Your Daily Phil: Israeli NGO sends aid to Armenian refugees + Moishe House expands

Good Tuesday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the expansion of Moishe House’s rabbi-led centers and feature an opinion piece by Philip Bendheim about a new way of thinking about health care. Also in this newsletter: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Naomi Firestone-Teeter and Dr. Howard Drew.We’ll start with an Israeli nonprofit sending aid to Armenia.

The Israel-based SmartAid humanitarian organization is readying to deploy telecommunication equipment to Armenia in the coming days as the country absorbs over 100,000 ethnic Armenians who have fled the neighboring Nagorno-Karabakh region following an offensive by Azerbaijan last month, the head of the nonprofit told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

“We are looking to deploy these different units and install them in the camps that are forming to help [the charities on the ground] improve the services that they’re providing,” Shachar Zahavi, the founding director of SmartAid, told eJP.

Zahavi said the telecommunications equipment could have already been sent to Armenia, but the organization’s team on the ground was determining if solar-powered generators to provide electricity for the systems were also needed.

“We have systems in the U.S. that are ready to be deployed. The only thing that we were waiting for is if there is a need for any additional types of systems needed,” he said. “That’s why we were waiting another day or so.”

Zahavi said SmartAid’s ground team had reached out to local charities that provide medical and psychological care to determine what they needed to deal with the influx of over 100,000 refugees — out of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population of roughly 120,000 — who have crossed the border into Armenia in recent days.

“They told us what the gap is and how to help them improve the refugees that are crossing the border,” Zahavi said. “The main challenge is telecommunications and the internet.”

Read the full report here.


People prepare Sukkah decorations at the Base house in Los Angeles.

Moishe House is expanding its network of rabbi-led centers, opening four new homes in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago for young adults in those cities as part of its Base program, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Looking for community: Base, which Moishe House acquired from Hillel International in 2021, looks to provide Jewish spaces for younger adults under the guidance of “rabbinical couples,” where either one or both of the partners received ordination from a rabbinical program or from a private rabbi. “Young adults crave thick community, inspiring learning, and rituals that have spiritual depth, ongoing relevance, and integrity,” Rabbi Jesse Paikin, executive director of Base, said in a statement.

No synagogues, please: Base attributed its expansion to a growing desire by young American Jewish to have experiences with rabbis, which it said could be seen in a report commissioned by Atra: Center for Rabbinic Innovation earlier this year. The study found that 64% of American Jews aged 18-44 said having a relationship with a rabbi is important to them and 91% said that relationship with a rabbi made them feel more positively about being Jewish. Nearly half, 48%, said they were interested in a connection to a Jewish community. Yet 40% said it was hard to develop a relationship with a rabbi, with many citing synagogues as a barrier, either due to their high membership fees or discomfort in visiting a synagogue.

Read the full report here.


In the healing journey, sometimes luxury is just what the doctor ordered

Turkish hammam at Yad Sarah’s wellness center in Jerusalem. (Courtesy/Yad Sarah)

“The widely held notion that nonprofits should and do offer cheap or subpar facilities, goods or services is changing. Especially in the health and social services sector, the assistance, activities and resources that nonprofits provide are critical in improving and saving lives. In this context, if something is nice — luxurious, even — it is not a luxury. In many cases, it is a necessity,” writes Philip Bendheim, director of Yad Sarah’s International Board of Overseers, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Quality facilities for quality outcomes: “In addition to society’s ethical responsibility to treat people with dignity, there is evidence to support that individuals living with disabilities or illness have improved health outcomes when they receive a first-class experience rather than a perfunctory one. Two decades of research by Johns Hopkins professor Mary Catherine Beech has found that this sets off a whole cycle of improvements, including better adherence to treatment regimes.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Good Questions: In The Wall Street Journal,Suman Bhattacharyya shares recommendations from executives and academics on key points companies need to internally establish about their philanthropic giving. “Corporate philanthropy may have started out as a CEO’s pet project or part of a public-relations strategy, but over time, efforts have become embedded into a bigger set of goals, says Mark Kramer, a consultant and former academic who studies corporate philanthropy. What form should the spending take? And how do you measure success? These are some of the questions companies need to ask themselves as they formulate a philanthropic policy.” [WSJ]

Just Like Spotify: In Inside Philanthropy, Dawn Wolfe interviews Adam Rosenzweig about his idea for donors to sign up for an “annual subscription” to a nonprofit, ensuring the organization gets regular support and giving them the power to choose how to spend it.“That question gets to the heart of why this is important, because it puts the power in nonprofits’ hands to say, ‘This is what we need,’ rather than respond to funders saying, ‘This is what we want to see.’ I could absolutely see nonprofits setting standard terms across the industry. Subscriptions aren’t some complicated financial tool, right? They’re pretty simple financially. The idea is really more philosophical: Are we willing to give nonprofits the power to innovate and do what they need, or do we in the philanthropy community want to continue to call the shots?” [InsidePhilanthropy]

Around the Web

The Israeli government is slashing its funding for mental health programs to pre-pandemic levels — a reduction from NIS 13.2 million ($3.43 million) to NIS 3.7 million ($960,000) — despite the groups involved saying that they are still seeing larger numbers of people seeking support… 

Sixty-nine Holocaust survivors have received free “Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed” dental care from the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine as part of an initiative by the school, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and Dr. Howard Drew

Over 10,000 people have signed a petition by a Christian organization, Faithful America, calling on Elon Musk and X to do more to prevent antisemitism and hate speech on the social media platform and criticizing his attacks on the Anti-Defamation League

The United States Postal Service has released a new set of stamps honoring Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died three years ago last month…

In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Democratic Party activists Stacey Abrams and Julián Castro call on the philanthropic community “to ready its resources to fight back” as the Supreme Court opens a new session…

Canadian tax experts warn that a new change to the country’s tax system may discourage high-net-worth individuals from making large philanthropic donations…

Milly Guberman Kravetz, the former director of placement at the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, died last week at 101…

Pic of the Day

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi holds a lulav and etrog as he recites morning prayers today with members of his staff during a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the second-ever official visit by an Israeli minister to the kingdom.
Courtesy/Israeli Communications Ministry

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi holds a lulav and etrog as he recites morning prayers today with members of his staff during a visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the second-ever official visit by an Israeli minister to the kingdom.

The Torah scroll used in the prayer service was wrapped in a felt cover, bearing the legend: “The Jewish Congregation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”


Courtesy/Jewish Creativity International

Executive director at the Jewish Book Council, Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Syndicated radio show host and author, Michael Medved… Senior advisor at FTI Consulting, she is a former five-term member of Congress (D-PA), Allyson Young Schwartz… Professor of physics at Rutgers, he was named a MacArthur Genius Fellow in 1987, Daniel Friedan… Co-founder and owner of Covenant Wines, Jeff Morgan… Westport, Conn.-based holistic health coach, Orna Stern… Lisa Gordon Leff… Global head of music for Google / YouTube, Lyor Cohen… President of The Ferber Company, P. Shields Ferber, Jr.… Member of the Texas House of Representatives, Craig Goldman… Director of redevelopment at LivCor, a Blackstone Company, Daniel Marks Cohen… Art collector and dealer, who together with his father and brother are reputed to own $5 billion of art including over 1,000 pieces by Andy Warhol, David Mugrabi… Investor and talent agent whose clients include Madonna and U2, author of Jews Who Rock regarding Jewish influences on the music industry, Guy Oseary… Longtime congregational rabbi in N.Y. and N.J. and author of We’re Almost There, Rabbi Dovid M. Cohen… Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, Eli Cohen… Venture capitalist and political strategist, Bradley Tusk… Reporter for the Washington Post focused on political enterprise and investigations, Rosalind S. Helderman… Longtime guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a 2012 inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Josh Klinghoffer… Rabbi at The Altneu Synagogue in Manhattan, Benjamin Goldschmidt… Argentina desk officer at the U.S. Department of State, Juan Gilces Coronel… Actor since early childhood, Noah Cameron Schnapp