Your Daily Phil: Israel Tennis and Education Center memorializes one of its fallen

Good Tuesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the Israel Tennis and Education Center in Jerusalem memorializing a player who was killed while serving in Gaza, and feature an opinion piece by Rabbi Gray MyrsethMichelle Shapiro Abraham and Sarah Fredrick about evaluating the success of relationship-building efforts. Also in this newsletter: Vivian Silver, John Netzel and Andrew Feuerstein. We’ll start with American Holocaust museums balking at Seattle police’s decision to not treat the vandalism of the city’s Holocaust Center for Humanity as a hate crime.

A week after Seattle police said it would not treat the vandalism of the city’s Holocaust Center for Humanity as a hate crime, the museum and six of its counterparts nationwide yesterday issued a joint statement condemning the graffiti and calling it “straightforwardly antisemitic,” reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

The June 18 attack bore the anti-Israel message “Genocide in Gaza” scrawled on the front window of the Holocaust center.

“Holocaust museums are no strangers to acts of antisemitism. We teach how those acts, celebrated and reinforced at all levels of Nazi society, led to the murder of approximately 6 million Jews,” according to the statement. “The senseless scapegoating of Jews did not begin or end with the Holocaust. It’s been happening for thousands of years, and while the pretext may change, the antisemitic motivation is the same.”

The letter was issued by the Seattle museum along with the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York; the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg; the Holocaust Museum LA; the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Chicago; the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center in Cincinnati; and the Zekelman Holocaust Center in Detroit.

“As leaders of many of America’s Holocaust museums, we strongly condemn this crime,” the statement continued. “And we also recognize it as an opportunity to educate. Holding Jews — much less a Holocaust museum — responsible for the wartime actions of a foreign government is unacceptable and straightforwardly antisemitic.”

Last month, Seattle police determined that the June 18 vandalism would not be categorized as a hate crime, but as “a non-criminal bias incident motivated by political ideology.”

Hate crimes against U.S. Jews have tripled since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Jewish leaders in April, and dozens of Jewish institutions — including synagogues, cemeteries and museums — have been the target of vandalism. In the Seattle area, Herzl-Ner Tamid, a Conservative synagogue in Mercer Island, was spray-painted in November in red and black across the exterior of the synagogue with phrases such as “Stop killing” and “Shame on Israel.”


Israel Tennis and Education Center dedicates therapy garden to fallen IDF officer with a passion for the game

Daphna Shakuri unveils a memorial to her husband, David, who was killed by Hamas terrorists while serving in Gaza, at the Israel Tennis and Education Center in Jerusalem on June 28, 2024.
Daphna Shakuri unveils a memorial to her husband, David, who was killed by Hamas terrorists while serving in Gaza, at the Israel Tennis and Education Center in Jerusalem on June 28, 2024. Courtesy/Dror Sithakol

A therapeutic community garden in memory of Israel Defense Forces Maj. David Shakuri, an avid tennis player who was killed in February by sniper fire in Gaza, was dedicated by the Israel Tennis and Education Center-Jerusalem (ITECJ) in a ceremony on Friday. His wife, Daphna, who initiated the project, said tennis had been her husband’s “entire world” before he enlisted in the military and she wanted to do something meaningful to honor his legacy to the tennis world. At the dedication ceremony in the Israeli capital, Daphna said that her husband had envisioned teaching their young daughter Yahli to play tennis when she was old enough, reports Judith Sudilovsky for eJewishPhilanthropy from the event.

From tennis to tunnels: The therapeutic community garden includes a memorial to Shakuri, 30, with his tennis racquet enshrined behind a glass case with a plaque telling his story. Shakuri was killed while commanding a battalion unit and a team from Yahalom, a special unit of the Combat Engineering Corps, while scanning Hamas command tunnels beneath an UNRWA school in Gaza. Shakuri grew up at the Tennis and Education Center-Jerusalem, starting to play at the age 6 and eventually becoming one of the country’s top-ranked players. At draft age, he decided to join the military rather than pursue tennis. The garden was created by the ITECJ, in cooperation with the online freelance platform Fiverr, the Venatata organization, which plants community and therapeutic gardens, and Hanoch Daum, an Israeli media personality who also trains regularly at the center.

Had to do something: “David was a competitive player with a deep passion for the world of tennis. Since he first arrived at the Israel Tennis and Education Centers-Jerusalem, he felt at home and spent most of his time on the courts. After hearing of his death in battle, it became clear to us that we would do something special in his memory. The idea of a memorial garden arose from the desire to bring everyone together, creating a place of joy and reflection within the center,” said Dani Mizrahi, manager of the ITECJ.

Celebrity guests: The garden dedication event included a friendly celebrity tournament with Israel Beiteinu party leader Avigdor Liberman, who also trains at the center and supported the initiative; Daum; mentalist Lior Suchard; actor Guri Alfi; and Israel top tennis players, Yoni Erlich and Andy Ram — the latter of whom Shakuri played against as a bar mitzvah present from his mother some 18 years ago. “David Shakuri will be deeply missed by his family, his fellow soldiers, friends, and all of us who saw him on the tennis court, witnessing his passion for the game,” said Daum. We will always remember David’s courage and endeavor to honor his memory with the utmost respect.”

Read the full report here.


A culture of relationships, driven by data

Deemerwha Studio/Adobe Stock

“Building relationships is one essential piece of our organization’s work — but how do we evaluate whether the time and energy we are investing is in fact benefiting the community we aim to nurture? How do we measure our impact and evolve best practices for the specific people in our spaces?” write Rabbi Gray Myrseth, Michelle Shapiro Abraham and Sarah Fredrick of Gather, Inc. in the final installment of their series for eJewishPhilanthropy on relational engagement strategies for “The Surge.”

Measurements matter: “It might feel counterintuitive to think about data and analysis as important components of relationship-building. How do you quantify and track your connection with another human being? When we dive deeper, though, relationship-based engagement reveals itself as a methodology deeply rooted in data.”

Look at more than attendance: “If we are to create what New York Times columnist David Brooks calls ‘thick institutions’ — places that become part of a person’s identity and engage the whole person, head, hands, heart and soul — then capturing attendance isn’t enough. We need to retrain our attention to also capture more qualitative aspects of participant experience, such as engagement with the activity, enthusiasm about possible future points of contact or involvement in Jewish community, or emerging connections between participants.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Time for Splendor?: In the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jackie Hajdenberg spotlights the Hadar Institute as the egalitarian traditional Jewish study organization unveils a new plan for its future. “The new strategic plan throws into the open a question that those watching Hadar’s ascendance have begun to ask: Is Hadar the flagship of a new denomination, taking a place alongside — or even, in some ways, supplanting — the Reform and especially Conservative movements? And can it avoid the pitfalls that have bedeviled older institutions? Hadar’s founders reject the premise as limiting and antiquated. Somewhat like the Hasidic movement Chabad, which runs outreach centers and programs the world over, they want to have something to offer all Jews, not just a subset… The core of the institute’s vision is, as it has been since Hadar’s inauguration, a belief that rigorous Jewish learning has for too long been primarily the domain of spaces where there is little access for rank-and-file Jews who are also committed to gender egalitarianism and LGBTQ+ inclusion. In the coming years, the group plans to launch its own versions of institutions that have long comprised the infrastructure of American Jewish religious communities: a regular national convention, a handful of on-campus chapters, at least two new synagogues, and a second rabbinical student cohort. It also plans to expand its offerings in Israel…” [JTA]

Camp Conversations: In Haaretz, Eric Yoffie lays out why and how Jewish summer camps should educate their campers about Israel and Zionism. “As Jewish camps open for the summer across America, camp directors and staff are struggling with an agonizing question: How to teach Israel to Jewish kids in the post-October 7 era? How to make these kids feel love for Israel, and advocate for it, while also being thoughtful critics of the Jewish state? Will they succeed? I hate to say it, but probably not. American Jews do not know how to do Israel education, and when they try it, it is mostly a disaster. That said, the need for sophisticated Israel instruction has never been more urgent… And what would be the primary elements of this vision? I would begin with the following: A belief in a Jewish and democratic Israel; a commitment to a two-state reality where both Israelis and Palestinians can live securely and in peace; a rejection of Kahanist lunacy and radical settler ideology; an unshakeable love of Zion; an affirmation of the need for Israeli power of deterrence; a promise of individual equality and human rights for all citizens of the Jewish state; non-stop effort to ease and ultimately end the occupation; and a declaration of permanent resistance to Hamas and its Iranian sponsors who engage in acts of genocidal murder against the Jewish people. Will most of our young people rally to this vision? They will, I believe, if we teach it thoughtfully, and allow our kids to have their say.” [Haaretz]

Leave AI Out of It: According to a new special report on donor trust, the areas most important for gaining donor trust are how a charity spends its money, whether the charity’s appeals are truthful and accurate and whether the charity adequately protects donor information. Respondents also indicated some wariness about the use of AI in fundraising. “When asked to imagine a charity using artificial intelligence (AI) in its information and solicitation materials, most participants (51.2%) describe their reaction as hesitant (34.5%) or negative (16.8%), but there is also a significant portion with a positive (21.0%) or very positive (17.2%) reaction. Millennials are most likely to have a positive (25.3%) or very positive (32.4%) reaction to the use of AI in charity solicitation appeals… Participants with a household income of $200,000 or more are most likely (70.3%) to be discouraged from giving based on a charity solicitation appeal including an AI-generated image. When asked to imagine charity appeals including AI-generated images representing a disaster zone or children served by the organization, the majority of participants [both older and younger] say they would be discouraged from giving by the use of AI-generated images.” []

Around the Web

The Anti-Defamation League filed a federal lawsuit yesterday, alongside the law firm Crowell & Moring, on behalf of more than 100 American victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and their family members, accusing Iran, Syria and North Korea of providing material support for the attacks; this is the first such lawsuit to be filed since the attacks and the largest of its kind…

Abigail Schcolnik of the University of Miami and Zachary Patterson of Duke University have been selected as co-chairs of Hillel International’s student cabinet; they will also serve as members of the organization’s board of directors…

Thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv’s Menora Mivtachim Arena last night for a rally titled “The time has come” demanding a hostage deal and an end to the war in Gaza…

Vivian Silver, an Israeli-Canadian peace activist who was murdered on Kibbutz Be’eri in the Oct.. 7 terror attacks, was awarded Germany’s Hessian Peace Prize last night for her work on Israeli-Palestinian peace; her son, Yonatan Zeigen, accepted the award on her behalf…

A new Gallup poll found that a sizeable majority of Americans — 81% — consider antisemitism to be a serious problem, up from 57% in 2003; and nearly half — 49% — consider it to be a “very serious problem,” up from 9% in 2003…

More than 170 gravestones were vandalized at two Jewish cemeteries over the past week in Cincinnati… 

Kristen Clarke, U.S. assistant attorney general for civil rights, told Orthodox Union lay and professional leaders last week that the Justice Department “will not relent in standing up for the Jewish community” in the face of rising antisemitism…

A Kentucky judge rejected a lawsuit filed by three Jewish mothers who challenged the state’s abortion law on religious freedom grounds by arguing that the proposed ban would hinder their ability to conceive through in-vitro fertilization; the judge determined that since this was a hypothetical concern, they didn’t have standing to bring the case…

John Netzel, who runs Peaceful Fields Sanctuary for unwanted farm animals in Northern Virginia, has successfully grown qishu’im, a type of melon mentioned in the Book of Exodus; the seeds for the biblical melon were provided by the Jewish Farmers Network as part of a program to get Jewish farmers to again grow ancient plants…

Andrew Feuerstein, who until recently served as the deputy director of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundationwas hired as the next director of development events and donor engagement at the American Jewish Committee

The Times of Israel investigates the obstacles that are preventing Israel’s high-tech sector from bringing its innovation prowess to bear on the country’s emerging security threats in Gaza and Lebanon…

The Congregation Tifereth Israel synagogue in Columbus, Ohio, will offer free enrollment for its kindergarten next academic year for all congregants through funding from its endowment…

Annie Weinberg was hired as the next executive director of the University of Virginia Hillel; Weinberg, who served as co-managing director, will succeed Jake Rubin as he moves to a position at Hillel International

Shai Davidai, the Israeli Columbia University business professor who has been publicly criticizing the school’s administration, has had his contract renewed for another year…

The Teach NY Coalition is setting its sights on next year’s New York City Council and mayoral elections, after the group’s successful effort to turn out voters in the Democratic primary in New York’s 16th Congressional District, where Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) was ousted by Westchester County Executive George Latimer

Liora Argamani, whose daughter, Noa, was held hostage in Gaza until her rescue last month, died today at 61…

Pic of the Day

Haley Cohen/eJewishPhilanthropy

Orna and Ronen Neutra (foreground), parents of Israeli hostage Omer Neutra, and Yael and Adi Alexander, parents of Israeli hostage Edan Alexander, address the audience at “Voices for Truth: Influencers United Against Antisemitism,” a summit organized by the Combat Antisemitism Movement and Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and held Sunday and Monday at The Glasshouse in New York City.

The event drew more than 200 people, including social media influencers, celebrities and thought leaders, and it served both as an opportunity for discussion about how to use their public platforms to counter antisemitism and a chance to share stories with others experiencing similar backlash for their support for Israel.


Jonathan S. Lavine, co-managing partner and chief investment officer of Bain Capital Credit
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Co-creator of the “Seinfeld” television series and creator of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” comedian and producer, Larry David… 

Director emerita of Hebrew studies at HUC-JIR, now on the board of trustees of Los Angeles Hebrew High School, Rivka Dori… Nobel laureate in medicine in 2004, he is a professor at Columbia University and a molecular biologist, Richard Axel… Swedish author and screenwriter, she wrote a novel about Jewish children who escaped the Holocaust, Annika Thor… Former CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, she also served as a State Department special envoy on antisemitism, Hannah Rosenthal… Montclair, N.J.-based philanthropic consultant, Aaron Issar Back, Ph.D…. Israeli Druze politician who served as a member of the Knesset for the Kulanu and Kadima parties, Akram Hasson… Maryland state senator since 2015, Cheryl C. Kagan… Founder and head of business development of AQR Capital Management, David G. Kabiller… Member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism alliance, Ya’akov Asher… Chief White House correspondent for The New York TimesPeter E. Baker… Reading specialist at Wayne Thomas School in Highland Park, Ill., Stephanie Rubin… Co-founder, president and dean at Mechon Hadar in Manhattan, Shai Held, Ph.D…. Global industry editor for health and pharma at Thomson ReutersMichele Gershberg… Music video and film director, Alma Har’el… Motivational speaker, media personality and co-founder H3 & Company, Charlie Harary… Author of fiction and non-fiction on a variety of Jewish topics, Elisa Albert… Israeli journalist, TV anchor and popular lecturer, Sivan Rahav-Meir… Member of Congress and chair of the House Republican Conference, Elise Stefanik (R-NY)… Actress, singer and producer, Ashley Tisdale… Actress and internet personality, Barbara Dunkelman