Your Daily Phil: Janice Weinman on her time at Hadassah + A prayer for returning campers

Good Friday morning!

Ed note: Your Daily Phil will be off next week for July 4th.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a California law requiring nonprofits to disclose their large donors, saying the law violated donors’ First Amendment rights by exposing them to potential harassment. The state of California had argued the law helped prevent fraud and self-dealing.

The decision won’t have any practical near-term consequences for charities, both Jay Sanderson, outgoing CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and Edward Queen, a consultant to Jewish federations on philanthropy and ethics, told eJewishPhilanthropy. Queen, who is director at the Emory Center for Ethics at Emory University, noted that the administrative obligation removed by the law was a relatively minor one.

“I do not believe that this decision will have any impact on responsible non-profits who already subscribe to transparent and responsible reporting and accountability,” Sanderson said.

Queen also praised the ruling on the grounds that supporting controversial causes can and has been dangerous, as when the state of Alabama targeted NAACP supporters in the 1950s. “There may be innumerable ways that forcing donor disclosure could chill philanthropic giving, particularly to disfavored groups and individuals,” Queen said.

In protecting donor privacy, the ruling sacrifices transparency in a way that exacerbates a grave problem, said Rabbi Mira Wasserman, director of the Center for Jewish Ethics at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College: “I am concerned that [the ruling] will only make it harder to address the ways that dark money undermines democracy and the interests of the public.”

Sharsheret, the organization that supports women with breast and ovarian cancer, typically holds regional fundraisers, but will host its first national event online on July 11, aiming to raise at least $1.3 million, the group’s executive director, Elana Silber, told eJewishPhilanthropy. That goal amounts to about a quarter of its revenue from donations, and is roughly equal to what several local online events raised last year.

Joan Lunden, a Jewish breast cancer survivor and a former host of “Good Morning America,” will host the event, which will be produced by Adam Kantor, an actor and singer who appeared on Broadway as Mark Cohen in “Rent” and as Motel in “Fiddler on the Roof.” More than 1,600 people have signed up to watch the fundraiser.

Sharsheret views fundraising as a means of education, due to the elevated genetic risk of breast and ovarian cancer in the Ashkenazi Jewish community, Silber said: “Every person who makes a donation is a potential Sharsheret client. Every family is touched by breast cancer or ovarian cancer.”


As she departs Hadassah, Janice Weinman shares what she learned, accomplished — and has yet to do


Yesterday was Janice Weinman’s last official day as CEO of Hadassah, the Zionist women’s organization she led for nine years. Founded in 1912 to provide medical care in pre-state Israel, Hadassah still funds and plays a role in managing two hospitals in Israel, and that work is a critical part of its mission. But as she departs her job after nine years at the helm, Weinman told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff that she most wants people to understand that Hadassah is much more than its hospitals. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Helen Chernikoff: Hadassah is coming up on its 110th anniversary. It’s an iconic organization. What do people not understand about it?

Janice Weinman: People do not understand the scope. Besides the hospitals, which are exemplary in the research they do and the humanitarian outreach they provide, we support villages that serve at-risk youth in Israel. These are young people who have a lot of needs. They need skills — academic, psychological. They come and they leave totally transformed. There’s our ongoing support for Young Judaea [the Zionist camp and teen travel organization]. We have around 300,000 members, and we involve them so significantly in so many different aspects of Hadassah.

HC: Can you talk more about the membership aspect of Hadassah — the beauty of that, and the challenges?

JW: Leadership manifests itself in many ways. At Hadassah, it’s a matter of partnering with our volunteers, so leadership at Hadassah is a little bit different from being in an organization where the lay leadership is less active. At Hadassah it really is a matter of working, as colleagues, with the volunteer leaders and being able to make that be a productive relationship. It’s more of a give and take at every level. I don’t want to idealize it. It can be cumbersome. You want to get as many voices in as you can, so that the volunteers feel represented and that they have input. You want to integrate that but all of that takes time and process. The value of it is greater than the downside, but it is one of the things that does differentiate Hadassah.

HC: You came to Hadassah at a difficult time. There had been a three-year gap between CEOs, and three leaders were being investigated for financial impropriety at the time. What was the state of morale when you arrived?

JW: There was a great deal of anxiety about the future of the organization. I came in June of 2012, and in the fall, we had our 100th anniversary in Israel. It was like a rebirth. We had difficulties in 2014 with the hospitals, as well, and had to go into a recovery agreement. The hospitals have been working very hard to overcome those financial challenges. It’s a very resilient organization.

Read the full interview here.


A blessing for our campers


As many Jewish camps are about to embark on their first Shabbat of summer 2021, Rabbi Sara Mason-Barkin of Congregation Beth Israel in Scottsdale, Arizona, offers a prayer for campers, staff, and parents.

“As you head off for living Judaism, a summer of fun, a lifetime of memories…”

To our campers: “May the one who blessed our ancestors bless you: With secrets and dreams and stories to share under towering trees and twinkling stars. With independence.”

To our staff: “You are ready to create the kind of magic that another once created for you. We thank you. We are proud of you. We trust you.”

To our parents: “Remember: No letters means your kids are too busy having fun. Remember: They are finding their voices courageously and kindly, with a strong Jewish heart.”

Read the full blessing here.


Rituals for reopening


“After 15 months of pandemic and social distancing, our communities are reopening. So too, synagogues and Jewish community organizations, which have been operating primarily online for more than a year, are resuming in-person gatherings. As we reopen our buildings and prepare for in-person services and events, there are many questions to address,” writes Rabbi Chai Levy in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

COVID questions: “COVID response teams and reopening committees are asking: How many people can attend an indoor event? Can we require proof of vaccination? Is communal singing safe if people are masked? Jewish organizational leaders grapple daily with the exhausting work of adapting our operations to the continually evolving public health protocols.” 

Spiritual questions: “Beyond these kinds of safety protocol questions, there are also the spiritual and emotional questions: How do we celebrate reopening while also making space for the pain and losses of this past year? How do we return to the previous formats, knowing how much this past year has changed us? Does Jewish tradition guide us in coming back together, with all of the mixed emotions we bring to this next phase of the pandemic?”

‘Birkat HaGomel’: “Indeed, the ancient rabbis offered the structure of ritual to support people coming back together… At Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, Calif., where I serve as rabbi, we explored these questions with a team of lay leaders and [t]ogether we designed a series of events called ‘Rituals for Reflection, Reconnection, and Returning.’… One event was a communal ‘Birkat HaGomel,’ in which we remembered those in our community who died this year, welcomed and kvelled over the new babies who were born this year, honored our frontline healthcare workers, heard from those in our community who lost loved ones to COVID and from those who survived it.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Matter Of Faith: Inside Philanthropy’s Ade Adeniji explores philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s predilection for giving to faith-based groups whose missions support her progressive values, such as Repair the World, the Jewish volunteer organization, and Faith in Public Life, a Washington, D.C.-based network of about 50,000 faith leaders. Faith in Public Life calls for a liberal, religious response to counteract the political muscle of the religious right, Adeniji writes. “People are pouring out of the woodwork, wanting to reclaim faith for justice. This is going to enable us to continue to make that happen,” said Reverend Jennifer Butler, the organization’s CEO. [InsidePhilanthropy]

Brain Trust: In a blog post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s website, Melinda Tuan states that more trust from funders toward grantees will help facilitate high performance in the nonprofit sector, and she feels hopeful that an increasing number of funders seem to agree with her. Tuan shares her experiences as a funder at REDF, a venture philanthropy, in which she saw intricate grant applications and skeptical funders exacerbate grantees’ organizational challenges. “The recent trust-based philanthropy movement championed is a sign of how funders are changing,” Tuan states. “Nonprofits know best what they need.” [CEP]

Pregnant Pause: The Macks Center for Jewish Education in Baltimore’s “Belly Talk” program for expectant mothers, who gathered on Zoom during the pandemic to discuss their pregnancies and find support, will continue into the post-pandemic future, and remain online, reports Jesse Berman in the Baltimore Jewish Times. The groups discuss medical issues, spirituality relating to pregnancy and Jewish ritual. “It was a way where I could meet other women who were expecting at the same or around the same time as I was,” said Rebecca Brown, a participant who gave birth in March to her second child, a boy named Lev. [BaltimoreJewishTimes]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

PresenTense, with the support of Citi Israelcommissioned a study to examine the reasons and barriers behind lack of Arab participation in the Israeli startup ecosystem… The UAE and Israeli flag carriers announced both a codeshare cooperation arrangement and reciprocal loyalty agreement for frequent flyers yesterday… PayPal Holdings and the Women’s Funding Network have announced five-year commitments to invest more than $100 million and mobilize $300 million, respectively, in support of efforts to advance gender equality and economic justice around the globe… 

Pic of the Day

Jewish Women’s Archive

The Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) unveiled the Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women this week, named for Alice Shalvi, an Israeli feminist; Moshe Shalvi, her late husband and a publisher who supported the previous edition; and Paula E. Hyman, the late feminist historian. The Shalvi/Hyman edition is the latest update to the encyclopedia, which has been available on JWA’s website since 2009.



Civil rights attorney known for many high profile cases, Gloria Allred(born Gloria Rachel Bloom) celebrates Saturday…

FRIDAY: Former president of the Canadian Jewish Congress and professor at York University (Toronto) specializing in the history of the Jews in Canada, Irving Abella… Director of Hebrew Studies (Emerita) at HUC-JIR, Rivka Dori… Nobel laureate in Medicine in 2004, he is a professor at Columbia University and a molecular biologist, Richard Axel… Co-creator of the “Seinfeld” television series and star and creator of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David… 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’s Special Envoy on Antisemitism, Hannah Rosenthal… Montclair, New Jersey 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… Member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism alliance, Ya’akov Asher… Chief White House correspondent for The New York TimesPeter E. Baker… Teacher at North Shore School District 112 in Highland Park, Illinois, Stephanie Rubin… Co-founder and rosh yeshiva at Mechon Hadar in Manhattan, Shai Held, Ph.D…. Health editor for Thomson Reuters, Michele Gershberg… Motivational speaker, media personality and CEO at The Ayven Group, Charlie Harary… Author on a variety of Jewish topics, Elisa Albert… Israeli journalist, TV anchor and popular lecturer, Sivan Rahav-Meir… Actress, singer and producer, Ashley Tisdale… Actress and internet personality, Barbara Dunkelman

SATURDAY: Winner of the Israel Prize in 1998, professor of mathematics at both Hebrew U and Rutgers, Saharon Shelah… Executive director of the Jewish Education Committee of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County (Boca Raton), Leon Weissberg... Psychologist and board member of many nonprofit organizations, Dr. Gail “Giti” Bendheim… Fellows manager in the northeast region at AIPAC, Suzanne Greene

SUNDAY: Trial and appellate lawyer at Kreindler & Kreindler LLP where he has represented plaintiffs in commercial aviation accidents and other mass torts, Marc S. Moller… Political commentator and former television host, Geraldo Rivera… Philanthropist and former Wall Street junk bond titan, now Chairman of the Milken Institute, Michael Milken… Activist and writer, Paul Rogat Loeb… News editor for The Media Line, Marcy Oster… U.S. Circuit Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, David Ryan Stras… Heiress and businesswoman, Jane Lauder Warsh… Partner at ICONYC labs, Eyal Bino… Cardiothoracic ICU nurse at N.Y.U. Langone Health in New York, profiled in the NYTimes in 2020 for his religious work with dying coronavirus patients, Yaakov Shereshevsky

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