Your Daily Phil: Displaced Israelis with disabilities face unique struggles

Good Monday morning.

Join us today at 12:30 p.m. ET for our latest “Get Your Phil” webcast, as eJewishPhilanthropy News Editor Judah Ari Gross interviews Friends of the Israel Defense Forces CEO Steve Weil about his organization’s work during the Israel-Hamas war and its recent $24 million donation to support mental health care for IDF veterans. Register here.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we highlight the struggles that displaced Israelis with disabilities and their families have faced since Oct. 7, and report on Sylvan Adams’ plans to support sports infrastructure in southern Israel. We feature the latest installment of eJP’s new column, “The 501(c) Suite,” in which Joshua Spinner writes about seizing the opportunities for positive change embedded in moments of crisis; and an opinion piece by Clare GoldwaterEzra Kopelowitz and Rabbi Dena Klein on the findings of their survey of Jewish educators and clergy from around the world. We’ll start with the commercials aired during the Super Bowl by the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism and the Israeli government.

The record number of people who are estimated to have watched the Kansas City Chiefs defend their championship in last night’s Super Bowl, beating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22, will have also seen a 30-second commercial featuring Martin Luther King, Jr.’s former speechwriter Clarence B. Jones about the need to fight complicity and combat hatred of all kinds, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

“Sometimes I imagine what I’d write today for my dear friend Martin. I’d remind people that all hate thrives on one thing: silence,” Jones says in the advertisement, which is estimated to have cost $7 million. “The people who will change the nation are those who speak out, who refuse to be bystanders, who raise their voices against injustice. When we stand up to silence, we stand up to all hate.”

The commercial, titled “Silence,” was created and broadcast by Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS) in light of a major rise in antisemitism since the Oct. 7 terror attacks in southern Israel, though Kraft said it is meant to inspire people to reject hatred of all kinds, not only against Jews. One scene shows a cross-burning; another shows a kippah-wearing man and hijab-wearing woman painting over the words “No Muslims” that had been spray painted on a wall. FCAS launched a $25 million “Stand Up To Jewish Hate” campaign last year, which included airing several commercials during NFL games, but never one during the Super Bowl. This year’s game is expected to shatter last year’s record of 115 million viewers.

“‘Silence’ is a call to action, urging viewers to stand up against all hate, embrace unity, and champion justice. In a world often divided, our goal is to let this Super Bowl ad serve as a message to millions of Americans, sparking conversations and inspiring meaningful change long after the final whistle blows,” Kraft said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Kraft organized a meeting of the commissioners of all the major sports leagues — NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, National Women’s Soccer League and NASCAR — to discuss antisemitism and other forms of hate and how professional sports can combat them. This included presentations by Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. State Department’s antisemitism envoy, and Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

The meeting and commercial come amid a tense period in Black-Jewish ties, as polls show young Black Americans are increasingly critical of Israel and supportive of the Palestinian cause.

Jones, the chairman of the Black-Jewish alliance Spill the Honey, said it was “an honor to partner with FCAS and be featured in the ‘Silence’ ad campaign in the hopes that the commercial will encourage viewers to research and feel empowered to volunteer their time and talent to [effect] change locally and abroad.”

Those who watched the Super Bowl on Paramount + will have also seen a commercial funded by the Israeli government, titled “All the Dads,” about the Israeli fathers being held captive in Gaza by Hamas. “To all the dads held in captivity by Hamas for over 120 days, we vow to bring you home,” the voice-over says.

Early this morning, Israelis learned that two captives — Norberto Louis Har, a father of four and grandfather of 10, and Fernando Simon Marman, not a dad but a beloved uncle — were rescued from Gaza by Israeli forces. They are the second and third hostages to be rescued through a military operation.


Lior Goldsmith works with clay a ceramic workshop at Shekel's Jeanette and Harry Weinberg Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Jerusalem, in an undated photograph.
Lior Goldsmith works with clay a ceramic workshop at Shekel’s Jeanette and Harry Weinberg Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Jerusalem, in an undated photograph.

The sudden and brutal disruption to life for the more than 200,000 Israelis displaced by the war in Gaza and the fighting along Israel’s northern border — the majority of whom are still living in temporary accommodations such as hotels — has been enormous, with people struggling both emotionally and financially. But for people with physical and mental disabilities, and their families, the sudden disruption to their daily routine and to their familiar surroundings has been especially traumatic, reports Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash for eJewishPhilanthropy.

‘Overwhelming’ situation: “When we arrived here, we had no idea what had happened or what would happen,” Tali Goldsmith, from Kibbutz Zikim and now living in a hotel outside Jerusalem, whose adult daughter Lior is on the autism spectrum with some intellectual disabilities, told eJP. “It was awful. Lior was miserable, and emotionally, I was broken. I could not deal with anything.” The family did receive offers of help from social workers and well-meaning volunteers but, Goldsmith said, the situation was so overwhelming — Lior needs 24-hour supervision — and “my whole belief system had been destroyed, I didn’t trust anyone.”

Vulnerable population: Inbal Milo David, the director of therapeutic centers at Shekel, a nonprofit that provides a variety of services and integrative programs for people with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities, explained to eJP that in times of war and national crisis, people with disabilities “are an especially vulnerable sector of the community.” “We have seen a constant rise in stress, anxiety attacks, sleep disturbances, challenging behaviors, somatic symptoms and other mental health issues,” Milo David said, adding that there is a massive shortage of “psychotherapists experienced at working with people with disabilities and with trauma.”

Preparing for worse: “One factor we need to focus on is preparedness,” said Yuval Wagner, the founder and chair of Access Israel, a nonprofit that promotes inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities. He noted that a possible war in the north with the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah would likely be even worse than the war now raging in Gaza. “Even though the war in the south was intense, there were breaks when we could evacuate people with special needs,” Wagner said. “Now we need to think outside the box because when we talk about a war with Lebanon, it will be much more intense, and we don’t know if it will even be possible to move all those in need.”

Read the full report here.


Canadian-Israeli philanthropist Sylvan Adams pledges to construct new sports facilities in southern Israel


Canadian-Israeli real estate mogul and philanthropist Sylvan Adams announced plans to support the construction of cycling and sports infrastructure in southern Israel, following a tour of the Gaza border region and meetings with survivors of the Oct. 7 terror attacks, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

In memoriam: On Thursday, Adams visited the site of the Nova festival massacre, meeting a survivor, and then toured Kibbutz Beeri, one of the hardest-hit communities in the attacks, with a resident, Rami Gold, a mountain biking aficionado who helped build and maintain many of the trails in the area. “During the tour of the kibbutz, Adams announced that a bicycle track will be built in memory of the murdered, as a donation on behalf of the cycling group he owns — Israel Premier Tech,” Adams’ office said in a statement.

Bigger, better, stronger: “We will build back bigger, better, stronger and bring life back to this beautiful community,” said Adams, who in December pledged $100 million to southern Israel’s Ben-Gurion University. “Let’s do it quickly. I’m imploring the government, really, don’t take your time, these things need to be done now. The sooner they come back, the sooner they can resume their lives. Let’s invest in the south, it’s so important. I’m asking everyone to join me, let’s rebuild this place, bigger, better, stronger.”

On the horizon: A spokesperson for Adams said he is considering other pieces of cycling and sports facilities to fund in the area, but has not yet finalized a plan. “After getting countless requests and seeing the destruction and atrocities firsthand, he’s weighing options for other ‘day after’ initiatives to revive Israel’s livelihood after the war and additional rebuilding projects to strengthen the [Gaza border] and the Negev,” Adams office told eJP.


Crisis and opportunity

“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” writes Joshua Spinner, executive vice president and CEO of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, in “The 501(c) Suite,” eJewishPhilanthropy’s opinion column where leading foundation executives share with the wider philanthropic field what they are thinking about and working on.

Look deeper: “We can all recognize that crises open possibilities that would otherwise remain closed. At times of great difficulty and stress, normal conduct is no longer sufficient. We are challenged to think and act differently, and that difference can produce better results — sharper, clearer, more productive — that address not only the crisis at hand but fundamental problems as well.”

Case in point: “The most acute and immediate crisis in the Diaspora relates to physical security. In Europe certainly, but also in the United States and across the globe, threats to Jewish institutions have increased dramatically. The synagogue I belong to in Berlin was attacked with Molotov cocktails shortly before morning services on Oct. 18. Even after more than two decades of living in Europe, and long accustomed to security guards, concrete barriers and police cars positioned outside synagogues, schools and community centers, I was shaken. And who isn’t? The crisis is real and present. How, then, should we avoid wasting it? … [W]e respond with critical solutions to technical gaps and deficiencies. But we can also do so much more.”

Read the full piece here.


Voices from the field: Educators respond to a historic moment

“Jewish educators, clergy and engagement professionals found themselves particularly challenged [in the wake of Oct. 7]. Words are usually their most accessible tools, the resource they call upon to help their learners, congregants and participants make sense of difficult moments; but at this moment, many found themselves struggling,” write Clare Goldwater of M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education, Ezra Kopelowitz of Research Success Technologies and Rabbi Dena Klein of The Jewish Education Project in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Data dive: “In order to understand this reality and have the data to direct a response, [we] fielded a survey in November 2023 to find out how educators, clergy and engagement professionals were experiencing the moment. The survey was administered online between Nov. 13-Dec. 27, 2023, distributed through 12 partner organizations across the globe. A total of 1,456 individuals from 24 countries responded, spanning the range of educational institutions in the Jewish world… Our conclusions have ramifications for the training of Jewish educators, who often specialize in specific disciplines or settings but feel ill-equipped to handle complex and broad issues like the rise of antisemitism or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Delete Your Account: The Times of Israel’s Amir Ben-David interviews Israeli economic columnist Guy Rolnik about a new investigative series he made about social media and its role in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks. “Aside from live videos, Hamas disseminated footage of murder and other atrocities captured on GoPro cameras strapped to many of the terrorists, loading them onto victims’ social media accounts for all their loved ones to see and be scarred by. The videos, sometimes edited in diabolical ways, were part of a premeditated and orchestrated operation to spread the effects of their campaign of terror far beyond southern Israel. ‘Hamas recognized that, on the ground, they could reach and harm 10,000 people,’ said Orit Perlov, a social media analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies, who is quoted in the series. ‘But online, they could reach the consciousness of 10 million Israelis, 400 million viewers in the Middle East, and potentially the entire world’… According to Rolnik, the campaign involved exploiting the precise targeting tools of social media platforms to quickly incite large audiences in different places using customized propaganda… To Rolnick, the intelligence failures in the lead-up to October 7… when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists streamed into southern Israel practically unchallenged, killing 1,200 people and taking hundreds hostage in an unprecedented paroxysm of violence, ‘pale in comparison’ to Israel’s inability to grapple with the online campaign against it and against Jews around the world… ‘Despite everything we know happened on October 7, Facebook, Google, and all these entities are still undermining us. It drives me crazy. What else needs to happen?’” [TOI]

Urban Farming Fix: New research recommends steps organizations and practitioners should take to reduce urban farming’s carbon footprint, which can be larger than that of conventional agriculture, reports Robert Hart in Forbes. “On average, fruit and vegetables grown on urban farms have carbon footprints six times greater than produce grown using conventional agriculture, according to a study of 73 urban farms and gardens led by researchers at the University of Michigan… The scientists claim their research is the first large- scale study of the increasingly popular practice that actually accounts for how most crops are grown in urban settings, with most previous research focusing on high-tech, energy-intensive methods like rooftop greenhouses and vertical farms as opposed to low-tech farms growing crops in soil on open air plots… An analysis of the 17 urban agriculture sites that outperformed conventional agriculture identified several ways urban farmers could be more carbon-competitive, the researchers said, such as extending the lifetime of infrastructure like raised beds and sheds (large-scale commercial agriculture often uses equipment for decades, lowering carbon costs)… While the researchers say their findings suggest steps need to be taken to ensure urban agriculture ‘does not undermine urban decarbonization efforts,’ they stress there are many benefits to the practice beyond its unrealized potential to cut carbon emissions.” [Forbes]

Calling All ‘Antibodies’: In the Wall Street Journal, Robert L. Woodson Sr. — who founded the Woodson Center in 1981 to help residents of low-income neighborhoods address the problems of their communities — argues that his lived experience lines up with research on the role of local nonprofits in crime reduction. “My hometown of long ago was a completely different place from the Philadelphia of the post-civil-rights era. It became plagued by crime, poverty and feuding gangs… Whatever caused homicide and violent crime to surge, the legal victories of the civil-rights movement clearly were no panacea. But something interesting happened toward the end of the 1990s and in the following decades. Crime rates began to go down… Most progressives continued to see economic factors behind the shift, while most conservatives credited broken-windows policing and other conservative policy innovations. There is another, more powerful explanation: The crime wave activated community ‘antibodies,’ local leaders and the neighborhood organizations they formed to address these problems. In the paper ‘Community and the Crime Decline: The Causal Effect of Local Nonprofits on Violent Crime’ (2017), Patrick Sharkey, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa and Delaram Takyara write that such local efforts are largely ‘overlooked in the theoretical and empirical literature on the crime decline.’” [WSJ]

Around the Web

The U.S.-based Friends of the Arava Institute, which raises money for the southern Israeli environmental research organization of the same name, held a fundraising gala in Newton, Mass., yesterday, which was attended by actor and board member Mandy Patinkin

Moody’s downgraded Israel’s credit rating for the first time and gave it a negative economic outlook, meaning it expects to reduce it further. The firm attributed Israel’s poor financial forecast not only to the war in Gaza but also to its domestic political turmoil, which it said would continue even when the conflict ends…

Fox Business spotlights the GreenLight Fund, a nonprofit that uses a venture capital-like approach to address societal issues, which is supported by a number of former top business executives, including Bernie Marcus

The Australian Financial Review profiles Australian Jewish impact investor Amanda Miller, who visited Israel on a solidarity mission in November and is now organizing another for more than 20 local philanthropists…

Jewish groups hailed a report by independent experts commissioned by the financial services firm Morningstar in which they recommended ways to remove anti-Israel bias from its environmental, social and governance ratings

British Jewish politicians, artists and celebrities affixed over 100 padlocks with the names of hostages being held in Gaza to the walkway outside of JW3, London’s main Jewish community center; the walkway will now be known as “Lovelock Hostage Bridge”…

The Wall Street Journal profiles Ian Jacobs, a protégé of Warren Buffett who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family, who is investing in San Francisco’s downtown business district…

Former Harvard Hillel Executive Director Jonah Steinberg is joining the university’s presidential task force on antisemitism as an adviser, and Boaz Barak, an Israeli-American professor of computer science, is joining as a member…

Donald Trump had dinner with GOP donor and philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelson in Las Vegas last week. Adelson declined to back a nominee in the primaries but is expected to support the Republican candidate in the general election…

The Washington Post profiled investor Bill Ackman and his campaign against the culture at elite universities. Ackman, who agreed to be interviewed for the piece, railed against the article after it was published, saying the reporter “and/or her editor” were biased…

Jewish members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada filed a human rights complaint against their union, saying its anti-Israel rhetoric created a hostile environment for them…

The Katz Amsterdam Charitable Trust, funded by Rob Katz and his wife,?Elana Amsterdam, announced more than?$2.66 million?in grants for mental and behavioral health programs in 12 mountain communities in the American West, Vermont and Canada’s British Columbia…

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/Israel Defense Forces

Norberto Louis Har (left) and Fernando Marman (second from right) hug their loved ones this morning at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, outside of Tel Aviv, after being rescued from Hamas captivity in Rafah, Gaza.


Annie Liebovitz smiles

President and general counsel at The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Alyza Lewin

Commercial director in the Inglewood and Beverly Hills offices of Keller Williams Realty, Gary Aminoff… Best-selling author, known for children’s and young adult fiction, Judy Sussman Blume… Author, former member of the Knesset and then chair of the Tel Aviv City Council, Yael Dayan… Dean at Shalem College in Jerusalem and professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, Leon Richard Kass… Former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Barak… Periodontist in Newark, Del., Barry S. Kayne, DDS… Economist, physicist, legal scholar and libertarian theorist, David D. Friedman… Computer genius, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil… Grandmother of Aryeh, Gabby, Alex and Daniella, Esther Dickman… Former president of Disney-ABC Television Group, Ben Sherwood… Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Brett Kavanaugh… Film director, producer and screenwriter, Darren Aronofsky… Comic book author and illustrator, Judd Winick… Comedian, actor, podcaster, writer and producer, Ari Shaffir… Deputy director for external affairs and communications at the Kresge Foundation, Christine M. Jacobs… Former MLB player, he is now the program director and owner of London, Ontario-based Centrefield Sports, Adam Stern… Work & Life columnist for The Wall Street JournalRachel Feintzeig… Deputy solicitor general of New Jersey, Michael Zuckerman… Israeli actress, best known as ADA Samantha Maroun on “Law & Order,” Odelya Halevi… Syndicated political columnist and senior editor-at-large for NewsweekJosh Hammer… Senior advisor in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs at the State Department, Megan Apper… Counsel in the international trade group at Crowell & Moring, Jeremy Iloulian… PR and communications manager at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Anna Miroff… New York regional director for the American Jewish Committee, Josh Kramer