Your Daily Phil: Israel’s full rehabilitation centers struggle to make room for war-wounded

Good Tuesday morning. 

Ed. note: In observation of Shavuot, the next Your Daily Phil will arrive in your inbox on Friday, June 14. Chag sameach!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the shortage of space in Israel’s rehabilitation centers and efforts to expand them in the wake of Oct. 7 and on the release of a new cookbook for Shavuot by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum. We speak to a delegation of residents from evacuated towns in northern Israel, and feature an opinion piece by Andrés Spokoiny about Shavuot, social contracts and covenantal bonds. Also in this newsletter: Rabbi Avi Shafran, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt and Deborah M. Lauter. We’ll start with a number of new initiatives that the American Jewish Committeeis due to announce today.

The American Jewish Committee is set to launch new programs focused on addressing antisemitism in education and expanding the organization’s efforts in the Middle East today, the group’s CEO Ted Deutch told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod for eJewishPhilanthropy on the sidelines of the AJC Global Forum in Washington, D.C., ahead of the announcements.

Responding to the situation on college campuses and in K-12 education, Deutch said that AJC will be launching a new Center for Education Advocacy, an “expansive” initiative focused on confronting campus antisemitism, which he described as “the most urgent crisis domestically for us to confront.”

“What’s happening on college campuses isn’t just about Jewish kids. It’s about the future business leaders and tech leaders and elected leaders in America,” Deutch said. “So we feel that it’s vitally important to transform the educational experience on campus, so that universities can rid themselves of antisemitism so that our K-12 schools don’t allow it to seep in, to benefit, again, not just the Jewish kids, but society as a whole.”

In addition, AJC will launch a Center for a New Middle East to advance the organization’s existing work in Israel and the Gulf, hosting conferences and business programs in the U.S., Israel and the Gulf, as well as working with emerging leaders in Israel and the Arab world.

“We think that this is the moment to focus on what’s going to happen when the war ends,” Deutch said. “Everyone’s focused on the day after in Gaza, as are we. We think that’s obviously critically important. But we also think it’s necessary to focus on the decade after in the region, and what it will look like when Israel normalizes with more countries.”

Deutch said that AJC has “long-standing relationships in Saudi Arabia,” adding that the prospect of normalization with Saudi Arabia would be “a game changer in the region.”

Additionally, AJC announced a new collaboration with the Jewish Agency for Israel to educate Jewish Agency shlichim about the antisemitism facing American Jews and initiatives aimed at building ties between Jewish and Israeli teens. In January, the Jewish Agency launched a similar initiative with the Anti-Defamation League.

Read the full report here.


Amid existing shortage of rehabilitation beds, Israeli hospitals scramble to care for war-wounded

Rabbi Shahar Butzhak, from the southern Israeli town of Ofakim, who was wounded on Oct. 7, receives physical therapy at the Kaylie Rehabilitation Medical Center at ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, in an undated photograph.
Rabbi Shahar Butzhak, from the southern Israeli town of Ofakim, who was wounded on Oct. 7,
receives physical therapy at the Kaylie Rehabilitation Medical Center at
ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy/ADI Negev)

All of the nearly 1,000 beds in Israel’s rehabilitation centers were occupied on Oct. 6. Even then, the lack of rehabilitation facilities was a well-known source of serious concern and regular discussion within the country’s medical system. And then the Oct. 7 mass terror attacks happened, sending a staggering influx of patients to Israeli hospitals for physical and emotional rehabilitation. “We needed thousands of rehabilitation beds for those injured people,” Shauli Hercyk, CEO of the Medical Care rehabilitation hospital in Bat Yam, just outside of Tel Aviv, told Judith Sudilovsky for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A major jump: The Rehabilitation Division of Israel’s Defense Ministry, which is responsible for providing rehabilitative care to injured Israeli soldiers and other security service members, has seen a massive rise in the number of wounded service members that it is providing care for. Before Oct. 7, the division had treated a total of 62,000 people over the course of its 76 years. Since Oct. 7, that number has grown by 8,504 — a 13.7% jump in eight months — and it is expected to continue rising as the war progresses, representatives of the Defense Ministry told the Knesset earlier this week.

Confounding variables: There are currently approximately 7,000 people in rehabilitation programs in Israeli hospitals — half of them soldiers and half civilians, according to Nadav Davidovitch, chairman of the Health Policy Program for the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel and director of the School of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Whether the Israeli government and society has the capacity to meet the future rehabilitation needs for the wounded depends on how long the war continues and the economic situation of the country, he said.

A bad combination: Since the outbreak of the war there has been a concerted effort to create more rehabilitation locations for civilians and security forces who have been — and will be — injured during the conflict, Hercyk said. But Davidovitch warned that funding these rehabilitation programs will not be easy as the Israeli government tightens its financial belt to pay for the war effort. “There are [existing rehabilitation] programs, but if the war continues like this, I think there will be another cutting of the government’s budget and usually these [services] suffer the most,” Davidovitch said, adding that while the budgets may be reduced, the number of people needing rehabilitation will likely grow. “That is not a good combination.”

Read the full report here.


Special Shavuot cookbook seeks to keep hostages top of mind

Shavuot of Longing: Their Recipes on Our Tables features 75 recipes for the favorite dishes of both living and deceased hostages. (Tamara Zieve/Jewish Insider)

Flipping through the new cookbook released by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum ahead of Shavuot, one can get no further than the second recipe without receiving a gut punch — when the book was published, Amit Buskila, the author of the recipe for the Moroccan tomato-based condiment matbucha, was still presumed alive. But on May 17, the Israel Defense Forces announced that her body had been recovered from Gaza, reports Jewish Insider’s Tamara Zieve.

Bonding opportunity: The book, titled Shavuot of Longing: Their Recipes on Our Tables, was printed at the Be’eri printshop, the main source of income of the kibbutz, which was one of the communities hardest hit in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Itay Shenberger, who initiated the book on behalf of the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, told JI the project seeks to keep hostages top of mind by increasing the sense of connection between members of the public and the hostages. “Our call to action for all the public is to choose one recipe or one of the hostages that they can feel super connected to, and make the recipe and dedicate the food to the hostage. I think it’s a way for people to bond with the hostages,” Shenberger explained.

Food means hope: The 75 recipes spread across 180 pages comprise a combination of the favorite dishes of both living and deceased hostages — those who were known to be dead at the time of the book’s release have “z”l” (an abbreviation for zichrono livracha, or “blessed be their memory”) printed next to their name. Leading off the collection is a note of hope from Luis Har, who was rescued from Gaza by Israeli forces after 128 days in captivity. “Food is something optimistic, but only when we will be able to sit together around the table. When we will enjoy the recipes we’ve created, it will provide me with closure. I’m already looking forward to the day I will be cooking with everyone,” reads Har’s message, alongside his recipe for “Grandpa Luis’ Pizza.”

Spreading the word: As of this week, 75,000 copies of the book had been sold worldwide, mostly in Israel but also in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. A digital version is also available for purchase, and influencers have taken part in the initiative to help raise awareness of the cause. Funds raised from the book will go to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, to support hostages’ families and to help fund the organization’s operations and media campaigns. At the Israeli Embassy’s Yom Haatzmaut gathering in Washington last month, attendees were gifted copies of the book.

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


Residents of Israel’s north highlight continued instability and Hezbollah threat

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren and delegation from northern Israel. (Courtesy)

Residents of northern Israel, many of them evacuated from their homes or facing consistent rocket fire and threats from Hezbollah in Lebanon, are visiting Washington, D.C., this week in an effort to highlight the ongoing displacement and instability that they face, and the looming threat on Israel’s northern border. “Tens of thousands of people have been left homeless for eight months now, under constant rocket fire, large parts of the Galilee set on fire, dozens of people killed and wounded, and the potential here for a much, much greater conflict than that which has been raging in the South,” former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, who helped arrange the trip through the organization that he formed after the Oct. 7 terror attacks, the Israel Advocacy Group, told Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod.

One of the lucky ones: Judith Javor, 77, has been a resident of Metula for 30 years, with no idea when she’ll be able to return home. Her husband died of a stroke in December, and she had just hours to enter Metula under cover of night, with an IDF convoy, under missile fire, to bury him in “the most surreal funeral that you could ever imagine… I can’t set up a headstone, I can’t go visit him, I can’t do anything,” Javor said. But Javor said she also counts herself lucky that she was able to bury her husband in Metula at all; others have not been able to do so, including family members of soldiers killed in action. “I’m in Tel Aviv, [a] very nice apartment, and if you look at me externally, somebody who doesn’t understand [might ask], ‘What’s she complaining about?’ But I can’t go home. I’ve got no idea when I can go home,” she continued.

In the dark: David Zigdon, a resident of Kiryat Shmona and CEO of the MIGAL Research Institute, warned that the ongoing displacement and destabilization has set back industry, agricultural development and start-ups in the region by a decade. “This is our big problem now, to convince startups to come back,” Zigdon said. “The population … likes to work in high-tech, in biotech, in food tech. And now, when they have no [choice of] where to work, the good population will immigrate from the north to the south. And this is a big problem for Israel, at home, that we are going to shrink.” He said that there’s a clearer plan to help evacuated southern communities return to normal, but “in the north, we know nothing.”

Read the full report here.


Solidarity from Sinai: strengthening our covenant

(Mountains Hunter/Adobe Stock)

“In a social contract, individuals and groups establish a transaction: They agree to forgo some of their ‘natural freedoms’ so that greater freedom and prosperity can be attained by more people and by society as a whole,” writes Andrés Spokoiny, president and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Our own bond: “Judaism had its own social contract, the one we celebrate every Shavuot when we remember that moment 3,500 years ago when we stood together at the foot of Mt. Sinai. But Judaism’s social contract is unique — a covenant that not only binds us together but, in the traditional view, cements a bond between us and God until the end of times: ‘I am making this covenant… not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here this day’ (Deuteronomy 29:14-15).”

What makes it different: “In social contracts, society has no intrinsic value; it’s just a transactional device to ensure the safety and flourishing of the individuals therein. We, however, have an intrinsic value as a collective: We have a mission, a mandate, a vocation, and as such there is a sacred dimension to our existence. The social contract is immanent, meaning its authority resides only with the individual humans that sign it. In a covenant, we are bound together in an inextricable web of mutuality in which what happens to one happens to all of us… Oct. 7 made that interdependence excruciatingly obvious for many of us. Feeling the pain of that day and then then anguish, loneliness, anger, fear and determination of Israelis and of victims of antisemitism around the world was the ultimate test of peoplehood.”

Get inspired: “This Shavuot let’s commit to rebuild our covenant — to translate the pain into positive action. Let’s understand that we not only have rights but also obligations toward each other. Let’s realize that by having that covenant we can achieve things that we can never achieve alone. How can we do this as funders? I have previously emphasized the importance of certain commitments that reinforce our sense of peoplehood and covenant. As we continue to face challenges, it’s crucial to revisit and remind ourselves of these commitments.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

A Different Focus: In an opinion piece in Haaretz, Rabbi Avi Shafran, Agudath Israel of America’s director of public affairs, explains the differences in worldviews between Haredi Jews and Religious Zionist Jews. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that ultra-Orthodox political parties Shas and United Torah Judaism have endorsed a plan that U.S. President Joe Biden announced last week was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s for a truce – a phased plan to secure Hamas’ release of hostages and end the war in Gaza… Haredi support of the hostage release plan stands in stark contrast to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s insistence that they will not back the current proposal, and have threatened to resign from the government if Netanyahu accepts the deal… Most Americans don’t fully understand how different the Israeli ultra-Orthodox world is from the national religious one. Israelis are considerably more familiar with that distinction. Because, just as the Haredi parties’ attitude toward military service for those engaged in full-time Torah studies — the source of so much consternation in Israeli society — radically diverges from that of the nationalist religious parties, so do the two camps’ respective attitudes toward military or political objectives. While Smotrich’s Religious Zionism and Ben-Gvir’s s Otzma Yehudit parties see things through what is essentially a patriotic lens, albeit one informed by religious beliefs; UTJ and Shas’ view is exclusively Judaism-centric in nature.” [Haaretz]

Big Problem, Tiny Solution: In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stephanie Beasley reports on efforts by foundations and nonprofits to address the homelessness crisis in U.S. cities by creating villages of so-called “tiny homes.” “Rates of homelessness have been on the rise for nearly a decade, exacerbated by rising housing costs. More than 650,000 people are without housing, the highest number recorded since the launch of a national ‘point-in-time’ data collection in 2007. Over all, homelessness has increased 12% since 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development… Communities of tiny homes that have been popping up across the country in recent years are being funded through financial gifts and, in some cases, built on land donated by nonprofits. These scaled-down homes are typically 100 to 400 square feet. Some offer the typical features of a regular house, such as indoor plumbing, a kitchen, and a bathroom. And some don’t. Yet they are an alternative, and often the only alternative available to people who would otherwise be sleeping on park benches or other public spaces, which could subject them to fines or jail time… Still, some remain skeptical of funders and municipal governments supporting tiny homes if they aren’t also exploring more permanent options… [Funders Together to End Homelessness CEO Amanda] Andere, who advocates for greater equity in housing policies, especially for Black and Indigenous communities, [said] tiny homes should be seen as a bridge between the shelter environment and permanent housing rather than the ultimate solution.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Where’s the Outrage?: In The Times of Israel, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt decries the lack of public outrage over the rise in antisemitism seen across the United States since Oct. 7. “Some prominent commentators have asked, were the deaths of a reported 200 Gazans worth the lives of four Israeli hostages? Yes, this question absolutely should be asked – directly to Hamas. It should be put to Hamas leaders in Doha who reject peace overtures and sit comfortably on vast fortunes while their people suffer needlessly in poverty… And it should be considered by eager Hamas boosters in the West who preen and posture with their privilege while so many innocent people wail painfully in Gaza… But where is the outrage? Where is the wholesale, widespread condemnation of this vile antisemitism?… History shows us, time and again, that hateful rhetoric fuels hateful actions. We saw this from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh during the Trump years. Will anyone claim to be surprised when the other shoe inevitably drops in the days ahead?… It’s time to stop ignoring the rank antisemitism so proudly on display at these rallies. It’s time to demand that, if activists truly desire peace, they stop blaming Israel and Jews for everything and start asking tough questions of Hamas and its allies. It is time to end this disastrous tolerance of no expectations and the bigotry it enables – before it’s too late.” [TOI]

Around the Web

Yeshiva University received a $1 million matching grant from an undisclosed donor, which will go to “supporting promising students and budding talmidei chachamim (students of sages),” in honor of Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, the former dean of its rabbinical school who died in January. The university announced the new fund ahead of the ordination of 135 new rabbis on Sunday…

The University of Minnesota paused the hiring of a professor to head the school’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies who wrote that the military operation against Hamas in Gaza after Oct. 7 was “a textbook case of genocide”…

The Times newspaper said it is investigating complaints by three Israeli experts who were interviewed for a recent article about the sexual violence in the Oct. 7 terror attacks and are accusing the outlet of distorting that their remarks in order to give the false “impression that we support the prejudiced argument that claims of sexual violence are being manipulated by Israel”…

A study by the Israel Internet Association found that social media platforms failed to crackdown on misinformation regarding the Oct. 7 terror attacks and ignored users’ complaints about it…

House Republicans are calling on the Biden administration to revoke the tax-exempt status of a nonprofit media organization that employed a Palestinian journalist whom Israel said held three hostages captive in Gaza on behalf of Hamas…

Doctors who treated the recently rescued Israeli hostages talked to Israel’s public broadcaster about their compromised physical and mental states…

A new study in Scientific Reports investigates the connection between philanthropy and scientific research by analyzing the $208 billion that was distributed through 926,124 grants from 2010 to 2019…

Bloomberg Philanthropies purchased the building housing the Gagosian Gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for $560 million…

Edgar Bronfman, backed by Bain Capital, is mulling a bid for Paramount Global parent company National Amusements

Barrons examines how the philanthropic arms of insurance carriers are supporting financial independence initiatives to combat domestic abuse

The trial against Michael Jackson-Bolanos, who is charged with the first-degree murder of Detroit Jewish leader Samantha Woll, as well as other related crimes, opened yesterday…

A Los Angeles man accused of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Paul Kessler at dueling anti- and pro-Israel protests last year pleaded not guilty to all the charges yesterday…

The conservative-leaning Philanthropy Roundtable nonprofit releases new research showing that tax breaks incentivize charitable giving…

City & State New York interviews Rep. Richie Torres (D-NY) about, among other things, his vocal support for Israel, which has put him at odds with some progressives…

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt will retire from the pulpit of Congregation B’nai Tzedek, 36 years after founding the Potomac, Md., congregation…

More than 20 anti-Israel protesters were arrested in clashes with police at UCLA overnight; the school’s Chabad rabbi was reportedly attacked by one protester…

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency looks at why Israeli soldiers are still soliciting donations for their units as the war in Gaza continues…

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will revise its exhibition on Hollywood’s Jewish founders following pushback from some Jewish creatives over concerns that elements of the exhibit reinforced antisemitic stereotypes…

Lt. Col. (res.) Peter Lerner, who has served as a prominent English-language spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces since October, concluded his reserve duty and will return to serving as the director-general of Israel’s Histadrut labor union’s international relations division…

In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Deborah M. Lauter argues for improved Holocaust education to combat rising antisemitism…

Pic of the Day


UC Berkeley Bayit, a Jewish communal house serving undergraduate students at the California school, reopened on Sunday after a major renovation.

Founded in 1980 by a group of Jewish UC Berkeley students who wanted to create a Jewish cooperative kosher home environment, more than 350 students have since called the UC Berkeley Bayit home. The renovations were funded by the Bay Area Jewish Federation and included major structural repairs and upgrades — an investment in Jewish life on campus at a time when it was sorely needed.

UC Berkeley Bayit’s founders were present for the reopening. Pictured from left: Rabbi Jason Gwasdoff, Debbie Cohn, Paul Bonapart, Michael Roth, Karen Goldberg, Barry Cohn and Marci Fox Greene.



Columbus, Ohio-based retail mogul, chairman of American Eagle Outfitters, Value City Department Stores, DSW and others, sponsor of ArtScroll’s translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Jay Schottenstein

Heir to the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, minister in two British governments under prime ministers Major and Thatcher, Sir Timothy Alan Davan Sainsbury… Executive director of NYC-based government watchdog Citizens Union, she was elected as NYC’s public advocate in 2001 and reelected in 2005, Elisabeth A. “Betsy” Gotbaum… Chief spokesperson for AIPAC since 2012, Marshall Wittmann… Member of the Knesset for the Agudat Yisrael faction of the United Torah Judaism party, Meir Porush… Hedge fund manager and owner of MLB’s New York Mets, Steven A. Cohen… Past president and national board member of AIPAC, he is a senior advisor to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, Lee Rosenberg… Former director of the Israeli Internal Security Service Shabak (known as the “Shin Bet”), Yuval Diskin… Member of the Knesset for the Shas party, now serving as minister of labor, Yoav Ben-Tzur… New Windsor, N.Y., attorney, Barry Wolf Friedman… Political and social justice activist, she served as Illinois state representative and as Human Rights Commissioner, Lauren Beth Gash… Opinion columnist for the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin… Partner in the D.C. office of world-wide consulting firm, Brunswick Group, Michael J. Schoenfeld… President of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami… Deputy director of the CIA, David S. Cohen… Deputy assistant secretary in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, Matt Nosanchuk… Professor of Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa, Josef Hillel “J.H.” Chajes… Founder of Shabbat[dot]com, he also serves as the national educational director for Olami Worldwide, Rabbi Benzion Zvi Klatzko… Dean of TheYeshiva[dot]net, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (YY) Jacobson… Former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Scott Gottlieb… Budget director at the City Council of the District of Columbia, Jennifer Budoff… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Nicol Raidman… Director of communications and programming at Academic Engagement Network, Raeefa Shams… Actor, performance artist and filmmaker, Shia LaBeouf… Retired figure skater who competed for Israel in the team event at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Aimee Buchanan… Olympic medalist in canoe slalom in London (2012), Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2020), Jessica Esther “Jess” Fox… Attorney and CEO of Dualis Social Venture Fund, Dana Naor