Your Daily Phil: IFCJ installs shelters in battered southern Israel + Jewish gangsters vs. Nazis

Good Friday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we look at a filmmaker who formed a 501(c)(3) charity to tell the story of Jewish gangsters beating up Nazis in 1930s America, and feature op-eds from Erica Brown, Shuli Karkowsky and Pamela Barkley. Also in this newsletter: Dyonna Ginsburg, Tanyah Murkes and Rabbi Mendy Chitrik. We’ll start with efforts by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and Jewish Agency for Israel to help people in southern Israel during the current round of fighting in Gaza.

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews has installed 10 bomb shelters in southern Israel in the past two days, five of them in the heavily battered city of Ashkelon, in light of the ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, the organization’s president, Yael Eckstein, told eJewishPhilanthropy‘s Judah Ari Gross.

“During times of emergencies – the same way that we work with the war in Ukraine, for example – we focus on providing whatever is needed, even if it’s outside of our budget, outside of our work plan, outside of what we were expecting,” Eckstein said on Friday. “We donate it immediately, and then we have these incredible donors who always step up, who enable us to cut that bureaucracy and get the aid where it’s needed. So that’s the situation here as well.”

The bomb shelters that IFCJ installed are mobile concrete structures, which are built in a factory and can be moved on a flatbed truck so they can effectively be placed anywhere. “We said to [the Israel Defense Forces’] Home Front Command, every shelter that you have, we will take. We don’t want shelters sitting in the factory when they could be used right now. Just place them, and we’ll deal with the budget later,” Eckstein said.

In addition to these fortification efforts, Eckstein said her organization has also worked to raise the spirits of Israeli children in the towns most hit by rocket fire. “We realized that kids have been sitting in shelters for three days, so they need some sort of entertainment and joy. The parents also need help with their kids. We wanted to support the local economy so we went to a toy store in Sderot that’s had to close [because of the fighting], and we packed dozens of boxes with toys and entertainment for kids. We’ve been delivering it shelter by shelter to children’s families,” Eckstein said.

Jewish Agency Chairman Doron Almog has similarly been making the rounds to bomb shelters in southern Israel, visiting new immigrants in absorption centers and senior citizens living in the Jewish Agency’s Amigour housing in Beersheva. “Many of these olim [new immigrants] have recently arrived in Israel and are facing rocket fire for the first time,” the Jewish Agency noted in a statement.

“This is an expression of the unconditional love that the global Jewish community has for the State of Israel and its citizens both in times of normalcy and emergency,” Almog said.

Read the full story here.

Gangsters vs. Nazis

Russian-born criminal Meyer Lansky stands on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in August 1971. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

When Bruce David Klein decided to make a documentary about Jewish gangsters fighting Nazis in the United States in the 1930s, he knew he wanted to have full creative control over the project. Klein had already bought the rights to make a film based on the book, Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in 1930s America by Michael Benson, but he wasn’t sure how to get the documentary funded, Klein told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Cutting the strings: Ordinarily, when Klein and his filmmaking company, Atlas Media, want to start a new project, they shop the idea around to different studios, selling the rights to it in exchange for funding. But this also comes with some editorial strings attached. “Projects tend to organize around whatever network it’s on in terms of its execution and style and everything like that, which is normally fine,” Klein told eJP. “But for this, we really wanted this to be ours.”

Going nonprofit: Unsure of what to do, Klein began researching his financing options and settled on a less common tactic: Launch a nonprofit. “We’ve never done this before, so we started meeting with some investor types and then we started meeting with a couple of philanthropist types. And we realized early on, really pushed by both the investors and the philanthropists, that the best way to go was through a 501(c)(3),” he said.

Costs and benefits: According to attorney Arthur Rieman, who specializes in nonprofit law, there are a number of benefits from creating a film as a 501(c)(3) charity, namely that funders have a tax incentive to get involved. A donation toward the documentary would be considered a charitable gift – and thus tax deductible – rather than a financial investment as it would be if they tried to make the documentary as a for-profit entity. There is, however, a downside to going the 501(c)(3) route, however, namely that it is difficult to make a profit even if the movie becomes a hit. “By law, those profits may not be distributed to the filmmakers as if they were profit participants,” according to Rieman.

Who writes the checks: Though he refrained from disclosing how much money he needed to raise to produce the film, Klein said he and his firm have already begun speaking to potential funders. He said there was a significant learning curve when going from negotiating with potential investors to potential donors. “We’re becoming a lot more savvy. We are trying to understand that gap between the people who say they love it, who say ‘Wow, this is great. I’m interested. I’d love to help fund this!’ to the people who are actually going to write the checks,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Unmet need

If some synagogue schools are sinking ships, we’re coming with lifeboats


“For years, organizations and foundations have sensed the diminishing importance of supplementary education. Noticing a decrease in synagogue membership and recalling stereotypical stories of kids dragging their feet to Sunday schools, the attention of many in the Jewish communal world has pivoted away from funding synagogue-based supplementary education or the organizations that support them,” write Shuli Karkowsky and Pamela Barkley, respectively the CEO and vice president of program at Moving Traditions, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Lifeboats: “And yet, even if supplementary schools are perceived by many as a sinking ship, the [Jewish Education Project] study reminds us that tens of thousands of preteens and teens are still onboard that ship. Moving Traditions sees those young people. And we are proud to be one of the leading and largest organizations coming with lifeboats.”

Providing tools: “Those lifeboats contain exceptional curriculum, training and year-round support for supplementary schools and their educators, so that any part-time institution has the tools it needs to provide excellent education.”

Read the full piece here.

The Torah of leadership

What is life worth? Thoughts on Parshat Behar-Behukotai


“‘Mr. Feinberg, my husband was a fireman and died a hero at the World Trade Center. Why are you giving me less money than the banker who represented Enron? Why are you demeaning the memory of my husband?’ This was the tragic question of a widow trying to figure out her life after 9/11 and understand the complex calculations made by Kenneth R. Feinberg, the special master of the government’s compensation fund,” writes Erica Brown, vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University and director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center, in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy, “The Torah of Leadership.”

A cruel valuation: “What interests us and ties the compensation fund to this week’s double Torah reading, Behar-Behukotai, is the attempt to put a valuation on individual lives. There’s an inherent unfairness and detached and impersonal objectification to an exercise that is by nature highly personal.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Undercover Agents: In the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, reporter Asaf Elia-Shalev interviews George Washington University historian Matthew Dallek about files he uncovered showing the central role the Anti-Defamation League played in bringing down the far-right John Birch Society in the 1960s. “‘[Internal documents from the ADL in the archives of the American Jewish Historical Society in New York] show the ADL had an extensive, multi-dimensional counterintelligence operation that they were running against the Birch Society. People knew at the time that the ADL was attending events where Birchers were speaking. But the ADL also had undercover agents with code names, who were able to infiltrate the society’s headquarters in Belmont, Massachusetts, and various chapter officers. They dug up financial and employment information about individual Birchers. And they not only used the material for their own newsletters and press releases, but they also fed information to the media”… Would you consider the ADL successful in its campaign against the Birchers? ‘They were successful. They used surreptitious and in some cases underhanded means to expose the antisemitism and the racism and also interest in violence or the violent rhetoric of the Birch Society in the 1960s… The ADL was one of the most, if not the most effective at constraining and discrediting the society.’” [JTA]

Limited Liability, Major Influence: In HistPhil, Dana Brakman Reiser and Steven Dean discuss their recent book, For-Profit Philanthropy: Elite Power and the Threat of Limited Liability Companies, Donor-Advised Funds, and Strategic Corporate Giving, which looks into the implications of for-profit philanthropic methods. “The history of U.S. philanthropy in the past five decades has largely been a history of tax-exempt entities. But this is changing, and our most elite donors are increasingly practicing philanthropy outside the tax-exempt sphere… Many high-net-worth individual donors and families are establishing limited liability companies as hubs for giving, in lieu of nonprofit, tax-exempt private foundations. While it is easy to dismiss this development as an arcane legal maneuver of little moment, like other for-profit philanthropic innovations, philanthropy LLCs risk subverting the regulatory system designed to combat philanthropy’s inherent elitism.” [HistPhil]

Around the Web

The Conference of European Rabbis is moving its headquarters from London to Munich, largely due to the aftereffects of Brexit, the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The group was founded in London in 1956 and has about 1,000 member rabbis from across Europe…

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced a new effort to review its holdings and policies with a view toward returning items it finds to have problematic histories…

Dyonna Ginsburg of OLAM and Tanyah Murkes of SID Israel spoke to our sister publication Jewish Insider’s podcast. Ginsburg and Murkes, who were in Washington, D.C., this week for OLAM’s annual Focal Point summit, discussed Jewish and Israeli development and humanitarian aid around the world…

The Sisters of Charity of New York will no longer accept new members and announced that they are now on a “path to completion.” The charity traces its origins to 1817, when a group of three sisters established an orphanage in New York City…

The University of Texas at Dallasannounced a $40 million gift from the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation in support of the School of Arts, Humanities, and Technology…

Kallyope, a clinical-stage biotechnology company, announced a four-year, $8.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work with other institutions affiliated with the foundation to improve the health of pregnant women, mothers and children experiencing environmental enteric dysfunctions…

The Koret Foundation will award $6 million in grants to about 40 cultural institutions to help rejuvenate the Bay Area arts scene following three economically tough years…

Earlier this year, in an op-ed for eJP, Sara Wolkenfeld and Erica Brown, introduced a new initiative, Word-by-Word: A Jewish Women’s Writing Circle. The program has named its first cohort of scholars…

Israeli singer Noa Kirel will perform her song “Unicorn” in the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, U.K., on Saturday night. Kirel is currently ranked sixth, with a 3% chance of winning, in betting markets, according to the Eurovision World website…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Rabbi Mendy Chitrik

Rabbi Mendy Chitrik (second from left), chairman of the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States, visited the Jewish community of Djerba, Tunisia, yesterday following a deadly attack on its ancient El Ghriba synagogue during a Lag B’Omer pilgrimage earlier this week, in which five people were killed.



Philanthropist, co-founder and first CEO of Home Depot, Bernard “Bernie” Marcus

FRIDAY: Israeli agribusiness entrepreneur and real estate investor, Gideon Bickel… World-renowned architect and master planner for the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, Daniel Libeskind… Former member of the California State Senate and California State Assembly, Lois Wolk… Chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff… Former Washington correspondent for the Miami Herald covering the Pentagon, James Martin Rosen… Professor at Emory University School of Law, Michael Jay Broyde… Actress, Jamie Michelle Luner… Founder of strategic communications and consulting firm Hiltzik Strategies, Matthew Hiltzik… Communications officer in the D.C. office of Open Society Foundations, Jonathan E. Kaplan… First-ever Jewish governor of Colorado, Jared Polis… Principal at New Heights Communications, Joshua Cohen… Senior writer at Forbes covering the intersection of technology and society, Alexandra S. Levine… Executive director at the Rare Disease Company Coalition, Amanda Schechter Malakoff… Civics outreach manager at Google, Erica Arbetter… Haifa-born actress and model, Odeya Rush

SATURDAY: South African-born attorney, now based in London, Sir Sydney Lipworth… Film, television and stage actress, Zohra Lampert… Ophthalmologist in South Florida, Joel Sandberg… Former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at American Jewish University and the first executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Samuel Edelman… Chief scientific officer for COVID-19 response in the Biden administration, David A. Kessler… Founder and former CEO of LRN, Dov Seidman… Chair of JFNA’s National Women’s Philanthropy Board and chair of the Hartford (CT) Federation, Carolyn Gitlin… Retired NFL defensive lineman, Josh Heinrich Taves, a/k/a Josh Heinrich… Ice hockey player, she won a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics and a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, Sara Ann DeCosta… U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)… Chief community and Jewish life officer at The Jewish Federations of North America, Sarah Eisenman… Former Israel director for J Street, later chief of staff for Israel’s Ministry for Regional Cooperation, Yael Patir … CEO of London-based iNHouse Communications, she was a member of Parliament, Luciana Berger… Co-founder of Asana, Justin Rosenstein… Retired NFL offensive lineman, he played for seven NFL teams, Brian de la Puente… Actress, writer, producer and director, Lena Dunham… Hannah Sirdofsky… Co-founder of Manna Tree Partners, a private equity firm focused on healthy food, Gabrielle “Ellie” Rubenstein… Product marketing manager at Dive, Bela Galit Krifcher… Columbia Law School student, Dore Lev Feith… Director of external affairs at the Manhattan Institute, Jesse Martin Arm… Gold medalist for Israel in rhythmic gymnastics at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Linoy Ashram… Head of operations at Jigsaw, Raquel Saxe

SUNDAY: Midtown NYC hair stylist and owner of La Boîte a Coupe, Elie Laurent Delouya… The Green Party’s nominee for president of the United States in the 2012 and 2016 elections, Jill Stein… Academy Award-winning actor and producer, Harvey Keitel… Professor of computer science at Technion, Orna Grumberg… Dean of UC Berkeley Law School, Erwin Chemerinsky… Los Angeles city attorney until six months ago, he is running for Adam Schiff’s seat in Congress, Mike Feuer… Author, Robert Greene… Head Of school at the Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto, Daniel L. Lehmann… ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor and football sideline reporter, Suzanne Lisa “Suzy” Kolber… Legislative assistant for defense, foreign policy and veterans affairs for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Robert Levinson… Chief compliance and integrity officer at Yale New Haven Health, she is a former seven term Connecticut State Senator, Gayle Slossberg… Education program lead of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Howard Wolfson… Managing partner of MVAR Media and a Democratic strategist, Jon Vogel… Political director for the Northeast region at AIPAC, Jason Koppel… Executive producer at NBC’s “Meet the Press,” David Philip Gelles… Director of media relations at Chabad Lubavitch, Rabbi Mordechai “Motti” Seligson… Chairman, CEO and co-founder of Meta / Facebook, Mark ZuckerbergBloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek reporter, Josh Eidelson… Actress who has appeared in thirteen movies, Sasha Rebecca Spielberg… Managing director of government relations at The Blackstone Group, Alex I. Katz… Judicial law clerk for a USDC judge in Louisville, Ky., he is a former track star and then football player at Harvard, Andrew Ezekoye… Forward for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, Jack Hughes