Your Daily Phil: How to best help internally displaced Israelis

Good Thursday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we preview the Jewish National Fund-USA’s Global Conference for Israel in Denver and report on Richard Priem stepping in as interim CEO of the Community Security Service. We feature an opinion piece from Lisa DavidRabbi Anat Levin-Katzir and Rabbi Stacy Rigler about the importance of relationships between Diaspora Jews and Israeli shlichim. We’ll start with a new paper from the Taub Center on how to best help Israelis displaced by the fighting.

Following the unparalleled brutality of the Oct. 7 massacres and the outbreak of fighting in both Gaza and Lebanon, Israel has found itself in another unprecedented situation, with a massive population of displaced people, scattered among hotels, hostels and other temporary housing solutions across the country. A new paper by the Taub Center, one of Israel’s leading social policy think tanks, offers recommendations for how those evacuees can best be helped, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Over 125,000 people have been given evacuation orders by the government, meaning they would be compensated for their housing and some other expenses, while tens of thousands more fled on their own, mostly from communities just beyond the official evacuation zones.

Nearly two months later, many of these people remain displaced by government order at least through the end of the year. While they are farther from physical danger, those still displaced face significant challenges, living in hotels and other makeshift solutions, which are not designed for long-term habitation. (In some cases, whole families with multiple children are staying in single hotel rooms.) Full-time educational frameworks may not be available. Adults may not be able to work, at least not in their normal, full-time positions. 

According to the Taub Center, these situations can lead to depression, anxiety, loneliness and domestic violence. “As time passes, the likelihood of these dangerous situations increases and is liable to occur even among those who have never before experienced high-risk social situations,” according to the new report by Romy Volokh and John Gal, the welfare policy program chair at the Taub Center and a professor of social work and social welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, that was released by the think tank this week.

This week, eJewishPhilanthropy spoke with Gal to see how his and Volokh’s research regarding the role of government could be applied to philanthropy and civil society.

“Obviously, in the kibbutzim and places like Sderot that were directly affected, there will be a lot of needs. And certainly, the government won’t be able to deal with all of them, and you can think of ways in which philanthropy can help out,” Gal said. “But also, I want to mention, the communities that were [not directly hit by attacks from Gaza but were] already suffering before the war will have a greater problem afterward, both because of the war and because we are in a difficult economic situation, and many of the government resources will only be devoted to the communities that were directly affected.”

Until communities are able to return to their homes, nonprofits can play a significant role in helping keep evacuees on their feet. “In the meantime, there will be an issue of material needs that philanthropy could play a major role in. Philanthropy could be looking at supporting employment programs, which are crucial for these evacuees, and supporting different sorts of psychosocial support for these communities and working with the communities to help them organize,” Gal said. “And also working in the communities to try and help develop resilience on a community level, which is really crucial, particularly in the communities that were directly affected by the war.”

Read the full report here.


Signage during a Jewish National Fund-USA event in Los Angeles on Oct. 29, 2017. Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Jewish National Fund

When nearly 2,500 Israel supporters gather in Denver tonight for the start of the Jewish National Fund-USA’s four-day Global Conference for Israel, the reconstruction of communities near the Gaza border destroyed in the Oct. 7 attacks will be front and center, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen, who will be reporting from Denver.

Tonal shift: “Our tone has changed [in the aftermath of Oct. 7], but our goal hasn’t,” JNF-USA CEO Russell Robinson told eJP ahead of the conference, which will take place at the Colorado Convention Center. “Our goal has always been to bring people together, Zionists together, to talk about the beauty and representation, the work we all can do as a collective people for Israel, which is a uniter of the Jewish people.” 

It’s personal: “Our Global Conference for Israel marks a moment in time of unprecedented Jewish unity, where thousands of supporters of the land and people of Israel will come together in solidarity and an unyielding determination to repair and rebuild the communities that were damaged by Hamas’ barbaric terror,” said Sol Lizerbram, president of JNF-USA and chair of the conference, in a statement to eJP. “The people who were murdered, injured, and taken hostage were our friends, family, and colleagues. This is a deeply personal situation for us, which is also why we are determined to drive efforts, in partnership with many other organizations, to rebuild, repair, and renew the communities of the Western Negev.”

Protests expected: The Colorado Palestine Coalition is calling for the conference to be shut down due to Israel’s war with Hamas, and a number of protests from several pro-Palestinian groups are expected to take place outside the event. 

Read the full report here.


Community Security Service COO Richard Priem to step in as interim CEO as Bernstein departs

American politician Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office after she was elected mayor of San Francisco, at San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco, California, circa 1978.
Richard Priem, chief operating officer of the Community Security Service, speaks at an event in Atlanta, in March 2023. Courtesy/Community Security Service

The Community Security Service appointed Richard Priem, its current COO and deputy national director, as the organization’s interim CEO, taking over for Evan Bernstein, who left the organization to join the Jewish Federations of North America earlier this month, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

A post-Oct. 7 world: Priem steps into the interim role amid a major rise in antisemitism in the United States. “Richard’s expertise is critical to our work protecting American Jewish institutions in a post-Oct. 7 world,” CSS Board Chair Edward Sugar told eJP in a statement. “We believe he will help to drive our mission forward with skill and great passion for protecting the community.”

Security check: Priem, who joined CSS three years ago, has worked for the Dutch Jewish security organization, the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate and the Anti-Defamation League. He also served in a special forces unit of the Israel Defense Forces. “His extensive experience in these roles makes him uniquely qualified to lead CSS, especially in a world that has evolved post-October 7,” CSS said in a statement.


Supporting ‘our’ Israelis

Young man with wistful expression, big dark eyes and thick curly hair in front of a dark background
Photo by Austin Human on Unsplash

“Relationships have always been our starting place for Israel education,” write Lisa David, executive director of URJ Camp Harlam and URJ Camps Pipeline Strategy; Rabbi Anat Levin-Katzir, director of education at Kol Dorot; and Rabbi Stacy Rigler, executive director of the Association of Reform Jewish Educators, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

More than ambassadors: “In summer camps, congregations and other Jewish educational settings, Israeli shlichim (emissaries) transform Jewish education and deeply impact young Jews and their families… Through these relationships, North American community members have opportunities to ask deep and honest questions about Israel, Israeli life and Diaspora Jewry. They engage in hard conversations, and get to know the personal experiences and life stories of the shlichim. These emissaries are trained to share generously of themselves, allowing their lives to be the textbooks from which others learn not only about them but about the history of Israel and the policies of their government. They do all this while serving as role models, fun-loving Hebrew teachers and cultural ambassadors… It is now our turn to repay their gifts by guiding our own communities to better understand their current experiences.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Shift the Strategy: Communication strategist Phillipe Assouline shares why he thinks Hamas is winning the war of public opinion raging on social media in an opinion piece in the Jewish Journal. “Fighting anti-Israel invective through efforts to educate, however well-intentioned, has been an unmitigated disaster. The browbeating of opponents in debates that sometimes gives us relief, does so at great expense. Now, with thousands on TikTok openly praising Osama bin Laden as some visionary, we can no longer afford to do the same thing and expect a different outcome if we just do more of it. We need a sea change, now, to completely break with what has been done so far…. According to polls, over 50% of GenZ justify the attacks of October 7 — all while denying their atrocities. It is tempting to ascribe this all to antisemitism, that shapeless monster we’re told from birth is stalking us at every corner. But it isn’t so… Antisemitism is the outcome, not the cause. The support for jihad that we are witnessing is the tipping point of a 40-year campaign to seduce the left, and the youth… By shifting to an intelligent, psychology- and research-based approach, one animated by strategy, driven by empathy and supported by true, long-term commitment, we can very much improve things.” [JewishJournal]

Don’t Forget Non-Israelis: In the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Dyonna Ginsburg and Tanyah Murkes discuss the plight of asylum seekers and foreign workers in Israel, who have not received the state benefits that Israeli citizens have. “Because asylum seekers cannot obtain Israeli ID cards, many of those displaced following Oct. 7 had previously lived in apartments without having signed formal contracts recognized by the state. They were, therefore, not officially evacuated by Israeli municipalities nor were they guaranteed shelter… Those who are already on the margins of Israeli society experience additional hardships during a time of war… As Israel continues to recover and chart a new path forward, we urge Jewish leaders abroad to join Israelis who are calling for asylum seekers, refugees and migrant workers to receive the care and support they deserve. This means both advocating that the Israeli government distribute aid equitably, so that they too receive the assistance they need, as well as keeping these communities in mind when collecting and allocating philanthropic dollars for those impacted by the massacre.” [JTA]

Elevating Life for Everyone: In a Q&A in Public Seminar about her new book, The Price of Humanity, journalist and academic Amy Schiller envisions philanthropy not as a back-up failsafe for meeting people’s basic needs — a role she thinks governments should fill more effectively — but as a means of enriching the human experience. “‘I see the beauty of philanthropy in supporting things that by their very existence affirm that all people are worthwhile. They deserve leisure, they deserve knowledge, they deserve nature. Carnegie insisted that the libraries he built be extremely beautiful, “palaces for the people.” And there is something ennobling about the grandeur of those structures, and it’s present in people’s testimonies about what it feels like to go to a beautiful library. Or there’s the difference between Penn Station and Grand Central. People have real attachment to Grand Central because of its design, its aesthetic, and its whole raison d’etre. That space does more than just allow you to catch a train. Philanthropy is for elevating things like train stations into spaces and experiences that feel like Grand Central.'” [PublicSeminar]

Around the Web

Nonprofits raised $3.1 billion on GivingTuesday, nearly the same amount as they did last year, which was a record high…

Two released female Israeli hostages are being lauded for their bravery: Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, whose husband is still being held in Gaza, for asking Hamas mastermind Yahya Sinwar how he wasn’t “ashamed of himself” while she was in captivity; and Rimon Kirsht Buchshtav for defiantly glaring at her captors as she was handed over to the International Red Cross…

Brandeis University and the University of Chicago conducted a census of the Jewish community of San Diego, Calif., finding that it has grown 13% over the past 20 years to more than 107,000 people…

Brown University President Christina Paxson omitted references to the safety of Jewish students during a vigil for Hisham Awartani, a junior at Brown, who was one of three Palestinian Americans shot in Burlington, Vt., over the weekend. The references were originally in her speech, but were apparently removed after pro-Palestinian students heckled her…

Elon Musk expressed regret at endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory, but repeatedly swore at the companies who pulled their advertising from his social media platform, X, for the posts, during the New York Times Dealbook Summit yesterday…

Sara Hirschhorn, a visiting professor at Haifa Universitywrote an opinion piece in Fathom Journal considering the possible ways forward for the Jewish people after Oct. 7…

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation pledged an additional $250 million (doubling its commitment) to its Monuments Project, which seeks “to express, elevate, and preserve the stories of those who have often been denied historical recognition”…

Colel Chabad, the Jewish Federations of North America and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews distributed gift cards worth NIS 450 ($121) to 16,000 Israelis from northern and southern Israel who have been displaced by the war…

Yad Vashem is operating a school for displaced Israeli children in its International School for Holocaust Studies

Haaretz spotlighted Arab Israelis who saved people’s lives during the Oct. 7 attacks…

Jim Roberts is stepping down as publisher of The 74, a nonprofit news outlet focused on education. Steve Snyder, the current editor-in-chief, will take over as CEO…

The British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel held a gala in London this week to raise money for the organization and highlight its emergency relief art trauma projects…

The Rockefeller Foundation said it plans to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for its $6 billion endowment by 2050. It is the largest private U.S. foundation to make such a pledge…

Howard Buffett (the son of Warren) pledged $33 million to The Halo Trust, a mine-clearing nonprofit. The donation is meant to allow the organization to recruit, train and equip 500 employees in Ukraine to remove land mines from the country in light of its ongoing war with Russia…

Charlie Munger, a longtime business partner of Warren Buffet who donated more than $550 million in his lifetime, died this week at 99…

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.

Itay Regev Jerbi, right, is reunited with his sister, Mia, early this morning in Beersheva’s Soroka Medical Center after he was released from Hamas captivity. Mia, who was shot in the leg on Oct. 7,  was released by Hamas earlier this week.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Portrait photographer whose work has been used on numerous album covers and magazines, Annie Leibovitz

Former U.S. Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and then president of Harvard University, Larry Summers… 

D.C.-based real estate developer, Douglas Jemal… Film producer, Ellen Letty Konigsberg Aronson… Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter and film director, David Mamet… Tony Award and Emmy Award-winning actor and singer, best known for his work on the Showtime series “Homeland,” Mandel Bruce “Mandy” Patinkin… Historian and author of eleven books, mostly focused on the U.S. presidency, Michael Beschloss… National security correspondent for Thomson ReutersJonathan S. Landay… U.S. senator (R-NC) until this past January, Richard Burr… Award-winning author, journalist, and co-founder of Berkeleyside, Frances Dinkelspiel… Film and television producer, Stacey Sher… Rabbi of Congregation Netivot Shalom of Teaneck, N.J., and chair of the department of Talmud and Rabbinics at SAR High School, Nathaniel Helfgot… Television personality, Jill Zarin… Actor, comedian and filmmaker, Ben Stiller… CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, William C. Daroff… Founder of Accesso Partners and chair of the board of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Ariel Bentata… Editor-in-chief at The ForwardJodi Rudoren… Member of the Knesset for the Labor Party, he is also the executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, Gilad Kariv… Former actress and reality television star, then known as Kate Fischer, Tziporah Atarah Malkah… Screenwriter, director and producer, Jeremy Garelick… Legal reporter for Politico covering New York State and federal courts, Erica Orden… Documentary filmmaker, director and producer, Matthew Heineman… Retired basketball player, he won two NBA championships with the Lakers and played for two seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Jordan Farmar… Israeli tennis player, she won eight International Tennis Federation titles during her career, Evgenia Linetskaya… Student activist against gun violence, he is a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Ryan Deitsch… Steve Albert…