Your Daily Phil: Interest-free loans for Israeli firms plagued by war

Good Tuesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the screening of raw footage of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks at Harvard University, and feature an opinion piece by Gali Cooks about two new resources for the Jewish nonprofit sector. Also in this newsletter: Michael Solomonov, Steve Hilton and Rabbi Laurie Phillips. We’ll start with the launch of a new emergency interest-free loan fund by SparkIL.

The Oct. 7 attacks and the ongoing war with Hamas, as well as the low-simmering conflict with Hezbollah on the northern border, have wreaked havoc on the Israeli economy, displacing well over 100,000 people from their homes and businesses, forcing hundreds of thousands of working-age men and women to enlist in the reserves and cutting off almost all tourism. In many cases, these have served as a double whammy — depriving businesses of both employees and customers, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The Israeli government and banking system have begun stepping in to help small businesses with low- and no-interest loans, but many of these efforts have been criticized as insufficient and slow to come.

To help fill in those gaps, the crowd-lending platform SparkIL, a joint venture of the nonprofit loan fund Ogen and the Jewish Agency, has significantly ramped up its efforts, nearly doubling its funding with a NIS 10 million ($2.7 million) Emergency Loan Fund, which it launched this week, on top of its regular NIS 13 million ($3.5 million) fund.

Under the newly launched Emergency Loan Fund, SparkIL is offering up to NIS 100,000 (roughly $27,000) in interest-free loans to small businesses affected by the war.

Na’ama Ore, CEO of SparkIL, ruminated on the launch of the new emergency fund just ahead of Hanukkah on Thursday night in both spiritual terms and more consumerist ones.

“We are bringing light and hope to these people. This is what SparkIL — as a spark — is all about. We are bringing them miracles. That’s how the recipients describe it,” she said.

Read the full report here.


Gate at Harvard University. (Getty Images)

The crowd that assembled in Cambridge, Mass., last night, which included a diverse mix of students, faculty, Harvard administrative employees and community members affiliated with the university, marked the first campus audience to see the 46-minute film, which was compiled by the Israel Defense Forces as a record of the brutality carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians, reports Gabby Deutch from eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider from the scene.

Fighting denial: The first group to see the footage were foreign journalists, who watched it at a military base near Tel Aviv in late October. Since then, it has slowly reached other groups of influencers outside Israel, including lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate; leaders of American Jewish organizations; and researchers at prominent think tanks. Israeli officials have said that screening the footage is meant to serve as a corrective to those who deny the scale and savagery of the attacks. “Too many people began to doubt that something like this ever happened,” Meron Reuben, Israel’s consul general to New England, said at the event. “Bearing witness is never easy,” Reuben continued, but “it is incredibly important.”

Campus crisis: That this compilation of unspeakably violent footage has now also been shown at one of America’s most prestigious universities demonstrates how seriously Israel’s leaders take the crisis of antisemitism on American campuses. “??Harvard is considered one of the most important campuses in the world, and we are truly concerned from what we see, that instead of growing and educating the next leaders of the United States or the world, it has become the hotbed of terrorist supporters,” Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan, who introduced the footage, told JIon Monday.

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


Understanding the Jewish nonprofit world, both before and after Oct. 7

(Arthobbit/Getty Images)

“The era that began on Oct. 7 has been nothing short of a trauma for Jews everywhere, and the Jewish nonprofit sector in North America has experienced profound challenges and changes in the past two months… Leading Edge is offering resources for gaining insight into the Jewish nonprofit sector’s recent past and unfolding present,”writes Gali Cooks, the group’s president and CEO, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Learn from the past: “Because it is based on data collected months before Oct. 7, [Leading Edge’s] ‘The State of the Jewish Workplace 2023’ is, in a way, a dispatch from another world. At the same time, understanding that world  — the starting place for our field when we entered this crisis — is deeply valuable for understanding where we’re going from here and what we will need moving forward.”

Check the pulse today: “Additionally, Leading Edge is offering a special edition Pulse Survey to help Jewish nonprofit organizations understand how their teams are doing now. … Checking in with your team during times of significant emotional stress and rapid change can help you meet your employees’ needs so both you and they are empowered to focus on the important work you’re doing together.”

Read the full piece here.???

Worthy Reads

Wartime Mothers, Unexpectedly: In The New York Times, Miriam Jordan explores the experiences of a generation of Israeli mothers who always knew their children would be called upon to serve their country but believed that full-blown wars would be a thing of the past. “Miriam Atun was not having it. She draped herself across the front door to block her son, Yaakov, military knapsack on his back, from leaving. ‘Over my dead body,’ she recalled crying to him. ‘You aren’t going back to the army.’ He was not fighting a war, she told him. He had already been on the front lines as a medic for an elite combat unit during a 2014 operation in Gaza… Ms. Atun knew two soldiers who died on Oct. 7, the son of a relative and the son of a neighbor. No more, she thought — especially not her only son. ‘I told him, “Tell them your mother is in the hospital. Tell them she is institutionalized. I don’t care what you tell them, you’re not going anywhere,”’ she recalled. With Ms. Atun increasingly agitated, one of her daughters called her brother’s commander and told him that their mother was having a breakdown. Yaakov was released from duty. Days passed, and Yaakov told his mother repeatedly that it wasn’t right for him to sit at home while his friends served… When it became clear that his unit was unlikely to enter Gaza, Yaakov persuaded his mother to let him go. She agreed, provided that he text regularly and answer her calls. He promised that he would.” [NYT]

Out of the Silo: When the fall semester began for UCLA professor Sharon Nazarian, the Anti-Defamation League board member didn’t know how timely her course on the globalization of antisemitism would become, reports Steven Mirkin for the Jewish Journal. One of the things that she thinks sets the class apart “is that it’s not offered through the Middle Eastern or Jewish Studies programs, but by the Global Studies department. It’s something she insisted on. She wanted to reach beyond the Jewish community and Middle Eastern or Jewish Studies majors to students ‘who have a global lens that, as they look at the various issues they’re interested in, whether it’s global health or environmental issues or all kinds of political, economic, developmental issues, if they don’t have this additional variable — which is antisemitism — they are missing a huge lens through which our societies today, especially liberal democracies, have to be understood.’ Adding that lens, she said, is ‘the hypothesis of this class.’ It’s about ‘showing the trends we’ve witnessed and how these ideologies converge. What is the effect on societies, and how they manifest in current-day countries and capitals.’” [JewishJournal]

Around the Web

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in Moore v. United States, which will determine if the federal government can collect taxes on unrealized gains…

The American Jewish Committee, Jewish Federations of North America, Anti-Defamation League, American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations teamed up to create The 10/7 Project, an initiative aimed at combating misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war…

Harvard alums are rebuking their alma mater by donating $1 to the institution to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with its response to antisemitism on campus…

An Israel-led U.N. special session yesterdayfocused on the sexual crimes committed against women during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks and the perceived silence and equivocations by international groups in response to them…

Anti-Israel protesters targeted a franchise of the Goldie falafel chain, which is owned by American-Israeli celebrity chef Michael Solomonov, in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square this week. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates called the targeting of a Jewish-owned business “Antisemitic and completely unjustifiable,” and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said it was “a blatant act of antisemitism — not a peaceful protest”…

Over the weekend, Solomonov attended a unity potluck organized by the Jewish Food Society nonprofit…

The Associated Press profiled Kibbutz Nir Oz, one of the communities hit hardest by the Oct. 7 attacks…

Columbia University’s School of Social Work shut down a “teach-in” scheduled for tomorrow by a group of students to discuss the Oct. 7 massacres by Hamas, which it referred to as a “Palestinian counteroffensive”…

The New Yorker spotlighted the pushback from Columbia University faculty to the school’s decision to suspend the Students for Justice in Palestine group…

The American Jewish University created a new weekly podcast, “The Syllabus,” which will be hosted by its vice president of open learning, Mark Oppenheimer, and focus on “pressing issues at America’s universities”…

Inside Higher Ed examined allegations of antisemitism at Indiana University at Bloomington, where two members of the student government resigned in protest of what they considered to be antisemitism by the student body president…

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan denounced liberal philanthropist Geoge Soros’ donations to funds that have given grants to groups leading anti-Israel and pro-Hamas rallies…

Real estate mogul Steve Hilton donated $4 million toward the construction of a Holocaust education center in Phoenix, which will be named for his family…

The Milton and Sheila Fine Collection, named for local Jewish philanthropists,opened last month at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art

Nearly $1 million has been raised through a GoFundMe page for Hisham Awartani, one of the Palestinian students who was shot and paralyzed in Burlington, Vt., last month…

Rabbi Laurie Phillips, who founded New York’s “synagogue without walls” Beinenu, died last Sunday at 55…

Pic of the Day


An estimated 20,000 people attend a rally outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, yesterday in support of Israel and against antisemitism. The march was organized by Canada’s Jewish federations, the Jewish Federations of Canada-United Israel Appeal and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Thousands of would-be participants were unable to attend the rally after a bus company that was contracted to transport them failed to show up, which Adam Minsky, president and CEO of UJA-Federation of Greater Toronto, said he believed to have been a deliberate effort “to disrupt our peaceful rally out of hatred toward Jews.”



Professor and dean emeritus of Columbia Law School, he previously served as CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, David M. Schizer

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