Your Daily Phil: Remembering Alice Shalvi + Clinton teams with Jewish NGO to help Nepalese farmers

Good Monday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new joint initiative by the Clinton Global Initiative and the World Jewish Relief to assist Nepalese farmers, and speak to California Jewish leaders about Sen. Dianne Feinstein. We feature an opinion piece from Susan Bronson about Jewish literature. We’ll start with the death of Israeli educator and activist Alice Shalvi.

Alice Shalvi, an Israel Prize-winning educator and pioneering religious feminist, died on Monday, two weeks shy of her 97th birthday, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

A scholar of Shakespeare, Shalvi created the English department at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva in 1969. Six years later, she became the principal of the Pelech High School in Jerusalem, a religious girls school that — breaking with convention — taught its students Talmud. In 1984, she co-founded the Israel Women’s Network, which remains one of the leading lobbies for women’s rights and gender equality in Israel.

Until her death, Shalvi also served on the board of directors of the New Israel Fund and on the board of the Israeli Shocharei G.I.L.A.T. nonprofit, which works with infants and children from at-risk families. In 2007, Shalvi was awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement, one of the highest honors that a person can receive in Israel.

“She did so many things. She was, up until the end, an incredible, inspiring woman,” Einat Fischer Lalo, executive director of the Israel Women’s Network, told eJP. “She was a real feminist, in every bone in her body, in years when that was not an easy thing to do.”

Shalvi is survived by five of her six children — Joel, Micha, Ditza, Hephzibah and Pnina (her son Benzion died in 2016) — along with 21 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

Read the full report here.


Rabbi Dina Brawer, executive director of the U.K.-based World Jewish Relief’s American branch, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2023.
Rabbi Dina Brawer, executive director of the U.K.-based World Jewish Relief’s American branch, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2023. (Courtesy/CGI)

When Rabbi Dina Brawer took to the stage in mid-September at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York, she shared the story of Bishnu, a 58-year-old father from Mahottari, Nepal, who struggled to feed his family from his small plot of land due to shifting weather patterns as a result of the climate crisis. Brawer, the executive director of World Jewish Relief’s American branch, announced at CGI that the organization was committing to continue a pilot program that it launched last year helping farmers in remote Nepal like Bishnu, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Disproportionate effects: Josh Balser, CGI’s director of humanitarian response, told eJP that WJR’s commitment is especially timely as extreme-weather events are on the rise globally. “As the effects of climate change worsen, our approaches must be more shock resistant and intersectional, which is why it is so critical that this commitment supports and empowers women, who are disproportionately affected by climate change,” Balser said.

Global efforts: In addition to climate resilience programs, WJR works with refugees, vulnerable aging populations and responds to humanitarian disasters. In September, the group ran an emergency relief appeal after Morocco was hit by the country’s deadliest earthquake in six decades. In the past two years, WJR has also responded to crises in Turkey, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Colombia. “Our strategy is delivering immediate relief, meals and blankets, in the first week and then with the rest of our funding we think about the long term and giving people a stable place to live which will allow them to go back to work and live a normal life as much as possible. We want to enable people to be as self-sufficient as possible,” Brawer said. 

Read the full report here.


Calif. Jewish leaders recall Feinstein, first female Jewish senator, as inspiration to women in politics

American politician Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office after she was elected mayor of San Francisco, at San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco, California, circa 1978.
Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office after she was elected mayor of San Francisco, at San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco, California, circa 1978. (Nick Allen/ Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who served more than 30 years in the Senate, was remembered over the weekend by Jewish activists in California as a shrewd politician who made meaningful strides in curbing gun violence and domestic assault, and a pioneering figure who “lifted the spirits and inspired” a generation of women to get involved in politics. Feinstein, who was the oldest member of the Senate, died on Friday in Washington at age 90, reports Gabby Deutch for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Climbing Masada: Feinstein was born and raised in San Francisco, and it was at San Francisco’s Reform Congregation Emanu-El that she formally converted to Judaism at age 20 — her father was Jewish, and her mother was Jewish by ancestry but practiced Russian Orthodox Christianity. She remained a member of the synagogue throughout her life. “She and I went to Masada for the first time together, and walked up Masada at sunrise before there was a cable car,” said Anita Friedman, executive director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco.

Mostly AIPAC-aligned: In the Senate, Feinstein was generally aligned with AIPAC and supportive of mainstream pro-Israel positions. But at times she diverged from other pro-Israel activists. “We worked together to build the first Holocaust memorial in San Francisco. We worked together to establish the first Yom HaShoah observance in San Francisco in 1978. We continued to work together on domestic issues and on pro-Israel issues and on Jewish community issues for all the years starting from the early ‘70s until she just passed away,” said Friedman, who also serves on the national board of AIPAC. “We didn’t always agree. But she was always a friend of Israel.”

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


Take a page from our books: Why Jewish literature should be part of your engagement strategy

Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

“In the many conversations taking place in the Jewish community around the importance of Jewish literacy, modern Jewish literature is often not part of the equation,” Susan Bronson, executive director of the Yiddish Book Center, writes in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

But it should be: “These works, whether translated from Yiddish or Hebrew or written originally in English, offer insights into Jewish history, tell compelling stories, ask big questions, and offer opportunities for a new generation to find their own voice and to define themselves as Jews.”

Positive feedback: “A decade ago, the Yiddish Book Center launched the Great Jewish Books Summer Program, a weeklong residential program for rising high school juniors and seniors. During the program, these teens read selections from important works of modern Jewish literature and consider how they speak to the opportunities and challenges we face today. … [A recent evaluation] found that engaging with Jewish literature engendered and expanded participants’ connections to Jewish history and culture, expanded their understanding of Jewish expression and influenced their sense of self as Jews.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Investing in Impact: Launched in 2020, the impact investment fund administered by Save the Children Global Ventures is the first of its kind in Australia’s nonprofit sector “because it presents socially minded investors with opportunities for competitive returns,” writes Susan Muldowney for INTHEBLACK. “Michael Dugina FCPA, group CFO and non-executive director of the fund, says this is just the beginning of Save the Children’s plan to radically transform its approach to solving complex global problems. … ‘We also plan to have a European fund and a global endowment fund set up in 2024, leveraging our expertise and footprint as a globally federated organisation. Demand for our services is growing, and our operating environment is changing. We needed to adapt our business model.’” [INTHEBLACK]

The Jewish Art of Argument: Jeffrey Kopstein, the newly appointed director of the University of California Irvine’s Center for Jewish Studies, envisions UCI “not only educating its diverse student body but building bridges of understanding into the community,” reports Christine Byrd for UCI News. “One of Kopstein’s favorite aspects of Judaism is its embrace of argument as a form of teaching. The Talmud – one of the longest texts in existence – is millions of words in the form of arguments meant to educate. ‘The thing I love about Jewish tradition is that you get to argue, even with God,’ Kopstein says. ‘That’s a crucial part of our heritage, and students can only be enriched by engaging with it.’” [UCINews]

Around the Web

Lauren Candela-Katz was named chief advancement officer of Westchester Jewish Community Services. She succeeds Susan Lewen, who retired…

Beth Sholom Congregation in the Philadelphia suburb of Elkins Park donated a Torah scroll to the Jewish community in Abuja, Nigeria… 

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HIAS praised the Biden administration’s announcement that the U.S. refugee admissions ceiling will remain at 125,000 for the coming financial year…

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the Babyn Yar memorial on Friday to mark the 82nd anniversary of the massacre, one of the largest mass murders of Jews in the Holocaust…

Tal Gilad was hired as senior vice president of development at Christel House International, a global children’s nonprofit…

North Carolina’s High Point University, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, opened and dedicated a new Hillel house this weekend named for the Bergman family, which supported its creation…

Israeli Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has caused a tizzy in Israel after saying in a sermon that a person who eats non-kosher food “gets stupid,” prompting criticism from secular advocates…

The Hamburg Jewish community has started working to rebuild its grand synagogue, which was destroyed on Kristallnacht

Education-focused grantmakers are increasingly focused on mental health initiatives, according to a new survey by Grantmakers for Education. The poll found that 62% of grantmakers fund initiatives connected to social and emotional learning or to mental health care…

Alan Bernikow, a Staten Island-based businessman and philanthropist, who donated millions to the local Jewish Community Center, which was named in honor of him and his wife, Joan, died last week at 82…

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.
Courtesy/Western Wall Heritage Foundation

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.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Portrait photographer whose work has been used on numerous album covers and magazines, Annie Leibovitz

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