Your Daily Phil: Interfaith work struggles following 10/7 attacks

Good Monday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the Brandeis Center  demanding action after a Harvard professor was found to have discriminated against Jewish students, and feature an opinion piece by Alex Pomson and Wendy Rosov about Israel-Diaspora relations. We’ll start with a look at how interfaith initiatives in the U.S. are faring in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

In the wake of the Oct. 7 massacres and the country’s subsequent war with Hamas in Gaza, tensions have soared between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups and individuals, causing a schism in many interfaith communities even as others try to push forward, seeing a demand from individual Muslims and Jews yearning to mend the divide, reports Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy.

“In the places where interfaith relationships were very strong and established, they’ve been able to maintain this,” Adam Teitelbaum, vice president for public affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the executive director of the Israel Action Network, told eJP.

On college campuses, this rift seems larger than ever as politics are increasingly polarized on the issue of Israel and Palestine, yet students crave connection, Rabbi Ira J. Dounn, associate director at Princeton Hillel’s Center for Jewish Life, told eJP.

Last Wednesday, over 400 Princeton students participated in an hour-long walkout in solidarity with Palestine, with some protestors chanting “Intifada, intifada, long live the intifada!” Nearby, a group of students rallied for Israel. As the protests died down, Dounn watched as Israeli and Jewish students crossed over and spoke to those rallying for Palestine.

In the end, the conversations between protestors turned tense. “[It] wasn’t the right time,” Dounn said. “It’s too difficult and too scary. There’s a lot of fear. There’s a lot of anger. There’s a lot of big emotions happening right now… In a climate of fear, it’s very hard to know who to trust, and so that’s what we’re trying to overcome.”

Since the massacres in southern Israel, antisemitism has skyrocketed 388%, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Islamophobia has also been on the rise. “We cannot allow the conflict to be imported into the American scene and contribute to antisemitism and other forms of hate in the American homeland,” Noam Marans, the director of interreligious and intergroup relations for the American Jewish Committee, told eJP. 

“We are very concerned that is what is happening now,” he said. “It’s up to religious leaders of diverse denominations to call it out, and to do everything in their power to make sure that it doesn’t erupt further.”

Read the full report here.


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More than four months after Harvard University found that one of its professors discriminated against three Jewish Israeli graduate students, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law on Monday morning sent a legal warning to the university demanding immediate action. “It’s extraordinary that Harvard on the one hand is willing to acknowledge that clients faced inappropriate discrimination and different treatment and yet is not taking meaningful action to address it. This is just the sort of thing you would expect from a university that is under immense pressure for the waves of antisemitism that its students are facing,” Kenneth Marcus, founder of the Brandeis Center, told eJewishPhilanthropy‘s Haley Cohen for Jewish Insider.

Third-party justification: The incident involves alleged discrimination and harassment of Jewish Israeli students Amnon Shefler, Gilad Neumann and Matan Yaffe, which took place in professor Marshall Ganz’s “Organizing: People, Power, Change” course last spring. The Brandeis Center filed an initial complaint with the university in March. In response, Harvard launched a third-party-investigation, which agreed with the Brandeis Center that the students were discriminated against because they were Jewish Israelis. 

A pattern: “It isn’t a coincidence that you would see the extraordinary developments at Harvard since Oct. 7 in light of the weak administrative actions prior to that date,” Marcus said, noting that while the primary incident addressed in the case occurred prior to Hamas’ attacks, “Harvard’s inaction paved the way to what we’ve been seeing since then.”

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


Reconsidering the ‘distance’ between Israel and the Diaspora

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“‘My heart is in the East, and I am on the edge of the West.’  Judah Halevi’s famous words from 900 years ago have been referenced frequently this month… As resonant as Halevi’s words are, these sentiments don’t fully capture what we personally observed over the last few weeks,” write Alex Pomson and Wendy Rosov, principals at Rosov Consulting, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Ripple effects: “A generation that was barely troubled by antisemitism must now come to terms with what that phenomenon means for how they conduct their lives and who they might view as allies. In the West, they are no longer distant observers of events in the East. The Middle East has seeped off their screens and onto their streets.”

Ties that bind: “Twenty years of social scientific research highlighted the expanding emotional distance of Diaspora Jews from Israel, but perhaps that research overlooked the extent to which Jewish lives in Israel and across the world have become personally and functionally intertwined. We already have data that shows as much, but perhaps we didn’t pay enough attention. … We are not as distant as we thought a few weeks ago. When the war’s behind us, that will be a useful platform on which to build a future.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Words From the Heart: Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, vice president of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, addresses lifelong non-Jewish friends in an open letter in the Jewish Journal. “My Twitter feed daily features somebody who blames me, a California Jew, for some Israeli policy. I am called a murderer and a killer. A week doesn’t go by that I’m not told on Twitter, Facebook, text or email, that Hitler was right and should have finished the task, and that I deserve to die. Sometimes I’m told in person on the street. Often I get a text from someone telling me I will burn in hell. Because I’m a Jew. I hadn’t really let myself notice this drumbeat of hate until recently. But I see it now, living in a cage, receiving unanticipated, hateful letters because of the policy of a country with which I identify, but am neither resident nor citizen. … What do I need from you, friends? Nothing more than what you’ve given me my whole life: Love, support, curiosity. I’m so grateful to share this journey with you. We share so much culture in common, a love of democracy, a passion for justice and inclusion, a love for art and thought and history and, of course, our shared childhood. I want to write this to you because it occurred to me that I now know that there’s a part of me in a secured shelter that is sealed off from the comfortable world in which you get to live.” [JewishJournal]

Rising Tide for Nonprofit Newsrooms: Inside Philanthropy interviewed Sue Cross in advance of her departure from the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), where she has spent the past seven years as executive director and president of the organization. “Cross cited a handful of reasons why [nonprofit] outlets are enjoying an influx of support from new funders, the first of which involves a conscious shift in editorial strategy. In the formative years of nonprofit news, many outlets ‘went into a community and tried to cover everything,’ she said. This approach mirrored that of their peers in the for-profit space, who operated under the premise that expansive coverage would attract more eyeballs and with it, more ad dollars. It was a well-intentioned strategy that wasn’t all that financially sustainable. Now, Cross said, ‘startups ask members of the community, “What is the top civic issue you can’t get information on?” They start there and then broaden to other topics.’ This strategy generates community buy-in, while also engaging individual donors inclined to bankroll coverage on specific issues… The INN also encourages donors to contribute to NewsMatch’s special interest funds supporting multiple organizations that cover a particular issue or place.” [InsidePhilanthropy]

Around the Web

The White House is unveiling new actions to combat the rising antisemitism on college campuses. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security will work with campus police to track online hate speech and will provide federal resources to schools…

The New York Times profiled the Israeli Brothers in Arms protest movement, which has since become known as Brothers and Sisters for Israel as it has pivoted from leading demonstrations against the government to leading volunteer efforts and donation drives across the country following the Oct. 7 attacks…

Philanthropist Michael Bloomberg spoke with a number of Israeli mayors who are part of the Bloomberg-Sagol City Leadership program at Tel Aviv University, which he funds through his charity…

The Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles donated $250,000 each to Israel’s Barzilai Medical Center, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Sheba Medical Center and Ziv Medical Center to assist them as they respond to the ongoing war…

Students were warned to stay away from the kosher dining hall at Cornell University after someone anonymously posted that they would “shoot up” the building and murder and rape Jews. Local police and the FBI are investigating…

Harvard University President Claudine Gay attended a Shabbat dinner at the university’s Hillel on Friday, telling students she was working to address rising antisemitism on campus…

French Jewish groups have set up a helpline for members of the community who are suffering from anxiety because of the Oct. 7 attacks and the ongoing war in Israel…

The Chronicle of Philanthropy conducted an extended interview with Christie Herrera, the incoming CEO of Philanthropy Roundtable, about the future of the organization and the state of philanthropy today…

The upcoming Z3 conference on Israel-Diaspora relations, which takes place on Sunday, has shifted focus from the turmoil in Israel over the government’s now-stalled judicial overhaul to the ongoing war in Gaza…

The Workers Circle elected four new members to its board of directors: Bradley Alter, Judy Fishman, Malky Goldman and Lewis Jones

Robert Brustein, a major figure in the theater world who wrote the play “Shlemiel the First,” based on the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer, died yesterday at 96…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Avi Mizrahi

The Jerusalem Municipality launched “Lights of Hope,” a light display in the city’s Pais Arena Square, on Oct. 26. The display consists of 224 powerful floodlights, corresponding to the number of captives held by Hamas in Gaza to date, and they illuminate the sky of Jerusalem in different colors for 224 seconds multiple times each evening. Each time captives are returned to Israel, the number of lights and the duration of their illumination in the exhibition will be adjusted according to the number of captives who have not yet returned.


FilmMagic[dot]com/FilmMagic for HBO

Actor, best known for his portrayal of “The Fonz” in the “Happy Days” sitcom, Henry Winkler

Winner of two Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert Caro… Former president of the University of Minnesota, chancellor of the University of Texas System and president of the University of California, Mark Yudof… NBC’s anchor, reporter and commentator, Andrea Mitchell… South African born rabbi, now leading Kehillat Bnei Aharon in Raanana, Israel, David Lapin… Professor of physics at Syracuse University, Peter Reed Saulson… Israeli violinist, violist and conductor who appears in concerts around the world, Shlomo Mintz… Meat packing executive, sentenced to 27 years in prison in 2009 for fraud, his sentence was commuted by former President Donald Trump in 2017 after serving eight years, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin… Former CEO and later executive chairman of Qualcomm, he is a co-owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, Paul E. Jacobs… Partner in the DC office of Cadwalader, he previously served as the attorney general of Maryland, Douglas F. “Doug” Gansler… Partner and co-founder of the Irvine, Calif., law firm of Wolfe & Wyman, Stuart B. Wolfe… Global head of public policy at Apollo Global Management, David Krone… White House correspondent for The New York Times and a political analyst for CNN, Maggie Haberman… Managing consultant at Korn Ferry, Jeremy Seth Gold… Assistant secretary for investment security at the U.S. Treasury, Paul M. Rosen… Public information officer of the City and County of Denver, Joshua Eric RosenblumIvanka ‘Yael’ Trump… Founding director at Tech Tribe and director of social media for Chabad, Mordechai LightstonePolitico reporter covering races in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ally Mutnick… Managing director at D.C.-based Targeted Victory, Rebecca Schieber