Your Daily Phil: How — and why — American Jews give

Good Tuesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the launch of a new master’s degree program in antisemitism studies, and feature an opinion piece by Samuel J. Abrams digging into the data on anti-Israel feelings on campus. Also in this issue: Rachel Goldberg-PolinSydelle B. Sonkin and Menachem Rosensaft. We’ll start with a new study of American Jewish giving.

Jews who personally experience antisemitism are far more likely to donate to charity, particularly to religious charities, than those who have not, according to a new study of Jewish giving released today by the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, in partnership also with Giving USA, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

According to the study, the first survey of its kind in 10 years, respondents who said they or someone in their household experienced antisemitism gave, on average, $35,425 to charity, compared to $3,726 by those who said no one in their household personally experienced antisemitism. The median amounts are less dramatic — $2,290 compared to $1,150 — but still indicate that experiencing antisemitism makes someone more likely to make charitable gifts. The findings hold true when accounting for differences in Jewish engagement; that is to say, it is not that people who are more likely to experience antisemitism (those who are more visibly Jewish) are just more likely to be generous.

The white paper — “American Jewish Philanthropy 2022: Giving to Religious and Secular Causes in the U.S. and to Israel” — is the first study of its kind since Jumpstart’s 2013 “National Study of American Jewish Giving.”

The most likely recipient of a Jewish household’s largest gift is a Jewish congregation. This was the case for 32% of respondents. The next most likely recipient is a charity that provides basic needs (15%), followed by health care or medical research (12%).

How strongly people identify as Jews, if they are married to Jews, how frequently they attend synagogue services, how wealthy Jews are and if they are Ashkenazi or Sephardi all correlate with differences in giving in general and to Jewish or Israel-related causes in particular.

The study found that “strong identification” with Jewish identity is associated with increases in giving. This is true regardless of levels of religiosity and is true for all types of giving: total giving, donations to religious organizations, to non-religious organizations and to congregations.

The survey did not find a significant difference in levels of charitable donations between people who are married compared to those who are single. It did, however, find differences between households in which both partners are Jewish and interfaith households.

“Jewish survey respondents who have a Jewish partner are more likely to give and give more generously than respondents with a non-Jewish partner,” the researchers wrote. “This applies to all donations reported and to Jewish congregational giving. Additionally, Jewish households with children at home are more likely to give and give more generously than households without children at home.”

The study also found that those who cited “Jewish and community heritage” as being their primary reason for giving — over social reasons, altruistic reasons and to advance their viewpoint — are more likely to donate to Israel-focused organizations and to give a larger donation. Those who gave for altruistic reasons are also more likely to donate and to give more, but not necessarily to Israel-related causes.

Read the full report here.


Gratz College launches ‘first-of-its-kind’ master’s degree in antisemitism studies

The entrance to Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pa.
The entrance to Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pa.

Gratz College outside of Philadelphia launched an online master’s degree in antisemitism studies program, a “first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary graduate program in the U.S.,” according to the Gratz website. With its first semester starting in the fall, the college says the program will “prepare students for successful careers in Jewish community organizations, education, advocacy, government relations and public policy, among others,” reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Filling the void: The antisemitism studies program will be led by Ayal Feinberg, the director of the Center for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights at Gratz. “We needed to focus more specifically on concerns related to antisemitism,” Feinberg told eJP. “When you ask anyone in the Jewish studies world where they go to learn about antisemitism, the answer was that there was no existing program until we created one where one can really develop a curated expertise on being an antisemitism expert.”

Read the full report here.


Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish: Not the same thing

Gold Jewish star on a leather necklace string, lying on a cloth background.

“In order for the Jewish community to effectively address antisemitic and anti-Israel hate, it needs to establish a clear understanding of its presence. Data from the ‘2024 College Free Speech Rankings’ — a massive survey of 55,102 students across 254 campuses, conducted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) — provides insight into attitudes on college campuses nationwide,” writes Samuel J. Abrams, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Crunching the numbers: “Using overlap between rejection of the idea of officially recognizing and funding pro-Israel groups [on campus] but approval for officially recognizing and funding pro-Palestinian groups as an indicator of anti-Israel attitudes, 7.2% of the respondents qualify as anti-Israel. A parallel measure can be created to see whether the anti-Israel students harbor anti-Jewish attitudes.”

More data needed: “To be sure, we must treat these survey results with a good measure of caution. After all, we have only one measure of anti-Israel sentiment and one measure of anti-Jewish sentiment… That being said, findings supporting that the two attitudes are almost independent of one another among college students certainly demand further investigation, because organizations working to defend Israel and to defend Jews might need to do more to differentiate their work to address two distinct challenges.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Bring Them Home: In The Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Bernstein profiles Rachel Goldberg-Polin, whose son, Hersh, was taken captive on Oct. 7, forcing her and her husband to launch an international campaign to try to secure his release. “Rachel Goldberg-Polin numbers her days. On Day Seven, she spoke to President Biden on a Zoom call. On Day 37, she was forced to wear her hair down for a TV interview after she lost her hair clip. On Day 88, a college student asked her a question no one else had thought to ask: ‘What can we do to ease your pain?’ Day One was Oct. 7. That’s when her 23-year-old son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, an American-Israeli, was severely injured in the attack on the Tribe of Nova music festival in Israel, then kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip. ‘My son was stolen,’ she says… They have had no news at all of Hersh since his abduction. And they describe each day as holding the same torment, the same hope, the same anticipation, the same sorrow. Altogether, about 130 families remain in that long limbo. Rachel and her husband work 18 to 20 hours a day trying to save their son and the other hostages, talking to officials, giving interviews, speaking to anyone who will listen… People often ask Rachel how she goes on. Her answer is simple: She has no choice. ‘I can’t drop dead from grief and sorrow, because he is going to come back and he needs his mother,’ she says.” [WSJ]

Always Watching: In the Jewish Journal, Karen Lehrman Bloch writes about the latest salvo in Hillel Neuer’s 20-year war against anti-Israel bias as executive director of UN Watch. “On Feb. 7, a bipartisan group of 12 U.S. legislators sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to demand that U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and the head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, resign over the revelation that a dozen members of UNRWA staff were involved in the Oct. 7th massacre: seven staffers infiltrated Israel; five helped to kidnap Israelis and provide ammunition. In addition, the IDF found that Hamas stored weapons in UNRWA buildings; used UNRWA resources for terrorist activities; and built tunnels under UNRWA facilities. And a recent Wall Street Journal report estimates that roughly 10% of UNRWA employees — 1,200 — are linked to Hamas. Who initiated this call for their resignations? Hillel Neuer… ‘They never contacted us for information,’ Neuer told Congress. ‘They refused our repeated written requests to meet to discuss the problem. They cannot say they didn’t know. Mr. Guterres knew. The head of UNRWA knew. The United Nations knew. They simply chose not to act. But it’s much worse than that. From the beginning, their response to our reports was to attack us for doing the work they failed to do.’” [JewishJournal]

Matchmaker, Matchmaker: Launched in 2002, the Wildlife Conservation Network helps donors build direct relationships with conservationists across the globe, reports Abby Schultz in Barron’s. “It also has created vehicles such as the Lion Recovery Fund and the Pangolin Crisis Fund, which pool donor funding to issue grants that protect species across the entire range of their habitats. WCN also supports local ‘rising wildlife leaders’ with scholarships and mentoring designed to give them the skills for practicing conservation in their communities, says Jean-Gael Collomb, WCN’s CEO. All these efforts are about supporting individuals and groups based in the countries where the work needs to happen. ‘Conservation is going to be most effective if it’s done by local nationals who are deeply connected to the place where they work, who understand the social economic cultural context and can be highly responsive to it,’ Collomb says…  ‘If you’re an effective conservationist working in the middle of Mozambique or Colombia, you don’t necessarily have access to the kind of people who can be really transformative in providing support to your mission … Likewise, if you’re sitting in New York or Boston or San Francisco, it’s pretty easy to find out about the big organizations, but it’s much harder to find out about some of these really effective conservationists who are in pretty remote places.’” [Barrons]

Around the Web

Jewish on Campus (JOC) and the Anti-Defamation League announced a new partnership to better meet the needs of Jewish students through a series of co-created educational sessions and resources for JOC student leaders as campus antisemitism rises…

On Sunday, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations mission in Jerusalem that the Israeli military will expand its full-scale military operations to Rafah when Ramadan begins next month unless Hamas releases its hostages…

The Free Press published correspondence between former Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in a Russian prison last week…

Leah Goldstein, the first woman to win a 3,000-mile bike race across the United States, was removed as keynote speaker of an International Women’s Day event in Ontario, Canada, scheduled for next month after protesters complained to organizers about her service in the Israel Defense Forces

Julie Schlafer was named to Jewish Federations of North America’s National Women’s Philanthropy Board…

A new study by the National Philanthropic Trust found that most of the grants made by donor-advised funds are for general operating expenses…

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland has partnered with Kibbutz Kissufim, one of the communities targeted by Hamas terrorists in the Oct. 7 attacks, to “work to address the various needs of the [Israeli] community”…

Israel’s i24 News spotlights a training program run by the nonprofit One Heart bringing Ukrainian doctors to Israel to prepare them to open a national rehabilitation center for eye injury victims in Ukraine…

Sydelle B. Sonkin donated $5 million to the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County toward its $250 million Campaign for the Future…

A statue of British Jewish chanteuse Amy Winehouse in London was defaced, with a Palestinian flag sticker put atop of the deceased singer’s Star of David necklace…

Harvard University launched an investigation after a faculty and staff group shared an Instagram post featuring an antisemitic cartoon. The group later deleted the post and apologized…

The Cornell Sun spotlights a recent lecture at the university by professor Menachem Rosensaft, general counsel emeritus of the World Jewish Congress and a former member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, on the Israel-Hamas war…

A new Pew report found that 74%-75% of Americans believe that the conflicts between Israel and Hamas, China and Taiwan, and Russia and Ukraine are important to U.S. interests…

Rebbetzin Chaya Chana Twersky, the wife of Skvere Rebbe David Twersky, died on Sunday at 81…

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.

Members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations mission to Israel dance with Israeli soldiers yesterday during a barbecue for the troops in southern Israel.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Rob Kim/Getty Images for New York Protest Movement

CEO at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Amy Spitalnick… 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)… Former head of the Shin Bet and later a member of the Knesset for Yesh Atid, Yaakov Peri… Co-owner of NYC-based TF Cornerstone, Kamran Thomas Elghanayan… Screenwriter, film director and novelist, he wrote the screenplay for “Blazing Saddles,” Andrew Bergman… University professor at Brown University, winner of a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for biography, David Kertzer… Physician and acupuncturist based in Valley Village, Calif., Andrea Hoffman Kachuck… Nursing home administrator in Hazlet, N.J., Benzion Schachter… Founder and publisher of PunchM. Sloane Citron… Former SVP of News at CBS-owned local television stations, David M. Friend… Former NFL player who played for seven different teams over 16 seasons, he was one of the NFL’s original long snapper specialists, Adam Blayne Schreiber… Senior editor at PoliticoDavid Cohen… Professor of mathematics at the University of Chicago, Shmuel Aaron Weinberger… U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ)… Pulitzer Prize-winning staff writer for The New YorkerEmily Nussbaum… Senior cantor at University Synagogue in the Brentwood area of West Los Angeles, Kerith Carolyn Spencer-Shapiro… Actress, comedian and writer, Andrea Savage… Emmy Award-winning film and television producer, Todd Darren Lieberman… Comedian, actress and writer, best known for portraying Gina Linetti on Fox’s series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Chelsea Peretti… Actor best known for his role as Joel Maisel on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Michael Zegen… Owner of a baseball development facility in Denver, he was a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball, Jason Hirsh… Philanthropy consultant, Aimee Weiss… Israeli fashion model and television personality, winner of the Israeli version of “Big Brother,” Tahounia Rubel… Boca Raton, Fla., resident, Levi Shemtov… Ice hockey defenseman for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, Jake Walman… Former Capitol Hill staffer, Harrison Gordon…