Your Daily Phil: Guess who’s coming to OneTable dinners + Hillel’s antisemitism summit in Boston
Good Tuesday morning!
In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we talk to OneTable’s CEO about the organization’s efforts to reach beyond young adults, and spotlight the 30th anniversary of an untraditional Maccabiah Games fundraiser. Also in today’s newsletter: Rabbi Joel Seltzer, Esther Safran Foer and Iris Kraemer. We’ll start with an on-the-scene report from the Hillel International Israel Summit in Massachusetts.
More than 250 Jewish student leaders from across the East Coast and the Midwest gathered outside Boston this weekend for the Hillel International Israel Summit. The gathering took place in the conference center at Gillette Stadium, which has otherwise had a quiet start to the year since the New England Patriots didn’t make it to this year’s NFL playoffs. Attendees had a view of the field and the scoreboards, which displayed the Hillel logo.
Patriots owner and philanthropist Robert Kraft, clad in a royal blue blazer and Nikes, kicked off the Sunday night plenary with an address lauding the work of his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, which is housed at Gillette. He touted the foundation’s recent primetime ads, aired during football games, that aim to highlight the plight of antisemitism for non-Jews. “We need to address antisemitism the same way we speak out against all racism, violence and intolerance,” Kraft said.
Other speakers included Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Brown University President Christina Paxson, both of whom praised students for their work fighting antisemitism and anti-Zionism.
“For student leaders to take on the burden of challenging antisemitism on college campuses and on social media is an extraordinary thing that should be commended. That is not something that comes naturally to people in elected office, let alone students on college campuses,” Torres said in a conversation with Jessica Yeroshalmi, a Baruch College student and the co-chair of Hillel International’s student cabinet.
Paxson pledged to allow debate to thrive on Brown’s campus. “Once a university adopts an official stance of what’s right on policy issues, we shut down discussion and debate, which in a university is like shutting off the power at a power plant,” she said. “It is for this reason that at Brown, we don’t participate in academic boycotts against Israel or any other country, and we reject calls to use our endowment as a tool for political advocacy.”
Officially called the Israel Summit East, the conference followed a similar gathering that took place last month in California for students on the West Coast.
“We believe there’s enormous power when you bring student leaders together for in-person convenings where they can learn from each other and support one another,” Hillel International President and CEO Adam Lehman told eJewishPhilanthropy. Several pro-Israel organizations set up tables to greet students.
“It’s critical that Jewish students and other students who have a relationship to and with Israel feel empowered to express their identities — their Jewish identities, their Zionist identities, particularly in the context of an environment where antisemitism is on the rise, and demonizing anti-Zionism continues to be a staple of campus life,” said Lehman.
Los Angeles mayor pledges to work with Jewish community following antisemitic attacks
Addressing hate is a “chief component” of Los Angeles’ public safety agenda, Mayor Karen Bass said at a town hall hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles on Monday evening, following the arrest of a man charged with hate crimes in two separate shootings outside of local synagogues in recent weeks, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz reports. “Antisemitism crawls out of the shadows,” Bass said. “Make no mistake, Angelenos from every community stand united to stamp it out and to ensure that justice is served. Antisemitism has no place in Los Angeles.”
Working together: Bass was asked how the Jewish community could gauge her administration’s effectiveness on the matter, and she invited people to “come with me and plan together.” She agreed that hate crimes are underreported and suggested a PR campaign about how to report hate crimes: “Develop the plan with me and you can hold me accountable.” Bass also noted that “people get their information from so many places that it can be confusing,” suggesting an aggressive campaign for both education and for awareness. Bass, who was sworn in as mayor in December 2022, announced that her deputy mayor for public safety will start work soon and the deputy mayor for community safety has already started; they’ll be touring the diverse neighborhoods and meeting with locals to determine what helps each community feel safe.
Growing need: David Bocarsly, the executive director of Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC), told eJP he came to hear from elected officials and law enforcement about how they were engaged in this work. “We have to address the lifespan of hate. Root it out where it’s taught, stop it from being spread, physically protect ourselves from people who have held hate in their heart and want to do harm and how to respond,” he said. JPAC’s legislative agenda includes security grants, he said, and successfully secured $50 million a year for the last two years. This year the group is asking for $80 million, Bocarsly said. “There’s a drastic need for this right now. Not only in the last week have we shown that need, but last year’s grants were given out to 30 percent of the applicants, so it’s very clear how much demand there is for security infrastructure.”
OneTable brought Shabbat to thousands of young adults. Soon, empty nesters will dine, too
When Regina Lopata Logan, a 74-year-old professor at Northwestern University, moved from the Chicago suburbs to the city, she no longer lived close to many of her friends. “I love where I live; however, it’s really hard to make friends as an older adult, because people have their friendship groups,” Lopata Logan told Lauren Hakimi for eJewishPhilanthropy. “If you don’t belong to a temple or synagogue or church or a mosque, and you don’t have little kids, and you don’t have a dog, it’s really hard to meet people in your neighborhood, so it’s really hard to make friends.”
New needs: Lopata Logan isn’t alone in seeking greater community. Her daughter works as a director of impact and learning at OneTable, an organization that has served as a platform for 80,000 Shabbat dinners since its founding in 2014. For years, the organization has served people ages 21-39 by offering them a platform to connect, funding to host dinners and resources such as recipes, invitations and Jewish religious resources. Now, the organization is expanding: In response to the loneliness many empty nesters feel when their children no longer live with them, OneTable plans to offer a platform for older adults, too. “We’ve received a lot of requests over the years — ‘When do I get OneTable for me, OneTable for me, OneTable for me?’” Aliza Kline, the CEO of OneTable, said. “And those ‘me’s are a lot of different types — parents, grandparents, teenagers, families with young children. The population that was most recurring was empty nesters, older adults — the parents of our users.”
Building out: OneTable is still looking for funders to support Shabbat dinners for older adults. According to a letter addressed to funders, the cost of launching the new initiative is $500,000. Details of the program for older adults are still being discussed, including exactly which older adults will be eligible. “We’re describing it as adults without kids at home. Probably, it’s 55-plus, but it’s really not all the way through 80-plus,” Kline said. “I’m using empty-nester language intentionally because we know there’s an explicit shared experience of being used to having Shabbat dinner with kids, and then they’re gone. It’s actually somewhat parallel to being a 25-year-old and moving to a new city without your family nearby.” Kline says that in the next six months, she hopes to test the program in at least three cities so that by summer, the program can launch in earnest.
30 years since Maccabiah Mania, the iconic and infamous Jewish pro wrestling fundraiser
If you were a pro wrestling fan during the mid-aughts, odds are you owned a copy of “Grand Masters of Wrestling,” the popular four-part DVD series produced by Digiview Entertainment that overflowed from Walmart dollar bins. With covers collaged with wrestling legends in their prime, the series sold over 600,000 units, becoming, according to some figures, one of the best-selling wrestling DVDs of all time. Fans rushed home, expecting epic matches, but what they witnessed was a warped version of pro wrestling that seemed like it belonged in the Borscht Belt, Jay Deitcher reports for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Shekel Slam: Footage for “Grandmasters of Wrestling” was taped over the course of two fundraisers: Maccabiah Mania, held on April 4, 1993, and Maccabiah Mania II: Shekel Slam, held on March 1, 1997. The New Jersey events were organized by Jeff Bukantz, a former fencer and the current president of Maccabi USA, to raise money to shuttle the American fencing team to the ‘93 and ‘97 Maccabiah Games in Israel. The footage was never expected to be sold.
Lasting legacy: Today, there are new Jewish philanthropy superstars. In Toronto, Jian Magen, the president of the Magen Group, a production and entertainment company, and part of the collective that runs the popular Superstars of David Instagram page, has wrestled over 100 matches under the ring name Celine Jian. He and his brother run frequent wrestling cards for Jewish charities. They’ve raised over $200,000 for the Rena Foundation, supporting individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, and $100,000 at their Slammin for Shobbos, providing over 1,000 Shabbat meals for the needy. His most recent event played off of current politics, with one performer wrestling under the name Kyrie West, and it featured numerous Jewish performers, including All Elite Wrestling superstar Colt Cabana. “We love giving back,” Magen said. “It’s something our parents embedded in us from a young age. There is nothing better than being able to put on a wrestling show, which is one of our favorite things to do, and donate money to a worthy cause. When you combine passions it’s like you really aren’t working.”
Read the full story here.
American Jewish University’s future
“The changes underway in the North American Jewish community are seismic and irreversible. Fewer and fewer Jews are affiliating and engaging with traditional institutions, even as the reported desire for spirituality and engagement remains sky high,” writes Jeffrey Herbst, president of American Jewish University, in an opinion piece for eJewsihPhilanthropy.
Stuck in the past: “Some innovators – from foundations to synagogues to individual spiritual leaders – have tried to create new paradigms for Jewish life with varying success. Yet, by and large, at most Jewish institutions, models for Jewish learning, community, service and engagement and, critically, the financial models that underpin them, remain as they have for decades or longer.”
Viable path: “American Jewish University, which I lead, reviewed this environment and decided that our future was predicated on making radical changes to embrace a changing Jewish population. We decided to dramatically alter how we operate by selling our Bel Air campus and using the additional resources to reach the increasing number of Jews who do not feel connected to any particular building. We are under no illusions that this shift will be easy, but this is the only viable path for us in a world where the most notable trend is the ever-increasing number of Jews avoiding Jewish institutions.”
Convincing women we belong in the room
“I recently attended a ceremony for 20 Jewish communal professionals graduating from a prestigious leadership development program… Every graduate spoke poignantly, with gratitude, about their experience. Yet the women’s speeches had one glaring difference. Every woman, in some way, thanked the program for validating their voice, reaffirming their professional choices and making them feel like they belonged. Every single one,” writes Sami Sinclair, principal of Sinclair Strategies, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Misperceptions: “What’s happening in our Jewish communal world that bright, successful women feel this self-doubt in the first place? Several other recent personal experiences and a New York Times opinion piece by Jessica Grose called, ‘The Hour Between Babe and Hag,’ reinforced this question. I was not alone. Grose writes about the small window for women to find professional acceptance between the time they are perceived as too young until the time they are perceived as too old. These misperceptions are amplified for marginalized communities who have additional obstacles they must overcome to be seen as deserving of their seats at the table.”
A Jewish communal world issue: “Lauren Pasquarella Daley, who leads Catalyst’s Women and the Future of Work initiative, told Grose that Catalyst’s research shows, regardless of age or background, ‘Women are often viewed as either competent or likable but rarely both… women have to spend more time overcoming these biased impressions and often have to [repeatedly] prove their competence as leaders. Yes, it’s a larger societal issue. But why is this phenomenon so prevalent in the Jewish communal world?’”
What Jewish educators do
“Last month, 175 Jewish educators from across North America convened in Houston for the Annual Gathering of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. During tefilah, we listened to the d’var Torah given by our outgoing president, Marisa Kaiser, discussing the oft-used hashtag #whatjewisheducatorsdo,” writes Micol Zimmerman Burkeman, director of the teaching impact fellowship at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Hashtag: “This hashtag is one that’s seen often within the social media circle of Jewish educators. Typically it highlights the less glamorous aspects of the job: untangling a child’s hair from a purse strap, removing a water bead from a nostril, having an account with the local pizza shop where everybody knows your name (and your order), or working through the night to make sure signs are made and placed, treats are baked or packaged, or last-minute supply requests are fulfilled.”
What we do: “Yet this hashtag captures so much more. It captures the educator that stops what they’re doing on a busy school day to tend to a child in distress, whether to get them food, a quiet space or a couch to nap on. It captures the months that go into planning every logistical, curricular and staffing detail for a single weekend retreat that will shape friendships, Jewish identity and a sense of belonging for years to come. It captures the hundreds of educators that shifted their entire schools online in a matter of weeks and ensured that their students and families had a community during an unprecedented time of isolation. It captures the holy and empathic work of being by a family’s side during their most joyful and most difficult moments.”
On Location:Jewish Insider’s Tamara Zieve travels to Abu Dhabi for the opening of the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue in the Abrahamic Family House. “The event, attended by approximately 325 guests celebrating the landmark occasion with live music and food, included bringing a Torah scroll into the synagogue for the first time and affixing a mezuzah on a doorpost. Sunday also marked the first prayer service held in the synagogue as the afternoon prayer of Mincha was recited. Children’s activities for younger community members were on offer in the rabbinic residence of Rabbi Ben de Toledo and Rabbanit Yael de Toledo — the young couple who moved to Abu Dhabi from Jerusalem to help lead services at the synagogue. After the main gathering there was also an intimate upsherin — a ritual hair-cutting tradition common in certain Jewish communities — for a local 3-year-old boy from Saadiyat Island, marking another first of many celebrations at the site.” [JI]
Digging for Board Treasure: Sometimes board members will balk at giving money because they are donating their time, but board membership means cultivating a culture of philanthropy, writes Mindy Opper in NonProfitPRO. “All organizations have budgetary and sustainability obligations. This is directly linked to financial resource development. It is the responsibility of each board member to lead by example (Why should others give if your board members do not?), model the act of identifying one’s capacity giving (counterpoint to “give until it hurts”), and have a little financial skin in the game. In general, if one’s own dollars are invested in an organization, they will pay more attention to those financial presentations at the annual board meeting…Highlight and show gratitude for all capacity gifts, not just your largest ones. Speak with your board often, individually and together, about capacity giving and building a culture of philanthropy. It should always be on your agenda.” [NonProfitPRO]
Free Speech Philanthropy: Nonprofits are stepping up to support organizations, students, faculty and alumni who are committed to preserving free speech, providing litigation, advocacy and media resources to “promote the value of intellectual diversity at educational institutions,” Thomas McArdle writes in Philanthropy Roundtable. “Education has long been central to America’s success in numerous fields from medicine and the advanced sciences to the globally competitive field of computer technology plus law and economics. Defending and promoting the freedom to learn, teach or research without ideologically motivated interference, bullying or other threats is critical to any effort focused on restoring or reforming older higher education institutions or providing new pathways to opportunity. Through philanthropy and its partnership with these dedicated nonprofits, we are witnessing support for independent, critical thinking on campuses and beyond, including innovative technology that empowers scholars and faculty researchers to share ideas openly, and ultimately, to strengthen our free society. For those concerned about what’s being taught to our next generation of leaders headed into the business world, government agencies, medical community, and yes, the classroom as educators, we must remember that stifling debate, diverse viewpoints and the ability of students, faculty and staff to engage with them does not create a skilled practitioner, a bold innovator or even a savvy voter. Instead, it results in students being woefully unprepared for the ‘real world’ and without the skills needed to succeed when they bid their campuses farewell.” [PhilanthropyRoundtable]
Down-Under Funders: While philanthropy-supported journalism is one way that some U.S. outlets have been supported, donor-backed journalism isn’t as common in Australia because it is challenging to earn deductible gift receipt status from the Australian Tax Office, Zoe Samios writes in The Sydney Morning Herald. The Public Interest Journalism Institute is advocating for this to change for eligible nonprofit news organizations: “Anna Draffin, chief executive of the Public Interest Journalism Institute – an independent think tank researching a future for public interest journalism in Australia – says donors are typically motivated by three things: a concern that a reduction in news undermines a healthy democracy; wanting to help a local community’s identity and resilience; and a desire for more debate and discussion on social issues such as climate change, the housing crisis or youth at risk[…] ‘Australia’s charity law does not currently recognise news as a public good, which prevents local communities from establishing an alternative where a commercial newspaper or radio station has closed.’ She says deductible gift recipient (DGR) status could help develop new models for public interest journalism instead. If there is a change to the status, it could boost independent journalism. But editors should err on the side of caution when it comes who and what they accept money for.’” [SydneyMorningHerald]
Around the Web
Foundation for Jewish Camp released its annual trends report chronicling survey responses from campers, staff and operations. The report, known as the “census,” represents data received from 246 camps from August through October 2022. Nineteen thousand more campers and counselors (a rise of 13%) were served in summer 2022. Three-quarters of all camps increased staff salaries to recruit and retain staff members. Camp tuition increased by 4% in 2022 and is expected to increase 6-8% in 2023, which may begin to put camp out-of-reach for some families, according to the report. In 2022, more financial aid was requested and distributed than ever before. And the census also indicated that mental health support remains a critical need…
According to a Chronicle of Philanthropy analysis, while giving by the 50 biggest donors in the United States in 2022 totaled more than $14.1 billion, the total represents a 49% decrease from the $27.7 billion given by the 50 biggest donors in 2021…
The Jewish Theological Seminary has appointedRabbi Joel Seltzer vice chancellor for institutional advancement, effective March 13. Seltzer was most recently executive director of Camp Ramah in the Poconos…
Cantor Jill Abramson has been appointed director of the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music. Abramson has been serving as interim director since July 2022….
Eran Shayson has stepped down as CEO of Tel Aviv-based Reut Group…
Janis Oolie has been named executive director of the American Friends of Kidum, the U.S. arm of the Society for Advancement of Education, Jerusalem. Previously, Oolie served as a development professional for several New Jersey federations…
Iris Kraemer has been selected as the new chair of National Women’s Philanthropy. Her two-year term will begin in June…
Eileen Ruby will become board chair of San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund on July 1…
Esther Safran Foer has been elected board president of The Lillian and Albert Capital Jewish Museum, a new history and culture museum opening in Washington, D.C., in June …
The Andrew W. Mellon, Ford, Getty and Terra foundations announced a joint commitment of $5 million in support of a multiyear funding collaboration to prioritize Latino art…
Sulam, the special education inclusion program serving students at both Berman Hebrew Academy and Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, has received a multiyear gift of $1 million from Lenore A. England for enhancing faculty pay at Sulam…
Word-by-Word: A Jewish Women’s Writing Circle has launched. The program, for Jewish women writers engaged in Torah scholarship, is funded by Micah Philanthropies, Walder Foundation and the Arev Fund…
Open Society Foundations announced the planned closure of Open Society Institute-Baltimore later this year, the foundation’s only program office based in the United States….
Dancer, choreographer and educator Rena Gluck died at 89. Gluck was instrumental in creating Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company…
In her latest column for eJewishPhilanthropy, on the weekly parsha, Erica Brown, vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University, writes, “If we lift up leaders, and they lift us up, maybe more people would sign up for these unpopular jobs. When leaders make mistakes, it is incumbent upon us to bring them to public attention, but there is a difference between constructive solutions and reckless gossip, between offering respectful feedback and cursing the leader….”
Pic of the Day
The Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue in the Abrahamic Family House, a cultural center located in Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, held its first services this weekend. The complex, which sits across from the Louvre Abu Dhabi, will open to the public on March 1.
Co-founder of Dreamworks and noted collector of American artists’ work, David Geffen turns 80…
Holocaust survivor and author of a book on systemic hate, he was the developer of the L’Ermitage Beverly Hills in 1976, Severyn Ashkenazy… Dean of Yeshiva Bais Yosef Novarodok, Rabbi Mordechai Jofen… Monica Agor… Vice-chairman of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, previously a sports agent for basketball and baseball players, Arn Herschel Tellem… Director of a fiscal and monetary policy group at the Brookings Institution, David Meyer Wessel… Chairman of the KABR Group, a New Jersey-based real estate investment firm, Kenneth D. Pasternak… President of Yale University since 2013, Peter Salovey (family name was Soloveitchik)… Fitness personality, he develops businesses through the “Body by Jake” brand, Jake Steinfeld… Former owner of the Cleveland Browns of the NFL and Aston Villa F.C. of the English Premier League, Randolph David “Randy” Lerner… Former member of the Knesset for the Kadima and Hatnuah parties, Orit Zuaretz… Executive director of former VPOTUS Mike Pence’s advocacy organization, Advancing American Freedom, Paul Teller… Reality television star, Jonathan Cheban… NYT best-selling novelist, writer-in-residence in the graduate creative writing program at NYU, Jonathan Safran Foer… Former Chicago Cubs player, Adam Greenberg… Emergency medical physician at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Miriam Fischer Wachter… Former member of the Florida House of Representatives for six years, now in private law practice, Katie Edwards-Walpole… French actress, she starred as Shosanna Dreyfus in Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 war film “Inglourious Basterds,” Mélanie Laurent… Rochester, N.Y., resident, Joshua Futerman… Pitcher for the Israeli team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier, he is now a sales associate at Stryker, Brad Goldberg… Israeli judoka, she won a team bronze medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Shira Rishony… Israeli rhythmic gymnast who competed in the 2012 Olympics, Polina Zakaluzny… Monsey, N.Y., resident, Efrayim Katz… Former professional tennis player, now playing pickleball, Noah Rubin… Law clerk for a USDC judge in Chicago, Jay S. Schaefer…