Your Daily Phil: BBYO x Moishe House collab + UpStart’s first chief strategy and innovation officer
Good Thursday morning!
Two Jewish organizations — BBYO, which serves teens, and Moishe House, which serves post-college adults —have signed a formal agreement that commits their boards and staffs to meeting on a regular schedule; working together on fundraising and training; sharing best practices and create a pipeline of high-potential program participants to live in Moishe Houses and volunteer as BBYO advisors.
“The philanthropic community is encouraging organizations and initiatives to see how they can work together to do more and use this moment of disruption as a moment of opportunity,” BBYO CEO Matt Grossman told eJewishPhilanthropy.
Grossman and Moishe House CEO David Cygielman said they hope this more systematic mode of cooperation will generate initiatives that merit funding, although this agreement is not backed by any foundation or donor. The two groups will establish a committee of lay leaders from both to guide the initiative.
“We’re just opening up the kimono, and saying ‘Here’s what we’re doing, it’s not working well, and here’s what we’re doing that is working well,” Cygielman said. “And we’re giving our teams the direction that they should be fully transparent.”
Meet Rebecca Kuduru: UpStart’s first chief strategy and impact officer
UpStart, a Jewish nonprofit that advises other Jewish organizations on strategy, has named international aid and development expert Rebecca Kaduru as its first chief strategy and impact officer. As the founder and leader for six years of KadAfrica, a business-development enterprise in Uganda, Kaduru herself benefitted from working with several UpStart-style “accelerators” — such as the Unreasonable Group — which help social entrepreneurs realize their ideas by providing coaching and consulting. UpStart offers programs and services, such workshops that vet new ideas and intense coaching sessions they call “sprints,” to Jewish professionals who want to build an organization or change an existing one. She will oversee the delivery of those services and shape them in accordance with what the newest social entrepreneurs need. Kaduru spoke with eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff about what drew her to the Jewish community, and her vision for UpStart.
From California to Kampala: An international career was Kaduru’s childhood dream, inspired by her father, who traveled often for work. Her mother would monitor airline ticket prices and, when she found a great deal, bring the rest of the family to meet him in different locales around the world. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Kaduru graduated from Santa Clara University in 2009 with a degree in political science and, within a year, moved to Kampala to work as an evaluator and administrator at an education NGO. In 2012, she founded KadAfrica and grew it while at the same time working at several other NGOs. “A lot of people want to go into this work because you’re living overseas, and it’s fun,” she said. “But you’re also telling people how to improve their lives. Is that the right model? There’s a lot of power disparities there.”
Difficult questions: In 2018, Kaduru was in a serious car accident in Uganda that upended her plans. She and her husband returned to the Bay Area so she could seek medical treatment, and lost most of what was left behind: their car was destroyed in the accident, while many of their possessions were stolen in their absence. When Kaduru had recovered enough to search for a new job, she needed one quickly in order to keep her health care. She looked in the field where she’d spent her career and was hired by Solidaridad, a Dutch nonprofit considered the founder of the fair-trade movement, to run its North American office. “I’d done it. I was running the entire continent for this large organization,” she said. But she was also getting burned out and starting to question the premises underlying international development work.
Unexpected support: No longer undergoing surgeries, Kaduru was traveling about 60% of the time. By that point, she also had a young daughter. The international lifestyle was starting to lose its luster when the pandemic grounded that aspect of her career. The global lockdown gave her time to reflect. “There was no way I could go back to traveling the way I had been,” she said. She also thought a lot about how the Jewish community in the Bay Area had supported her after the accident. Her childhood rabbi, Melanie Aron of Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, now retired, was the first person to donate to the crowdfunding effort Kaduru’s sister-in-law started to help Kaduru’s family pay her medical bills. Aron also arranged for the Jewish chaplains at Stanford University Medical Center to support her while she was there for surgery. The Hebrew Free Loan Society in the Bay Area gave her a no-interest loan.
This is now
Courageous conversations: Ten years on
Ten years ago here on eJewishPhilanthropy, Rabbi Aaron B. Bisno first called on congregational lay leaders and rabbis to engage in ‘Courageous Conversations.’ Today, in an opinion piece, Rabbi Bisno writes the situation is even more dire.
Argument: The Reform Movement was originally founded as a collective of independent and autonomous congregations, so that rabbis could be trained and prayer books could be published. But over time, it became clear that, excepting national programs, the Reform Movement is, in truth, a loose confederation of independently minded and idiosyncratically governed entities that speak of their connections to one another, but day-to-day each operates as a stand-alone entity.
Elephant in the room: Now, in the midst of the greatest disruption to American Jewish life our generation has ever experienced, our long-encouraged emphasis on congregational autonomy and individualism has become our movement’s albatross and our respective congregations’ greatest stumbling block.
Synagogue dues are dead: What’s the price point at which quitting the temple is impossible?
“What’s the price point at which quitting the temple becomes unnecessary or nearly impossible?” asked a synagogue lay leader. In an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy, Rabbi Paul Kipnes and David Weisz explain how the search for answers to challenging questions like this led to a new way forward.
Premise: Because we knew that every household that resigned directly hit our bottom line, affecting everything from dues income to fundraising opportunities to synagogue morale, we had to be risk-takers, disrupting our own marketplace. We had to address the financial elephant in the room: Dues were dead!
Mission: Throw out traditional dues and shape a new funding model that would meet both short- and long-term financial needs.
Tech Experiment: Smartphone use has risen 20% during the pandemic to account for about a quarter of people’s waking hours, reveals Charlie Warzel in The New York Times. Warzel spoke to Aron Rosenberg, a former high school teacher doing a P.h.D. in education at McGill University in Montreal, who decided two months before the pandemic to take a year-long sabbatical from the internet. He stayed true to his pledge, despite the world’s shift online, and discovered both that he was able to think more deeply and effectively, but also that the distinction between the internet and the “real” world was to some extent a false one. [NYT]
Too Far: Traditional philanthropy, defined as “helping those in need through one’s giving,” is being rejected by the philanthropic sector itself, as the highest-profile leaders, like Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, call for philanthropy to redistribute wealth by re-examine the social structures that created the wealth in the first place. This kind of agenda is disconnected from what motivates most of America’s $300 billion in annual giving, argues Howard Husock, an executive senior fellow at the Philanthropy Roundtable, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. “The type of charity most Americans do practice and should practice reflects a belief in the American Dream — what I call a philanthropy of social continuity and inclusion,” he concludes. [ChroniclePhilanthropy]
Long View: There’s an Iraqi stringed instrument called the “jawza.” A jabot of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s, a scroll that dates to the Golden Age of Spain and a range of other artifacts, all contained in 72,000 square feet. After a $100 million renovation, the former Beit Hatfutsot — the Museum of the Jewish People, in Tel Aviv — has reopened as simply “ANU,” which means “we.” U.S.-based donors financed about half of the cost to transform the museum, which focuses on the “diversity of Jewish culture and the accomplishments of the Jewish people,” — not just the tragedies, reports Ilan Ben Zion in the Associated Press. [AP]
Listening Tour: Lori Klein had just started her new job as vice president at the Center for Designed Philanthropy, which is part of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, when California and much of the United States mandated general lockdowns, reports Simone Ellin in Inside Philanthropy. Before the pandemic, the center had focused on Jewish community programming, but consulting with supporters, Klein decided not to fund new organizations and instead to give nearly $8.3 million to COVID relief. [InsidePhilanthropy]
Word on the Street
San Francisco native Rabbi H. David Teitelbaum has died at age 94 … JNF-USA‘s new teen initiative Dream Israel will make grants of up to $7,500 available per teen on selected programs …. Fotografiska, the international photography museum, has merged with NeueHouse, a social space for creators …
Pic of the Day
In an effort to educate and promote a nuanced understanding of Orthodox Jews, Jew in the City hosted a live “Ask Us Anything” event at New York’s Rockefeller Plaza Wednesday.
Israeli singer-songwriter and pianist who has twice been recognized as Israel’s Singer of the Year, Keren Peles…
Professor emeritus at Princeton University whose research focuses on the Cairo Geniza and Jewish life in Muslim countries, Mark R. Cohen… Doctor of nursing practice, Hermine Warren… Office administrator at Creative Wealth Management, Glenda Kresh… Culinary writer and novelist, Steven Raichlen… Composer and conductor specializing in movie scores, David Louis Newman… Co-owner of One Oak Vineyard in Sonoma, Laura Zimmerman… Chairman of Lions Gate Entertainment and head of MHR Fund Management, Mark Rachesky… College physician at the Student Health Center of Stony Brook University, internal medicine specialist, Richard E. Tuckman, MD… CEO of Weiss Public Affairs, Amy Weiss… Singer-songwriter, she also promotes an eponymous line of eyeglasses, Lisa Loeb… Chief research officer and SVP of strategic partnerships at Survey Monkey, Jon Cohen… Northeast regional deputy synagogue initiative director at AIPAC, Daniel Kochavi… Managing director at Ridgewood Energy, Samuel J. Lissner… Chief innovation officer at Forward PMX, Dana Stern Gibber… Financial representative at Northwestern Mutual, Lev Beltser… Assistant director of Ramah Sports Academy, Ayala Wasser… Director of the Israel office at Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, Richard Pater… President of JCS International, Michal Grayevsky… Principal and chief strategist at MCS Group, Sharon Polansky…