Your Daily Phil: How the U.S. Army brought Chabad and the JCC Association together to collaborate

Good Wednesday morning!

Jewish advocates of government funding for non-public schoolsembraced the news that Kathy Hochul, New York’s lieutenant governor, will replace Andrew Cuomo, calling her a known advocate of yeshivas and other Jewish schools with whom they already have solid relationships.

“Agudath Israel has had the privilege of working closely with incoming Governor Hochul,” Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, the advocacy organization’s director of government relations in New York State, told eJewishPhilanthropy. Silber noted that Hochul had delivered the keynote address at Agudath Israel’s 2018 Yeshiva Summit.

Maury Litwack, the director of the Orthodox Union’s education advocacy arm, Teach Coalition, said that Hochul had spoken to the student delegation it brings to Albany four times in the last five years. “She is not going to have to do any on-the-job learning about these issues, because she’s been vocal on them for years,” Litwack said.

UJA-Federation of New York wished Hochul success, and a source with direct knowledge of the federation’s state contracts said Cuomo’s resignation would not disrupt the services the federation or its grantee agencies deliver.

Jewish Women International (JWI), an advocacy organization for women and girls that focuses on domestic violence and financial literacy, noted that those who experience harassment in the workplace tend to suffer job loss, depressed earnings and missed opportunities for advancement.

“We are grateful to the women who came forward to share their stories and to the NYS Attorney General’s office for taking their accounts seriously,” said JWI CEO Meredith Jacobs. “We welcome Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul becoming the first female governor of New York in the coming days as she begins the important work of rebuilding New Yorkers’ faith in their government.” 


The Army has brought the JCC Association and Chabad together to educate soldiers and their families


Two Jewish organizations serving military chaplains are providing religious education to U.S. Army servicemembers and their families, in keeping with the Army’s historic interest in fostering cooperation between members of a given faith. The groups — the JCC Association of North America and the Chabad-Lubavitch movement — have contracted with the Army for one year to deliver the services, Rabbi Tracy Kaplowitz of the JCC Association told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.
Making the match: “Usually, if you walked into a chapel on a base and said you were looking for Hebrew school, you would get blank stares,” said Kaplowitz, who is the director of operations of the Jewish Welfare Board’s Jewish Chaplains Council, which operates under the auspices of the JCC Association. The JWB and Chabad’s Jewish Learning Institute each made separate proposals to the Army, which encouraged them to work together, said both Kaplowitz and Rabbi Zalman Abraham, director of the Wellness Institute, which is part of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute (JLI). JLI is a provider of adult Jewish education.
Consistent over time: “The Army has a long history of encouraging or mandating Jewish religious cooperation,” said Ronit Stahl, a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, adding that the Army has the same attitude toward other faith groups, including those in the country’s Christian majority. “This reflects the military’s longstanding resistance to dwelling in the weeds of denominational difference.” The JWB was founded in 1917, almost immediately after the United States declared war on Germany, to support the Jewish soldiers who would serve in World War I. The JWB took on multiple other functions early in its history, including the support of JCCs. In 1990, the JWB was renamed the JCC Association, and the chaplains service was housed within the association. The council includes rabbis from the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements.
Education and inspiration: Its Chabad counterpart, the Aleph Institute, which provides several programs, including prison chaplains and prisoner advocacy, was founded in 1981. Chabad rabbis began to enter military chaplaincy in 2011, when the Army decided that it would let them keep their beards, Abraham said. The global shift to online education necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic was the JWB’s original impetus to create an education program to serve Jews across the Army, which had already begun using the internet to provide Christian religious resources.
Read the full article here.


An artist and her golem respond to California’s wildfires

Prayer for Burnt Forests, film still; courtesy

“Last September, twenty miles northeast from my home in Pasadena, California, the Bobcat Fire scorched over 100,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest—a mere fraction of the four million acres burned in California in 2020,” writes Los Angeles artist and filmmaker Julie Weitz in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
A firefighter too: “A year before the fire, I had completed wildland firefighter training through the U.S. Forest Service and National Wildfire Coordinating Group as part of an artist residency organized by UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station in Tahoe National Forest. Sagehen has become well known for their implementation of prescribed burns as a method to correct for fire suppression and the resulting overgrowth. The station managers invited me to participate in a training program specifically designed for artists and filmmakers after they attended a presentation I gave about my iterative performance art project, ‘My Golem.’”
Beginnings: “‘My Golem’ began in 2017 and centers on my portrayal and embodiment of a diasporic humanoid drawn from Jewish mysticism and Yiddish folklore. The legend of the golem originates as far back as the Middle Ages, when Kabbalists imagined the creation of a clay humanoid as a meditative technique for becoming closer to God… Over the past four years, ‘My Golem’ has evolved from Instagram videos to performances at protests to creative collaborations—taking on a life of her own.”
Moral obligation: “With this in mind, I began to research how Jewish traditions, which uphold fire as a force for hope and a foundational element in spiritual ritual, could be framed to support progressive wildfire policy and the Indigenous cultural practice of controlled burns. As a Jewish Californian directly impacted by the particular climate catastrophe of the region, I felt a moral obligation to confront these issues.”
Read the full piece here.


‘If Only:’ Elul and the sea


“A few years ago, I taught some students about tashlich at a small liberal arts college in Florida. I told them about the ancient ritual on Rosh HaShanah when we symbolically cast off our sins by throwing stones or shells into a body of water to begin the new year with a clean spirit and pure heart. I had just finished when one of the students said, ‘Rabbi, there’s already more than enough human “sin” in the water. Why don’t we take some of it out instead?’ writes Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, executive director of the Hillels of the Florida Suncoast, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
New conversation: “This led to an enlightening conversation about the Jewish tenet of Bal Tashchit and the millions of tons of trash and plastic dumped into the ocean every year. The students, who were all marine biology majors, made it a point to teach their rabbi that in the U.S. alone, about 1,500 plastic bottles are thrown away every second, and that Americans purchase about 500,000,000 (yes, that’s half a billion) bottles of water every week. That’s enough plastic bottles to circle the planet five times, and most of these end up in the ocean or landfills. Another student pointed out that at an average cost of $1.99 for a 16-ounce bottle of water, and with 128 ounces to a gallon, that means you’d be paying almost $16 for a gallon of water. ‘Would that be an example of Bal Tashchit,’ the student asked… From this conversation came the creation of a ‘reverse tashlich’ in which the students cleaned the beach and mangroves on campus to remove the human ‘sin’ which littered them. In the end, five students removed about 75 pounds of plastic and other debris from the waterfront. These students had an awareness that is unique in the Jewish community and an attitude that is not, but should be, on our communal agenda.”
Elul-lamed: “According to the most current scientific data, if humans don’t change our current practices of overfishing and pollution, in 30 years there will be more plastic in the Ocean than fish. And so, as I reflect on the month of Elul, I remember that Chinese proverb. What is Elul? I see it as Elul-lamed (Elul meaning ‘if only’ and lamed being the numerical value of 30). In other words, if only 30 years ago we had thought about the effects that our collective human carelessness would have on the Ocean, we could have done something to prevent the current global crisis we face.”
Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

New Phase: In the Boston Globe, Larry Edelman profiles Jack Connors, a former advertising executive who has played a powerful role in the city’s politics and philanthropy and is now retiring from business to focus on Camp Harbor View, under whose auspices operate several programs for low-income children. Connors’ Catholic faith inspired him to serve for 16 years as board chair of both of the hospital now known as Mass General Brigham and of his alma mater, Boston College, Edelman writes.“The Jewish faith calls it tikkun olam,” Connors said. [BostonGlobe]

Looking Ahead: Donors and nonprofit professionals who don’t like the idea of the government regulating donor advised funds (DAF) should consider making a strategic accommodation lest such regulation lead to even more invasive involvement by the state in philanthropy, writes Paul D’Alessandro in NonProfitPro. D’Alessandro believes the government has a legitimate interest in facilitating money’s movement through DAFs in order to help needy people more quickly, and he also says that lawmakers who want to achieve that goal might also want to go further. “It’s not much of a stretch to see legislation that will turn on the spigot for foundation and DAF giving but encourage (ahem) that giving to go to causes of, say, social services, but not to university education or cultural institutions,” D’Alessandro concludes. [NPP]

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Word on the Street

Danny Grossman, CEO of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, will step down at the end of the year… With support from Simon and Leon Kamenev of Sydney, Australia, the Triguboff Switch Centre in the Negev launched its first summer camp for 50 children from the Bedouin villages of Rahat, Lakia, Hora and Kuseife… Jewish National Fund-USA’s annual fundraising event will return on September 12 with a two-hour virtual program broadcast from the organization’s in-person event in New York City… The Sacks Morasha Jewish Primary School in London, will expand after purchasing land next to the school building from Barnet Council… Ukraine said that the country would work to ease restrictionson the annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman… Israel’s Ministry of Defensecommenced construction that will make the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron accessible to the disabled…

Pic of the Day

Leichtag Foundation

Over 100 social entrepreneurs and grassroots activists from across Israeli society gathered in person for the first time in 18 months for a recent Jerusalem Model conference.


Choruzy/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Architect best known for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, Peter Eisenman

Former CEO of CBS Records for 15 years, Walter Yetnikoff… Former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives for New York’s 16th district (73-81), Brooklyn DA (82-89) and NYC Comptroller (90-93), Elizabeth Holtzman… Principal of Investors Research Group based in Los Angeles, Jacob S. Segal… Consultant for nonprofits, she was an SVP for international affairs at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Lois Weinsaft… Co-founder and co-chief executive officer of The Carlyle Group, he serves as chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, David Rubenstein… Former US Trade Representative, she retired this year as the chair of the international trade group at WilmerHale, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky… Senior counsel for benefits and employment at the DC-based law firm of Keightley & Ashner, Linda E. Rosenzweig… Artistic director and choreographer of an eponymous dance company based in Union, New Jersey, Carolyn Dorfman… CEO, chairman and major shareholder of the Russian gas company Novatek, Leonid Mikhelson… Former member of the Massachusetts Senate (2011-2017), he is the founder of Cape Air airline, Daniel A. “Dan” Wolf... Publisher of Yated Ne’eman, a weekly English-language Haredi newspaper, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz… Co-founder and partner of MizMaa Ventures and the weekly wine columnist for Jewish Insider, Isaac “Yitz” Applbaum… Member of Knesset since 2015 for the Likud party, David “Dudi” Amsalem… Chief of Israel’s Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman… Chairman at Duty Free Americas, Simon Falic… Political, cultural and social science commentator for The New York TimesDavid Brooks… Emmy Award winning producer at NBC’s Meet the Press, Ilana Marcus Drimmer… MLB pitcher (1994-2002) for seven teams, he is the pitching coach for Team Israel, Andrew Lorraine… NFL offensive lineman for four seasons, he is now the managing partner of Oakland-based North Venture Partners, Alex Bernstein.. Co-founder and CEO of Israeli interactive video firm Eko, Yoni Bloch… Chief investment officer of Toronto-based investment firm Murchinson, Marc Bistricer… NFL punter for seven seasons with the Jaguars and Bears, he is now a broker in the Jacksonville office of Merrill Lynch, Adam Podlesh… Journalist and copywriter, Yelena Shuster… General surgery resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Sara Ginzberg… Management consultant at Accenture Federal Services, Daniel Weitz
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