Your Daily Phil: FIDF gives $24m to boost mental health care for Israeli vets

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 eJewishPhilanthropy, Jewish Insider and The Circuit stories, including: Live2Tell: New Holocaust remembrance project gives voice to survivors; The White House knows Iran is behind the deadly attacks on its troops, but how will it respond?; Qatar’s two-faced approach to hostage diplomacy divides Israeli officials, American Jewish leaders; Dept. of Ed. civil rights chief ‘astounded’ by antisemitic incidents at U.S. schools, universitiesPrint the latest edition here.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on two new studies by the Foundation for Jewish Camps and the Biden administration’s new sanctions on violent Israeli settlers, which may affect some U.S.-based nonprofits deemed to support them. We feature an opinion piece by Jay Zeidman, in which he shares his impressions after co-organizing a screening of footage from Oct. 7, and another by Rabbi Sid Schwarz about his recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border with HIAS. Also in this newsletter: Maurice SendakKatherine “Kathy” Sarlson and Yuval Freilich. We’ll start with a major donation by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces to Sheba Medical Center. Shabbat shalom!

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces is donating $24 million to the Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv to dramatically expand its mental health-care capacity as thousands of Israeli veterans, as well as civilians, are expected to need psychological assistance following the traumas of the Oct. 7 terror attacks, ongoing war in Gaza and fighting along Israel’s northern border, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The donation represents one of the single largest contributions ever presented to the hospital. It comes amid rising concerns about the ability of the Israeli mental health-care system — which was already in poor shape before Oct. 7 — to cope with the impending wave of post-traumatic stress disorder and other related mental health issues related to the war.

“The current war has exposed significant deficiencies in mental health care within our system,” Dr. Amitai Ziv, director of Sheba’s rehabilitation hospital, said in a statement. “Recognizing this urgent need, we immediately understood the importance of expanding our professional reach and impact across the country in the regions that need it most.”

The donation from FIDF will allow Sheba Medical Center to expand its mental health-care capacity by 50%, according to the two organizations. Israel’s Defense Ministry is also supporting this effort, albeit with a smaller amount of funding, with FIDF providing $24 million toward the $27.45 million project.

“When hundreds of thousands of Israel’s courageous soldiers were called to service more than three months ago, we recognized the gravity of what they would face and the potential trauma they would endure, and therefore mobilized to find macro solutions across the nation for IDF soldiers and their families,” Steve Weil, the CEO of FIDF, said in a statement.

The funding will be used to establish mental health centers at existing facilities run by Beit HaLochem (literally, Warrior’s Home), a nonprofit that provides rehabilitation for injured IDF veterans. These facilities can be found in Haifa and Nahariyah in the north; Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the center; and Beersheva in the south. 

Read the full report here.


Rabbi Dina Brawer, executive director of the U.K.-based World Jewish Relief’s American branch, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2023.
Getty Images

The trick to having happy campers, it turns out, is having happy counselors. That’s the takeaway from a new study by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) and the American Camp Association, which was published last month, focusing on mental health at camp. It’s a lesson the leaders of Camp Ben Frankel in Belleville, Ill., have long been preaching: One of their central mantras, the camp’s director, Aaron Hadley, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz is, “When staff thrive, campers thrive.”

Good investment: The study, which appeared in the latest issue of the Journal of Youth Development, found that when staff felt supported and were given adequate training to meet campers’ mental health needs, they felt more satisfied in their work. Consequently, their campers’ parents were also more likely to express satisfaction with the camp and report that camp is a positive environment for their child. “When young adult staff feel supported and listened to, valued and heard, it leads to a more supportive environment for campers,” said Nila Rosen, FJC’s director of learning and research, who co-authored the mental health study. 

The good and the bad: This week, FJC also released its 2023 Jewish summer camp census, with data from 158 overnight camps and 166 day camps. Camp enrollment has continued to grow, especially in day camps, which returned to pre-pandemic enrollment levels — 73,000 overnight campers and 75,100 day campers attended Jewish camp in summer 2023, the census found. Camps also still suffer from a “leadership pipeline” problem, with major staff turnover year after year, the census found. Financial aid is being requested more than ever, with overnight camps reporting about a 30% increase in the amount of financial aid that families asked from their camps. These demands come on top of camps’ growing expenditure on their facilities.

Read the full report here.


Biden issues sweeping sanctions targeting ‘extremist’ Israeli settlers

American politician Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office after she was elected mayor of San Francisco, at San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco, California, circa 1978.
U.S. President Joe Biden. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday sanctioning four Israeli settlers who have committed violence against Palestinians, the strongest punitive action ever taken by a U.S. administration against Israeli settlers, a move that was swiftly condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House described the move as an attempt to “address actions that undermine peace, security and stability in the West Bank,” reports Gabby Deutch for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Nonprofit watch: The new sanctions mean that any American citizen who has a financial relationship with the four targeted individuals could face consequences. Guidance sent from the Treasury Department to compliance officers at U.S. banks included several red flags that financial institutions should consider when determining whether transactions are suspicious — among them, payments to nonprofits that have links to violent extremist groups in the West Bank or purchases of military gear for non-government users in Israel.

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


Reflections on the unimaginable

A disheveled living room with a path of blood droplets leading away toward the back wall and toppled furniture. There is a whiteboard with the colorful scribbles of children on the wall.
A living room in an unidentified house in kibbutz Nir Oz after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, pictured on Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

“Last week, I experienced the most gut-wrenching 45 minutes of my life while watching collected footage from Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Oct. 7,” writes Jay Zeidman, co-founder and managing partner at Altitude Ventures and member of the Texas Holocaust, Genocide, and Antisemitism Advisory Commission, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Nightmare upon nightmare: “As a father of two young children and the husband of an Israeli whose grandparents escaped the Nazis, I was particularly impacted by the plight of a father and his two young boys. The video from the family’s home security cameras showed an unimaginable horror… During the film, as I experienced anger, anxiety and grief, I kept praying that someone — a soldier, armed guard, anyone — would arrive and push back Hamas and live to tell about it.”

Necessary measures: “[I]t is clear why Israel meticulously reviewed, analyzed and documented everything — from cellphones to CCTV to social media and everything in between. History has taught the Jewish people that when we are targeted, terrorized, dehumanized and slaughtered, others will doubt, minimize and even try to erase what happened… Israel had to prove its trauma because it simply had no other option — and proof notwithstanding, unabashed, undetected or unacknowledged antisemitism persists. If this horrifies you — and it should — ask yourself what you can do. Give money. Invest in Israeli companies. Call your elected officials, not just in Washington, but at home in your local municipalities. Do not hide. This is our moment to be vocal, not to cower out of fear. It is our moral obligation to stand up to hate, bigotry and antisemitism.”

Read the full piece here.


Yearning to breathe free

An adult and two children walk through the Rio Grande at the U.S.-Mexico border while crossing into into El Paso, Texas from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Jan. 31, 2024. After crossing through razor wire they were then allowed to proceed for further processing by U.S. Border Patrol agents. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

“This weekend, hundreds of synagogues across North America and around the world will mark the 6th Annual Refugee Shabbat. The event is organized by HIAS, the storied organization founded more than a century ago and responsible for the rescue of hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees,” writes Rabbi Sid Schwarz, director of the Clergy Leadership Incubator (CLI), in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Echoes from history: “Last week, I participated in a rabbinic delegation to the Mexican border, organized by HIAS… It is impossible to experience what transpires at the Mexico-U.S. border without recalling how many Jews faced similar scenarios in the not-so-distant past. My own father was born in Berlin and was encouraged by his parents to accept an invitation from an aunt and uncle in Brooklyn to leave Nazi Germany. He left two weeks before Kristallnacht, in October 1938, and he came to the U.S. on the last successful voyage of the St. Louis. The next voyage of the St. Louis, in May 1939, came to be called ‘the voyage of the damned’ because the U.S. refused entry to the more than 900 Jewish refugees aboard who were fleeing Europe, and the boat was forced to return to Germany.” 

Call to action: “Jews are no longer the desperate immigrants at the borders, but both our history and our Jewish values call upon us to raise our voices to say that America is big enough, wealthy enough and secure enough to continue to serve as a haven to the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ I walked among those huddled masses last week. We need to be their allies.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Make a Plan: In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Lisa Schol shares advice from fundraising professionals on how to create a 12-month outreach calendar to build the relationships that lay the groundwork for strong end-of-year giving. “Identify your top three priorities for donor engagement so you can build tactics and messages that feed into them, says Chrissey Nguyen Klockner, chief of staff at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. For example, these might include increasing awareness and understanding of your mission, deepening key donor relationships and expanding your pool of support, or raising a specific sum. Your donor-engagement goals should be aligned with your nonprofit’s strategic priorities, she adds, to ensure that donors get consistent messages throughout the year… Also consider the cadence of your communications. It’s OK to get in touch with donors often, such as monthly, as long as you’re not always asking for money, she says. Once you have a big-picture view of your calendar, look for gaps between campaigns or months, where you can plug in creative engagement and stewardship activities, suggests Jen Newmeyer, director of digital fundraising strategy at PBS. Involve other departments, she adds, so you can complement each other’s efforts and avoid competing or oversaturating donors.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Where the Wild Things Still Are: In advance of the posthumous release next week of Maurice Sendak’s Ten Little Rabbits, Elisabeth Egan takes readers on a tour of the beloved children’s book author’s home studio in The New York Times. “Standing among Sendak’s books, art and ephemera, it was easy to imagine that he’d stepped out for his daily three-mile jaunt down Chestnut Hill Road. Surely he’d come back, pop in a Mozart CD and get cracking on a new project. There were his walking sticks by the front door; there were his poster paints, wearing price tags from an art store that closed in 2016… Sendak’s minutely crosshatched, freewheeling pictures are as familiar and mysterious as the contours of your childhood bedroom in the dark. He was the rare adult who looked under the bed and drew what he saw. But wild things — homegrown, stuffed, needlepoint and otherwise — weren’t the most memorable part of an afternoon at Sendak’s house. That arrived in a quiet room off the kitchen, as a picture came into focus of the author fighting another kind of monster, using creativity as his shield.” [NYTimes]

Not So Bad: In The Atlantic, David Brooks argues against the pervasive worldview that everything is terrible and getting worse.“Pessimism becomes a membership badge — the ultimate sign that you are on the side of the good. If your analysis is not apocalyptic, you’re naive, lacking in moral urgency, complicit with the status quo. This culture has produced a succession of prophets of doom across the ideological spectrum, people who established their moral courage by portraying the situation as negatively as possible… Human relationships have come to be viewed through a prism of power and exploitation. Institutions are assumed to be fundamentally illegitimate, rigged… I am not saying that America doesn’t have real problems — Trump, climate change, racial injustice, persistent income inequality, a rising tide of authoritarianism around the globe. In our age, as in every age, there are things to protest and things to be grateful for. What I am saying is that the persistent gaps between how things are and how they are perceived are new, maybe even unprecedented.” [TheAtlantic]

Around the Web

The New York Jewish Week investigates the Westchester People’s Action Coalition Foundation, which is run by Howard Horowitz, a left-wing Jewish activist from the New York suburb, that supports many of the most prominent anti-Israel groups in the U.S., including Within Our Lifetime and Students for Justice in Palestine…  

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) told Jewish Insider that the U.S. Department of Education has taken significant action behind the scenes to combat rising antisemitism on campuses…

The Harold Grinspoon Foundation hired Katherine “Kathy” Sarlson as its next national director of life and legacy. Sarlson is joining the organization after serving as the associate vice president of planned giving at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health

The Chronicle of Philanthropy examines nonprofit hospitals and how they adhere — or don’t — to federal requirements that they support local populations…

The city of Beverly Hills, Calif., unveiled a new art installation featuring 1,400 flags representing the victims of the Oct. 7 terror attacks

The Washington Wizards held a Jewish Heritage Night on Wednesday, which conspicuously steered clear of any mentions of the Israel-Hamas war and the 136  hostages still being held in Gaza, even as a group of audience members, holding an Israeli flag, chanted “bring them home” at multiple points during the game…

Israeli fencer Yuval Freilich won a gold medal in epee at the 2024 Qatar Grand Prix in Doha on Wednesday…

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.
Chen Schimmel/IFCJ

An armored security vehicle that was recently provided to civilian security personnel from an Israeli town on the border with Lebanon by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. These vehicles allow civilian emergency response teams to travel in closer proximity to the border, an area that Israel has evacuated in light of regular cross-border attacks by Hezbollah. 

IFCJ announced it will distribute over $2.05 million in the coming weeks towards the purchase of nine armored security vehicles like this one for border communities.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Taylor Hill/Getty Images

President and COO of Blackstone Group, Jonathan D. “Jon” Gray, celebrates his birthday on Sunday… 

FRIDAY: Chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp and Expedia, Barry Diller… Former mayor and current city councilman of Irvine, Calif., he is running for mayor again this year, Larry Agran… Host of the Food Network program “Barefoot Contessa,” and former OMB staffer for Presidents Ford and Carter, Ina Rosenberg Garten… Actor, comedian and singer, Brent Spiner… Journalist, novelist and author, Michael Zelig Castleman… Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)… “Washington Secrets” columnist at the Washington ExaminerPaul Bedard… Science fiction publisher and author, Selina A. Rosen… Rabbi at the Pacific Jewish Center in Venice, Calif., Shalom Rubanowitz… Sportscaster who currently does play-by-play for the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL, Kenny Albert… Movie and theatre actress and screenwriter, Jennifer Westfeldt… Tony Award-winning actress, Marissa Jaret Winokur… Head coach for Bnei Herzliya of the Israeli Premier Basketball League, Dan Shamir… Actress and comedian, Lori Beth Denberg… Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose stage name is Mayer Hawthorne, Andrew Mayer Cohen… Assistant professor at Clemson University, Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, Ph.D…. Managing editor at GovCIO Media and Research, Ross Gianfortune… Sen. Katie Boyd Britt (R-AL)… Television and radio host, David Pakman… U.S. deputy special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism, Aaron Keyak… Actress and musician, Zosia Russell Mamet… Former Team Israel baseball catcher, he is now a medical liaison at Sandstone Healthcare in Nevada, Nicholas Jay “Nick” Rickles… Avi Katz…

SATURDAY: Former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Arthur Levitt Jr.… Former CEO of clothing manufacturer Warnaco Group from 1986 to 2001, Linda J. Wachner… Chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. for almost the full eight years of the Obama administration, formerly president of the Lillian Vernon Corporation, Fred Hochberg… Partner at Shipman & Goodwin, following 18 years as a Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Joette Katz… Singer-songwriter Julie Gold… Retired member of the Utah House of Representatives, Patrice M. Arent… Former head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Biden administration, now at MIT and Harvard, Eric Steven Lander… Former CEO of the Chicago Sun-TimesEdwin Eisendrath… Steven F. Schlafer… Member of the Knesset for the National Unity party, Michael Biton… General counsel of the Girl Scouts of the USA, Diana Hartstein Beinart… French actor, Vincent Elbaz… Founder of Fourth Factor Consulting, Joel Mowbray… Australian actress and author, Isla Fisher… Record producer and music critic, known by her nickname Ultragrrrl, Sarah Lewitinn… Senior director at the GeoEconomics Center of the Atlantic Council, Josh Lipsky… Professional poker player, Daniel Weinman… Senior associate program director at CSS/Community Security Service, Joshua Keyak… One of Israel’s most popular singers, Ishay Ribo… Account director at NYC’s Brunswick Group, Noam Safier… Director for J Street U at J Street, Erin Beiner… First-ever Orthodox basketball player in the NBA G League, Ryan Turell

SUNDAY: Actor, Jerry Adler… Stowe, Vt., resident, Barbara Gould Stern … Co-founder and Chair of SAGE Publications, Sara Miller McCune… Attorney, bank executive and philanthropist, donor of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Adrienne Arsht… Dean of Yeshiva of Telshe Alumni in Riverdale, N.Y., Rabbi Avraham Ausband… Patrick B. Leek… Senior counsel at Dentons, Evan Wolfson… Director of English language programming at Herzog College in Alon Shvut, Israel, Shalom Berger… Actress, best known for her award-winning role in the 1986 science fiction action film “Aliens,” Jenette Elise Goldstein… Member of the state Senate of Maryland, Brian J. Feldman… Former mayor of Anchorage, Alaska, Ethan Avram Berkowitz… Former kickboxing champion, Leah Goldstein… President and COO of Blackstone Group, Jonathan D. “Jon” Gray… The first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, now serving as the U.S. ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti… Television writer and producer, Edward Lawrence “Eddy” Kitsis… Executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, Howard Libit… Special advisor on the Middle East, defense and technology for VPOTUS Kamala Harris, Ilan Goldenberg… Author, psychotherapist and group fitness instructor, her book is about her genetic disease that has made her almost completely blind and deaf, Rebecca Alexander… Washington-based economic policy reporter for The New York TimesAlan Rappeport… Executive director of Ennoble Care Maryland, Nelson Weisbord… Senior manager in the NYC office of Monitor Deloitte, Justin Meservie… Client operations and legal project manager at Ropes & Gray, Abigail Dana Cable… Professor emeritus at Northeast Forestry University in Harbin, China, Dan Ben-Canaan… Jan Winnick…