Your Daily Phil: Into the archives + The importance of gap years

Good Monday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on an effort to preserve the records of more than a century of Jewish philanthropy, and feature an op-ed by ??Rabbi Benji Levy and Michael Bloch on the importance of gap years. Also in this newsletter: former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), SCN’s Michael Masters and Isaac and Laura Perlmutter. We’ll start with some recent news out of Israel.

In Israel, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu inked a coalition deal with Avi Maoz, head of the anti-LGBTQ party Noam, that would make Maoz a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of Jewish identity.

“This is a first step toward returning the soul to the state, a first step toward returning the state to the path of [being] a Jewish state,” Maoz said in a video posted to Facebook yesterday, adding that the party will work for “the good of all of Israel’s citizens.”

Maoz has staked out a number of positions that contravene the priorities large American Jewish organizations have emphasized in recent years. He has called to shut down egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall and pride parades, as well as for the elimination of an Israeli military unit focused on women’s advancement.

Israel’s Reform Movementtweeted in response to the appointment, “There is more than one way to be a Jew, and he’s not the one to decide what it is for millions of Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.” Last month, A Wider Bridge, which advocates for LGBTQ rights in Israel, and for Israel in the LGBTQ community, condemned Maoz and his allies in the Religious Zionism party.

“Their track record of intolerance for LGBTQ people, Arabs, and non-Orthodox Jews is a threat to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state that affords equal rights to all,” the group posted to Facebook.

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, meanwhile, was on hand at the 20th anniversary party of Tmura, an Israeli nonprofit that helps tech startups to donate part of their equity and then gives the proceeds from the stock to charity when the startups are sold. At the event in Tel Aviv, according to The Circuit, Bennett said Tmura provided the solution to a snag he hit in negotiations over the tech company he founded, Cyota. “[The deal] almost blew up over half a percentage point,” he said. “So I said, let’s give it to Tmura. And once it turned into a contribution, everyone was happy to agree.”

into the stacks

A poster for a 1949 United Jewish Appeal campaign.
A poster for a 1949 United Jewish Appeal campaign.

Some of the most important work that Tamar Zeffren and Melanie Meyers do involves sifting through file cabinets in drab, labyrinthine rooms and discarding copies of documents. Their mission: to preserve a record of how American Jewish philanthropy has evolved over the past century and beyond, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.

Reams of paper: As staff members at the American Jewish Historical Society, Zeffren and Meyers are charged with safeguarding and expanding an archive of American Jewish foundations, nonprofits and charitable societies that collectively comprises thousands of boxes of documents, taking up stack after stack in a backroom of AJHS’ museum in lower Manhattan. “Those records also say as much about the individuals who are doing the giving, who are identifying the needs, and I think that that’s a very valuable piece of the story that understandably isn’t always foregrounded,” Zeffren, the museum’s director of archival partnerships, told eJP during a tour of AJHS’ stacks.

The specs: All told, AJHS’ philanthropy collection comprises nearly 8,000 boxes, anchored by several collections from large institutions, many of which are defunct or have changed their form and name over the decades: The National Jewish Welfare Board, the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, the Avi Chai Foundation and the UJA-Federation of New York. The UJA collection, at 2,200 linear feet (a unit roughly equivalent to a box of paper at Staples), took a team of six archivists four years to process, from 2011 to 2015.

Tradition, tradition: The museum was founded in 1892, and one-third of its 15 earliest collections were charity archives whose organizations’ names put the contemporary Jewish alphabet soup to shame, including one called the Committee of Americans in Aid of Starving Jews in South Russia from 1900, or the National Committee for the Relief of Sufferers of Pogroms. One of the museum’s oldest philanthropy archives is called the Purim Association, which goes back to 1865, and documents a ball held annually on Purim for the benefit of causes such as the welfare of Jewish orphans.

Read the full story here.

what a trip

Filling in the gap year in Israel

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) speaks during annual Jerusalem Post conference at Gotham Hall.

“Gap-year experiences have benefits that could make a difference for so many more young Jewish people in the United States and beyond… Gap years are simultaneously crucial for the Jewish community and the Jewish individual. According to the Gap Year Association in the U.S., a 2020 survey of 1,200 gap-year program alumni reported that cultural awareness, communication and self-direction are the top skills they improved,” write Rabbi Benji Levy and Michael Bloch, co-founders of Israel Impact Partners, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

The data download: “Looking at data from recent years, every year, approximately 4,000 North American Jews (ages 18-19) come to Israel for their gap year. More than two-thirds attend a yeshiva or seminary (which were outside of the scope of our Israel Impact Partners’ study). Others attend through youth organizations, educational tourism, academic institutions or specialized nonprofits. Programs are usually cohort-based with various core experiences (such as volunteering, studying, interning) and classic components including ulpan and Israel learning seminars. Most fall under the umbrella of Masa Israel Journey, a project of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency, which invests in growing the field of Israel-immersion experiences and creating offerings to meet the interests and needs of young adults.”

Impact and engagement: “A more recent ImpactNPO study of 2,433 young Jewish adults commissioned by Masa reveals that long-term programs in Israel can transform even those who are largely unengaged from Jewish life into deeply integrated community members with local and international impact. Among gap-year alumni, 80% responded that being Jewish is an important part of their life, compared to 36% of those surveyed who did not attend a gap year. Based on survey results, immersive long-term programs in Israel may be the most effective tool at our disposal to positively impact a person’s connection to Israel, Judaism and the Jewish community. This, in turn, can ensure Jewish continuity and engagement.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Gearing Up for Giving Tuesday: Giving Tuesday, which takes place tomorrow, can catalyze an organization’s end-of-year campaign, Ryan Carpenter writes in NonProfitPRO: “[N]early a third of annual giving happens in December. Additionally, 11% of all donations are made on the last three days of the year. Adding a Giving Tuesday campaign can bolster these end-of-year donations. A Giving Tuesday push can get your organization on your donors’ minds early — an important move as donors grapple with inflation. People will spend about 150% more on holiday meals and gifts than they did last year, so we might expect donors to give to fewer charities this year. You need to be the first to ask for their support. This is also the one day that literally millions of people around the world will have generosity on the brain. A 2019 survey showed 55% of the population is aware of Giving Tuesday, and 42% planned to make a charitable donation on that day. And, 52% of Giving Tuesday participants said they liked the idea of a lot of people doing good. This societal peer pressure means even those who have never donated will do so just to participate.” [NonProfitPRO]

Around the Web

The Jewish Learning Exchangeraised over $3.6 million from a London gala dinner addressed by former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT)…

Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law will create The Perlmutter Center for Legal Justice, supported by a $15 million gift from Isaac and Laura Perlmutter and the Perlmutter Foundation. The donation is the largest in the law school’s history and a major contributor to the university’s Rise Up fundraising campaign…

Jewish leaders, including some of the former president’s allies, are slamming Donald Trump for hosting Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier, at Mar-a-Lago last week. The Zionist Organization of America, which recently honored Trump at its annual gala, said in a statement that it “deplores President Trump for dining with Jew-haters Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, and demands he condemn them.”

In an op-ed in The Arizona RepublicMichael Masters, CEO of the Secure Community Network, blamed the murder of Thomas Meixner, a professor at the University of Arizona, on a lack of action against the alleged killer’s antisemitic threats.

Pic of the Day

Before Thanksgiving, the White House hosted a group of children from Imadi, an organization that supports children living with a chronic illness or genetic condition in metro Washington. White House energy envoy Amos Hochstein, who is on Imadi’s board, visited the group, and Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology, bowled a round in the White House’s bowling alley, where the event was held.

“The Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley in the White House reopened last month and we were honored to host the brave and inspiring children from Imadi as some of our first guests,” Shelley Greenspan, the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community, told our partner publication Jewish Insider


HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 09: Randy Newman performs onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Songwriter, arranger and composer, Randy Newman… 

New Orleans attorney and former associate professor of trial advocacy at Tulane University Law School, Joel Loeffelholz… Television producer who served as chairman of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Barry M. Meyer… Political consultant and manager of President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996, Richard Samuel (Dick) Morris… David Letterman’s musical director, band leader and sidekick from 1982 to 2015, Paul Shaffer… Former solicitor general of the U.S., now a partner at WilmerHale, he has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court over 80 times, Seth Paul Waxman… Los Angeles-based attorney, Steven Jacob Barkin… COO of American Friends of Laniado Hospital in Netanya, Israel, Judy Rapfogel… Former judge on the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals and then Department of Homeland Security Secretary (2005-2009), he is senior of counsel at Covington & Burling, Michael Chertoff… Film and television actor, Judd Nelson… Comedian and former host of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz)… Chief field building officer at UpStart, Aliza Mazor… Clearwater, Florida speech pathologist, Nancy Turkel Laskowitz… Senior U.S. senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet… Former CFO of Citigroup and then president of the Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America, now CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, Sallie Krawcheck… National editor of The Washington Post, Matea Gold… Senior director at Hogan Lovells, Anna Weinstein… The Israel director and co-founder of The Isaiah Projects, David Nekrutman… Founder and executive director of JLens, a nonprofit network of institutional investors exploring a Jewish lens on investing, Julie Hammerman… National security advisor to President Joe Biden, Jacob Jeremiah (Jake) Sullivan… Managing partner and founder of PR firm, EDGE Partners, Jeremy Wimpfheimer… Former congressman from Staten Island, he earlier served in the U.S. Army and was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, Max Rose… Singer, songwriter and rapper, Jacob Harris (Jake) Miller… Executive director at Tmura, Baruch Lipner… Jude Rabinowitz… Rabbi at Congregation KTI in Port Chester, N.Y., Benjamin Goldberg… and his twin bother, cantor at Westchester Jewish Center, Ethan Goldberg… 

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