Your Daily Phil: Displaced Gaza border towns scramble for help

Good Friday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on Jewish institutions and communities going on high alert amid threats of an international “day of rage” by the Hamas terror group, and Israel Bonds selling $200 million in bonds since Saturday’s attacks. We feature opinion pieces from Andrés Spokoiny and Yotam Polizer. We’ll start with displaced Gaza border communities looking for help.

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 Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: Jewish groups host dozens of vigils, events across North America for Israel, bringing out thousands of supporters; Israel’s intel failure: ‘How did this happen?’; Military preparing for next stage of war, says IDF spokesman; Families of American hostages in Gaza plead for U.S. assistance. Print the latest edition here.

Moshav Tkuma is too close to the Gaza border to have sirens to warn residents of impending mortar or rocket fire — but too far to receive government payouts as they evacuate. Instead, loudspeakers blare the message “Tzeva Adom” (Code Red) in real time, but they weren’t really needed on Saturday morning, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

“We just started hearing explosions in the air,” Eliran Cohen, a resident of the community, told eJP. “We woke up the kids and went downstairs to our basement, which is all a bomb shelter.”

Cohen said he began receiving nonstop telephone calls — a rare thing to happen on Shabbat in a religious community like Tkuma — which first alerted him that this was not just another rocket attack. “I got a call from a family member who’s a security officer and I understood that this was an irregular event and… that we needed to barricade ourselves in the bomb shelter.”

Once Cohen’s family received the all-clear that they could leave, they threw three hastily packed suitcases in the car and drove north, not knowing exactly where they were headed. Since Saturday,the family has slept in four different places: A vacant apartment that someone let them use; a hotel room they paid for; a holiday home offered for free; and now the Kinar Hotel on the Sea of Galilee coast, which is being paid for privately.

Following Saturday’s terror attacks, the Israeli government ordered the evacuation of all communities within 2.5 miles of the Gaza border. (Though there was an understanding immediately that the government would pay for the evacuation, it took until Wednesday night for it to be officially approved.) In doing so, the residents of those communities — almost all of which were infiltrated by Hamas terrorists and suffered tremendous losses — were guaranteed government assistance, being provided with housing until they could return to their homes.

But the communities located just beyond that line, including Tkuma, which is located roughly four miles from the border, have been left to their own devices, receiving no official government support.

Cohen has therefore worked with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia to allow funders to donate directly to communities, specifically for their housing and basic necessities.

The federation’s representative in Israel, Tali Lidar, said she was also working with a number of other federations to try to get funding specifically for housing. Lidar said that donations from North America to the Sdot Negev communities should be directed through the federation and the regional council in order to ensure that there are no redundancies. “The last thing we need is a donor from Toronto to give money for equipment for first-response teams, which is something that we have already covered,” she said.

Read the full report here.


A Miami Beach police patrol drives past Temple Emanu-El synagogue in Miami Beach, Fla., on Oct. 9, 2023. (Marco Bello/AFP via Getty Images)

Jewish institutions around the U.S. are on high alert in response to a widely circulated statement from an official channel associated with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal calling on Muslims worldwide to engage in a “Day of Rage” on Friday and for countries to join Hamas in the battle against Israel, report Haley Cohen, Gabby Deutch and Marc Rod for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Balancing act: Amid the vague threat, many security officials are advising Jewish communities to stay vigilant but remain open?? — while ensuring that security measures are strong. American Jews are divided between a sense of unparalleled fear and a desire not to let their lives be shut down by terrorists.

Shutting down: In a rare move, several Jewish day schools in two different cities have decided to close on Friday. Children of Israeli diplomats are being urged by Israeli officials not to attend public schools, and Israeli national security officials have urged Israeli expats living abroad to avoid public demonstrations on Friday.

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


Israel Bonds sells more than $200 million in bonds since Saturday, mostly to local and state governments

Officials from West Palm Beach County, Fla., announce the purchase of $25 million in Israel Bonds on Oct. 12, 2023. (Screenshot/WPBF)

Israel Bonds has sold more than $200 million worth of bonds since Hamas’ deadly massacres in Israel on Saturday, the organization said Thursday. At least $150 million of the bond purchases came from U.S. states and local governments. States that invested in Israel Bonds this week include Ohio, Illinois and Florida, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Liquidity now: “When people ask me what can I do? I tell them we have a mission and one of the best ways to express our support for Israel is by giving the government of Israel the necessary budget that they need to win this war,” Dani Naveh, Israel Bonds president and CEO, told eJP. “Thousands of Jews from all over the world have been expressing their support for Israel by also purchasing bonds for themselves and on behalf of various organizations such as hospitals and emergency service organizations.”

Read the full report here.


Amidst the fog of war, navigating philanthropic support for Israel

On a mountainside, soldiers walk along a fence, the mountain and sky obscured by white-gray fog.
In a photo from April 2021, IDF soldiers are accompanied by a journalist during a tours of the Blue Line on Israel’s northern border. (Israel Defense Forces via Flickr)

“Many of us are asking ourselves how we can help, and JFN is assisting funders and donors across the world, members of JFN or not, with answers. In that spirit, I want to share with the broader community some general principles of disaster relief that apply for this crisis, plus some specific needs that are emerging in real time,” writes Jewish Funders Network President Andrés Spokoiny in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Communication is key: “Israel has a robust emergency response system that, although under strain, hasn’t collapsed. What funders need to do is find gaps in the systemic response and — this is critical — coordinate with the appropriate bodies. JFN is part of a roundtable that includes civil society, government, IDF and the business sector to vet and prioritize needs.”

Experience matters: “In the first phase of the crisis, it’s important to work via organizations that have a track record in disaster relief, a re-deployable staff and a presence on the ground. Luckily, the Jewish world has such entities: the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency, federations, IsraAid and many others come to mind.”

Read the full piece here.


After 22 years and 62 countries, now our help is needed at home

Candles are lit in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square in honor of the people killed in the terror attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)

“Never did I think we would have to look at pictures and maps of my homeland to assess disaster relief as our team has done countless times before,” writes Yotam Polizer, global CEO of the disaster relief organization IsraAid, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

An unprecedented situation: “Working in Israel has never been our mandate as an international aid group, but now it seems that here is where we are desperately needed. … Many amazing, capable and impressive organizations and volunteer groups are working to help evacuees and vulnerable communities in Israel, and we do not intend to duplicate efforts. We have unique expertise in emergency response, psychosocial support and coordination of humanitarian aid; and in this moment of extreme crisis it is our responsibility to offer our support wherever it is needed.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Bravery Under Fire: In eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider, Lahav Harkov profiles several cases of heroism from Saturday’s brutal massacres in southern Israel, including a Bedouin man who transported dozens of victims to safety, a 25-year-old woman who coordinated residents to fend off an attack and Yonatan Werner, who helped save the neighboring town. “Speaking to Jewish Insider while at a shooting range near Israel’s northern border, where he is on reserve duty, Werner recounted that after the heavy rocket fire at 6:30 on Saturday, ‘we didn’t understand what was happening…. When I went out, I smelled gunpowder and heard shooting all around, so I realized this was something bigger, some kind of infiltration,’ Werner recounted… ‘For over an hour, we battled the terrorists at the gate [of Prigan], because we knew that if they got in, they would kill everyone,’ Werner said. ‘We thought the army would come, but time kept passing and they did not arrive. At first, two [of our] people were injured, one moderately and one very badly, and then two more, another one very badly,’ Werner said. ‘After an hour of battle, the terrorists understood they couldn’t pass us, and they ran away. By standing strong, we saved Prigan from a terrible massacre. The devastation we saw in Kfar Azza and Beeri — if we didn’t get to Prigan, it would have happened there,’ he said.” [JewishInsider]

For Nation and Country: Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed his government in 2022, a passionate protest movement has voiced opposition to his coalition and its aims at every turn — but now it is mobilizing to support the war effort, writes Ofir Gutelzon, a member of the movement, for J. The Jewish News of Northern California.“The horrific events of Oct. 7, including the slaughter of more than 1,200 people — comparable to 33,000 Americans as a percentage of population — required an immediate swerve in our activities as we make it clear that we have always been, first and foremost, patriots while opposing the assault on democratic institutions. … Military reservists immediately returned to service, before being called, to protect the country from the savage enemy that attacked from Gaza. In partnership with organizations in Israel and Jewish communities, the protest movement is deploying every human, organizational and technical asset that it has to support the war effort. Dozens of groups have formed on the fly — for efforts as diverse as staffing mental health hotlines; acquiring needed gear for reserve soldiers; transportation to and within Israel; fundraising; garnering international support; public relations; information systems; support for the families of the killed, wounded, missing and kidnapped; support for the families of lone soldiers here in the United States; and more.” [J.]

Despite It All: In The Wall Street Journal, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik reflects on the significance of the fact that Hamas committed its atrocities on the holiday of Simchat Torah. “Jews do love life, especially because of the fragility of our history. We celebrate on Simchat Torah the completion of the Torah and the opportunity to begin it again, seeing in the continuing cycle a symbol of our people’s eternity. The Jew, Tolstoy reflected, ‘has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire and has illuminated with it the entire world. . . . He whom neither slaughter nor torture of thousands of years could destroy, he whom neither sword nor inquisition was able to wipe off the face of the earth… The Jew is as everlasting as is eternity itself.’ Anti-Semites, from those murdering children on the streets of Israel to those celebrating Hamas on the streets of New York, are driven by jealousy and hatred of a people that doesn’t die. They are convinced they will finally succeed in destroying the Jews. They will fail, thanks to the fortitude of the Jewish state and the providential nature of Jewish history.” [WSJ]

Around the Web

The Jewish Federations of North America launched a campaign to raise $500 million for Israel following Saturday’s deadly attacks and the outbreak of war. JFNA is joined by the Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Hillel International, the JCC Association of North America and National Council of Jewish Women…

The Swiss investment bank and financial services company UBS Group is offering to match its customers’ donations toward emergency humanitarian relief to Israel up to $5 million…

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will visit Israel this weekend in a show of solidarity…

Assailants have carried out dozens of antisemitic attacks on Jews in France since Saturday…

Rachel Goldberg, the mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal about her son, who is among the more than 100 people held hostage by Hamas…

The Philadelphia Phillies held a moment of silence for Israel before its playoff game with the Atlanta Braves last night and lit the stadium in blue and white. The Phillies beat the Braves 3-1, earning them a spot in the National League Championship Series

The National Football League, along with 13 teams, has criticized the Hamas terror group and the league is also holding moments of silence before games this week to honor those killed in Saturday’s massacres in Israel. The move was spearheaded by New England Patriots owner and philanthropist Robert Kraft

Leaders of B’nai B’rith International met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to discuss the war in Israel and the country’s need to defend itself…

Israel’s public diplomacy minister, Galit Distel Atbaryan, announced she was stepping down last night, saying her office was a waste of public money as the country’s public diplomacy efforts were being led by the Diaspora Affairs Ministry. Meanwhile, Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli has volunteered for the reserves… 

Pic of the Day


Technicians from the ZAKA emergency response service, which has led the efforts to retrieve the bodies of victims of Saturday’s massacres in southern Israel, sing “Acheinu Kol Beit Yisrael” (Our brothers, the whole house of Israel) in front of the Western Wall last night, with 1,350 candles burning — the latest estimate for the number of people murdered in the attacks. Watch here.


Shahar Azran/Getty Images

Media mogul, major political donor and philanthropist, Haim Saban celebrates his birthday on Sunday…

FRIDAY: Former deputy assistant secretary at the USDA, now an attorney working on organic food law, Richard D. Siegel… Musician, singer, songwriter, best known for his lead role in the Simon & Garfunkel duo, Paul Simon… Immediate past chair of the Anti-Defamation League, Esta Gordon Epstein… Founder of PublicAffairs Books, an imprint of Perseus Books at Hachette Book Group, Peter L.W. Osnos… Author of twelve cookbooks, Mollie Katzen… U.S. senator (D-WA), Maria Cantwell… Former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, now a media consultant, Ari Fleischer… Partner at FGS Global, Jack Krumholtz… Former AP bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, now a home builder in the Indian state of Goa, Steven Gutkin… Second gentleman of the United States, Douglas Emhoff… Co-chairman of Disney Entertainment where she is responsible for television and streaming, Dana Freedman Walden… Richard Lamke… Attorney general for England and Wales for part of 2022, he is a member of the UK Parliament, Michael Ellis… Emmy Award-winning film director, producer and screenwriter, Amy J. Berg… Award winning actor, comedian, and screenwriter, Sacha Baron Cohen… Israeli fashion model, Shiraz Tal… Adjunct professor of Jewish studies at Ohio University, Sarah Livingston… Bookstore owner and author, Emily Gould turns 42… Pentagon correspondent for CNN, Oren Liebermann turns 41… Land use attorney at Seattle-based firm of Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson, Joshua E. Friedmann… Political reporter for NBC News, Rebecca Shabad… Film director, producer and screenwriter, J.D. Lifshitz turns 31…

SATURDAY: Emeritus professor of history at the University of London, Shula Eta Winokur Marks turns 85… Fashion designer and business executive, Ralph Lauren (born Ralph Lifshitz) turns 84… Former Major League Baseball player for the Reds, Mets, Cubs and Athletics, Art Shamsky turns 82… Former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, co-founder and a vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network, Princeton professor, Alan Blinder turns 78… International trade attorney who held senior posts in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Ira Shapiro turns 76… Author, political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Norman Ornstein turns 75… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici turns 69… President and founder of Extell Development Company, Gary Barnett turns 68… Fashion designer, Isaac Mizrahi turns 62… President emeritus of Lakewood’s Beth Medrash Govoha, the largest yeshiva in the U.S., Rabbi Aaron Kotler turns 60… Sports radio host, his talk show is syndicated by CBS Sports Radio, Jim Rome turns 59… SVP of international affairs for the ADL until 2022, Sharon Nazarian, Ph.D…. Partner and co-chairman for North America at Finsbury Glover Hering, Michael Feldman… Member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Esther Dina Feuer Panitch turns 52… President and co-founder of the R Street Institute, Eli Lehrer… Writer of Tech Friend, an email newsletter of The Washington Post, Shira Ovide… Director of corporate civic responsibility at Microsoft, David Leichtman… Executive director of the Colorado office of economic development and international trade, Eve S. Lieberman… Independent consultant, Chana Yemini… Actress and singer, best known for playing the role of Gertrude “Gert” Yorkes in the Hulu original series “Runaways,” Ariela Barer turns 25… Defenseman for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, he is the son of hockey star Ellen Weinberg-Hughes, Quinn Hughes turns 24… Entrepreneur and sneaker reseller, known as Benjamin Kickz or the Sneaker Don, Benjamin Kapelushnik turns 24… Joseph Frederick Kushner… Marsha Grossman… Jason Epstein…

SUNDAY: Retired from the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1996, he is a mediator and arbitrator, Judge Jack Newman turns 84… Founder and dean of the Talmudic University of Florida in Miami Beach, Rabbi Yochanan Zweig turns 81… Former vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, after an eight-year term at the helm of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer turns 80… Miami-based mental health counselor and senior executive producer of the My Survivor Film Project, Mindy Hersh, Ph.D…. Owner of Los Angeles-based Got Kosher? Cafe, Alain Cohen turns 68… Founder and CEO of Refinement Services, Neil Kugelman… Former U.S. Treasury official, he is reported to have been the first Hasidic Jew to hold a Senate-confirmed administration position, he is now at the World Bank, Mitchell (Moyshe) Allen Silk turns 62… Founding partner of Equalitas Capital, Andrew Fawer… Director of national government relations at Gotham Government Relations & Communications, Shai Franklin turns 58… Founder and chief executive of the global investment firm Citadel, Kenneth Cordele “Ken” Griffin turns 55… Former mayoral press secretary during the Bloomberg administration in NYC, now a political communications strategist, Stu Loeser turns 50… Director of racquet sports at Shell Bay in Boca Raton, he was a professional tennis player who ranked 69th in the world during 2012, Jesse Levine turns 36… Managing director at SKDKnickerbocker, Elizabeth Kenigsberg… Second baseman on Israel’s National Baseball Team, Mitch Glasser turns 34… Director of strategic initiatives at the Modern Art Museum in Shanghai, Heiko Stoiber