Your Daily Phil: Batia Ofer’s art of fundraising + Ted Deutch to head AJC

Good Tuesday morning!

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) will succeed American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris when he steps down in October after 32 years leading the prominent Jewish group, the congressman announced Monday afternoon.

The organization announced Harris’ departure in July 2021. The original announcement said that he would leave the organization in May 2022 and stay on as a consultant through June 2023. Harris will now depart AJC in October and stay on as a consultant for the next year.

“I didn’t make a decision to move on from Congress, I really made a decision to move into this incredible opportunity to spend all of my time focused on the issues that I’m so passionate about — defending the global Jewish community and Israel’s rightful place in the world and defending Democratic values,” Deutch told Jewish Insider shortly after the announcement.

Deutch, who represents South Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, pointed to rising antisemitism, Iranian aggression, the Abraham Accords and AJC’s Leaders for Tomorrow program — which provides advocacy training to high school students — as key priorities for him in the new role. “I’m running to the AJC,” he said, “and I’m running to an opportunity to stand up every day, wake up every morning and think about ways to strengthen the Jewish community and defend the Jewish community that’s so often under attack.”

Read more here.


Batia Ofer combines art with heart

Batia Ofer

Philip Sinden

Fundraising can take artistry. In the case of Batia Ofer, that has included commissioning and curating artworks by underrepresented and emerging artists, which are then auctioned to benefit Make-A-Wish UK, the organization that grants the wishes of critically ill children. The auctions take place at a gala called Art of Wishes, which Ofer launched in 2017 and which has raised $11.1 million to date, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

The power of a wish: “The primary goal of our events is to raise as much money to grant as many wishes as possible,” Ofer, herself a prolific art collector along with her husband, Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer, told eJP. “More than 63,000 children in the U.K. have been diagnosed with a critical condition in the past year, changing their lives and the lives of their families forever,” she said. “For them, the joy of childhood is brought to an abrupt end with treatment plans, hospital visits and sleepless nights taking over. The power of a wish can revive a childhood stolen by a critical illness.”

Feeling safe: Ofer lives in the U.K., but her philanthropy is not limited by geography. In Israel, she and her husband founded The Idan and Batia Ofer Family Foundation to address social issues through projects in the fields of health, education, welfare, art and culture, with a particular focus on children. “I believe that every human should feel safe and secure in life, and even more so when it comes to children,” she said.

Read the full story here.

uncomfortable conversations

The cost of being a Jewish communal professional


“I’m a Jewish professional who cannot afford Jewish institutional life for my family. This thought looped through my mind as my husband and I began researching childcare options for our daughter in the Boston area,” writes Rachel Zylberfink, a graduate student in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Young families too: “Working with Jewish young adults for the past three years has deepened my appreciation of the communal infrastructure that attracts young adults, engages them and enables them to be active in the Jewish community for very little (or even no) money. Young Jewish families deserve the same access to Jewish programs and institutions as young adults, who receive large amounts of funding and organizational attention.” 

Uncomfortable questions: “Childcare is expensive regardless of the provider. The cost of five full days at the local Jewish daycare center is comparable to other local high-end options, such as Montessori centers and corporate-owned chains. The prices are, and will remain, high because the market can bear it. This begs the question of equity in Jewish education: Don’t all Jewish children, regardless of age or socioeconomic status, deserve the same access to early childhood programs that will no doubt lay the groundwork for all future Jewish knowledge? Is the Jewish community only focused on educating the children of the wealthy? Let’s break down the stigma regarding conversations about money in order to create a more equitable Jewish landscape for young families: one in which we all have access to Jewish childcare.”

Read the full piece here.

pandemic changes

Grandparents and grandchildren


“The role grandparents play in the lives of children has always been important. From childcare to fostering to simply being fun, we grandparents support our children. We pay for school or give respite to parents. We encourage new experiences,” write Betsy S. Stone, an adjunct lecturer at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Erica Hruby, a parent educator and coach, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Pandemic change: “Grandparenting has changed dramatically in the pandemic. For some, it has created closer and deeper relationships, as our children and their children rely on us for more support. They may have moved into our homes or depended on us to stay with children who were no longer in in-person schooling. For these families, it may feel that the boundaries between generations have become more fluid.”

It’s not all good change: “For others, the pandemic has created much more space than we want. We don’t see our children who are very far away and are reliant on technology to maintain relationships with grandchildren. We miss them and feel that we don’t even know them anymore. It’s an additional grief in these two years of loss.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

The Outsider Hero: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky offers a reminder of the inroads Eastern and Central European Jews have made in overcoming their status as perpetual outsiders, Gal Beckerman writes in The Atlantic: “It’s uncanny in retrospect that the character he played on television in the series ‘Servant of the People’— the role that foretold his actual ascendance to the presidency—is a nobody whose rise begins when a private rant is filmed and goes viral. But there is a kind of logic to this coincidence. Zelensky grabbed the attention of Ukrainians by playing out what has traditionally been the part of the Jew: the outsider. In this case, what Ukrainians saw in this lonely figure banging on the window was themselves, embattled, trying to hold on to their national identity amid growing threats to their independence. It may have been this aspect of his Jewishness and the way it came to dovetail with those Ukrainian anxieties that made him such a suddenly popular figure, winning 73 percent of the vote in his 2019 election.”[TheAtlantic]

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Word on the Street

The Washington-based Abraham Accords Peace Institute signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tel Aviv-based NGO ISRAEL-is last weekend in Marrakesh, Morocco…

The leaders of the House Homeland Security Committee introduced a bill on Friday proposing $500 million in annual funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program from 2023 to 2028, nearly tripling the current funding, as House lawmakers scramble to finalize government funding bills for the balance of the 2022 fiscal year…

Efforts by The Jewish Agency to help bring Ukraine’s Jews to Israel have been harmed by the Foreign Ministry’s decision to remove agency staff from Ukraine, Yaakov Hagoel, the interim head of The Jewish Agency, told a Knesset committee…

Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), which was founded by philanthropists from the former Soviet Union, is providing$10 million in emergency assistance to Jews affected by the crisis in Ukraine…

One of GPG’s co-founders, Mikhail Fridman, who was born in western Ukraine, recently spoke out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported. Fridman is the chair of Alfa Bank, a major Russian institution whose activity was restricted last week by American sanctions… 

Reality television star and entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel is sending $10 million in aid to help Ukrainians through her worldwide emergency relief initiative, BStrong

With a $41 million initial investment, a new East Bay Jewish campus is taking shape in Oakland’s desirable Rockridge District. It is anticipated that the three-acre property will eventually be home to 40 organizations…

Speaking at a meeting of the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, Israeli President Isaac Herzog criticized the U.K.’s Board of Deputies for its condemnation of Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich, branding the organization’s statements divisive and inappropriate. The Board responded, “We will continue to strongly support Israel, while opposing those who approach our community to seek backing for a message of division and hatred”…

Israeli Russian diamond tycoon Lev Leviev and his family filed suit against Shimon Hayut — alias Simon Leviev, the subject of the Netflix true-crime documentary “The Tinder Swindler” — for unjustly enriching himself using their last name…

The first full-distance Ironman Triathlon event to take place in the Middle East will be held in Tiberias, Israel, on Nov. 25…

Through donor-advised funds, National Philanthropic Trust awarded more than $5.15 billion in 2021, a 15% year-over-year increase and an increase of 212% compared to pre-pandemic giving in 2019… 

The Collaborative for Gender + Reproductive Equity announced a $25 million unrestricted gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott… 

San Francisco businessman and philanthropist Richard Blum, the husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), died at 86.

Pic of the Day


Israel-based nonprofit ADI just completed its second annual STEM accessible-design contest, “Make the Change Challenge,” which drew more than 180 entries from students across North America. This is the third year ADI’s special educators are working in North America, where they develop adaptive technology solutions that allow residents with severe disabilities to participate in all activities.


Rita Franca/NurPhoto via Getty Images

CEO of eToro, one of the world’s largest social investment networks, Yoni Assia… 

President of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts in NYC, he served for 30 years on the Los Angeles City Council, Joel Wachs… Real estate developer, Tulane’s basketball arena is named in his honor, Avron B. Fogelman… Professor emeritus of Jewish Studies at Los Angeles Valley College and the former editor of ShofarZev Garber… CEO of Mandalay Entertainment and a co-owner of both the LA Dodgers and Golden State Warriors, Peter Guber… Former chairman and CEO of IBM, Lou Gerstner… Member of the Knesset for the New Hope party, he is a son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Ze’ev Binyamin “Benny” Begin… Librarian at the Anti-Defamation League’s NYC HQ, Marianne Benjamin… Israeli historian, author and journalist, Tom Segev… Israeli journalist, author and political commentator, Ehud Yaari… Industrialist, magazine publisher, film producer and art collector, Peter M. Brant… Cantor at the Jewish Community Center of Paramus, N.J. / Congregation Beth Tikvah, Sam Weiss… U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)… Former executive of Viacom, Philippe Dauman… Chairman and president of Berexco in Wichita, Kan., Adam E. Beren… Author and human rights activist focused on Eastern Europe, Nina Willner… Satirist, novelist, short story writer and journalist, he is also a three-time “Jeopardy!” champion, Neal Pollack… VP of philanthropy at the Baltimore Community Foundation, Dara Schapiro Schnee… Television writer, director and producer, Brad Falchuk… Six-time Emmy Award-winning national correspondent for The Weather Channel, Dave Malkoff… Founder and principal at narrative/change, a Philadelphia-based media and communications firm, Jonathan Lipman… Israeli journalist, Yair Tarchitsky… Principal at Mosaic Realty Partners and a director of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, Isaac Pretter… Former member of the U.S. national soccer team, now head of international recruitment and development at Atlanta United FC, Jonathan Spector… VP of Special Projects at ASAPP, Joshua Lachter… Senior data reporter for CNN and the host of its “Margins of Error” podcast, Harry Enten… Law clerk for Judge Stephen A. Higginson on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Hannah Klain… Israeli shortstop for Team Israel now playing for Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, Assaf Lowengart… 

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