Your Daily Phil: ‘Disrupt Antisemitism’ incubator launches + How JIMENA will use its JCRIF grant

Good Monday morning!

The Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C. (EDCJCC) vaccinated 400 children ages 5 to 11 yesterday at a “pop-up” vaccine party featuring a DJ, hula hoop contests, a photo booth, cake pops and popcorn, said EDCJCC CEO Dava Schub, who said she was seeing and hearing “tears of joy, plans for sleepovers and visits to far-away grandparents.”

The center had planned the pop-up months ago, in the hope that the vaccine would be approved for children in time to obtain it in sufficient quantities. The Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital, Baked by Yael and Friends of Stead Park also supported the event.

The American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Disrupt Antisemitism initiative has selected five winning projects for its incubator, including a social justice organization and a satirical digital news show, from 70 applicants, Alexandra Lipner Rosenblum, AJC’s director of development operations, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

The news show, “Jew or False,” aims to correct misinformation in addition to inspiring pride. It’s led by writer and director Jason A. Kessler, a lawyer-turned-filmmaker.

“Our selection committee was drawn to Jason’s wit. There’s something very Jewish about engaging with such a serious topic through comedy,” Rosenblum said. Each of the winners will receive $10,000 in funding as well as access to AJC advocacy, finance and technology experts.

The other winners are Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization; New Zionist Congress, which brings young people together to engage with Jewish authors and thinkers; Olive Branch Pictures, a graphic novel and animation studio working to foster understanding between Israelis and Palestinians; and an initiative conceived by students from Yeshiva University Los Angeles High School that will bring together Jewish and non-Jewish high school students. AJC’s “The State of Antisemitism in America 2021” report found that 86% of American Jews ages 18 to 35 think antisemitism is a problem.


JIMENA aims to convene the Sephardic and Mizrahi community, with support from JCRIF

The synagogue of Djerba, in Tunisia

About eight years ago, Sarah Levin went to Evanston, Ill., for a family visit. What the executive director of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) thought would be a typical trip home turned out to be more of a roots trip, during which she learned from reading century-old synagogue minutes that her great-grandparents, immigrants from Turkey, had been fierce advocates for the rights of the Sephardic community, Levin told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Pain and pride: “My great-grandfather wasn’t accepted by other Jews, and that wasn’t uncommon for his generation at all,” Levin said. “This is part of my lineage. I’m so proud to be part of this family.” JIMENA was founded in 2002 as a project of the Bay Area JCRC, during a period that saw other groups being formed around the interests of Jews who follow the customs of Spain (Sephardic) or of North Africa and the Middle East (Mizrahi). JIMENA’s founders were themselves refugees from the Middle East and North Africa determined to deepen the Jewish community’s understanding of the experiences and histories of Jews from that region.

Giving voice to the quiet: “The heart of it has always been that of our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, who never talked about the stories of their lives. It was such a privilege in those first few years to give elderly people an opportunity to talk to a Jewish organization that recognized them,” Levin said. JIMENA continues to do that work, but it’s also broadening its mission. With support from the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund’s (JCRIF) Reset program, JIMENA is preparing to serve as a convener of the Sephardic and Mizrahi community in the United States, and to help that community stake its claim as leaders of the community as a whole. Sephardic and Mizrahi traditions are particularly relevant in this moment of debate about justice and equity in the Jewish world and in American society, Levin said. “This grant is an acknowledgement by the established Jewish community that JIMENA should go national, and that their issues should become part of the national agenda,” said Henry Green, a professor at the University of Miami, who in 2009 created Sephardi Voices, an organization that interviews Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews to collect their stories in oral histories and on film. 

A vote of confidence: JCRIF was founded by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Maimonides Fund, The Paul E. Singer Foundation, and the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation as an emergency fund to protect hard-hit Jewish institutions during the early days of the pandemic. In February 2021, it announced the Reset program, which asked communal organizations to mine the disruptive experience of the pandemic for inspiration. The funders approved $24 million in grants to eight organizations, including JIMENA, which will use the funding to conduct a first-ever demographic study of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews in the United States, and to create leadership programs for Sephardic and Mizrahi professionals, intellectuals, lay leaders and allies.

Read the full article here.


How Seattle’s largest Jewish philanthropy is collaborating with local day schools to grow enrollment


“The Samis Foundation has been supporting Jewish education for youth for more than 25 years, and integral to that mission is Jewish day school education. This goes beyond maintaining the financial viability of the schools themselves. Healthy day schools contribute to Sam Israel’s vision for a flourishing Jewish community in Washington state,” writes Ariel Lapson, a program officer at the Samis Foundation, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Enrollment: “Seattle-area day schools had 730 students enrolled in five schools in 2002. Today, with an overall Jewish community that has doubled in size, the day schools have around 430 students in eight schools. Samis has been studying the factors that led to this moment and is working in collaboration with the school communities to reverse enrollment trends and foster a healthy day school ecosystem.”

Community conversation: “To that end, this fall the foundation is excited to engage Rabbi Josh Spinner, executive vice president and CEO of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation headquartered in Berlin, and Ms. Kate Goldberg, the CEO of the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Legacy Foundation based in London, with the goal of bringing together community leaders to formulate strategies to grow day school enrollment.”

Impactful investment: “Cognizant of the fact that Jewish day school affordability is a complex challenge, Samis is committed to day school education as the most impactful investment in the Jewish future. Data gathered by the foundation helps explain why the financial model for Jewish day schools differs from other private independent schools.”

Read the full piece here.


Silence is acceptance

Wikimedia Commons

“On Monday of last week, I battled Maryland pre-rush hour traffic and parking spaces turning into evening through lanes to return to campus. As an undergraduate student two decades ago, I could not imagine introducing my 18-month-old daughter to GWU in this context. Just a few hours prior, we learned about both a unique and unfortunate opportunity where GWU students were set to rally after a Torah scroll was desecrated at a fraternity over the weekend. It would be a chance to both celebrate our faith and take a public stand against antisemitism,” writes podcaster and author Ari Mittleman, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

New experience: “My time on campus expanded my horizons beyond my wildest dreams. As university admissions material so truly states, it was ‘an education unlike any other.’ Unfortunately, what I learned in and out of the classroom could not prepare me for the rush of emotions I experienced that Monday afternoon. Never once as an undergraduate did I experience antisemitism. Rather, as I was pushing a stroller down G Street, I was reminded of my many non-Jewish classmates who took a keen interest in Judaism and in the diverse free market pluralistic democracy that was and continues to be Israel.” 

Window sign: “A sign in the window of School Without Walls, a program for qualified students, caught my eye – Silence is Acceptance. Not knowing what lay around the corner for my daughter and me, I quietly prayed that the hastily organized event would have meaningful attendance and the diverse student body I fondly remember would not be silent.”

Words in the heart: “The ancient Jewish Talmud teaches that ‘words in the heart (words left unsaid) are irrelevant words.’ As my daughter learns to talk, this is an important value I intend to instill. When we see injustice, it might be easier to look the other way and keep our thoughts to ourselves.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Good Sports: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has built a culture of philanthropy that pervades the team, writes Keagan Stiefel in an article for an in-house publication, Pats Pulpit, that profiles players whose participation in the Patriots Foundation’s activities have inspired them to start their own charitable efforts. Isaiah Wynn has set up a scholarship for African-American high school students in Pinellas County, Fla., while Devin McCourty has been honored by the Patriots for his work combating sickle cell disease and rehabilitating gang members. “Philanthropy has been the backbone of the New England Patriots’ organizational values ever since owner Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994,” writes Stiefel. [PatsPulpit]

Intergenerational Conflict: Millennials and Gen Z want the same things in the workplace — mental-health benefits and work-life balance — but Gen Z is better positioned to actually change professional culture due to their relatively empowered position as they enter the workforce during and after the pandemic, reports Hillary Hoffower in Business Insider. Millennials, many of whom started their careers during the recession of 2008 or its aftermath, unwillingly prioritized job security despite yearning for a better quality of life, and now they’re “afraid of Gen Zers” who are demanding that life and have their pick of jobs in a newly flexible workplace. “Millennials paved the way for a change in better flexibility and wellbeing at work, but Gen Z is turning it from a workplace perk to workplace norm,” concludes Hoffower. [BusinessInsider]

Motive Matters: In Bloomberg, Sabrina Willmer looks at this year’s record launch of 132 impact funds by private equity firms as evidence that the industry is trying to rebrand for investors, especially pension plans, whose beneficiaries are environmentally and socially conscious. Ludovic Phalippou, an economics professor at the University of Oxford, says it’s business as usual in private equity, which is just trying to highlight its deals in feel-good sectors by calling them impact, but others assert that the bigger problem is how to measure social return, whatever the impetus for a deal or fund. “There is an urgent need for greater transparency to avoid what we have now, where companies write a narrative with cherry-picked anecdotes,” says Alyssa Giachino, climate director of advocacy group Private Equity Stakeholder Project. [Bloomberg]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Elise Dowell has been appointed CEO of JCC of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale, N.Y., beginning in January… Israel’s first-ever Olympic medalist, Yael Arad, has been named head of Israel’s Olympic Committee… Muslim Americans gave more to charity in 2020 than non-Muslims, according to a new study by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy… A COVID-fighting coalition heavily funded by Bill Gates awarded $4.3 million for development of an Israeli variant-proof vaccine in tablet form… The Open Society Foundations announced grants totaling $1.3 million in support of frontline organizations working to assist Haitian and Black migrants who are seeking asylum at the U.S. Southern border… The Pan-Mass Challenge donated a record $64 million to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and its Jimmy Fund in support of adult and pediatric cancer research and patient care… The Audain Foundation is donating $80 million, the largest single cash gift to an art gallery in Canadian history, to the Vancouver Art Gallery to help finance the gallery’s proposed move to a new downtown site…

Pic of the Day

Judy Batalion

Judy Batalion, author of Light of Days: Women Fighters of the Jewish Resistance, will deliver today the 26th annual lecture of a series hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and established by former Hadassah CEO Janice Shorenstein in honor of her parents.



Congregational rabbi in Paris and co-leader of the Liberal Jewish Movement of France, Delphine Horvilleur… 
Former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, later a U.S. District Court judge, now a criminal defense attorney, Herbert Jay Stern… Actress, comedian and writer, she played the recurring role of Doris Klompus on “Seinfeld,” her solo theater shows include “Yenta Unplugged” and “The Yenta Cometh,” Annie Korzen… CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ira C. Magaziner… Senior managing director and global head of government affairs for Blackstone, Wayne Berman… Chief operating officer at Forsight, Michael Sosebee… Financial consultant at Retirement Benefits Consulting, Michelle Feinberg Silverstein… Former Israeli minister of education, now a member of Knesset for the Likud party, Yoav Galant… Television producer, she is the co-author of Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book Lean InHelen Vivian “Nell” Scovell… New York City-area attorney, Charles “Chesky” Wertman… Principal at Lore Strategies, Laurie Moskowitz… Past president of University Women at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Allison Gingold… Popular Israeli vocalist in the Mizrahi music genre, Zehava Ben… Sports journalist for ESPN Deportes, he was born in Ashkelon, Israel, and has covered both the World Cup and the Summer Olympics, David Moshé Faitelson… Professional poker player and fashion designer, Beth Shak… Founder of Ayecha, Yavilah McCoy… Founder and CEO of Gold Star Financial Group, Daniel Milstein… Israeli singer, Lior Narkis… Former deputy assistant secretary of state for regional security, Mira Kogen Resnick… Jewish history department chair at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Aaron Bregman… Media, strategic communications and branding consultant, Alana Weiner… Israel educator and communications director at LA Election Project, Roei Eisenberg… Co-chair of United Synagogue Youth International Convention (2021), current participant on Nativ Gap Year Program in Israel, Cameron Elizabeth Fields… Allan Waxman…
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