Your Daily Phil: Cholent and solidarity at Sundance

Good Tuesday morning.

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In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the Tepper Foundation giving $2.5 million in security grants to Jewish institutions catering to children, and feature an opinion piece from Professor Pinhas Dannon about mental health care in Israel after Oct. 7 and another from Diana Zeff Anderson about impact loans to bolster the Israeli economy. Also in this newsletter: John Ondrasik, Carol Ann Schwartz and Ruby Chen. We’ll start with how Jewish attendees have expressed solidarity at this week’s Sundance Film Festival.

For 13 years, Inbal Baum ran a Tel Aviv-based food tour company called Delicious Israel, which guided visitors through the markets and streets of her city. Baum moved to Park City, Utah, in 2021, to run a spinoff of that company, a corporate food events business called Delicious Experiences, but felt isolated from the country she still considers her home, especially after Oct. 7. But at one event — on “a super freezing-cold night in the middle” of this week’s Sundance Film Festival — she felt connected, Baum told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Sundance, which opened last Thursday and runs through Sunday, is an annual who’s who of established and up-and-coming film talent, with Hollywood celebrities and producers descending on Park City, Utah, mixing with cinephiles, journalists and myriad creative types at parties and independent movie screenings. During this year’s festival, the specter of Oct. 7 floated through its few Jewish-themed events — some on the official schedule, some not — including a Shabbat program (with cholent), panels about Jewish representation and a Friday night solidarity event, created to amplify participants’ awareness of the hostages, that several Sundance attendees called “special” and “absolutely beautiful.”

“It genuinely felt like coming home in a very unusual setting,” Baum told eJP about the solidarity event featuring influencers and family members of the Oct. 7 hostages. Although many of the stories were “tear-inducing, moving, tragic and harsh, hearing the reality about the families, the hostages and survivors,” she said, the presence of Jewish community was moving.

The Friday night solidarity event started with a spontaneous request. Discovering that a friend’s friend routinely held large parties at Sundance in a large, warehouse-type space, Tel Aviv resident Jacob Shwirtz told eJP that he asked if the party-makers would be open to holding an event beforehand that would “bring the agenda of the hostages to the forefront and keep it top of mind as one of the cultural high points of the Hollywood calendar.”

A “yes” made the idea a reality, with Shwirtz “rallying, hustling and talking to anyone and everyone,” he said, adding that he encountered “a lot of people wanting to do good and rallying around this idea.”

The Hostages and Missing Families Forum sent a delegation to speak at the event. Birthright Israel, the Maccabee Task Force, the Israel on Campus Coalition (through Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies) and others provided basic funding. Through a network of media influencers, he reached out to Caroline D’Amore, Daniel-Ryan Spaulding and Israeli YouTuber Ashley Waxman Bakshi, and connected to actress Emmanuelle Chriqui, all of whom have used their platforms to speak in support of Israel, the hostages and their families, as well as Jews worldwide.

The standing-room-only crowd of more than 250 people, made up of Sundance attendees and other visitors, was an opportunity to show support. Because it wasn’t walkable from Sundance venues, it was “a real commitment to be there,” Shwirtz said, “and people did it. It was heartwarming and amazing.”

Read the full report her


Security guards stand watch in front of a synagogue in Los Angeles on Oct. 9, 2023. Eric Thayer/Getty Images

As Jewish institutions across the U.S., from synagogues to Jewish Community Centers, tighten security measures as a response to rising antisemitism, the Tepper Foundation noticed that fears were particularly heightened among young families. In response, the grantmaking foundation announced on Monday that it will deploy $2.5 million in emergency grants through its Security Fund to underwrite the cost of security personnel in Jewish institutions where young children are in attendance, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Looking to expand: Marian Stern, a consultant who serves as a portfolio manager at The Tepper Foundation, told eJP that recipients did not apply for the grant. Rather, the foundation selected its recipients based on its current roster of Jewish grantees that represent organizations where there might be early childhood programs. “The Tepper Foundation is exploring an expansion of this program by working with partners that we are identifying right now,” Stern said.

Coast to coast: The recipients of the new grants include: Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, N.J.; Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, Fla.; Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, N.C.; Jewish Kids Group and Jewish Kids Group Accelerator; the Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center in Manhattan; and the Foundation for Jewish Camp, which will distribute the security grants to five day camps in Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Oregon.

The long term: The Tepper Foundation said its $3 million in grants were necessary in light of growing security threats to Jews and Jewish institutions.“While there is a critical need today, we also want to make sure these increased security measures can be sustained for as long as necessary, so we encourage other foundations and individuals to join us in funding this work,” David Tepper, founder and board chair of the foundation, said in a statement.

Read the full report here.


Family and friends of fallen IDF soldier Afik Rozental, who died in a battle with Hamas terrorists, attend his funeral on October 9, 2023 in Kfar Menachem, Israel. Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images

“Preparing for and meeting the needs of this unprecedented tsunami of people struggling with their mental health, given that the [Oct. 7] attacks and their aftermath impacted thousands of people of all ages, will be no simple task for Israel’s health care system,” writes Professor Pinhas Dannon, director of psychiatry at Herzog Medical Center in Jerusalem, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A sobering snapshot: “In one recent conversation with an NGO colleague, they shared a remarkable statistic: Over 100,000 Israelis had reached out to their call center sharing their anxiety and concern following the attacks… Keep in mind as well that this is the situation before the war has ended and typical PTSD symptoms have kicked in for veterans and other first responders… On average, we know that the monthly cost of intensive mental health treatment is 5,000 NIS ($1,335) per patient; and we predict that some severe cases, along with the people in their surrounding environment (family, friends, etc.), will need support for a considerable period. If we just take our conservative estimate of 10,000 patients needing care within the  greater Jerusalem area, that is a cost of 50 million NIS ($13.35 million) per month.”

A glimmer of hope: “Despite the scope of all of these challenges, it is heartwarming to already witness the generous and speedy response of philanthropists to prioritize the issue of mental health and trauma care. Together, we will continue to map the needs, share best practices and solutions, emerging as a more resilient and unified Jewish people.”

Read the full piece here.


Finding an accessible vehicle for Israel-Diaspora connection

Champpix/Getty Images

“Around the Jewish world, so many of us are looking for ways to make a difference for Israelis at their darkest hour. At the same time, not every one of us has the means to donate in $10,000 increments or the like,” writes Diana Zeff Anderson, president of the Zeff Kesher Foundation, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Significant at any size: “Therein lies the power of SparkIL, which makes impactful philanthropy accessible to anyone who is seeking to make a difference. Each loan of $25 or more helps turn hurt into hope for Israel’s small business owners in this moment; and in the long run, it plays a role in ensuring that the Jewish state’s economy and society can recover and thrive… This crowdfunding process is a genuine two-way street that builds Jewish peoplehood by forging meaningful connections between the loan recipients in Israel and lenders in the Diaspora.”

A philanthropic ‘intervention’: “From conversations with my four children, I am constantly reminded of the need to strengthen the connections between American Jews and Israelis. My older two sons grew up in Israel, served in the IDF and currently live in Israel; having never lived outside of Israel, they have a completely Israeli Jewish mentality. On the other hand, my younger two children have more of a Jewish American mindset, as they grew up in Israel but moved with me to Denver 18 years ago. Through the variation in their backgrounds and perspectives, my children serve as my checks and balances. They demonstrate to me that despite our shared identity, Jews living on different sides of the Atlantic do not necessarily feel the same way about every issue that confronts world Jewry. In these circumstances, we need to intervene and create opportunities for connection for the sake of keeping us together as one people. This is a personal imperative for me, because ignoring this need would literally tear my family apart.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Strange Bedfellows: In eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider, Lahav Harkov interviews Stefan Tompson, one of the founders of the popular X account, Visegrad24, which has emerged as a key source of videos and information about the Israel-Hamas war. But don’t ask him about Poles’ roles in the Holocaust. “Visegrad24 is one of the ‘new elites’ on X influencing the discourse on the war, according to an October 2023 report by the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public. The study named it in the top news-focused account in views of tweets, surpassing traditional news outlets like CNN and The New York Times. As a result, questions are now emerging about the people and ideas behind the account. ‘Propaganda or aspiring news outlet?’ one article asked… Visegrad24 was not founded to be a news organization, Tompson said: ‘I don’t call myself a journalist. I’m a PR expert.’ After its initial mission ‘to provide an alternative point of view on Poland,’ it expanded to supporting Ukraine and fighting against Russian propaganda. Israel fits into the Visegrad24 view because it is ‘part of a bigger story. We are at war against a Chinese-Russian-Persian-North Korean axis. In that sense, it is incredibly relevant to us in Poland and in the EU… This is not just a war against Israel and against Jews. This is a civilizational war, in which we are next.’” [JewishInsider]

It’s the Massacre, Stupid: In Bloomberg, Ethan Bronner explains Israelis’ deep feeling of trauma after the Oct. 7 attacks and why this is driving support for the war against Hamas, even as allies are increasingly calling for a cease-fire. “Given the country’s military power and the extent of the death and destruction in Gaza, the feeling of victimhood within Israel can be incomprehensible to outsiders. Yet the massacre and ongoing hostage situation fill airwaves and newspapers and dominate dinner conversations. There is a funereal air to life since the attack, a deep sense of vulnerability, and a fear that other anti-Israeli militias in Lebanon and the West Bank are likely to pour into the country at any moment and carry out another set of atrocities. This, in tandem with what many Israelis see as an international failure to condemn Hamas, is prompting the country to rethink its relationship to the outside world… It remains to be seen how long Israelis will endorse war without end, especially if diminished production, downsized workforces and higher taxes start to bite… In the meantime, the focus is war.” [Bloomberg]

Barely a Band-Aid: Raising taxes for the wealthy is not a fix for America’s soaring federal deficit, argues economist Brian Riedl in The Wall Street Journal. “Seizing every dollar of income earned over $500,000 wouldn’t balance the budget. Liquidating every dollar of billionaire wealth would fund the federal government for only nine months. In a study for the Manhattan Institute, I set upper-income tax rates at their revenue-maximizing level, while paring back tax loopholes and fighting tax evasion. As background, the Congressional Budget Office projects that our budget deficits — which currently exceed 7% of gross domestic product — will surpass 10% of GDP over the next three decades. My research shows that the ‘tax the rich’ model would raise at most 2% of GDP in additional revenue over the long term… Tax-the-rich proponents are correct in one respect: It’s possible to collect more revenue from the wealthy. Congress could raise the top income-tax bracket by up to 10 percentage points while seeking aggressive tax enforcement, fewer tax preferences, and President Biden’s aggressive corporate, estate and capital-gains tax hike proposals. Yet such measures would doubtless be accompanied by economic damage large enough to wipe out any additional revenues beyond those tax increases.” [WSJ]

Invitations Are Out: The Guardian reports on heiress Marlene Engelhorn’s plan, already underway, for choosing the fellow Austrians who will determine how her more than $27 million inheritance should be spent. “Invitations to join were sent earlier this month to 10,000 randomly selected people in Austria. Hundreds have since responded and statistical methods will be used to select 50 adults who reflect the country’s demographics… [M]embers of the council will be paid to spend six weekends thrashing out thorny issues such as inequality and redistribution, aided by a roster of experts, before being asked to decide on how to redistribute Engelhorn’s inheritance. Engelhorn, who provided an additional €3m in funding to cover the costs of running the council, will have no say in how the council decides to spend the money. Broad rules have instead been set out: the funds cannot be directed towards groups or individuals that are unconstitutional, hostile or inhumane, nor can they be put towards for-profit endeavours, political parties or paid out to members of the council or related parties. If the council fails to reach a ‘widely supported’ consensus on what to do with the €25m, it will be returned to Engelhorn.” [Guardian]

Around the Web

At least 21 Israel Defense Forces reservist soldiers were killed yesterday in an anti-tank guided missile attack in the southern Gaza Strip — the deadliest attack since the Oct. 7 massacres. A missile appears to have hit a building that the IDF had rigged with explosives as part of a demolition operation, causing a massive blast that collapsed it and the surrounding structures…

The Washington Post investigates the phenomenon of “Oct. 7 truthers,” people who believe the terror attacks was a staged “false flag” operation that Israel committed against its own people…

Singer-songwriter John Ondrasik, better known by his stage name Five for Fighting, who is not Jewish, wrote and recorded a new song, “OK,” about the Oct. 7 attacks…

Carol Ann Schwartz officially assumed the office of the presidency of Hadassah after being elected in July. Schwartz succeeds Rhoda Smolow

Elon Musk declared himself “aspirationally Jewish” after visiting Auschwitz yesterday with the European Jewish Association, though critics remain skeptical of his apologies for past support of antisemitic conspiracy theories and antagonism toward the Anti-Defamation League

A new study by the Taub Center social policy think tank found that Israel’s birth rate has fallen in recent years, but remains high compared to other developed countries…

Tamara Cofman Wittes was hired as the next president of the National Democratic Institute

The Simons Foundation donated $75 million to the City University of New York, with $50 million earmarked to boost the school system’s computer sciences programs and $25 million to support its participation in a New York state artificial intelligence project…

New York City public schools will offer new curricula on antisemitism and Islamophobia following criticism that the school system has inadequately responded to the phenomena…

In USA TodayRuby Chen writes about her son, Itay, an American-Israeli dual national, who was taken captive by Hamas on Oct. 7…

Dexter Scott King, a civil rights activist, actor and the son of Martin Luther King Jr.died on Monday at 62…

Norman Jewison, the director of “Fiddler on the Roof,” who was Methodist but was often mistaken for a Jew, died on Saturday at 97…

Pic of the Day

Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.
Yossi Ifergan/KKL – JNF Archives

A sapling planted in memory of Ofek Arviv, who was murdered on Oct. 7, surrounded by messages of love and inspiration, at the Re’im Campground in Israel on Sunday.

Bereaved families of the 364 Nova Festival attendees murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7 came to the site of the festival, accompanied by KKL-JNF workers, to plant trees in memory of their loved ones.

“The history of the people of Israel is not just a history of disturbances but a history of resilience,” KKL-JNF Chairman Ifat Ovadia Lusky said. “On Tu B’Shvat, we convey a message of renewal and hope — we will rise from the dust and grow new lives in Re’im and all around Israel.”


Annie Liebovitz smiles

CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Jeremy J. Fingerman

Real estate developer and former minority owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, Bruce Ratner… Professor of biological chemistry at Weizmann Institute of Science, David Wallach… Educational consultant, trade association and non-profit executive, Peter D. Rosenstein… Manager of Innovative Strategies LLLP, he is a board member of the Baltimore-based Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Howard K. Cohen… U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)… Israeli archaeologist and professor at the University of Haifa, Estee Dvorjetski… Former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa… Former vice chairman at Citigroup, he was a 2021 candidate for mayor of NYC, Raymond J. McGuire… Political consultant and media advisor for the Democratic Party, Madeleine “Mandy” Grunwald… Broadway theater owner, operator, producer and presenter and president of the Nederlander Organization, he is a 13-time Tony Award winner, James L. Nederlander… Former president and CEO of Staples Inc., she serves on the boards of CBRE and CarMax, Shira Goodman… Executive editor of The Recount, co-author of Game Change and Double Down: Game Change 2012John Heilemann… Palm Beach, Fla., resident, formerly of Greenwich, Conn., Hilary Bangash Cohen… Journalist, screenwriter and film producer, in 2009 he wrote and produced “The Hurt Locker,” for which he won two Academy Awards including for Best Picture, Mark Boal… Film director, comic book artist and musician, S. Craig Zahler… Israeli set and production designer, Arad Sawat… Fourth rebbe of the Pittsburgh Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Meshulam Eliezer Leifer… Founder and executive director of Jew in the City, Allison F. Josephs… Strategic communications consultant, Arielle Poleg… Head of Meta’s Instagram, Adam Mosseri… Manhasset, N.Y., native who competed for Israel in figure skating, she was the 2014 Israeli national champion, Danielle Montalbano… Professional soccer player who plays as a defender for DC United, Steven Mitchell Birnbaum… NYC native who competed for Israel in pairs figure skating, Hayley Anne Sacks