Your Daily Phil: How to cut food waste in Israel + New push to prevent agunot

Good Thursday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new effort to get couples in Israel to sign halachic pre- and postnuptial agreements, and feature an op-ed from Tamar Andrews. Also in this newsletter: Nissim Kahlon, Rabbi Sally Priesand and Yossi Katz. We’ll start with a new report on food waste in Israel produced with help from Leket Israel.

The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, the Global FoodBanking Network and the Leket Israel food rescue organization produced a new report this week detailing and analyzing Israel’s food donation policies and recommending concrete steps that can be taken to reduce food waste and food insecurity, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The report on Israel is the latest in a series of studies, known collectively as “The Global Food Donation Policy Atlas.” Israel is the 23rd country to be researched for the series. The Israeli study was funded by Sandra and Howard Hoffen, who have supported Leket for several years, the organization said.

According to Ravit Dinmez Yehezkel, Leket’s legal counsel and the head of its government relations department, the study will be a key tool in her lobbying and advocacy going forward as it gives external validation to recommendations that Leket had already made in its own internally produced report.

“This report is both academically based and practically based,” Dinmez Yehezkel told eJP. “That means people will take it much more seriously, and that’s why it was important for us to be involved in this process.”

Read the full story here.

No more chains

A man signs a halachic postnuptial agreement at a ‘Wine and Sign’ event in Jerusalem on June 8, 2023. (Courtesy/Center for Women’s Justice)

Shifts in the educational landscape

Navigating the crisis: Addressing the shortage of educators in Jewish?early childhood programs


“From coast to coast, headlines are sounding the alarm about critical shortages of teachers in both big cities and small towns. But in Jewish communities, the concern runs even deeper: there simply aren’t enough Jewish educators to serve as stewards of tradition and guide the next generation of Jewish families,” writes Tamar Andrews, director of early childhood education programs at American Jewish University, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Motivated individuals are in short supply: “Framing the issue as a teacher shortage may not accurately capture the complexity of the situation. Such language could potentially narrow our perspective and hinder our ability to find effective solutions to the problem at hand. The challenge isn’t simply a lack of available teachers for Jewish early childhood programs; rather, it’s a shortage of individuals who are motivated to pursue a career in this field as educators.”

Using outdated methodology: “[M]any Jewish schools are failing to keep pace with current research and developmentally appropriate practices for young children. Because they may be under-resourced or lack general knowledge in the field, administrators and teachers alike rely on outdated methods for teaching young children and integrating families into Jewish communities. They often cling to a ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ mindset that does not account for shifts in the educational landscape.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Home is Where the Art Is: In New Lines Magazine, Neri Zilber profiles Nissim Kahlon, the fantastical house he built on the Israeli coast, which is facing demolition, and the campaign to save it. “Ten miles north of Tel Aviv, inside a sandstone cliff on the Mediterranean Sea, there is a dwelling that goes by several names: ‘The House of Shells,’ ‘The Hermit House’ or, simply, as a small sign declares, ‘Nissim’s House’… It is less a home and more a work of art… But someone does live here: the eponymous Nissim Kahlon, 77, who first took chisel to sandstone nearly five decades ago, digging the first small cave of what would become a sprawling life’s work. Now, the Israeli authorities are threatening to evict Kahlon and demolish his home… His neighbors, local municipal officials and a small group of supporters [are] pushing for Nissim’s house to be declared a national heritage or even a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The authorities, led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, insist the house must be sealed and destroyed. Nissim’s fate, and that of his longtime home, will be decided by the courts.” [NewLines]

When Billionaires Lose Interest: In Puck News, Theodore Schleifer describes the recent pullback in funding by philanthropist Pierre Omidyar as a cautionary tale for organizations relying on only one big donor. “The more-reclusive-than-ever multi-billionaire [Pierre Omidyar] is making another major pivot. Omidyar, who is primarily holed up these days in New Zealand, has recently been sending word to the network of organizations that depend on his support that he is planning to scale back his political and philanthropic giving, perhaps dramatically. The network of organizations, part of a constellation called The Omidyar Group, have received almost all of their funding to date from Pierre and his wife, Pam…. ‘The folks I have heard from in several of the orgs are worried, some freaked,’ said one person close with leaders at multiple Omidyar groups… This is, of course, the problem inherent to entities solely funded by one billionaire or another… You live by the billionaire, you die by the billionaire.” [Puck]

Around the Web

Israel’s private space program SpaceILmay be forced to shutter its lunar mission after its top donors, including the organization’s chairman, Morris Kahn, and the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation, announced they were pulling their funding for the initiative…

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee approved the 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill yesterday, including a $10 million funding boost for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Jewish Federations of North America, which has lobbied for the funding, hailed the move but said it would keep pushing for an additional $45 million increase to $360 million…

Salesforce is donating $2 million to education, workforce and climate organizations to “advance the equitable and ethical use of trusted AI”… 

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery will feature a portrait of Rabbi Sally Priesand, the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi in the United States in 1972… 

The 2023 Arab Youth Survey, which was released on Tuesday, found that the majority of young people in UAE, Egypt and Morocco strongly support normalization with Israel…

Robert Kraft has joined a campaign to rename Wyoming’s Swastika Lake, writing a letter to the relevant board of commissioners in which he the name “serves as a traumatic and painful reminder of the Holocaust”…

Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli held a “tense” meeting with U.S. Jewish leaders and lawmakers earlier this month, attendees told Axios news today, in which the Americans voiced their concerns about his conduct and the Israeli government’s current trajectory…

Thousands of Jews from around the world will visit the grave of Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson in Queens, N.Y., throughout today to mark the 29th anniversary of his death, on the third day of the month of Tammuz

Yossi Katz, an author and longtime, beloved Israel educator at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel, died this week at 67…

Pic of the Day

Screen capture/Jewish United Fund

Drones outline the shape of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and the Israeli flag as part of a light show last Wednesday organized by the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago. The show, which took place over Chicago’s North Avenue Beach, was held in honor of Israel’s 75th Independence Day.


Nora Tam/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

Jerusalem-born 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, she is the director of a research center at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ada Yonath

Founding partner of the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Martin Lipton… U.S. senator since 1992, Dianne Feinstein… Former D.C.-based VP of Israel Aerospace Industries, Marvin Klemow… Retired U.K. judge, who chaired high profile hearings on ethics in the media, Sir Brian Henry Leveson… Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics, he is a professor at Brown University, J. Michael Kosterlitz… Retired justice on Israel’s Supreme Court until 2014, she was previously the Israeli state prosecutor for eight years, Edna Arbel… U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)… Member of the California State Assembly until last year, now a judge on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Richard Hershel Bloom… Partner at Shibolet & Co., Yoram Raved… Chair of the kindergarten and pre-K division of Bowman Ashe Elementary in Miami, Fla., Cynthia Rosenbluth Huss… AIPAC director for Greater Washington, Deborah Adler… Past president of the UJA – Federation of New York, Alisa Robbins Doctoroff… Member of Congress since 2001 (D-CA), now running for a U.S. Senate seat, Adam Schiff… Former member of the Knesset for the Hatnuah and Zionist Union parties, Robert Tiviaev… Founder of tech incubator Playground Global and creator of the Android operating system, Andy Rubin… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, now serving as deputy prime minister and minister of justice, Yariv Gideon Levin… SVP at Red Banyan PR, Kelcey Kintner… Writer, director and film producer, he is a two-time Israeli Academy Award winner and the founder of Hey Jude Productions, Dani Menkin… Program director at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Rafi Rone… Senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and author of a biography of Bibi Netanyahu, Anshel Pfeffer… Israeli jazz vocalist and composer, Julia Feldman… Executive director at Mesivta Netzach HaTorah in Woodmere, N.Y., Ahron Rosenthal… Retired MLB second baseman, he played for Team Israel at the 2020 Summer Olympics and managed the team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Ian Kinsler… Russian-Israeli Internet entrepreneur, co-founder of Russia’s largest social network VK, Vaizra Capital investment fund, and Selectel network centers, Lev Binzumovich Leviev… Baltimore-based endodontist, Jeffrey H. Gardyn, DDS… Israeli Muay Thai kickboxing champion, Ilya Grad… Israeli-born basketball player with 11 NBA seasons, Omri Casspi… Former outfielder in the Washington Nationals organization, he played for Team Israel in the 2016 World Baseball Classic qualifier round, Rhett Wiseman