Your Daily Phil: Bend the Arc’s new CEO + Fair-trade mezuzot for domestic abuse survivors

Good Wednesday morning! 

Bend the Arc, the progressive Jewish advocacy organization, has announced that Amy Spitalnick will be its next CEO. Spitalnick, a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, is known for a legal effort to hold neo-Nazis accountable for the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., as head of the nonprofit Integrity First for America (IFA). She starts at Bend the Arc on Nov. 15.

“We’re living in a moment where white supremacy…[and] anti-democratic extremism are increasingly normalized in our politics,” Spitalnick told eJewishPhilanthropy. ‘There is so much work to do in terms of advocacy…and Bend the Arc is uniquely taking on that fight in a way that is both deeply reflective of my own personal Jewish values, and [that] builds on the work that I’ve been doing at IFA over the last four years.”

Spitalnick’s move to Bend the Arc marks an end for Integrity First for America, which will shut down by year’s end. IFA will continue to maintain its website to keep the Charlottesville trial materials publicly available. Meanwhile, the legal team that worked on the case is engaged in post-trial motions and collecting the $25 million in damages awarded by the jury against the neo-Nazi defendants.

Spitalnick sees IFA ending its work as a sign of success: The legal strategy IFA championed against Unite the Right organizers – using civil litigation to make extremists compensate victims of violence, with the intent of bankrupting far-right networks – is also being used against far-right groups that rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “It’s the right moment to say that we don’t need an entire nonprofit infrastructure behind this effort,” Spitalnick said.

Read the full interview here.


Domestic abuse survivors get free fair-trade mezuzot under new program


MyZuzah, a project of the Mayberg Foundation that sources ethically produced mezuzot to organizations and individuals for free, is receiving $10,000 over the next two years to provide kosher, fair-trade mezuzahs to domestic violence survivors as one of seven grantees of the Safety, Respect, Equity (SRE) Network Open Grants initiative, reports Lev Gringauz for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Different needs: Often, the effort to help domestic violence survivors is focused on basic necessities, such as housing, food and making sure children continue to get an education. Meanwhile, spiritual health gets little attention. Alex Shapero, MyZuzah’s program director, hopes MyZuzah can fill that void. “Go back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the existential and spiritual needs are also very important,” he said, referring to pioneering American psychologist Abraham Maslow. “People often feel very isolated. And one of the core messages of MyZuzah is that when Jews put up a mezuzah, it connects them to the fabric of a larger Jewish community.”

Security first: To protect survivors’ security, MyZuzah is partnering with local Jewish Family Services agencies and organizations, such as Shalom Bayit in San Francisco, specifically focused on addressing domestic abuse in the Jewish community. Domestic survivors can anonymously request a mezuzah through one of the partner organizations, and other than general demographic information, MyZuzah will not know who they are.


Retention planning during the Great Resignation

Parradee Kietsirikul

“Mishkan Chicago is an independent, post-denominational Jewish spiritual community serving over 4,500 unique people a year. Our mission is to lead people toward more purposeful, more connected and more inspired lives by creating Jewish spaces where people can bring their whole selves and be part of something larger than themselves,” write Rachel Cort, executive director, and Ashley Donohue, director of communications, of Mishkan Chicago, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Act quickly: “During the Great Resignation we knew we needed to act quickly to retain our staff and remain competitive. At only 11 years old, and without a permanent building facility, Mishkan Chicago has largely succeeded and grown due to our strong mission and the talents of our 14 full-time and 10 part-time staff. In the early months of 2022 we began a retention plan, the goals of which were to 1) support employee well-being 2) increase retention through strengthening and formalizing our culture 3) increase transparency and equity and 4) remain competitive in salary and benefits.”

Survey says: “We learned much about our strengths and challenges through the 2022 Leading Edge Employee Experience Survey… From our survey results, we learned that the largest factor for high employee engagement at Mishkan is that our employees feel their well-being is valued by the organization and by their direct supervisors.”

Everyone has different needs: “Our employees, with and without children, appreciated knowing that Mishkan understands that caretaking for self and others can look different for each person… We have found that when employees prioritize taking time away from work to care for themselves, they can show up with greater positive presence and focus at work.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Generosity Preaching: Congregational religious leaders may find teaching and preaching about money uncomfortably personal, but “the invitation to give — to that congregation and beyond it — is entirely appropriate,” Meredith McNabb writes on the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving website: “Preaching about generosity should not be limited to an annual ‘PBS pledge drive’ timeframe! Generosity preaching is not limited to any particular season or special day, nor is any season or day off-limits for it. Again, when the preaching and teaching is focused on the listeners’ faith experience of generosity and the impact of their contributions for the community, every sermon is a good opportunity to speak to the spiritual side of generosity. ECRF [Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising] alumna Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch observes that her congregation in Massachusetts, like many Jewish communities, is well-accustomed to an appeal speech from the synagogue president during the High Holy Days — but she’s excited for how her sermons, even on the central holidays of the whole religious year, address tzedakah [generosity] from the spiritual perspective of abundance rather than scarcity.” [LakeInstitute]

Sober Trip: A Birthright Israel trip especially for young Jewish people who are in recovery from substance abuse, gambling, food and other addictions is currently in Israel, Michele Chabin writes in Religion News Service: “[Yael] Tamari [director of Israel Free Spirit] said the recovery trips make connections between Judaism and the process of recovering from addiction. At the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the tour leaders use Jewish themes of forgiveness, survival, mourning and redemption as they appear in Jewish texts and Jewish history to talk about the value of sobriety. In July, as [participant] Amy’s group visited the northern Israeli city of Safed, renowned for its Jewish art and mysticism, a local artist told the visitors that his creativity is fueled by Kabbalah, an ancient practice of Jewish mysticism, and how its teachings inspire him to reach higher levels of spiritual energy. Amy said she felt an instant connection. ‘Everything he said aligned with my beliefs,’ Amy said. ‘I consciously try to live with more light. For me, spirituality isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity central to my own recovery, but until now I hadn’t associated it with religion.’” [RNS]

Welcome to the Game: Social fundraising is a space where nonprofits can explore the use of gamification, making interactions feel more like a game by offering badges, quests, leaderboards and incentives, writes Maria Clark in NonProfitPRO: “Gamification works so effectively because people are naturally hardwired to seek rewards, and it builds camaraderie, enthusiasm and excitement — ultimately driving more funds raised…things like badges and leaderboards should be accompanied with features like ‘share now’ buttons to make the sharing process as easy as possible and virtually automatic. When these incentives are achieved and participants are notified, they should also receive suggested social post text for communicating to one’s network how quick and easy it is to take action and get involved…Gamification can be readily incorporated into a social fundraising effort, but it’s important to know which form is apt to be most effective for a given mission and the stage it’s in. It’s also important to know how to integrate gamification seamlessly (and ideally) in-platform; and how to encourage sharing and leverage incentivization in order to maximize the benefits.” [NonProfitPRO]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

As a result of ongoing legal problemsThe Jewish Agency is expected to end all of its physical activities in Russia. In addition to aliyah outreach, the organization operates supplementary Jewish schools across the country and supports local communities to organize events for Jewish holidays and youth activities that promote participation in programs in Israel such as Birthright and Masa Israel…

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, a total of 31,066 immigrants from these two countries have arrived in Israel, according to figures published on Wednesday by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics

Britain’s Community Security Trust recorded 786 anti-Jewish hate incidents across the United Kingdom from January to June this year, representing a 43% decrease from the number of hate crimes reported in the first half of 2021… 

The Chabad-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine has spent over $2 million buying a fleet of 40 electric cars for delivering food and medicine across eastern Ukraine… 

The U.S. Open Tennis Championship has committed to a fund-raising exhibition match on Aug. 24 in Queens, N.Y. Proceeds will go to the Tennis Plays for Peace initiative, a partnership of the seven organizations that oversee the sport… 

Philanthropist Marjorie Blashek Baer, one of the first women to endow an annual Lion of Judah gift, died at 89… 

Holocaust survivor Rabbi Yitzchak Tuvia Weiss, head of the Eida Hachareidis rabbinical court in Jerusalem, died at 95. In 1939, when he was 12, he was sent to London on the Kindertransport. He became an orphan by war’s end…

Pic of the Day

New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov

Through an initiative led by New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov (center), members of Flatbush Shomrim (Hebrew for “watchers”) in Brooklyn are training volunteers from an Asian neighborhood in Vernikov’s district on how to run a successful community safety patrol.


Amber De Vos/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Director of the Jewish Museum of Vienna, she was a founder of the German language magazine Nu devoted to Jewish politics and culture, Danielle Spera… 

??CEO at Royal Health Services in Beverly Hills, Robert N. Feldman… Professor of biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shimon Schuldiner… Founder and principal of Clipper Equity, David Bistricer… Former governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Gill Marcus… Conservative rabbi who served as president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi Jack Moline… Retired co-leader of the securities litigation practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, he is the co-president of NYC’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Joseph S. Allerhand… Certified registered nurse anesthetist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Edward Salkind… Member of the California state Senate, Steven Mitchell Glazer… Chief rabbi in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem and a leader of the Shas party, Rabbi David Yosef… Outgoing member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Andy Levin (D-MI)… Professor of physics and astronomy at Tel Aviv University, Yaron Oz… Former member of the Florida state Senate, Jeremy Ring… Deputy attorney general of Israel, Sharon Afek… Regional chief technology officer in the South Texas office of Technologent, Jason P. Reyes… Senior development officer of the New York City-based Tikvah Fund, Eytan Sosnovich… Senior social marketing strategist at Eventbrite, Sophie Vershbow… Lead market surveillance analyst at CME Group, Jacob Cohen

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