Your Daily Phil: Hadar’s new Israeli home + The case for Birthright
Good Friday morning!
In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on the Hadar Institute’s new permanent presence in Jerusalem. We also feature an op-ed by the O.U.’s Rabbi Moshe Hauer on the importance of Birthright and a column by Y.U.’s Erica Brown on the weekly Torah portion. We’ll start with a mayors’ conference on combating antisemitism.
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 JI and eJP stories, including: Where is Peter Thiel on our issues?; The rabbi bringing ritual objects to Jewish refugees inside Ukraine; Drew Friedman goes underground; Observance of Sigd, a Jewish holiday long kept in Ethiopia, is spreading in the U.S.; Aaron Samuels bridges gap between ‘artist’ and ‘entrepreneur’ with new VC fund; Israelis get on board to test driverless buses; and These archivists are sifting through endless boxes of paper to preserve a century of American Jewish philanthropy. Print the latest edition here.
In August 2022, the NYPD tallied 24 hate crimes against Jews in New York City — more than double the figure from the previous year and 40% of all hate crimes counted that month. The rate of anti-Jewish hate crimes also rose slightly, year over year, in September and October. It was against that backdrop that Eric Adams appeared at a conference in Athens this week gathering mayors from across the globe to discuss antisemitism.
Adams, New York City’s mayor, was the highest-profile attendee at the conference, which brought together representatives of more than 50 cities across the globe — about half of them mayors — Wednesday and yesterday. The conference was run by the Combat Antisemitism Movement and the Center for Jewish Impact, along with the Jewish Federations of North America, and was the first of its kind to meet in person. Last year’s was virtual and was livestreamed, unlike this year’s, though videos of speeches from this year’s conference have been uploaded to YouTube.
In addition to Adams, the conference agenda featured Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis, who chaired the summit; Thessaloniki, Greece, Mayor Konstantinos Zervas; Richmond, Va., Mayor Levar Stoney; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mayor Dean J. Trantalis; Englewood, N.J., Mayor Michael Wildes; the former mayor of Bal Harbour, Fla., Gabriel Groisman; and Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
The conference was an opportunity for the mayors to discuss the challenge of antisemitism and brainstorm ways to fight it, CAM’s CEO, Sacha Roytman Dratwa, told eJewishPhilanthropy. The conference and movement’s main funder is Adam Beren, a Kansas oil and gas entrepreneur who has donated to a range of Jewish and pro-Israel groups and Republican candidates. Roytman Dratwa declined to share the conference budget.
“The city is the closest ally… that can really work on this issue,” Roytman Dratwa told eJP. “Jews are living in cities, so the government on the national level is not so close to the day-to-day [lives] of the citizens but the mayor and the cities are dealing with the day-to-day life of the citizens.”
Among the solutions the mayors discussed, Roytman Dratwa said, were increasing focus on interfaith work, education against hate in schools and training law enforcement to better address hate crimes. New York City has pursued initiatives in all of those areas in recent years, and Adams, who received CAM’s Civic Leadership Award, hit on many of those points in his acceptance speech on Wednesday.
“We’ve allowed it to normalize in every part of our lives, we’ve become accustomed to it, it’s become popular,” Adams said of antisemitism, citing a recent arrest of two men who plotted to attack a New York City synagogue. “We don’t realize it but we are a segregated people. We’re hardwired to only coalesce among those that look like us, talk like us, eat the same food, do the same things, speak the same language. It’s time to break free of that.”
Following the conference, CAM is asking mayors to appoint an envoy to address antisemitism in their cities, and to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, working definition of antisemitism. A joint declaration signed at the end of the conference endorses the use of the IHRA working definition.
Roytman Dratwa, and Adams in his speech, both noted that antisemitism today is driven in part by social media, whose regulation is not mayors’ purview. “Social media is the flame that continues to fuel the hatred that you are seeing,” Adams said.
“It’s not enough to work on the city level,” Roytman Dratwa said. “What is possible is for mayors to use social media in a positive way.”
Hadar has a new permanent space in Israel
This week, a black-and-white sign went up on Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem’s German Colony, emblazoned with the word “Hadar” written in Hebrew and English, giving a permanent Israeli footprint to an egalitarian yeshiva that had spent years bouncing between different temporary spaces, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.
Institutional growth: The Emek Refaim space is an upgrade for Hadar. It has two small office areas, some outdoor green space, a kitchen area and a large room where students can gather and learn. Hadar Israel’s president, Rabbi Avital Hochstein, told eJP that her organization aims to provide high-level learning that “gives tools rather than just hands over ideas.” Its goal, she said, is to enable people to look at Judaism independently. Hochstein, who also has a doctorate in Talmud, added that the community the institute is creating is dedicated to rigorous Jewish learning, as well as full egalitarianism and observance of halacha, or Jewish law.
Across the ocean: Hadar Israel is a branch of the Hadar Institute in New York City, an egalitarian yeshiva and Jewish educational center that was founded in 2006. The institute itself stemmed in part from Kehilat Hadar, a traditional egalitarian congregation in Manhattan that is more than two decades old and that has no formal affiliation with the institute. Hadar Israel’s current annual budget is approximately $930,000, within a total Hadar annual budget of $10.5 million.
Local focus: One major, if perhaps obvious, way that Hadar Israel differentiates itself from its American counterpart is that its programs are all conducted in Hebrew and cater to Israelis. Its website is also completely in Hebrew, with no English option.
Don’t sell our Birthright: A call to action
“What is the most significant threat facing the American Jewish community? Judging from the press and communal discussion, one would imagine it to be antisemitism. We are preoccupied with its reemergence and have dedicated enormous amounts of time and resources to addressing it and to hardening our facilities against possible threats. Well, we do have a plan, a brilliant concept called Birthright Israel. This is not just a nice idea. In the two decades of its existence, studies have shown that Jews who participated in Birthright Israel trips were more likely than peers who applied but did not go to marry somebody Jewish and to feel a deeper connection to Israel,” Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Hauer writes in an opinion piece in eJewishPhilanthropy.
The right recipe: “We have one formula, one project most of the Jewish community can and does line up behind, that has shown some modest promise in addressing the issue that is really harming us. And we are allowing it to shrink. It is unconscionable that the Jewish community with its massive resources and incredible philanthropy could allow that. It is unimaginable that the State of Israel with its renewed and inspiring commitment to dedicate its resources to securing the Jewish identity of Diaspora Jewry could watch this happen.”
A gift and an opportunity: “Our organization and others, including Hillel and Chabad, have worked with collegiates for decades and are privileged to serve as Birthright Israel providers. Birthright trips are not a profit center for us but a gift and an opportunity to partner with the broader Jewish community in deploying a tool that really works to address the existential Jewish challenge of our time. It is our chance to do something tangible to stop the hemorrhaging and build a stronger Jewish future.”
the torah of leadership
Leadership Dreaming: Parshat Vayetze
“Avimelekh, king of Gerar, had the very first dream in the Torah (Gen. 20:3). The second occurs in our Torah reading, Vayetze. Jacob had a powerfully symbolic dream: ‘…a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and messengers of God were going up and down on it’ (Gen. 28:12). The dream established a connection between heaven and earth at a time of immense vulnerability for Jacob. He tricked his father for Esau’s blessing and had to leave his family home under the threat of death. It was a time for nightmares, not majestic dreams. We can only truly understand this dream if we travel with Jacob after the dream,” writes Erica Brown in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Connecting with God: “As the narrative progressed and the dream unfolded, Jacob hears God’s voice beckoning to him: ‘Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ (Gen. 28:14-15). The gift of protection was exactly what Jacob needed. In his despair and his loneliness, he needed an intimate connection with God and assurance of his very survival. When he woke from his sleep, Jacob realized that something remarkable had happened, even if he did not understand all its contours: ‘Surely God is present in this place, and I did not know!’ (Gen. 28:16).”
Jews and Effective Altruism: More than three dozen Reform synagogues have committed to donating money according to the principles of effective altruism, reports Asaf Elia-Shalev for The Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “This charitable philosophy appears to be gaining traction in the Jewish world just as one of the figures most associated with it, who happens to be Jewish, has become engulfed in scandal. Sam Bankman-Fried built a cryptocurrency empire worth billions, amassing a fortune he pledged to give away to causes… all selected on criteria developed by the proponents of effective altruism. A few weeks ago, Bankman-Fried’s fortune evaporated amid suspicions of financial misconduct and revelations of improper oversight at his company, FTX… From Bankman-Fried to [bioethicist Peter] Singer, the list of Jews who have either promoted E.A. or lead its institutions is long.” [JTA]
Around the Web
Giving Tuesdayraised $3.1 billion for charity, a 15% increase over last year…
The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Supporting Foundation gave $12.75 million to the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in Beachwood, Ohio. The gift will fund a renovation and 8,000-square-foot expansion of the school, which serves children from nursery to eighth grade…
The Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York City hosted an event yesterday focused on combating antisemitism. World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder was among the speakers…
A total of 99 Jewish day and overnight camps in North America will be taking part in the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Yedid Nefesh program, which helps camps address mental health concerns…
The Atlanta Jewish Times named its 40 under 40, a list of adults under 40 making contributions to local Jewish life…
Pic of the Day
Men dance at a celebration of United Arab Emirates National Day at the Tel Aviv Hilton on Thursday.
Democratic member of Congress from North Carolina since 2021, she was the founding chair of Prizmah and former chair of JFNA, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) celebrates a birthday on Saturday…
FRIDAY: Attorney and former president of the METNY region of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Burton Citak… Professor of rabbinic literature at Yeshiva University’s Gruss Institute in Jerusalem, Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff… Real estate executive and founder of the Sunshine Group, Louise Mintz Sunshine… Sociologist and human rights activist, Jack Nusan Porter… Partner at Personal Healthcare LLC, Pincus Zagelbaum… Former drummer for a rock band in France followed by a career in contemporary Jewish spiritual music in Brooklyn, Isaac “Jacky” Bitton… EVP at Rubenstein Communications, Nancy Haberman… Author of more than 15 volumes of poetry, Bob Perelman… French historian, professor at Sorbonne Paris North University and author of 30 books on the history of North Africa, Benjamin Stora… Retired associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Barbara A. Lenk… Professor at Montana State University, Dr. Franke Wilmer… Partner in the Madison, Wisc., law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, she is a class action and labor law attorney, Sarah Siskind… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Ohel Moshe, Rabbi Zvi Teichman… Canadian fashion designer and entrepreneur, he is best known for launching the Club Monaco and Joe Fresh brands, Joe Mimran… Celebrity physician and author of diet books, he is the president of the Nutritional Research Foundation, Joel Fuhrman… Account manager at the Los Angeles Business Journal, Lanna Solnit… Cleveland resident, Joseph Schlaiser… Emmy Award-winning actress, Rena Sofer… Identical twin sisters, known as The AstroTwins, they are magazine columnists and authors of four books on astrology, Tali Edut and Ophira Edut… Professor of political science, Eleanor L. Schiff… Former member of the Knesset, now serving as Israel’s ambassador to the U.K., Tzipi Hotovely… Actress best known for playing Special Agent Kensi Blye in 277 episodes of CBS’s “NCIS Los Angeles,” Daniela Ruah… Deputy director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation, Annie Fixler… Senior director with Alvarez & Marsal in Atlanta, she was a sabre fencer at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Emily Jacobson Edwards… Actor, best known for playing Trevor in the coming-of-age film “Eighth Grade,” Fred Hechinger…
SATURDAY: One of the closest associates of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and a leader of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Krinsky … Malibu resident, she is the founder of a successful wedding gown business and a lifestyle coach, Sandy Stackler… 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winner for his book on Arabs and Jews in Israel, he was a long-serving foreign correspondent and Washington bureau chief for The New York Times, David K. Shipler… Member of the New York State Assembly since 1994, Jeffrey Dinowitz… Painter and art teacher, Heidi Praff… Miami-based criminal defense attorney, Yale Lance Galanter… Former editorial page editor at USA Today, William (Bill) Sternberg… British publicist and music manager, Rob Goldstone… Recent member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beytenu party, Eli Avidar… Member of the California State Assembly from the 43rd district since 2016, Laura Friedman… Malinda Wozniak Marcus… SVP of strategic initiatives at NBC News, Alison “Ali” Weisberg Zelenko… Associate professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University, Joshua M. Karlip, Ph.D…. French journalist, author, television and radio personality, Marie Drucker… Emmy Award- and Grammy Award-winning comedian and actress, she discovered her Eritrean Jewish roots as an adult, Tiffany Haddish… CEO of Solar One, he was a member of the New York City Council through last year, Stephen T. Levin… Founding partner and head of strategy at Triadic, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Edelman… Professional tennis player with a current WTA doubles ranking of 21, Sharon Fichman…
SUNDAY: Biographer, author of six books and winner of the 1980 National Book Award, A. Scott Berg… Television director and producer, Dan Attias… Tony Sarif… Dermatologist in the Philadelphia area, Merle M. Bari Shulkin, MD… Founder and lead guide of the Adventure Rabbi program based in Boulder, Colo., she is the author of 11 books, Jamie Korngold… Publisher and founder of FlashReport on California politics and principal of the Fleischman Consulting Group, Jon Fleischman… Actor best known for playing Stuart Bloom on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Kevin Sussman… Co-founder and co-chairman of Manhattan-based hedge fund Knighthead Capital Management, Ara D. Cohen… Screenwriter and producer, he co-created ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” Adam Horowitz… National security advisor of the UAE, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan … Principal at Proxima Media and founder of Relativity Media, Ryan Kavanaugh… Born in Ramat Gan, now living in New Jersey, Grammy Award-winning violinist, Miri Ben-Ari… Comedian and host of the ChangeUp baseball program for DAZN, one of his viral videos was “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Jew,” Scott Rogowsky… Assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Sam Adelsberg… Senior campaign director at The Hub Project, Sarah Baron… First round pick in the 2016 National Hockey League draft, he is a center for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, Luke Kunin… Israeli fashion model, Sofia Mechetner…