Your Daily Phil: Holocaust history for Muslim teens + The climate for tomorrow’s rabbis

Good Wednesday morning!

The members of the Under-19 squad of Maccabi Haifa, a powerhouse Israeli soccer club, are clear on one thing: They’ve come to America to play fair — and win matches.

The team, a collection of 17- and 18-year-olds who are a demographic cross section of Israeli society, are in New Jersey this week, touring the Garden State while playing a series of friendly games against their local peers. The trip features matches against St. Benedict’s Prep, a nationally known high school team, as well as the under-19 divisions of Major League Soccer teams from New York and Philadelphia.

“We want to show the American teams that ‘the person comes before the player,’” defender Lisav Eissat, 17, told eJewishPhilanthropy, quoting Maccabi Haifa’s slogan. “We respect our opponents no matter the result.” He added, “The goal here is to have experiences and to win.”

The trip has a secondary goal, even if it isn’t top-of-mind for the teenage boys hoping to go pro in a year or two: to show the extent of Israeli diversity, and to demonstrate that, for example, Eissat, the son of a Muslim Arab-Israeli father and Romanian Jewish-Israeli mother, can get along just fine with fellow defender Ziv Leigh, the Jewish son of an English father and native Israeli mother. The showcase of coexistence dovetails with Haifa’s reputation as a city whose Arab and Jewish communities have lived together relatively peaceably.

“The moment you’re on the team, and you’re playing with a club like Maccabi Haifa, that has everything — I don’t feel like I’m talking with a Jew [or] an Arab,” said Leigh, 18, who has played on Maccabi Haifa youth teams for nine years. “I feel like I’m talking with a person. I connect with the person, and I talk with him regardless of where he came from or his background.”

To that end, the team won’t just be meeting American soccer players. The trip, which was organized by St. Benedict’s and the New Jersey-Israel Commission, will take them to meet the Jewish community of Cherry Hill, N.J., as well as a group of Arab-Israelis living in the U.S. In past years, Maccabi Haifa’s youth team has traveled to Florida and to Texas.

“One of our goals is to indirectly show the world, the people we’re visiting, that it’s possible and achievable for all of these groups to live together, to hang out together, to have fun together,” said Dani Neuman, a volunteer with Maccabi Haifa who helped organize the trip.

But he added, “This isn’t an Israeli hasbara delegation. It’s a sports delegation. It’s a sports team. What unites them, first and foremost, is love of soccer.


A Muslim high school class studied the Holocaust. Here’s what they learned.

A high school student from the Amity School visits the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. in May.

Courtesy of The Blue Card

While teaching about the Holocaust at the Brooklyn Amity High School this year, one of Mehnaz Afridi’s favorite stories to tell concerns how Albanian Muslims saved their Jewish neighbors from the Nazis. The story was especially resonant for Afridi’s students — all but one of whom were Muslim. The yearlong class at Amity, whose student body is almost entirely Muslim, was designed to teach the history of the Holocaust and its lessons to young Muslims who may have had little previous exposure to Jews, reports Ruben Brosbe for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Shared history: Afridi sought to show the connections between antisemitism, the Holocaust and Islamophobia and colonialism in North Africa and the Middle East. She also included content on the role of colonized Muslim countries during the Holocaust, and worked to show students the ways “Islam and Judaism were always seen as ‘other,’” she told eJP. Students learned about the historical impact of antisemitism as well as its connection to Islamophobia. One lesson showed students 17th- and 18th-century depictions of Jews and Muslims, allowing them to see the shared experience of prejudice.

Understanding antisemitism: Ceyda Betul Demirhan, a senior whose family recently immigrated from Turkey, told eJP that she now understands the need to confront antisemitism. “In Turkey and the Middle Eastern area, the Jewish people are shown like an enemy of Muslim people there,” Demirhan said through a translator. “I learned how to create bridges between the two cultures.” She added, “It’s important to learn in depth about it instead of hearing bits and pieces about the Holocaust… I did not know exactly what happened.”

Read the full story here.


Pew data deals setback to BDS, but still provides call to action for American Jews

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

“The Scottish poet Andrew Lang once wrote, ‘Most people use statistics like a drunk man uses a lamppost, more support than illumination,’” writes Dan Elbaum, head of North America at The Jewish Agency for Israel, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy

Pew reports: “It is tempting to use Pew Research Center findings on U.S. public opinion toward Israel in a similar way — to buttress a preconceived view rather than utilizing them to shed light on an open question. The common reaction to such data, both in the media and among the general Jewish public, is to be relatively pessimistic and emphasize the surveys’ revelation of negative trends. Yet in truth, an objective examination of the last two Pew surveys shows both reason for optimism and, even more importantly, a clear roadmap for facing the challenges ahead.”

The good news: “Perhaps most striking are the survey’s findings on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. In short, after nearly two decades of work, constant social media barrages, and millions of dollars spent, BDS has failed to make any discernible impression on Americans. These numbers are indisputable. A mere 5% of Americans express any degree of support for BDS, and only 2% strongly support the boycott movement.”

An imperfect democracy: “We should ask ourselves why the movement that is so popular among a shrill and vocal minority has proven so unsuccessful. Although pro-Israel organizations should feel some rightful pride, including the Jewish Agency Israel Fellows program at more than 100 colleges and universities across North America, the truth is that our efforts would not be successful if we were seeking to promote an ‘apartheid state.’ Rather, although your average American does not understand every nuance of the situation, he or she has made the decision that they have little or no interest in demonizing a true, if imperfect, democracy.”

Read the full piece here.


‘Shema Yisrael’ – Listen, people! The climate is calling

Courtesy of Dayenu

“Every morning we chant the Shema – ‘Listen!’ in our rabbinical seminary’s sanctuary. Last Wednesday morning, we chanted our daily prayer in a very different setting, through a microphone to hundreds of people outside BlackRock’s midtown Manhattan offices,” write Andy Weissfeld and Sarah Rockford, Conservative rabbinical students and Dayenu fellows at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy

Our future rabbinate: ‘We never thought that climate activism would be part of our rabbinic training, but we also never thought that the market would ignore decades of scientific warnings that our global systems were making the world uninhabitable. The climate crisis is a concrete disaster affecting every community where we might work. As future clergy members, we spend many class hours studying how to guide individuals through life’s triumphs and tragedies. Today, that means supporting community members experiencing climate change anxiety and related traumas. This is already a regular feature of a clergy member’s day-to-day work. Without question, our rabbinates will be marked by caring for communities through intensifying natural disasters, the effects of scarce resources and an increasingly fractious political atmosphere.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Sector Staffing Struggles: The nonprofit sector is experiencing a hiring crisis, Jim Rendon writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, reporting on an October survey of 1,000 organizations by the National Council of Nonprofits about their ability to hire and retain workers. “Nonprofits are trying everything they can to compete. Many have raised salaries, often trying to eliminate historical inequities in their pay structures by increasing the lowest salaries the most. They are offering more flexible and hybrid work schedules, sometimes going entirely remote. Some are trying to give higher priority to the needs of employees, listening to their concerns, working to improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices, even restructuring and cutting hours. They hope that these measures can help make up for the one thing they can rarely do — pay as much as for-profit companies. Faced with chronic staff shortages, nonprofits are struggling — and that is affecting the communities they serve. According to the council’s survey data, about one-third of groups that had waitlists for services reported that the waits were more than a month long.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Potchke-ing with Philanthropy
: A Tennessee-based pop-up Ukrainian-inspired deli raised more than $5,000 for charities and friends in Ukraine, Brett Anderson reports in The New York Times. “When Russia invaded Ukraine, Laurence Faber and Emily Williams’s first reaction was to cook borscht. Ukrainian flags had yet to spread across the American lawn-scape, and Potchke, the couple’s Ukrainian-inspired deli, had yet to open in this eastern Tennessee city. They cooked the soup in response to the horror overtaking the peaceful country they’d fallen in love with last summer and fall, when they spent nearly two months in Ukraine, researching its food and Mr. Faber’s family’s history. ‘We couldn’t do nothing,’ Mr. Faber said. ‘We owe the country so much.’” [NYTimes]

Generation Next: 
Younger nonprofit employees think differently about work than many of their older colleagues, Jim Rendon reports in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “‘Younger people today approach work differently,’ says Jasmine Johnson, an associate professor of public policy and administration at George Washington University who teaches aspiring nonprofit professionals and studies younger workers. They are less likely to stay at an organization for very long. They are more interested in work-life balance, and they value diversity much more than earlier generations, she says. They want to see their values reflected in the workplace as much as in the rest of their lives. And because of the large amount of student debt young workers carry, pay is also important — as is the ability to grow and learn within an organization.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

The husband-and-wife team Rabbi Nicole Guzik and Rabbi Erez Sherman will jointly succeed Rabbi David Wolpe as senior rabbis of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, following Wolpe’s transition to emeritus on June 23, 2023. Guzik will be the first female rabbi to lead Sinai Temple. Both Guzik and Sherman are currently employed by the congregation…

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief rabbi of Moscow and head of the Conference of European Rabbis, is reportedly in self-exile for declining to back Russia in its invasion of Ukraine…

Ahead of Hebrew Book Week, the National Library of Israel presented figures on the number of books published last year in Israel. Following a pandemic-related slump, 2021 saw a publishing resurgence, and for the first time, female authors released more books of Hebrew prose and poetry than their male counterparts…

Sinai and Synapses, which aims to strengthen connections between the religious and scientific worlds, selected 14 communities as part of its Scientists in Synagogues project. The program is funded by The John Templeton Foundation and other donors, and is run in consultation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion. Selected synagogues will receive $5,000 to run a minimum of four programs addressing issues around science and religion…

The Schultz Family Foundation announced an initial $100 million commitment to launch a fund that will provide underrepresented entrepreneurs with access to non-predatory capital…

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino received a $5 million gift from Walmart in support of the museum’s planning, design and construction and to help launch virtual public programming…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy of Belev Echad

Wounded Israeli veterans visited New York City last week on a tour hosted by Belev Echad, founded by Rabbi Uriel and Shevy Vigler, who also run the Chabad Israel Center of Manhattan’s Upper East Side.


Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Founder of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Dasha Zhukova

Hebrew University mathematics professor and 2005 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, Robert Aumann… Partner in the Cincinnati-based law firm of Aronoff, Rosen & Hunt, he was a member of the Ohio State senate (1967-1996), the last seven years of which he served as senate president, Stanley J. Aronoff… Founder of the Family Dollar Stores chain of discount stores in 1959, he remained chairman and CEO until 2003, Leon Levine… Guru of alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil… South African businessman and philanthropist, formerly the Chairman of De Beers, Nicholas F. “Nicky” Oppenheimer… Hedge fund founder and manager, founder of the Paloma Funds, Selwyn Donald Sussman… Detective novelist, best known for creating the character of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky… Founder and CEO of Sitrick and Company, Michael Sitrick… Classical pianist, teacher and performer at the Juilliard School and winner of a Grammy Award, he is the child of Holocaust survivors, Emanuel Ax… Community affairs advisor at Yeshiva High School of Arizona, Miriam Pinkerson… Former member of Knesset from the Zionist Union party, now a professor at Ben-Gurion University, Yosef “Yossi” Yona… Barbara Jaffe Panken… Senior advisor at Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based O2 Investment Partners, Rob Orley… Journalist, stand-up comedian, author, cartoonist and blogger, Aaron Freeman… CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, Stacy Ritter… AVP for campaign at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Patti Frazin… Businessman in the Russian energy sector and co-founder and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets… Winner of many Emmy and SAG awards, star of the long-running TV series “The Good Wife,” Julianna Margulies… Actor, screenwriter and producer, Dan Futterman… Former congresswoman who survived an assassination attempt near Tucson in 2011, Gabrielle Giffords… Actor who starred in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” he also wrote and created the CBS series “9JKL,” Mark Feuerstein… Executive director at Consulate Health Care in New Port Richey, Fla., Daniel Frenden… Head of North America for the Jewish Agency and president and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development, Daniel Elbaum… Deputy chief of staff for Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, Michael Emanuel Vallarelli… Senior educator at Hillel Jewish Student Center at Arizona State University, Suzy Stone… Fourth-generation supermarket executive at Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland, Marshall Klein… Corporate litigation associate at Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, Daniel Kirshenbaum… SVP of social media for CBS News, CBS Sports and CBS Entertainment, Eric J. Kuhn… CEO of the Bnai Zion Foundation, Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm… Offensive tackle in the NFL for nine seasons, he started in 121 straight games in which he played every offensive snap, his Hebrew name is “Mendel,” Mitchell Schwartz

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