Your Daily Phil: How NFTs can help the Jewish community + Israeli Palestinian joint fundraising

Good Tuesday morning!

As Israel again bars entry to those coming from a number of countries, including the U.S., amid a surge in Omicron cases, attorney and pro-Israel activist Arsen Ostrovsky railed against the recent restrictions in a Twitter thread and appealed to the Israeli government “to find balance and show more empathy” to those with loved ones trying to travel to Israel.

Ostrovsky, known to be a fervent supporter of the Israeli government, writes, “Having just recently returned from America, I can tell you the top priority on the minds of many in the Jewish community was not BDS, antisemitism or delegitimization, but: when can we visit Israel, when can we see our kids, grandchildren and loved ones?”

British philanthropist Sir Leonard Blavatnik donated half of the £15 million (approx. $20 million) needed to buy the Honresfield Library Collection so it remains in the public domain. The collection of iconic British literature contains a notebook of poems by Emily Brontë many scholars thought lost.


Israeli and Palestinian peace-building NGOs launch joint fundraising drive


More than a dozen Israeli and Palestinian nonprofit organizations active in various aspects of peace-building will launch a joint online fundraising campaign on Dec. 29, working with the belief that an already saturated yet neglected field will benefit from shared efforts across the board, Ruth Marks Eglash reports

Rising tension: The rare initiative comes amid rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians following a spate of recent stabbing and shooting attacks by Palestinians against Israeli civilians and violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. The Israeli army is currently on high alert after the killing of Yehuda Dimentman, 25, in a shooting on Thursday night.

Building peace: The campaign was initiated by Amal-Tikva, a Jerusalem-based organization that provides strategic consulting and training for nonprofits to improve effectiveness, together with B8 of Hope, which supports Israeli and Palestinian grassroots peace-building initiatives. It will unite some 14 Israeli and Palestinian NGOs for focused online fundraising and is being billed as an opportunity where “people from all over the world will join together to support organizations building a more peaceful reality for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Learning together: “Even if the organizations do not raise as much as they hope to, they will learn how to engage their own communities more effectively and how to manage a project more professionally,” Meredith Rothbart, co-founder and CEO of Amal-Tikva told JI. “One of our main goals is to move from a culture of fragmentation and competition to one where peace-building organizations turn to each other for support.” Rothbart said that throughout the preparation process for the campaign, the organizations learned from one another and received support from Causematch about how to put together a fundraising campaign. She also said that many of the organizations are so small that they do not have dedicated fundraising staff.

Read the full story here.


Are NFTs the answer to Jewish woes?

BZL-NFT Conference, Dec. 2021. WAGMI, which means “we are all going to make it,” is commonly used by the NFT community. Credit: Rebecca Dinar.

“In 1998 I traveled with my family to Hangzhou, a 7,000-year-old center of art located in the northeast of mainland China. My mother, an artist herself, walked away from the visit with a traditional painting of the region’s misty mountains, which included the chomps (or signatures) of the picture’s past owners. These red marks, which float in the black and white inked sky, increase the art’s value,” writes former Jewish professional Rebecca Dinar, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

NFTs and the virtual world: “I was reminded of the trip and this ancient practice while attending a conference on NFTs – a kind of cryptocurrency. Weirdly, this new trend reminded me of the ancient painting. NFTs, or ‘non-fungible tokens,’ are part of the metaverse – the virtual world. Often represented by art, each NFT is a digital asset defined by its verifiable and authentic ownership. Tracked by a digital underpinning – a blockchain – it’s the ownership (a kind of ledger) that produces value, just like the Chinese chomps on my mom’s painting.”

The Jewish connection: “Before I attended the NFT conference I knew nothing about cryptocurrency, and I was surprised by how much of the discussion was familiar. Investing in something ‘non-fungible’ that aligns with personal beliefs is an idea central to philanthropy. NFTs just allow people to do it virtually, and for a profit… As I sat in the conference, I began to think about ways the Jewish world could use NFTs to solve some of its most vexing problems.”

Read the full piece here.


Becoming better on gender in the workplace in the year ahead


“As 2021 comes to a close, we as nonprofit leaders find ourselves existing in a kind of liminal space, sandwiched somewhere between the ‘before times’ and aspirational ‘better times.’ The ‘before times’ would be those fictional, yet no less familiar, times in which leaders were trusted because of their knowledge, what they knew to be true,” writes Elana Wien, executive director of SRE Network, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Rabbinic learnings: “The 18th-century Jewish Hasidic leader Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said, ‘If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, what need have you for a tomorrow?’ This is both a fundamentally Jewish and nonprofit leadership principle: that we can become better tomorrow through our actions today.” 

Data points: “But how do we enter the next year after a challenging 2021, with the confidence that we have both the knowledge, and the inspiration, to forge ahead and be better? First, by grounding ourselves in the real, tangible data points that have been collected in the areas of leadership and gender in the workplace that can serve to empower all leaders in creating a healthier and more just workplace and society tomorrow.” 

Things we know: “We know we are still in the midst of the ‘Great Resignation.’ According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 3% of the U.S. workforce resigned in October. The percentage of women either unemployed or looking for work dropped to the lowest level since February, and this is what drove the workforce participation drop that month. Experts guessed that schools reopening in the fall would support a return to the workforce for women. We know from the October jobs report that did not happen.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Brain Drain: Software engineer and entrepreneur Ben Wajdi warns of the dangers of frequent internet use, suggesting that it contributes to a decline in the reading of physical books. “I don’t blame people who read paperbacks and hardcovers instead of PDFs and Epubs anymore. I myself have tried a similar experiment: instead of consuming PDFs, I print them, and actively read them (taking notes while thinking about the material). As a result, I was able to concentrate for longer blocks of time, read more, and grasp more; however, like any first act of rebel against an addiction, I was met with withdrawal symptoms, mainly the urge to open the laptop, and search for something on Google.” [BenWajdi]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Samuel Hayek, the chairman of Jewish National Fund UK, one of the U.K.’s leading charities, has made the public claim that “Jews do not have a future in England.”…

The number of people in New York State experiencing food insecurity increased by 36% during the COVID-19 pandemic, and now more than one in eight New Yorkers are facing hunger this December, according to an analysis released by United Hospital Fund and Boston Consulting Group… 

The Juilliard School announced a $50 million endowment grant from San Francisco-based Crankstart, the philanthropic vehicle of Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman, in support of arts education…

Yeshiva University received a $1 million gift from Micah Philanthropies in support of the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women… 

Mike Sophir has been named CEO of the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center (JCC Denver), effective Jan. 10…

Foundation Giving Trends 2021 found that U.K. foundation grant-making grew in 2021. Giving by family and personal foundations grew by 23%, though corporate giving declined by 12%… 

Charities Aid Foundation of America reports almost 55% of small charities operating in Argentina, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa are experiencing difficulty in addressing the needs of their constituents…

A new organization, Ohev Ger, has been established to assist converts to Judaism in Israel and provide them with a framework of support as they fully enter Jewish life and seek to further integrate into Jewish and Israeli society… 

The Jerusalem College of Technology has been approved by the Israeli Council for Higher Education to offer Israel’s first English-language master of science in nursing degree… 

Ken Kragen, a producer, manager and philanthropist who turned to clients including Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers in helping to organize the 1985 all-star charity single “We Are the World,” died at 85…

Pic of the Day


Israel Magen Fund co-founders David Rose and Mati Goldstein presented a fully equipped firefighting ATV to volunteers in the Binyamin Security Division, at their Regional Council offices in the West Bank, on Sunday. The ATV, one of four to be donated by the Israel Magen Fund, is the first vehicle of its type to be made available in the region.


Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Conductor and artistic director of the New World Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas (family name was Thomashefsky)… 

Former member of the Knesset for over 36 years, David Levy… Former chair of the NY Fed and a partner at Goldman Sachs, Stephen Friedman… Producer of over 90 plays on and off Broadway, winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes and 10 Tony Awards, Daryl Roth… Born in Auschwitz five weeks before liberation, she is one of only two babies born there known to have survived, Angela Orosz-Richt… Member of Knesset since 1999 for the Likud party, Haim Katz... Director of the LA Initiative at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, former longtime member of the LA County Board of Supervisors and the LA City Council, Zev Yaroslavsky… Actor and past president of the Screen Actors Guild, Barry Gordon… CEO of WndrCo and former CEO of DreamWorks Animation,  Jeffrey Katzenberg… Former member of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, where she became the first female Jewish minister in Australia, Marsha Rose Thomson… Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney, Drew O. Findling… Retired four-star general who served as chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, David L. Goldfein… Former U.S. secretary of the treasury, Steven Mnuchin… Senior NFL insider for ESPN, Adam Schefter… Owner of Liberty Consultants, Cherie Velez… Former member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party, Rachel Azaria… President of France since 2017, Emmanuel Macron… Principal of Kona Media and Message, Brian Goldsmith… Israeli actor and fashion model, Michael Mario Lewis… Chief creative officer of Five Seasons Media, Josh Scheinblum… SVP in the financial services practice at NYC-based The Bliss Group, Julia Bloch Mellon… Politics editor for The Boston GlobeJoshua Miller

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