Your Daily Phil: D.C.’s JCRC raises money, staffs up as antisemitism soars

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new survey of college students by the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International. We feature an opinion piece from Rabbi Daniel Levine, encouraging donors to invest in universities if they want to effect change. Also in this newsletter: Dr. Miriam Adelson, Barry Rudel and Eran Efrat. We’ll start with how the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington is responding to the war in Israel and rising antisemitism.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington has been “quietly” raising money in order to hire new staff and expand its activities in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, the ensuing war and the concurrent rise in antisemitism in the United States and around the world, the organization’s executive director told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross this week.

The JCRC has raised several hundred thousand dollars so far from a small pool of major donors who were contacted directly, not as part of a large fundraising effort. Ron Halber, who has led the organization for the past 22 years, said he made clear to the funders that he only wanted them to contribute if it would be in addition to what they planned to give to the JCRC or the local federation and not instead of those donations.

“We just hired a second individual to work in our Israel departments and do political organizing. We hired a PR firm, and more is coming,” he said, adding that the organization is looking to hire a second rabbi to do interfaith work for the JCRC.

One area where the JCRC of Greater Washington was already prepared was in responding to rising antisemitism in K-12 schools, having hired a second employee to focus on that area shortly before the war.

Normally, the JCRC works with school districts to “make sure that Judaism, Israel and the Holocaust are being taught properly” or help teachers understand the needs of Jewish students. “What’s happened is that all of our efforts that we’ve had have magnified and exploded,” Halber said. “Right now, we’re getting 25 phone calls a day to our office about antisemitism in schools.”

Halber said that he was disappointed by some of the responses to the Oct. 7 attacks, either by statements condemning Israel or by silence on the issue, but that he was rarely surprised: Groups with which the JCRC had a close, long-standing relationship were likely to release statements of support for Israel and the Jewish community, while groups that were part of broader, more superficial coalitions were not.

Halber said he planned to be “more strategic” and focus on developing “deeper and stronger relationships with fewer groups than casting a wider net” and encouraged other JCRCs and Jewish communities to do the same.

“I think the American Jewish community has to wake up, it has to take a hard look at the reaction of others and take that into account in its new calculus moving forward and realize that it’s going to acquire a readjustment. And if we don’t learn from this, shame on us. I’ve learned from this.”

Read the full report here.

CAMPUS BEAT

ADL-Hillel poll: Nearly three-fourths of Jewish college students faced antisemitism this year

Students participate in a protest against Israel outside of Columbia University in New York on Nov. 15, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Nearly three out of four Jewish college students — 73% — have experienced or witnessed antisemitism since the start of the 2023-24 school year, a sharp increase from last year, according to a new study released today by Hillel International and the Anti-Defamation League, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Sharp rise: The survey, which was first shared with eJP, also found that 44% of non-Jewish students have witnessed antisemitism since July. The results are a dramatic contrast from a similar study conducted in 2021, which found that 32% of Jewish students experienced antisemitism directed at them, and 31% of Jewish students witnessed antisemitic activity on campus that was not directed at them.

Not enough: “Since the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, Jewish students feel increasingly threatened on campus – but college leaders are not doing enough to address this very real fear of antisemitism,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said in a statement to eJP.

Methodology: The study, which was conducted with College Pulse and the ADL’s Center for Antisemitism Research, sampled 3,084 American college students, of which 527 were Jewish, from 689 campuses nationwide. The poll was conducted in two waves, the first from July 26 to Aug. 30, and the second coming one month after the Oct. 7 terror attacks, from Nov. 6-10. About 70% of respondents who participated in the first wave of the survey also responded in the second, including nearly half of Jewish respondents. The first wave had a margin of error of +/- 1.73% and the second of +/- 2.95%.

ALTERNATIVELY

Upset at the university? Invest in it

Hillel booth at University of California, Irvine, in 2019. (Hillel at UC Irvine/Instagram)

“The university is rapidly becoming an increasingly difficult space for Jews — and that is exactly why we must redouble our investments in it,” writes Rabbi Daniel Levine, Orange County Hillel’s campus rabbi and an adjunct professor at University of California, Irvine, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

How we move forward: “The fear and anger over what is happening in universities for Jewish students is understandable and justified. But our reaction must be one that is both rooted in pragmatism and the wisdom of our tradition. No amount of angry phone calls, financial threats or petitions — however deserving — will lay the seeds for the real change that must occur. Houses take months to build and vineyards take years to grow. We have understood this as a Jewish community for thousands of years, and it is the guiding wisdom that has allowed us to continue to thrive long after our worst detractors have been lost to the halls of museums or history textbooks.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

The Intersectional Generation: In the Wall Street Journal, Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn examine what is motivating young people to support Palestinians, including Hamas, in the current war. “A wave of pro-Palestinian protests has swept college campuses, leading to heightened tensions, counterprotests and, in some cases, violence. The conflict has also exposed a generational divide, with many older Americans surprised at the protests’ scope and intensity. [UMass, Amherst student Erin] Mullen and other pro-Palestinian college demonstrators say their activism is rooted in a deeply held conviction that the world is divided between the oppressed and their oppressors. That view frames the suffering of an array of populations, they say, including low-income families being evicted from their homes, Black and brown people who encounter brutal treatment by the police, migrants turned away from safe haven at the border and, in the current conflict, Palestinians struggling to wrest control of territory from the Israelis… The protesters’ sympathy for Hamas, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist group, sometimes astonishes and rankles bystanders. Roughly half of Americans 18 to 24 years old think Hamas’s October attack was justified by grievances of the Palestinians, according to a Harvard Harris Poll. Just 9% of people aged 65 and older feel the same.” [WSJ]

Playing to Your Strong Suits: In Barrons, Abby Schultz examines how increased charitable giving from foundations and companies is changing the field of philanthropy. “The landscape of philanthropy is shifting as foundations and corporations take on bigger roles, and as nonprofits recognize the need to seek support beyond donations to other means — such as social enterprise businesses — to achieve their goals. For wealthy donors, these shifts are leading some individuals and families to look at how they can leverage their resources. Those with family foundations, for instance, ‘are thinking more about how to align their endowment dollars with their values and with the mission of their organization,’ says Karen Kardos, global head of philanthropic advisory at Citi Private Bank… As the donor base becomes more affluent and institutionalized, they will bring ‘a more rigorous approach to measuring impact,’ according to the Citi GPS report. This trend may seem at odds with the trust-based approach… of providing significant, unrestricted funding to nonprofits. But Kardos argues… it’s about recalibrating the power imbalance. Instead of a nonprofit altering its approach to an issue in order to win a grant, the donor works with the organization to develop an initiative based on what the nonprofit knows could really work.” [Barrons]

Room for Improvement: In an opinion piece for WBUR, Makeeba McCreary and Bob Giannino advise the philanthropic community — from major foundations to individual contributors — to review and recalibrate their giving in three specific ways. “Start with the mindset that the organizations you’re investing in have a lot to teach you — not the other way around. It’s easy for funders to start from a place of privilege and power, given we hold access to the dollars that organizations need to sustain their work… Philanthropy’s traditional m.o. has been to give dollars to organizations with restrictions placed on how they can be used… Make a sustained commitment to your values through your giving — don’t just follow the issue of the day.So much giving is motivated by the crisis in front of us. But for nonprofit leaders, it can be incredibly difficult to get a surge of funding in one year only to see it dry up in a year or two… Instead, large foundations can commit to making multi-year gifts — and small donors can as well. This allows nonprofits to strategically plan for the long term, and also gives funders a deeper connection to the work.” [WBUR]

Around the Web

Harvard University will become the first American university to screen the Israeli military’s compilation of raw footage of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel. The footage will be shown at a Dec. 4 event hosted by Havard Chabad and presented by Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan

Yesterday, the footage was screened for senators in the Capitol, with attendees saying they were horrified by the video and vowing to “let the world know what happened”…

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) penned an opinion piece in The New York Times describing the fears of American Jews in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks…

Dr. Miriam Adelson plans to buy the majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks NBA team from Mark Cuban, who will keep a hand in the team’s operations…

The Oakland, Calif., City Council passed a resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, during what the local Jewish Community Relations Council called a “disturbing” meeting, in which speakers defended Hamas and denied that the terror group committed atrocities on Oct. 7…

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced $1 million in emergency state funding to allow “organizations that serve protected classes and religious institutions” to hire additional security personnel in light of rising antisemitism…

The New York Times Style Magazine spotlighted Jewish contributions to American theater with a new multimedia feature…

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is calling a hearing next week with the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania about antisemitism on their campuses…

The Department of Education has opened an investigation into how Harvard has handled antisemitism on its campus last month…

The board of trustees of Brandeis University took out an advertisement in The Boston Globe praising the school for making clear that antisemitism “will not be tolerated at our institution”…

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has called for the president of Hofstra University, Susan Poser, to resign after she failed to unequivocally condemn Hamas after the Oct. 7 attacks…

Hadassah launched its second cohort of the Evolve Leadership Fellowship, a program that started last year and is meant to identify and prepare future leaders of the organization…

Kelly Schwimer will succeed Barry Rudel as executive director of the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association of Greater Pittsburgh beginning in January. Rudel, who took the role in 2020, led the organization in a massive, rapid expansion, nearly quintupling its assets…

A three-year study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy contradicted concerns that nonprofits could not handle the large donations made by MacKenzie Scott, finding few reports of challenges or unintended negative consequences from the sudden influx of money…

Administrators of South American Jewish schools are visiting Israel as part of a solidarity mission this week…

A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Jewish Community Council building in Montreal hours after it hosted a meeting about the need for increased security measures in the city. The Canadian city has seen several violent attacks in recent weeks, including firebomb and shooting attacks on schools, synagogues and community institutions…

Gil Ofarim, a German-Israeli singer, admitted to having lied when he accused employees of an upscale hotel in the German city of Leipzig of telling him to “put away” a Jewish star necklace in a widely shared video two years ago. As part of a plea deal, Ofarim will donate $11,000 to Leipzig’s Jewish community and a Holocaust education center…

Amsterdam-based Israeli entrepreneur Eran Efrat raised $40 million to provide tactical supplies for Israeli soldiers following the Oct. 7 attacks…

Shelley Akabas, a social work pioneer who served as a professor at Columbia University, died earlier this month at 92…

Pic of the Day



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, flanked by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi (left) and Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman (right) meets today with AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr, President Michael Tuchin, Israel Director Cameron Brown, Managing Directors Elliot Brandt and Arne Christenson in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
Kobi Gideon/Israeli Government Press Office

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, flanked by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi (left) and Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman (right) meets today with AIPAC CEO Howard Kohr, President Michael Tuchin, Israel Director Cameron Brown, Managing Directors Elliot Brandt and Arne Christenson in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Birthdays

The newly appointed ATF Director Steve Dettelbah, joined by New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, attends a press conference about their joint effort to combat gun violence at the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) office on August 24, 2022 in New York City. They outlined steps needed to stem gun violence in the city, citing that the problem is a nationwide issue. The plan is to work with neighboring states with lax gun laws to stem the interstate gun trafficking while employing the latest technological resources.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Steven Michael Dettelbach

Heiress of the U.K.’s Tesco supermarket empire and former lord mayor of Westminster, Lady Shirley Porter… Circuit judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit until he retired in 2021, Judge Michael Boudin… Management analyst for the City of Los Angeles, Lou Loomis… Co-founder of Knowledge Universe and founder of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, Lowell Milken… Former longtime women’s volleyball head coach at Penn State University, Russell David Rose… Senior half the renowned film-making team of the Coen Brothers, Joel David Coen… Chairman of Yad Vashem, he was previously the consul general of Israel in New York, Dani Dayan… Comedian, actor and, since 2010, a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” Howie Mandel… Chief rabbi of Safed, he is a son of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu… President emeritus of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL), Rabbi Irwin Kula… Mountain states regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Scott Levin… Co-owner and CEO of Covenant Wines in Napa, Jodie Morgan… U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel… CEO of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, Joseph Sternlieb… Brooklyn resident, Andrea Glick… Actress, singer and comedian, Jacqueline Laura “Jackie” Hoffman… Israeli author and journalist, Lilac Sigan… Foreign policy and public diplomacy advisor to seven consecutive Israeli prime ministers, now a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, Shalom Lipner… Argentine author, his stories mostly feature Jewish characters, Marcelo Birmajer… MLB Hall of Fame relief pitcher, known for his outspoken support of Israel, Mariano Rivera… Former Olympic alpine skier, now a reporter for Sirius XM Radio, Carrie SheinbergLouise Rothschild… Scientist, focusing on mental health research regarding psychedelics, Gregory Ferenstein… Communications and fundraising consultant, Orit Sklar KwasmanChanoch Ben Yaacov… Abigail Langer…