Oct. 7 terror attacks at the University of Southern California on Oct. 10, 2023. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

“Over the past few years, a chasm has gradually opened up between Israel and American Jewry, the world’s largest Diaspora community. … That is why the findings of the JPPI-Voice of the Jewish People survey conducted this week are so noteworthy: Despite the extent of the ideological drift described above, support for Israel right now is tremendous across all denominational streams of American Jewry,” writes Shuki Friedman, vice president of the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Keep the momentum going: “American Jews are identifying emotionally with Israel. Israel has a duty to keep that support. It must hold American Jewry writ large close to its heart even once the war is over, and it must place its relations with the U.S. communities on a path of renewal and reinforcement.”

Read the full piece here.


‘Filled with Hamas’: This week’s portion contains the verse of the moment

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest in New York in October 2023 in defense of the Hamas terror attacks earlier this month. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“It is hardly the first time I’ve noticed that this word [hamas, meaning violence] is a homophone of the name of a certain terrorist group. … But it was never quite like now, when I still find myself reeling from the shock and horror of the Hamas attack,” writes Arthur Sandman, chief of staff of the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, in opinion piece on this week’s Torah portion for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A timeless challenge: “These early tales in Genesis are a study in humanity’s inclination to evil — an inclination that even God is unable to neutralize, but against which God unceasingly struggles throughout the Torah. As Jews, we often invoke a rabbinic maxim in recognizing our own limitations in perfecting the world: ‘You are not required to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it’ (Pirkei Avot, 2:16).”

Read the full piece here.


Noah’s ark in New Haven

Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay

“As in the time preceding the biblical flood, we find ourselves in a time when ‘the earth was filled with violence’ (Genesis 6:12). In this impossibly difficult moment of terror, war and threats to Jewish lives and interests everywhere, I liken the state of my campus Jewish community to the precariousness of Noah’s ark,” writes Uri Cohen, executive director of the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Dark waters: “Our ark, the Jewish community at Yale, is floating, isolated in a vast sea of people and ideas that are uninformed about the Jewish experience and subject to their own inertia. … There must have been chaos inside the biblical Noah’s ark: elephants trumpeting, gazelles leaping and lions prowling around, mice eating everyone’s food. The Yale Jewish community is a similarly raucous group, but last week was so much quieter. Everyone was profoundly sad. Stunned. Angry. In despair. A collection of memorial candles, small flames glowing, grew in our lobby. And at the same time, the seas threatened tempest.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

A Jewish Mother’s Love: Rachel Goldberg tells The Times of Israel’s “What Matters Now” podcast about her son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who was seriously injured and taken hostage by the Hamas terror group. “I think he’s the best thing since sliced bread. But he’s a really funny, witty, smart, voraciously well read, curious, trivia, knowledgeable, geography aficionado. He loves music. He’s really comfortable with people of all ages. What made me feel really good is just in passing, I [read] that someone had just met him, Dina Kraft. Just met him on the first night of Sukkot. He was sitting more on the kids’ side and she said that on the way home, her kids were talking to her about Hersh and how much they liked Hersh and that she said, ‘He’s the kind of boy that I want my daughter to marry.’ And I thought that’s what’s nice about Hersh, is he’s a sweet, kind, respectful guy. He doesn’t take himself seriously. He’s not super buttoned up. I mean, he’s like this crunchy granola.” [TOI]

Reach Your Goals: In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Lisa Schohl shares tips for how to maximize the impact of online donation campaigns in the final months of the year. “[W]ith nearly all nonprofits now vying for donors through email, social media, texting or a mix of communication channels, it’s vital to create digital campaigns that grab attention and motivate giving, especially during the last few months of the year. As the busy ‘giving season’ gets underway, the Chronicle spoke with veteran fundraisers at three organizations of different sizes — a higher-education institution, an animal-welfare group and a nonprofit digital news outlet — about which online tactics and messages are working, and what isn’t.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Around the Web

South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein rewrote the official prayer for the country, which was written in 1994, in light of its support for the Hamas terror group. “From this Shabbos onwards, we will pray only for South Africa and her people, and not for the government,” Goldstein wrote in a letter to the country’s Jewish community…

The Israeli military began evacuating the northern city of Kiryat Shmona today following rocket fire by the Hezbollah terror group and amid growing concerns of further attacks from Lebanon…

Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, wrote an opinion piece in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, criticizing non-Jewish organizations for failing to speak out amid an uptick in antisemitic activity and rhetoric following the Oct. 7 attacks…

Hillels across the country will hire armed guards to protect Jewish students who say they feel unsafe amid a rise in antisemitic activity around the world following the Oct. 7 attacks…

Israeli citizens can now travel to the United States without a visa as the American government moved up the start date for Israel’s participation in the Visa Waiver Program

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger issued emergency grants totaling $100,000 to communities facing food insecurity in Israel in light of the war between Israel and Hamas…

Shoshan Haran, founder of the agricultural nonprofit Fair Planet, which helps farmers across Africa, is among the at least 203 people who are believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas…

A new exhibit outside the Tel Aviv Art Museum features a Shabbat table with 203 settings next to empty seats, one for each of the hostages in Gaza…

More than 50 U.K. parliamentarians have signed a letter written by the Board of Deputies of British Jews denouncing the BBC for refusing to use the term terrorists to describe Hamas members…

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh deleted its X account after hackers took it over and used it to spread anti-Israel propaganda…

Montgomery County, Md., is allocating an additional almost $1 million in nonprofit security grants in light of rising threats of antisemitic attacks…

The Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, Iowa, hosted a rededication ceremony for the Iowa Holocaust Memorial on the grounds of the state Capitol this week…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Leket Israel

Joseph Gitler, founder and chairman of Leket Israel (left), and Leket CEO Gidi Kroch (right) present a certificate of appreciation to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul alongside Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, on Wednesday night at Leket’s distribution center in central Israel.

Hochul, who was in Israel on a solidarity mission, praised the food security nonprofit for its efforts on behalf of the Israeli displaced by the Oct. 7 attacks and ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

“Now that there are so many extra people to help from the south, they’ve become refugees, and homeless, and they don’t have a kitchen, they don’t have food, they don’t have any way to prepare their next meal for their families and you’re all making a profound difference here. Thank you for giving your time and your love,” Hochul said.


Elyse Jankowski/FilmMagic

National executive committee member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Terri Smooke celebrates her birthday on Saturday…

FRIDAY: Economist who earned the nickname “Dr. Doom” during his tenure as the chief economist at Salomon Brothers, Henry Kaufman, Ph.D.… Former Poet Laureate of the U.S., he is a professor at Boston University, Robert Pinsky… Professor emerita at Ben-Gurion University, she is the daughter of former PM and President Shimon Peres, Tsvia Walden… One of two grand rebbes of Satmar, Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum… Miami Beach-based real estate developer, Russell W. Galbut… Actress and director of film and television, Melanie Mayron… Music composer for many films, winner of six Grammys and an Emmy Award, Thomas Newman… Former longtime House Budget Committee staff director, now an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University, Thomas Kahn… U.S. senator (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse… Managing director and partner at Beacon Pointe Advisors, Jordan Heller… Former rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue in Jerusalem’s Katamon area and a leading figure at the Israel Democracy Institute, Rabbi Binyamin (Benny) Lau… Russian TV and radio journalist, Vladimir Solovyov… Vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris… U.S. senator (D-HI), Brian Schatz… and his identical twin brother, the executive director of the University of Hawaii’s P-20 programs, Stephen Schatz, both turn 51… Israeli actress, Hilla Vidor… Classical violinist and a 2008 winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Leila Josefowicz… Film and television writer, David Caspe… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-CA), Mike Levin… Long Island regional director at AJC Global, Eric Post… Israeli born actress, she is a recurring character on CBS’s Seal Team, Alona Tal… Fashion designer, best known for her eponymous line of women’s ready-to-wear, Misha Nonoo… Manager at AIPAC’s political action committee, Michael Clark… Associate in the NYC office of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, Evan G. Zuckerman… Twins from Ranana and avid JI readers, Avi and Rafi Granoff

SATURDAY: Emmy Award-winning reality courtroom personality, “Judge Judy,” Judith Sheindlin… News anchor who worked for 36 years in Philadelphia, and author of three books on the Beatles, Larry Kane… Professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy at Harvard University, Shaye J. D. Cohen… Prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu… Novelist, screenwriter, journalist and film producer, Amy Laura Ephron… Cardiologist and medical director at the Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, Nieca Goldberg, MD… Legislative director for Massachusetts state senator Jo Comerford, Brian Rosman… Managing principal and chief investment officer at Penso Advisors, Ari Bergmann, Ph.D.… Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla… Austin-based commercial insurance consultant, Mitchell B. Davis… President and CEO of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, David L. Bernstein… Emmy Award-winning television producer best known for her work on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” Marci Klein… Folk and folk-rock musician, he serves as the treasurer of The William Davidson Foundation, Ethan Daniel Davidson… EVP and editorial director at U.S. News & World Report, Dafna Linzer… U.S. senator (R-NC), Ted Budd… Classical composer and pianist, Lera Auerbach… Acting administrator and assistant secretary for aging at HHS’s Administration for Community Living, Alison Barkoff… Mayor of Phoenix, Ariz., Kate Widland Gallego… Israeli musician, model and actress, Ninet Tayeb… Joshua Sayles… Dori Tenenbaum… Chief information officer at Aish Global, Dan Hazony… Manager of marketing and communications at the Union for Reform Judaism, Eliana Rudee… Actress, model and writer, Hari Nef… Graduate of the University of Tel Aviv medical school, Stuart “Shimmy” Jesin… Occupational therapist, Yael Applebaum…

SUNDAY: Long-time chairman of Westfield Corporation, Frank Lowy… Pioneer of the venture capital and private equity industries, Alan Patricof… Retired EVP of the Orthodox Union, he was previously chairman of NYC-based law firm Proskauer Rose, Allen Fagin… Actor who starred in many high-grossing films such as Jurassic Park, Independence Day and sequels of both of those, Jeff Goldblum… Agent for artists, sculptors and photographers, David Hochberg… Retired vice-chair of SKDK, she was the long-time CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, Hilary Rosen… Composer and lyricist, he has won a Grammy, an Emmy and a Tony, and been nominated for seven Oscars, Marc Shaiman… Professor of education at the American Jewish University, Ron Wolfson… Author of two novels and three other books, Susan Jane Gilman… Bethesda, Md., resident, Eric Matthew Fingerhut… Chief of staff of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, Michelle Gordon… Actor best known for playing D.J. Conner on the long-running series “Roseanne” and its spin-off show, “The Conners,” Michael Fishman… Partner at West End Strategy Team, Samantha Friedman KupfermanDana Tarley Sicherman… Psychotherapist with a private practice in White Plains, Maayan Tregerman, LCSW-R… Journalist and author, Ross Barkan… Actor and producer, Jonathan Lipnicki… Israeli singer, Omer Adam… Freelance reporter, Ryan Torok