Your Daily Phil: Israeli Arab, Haredi kids far more likely to live in poverty, study finds

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on Jerusalem’s Shalva National Center providing care to Israelis with disabilities displaced by the war, and feature an opinion piece by Adina H. Frydman that offers a crash course in mobilizing 30,000 young Jews in a week and another by Rick Recht on establishing a Jewish leadership training pipeline with music at its heart. Also in this issue: Jerry SeinfeldMacKenzie Scott and Roman Abramovich. We’ll start with a new report from the Taub Center on poverty in Israel.

The majority of Arab and Haredi Israeli children up to age four live below the poverty line, at rates more than six times that of non-Haredi Jewish children, according to a new study by the social policy-focused Taub Center think tank that was released on Wednesday, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The study, which appears to be the first to look at poverty levels among children from birth to age four, found that 63% of Haredi children, approximately 110,000 of them, and 58% of Arab children, nearly 100,000 of them, live below the poverty line, compared to 9% of non-Haredi Jewish children under age four, amounting to roughly 50,000 children.

The consequences of children below the age of four living below the poverty line are long-lasting and serious, according to the study’s lead researcher, Yael Navon from the Taub Center Initiative on Early Childhood Development and Inequality.

“Any child living below the poverty line is — almost by definition — is not going to be able to live up to their full potential,” Navon told eJP. “We know that these disparities in early childhood are the basis of disparities as people get older and in their ability to accumulate capital,” she said.

While many of the findings were unsurprising — more educated parents were found to be far less likely to have children living below the poverty line, as were households in which both parents worked full time — others were more unexpected, the researchers said.

Navon said she was both “surprised and saddened” to find that one government program aimed at reducing poverty through direct transfer payments had the opposite effect in some cases, particularly for Arab Israeli families. This is because the taxes that the households had to pay after receiving the payments ended up being higher than the payments themselves.

“There are families — it’s on the margins, but it’s enough that it happens — who after getting different government transfers end up below the poverty line. These are people who weren’t below the poverty line before, but the government policy makes their situation worse,” Navon said. “It’s not — heaven forbid — intentional, but there are 12,000 households like this. It’s outrageous,” she said.

Read the full report here.


Volunteers from Shalva stand with children with disabilities who were displaced from their homes because of the Israel-Hamas war. Courtesy/Shalva

For the families from southern and northern Israel that have a child with special needs, the evacuations from their homes brought additional challenges. Initially, families were cooped up in hotel rooms, without their routines, without schools, social services and normal surroundings. These are difficult conditions for anybody, but for people with special needs, the effects of these disruptions were severe. “The children had regressed two years in a month,” Bar Yisrael, the volunteer coordinator at Shalva, a nonprofit that worked with dozens of these displaced children with special needs, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Stepping up: Roughly 70 people with disabilities came to Shalva, from evacuated cities and towns, ranging in age from 1.5 to 38 years old. Most have low-functioning autism; others have Down syndrome and other developmental disorders. The Shalva National Center is not specifically designed for people with autism: The brightly colored walls and murals of butterflies and other animals can be overstimulating for children with autism, Yisrael said. Yet Shalva staff members said they quickly understood that if it didn’t offer assistance to these families, no one else would. “It was our privilege and our duty to help them,” Shalva’s CEO Yochanan Samuels told eJP.

“He started talking!”: For Inna Shibaev, who has a 4-year-old son with autism and was forced to flee her hometown of Asheklon at the start of the war, her time at Shalva was profound. “I am speechless about how good Shalva has been to us. They opened their arms and took us in,” she said, recounting how when her husband had his heart attack, people from the center immediately offered to watch her children so she could accompany him to the hospital. The time at Shalva also helped her son, getting him not only back to his normal level of functioning but even surpassing it in some ways. “He started talking!” Shibaev said. “He never did that at home.”

Read the full report here.


Building a coalition for good: How we mobilized 30,000 students for the historic march on Washington

Image from the March for Israel on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, 2023. Courtesy/Young Judaea

“During the last days of October, I met one of our Young Judaea alums, Steve, for lunch. At one point during our meal he looked at me and said: ‘Adina, in 1987 I marched in Washington with Sharansky. It’s time for us to march again.’ And by us, he meant our youth,” writes Adina H. Frydman, CEO of Young Judaea Global, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Lessons for the future: “But how did it come to pass that, in just a little over a week, we managed to organize 30,000 young people from across the entire Jewish youth sector in the United States to come together for an historical march for Israel? To answer that question, we need to look back further… I am sharing these reflections because there are takeaways from the experience worth replicating even in times of non-existential crisis. We can take the key ingredients that made this moment work and apply them to the important work we do on a daily basis.”

Read the full piece here.


Cultivating the future of Jewish leadership — through music

Participants in the Jewish Star Initiative. Courtesy/Judaism Alive

“In the course of visiting countless synagogues, camps and communities throughout North America, I have seen first-hand the growing need for Jewish leadership,” writes Rick Recht, 20-year veteran of the contemporary Jewish music scene and founder and executive director of Judaism Alive, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Tales from the road: “I hear story after story from people who have served on their congregational board or clergy search committee lamenting that they couldn’t get an applicant or had to beg someone to come out of retirement to help out the congregation. Camps and synagogues from all over the country regularly call our office asking us to recommend prayer leaders and song leaders so they can continue the sacred tradition of infusing their communities with meaningful prayer and song. In 10 to 15 years, who will be leading us, inspiring us, and informing our spiritual journeys?”

Stepping up: “To counter this national shortage of inspiring Jewish leaders, Judaism Alive… has set an ambitious goal to train and place 500 young leaders throughout North America by 2027… It’s time we not only recognize the wealth of talented young adults in the Jewish world, but shoulder-tap them early in their trajectories and provide them with multi-year, in-depth leadership training with hopes they will dedicate their talent to become our desperately needed next generation of great Jewish leaders.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

But His Brother’s an Artist: In eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider, Lahav Harkov profiles IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari, who has emerged as a trusted, even beloved, figure in Israel in a time of crisi. “In the chaotic months since Hamas’ massacre and the ensuing war, there has been one mainstay for Israelis: IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, standing in front of two Israeli flags and speaking to the nation. Each evening, Hagari recounts the day’s events in plain language, bowing his head in memory of soldiers killed in battle and describing ground operations deep inside Gaza and airstrikes against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Then, he takes questions from reporters. Hagari’s nightly press briefings, which began on Oct. 7, have made him a wartime star in Israel in a way that no IDF spokesperson has been in many years… A popular meme being sent around on WhatsApp in recent weeks reads: ‘Why are women attracted to Daniel Hagari, you ask? Because he is the only man who bothers to update them every day, at the same hour, [with] what he did that day, what he plans to do tomorrow and at the end, he answers their questions’… ‘He broadcasts honesty, purposefulness and practicality,’ [Former Diaspora Affairs Minister and former IDF Spokesperson Nachman] Shai said. ‘He isn’t talking nonsense and isn’t trying to flatter anyone. He’s just presenting the true picture within the existing limitations.’” [JewishInsider]

The Same But More So: In The New York Times, Bret Stephens discusses the rising and more widely discussed antisemitism in the United States and his concerns for the country’s Jewish community. “Everything that was true before Oct. 7 became more so after it. Hate crimes against Jews, which had nearly quintupled in the previous 10 years, also quintupled from Oct. 7 to Dec. 7 compared to the same period in 2022. Subtext became text: “Gas the Jews” was the chant heard from protesters at the Sydney Opera House, “From the river to the sea” from the quads of once-great American universities. The same students who had been carefully instructed in the nuances of microaggressions suddenly went very macro when it came to making Jews feel despised… America has been good to Jews since 1655, when the Dutch West India Company rebuked Peter Stuyvesant for refusing trade permits to some Jewish newcomers in what was then New Amsterdam. But if there’s one lesson of Jewish history, it’s that nothing good stays — and why we still say, at the end of every Passover Seder, ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’” [NYTimes]

Enforce the Rules: Hamas has been able to use mainstream social media platforms as “weapons of mass psychological terror” because corporations have not been sufficiently incentivized to systematically remove posts and block content that violate their own digital policies, writes CyberWell founder and executive director Tal-Or Cohen Montemayor in USA Today. “[On Oct. 7,] I received an urgent call. ‘We need your help.’ It was a senior representative of a major social media company. I knew at that moment that the world was about to witness nightmarish social media content, but nothing could have prepared me, or social media users around the world for the extremely graphic posts, the hate, and vitriol being spread like wildfire that was already happening, and what was to come… In the wake of Oct. 7, platforms must collaborate with hate speech, antisemitism and terror experts to utilize the recent outpouring of graphic content and train their AI to automatically recognize, flag and remove these posts. But with a track record of social media conglomerates’ negligence, and terror groups making it clear that they will continue to exploit social media inaction, we cannot afford to leave it up to them.” [USAToday]

Around the Web

The Oversight Board, an independent entity created by Meta to review its actions removing or hiding certain content, found that the company was overly aggressive in taking posts about the Oct. 7 attacks, including those that used graphic footage to “condemn and raise awareness” about the massacres, not glorify them…

A new survey by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Bay Area found that 61% of local Jewish residents feel less safe in their day-to-day lives since Oct. 7, with 22% saying they feel “much less safe”…

Jerry Seinfeld visited the headquarters of the Kidnapped and Missing Families Forum in Tel Aviv during a solidarity tour of the country…

Harvard Business School team broke down five years of donations by MacKenzie Scott — totaling some $15 billion — finding that she focuses on education and health care and tends to direct funding toward causes in the southern United States…

Pittsburgh’s Jewish Healthcare Foundation approved $135,000 in emergency grants for Hillel International, Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh, Chabad of Carnegie Mellon University and Chabad House on Campus at the University of Pittsburgh in light of rising antisemitism on the campuses…

The Canadian Jewish News interviewed faculty and staff at the University of Victoria who say they are being harassed and threatened…

Though recent Harvard/Harris polls have been cited widely and in dire terms as showing that young people are increasingly anti-Israel and antisemitic, the surveys may be inherently flawed…

Amy Jacobs, a San Diego-based philanthropist, joined the board of trustees of the city’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Political consultant David Axelrod interviewed novelist Sara Paretsky about her childhood in one of the only Jewish families in Lawrence, Kan., and her response to the current wave of antisemitism…

Russian Jewish billionaire Roman Abramovich, a major donor to a number of Jewish causes, lost a case to overturn a European Union decision to freeze his funds and ban him from the 27-nation bloc over his ties to Moscow…

The Israeli Defense Ministry’s Rehabilitation Division told lawmakers that it does not have the resources to treat all of the veterans of the current war who are expected to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other war-related injuries…

The Tikvah Fund is establishing the Emet Classical Academy, a Jewish preparatory school for 6th through 12th graders, which will open this fall on the Upper East Side of Manhattan…

Galerie magazine profiled philanthropist Christine Mack who launched an artist residency program earlier this year, which kicked off with American Jewish painter Hannah Lupton Reinhard and is now being used by Yam Shalev, an Israeli artist…

The Ruderman Family Foundation is partnering with actress Eva Longoria, the recipient of the foundation’s 2023 Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion, in its efforts to advance disability rights…

Bob Cohn, the president of The Economist, who previously led The Atlanticwas named the next president of the Baltimore Banner

Lithuania and Latvia are allowing Holocaust survivors and their descendants to apply for restitution through the end of this month, under a law passed last year…

Pic of the Day

Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.
Courtesy/Morag Bitan

Romina Roni, a member of the Israeli delegation to the Pan American Maccabi Games, stands with with Riki Kanterevicz, Maccabi World Union vice chair, and Francisco Tropepi, charge d’affaires at the Argentine Embassy in Israel, this week at the Kfar Maccabiah complex in Ramat Gan, outside Tel Aviv, before the delegation takes off for Argentina, where the event will kick off next week.

The Israeli delegation was meant to have some 200 members from across the country, but following the Oct. 7 attacks and ongoing war, the Maccabi World Union and Maccabi Israel decided to instead “recruit athletes from communities close to the Gaza Strip, to give them an experience that may ease this difficult period for them,” the organizations said. As a result, the delegation will include 74 athletes, 45 of whom come from Gaza border communities.


Annie Liebovitz smiles

CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Jeremy Burton

Founder of an on-line children’s bookstore featuring titles in a variety of languages, Yona Eckstein… Former chair of the executive committee of the Jewish Federations of North America, Michael Gelman… Illusionist, magician, television personality and self-proclaimed psychic, Uri Geller… Television producer, he is the creator of the “Law & Order,” “Chicago” and “FBI” franchises, Richard Anthony (Dick) Wolf… Southern California resident, Carol Gene Berk… Owner of the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, Binyamin “Beny” Alagem… President of the University of Miami since 2015, he is a Mexican-born physician and former secretary of health of Mexico, Julio Frenk… Bob Lindenbaum… Educational advocate and strategist at the Melmed Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, Ricki Light… Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale since 2014, she is a professor of both philosophy and psychology, Tamar Szabó Gendler… Author of the 2019 book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, she writes the “Dear Therapist” column for The AtlanticLori Gottlieb… IDF general and commander of the Israeli Air Force until 2022, Amikam Norkin… Swiss-born British philosopher and author, Alain de Botton… Former tight end for the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, now a senior sales rep for Medtronic, Scott Lawrence Slutzker… Israeli-American television and film writer and producer, Ron Leshem… Actor, producer, screenwriter and comedian, known by his first and middle names, Jonah Hill Feldstein… Associate managing director of Hadassah Metro (N.Y., N.J., Conn.), Adam Wolfthal… Program and special initiatives director at Kirsh Philanthropies, Megan Nathan… Humor and fashion writer best known as Man Repeller, Leandra Medine Cohen… Israeli singer who performs Hebrew, English, Arabic and Spanish songs and covers, Ofir Ben Shitrit… Pitcher in the Houston Astros organization, he pitched for Team Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Colton Gordon