Your Daily Phil: CSI’s Mitchell Silber applauds the NYPD’s response to antisemitic attacks + Dr. Jonathan Sarna on Pew trends

Good Thursday morning!

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has made seven arrests related to 12 antisemitic incidents in New York City in which Jews were scapegoated for violence between Israel and Hamas, Mitchell Silber, executive director of the Community Security Initiative, told eJewishPhilanthropy. The initiative is a partnership of UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

“The NYPD is responding in all the right ways,” he said, increasing its presence on foot and in patrol cars near Jewish institutions.

Nine of the incidents took place in Manhattan; three in Brooklyn. They included the assault of a young man near Times Square. Those incidents were perpetrated by smaller groups that broke away from legitimate protests, Silber said. Five pro-Palestinian demonstrations are scheduled for New York City this weekend, he added.

Synagogues and other Jewish institutions are increasing their own security presence by hiring extra security, Silber said.


The Jewish Funders Network is creating a Midwestern regional network


The Jewish Funders Network’s membership is becoming more diverse in terms of both location and size, Ari Rudolph, JFN’s vice president of philanthropic engagement, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff. 

Regional focus: A service organization that’s open to donors who give a minimum of $25,000 annually in the name of Jewish values, JFN’s shift during the pandemic to virtual programming and meetings accelerated this trend. The organization is also trying to nurture it by reaching out to new regions — especially the American Midwest, Rudolph said. JFN has about 2,500 members from 15 countries, and until about a year ago, divided its membership into four geographies: United States, Canada, Israel and “international.” 

Changes over time: Now, Rudolph is thinking of it as nine, more nuanced categories, although some of them are still in flux. Founded in 1990 as a loose network of funders who wanted to do some of their giving outside of the federation system that dominated Jewish philanthropy at the time, JFN’s membership now includes not only individuals and foundations, but also donor-advised funds (DAF) holders; federations and associations of DAFs like the Jewish Communal Fund. “Ten years ago, JFN was thought of as existing for foundations,” Rudolph said. “Now we’re trying to say we’re about funders. Everyone can come and learn.”

Read the full piece here.


Marriage trends, political views undermining the notion of a unified American Jewish identity

Mario Tama/Getty Images

“As a scholar of American Jewish history, I was most interested in how much the [Pew report] reveals about changes in the American Jewish community,” writes Dr. Jonathan Sarna in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Changing demographics: “Immigration, intermarriage and the rapid growth of Orthodox Judaism, among other phenomena, have changed the composition of the community, especially among the younger generation. Many of these changes are likely to have even greater impacts in the decades ahead.”

Civil religion: “Back in 1986, an insightful book titled Sacred Survival set forth what its author, the late social scientist and intellectual Jonathan Woocher, described as ‘the civil religion of American Jews.’” 

Core beliefs: “Among these major tenets common to religious and nonreligious Jews alike he listed ‘unity of the Jewish people,’ ‘mutual responsibility,’ ‘the centrality of the state of Israel’ and ‘Jewish survival.’ These core beliefs, he argued, bound Jews together. Not one of these beliefs, according to the new Pew survey, continues to unite American Jews today.”

Read the full piece here.


The view from Atlanta


“If we are going to continue to be a people, we need dialogue, we require grace, and we must resolve to prioritize unity,” writes Eric Robbins, the president & CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Broad community: “Three years ago, I wrote about 70 Atlanta Jewish professional and lay community leaders traveling together to Israel. We represented legacy and emerging organizations plus many synagogues — from Reconstructionist to Orthodox and Chabad. I called it ‘a living experience of pluralism,’ and I shared our story of courage and strength in the face of passionate, diverse reactions to the many flash points on our itinerary.”

Working it out: “On that journey to Israel in 2018, our diverse reactions to polarized politics made us uncomfortable. But being travelers together left us with no choice but to engage in dialogue, and we made time for it. We didn’t have the option to retreat to our comfortable homes and offices. We were literally on the bus together; we had to deal with one another, our views, and our feelings. As we worked through it, we didn’t come to a shared point of view, but we did share a level of understanding.”

Read the full piece here.


Caring for the mental health of adults in our schools


“Success in keeping our communities mentally well is not just the product of the work of counselors, it relies on the commitment and involvement of teachers and all faculty and staff,” writes Paul Bernstein, Prizmah’s CEO, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Our students: The rise of initiatives such as Mental Health First Aid, the Resiliency Roundtable convened by the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, and other efforts to address the social and emotional components of learning have allowed schools to strengthen their services, mostly with a focus on the students. 

Adults too: “We were right to anticipate difficulty on the part of students, and we have learned even more about the impact the pandemic has had on teachers. When Prizmah surveyed 700 educational leaders in February 2021, we discovered that educators were suffering greatly from anxiety and stress.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Full Pantry: During the pandemic, food banks and pantries across the U.S. were forced to offer prepacked bags or boxes of food due to social distancing rules, but now that those measures are no longer as necessary, such organizations should seize this moment of transition to encourage healthy eating habits, write Caitlin Caspi and Marlene B. Schwartz in The Conversation. As researchers on food policy and obesity, Caspi and Schwartz know that food bank clients value choice and healthy products, which means that the pantries can tweak their floor plans to facilitate healthy choices using behavioral economics, which conventional grocery stores deploy to induce consumers to spend more. “Food pantries are under no obligation to display soda prominently,” Caspi and Schwartz state. “They are also at liberty to alter their layout and what’s on the shelves to nudge clients toward healthier options.” [TheConversation]

Party Off: In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Emily Haynes askswhether donors and nonprofits are ready to restart in-person fundraising events, and finds plans for virtual events, hybrid meetings and small, in-person gatherings — but no big parties or galas. In some instances, lingering health concerns are keeping fundraising online; in others, development experts sense that even vaccinated people won’t feel comfortable schmoozing after a year of isolation. “People just want good, meaty connections,” fundraising consultant Samantha Swaim says. [ChroniclePhilanthropy]

New Details: In a Time magazine profile of Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, Belinda Luscombe reveals the person behind the newly-minted philanthropist, who made headlines by donating $6 billion with unprecedented speed. A novelist known for her introversion and modest habits even as Bezos’ fortune increased, Scott came from privilege — she attended the Hotchkiss School and Princeton University — but needed financial aid and waitressing jobs to pay for college, because her father had to declare bankruptcy when she was in high school. Despite her aversion to attention, Scott’s giving has inspired her to write several Medium posts that explain her philanthropic vision. “Scott’s very first book, written when she was 6, was called The Book Worm,” Luscombe concludes. “She is now getting to write the narrative of the rest of her life.” [Time]

Mixed Bag: Impact investors are following only some of the best practices of conventional investing with regards to measurement and management, but not all, reports Anne Field in Forbes. A recent report from BlueMark, an impact verification firm whose clients, including KKR, have a total of $99 billion in impact assets under management, reveals that such investors define and quantify impact and monitor performance, but don’t tie compensation to that performance, or consistently investigate disappointing outcomes. Aspiring impact investors need this information to help them decide whom to entrust with their money, said Christina Leijonhufvud, CEO of BlueMark and lead author of the report: “They want to know, how can I trust that what you say you’re doing is what you’re actually doing.” [Forbes]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Genesis Philanthropy Group has announced a new program of investment to enhance and enrich Jewish life across Spain… The Bronfman Fellowship is launching an artist residency program… David Klein, a former governor of the Bank of Israel, has died at the age of 86… Israel’s National Insurance Institute is proposing compensation in the amount of 100,000 shekels ($30,800) for each of the families who lost loved ones in the Lag B’Omer stampede at Mount Meron… A University Jewish Chaplaincy appeal in the U.K. raised more than £700,000 to offer students a ‘safe space’ to express their anxieties… Seven Israeli companies have made the ninth annual CNBC ‘Disruptor 50’ list… The Orthodox Union has launched an emergency campaign to provide oxygen concentrators for India as it fights COVID surge…

Pic of the Day


For Good Deeds Day in Moldova, volunteers at JDC’s RVC program painted eco bags that will be delivered on May 30 to ambulance drivers and paramedics in gratitude for fighting COVID.


White House Photographic Office

Former National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, he won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, Henry Kissinger… 

Retired professor of international marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (1962-2018), Philip Kotler… CEO of British real estate firm Heron International, Gerald Ronson… Actor, producer and real estate developer, Zack Norman… Senior U.S. District Judge for the Central District of California, Christina A. Snyder… Analytical psychotherapist, author, and Jewish Renewal rabbi, Tirzah Firestone… Former MLB pitcher (1978-1982), he is now a financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management, Ross Baumgarten… Emmy Award-winning actor, comedian and director, Richard Schiff… Owner of a 310 acre plant nursery in Kansas, he is a former MLB pitcher (1979-1990) and was an MLB All Star in 1979 and 1982, Mark Clear… Marriage counselor, therapist and author, Sherry Amatenstein… Dallas-based class action trial lawyer, political activist and Jewish community leader, Marc R. Stanley… Beverly Hills-based immigration attorney, founder and chairman of the Los Angeles Sephardic Jewish Film Festival, Neil J. Sheff… Political strategist best known as the campaign manager for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, David Plouffe… General manager of Phibro Israel and co-founder of LaKita, a nonprofit crowd-funding platform for Israeli public schools, Jonathan Bendheim… Workplace and labor reporter at The New York TimesNoam Scheiber… Actor, producer and co-owner of a wine label called Angelica Cellars, Ben Feldman… Director of philanthropic initiatives at Touro College, Grant Silverstein… Sports reporter for The Wall Street Journal in New York covering the NBA, college basketball and college football, Benjamin Zachary Cohen… Director of government relations at Raytheon Technologies, Katherina “Katya” Dimenstein… Law clerk with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Joshua A. Fitterman… Philadelphia Inquirer reporter covering Pennsylvania politics, Andrew Seidman… 

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