Your Daily Phil: Introducing Boundless + The Leader Accelerator names first cohort of grantees

Good Thursday morning!

RespectAbility, the disability support and advocacy organization, has received a $1 million matching grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to help it achieve the goals outlined in its strategic plan, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the group’s founder and president, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

The Hilton Foundation established its Equity Fund in 2020 to fight various kinds of bias. “We recognize that solutions for addressing the root causes of inequities often come from those with lived experience,” said Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The Millbank Foundation has matched $100,000 of the Hilton grant, as have two anonymous donations of $50,000 each, in addition to two other anonymous donations of $20,000 each.

Mizrahi, who started RespectAbility in 2013, also announced that she will be leaving the organization in the middle of 2022. The group’s vice-chair, Randall Duchesneau, and Linda Burger, its treasurer, will lead the search committee, which has hired David Hinsley Cheng of DHC Search to launch a national search for Mizrahi’s successor.


The Leader Accelerator names its first cohort of 19 small, New York-area Jewish organizations

Grow Torah

The Leader Accelerator, a new provider of funding and advice to small Jewish nonprofits, has named its first cohort of seven grantees receiving $10,000 each, in addition to a slate of 12 organizations receiving between $1,000 and $5,000, said Jonathan and Dina Leader, the organization’s founders and funders. “We were overwhelmed by the number of small Jewish organizations with whom we were not familiar who are doing wonderful work to help the Jews of the New York City area,” Jonathan Leader told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff. The accelerator received 50 submissions.

Havdalah and pizza: The recipients of the $10,000 grants include the CUNY Alliance for Inclusion (CAFI), which combats antisemitism and anti-Zionism among faculty and students of the City University of New York campuses; Makom, a synagogue that doesn’t require membership dues; and Wine Down Shabbat, a family-centered Shabbat afternoon gathering in Morningside Park that serves the Jewish community in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood. Wine Down Shabbat, a community-based program, will now become an independent nonprofit thanks to the Leader Accelerator’s support, said Naomi Sage, who co-founded the program with her husband, Sage Ramadge. Each meeting begins with Shabbat-inspired music, and closes with blessings and a family-style pizza dinner. Its most recent event gathered 40 families and was its largest to date.

Investing in nonprofits: Jonathan Leader, an investor who founded the firmLiberty Capital Management, was familiar with the accelerator concept from the business world, where investors provided funding and strategic advice  to support startup companies. In the Jewish communal world, UpStart — a nonprofit consulting firm for other organizations — offers several accelerator programs, including its Change Accelerator. The Orthodox Union’s Impact Accelerator identifies promising nonprofits and supports their growth. The Leaders’ accelerator is similar to the Legacy Heritage Fund’s Project Accelerate, which also focuses on second-stage projects.

Essential interlocutors: The Leaders have been helpful in brainstorming ways to expand Wine Down Shabbat’s offerings, Sage said, adding that she and her husband plan to host 22 Wine Down events in 2022. “The outside perspective is invaluable, especially when it comes from seasoned professionals and philanthropists like the Leaders,” said Yosef Gillers, founder of Grow Torah, an educational program, which received one of the smaller grants. “We are also eager to meet other organizations and nonprofit leaders.” Each grantee will be asked to keep the Leader Accelerator informed of its progress over the next three months, with the possibility of receiving a further grant by the end of March, Jonathan Leader said. The form that communication takes will be up to the grantees, because the Leaders consider it part of the learning process, he added.

Read more here.


Expectant olim hoping for exemption to allow parents into Israel

Getty Images

Immigrants to Israel due to give birth in the coming weeks are feeling a mix of anxiety, neglect and anger as their parents are locked out of the country due to the latest COVID-19 restrictions. A 14-day ban on the entry of foreigners to the country went into effect on Sunday in response to the Omicron variant, and many expectant mothers in the coming days will have to go through the emotional milestone without the support of their immediate family — unable to share their joy with them or to lean on them in those often-difficult and exhausting initial postpartum weeks, reports Jewish Insider’s Tamara Zieve.

Parental plea: Former Knesset member Dov Lipman, the founder of the NGO Yad L’Olim, an organization that helps immigrants to Israel, made a plea on behalf of expectant parents, as well as lone soldiers, at a Knesset committee meeting on Tuesday, where he spoke about the suffering of foreign first-degree relatives of immigrants. He organized a letter-writing campaign that saw dozens of expecting mothers sending emails to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who did not respond to a request for comment, on Wednesday, urging her to let parents into the country for their grandchildrens’ births. “It’s solely the decision of Ayelet Shaked, 100%,” Lipman told Jewish Insider on Wednesday. “If she says yes, the parents can come.”

Making it personal: Danielle Fox-Mann, who made aliyah from New York, is expecting her mother to fly in from Florida in mid-December. If her mother is barred from entering, Fox-Mann, 33, doesn’t know who will take care of her toddler when she gives birth later this month. “We got all the paperwork ready already and we applied for an exemption but got declined,” she told JI. “I just feel anxious and helpless because there is nothing I can do to affect the outcome of the situation that changed basically overnight. I choose to live in this country because I am a Zionist, but I will be distraught if my mother won’t be able to be with me and support me and my toddler through this emotional transition in our lives,” she said.

Read the full story here.


Introducing Boundless


“Israel is inextricably linked with the past, present and future of the Jewish people. To our minds, it is a living laboratory — meaning Israel is an ever-evolving project rooted in Jewish particularism, driven by universalism and navigating the real world. Like a laboratory, there are continuous adjustments to be made and knowledge to absorb. There are successes and there are failures. And it is in this learning space that we can discover lessons to inform how we live and inspire us to shape our local and global communities,” write Rachel Fish and Aviva Klompas, co-founders of the newly launched Boundless, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Escalating conversations: “And yet, Israel has become the boogeyman of polite conversation, a partisan political football and red herring of social justice movements. We — alongside a growing cadre of communal and educational professionals — have watched with growing concern as individuals and organizations have struggled to navigate the tumultuous waters of anti-Zionist and antisemitic rhetoric. Organizations can no longer sidestep escalating confrontations. Regardless of whether Israel is central to their mission, Jewish leaders are being pressured to take a stance. Their action — or inaction — then becomes a barometer to assess an organization’s moral worthiness.” 

Big challenges demand bold action: “We are proud to launch Boundless, a new nonprofit think-action tank partnering with community leaders to revitalize Israel education and take bold collective action to combat Jew-hatred. We do this by working with organizations and leaders across the Jewish world to spark collaborative innovation, build learning communities, analyze data-driven messaging and serve as a repository to distill and disseminate research across the field.”

Read the full piece here.


Why universal preschool is a must for early childhood Jewish education

Bender JCC of Greater Washington

“Vibrant Jewish early childhood centers are at the heart of our institutions. Our halls ring with singing, laughter and the chatter of communal connections. How, then, as believers in tzelem Elohim (the divine image and potential in each person), do we not pay our educators a living wage, and how can we create a more sustainable system for these centers, the cornerstones of our community — and the individuals who make them so?” write members of Shma Koleinu, a collective dedicated to listening to and advocating for children, families and early childhood education, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Advancing legislation: “With passage of the Build Back Better Act potentially on the horizon, we see the possibility that our highest-held values will be fulfilled, that our children, educators and families will be guaranteed the dignity and respect they deserve and to which they are entitled. This possibility, decades overdue, will positively affect early childhood Jewish education for generations to come by honoring educators, families and every child who breathes life into our communities.”

Shifting models: “Many Jewish early childhood schools have begun to shift their model, making it possible for them to accept government funding for their programs — and they are meeting with success. They are demonstrating tremendous creativity and flexibility in embracing core Jewish values in a universal setting; rethinking the context and structure of Shabbat and holiday celebrations; and incorporating Hebrew vocabulary into the classroom culture. Educators and centers are offering innovative experiences around Jewish holidays and engaging more families than ever before. Although such changes can be challenging, the benefits to our Jewish early childhood center communities are significant.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

The Best Gift: In LifeHacker, Sarah Showfety reflects on the question of when a donor should remain anonymous, and when going public with a gift better serves the cause. Giving anonymously makes sense if a donor wants to protect their privacy in the case of a controversial cause, or to avoid attracting solicitations from other organizations, but announcing a donation can also inspire other people to give. “Perhaps you prefer to do most of your charitable giving in silence, never letting anyone know of your good deed. Except for that one thing that trumps all other causes for personal reasons. If you enjoy a high profile in your business or community, your name can attract ever more funds to the cause.” [LH]

College Try: Alumni concerned about free speech on campus are withholding donations to their alma maters, in addition to starting about 20 organizations that encourage the schools to foster diverse viewpoints, reports Douglas Belkin in The Wall Street Journal. Faculty and students at those schools say that increasingly diverse student bodies require more sensitivity and careful speech, but that rigorous debate still flourishes. “This is a battle for our culture and, in many ways, for Western civilization,” said John Craig, an alumni of Davidson College in North Carolina, who heads a group called Davidsonians for Freedom of Thought and Discourse. “Open and free expression is what makes our country great, and if we lose this, our country is in deep trouble.” [WSJournal]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Mara Silvers has been named vice president of programs at the Jewish Funders Network… The Jewish Federation of San Diego County announced that Heidi Gantwerk, who has served as the federation’s interim president and CEO, will continue in that role permanently… Israel-based Yad L’Achim distributed hundreds of packages containing Hanukkah items, including menorahs and dreidels, to Jews living in Arab countries who observe their Judaism privately… The Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services in Boca Raton, Fla., received a gift of $2 million from Toby and Leon Cooperman; the gift launches the organization’s capital campaign to open a new therapy and family resource center… Applications are open for cohort IV of the OU Impact Accelerator Larry Cooper, former advisor to both the Central New York Federation of Temple Youth and Jersey Federation of Temple Youth, has died from ALS…

Pic of the Day


Volunteers from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews and Yahad for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers celebrate Hanukkah with soldiers stationed in the Golan Heights.


FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO

Sephardi/Portuguese actress best known for playing Special Agent Kensi Blye in CBS’s “NCIS Los Angeles,” Daniela Ruah
Professor of rabbinic literature at Yeshiva University’s Gruss Institute in Jerusalem, Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff… Real estate executive and founder of the Sunshine Group, Louise Mintz Sunshine… Sociologist and human rights activist, Jack Nusan Porter… Partner at Personal Healthcare LLC, Pincus Zagelbaum… French musician, Isaac “Jacky” Bitton… EVP and media director at Rubenstein Communications, Nancy Haberman… Author of more than 15 volumes of poetry, Bob Perelman… French historian and author, Benjamin Stora… Retired associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Barbara A. Lenk… Professor at Montana State University, Dr. Franke Wilmer… Partner in the Madison, Wis., law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, Sarah Siskind… Rabbi of Baltimore’s Congregation Ohel Moshe, Rabbi Zvi Teichman… Canadian fashion designer and entrepreneur, Joe Mimran… Celebrity physician, author and president of the Nutritional Research Foundation, Joel Fuhrman… Education, residential real estate and hospitality sales manager at the Los Angeles Business JournalLanna Solnit… Cleveland resident, Joseph Schlaiser… Emmy Award-winning actress, Rena Sofer… Identical twin sisters, known as The AstroTwins, they are magazine columnists and authors of four books on astrology, Tali Edut and Ophira Edut… Professor of political science, Eleanor L. Schiff… Former member of the Knesset, now serving as Israel’s ambassador to the U.K., Tzipi Hotovely… Deputy director of Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation, Annie Fixler… Senior director with Alvarez & Marsal in Atlanta, she was a sabre fencer at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Emily Jacobson Edwards… Actor Fred Hechinger
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