Your Daily Phil: Hadassah opens rehab center early to help war wounded

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the reopened Kosher Halal Co-op at Oberlin College. We feature an opinion piece by Aaron Saxe and Rachel Shamash Schneider about applying feedback and lessons learned since the launch of a new grant category by the Jim Joseph Foundation over a year ago, and another by Judith Moses Dworkin and Rabbi Seth Goren about diversity and inclusion work within Jewish campus communities and beyond. Also in this newsletter: Sheryl Sandberg, Pearl Berg and Leslie Dan. We’ll start with the opening of Hadassah’s new Gandel Rehabilitation Center in Jerusalem.

Hadassah’s new $137 million, multistory rehabilitation center was scheduled to open in May on the medical organization’s Mount Scopus campus, the result of years of planning, fundraising and construction. But on the night of Oct. 7, seeing the devastation from the Hamas attacks and fearing an even greater conflict, Hadassah Medical Organization’s director-general, Dr. Yoram Weiss, made two decisions: to construct on the campus a fortified hospital that could operate even under heavy attack; and to open the rehabilitation facility to patients by January, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

“People thought we were crazy. But we did it,” Weiss told eJP last week during a tour of the facility, the Gandel Rehabilitation Center, which began receiving patients last month and will double its capacity in the coming weeks.

This new fortified hospital project and the earlier timeline for the rehabilitation center did not come cheap. The war caused a major worker shortage as foreign workers fled the country, Palestinian workers were initially barred from entering Israel and Israeli men were called up en masse to the reserves. And Hadassah wasn’t just looking to complete construction on schedule, it was looking to finish it four months early.

Carol Ann Schwartz, the president of Hadassah: the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, told eJP that her organization, which founded and still owns the Hadassah hospitals, was determined to raise the money necessary to make those two goals happen after hearing and seeing stories of Hadassah doctors operating while rockets could be seen raining down in the background.

“When things like that are shared with us, we look and say, ‘OK, we need to make sure we raise these funds,’ Schwartz said. “So we went out across the wires, making phone calls, talking to people. I met with 10 different donors in person in Cincinnati and talked to them about the needs that the hospital had. And every single one of them gave me checks, transferred funds. It wasn’t, ‘I’ll pay you over a two-year period.’ It was, ‘You need this money and you need this money now.’”

Since Oct. 7, Hadassah has raised more than $16 million, not only for the rehabilitation center, fortified facility and the supplies that Hadassah hospitals need, but also to support the youth villages that Hadassah runs.

More than $8 million of that has already been transferred to the hospitals, with $5.5 million going specifically to expedite the work on the Gandel Center.

The center opened on Jan. 17 and currently has 30 in-patients, with plans to expand to 74 by the middle of the month. Around the same time, the center plans to open its state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pools, Weiss said. Though there are already patients using the facilities, the building is still in the process of opening. Some pieces of equipment have yet to be assembled and installed. Others are ready-to-go, but covered in plastic sheets to keep them pristine before being put into service.

By October, the hospital plans to open its outpatient floor, which will be able to provide roughly 100 treatments each day, Weiss said.

Read the full report here.


Muslim prayer rugs and Jewish religious books lie next to one another on a table at the Kosher Halal Co-op at Oberlin College, in an undated photograph.
Muslim prayer rugs and Jewish religious books lie next to one another on a table at the Kosher Halal Co-op at Oberlin College, in an undated photograph. Courtesy/Elliot Diaz

Elijah Freiman, who grew up on his father and aunt’s stories of their days at the Kosher Halal Co-op at Oberlin College in the 1980s. But after Oberlin’s administration decided in 2021 that it would no longer rent space to KHC after more than 30 years, Freiman figured he would never get to share meals and engage in meaningful conversation as his family members did. Freiman, a junior majoring in food studies, finally got the chance to experience KHC during winter term when the co-op returned for a one-month period in January. Now Freiman, alongside classmates and alumni, are working to permanently bring back the co-op — even while the administration won’t provide assistance and as the Israel-Hamas war has strained relations between Jews and Muslims, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen

A slam-dunk: “We are lobbying the college to provide us the space that KHC lived in historically, where there were two kitchens, one of which is being used as storage right now,” Freiman, president of the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association, which provided space for KHC, told eJP“It would honestly be a slam-dunk for the college to work with us,” he continued. “Here is this time when the barrier between Jews and Muslims seems impermeable, and all you have to do to see that people can come together and bridge differences is look back at this 30-year history.”

Building intimacy: Rabbah Amalia Haas, a 1991 graduate of Oberlin, now the senior Jewish educator and campus rabbi at the college’s Hillel, was a member of KHC during her five years as an Oberlin student, and for another five years after graduating.  “It was a huge honor and very exciting to help in bringing the co-op back,” she said. “Being in the co-op, you all but live with these people; you cook, clean, share music, celebrate holy times, get frustrated with each other when someone misses making their meal, there’s so much cultural sharing that builds intimacy.” 

Read the full report here.


Continuing to build: What we’ve learned and what we’re changing in our new area of grantmaking

Illustration by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“Over a year ago, the Jim Joseph Foundation shared with eJewishPhilanthropy readers that it would be investing in a new grant area: Build Grants… As a strategy, Build Grants are a vehicle to support multiyear growth plans and capacity building across the Jewish education ecosystem. These efforts help more Jewish leaders and organizations expand their reach, increase their impact, strengthen their organizations and raise new dollars,” write Aaron Saxe, program director of Powerful Jewish Learning Experiences (PJLE) at the Jim Joseph Foundation, and program officer Rachel Shamash Schneider in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A listening ear: “With a new strategy and hypothesis about structure and impact, the Foundation Program Team sought from the outset to always learn throughout this grantmaking experiment… To this end, we solicited early feedback from grantee partners, funding colleagues and field experts, incorporating high-level insights from our board and assessing our own experience with these investments along the way. We also partnered with Third Plateau on an external evaluation to capture both best practices and formal feedback from early Build Grantee partners.” 

Feedback fuels innovation: “Some insights led to minor changes, such as identifying which readiness factors needed to be met in full and which had more flexibility. One major observation became clear, however: Given the high bar to qualify, fewer organizations than anticipated were ready for a Build Grant right away. Many required smaller, more targeted capacity-building investments to improve their readiness to absorb growth capital. In response, we conceptualized Capacity Build Grants: an investment in an organization’s initial capacity when it is a promising Build Grant candidate but missing one or more of the readiness criteria… This shift helped us to understand the mutual value of making grants tied to dramatic growth projections only when an organization is ready to absorb significant capital to expand its work.”

Read the full piece here.


Let’s stay at the table

Hillel Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) students of different backgrounds light a candle for International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024. Photo by Leo Citrin

“There has been no shortage of recent essays assailing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Given the ways in which Jewish perspectives — the grief, fear and anger we are feeling — have been shunted aside, that’s not without reason. Nevertheless, we believe that diversity and inclusion, both within Jewish spaces and in engaging the rest of the world, have never been more important,” write Hillel Ontario’s Judith Moses Dworkin and Rabbi Seth Goren in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Acknowledging internal diversity: “As we grapple with this moment of pain in our communities, we must stop to think about individuals from marginalized Jewish communities and recognize that these students carry multiple and intersecting identities that lead them to process the tragic events in Israel, and the everyday struggles that have come after, in particular and unique ways.”

Isolationism isn’t the way: “There certainly have been disappointments since Oct. 7, but we’ve also seen ways in which our earlier bridge building with other groups that experience marginalization and discrimination spurred allies to condemn Hamas and take action in support of Jewish students. To lay the groundwork for similar and stronger responses in the future, diversity and inclusion work can’t stop at the borders of the Jewish community, but must extend across campus. To that end, we will continue to pursue justice by lifting up the voices of our students whose stories and narratives aren’t as prominent as others.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Assess Yourself: Philanthropy consultants Katy Love and Diana Samarasan have created a tool to help funders gauge the level of community participation in their operations, reports Mike Scutari in Inside Philanthropy. “Love and Samarasan’s extensive research over the years underscored two promising and under-leveraged demographics in the grantmaking ecosystem — foundations that want to expand on existing participatory practices, and those that are amenable toward a more participatory approach, but lack the tools to proceed in a thoughtful manner… The interactive self-assessment lets funders gauge their level of participatory practice in all facets of their operations, such as grantmaking, governance and leadership, and communication, and lays out a series of questions to facilitate goal-setting so leaders can take that next step. ‘Our hope,’ they said, ‘is that our tool eliminates at least one barrier — the question we often heard from funders was “How will I know if I’m doing it?” or “Where do I even get started?” Now, there’s a tool for that.’” [InsidePhilanthropy]

Don’t Abandon the Work: The Supreme Court’s June 2023 decision barring the use of race in college admissions is fueling the perception that racial justice work is discriminatory,  write Lori Villarosa, Ben Francisco Maulbeck and Gihan Perera in an opinion piece in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “Through workshops and direct conversations with more than 100 organizers and foundation staff, our organization, the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, has seen a regression in recent months from core racial justice values at the very moment deeper investments are needed to battle the radical right and its efforts to undermine progress… Until recently, foundations were making great strides in their understanding of structural racism and grant making focused on achieving racial justice. However, evidence is mounting that under the guise of so-called risk management, philanthropy is rationalizing retreat. Many racial justice leaders and program officers report being pressured to censor their language, obfuscate or narrow their strategies, and drop their principled stances on multiple issues… Addressing racial discrimination remains legal. Collecting racial data remains legal. Funding nonprofits that work with people of color remains legal. And building power for communities of color through protest and civic action remains legal and is more important than ever.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Stranger Than Fiction: In Tablet, Allan Levine writes about Jukebox Empire: The Mob and the Dark Side of the American Dream, the first book written by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and investigative journalist David Rabinovitch. “Rabinovitch was drawn to the ‘myth and lore’ that engulfed his uncle’s story. ‘Rumors were that he had made a fortune and lost it,’ he writes. ‘He invented the car radio. He was a wartime profiteer. He designed the first jet-age jukebox. He was an international bonds trader. Wolfe [Rabin] and his sexy wife Trudy were a glamorous couple’… Rabin landed in Chicago in 1929 and embarked on a career as an inventor with an interest in radio and television, which was still in its infancy, as well as the enormously profitable jukebox business… Rabin’s big mistake was going into business with mobsters after WWII, when organized crime took a keen interest in the lucrative jukeboxes. In an attempt to outmaneuver [rival David] Rockola, Rabin obtained financing from a Pittsburgh racketeer named Sam Mannarino. ‘Once the mob has a piece of your soul,’ Rabinovitch writes, ‘it is like a mortgage that can never be paid.’” [Tablet]

Around the Web

The Jewish Future Pledge has renamed itself the Jewish Future Promise as part of a rebranding and to mark the “strategic expansion of the organization’s vision”…

The Israel Tennis & Education Centers appointed Ilan Allali as its next CEO...

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Meta, about a new documentary she is making about the sexual violence committed during the Oct. 7 terror attacks

New research by Dr. Udi Bonshtein, the chief psychologist at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, found that at least a quarter of Israelis have been plagued by nightmares since Oct. 7…

The crowdfunding platform GoFundMe said the campaigns that it has hosted have generated $30 billion since 2010…

Chabad director of media, Rabbi Motti Seligson, and his wife, Shterniwelcomed a baby boy, whom they named Avraham Abba in honor of his great-grandfather, Rabbi Dr. Avraham Abba Seligson

Inside Philanthropy looks into the donations made by Elon Musk in 2022, finding that the majority of the grants made by his Musk Foundation went to an organization that he controls called The Foundation, which is establishing a K-12 school and university in Austin, Texas…

Judge William Dreier, who served as presiding judge of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey and was active in the local Jewish community, died on Friday at 86…

Pearl Berg, who was the world’s oldest Jew, the third-oldest American and ninth-oldest person, died last week at 114…

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.

Rabbi Steven Burg, the CEO of Aish (right), presents the Aish Legacy Award to Canadian-Hungarian pharmacist and philanthropist Leslie Dan yesterday in recognition of his and his family’s contributions to the organization.

The award was presented to Dan during the Aish Legacy Summit, a gathering of the outreach organization’s top supporters in Miami this week, in which they marked Aish’s 50th anniversary and discussed its future.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Hillary Swift for the Washington Post via Getty Images

President of The Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. David L. Reich

Director of training for the Bulfinch Group, Michel R. Scheinmann… Senior rabbi (now emeritus) of Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto, Baruch Frydman-Kohl… Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO)… Majority leader of the Illinois House of Representatives, Robyn Gabel… Senior research scientist at Battelle Memorial Institute, Rick Wice… American businessman and investor arrested in Bolivia in July 2011 and held for 18 months without charges, freed through public outcry and the efforts of Sean Penn, Jacob Ostreicher… Actor, humorist, comedian and writer known for his “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts on “Saturday Night Live,” Robert Smigel… Baseball columnist for the New York Post and a baseball insider for MLB Network, Jon Heyman… Former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alon Ushpiz… Professional hockey player who played in 418 regular and postseason games in the NHL spanning 13 seasons, Mike Hartman… Rabbi at Beth Chai Congregation in Bethesda, Md., and author of nine Jewish children’s books and teen novels, Deborah Bodin Cohen… VP of communications at SOS International, Jennifer Diamond Haber… Author of 24 fiction and nonfiction books, Ben Mezrich… Executive director of the UJA-Federation of New York and JCRC-NY’s Community Security Initiative, Mitch Silber… Israeli actor, model and musician, Angel Bonanni… Executive director of the Aviv Foundation, Adam Simon… VP and general manager at Material+, Jonathan Weiss… Hasidic singer and recording artist, Shloime Daskal… Former member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Mark Ifraimov… Former MLB pitcher, now an angel investor in the San Francisco area, Scott Feldman… Professional basketball player in Germany, Italy and Israel, now a VP at Lightspeed Venture Partners, Dan Grunfeld… NFL player for six seasons until 2015, he is now a coach for USC, Taylor Mays… Director of advancement field services for Hillel International, Rachael Fenton… David Israel… Michael Harris…