Your Daily Phil: Effective altruism in Israel post-SBF + The need to support parents
Good Wednesday morning and happy third day of Hanukkah!
In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on how FTX’s collapse has cost an Israeli charity a million shekels, and feature reactions to an increase in federal funding for synagogue security, plus an op-ed by Betsy Stone on supporting parents. Also in this newsletter: Henry Zachs, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, Elliott Levitas and Kenneth Kronen. We’ll start with a seven-figure donation to L.A.’s Holocaust museum.
Every year, the Holocaust Museum LA hosts tours for 30,000 students ranging in age from fourth grade through high school, primarily from underserved communities, and expects that number to grow to 150,000 by 2030. Now, the museum has received a $1 million donation to fund some of those tours, eJewishPhilanthropy has learned.
The donation, which will be parceled out over five years, comes from the family foundation of Sandra Kanengiser. The gift is being made in memory of Kanengiser’s uncle, Jack Nomberg, a Holocaust survivor who died at 101 in 2019; the foundation is named for him and his wife, Goldie. The gift is also in memory of Kanengiser’s late parents, Robert and Barbara Gerson, who were also Holocaust survivors. Barbara Gerson also served as a docent at the museum.
“What we’re seeing is so extreme right now, and so terrifying, the sort of brazen expressions of antisemitism, it’s as if the genie’s been let out of the bottle,” Kanengiser told eJP. “And we don’t know how the genie gets stuffed back into the bottle, but we think that education is the catalyst for change.”
Kanengiser hopes the gift will enable the museum to reach “a lot of kids who don’t have a clue about what the Holocaust is.”
A 2020 survey of U.S. adults ages 18 to 39 by the Claims Conference found that many respondents were unaware of the Holocaust’s basic facts: 63% did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, and 48% couldn’t name a single concentration camp or ghetto. Eleven percent said Jews caused the Holocaust. Another survey by the Claims Conference in 2018 found that 80% of U.S. adults had never been to a Holocaust museum.
“It’s not that they have an opinion one way or another or a bias [about the Holocaust]; they have no information,” Kanengiser said, calling the effort “a local endeavor, but it’s also the core for a broader endeavor.”
Read the full story here.
How FTX’s implosion is costing Israel’s effective altruism movement
When the cryptocurrency firm FTX imploded last month after the discovery of an $8 billion shortfall, the sudden collapse sent shockwaves through a bevy of charity organizations that depended on funding from philanthropic initiatives associated with the firm. But in Israel, the ripple effects of FTX’s destruction will be felt in a surprising place: table salt, reports Melanie Lidman for eJewishPhilanthropy.xxxxx
Pursuing a goal: The FTX Foundation, the firm’s philanthropic arm, donated approximately NIS 1 million, or some $288,000, to help a new Israeli organization called ALTER, the Association for Long Term Existence and Resilience, find ways to increase Israelis’ access to iodized salt. ALTER is guided by effective altruism, a philosophy that the FTX Foundation trumpeted that says donors should leverage their giving to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The organization identified iodizing salt as one achievable goal that would have a significant impact on children’s lives in Israel.
Giving it back: The FTX donation is about as large as ALTER’s annual budget, and has already been deposited in the organization’s account. But with FTX in bankruptcy proceedings and its founder and former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, under arrest for fraud, ALTER founder David Manheim told eJP that he assumes his nonprofit will be required to return the money, and is already treating it as a loss. “We certainly are not willing to use money that would otherwise be going to compensate people who were defrauded,” he said.
Soul searching: In the aftermath of the collapse, proponents of the effective altruism movement are trying to make sure that the good they want to accomplish isn’t overshadowed by the extensive crimes allegedly perpetrated by one of the movement’s most public supporters. “I am absolutely furious that they had both so little basic ethical awareness and so little in terms of basic financial controls internally,” said Manheim.
NSGP funding increase called a positive step, but also disappointing shortfall
Jewish advocacy groups offered mixed reactions on Tuesday to the announcement of the $305 million 2023 federal budget allocation for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. The allocation represents a 22% increase over 2022 funding levels for the program, which provides funding for religious institutions and nonprofits to enhance their security, but falls short of the $360 million funding goal that many Jewish leaders and lawmakers have been pursuing for years, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.
Background: NSGP funding has increased significantly in recent years, most recently to $250 million for 2022, but has fallen short of meeting the target set by many advocates on Capitol Hill and Jewish community groups. The allocated funding has also fallen well short of meeting the increasing demand for grants at a time when reported incidents of antisemitism have reached a record high, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Talks appeared to be closing in on the $360 million funding level as of late last week. Jewish leaders who spoke to Jewish Insider last week were optimistic, and one individual with knowledge of the talks told JI on Friday that the funding was close to locked in, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) leading a push by citing rising rates of antisemitism.
Weighing in: Elana Broitman, the Jewish Federations of North America’s senior vice president for public affairs, told JI that she was still gathering information but had heard that, amid wrangling over defense and non-defense spending, domestic programs across the board experienced cuts. Republicans were urging higher defense spending and cutbacks to non-defense spending, while Democrats were pushing for more non-defense funding, she said. Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, described the $305 million allocation as a positive step in light of “all kinds of negotiations and cross pressures” that go into negotiating the massive annual spending package, even if “we certainly would have liked $360 [million],” likewise noting that NSGP was one of the few programs that saw increased funding.
What the community needs: better support for parents
“It seems that there is nowhere in the Jewish communal space that parenting support really lives. While we offer lots of programmatic opportunities for children, their parents don’t seem to have a natural home within our landscape. We know parents have been under enormous pressure during the pandemic – women leaving the workforce to care for children, parents dealing with the mental health issues of their children, job-related demands, lack of social support and isolation from family and friends. We hear lots of anecdotal reports of outrageous parental behavior from camps and schools. I know that all behavior is communication, and that parents are telling us how needy they are,” retired psychologist and Jewish communal consultant Betsy Stone writes in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Lonely lockdown: “Instead of bemoaning the behavior of parents, we need to respond. What do parents need? I think they need community. Over time, and accelerated by the pandemic, parents have become more and more isolated from naturally occurring communities that provide support, normalize behavior and diminish isolation. Historically, parents of young children have bonded at preschool drop-off, but that was disrupted in lockdown. As parents have been cut off from schools, camps and other gathering places, the experience of isolation has increased — at a time when our kids are also suffering some of the highest rates of anxiety and depression ever.”
Stability support: “Parents are alone, without the important connections that normalize our experience. If I know that your teenager screams ‘I hate you!’ at you, then it’s less overwhelming when mine does the same. There are places for grandparents, options for teens and younger children, opportunities for college-age and young adults, but nothing specifically for parental needs. Wow. What an oversight. Those of us who are invested in the lives and mental health of children must recognize that children need stable and supported parents. Parental stress doesn’t help children. Both common sense and data tell us that children need stable and reliable relationships to thrive.”
Hanukkah Henry: Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch interviews Connecticut philanthropist Henry Zachs, who distributed hundreds of $2 bills to attendees at the White House Hanukkah party. “The roots of Zachs’ gelt tradition can be traced back to an unlikely source: an oyster house. The owner of Honiss Oyster House, a once-iconic Hartford culinary institution that has since closed, would give out silver dollars or $2 bills to young visitors on Hanukkah. Zachs brought the tradition to his family, and has given out $2 bills to his grandchildren for years. Last night was the first time he took the practice into the outside world. ‘There wasn’t a single person that said, “Oh, I don’t want the money. I don’t take money.” There only was one congressman, he says, “I can’t take it.” That I understand,’ Zachs said with a laugh. He does not remember which member of Congress it was.” [JI]
Saving Their Stories: The Azrieli Foundation is matching Holocaust survivors with trained writers who can help write their stories, Samantha Goodman writes in the Canadian Jewish News. “The seed for Sustaining Memories began years ago: Elin Beaumont was working at the Azrieli Foundation’s Holocaust Survivor Memoirs program and would receive calls from survivors who weren’t able to write their own stories. ‘They’re in their 80s and 90s and realized this was their last shot to tell their stories and leave it for their families,’ she said. As a small program at the time, Beaumont’s team didn’t have the resources to do this. Beaumont, herself the daughter of two survivors, felt terrible and decided to come up with a way to help. She was in contact with Holocaust academics at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) who worked with survivors. Together, they put together a program to train adults to write these life stories. Creating the memoirs is no small feat. Bev Birkan has worked with at least six survivors for this project and she knows what it takes to write these stories. ‘We are the pen and the survivor is the writer,’ she said.” [CJN]
The Importance of Itemizing: A change in tax law disincentivized itemizing, but this may position the taxpayers with the highest incomes as the only ones whose taxes can benefit from philanthropy, Howard Husock writes in The Hill. “Providing support for all sorts of civil society organizations — the non-government groups that knit our society together — are all to the good. But the reality is that few Americans will actually see a tax break anymore for writing such a check. It’s an unfortunate reality that the next Congress should address. Tax code simplicity is a virtue — and the tax law change has made it possible for 90 percent of Americans who file income tax returns to do so without worrying about itemizing, with all its complications and tax schedules. But it also means that only those with the highest incomes and the most deductions can take advantage of the charitable tax deduction, one of the few remaining “loopholes” in the personal tax code. So it is that charitable giving has become a luxury good. This is an unhealthy state of affairs. It not only means that most Americans are no longer encouraged to engage in one of the nation’s signature acts — charity. It also means that the tax code will reward the charitable tastes and preferences of only the affluent.” [TheHill]
Around the Web
Lynda and Stewart Resnick, co-owners of The Wonderful Company, donated $50 million to the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to fund a Sustainability Center for Catalysis bearing their name…
The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, which aids Righteous Gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, is sending $350,000 ahead of Christmas to 120 of its recipients in 12 countries…
Former Democratic Rep. Elliott Levitas, the first Jewish member of Congress from Georgia, died at 91…
Kenneth Kronen, a longtime cantor at Long Island’s Plainview Jewish Center, died at 95. Kronen was the last living survivor of the 1957 crash landing of a Northeastern Airlines plane on Rikers Island, which killed 22 people…
Song of the Day
The Jewish a cappella group Six13 paid tribute to the Rocket Man in its video release this month, celebrating an “Elton Johnukah.”
Born in Auschwitz five weeks before liberation, she is one of only two babies born there known to have survived, Angela Orosz-Richt…
Former member of the Knesset for more than 36 years, David Levy… Former chair of the NY Fed and a partner at Goldman Sachs, Stephen Friedman… Producer of over 90 plays on and off Broadway for which she has won seven Pulitzer Prizes and 10 Tony Awards, Daryl Roth… Artistic director laureate of the New World Symphony, conductor, pianist and composer, Michael Tilson Thomas (family name was Thomashefsky)… Member of Knesset since 1999 for the Likud party, Haim Katz… Director of the LA Initiative at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, he was a longtime member of the LA County Board of Supervisors and LA City Council, Zev Yaroslavsky… Film, television and voice actor, Barry Gordon… CEO of WndrCo, Jeffrey Katzenberg… Former member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, where she became the first female Jewish minister in Australia, Marsha Rose Thomson… Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney, he is a behind-the-scenes fixture in the rap industry, Drew O. Findling… Retired four-star general who served as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, David L. Goldfein… Former U.S. secretary of the Treasury during the Trump administration, Steven Mnuchin… Senior NFL insider for ESPN, Adam Schefter… Owner of Liberty Consultants in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, Cherie Velez… Former member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party, Rachel Azaria… President of France since 2017, Emmanuel Macron… Principal of Kona Media and Message, Brian Goldsmith… Assistant director of public affairs at J Street, Laura Benbow… Israeli actor and fashion model, Michael Mario Lewis… Chief creative officer of Five Seasons Media, Josh Scheinblum… EVP in the financial services practice at Weber Shandwick, Julia Bloch Mellon… Politics editor for the Boston Globe, Joshua Miller…