Your Daily Phil: Grantmaking initiative CANVAS commissions their own artwork

Good Tuesday morning!

The Israeli Supreme Court extended the “Law of Return” — the right to automatic citizenship — yesterday to foreigners who convert to Judaism within the state of Israel under the auspices of non-Orthodox rabbis.

Both the Conservative and Reform movements praised the ruling, saying in separate statements that they had each petitioned the Israeli courts several times to recognize their converts.

“This was a very long time coming,” the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly said in its statement. “Not swift justice, but sweet and righteous just the same.”

But the ruling might not stand, said Yehuda Kurtzer, the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America and an expert on the Israel-Diaspora relationship.

“This represents another chapter in the tensions in Israeli politics between the legislature and the courts,” Kurtzer told eJewishPhilanthropy. “The right has long been claiming that the Supreme Court is legislating from the bench and it has used that narrative as a political asset. I think we can expect a salvo back from the legislature, so I am not sure yet this will change the status quo.”

The New York Times on Monday quoted one of Israel’s two chief rabbis, Yitzhak Yosef, calling the ruling “a deeply regrettable decision,” and urging the Knesset to overturn it through legislation.


A Jewish fund for artists creates a plague-themed Passover exhibit

Courtesy CANVAS

A reimagined Passover table in Detroit, constructed from discarded, single-use plastics. An eight-part video series about the Golem of the future in Boston. In Baltimore, an audio installation that plays recordings of people who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

Details: These three artworks are part of a larger project — “Dwelling in a Time of Plagues” — commissioned by CANVAS, an arts-focused grantmaking body under the auspices of the Jewish Funders Network and unveiled yesterday. On view in six locations and online, the initiative is a departure for CANVAS, whose mission is to fund artists, not to provide programming, Eva Heinstein, a research fellow at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation in Cleveland, which supports CANVAS, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Pandemic response: “The ‘Dwellings’ project is really an effort to respond to the moment, to not be in a vacuum and making grants as if the pandemic wasn’t happening,” she said. “Dwelling in a Time of Plagues” also serves another purpose, Heinstein added, which is to help rebuild a community of Jewish artists and related professions, like curators and critics, which had been eroded by the closure of some key institutions over the last two decades and damaged further by the pandemic. “Through doing, you build those relationships,” she said.

Origin story: CANVAS was founded in 2019 by Lou Cove, a novelist and fundraiser who has worked at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the American Institute for Architects, the Yiddish Book Center and as the executive director of Reboot, another Jewish arts and culture nonprofit. Both Heinstein and Cove said the early 2000s was the last time Jewish arts in the United States flourished with adequate funding. That era saw the birth of a nonprofit Jewish record label, JDub, and the Six Points Fellowship, which made grants of $40,000 over two years to emerging Jewish artists.

Read the full story here.


Mindful fundraising

Sagi Melamed via Wikimedia Commons

“Sagi Melamed has written a very clear, concise, and useful book about how to raise funds for a nonprofit organization,” writes Stephen Donshik in a review of Mindful Fundraising, released last month.

Overview: Mindful Fundraising begins with a discussion of the state of fundraising today and how it has changed over the last several decades—with a focus on how nonprofit organizations and their leadership have retooled their approaches to engaging and soliciting prospective and current donors. 

Recommendation: Whether you are a chairperson of a resource development committee, a chief executive officer of a nonprofit, a professional director of resource development, or a line staff person responsible for raising funds, the framework offered in this book will help you ensure that fundraising is being done in a way that delivers a clear, integrated, and consistent message about what the organization does in the present and plans to do in the future. 

Read the full piece here.

inside israel

Beyond February: the new urgency of disabilities awareness and inclusion

Before COVID-19, supported housing care coordinators ensure people with disabilities in Israel could live on their own and empower them to manage everyday activities like finances and home repairs. Today, these coordinators work remotely and models like this will drive advancements in wider disabilities inclusion. Credit: Tamir Elterman for JDC.

Today there are around one billion people with disabilities worldwide, write Efrat Stern and Orly Fruchter in an opinion piece.

COVID-19: As we have seen in the last year, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people with disabilities, upending the support, services, and efforts at accessibility and community integration that have been key to their progress. And, perhaps more pressing, the significant gains made on disabilities issues over the years are in danger of being lost. 

Objectives: There are three important objectives which can help Jewish leaders and institutions, grassroots organizations and community activists mitigate pandemic-era losses and advance self-empowerment, including: people with disabilities must become central to discussions about needs and creation of services. They must have lead roles in setting community agendas and building awareness.

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Game Changer: Daniel S. Loeb, who runs the $16 billion hedge fund Third Point, says philanthropy is more like hedge fund investing than many people think — and he sees a good investment in Ladies of Hope Ministries, a nonprofit that helps women who are leaving prison. Founded by Topeka Sam, a woman who was herself incarcerated for more than three years, Ladies of Hope receives not only money, but also expertise and other kinds of support from Loeb, writes Michael J. de la Merced in the New York Times. Loeb has given the nonprofit $1.5 million over three years through his family’s foundation, and Third Point employees have given $80,000. [NYT]

Collaborative Advantage: “In the war between humans and pathogens, never have humans been so powerful,” reflects Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, in a Financial Times piece about the impact of COVID-19. The ability to move life indoors by relying on the internet and the automation of global trade made it possible to slow the virus’ spread, track it. Scientists took advantage of these dynamics to collaborate — on vaccine development, for example — but political leaders didn’t do the same. “As long as the virus continues to spread anywhere, no country can feel truly safe,” Harari concludes. [FT]

Unlikely Places: In the Star Tribune, Jennifer Brooks highlights efforts by Minnesota health officials to work with churches in order to both build trust in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine and to make it easily accessible to people. The people who need healthcare most are precisely those who might not know about, or want to attend, mass vaccination events, said nurse Ingrid Johansen, who directs the Minnesota Immunization Networking Initiative. “We go anywhere and everywhere,” she said — from cornfields to churches. [StarTribune]

Esprit d’Corps: 24,000 members of AmeriCorps have worked on COVID-19 response and recovery activities such as contract tracing, officials of the service organization told Michael Theis, who writes in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that they and other advocates of national service are hoping that the Biden administration will expand their programs. On Jan. 21, the administration issued an executive order directing federal agencies to develop a Public Health Job Corps. Interest in working with AmeriCorps exploded during the pandemic, with jobs to its summer program rising between 25% and 40% from the previous year. [ChroniclePhilanthropy]

Community Comms

Apply! Want to join the team at Jewish Insider/eJewish Philanthropy? We’re looking for a top-notch philanthropy editor. Learn more here.

Be featured: Email us to inform the eJP readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.

Word on the Street

Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundation CEO Andy Borans is stepping down from his role, following 41 years working at the organization … Jay S. Feldman has been named managing director and chief operating officer of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundation, effective June 1st … Shulamit Geri has begun her term as director general of the Bank of Israel … the fourth annual Nonprofit Leadership Impact Study has been releasedMassachusetts overnight summer camps will be included in phase 4, step 1 of the state’s reopening plan, allowing them to reopen for the summer …

Pic of the Day


On this day in 1911, Jewish recording star and philanthropist Stophie Tucker first recorded her signature song “Some of These Days.” Listen to it here in honor of Women’s History Month.



Comedian, actress and writer, she was part of the original cast of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Laraine Newman
Restaurateur and former owner of Braniff International Airlines, Jeffrey Chodorow… Former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold… Anesthesiologist in Skokie, Illinois, Samuel M. Parnass, M.D…. Former member of the Knesset for the Blue and White alliance, he is now serving as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alon Natan Schuster… First Soviet-born Russian speaker to become a member of the New York State Assembly, Alec Brook-Krasny… Executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, she is a board member of the Washington JCRC, Daphne Lazar-Price… Global government relations manager for Ford Motor Company, Mitch Bainwol… Author and reporter for The New York Times where she covers social media and celebrity, Katherine Rosman… Editor and director of communications at Twin Cities, Minnesota’s TC Jewfolk, Lonny Goldsmith… Israeli hip hop singer and rapper better known as Mooki, Daniel Neyburger… Culture reporter for The New York Times, David L. Itzkoff… Director of marketing at Window Nation, Eric Goldscher… Staff director of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, Yuri Beckelman… Israeli physician and newscaster, Dr. Hila Chaya Korach… Production executive at Film45, Sally Rosen… Executive operations at Bonobos, Kaylee Berger… Project manager at Halo Development, Donni Lurman