Your Daily Phil: Building the ‘I Believe Israeli Women’ coalition

Good Friday morning.  

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 eJewishPhilanthropyJewish Insider and The Circuit stories, including: USC Shoah Foundation partners with Holocaust survivor grandchild group ‘Living Links’ so stories continue to be told; Israeli students in U.S. warn peers against studying at American campuses; In social media war against AIPAC, Rep. Mark Pocan advances antisemitic tropes; Inside the fierce debate over aid to GazaPrint the latest edition here.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the Jewish exhibit at this year’s Moroccan Book Festival, how LGBTQ Jews are preparing for an already fraught Pride month and the broad coalition of Jewish groups pushing for funding for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. We feature an opinion piece by David Brog about how to turn the tide of public opinion about Israel among college students. Also in this newsletter: Kylie Ora LobellMelvin Hurwitz and Walter Julius Levy. We’ll start with the “I Believe Israeli Women” delegation to Israel last month. Shabbat shalom!

On the eve of the final day of the “I Believe Israeli Women” delegation’s trip to Israel, the families of five female Israeli soldiers released the footage of their capture by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, which included one gunman telling a soldier she is “beautiful” in broken English and another using an Arabic term similar to “sex slave” to describe the hostages. 

“This morning, we started this session with a lot of weeping about the video,” Marcy Gringlas, the president of the Seed the Dream Foundation, which sponsored the trip, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross in Tel Aviv at the time. “We are here supporting each other. This is a group of women who believe, who understand and who want to do something, who want to work and want to act. But we all need to be supported because there is an outside world that is not believing, not understanding, and it’s unacceptable.”

Seed the Dream and Jewish Women International co-organized the delegation, which focused on the sexual violence that was committed on Oct. 7 and efforts to deny it and downplay it. The organizations brought some two dozen women — most of them Jewish — to Israel for a three-day trip, which included meetings with survivors of Oct. 7, Israeli officials, journalists and activists. 

Gringlas and JWI’s CEO, Meredith Jacobs, described the delegation as having two goals: one, for American women to express solidarity with their Israeli counterparts; and two, to build a coalition dedicated to combating efforts to deny and diminish the rape and sexual assaults that took place on Oct.7.

“I think what’s really unique is that this is all created to build responses and action. This isn’t women coming over in hopes that they’ll donate,” Jacobs told eJP. “We’re going to be looking at: How do we build out responses, specifically in the legal policy arena, in the media arena, and in supporting the advocates who are serving the women of Israel? And that’s really looking at building a global coalition.”

The delegation included attorneys, as well as policy experts, journalists and public relations professionals. “We pretty much handpicked 25 women from across varied spheres, circles and professions,” Gringlas said. “So there are judges, lawyers, physicians, social workers, media executives.” Jacobs added that in addition to their “extraordinary expertise,” the participants also said they considered themselves to be taking part in the trip “as mothers.”

“The first day [was about] bearing witness,” Gringlas said. “So we went south. We spoke to first responders. We spoke to eyewitnesses and we spoke to survivors.” The second day, Gringlas went on, focused on “understanding the needs of this country right now,” which included meetings with Israeli activists and survivors of the attacks.“And the third day was about rolling up our sleeves and our call to action,” she said.

Gringlas and Jacobs stressed that this aspect of the trip is critical. 

“[The trip] has to be a launch for something bigger, and I think that if there’s not, then I failed in this, and there’s no room for me to fail here,” Gringlas said.

Jacobs said the Seed the Dream Foundation’s support for JWI represented both a “tremendous gift” and a weighty responsibility. “We have to take what’s started here and make sure it leads to something. It has to move the needle. It has to make a difference. I will not allow it to not make a difference,” Jacobs said. “And I’ve said this is what’s giving me hope in a time of great sadness. I’m placing all of my hope in how this [initiative] will let us move forward.”

Read the full report here.


Despite strained ties with Israel, annual Moroccan Book Festival features exhibition on Jewish literature, culture

Visitors attend the Jewish Books exhibition at this year's Moroccan Book Festival in Rabat, Morocco, in May 2024.
Visitors attend the Jewish Books exhibition at this year’s Moroccan Book Festival in Rabat, Morocco, in May 2024. Courtesy/Mimouna

Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza has strained its ties with Muslim allies, and Jewish populations around the world, and in Muslim-majority countries in particular, have felt under siege. Yet with 300,000 attendees from throughout the Arabic-speaking world, the Moroccan Book Festival in the capital city of Rabat displayed books written by Muslim Moroccans or Jewish Moroccans about Moroccan Jewish history, customs, culture and food. The fair, which concluded its 10-day run on May 19, also contained a section for antisemitism and Holocaust education, Abdelhak (Abdu) El Kaoukabi, the director of education at the Mimouna Association, the NGO behind the Jewish exhibition, told Efrat Lachter for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A success story: “We had questions in our booth about a variety of things: Do Jews pray? Do Jews fast? How many times do they pray a day? How many Jews lived in Morocco? What happened to them?” El Kaoukabi recalled. Mimouna, founded in 2007 by Muslim students in Rabat, aspired to change negative perceptions of Jews among Moroccan youth through events like Moroccan Jewish Days and cultural exhibitions like this one. For El Kaoubaki and his organization, the event marked a significant success.

Hearts and minds: Following the book event closely from Israel was El Kaoukabi’s colleague and friend, Tom Vizel, the founder of the NGO 4MENA, which aims to connect youth organizations throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Vizel, who also serves as the head of the educational department at the Israeli youth movement HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed (“The Working and Learning Youth”), told eJP: “It’s truly outstanding to witness Mimouna’s work. They’re dedicated to preserving Moroccan Jewish heritage and culture in a smart and sensitive manner. We need to broaden our perspective beyond current events and embrace the rich history shared across the region because if you just talk about the present, you’ll be stuck in an endless struggle. Talking about the past. Open people’s hearts and minds.”

The day after: Vizel and El Kaoubaki, who led a group of Moroccans and Israelis through Morocco and Israel in 2022, acknowledged that after Oct. 7, that kind of cooperation is increasingly difficult, but they said they were undeterred. “Building the necessary infrastructure for the network has been challenging, especially after the events of Oct. 7 and the subsequent war. Plans for trips to Jordan, the UAE and a Saudi peace event were canceled,” said Vizel. “But we have to think of the day after the war.”

Read the full report here.


‘The call is coming from inside the house’: Why queer Jews fear discrimination at Pride events this month

Visitors attend the Jewish Books exhibition at this year's Moroccan Book Festival in Rabat, Morocco, in May 2024.
Alexei Rosenfeld/Getty Images

As millions of LGBTQ people and their allies make plans to take part in Pride parades around the country this month, many Jewish members of the queer community are skeptical about joining the celebrations, fearful that their Jewish identity will lead them to face exclusion from a community that has for decades argued forcefully about the power of inclusion, reports Gabby Deutch for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Threats at home: The litmus tests faced by queer Jews in some circles after Oct. 7 — to condemn Zionism and agree with allegations that Israel is committing a genocide — mirror those facing Jews in other progressive communities. But many in the LGBTQ community say there is an added level of pain in a community that purports to hold as a key value the acceptance of each person as they are. It’s a community that is used to threats and intimidation; usually, though, the threats come from homophobic actors outside their circles. “Trans people are less likely to attend Pride events because they don’t always feel safe. But in that case, the harm is generally coming from outside the LGBTQ community,” said Ethan Felson, executive director of A Wider Bridge, a nonprofit that builds ties between LGBTQ communities in North America and Israel. “Here the call is coming from inside the house.”  

Loud minority: Tyler Gregory, CEO of the Bay Area Jewish Community Relations Council who was the executive director of A Wider Bridge from 2018-2020, called the anti-Israel segment of the LGBTQ community a “minority,” like in other communities. “You have to remember that like in any other group, the extremes are being amplified,” he said.

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


Broad coalition of Jewish groups urges ‘highest possible funding’ for Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights

Committee chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) greet witnesses and delegates from the 2023 JDRF Children’s Congress prior to the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on July 11, 2023, in Washington, D.C. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for JDRF.

In a letter sent to key members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees today, a coalition of 23 Jewish groups, spanning a range of political and denominational positions, urged Congress to “provide the highest possible funding” in 2025 for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, reports Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.

Stretched thin: The widespread support for funding for the office, known as OCR, is notable given political divisions over the issue on Capitol Hill. House Republicans sought to cut funding to OCR, the office responsible for investigating complaints of antisemitism on campuses, for 2024. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has said the office’s staff are severely overstretched, with each staffer working 50 cases in light of a post-Oct. 7 surge in complaints.

Do your job: “It is Congress’s responsibility to ensure that OCR has the resources it needs to conduct immediate and robust investigations into these complaints. OCR cannot protect the rights, safety and wellbeing of students if it does not have adequate resources to appropriately investigate and respond to its increased caseload,” the letter reads.

Read the full report here.


The reality behind the campus encampments

Protesters inside the Palestine Solidarity Encampment on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Wednesday May 1, 2024. Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

“Leaders who should know better saw some ugly tent encampments populated by some radical students and have concluded that we can never again win a victory on campus. This is exactly the wrong response,” writes David Brog, CEO of the Maccabee Task Force, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy. “This is not a time to abandon the fight. This is a time to double down.”

Look beyond the protesters: “In May, a Generation Lab survey found that only a small minority (8%) of college students have participated in the recent campus protests. Take away the 1% of students who reported demonstrating on the pro-Israel side, and we’re looking at 7% who came out to protest against Israel… The real problem isn’t the mob you saw at the encampments. It’s the opinions of the students you didn’t see. This quiet(er) majority has been slowly but steadily becoming less supportive of Israel… [T]hey believe the false narrative about Israel that dominates their circles. This is a critical distinction. If a false narrative is causing the problem, then the truth can remedy the problem.” 

A different approach: “The truth still works, but the standard tools for sharing the truth do not… This is where our work at the Maccabee Task Force provides an important model and teaches a compelling lesson. We have found a way to break through the progressive silo and capture the attention of these students long enough to get them to see the truth about Israel. We bring the most politically influential students on each of our campuses — almost always progressive, and rarely Jewish — on fact-finding missions to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We introduce them to real Israelis and Palestinians. We show them the truth in all its nuance and complexity, and the results have been consistently surprising.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Speak Out, But Responsibly: That is the message Carol Christ, the octogenarian UC Berkeley chancellor set to retire at the end of this month, has for student protesters in an interview with Kurt Streeter in The New York Times. “Her views on free speech first crystallized during her years as a student protester in the turbulent 1960s… Now that her career is ending, Dr. Christ has had more time to reflect on the tone and tenor of campus protest, and she is worried about where it is headed… ‘I’ve come to recognize that while freedom of speech is an absolute, just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean it’s right to say,’ she said. ‘We all use censorship in our speech in relation to the occasion we are in. If you value your community, you have to find ways of sharing your views that are not vitriolic, that are not needlessly hurtful to other people.’ Right now, she said, ‘that’s not where we are.’ Unfettered expression comes with serious responsibility. That is why Dr. Christ spent the last several months asking students to consider the way speech and protest affected the entire campus community. Berkeley, she said, must aspire to teach students how to have civil dialogue and debate. Without that ability, she said, ‘we are lost.’” [NYTimes]

Don’t Forget: Even as donors ranging from individuals to major funders continue to support Israel in its time of need, they shouldn’t abandon supporting their own communities in the Diaspora as well, writes Kylie Ora Lobell in the Jewish Journal. “‘Nobody is donating to our organization. All the donations are going to Israel.’ My friend, who works at an incredible Jewish nonprofit in the U.S., recently told me this. It echoed what another friend mentioned a few days prior: ‘My synagogue reached out and asked for a donation, but I told them I was sending everything to Israel right now.’… The Jewish people are one big family. We are connected to each other. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoice; when one of us is in need, we all pitch in to help. It’s what makes our community so remarkable. The Jews in the diaspora, along with their synagogues, institutions and non-profit organizations, need your help too. Your support may not help Israel directly, but I fully believe it will help indirectly by strengthening our people during a time of turmoil… When we support our fellow Jews wherever they live, we strengthen the Jewish people as a whole.” [JewishJournal]

Around the Web

The Jewish Theological Seminary’s board of trustees elected three new members: Rachel GildinerJan Popkin and Liz Sembler

During yesterday’s D-Day commemoration events in France, Jewish American World War II veteran Melvin Hurwitz, 99, told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that he was “the savior of the people,” and the Ukrainian president responded, “No, no, no, you saved Europe”…

The NYPD reported 55 antisemitic incidents in the city in May, the highest number in six months…

The NAACP called on the Biden administration to halt arms shipments to Israel in order to impose a cease-fire…

The New York Times looks at the status of mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion statements, which have faced significant criticism since they began to appear in recent years…

The philanthropic arm of the Adelson family’s Las Vegas Sands donated $100,000 to Teach for America Nevada

Politico investigates why the White House did not arrange a photo with Jewish staffers to mark Jewish American History Month in May, as has been customary with minority groups and as it did last year…

Los Angeles publicist Ashlee Margolis instructed her employees at The A List to stop working with celebrities who use their platforms to share anti-Israel content…

The mayor of Jacksonville, Fla.condemned the hanging of a swastika flag outside of an automotive shop in the city; the shop’s Palestinian-American owner said he hung the flag to protest Israel’s war against Hamas…

Following an uproar, the Portland Teachers Union took down teaching materials that referred to Israelis as colonialist settlers, described Israel as an “apartheid” state and said that Hamas was a “Palestinian Resistance Force”…

Three Jewish UCLA students filed a federal lawsuit against the school’s leaders, alleging that they had allowed the anti-Israel encampment on campus to “segregate” Jewish students…

The University of Pennsylvania’s student newspaper reports on the main takeaways of the school’s antisemitism task force’s final report…

The University of California, Berkeley’s Jewish co-op, Bayitwill reopen on Sunday after undergoing a major renovation… 

Pic of the Day

Arnold Felberbaum/Israel Bonds

Miki Fine, a Hebrew school teacher and congregant at Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, N.J., speaks at a recent Israel Bonds brunch where she was honored for her longtime support of Israel and the Jewish community. The event drew 150 attendees and brought in approximately $400,000 in investments for Israel Bonds. 


Jonathan S. Lavine, co-managing partner and chief investment officer of Bain Capital Credit
Courtesy/Walter Julius Levy

Former executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Walter Julius Levy celebrates his 102nd birthday on Sunday… 

FRIDAY: Chicago and Aspen-based businessman, he owns large stakes in Maytag, Hilton Hotels, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Bulls, Lester Crown… Rehoboth Beach, Del., resident, Dennis B. Berlin… Former five-term Democratic congressman from California, he now serves as counsel in the Century City office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Mel Levine… Professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, and author of 25 books, Deborah Tannen… Epidemiologist, toxicologist and author of three books about environmental hazards, Devra Davis… Deputy secretary of state of the U.S. until last July, Wendy Ruth Sherman… Former staff director at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Hillel Weinberg… President of Shenkar, a design and engineering college in Israel, he is a grandson of former Israeli PM Levi Eshkol, Sheizaf Rafaeli… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-PA), Susan Ellis Wild… Former vice president of the United States, Mike Pence… Jerusalem resident, Deborah Lee Renert… U.S. District judge for the Southern District of New York, Jesse Matthew Furman… U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)… Brooklyn rapper better known by his stage name Necro, Ron Raphael Braunstein… One-half of the Arab-Jewish electronic music duo Chromeo, David “Dave 1” Macklovitch… Israeli actress, singer and pianist, she performs in Hebrew, Russian, French and English, Ania Bukstein… Senior director of place-based initiatives at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Isaac Luria… Editor of The New York Review of BooksEmily S. Greenhouse… Actress and model, Emily Ratajkowski… Canadian ice hockey forward, he played for China in the 2022 Winter Olympics, now a businessman in Ontario, Ethan Werek… Andrea Gonzales… Associate director, strategic partnerships, at Enter: The Jewish Peoplehood Alliance, Zohar Mandel

SATURDAY: Hebrew University mathematics professor and 2005 Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Aumann… Guru of alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil… Hedge fund manager, founder of the Paloma Funds, Selwyn Donald Sussman… Detective novelist, best known for creating the character of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky… Founder and CEO of Sitrick and Company, Michael Sitrick… Classical pianist, teacher and performer at the Juilliard School and winner of a Grammy Award, he is the child of Holocaust survivors, Emanuel Ax… Community affairs advisor at the Phoenix-based Yeshiva High School of Arizona, Miriam Pinkerson… Former member of Knesset from the Zionist Union party, now a professor at Ben-Gurion University, Yosef “Yossi” Yona… Barbara Jaffe Panken… Senior advisor at O2 Investment Partners, Robert Harris (Rob) Orley… Journalist, stand-up comedian, author, cartoonist and blogger, Aaron Freeman… CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Stacy Ritter… AVP for campaign at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Patti Frazin… Moscow-born, living in the U.S. since 1976, he is a major figure in the Russian energy sector and co-founder and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets… Winner of many Emmy and SAG awards, star of the long-running TV series “The Good Wife,” Julianna Margulies… Israel’s state comptroller and ombudsman, Matanyahu Englman… Actor, screenwriter and producer, Dan Futterman… Former congresswoman (D-AZ), she is a survivor of an assassination attempt near Tucson in 2011, Gabrielle Giffords… Actor who starred in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” he also wrote and created the CBS series “9JKL,” Mark Feuerstein… Executive director at Consulate Health Care in New Port Richey, Fla., Daniel Frenden… Head of North America for the Jewish Agency and President and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development (JAID), Daniel Elbaum… Former deputy chief of staff for Charlie Baker when he was governor of Massachusetts, Michael Emanuel Vallarelli… Senior educator at Hillel Jewish Student Center at Arizona State University, Rabbi Suzy Stone… Businesswoman, art collector and editor, founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Dasha Zhukova… Fourth generation supermarket executive at Klein’s ShopRites of Maryland, Marshall Klein… Corporate litigation partner in the Wilmington office of Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, Daniel Kirshenbaum… Three-time Tony Award-winning theatrical producer, he is the co-founder at Folk Media Group, Eric J. Kuhn… CEO of BZ Media and the Bnai Zion Foundation, Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm… Offensive tackle in the NFL for nine seasons until he retired in 2022, he started in 121 straight games in which he played every offensive snap, his Hebrew name is Mendel, Mitchell Schwartz

SUNDAY: Journalist for 30 years at CBS who then became the founding director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, now a fellow at GWU, Marvin Kalb… Retired Israeli diplomat who served as ambassador to Italy and France and World Chairman of Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal, Aviezer “Avi” Pazner… Author of twelve books, journalist, lecturer and social activist, Letty Cottin Pogrebin… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Maurice of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Charles Saatchi… Diplomat and Shakespeare historian, he was national editor of Washingtonian magazine for more than 17 years, Kenneth Adelman… Founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network (a broker/dealer network) and chairman of Southworth Development (a golf and leisure business), Joseph Deitch… Professional mediator, for 11 years she was a syndicated advice columnist in many Jewish newspapers, Wendy J. Belzberg… Israel’s former minister of defense and deputy prime minister, he is serving in the war cabinet since the Oct. 7 attack, Benny Gantz… Canadian journalist, author, documentary film producer and television personality, Steven Hillel Paikin… Producer, director, playwright and screenwriter, he has won an Academy Award, five Primetime Emmy Awards and three Golden Globes, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin… Former lead singer of the Israeli pop rock band Mashina, Yuval Banay… CEO of Jewish Women’s International, Meredith Jacobs… Managing director at Major, Lindsey & Africa, Craig Appelbaum… Executive vice president of Jewish Funders Network, Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu… Screenwriter, director and producer, Hayden Schlossberg… Founder and CEO of Delve LLC, Jeff Berkowitz… NYC-based writer, actor and entrepreneur, he is a co-founder of Swish Beverages, David Oliver Cohen… Jerusalem-born Academy Award-winning actress, producer and director, Natalie Portman… Online producer, writer and director, who together with his brother Benny, are best known for their React video series, Rafi Fine… Multimedia artist known for her work in photography, makeup, hairstyling and textile crafts, Anna Marie Tendler… Israeli tech entrepreneur, he is the founder and chairman of Israel Tech Challenge, Raphael Ouzan… Director of the Yale Journalism Initiative, Haley Cohen Gilliland… Deputy assistant secretary for strategic communications at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Jeff Solnet… Ice hockey player for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and best-selling author of children’s books, Zachary Martin Hyman… Founder and CEO of The Fine Companies, Daniel Fine… Future congresswoman from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Emilia Levy…

BIRTHWEEK (was Thursday): Assistant director of the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, N.J., Sara Sideman