Your Daily Phil: Hebrew Order of David funds Birthright trips + JCC Maccabi Games open in Haifa

Good Monday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the opening of the JCC Maccabi Games in Haifa and a new book by Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen about American antisemitism, and feature an op-ed from Rabba Sarah Hurwitz. We’ll start with a new fundraising effort by the Hebrew Order of David on behalf of Birthright Israel.

The Hebrew Order of David International’s North American lodges raised $130,000 for Birthright Israel, enough for an additional 80 participants to travel to Israel on a 10-day trip, according to the Birthright Israel Foundation, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The fundraising by HOD – an international Jewish fraternal organization – was sparked by Birthright Israel’s recent announcement that it was cutting back the number of participants in light of growing costs. The Adelson family has also recently scaled back its funding for Birthright.

“We believed that Birthright will always just ‘be here,’” one of the leaders of the HOD effort, David Joss, said in a statement. “So we at the Hebrew Order of David International were shocked to hear that the funding shortfall caused 20,000 of our children and grandchildren to be bumped from Birthright trips this summer and placed on waiting lists. That was unacceptable to us.”

Joss, along with another HOD member – Jeff Kalwerisky of Atlanta – reached out to Doug Ross, vice chair of Birthright Israel Foundation’s board of directors, and the three set up a matching grant program, with additional support from Mike and Andrea Leven. “The campaign raised $130,000 from 275 gifts before the match,” Birthright Israel Foundation said in a statement.

The games begin

Courtesy/JCC Association

The JCC Maccabi Games kicked off on Sunday night in Israel’s northern port city of Haifa with over 1,000 teenage athletes in attendance and with appearances by Israel’s president, NBA star Deni Avdija and the Shalva band, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross from the event.

Building bridges: “The JCC Maccabi Games are certainly about healthy competition and exciting tournaments, but also about much more than that,” said Israeli President Isaace Herzog in a recorded statement. “They are about you: the young generation of Jewish leaders from North America, Europe and Israel, countries of the Abraham Accords and across the globe.” Herzog added: “I’m so certain that on the field, on the court, and in the ring, and as you are touring our beautiful country Israel, you will build the bridges of understanding, love and affection with your fellow Jewish people.”

Untapped market: Speaking on the sidelines of a VIP event ahead of the launch, Simon Amiel, the executive director of RootOne, told eJP that he was “really excited” about the partnership with the JCC Maccabi Games, seeing it as an opportunity to engage with a group of Jewish teens who are otherwise not significantly involved in Jewish communal life. Amiel said the organization planned to remain in contact with and track the participants of the games to see how their involvement in the event affected their engagement with the Jewish community going forward.

Read the full story here.


Award-winning Israeli author takes on antisemitism in the U.S.

Nir Kafri

A few years ago, when Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen dropped her daughter off at preschool for the first time, she remembers closely scanning the faces of the other young children, wondering if any of them would bully her child. “I was actually looking at all the 5-year-olds as if they were potential wolves,” Gundar-Goshen, whose fifth novel, The Wolf Hunt, will be released in English next month, admitted to Ruth Marks Eglash for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider in a recent interview.

Frying pan to fire: “I was invited to do a residency in San Francisco,” explained the author. As time went on, however, Gundar-Goshen observed the difficulties of being a Jew in the U.S. from her home in San Francisco. A rise in antisemitic attacks, including the deadly Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, made her realize that “you have the Israeli madness, on the one hand, and you have the antisemitism madness in America on the other hand.”

Choosing Judaism: Another central theme of the book is the rising antisemitism in the U.S, but unlike with other novels, Gundar-Goshen tackles it from the perspective of an Israeli immigrant family who has escaped the pressures of their homeland. “When you are in America, it is a completely different feeling to being in Israel,” said Gundar-Goshen. “When I lived in Israel, I didn’t have to think about my Jewishness because it was in the oxygen I breathe; then, in the U.S., for the first time in my life, I had to think about maintaining my Jewish identity.”

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

Gemara for all

Making Talmud study for women the norm, not the exception


“The other day, I was speaking to a group of Orthodox women from a more right-wing community, who have had very little exposure to learning Gemara. They too are ready to step into the world of women’s learning, expressing a hunger to understand why they were following Jewish law. As I was listening to their desire to access Jewish text, I was overwhelmed by how extraordinary and groundbreaking it is that I have had so many wonderful opportunities to study Talmud as a Modern Orthodox woman in the 21st century,” writes Rabba Sarah Hurwitz, the co-founder and president of Yeshivat Maharat, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A brief scare: “I have been blessed to be at the center of a radical shift in Orthodoxy: the move from women never studying Talmud, to the proliferation and huge expansion of women studying and actively pursuing Talmud study… However, earlier this year, there was a brief scare to this progress. In April, Yeshiva University’s Stern College, the premier university for Orthodox women in America, announced it would be shutting down its beginner and intermediate Talmud classes, citing ‘lack of enrollment.’ Blessedly, this story has a good ending… Stern College announced that next year it would be offering not only beginner and intermediate levels, but the Gemara classes would also be its largest-ever cohort of students!”

Equal education: “As we enter summertime, and as we send our children off to spend gap years in Israel and summer camp, my wish is that for the year ahead, we as a community continue to invest in equal Torah education for women by ensuring opportunities of leadership, and a clear and supported pathway for our women to gain the necessary expertise in Gemara.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Who Providest Food for All Thy Creatures: In Brooklyn magazine, Anna Rahmanan profiles Masbia, the kosher soup kitchen that operates in Brooklyn and Queens for Jewish and non-Jewish clients alike. “It is a weekday afternoon in Boro Park. A visit to Masbia, one of the many Jewish storefronts in the area, kicks off with the sorts of aromas that remind of excursions to top-notch restaurants. Inside, a staff of two is gearing up for meal time, preparing a giant tray of chicken legs, delicious-smelling bean soup, a side of cooked vegetables, perfectly-prepared pasta, salad and fruit… From the outside, Masbia in Boro Park appears to be just like one of the many other Jewish storefronts in the area. There is little to indicate that it is the first and only kosher soup kitchen in Brooklyn.” [Brooklyn]

I Believe (Nerdy) Children are Our Future: In The Times of Israel, Amanda Borschel-Dan interviews Mark Gelfand, a retired physicist and philanthropist, who is working to improve science education in sub-Saharan Africa. “If ever a ‘mad scientist’ gene were to be isolated, there is no doubt that it would dominate Mark Gelfand’s genome. The 72-year-old Boston-based financial systems pioneer made his modest fortune beginning in 1985 through a revolutionary standard calculator for international structured-finance markets. However, in speaking with the now full-time Jewish philanthropist, it’s clear that what makes his internal diode light up is spreading the universal language of science to the next generation… After opening a series of educational science programs in the United States and Israel, he’s spreading his love of science throughout Africa through STEMpower centers, claiming, ‘Inside every child is a scientist. Nurture that scientist and you will change the world.’” [TOI]

Around the Web

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit received a $15 million security grant from the Michigan state budget to better protect the community’s institutions…

Daily Giving, a nonprofit that encourages participants to donate small amounts of money each day, announced that it had raised more than $10 million since it was founded in 2019…

Sara Scheinbach was tapped to become the Anti-Defamation League’s first-ever director of Jewish partnerships. Until now, Scheinbach has served as senior associate regional director at the ADL’s Cleveland office…

Ruth Marks Eglash, senior correspondent for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider, held a launch event for her new coming-of-age novel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Parallel Lines, last night in Jerusalem with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides… 

An Israeli student from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, who was visiting New York, was stabbed in the predawn hours of Saturday morning in what is being investigated as a possible antisemitic attack…

David Pliener, a member of the board of trustees of the U.K.’s United Jewish Israel Appeal, defended the group’s controversial decision to require special permission for all activities over the Green Line, including in Jerusalem’s Old City, saying that the move was legally required under British law and not the result of a policy stance…

Eliyohu Mintz, the CEO of the New York-based Jewish nonprofit Kars4Kids – (in)famous for its jingle – filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that New York’s stricter concealed carry laws put Jewish children at risk as it bars people from carrying guns in schools, summer camps and houses of worship…

Israel’s men’s soccer team is heading to the Olympic Games in Paris next summer, having beaten Georgia in the playoffs this weekend. This is the first time the soccer team will appear in the Olympics in nearly 50 years…

Rosalee Cohen Davison, an active member of Baltimore’s Jewish community, having served as a board member and chair of the women’s department of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, as well as the chair of the Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation of Baltimore, died on June 30 at 92…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Western Wall Heritage Foundation

Dozens of participants from the Zichron Menachem camp for children with cancer visit the Western Wall today before traveling with the group for a trip to France.


John Lamparski/Getty Images

Folk singer-songwriter, Arlo Guthrie

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