Your Daily Phil: JDC’s survey of European Jewish leaders + Orthodox groups voice concerns over BBB language
Good Thursday morning!
The Jewish Funders Network is planning an in-person conference for members in its western region on Jan. 23-24. The gathering is JFN’s first in-person conference in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020, although the organization did hold smaller in-person events as part of its “Israel Ideas Festival” last month.
JFN West, which is the organization’s first regional network, held its first conference remotely in December 2020. The theme of January’s event is “Be the Story — Creating Inspired Philanthropy,” and JFN expects between 50 and 150 attendees, including the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, the Diane and Guilford Glazer Family Philanthropies, individual donors and foundation staff.
“We know that storytelling is one of the most effective mechanisms for inspiring change,” said Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug, director of JFN’s West Coast office. “We will take a deep dive into the process of storytelling as a powerful philanthropic tool.”
JDC survey of European Jewish leaders shows optimism among the young
Young Jewish leaders across Europe see a rosier future than their older counterparts. The coronavirus pandemic battered but didn’t break Jewish organizations in Eastern and Western Europe. And for the first time since the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has been conducting its triennial survey of European Jewish leaders, “combating antisemitism” emerged as the number one communal priority. Those are some of the key takeaways that study, Marcelo Dimenstein, the project’s director, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.
Surprising optimism: Dimenstein hadn’t expected such confidence from the under-40 group: “We used to expect more optimism from younger people, but today it doesn’t always happen that way, because of the pandemic and other problems.” Of respondents under 40, 61% agreed with the statement, “I am optimistic about the future of Europe,” compared with about half of those in the older age groups. Less than half of the older respondents agreed that “The future of European Jewry is vibrant and positive,” while 64% of the younger group did.
A successful pivot: The survey also revealed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Dimenstein noted: 61% of respondents said their organization had incurred financial losses. More Eastern European organizations said they “definitely” suffered such losses — 56% — while 30% of organizations in Western Europe said the same. Most of the respondents in both Eastern and Western Europe said they felt their organizations adapted well to the pandemic, with 80% giving themselves top scores for maintaining ongoing communication and almost that many saying that they provided support and care to people who needed help.
A careful cross-section: The International Centre for Community Development (ICCD), the JDC’s European research arm, issued its first survey in 2008. This year, for its fifth study, researchers surveyed 1,054 respondents from 31 countries, the majority from Western Europe. The researchers divided the sample — which included organization presidents, board members, activists and philanthropists — into three age cohorts: under 40, 41-54 and over 55. About a third of the respondents self-identified as Orthodox; 24% as Masorti, Liberal or Reform; and 35% as culturally Jewish. The JDC works with local groups in Europe to support impoverished Jewish communities and to foster Jewish life through leadership training, youth programming and community planning.
ON THE HILL
Orthodox groups push for changes to pre-K and childcare provisions in Build Back Better
After months of intraparty brinkmanship, House Democratic leadership is aiming to vote this week on Build Back Better, Democrats’ nearly $2 trillion social policy bill. But a coalition of religious groups, including major Orthodox Jewish advocacy organizations, are pushing for changes to key provisions before the bill passes Congress, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports. As currently written, three specific provisions in the mammoth spending package could make it difficult for religious programs to receive childcare and universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) funding or deter them from seeking it out, individuals who’ve lobbied on the measure told JI.
Shut out: UPK aid would be distributed in the form of a direct grant to preschools, which constitutionally cannot go to programs with religious content. Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s vice president for government affairs, told JI the legislation would prevent any programs that celebrate Jewish holidays or include Jewish blessings — key elements of Orthodox Jewish preschool programs — from receiving funding. “The limitation is so great that it effectively cuts out religious faith-based UPK providers,” Cohen said.
New designation: The bill also includes language stating that childcare aid — which would be administered via certificates — would be considered federal financial assistance to the provider, raising questions about whether religious groups would be eligible. “All kinds of things that have never applied to [providers] before are now going to apply,” Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told JI.
Counterproductive: Diament and Cohen argued that the restrictions would ultimately undercut the effectiveness of the two programs in question by excluding major childcare providers across the nation. Religious organizations provide childcare and preschool to more than half of families in the U.S. using such services, according to a 2020 Bipartisan Policy Center survey. “You can’t say you want religious organizations involved and then say, ‘We’re going to write the rules so that you can’t teach about Hanukkah and sing Hanukkah songs in your pre-K program because we’re going to write rules that make that impermissible,” Diament said.
Let’s do more together: The benefits of collaborative research projects
“This summer CASJE released its study on the ‘Career Trajectories of Jewish Educators.’ Almost immediately, Jewish leaders and practitioners began to dig into the findings and share initial insights on the data,” write Stacie Cherner and Menachem “Manny” Menchel representing, respectively, the Jim Joseph Foundation and the William Davidson Foundation, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Usable knowledge: “Through the ‘Career Trajectories’ study, our foundations sought to create usable knowledge accessible to all in the field. This knowledge can enable more people and organizations to strengthen the pipeline of Jewish educators and better support educators’ professional journeys. As representatives of the research’s funders, we are grateful to the leaders and organizations who have shared insights on the findings.”
Applied research: “Like all CASJE efforts, this endeavor was applied research, meant to provide knowledge that addresses a specific challenge or issue that leaders and practitioners encounter. Developing a research project in this vein, and of this breadth and depth, is best with multiple perspectives and expertise around a table. Together, researchers and practitioners coalesced around questions that shaped initial working papers and ultimately the agreed-upon focus of the research.”
Usable findings: “Our foundations learned a lot from each other during this research journey. We each started with different ideas about how the research would progress and the learnings we might uncover. These predictions were clearly products of our respective foundations’ lens of grantmaking — and they were proven to be too narrow. Through collaboration, the perspectives and experiences of the other grantmaker helped shape our own understanding of the research and how the findings could be relevant and usable in our work.”
Gimme Shelter: Black leaders including actor Danny Glover and NAACP San Francisco chapter President Rev. Amos Brown are demanding that the city of San Francisco give a city-owned building to a nonprofit group being formed to represent the Black community, reports Sam Whiting in the San Francisco Chronicle. The leaders are framing their demand as one for reparations, in which San Francisco will compensate its Black residents for the destruction of the Fillmore neighborhood during urban renewal efforts in the 1950s and 1960s, but Mayor London Breed said such a transfer might be illegal. “I would like to see the venue become a huge success,” Breed said, “but ultimately a lot of the guiding principles … have everything to do with state law.” [SanFranciscoChronicle]
Glass Half Full: In ROI-NJ, Brett Johnson writes that New Jersey’s nonprofits have been pleasantly surprised by the generosity of their donors, and that despite the pandemic, they weren’t forced to cut services, salaries or staff to the extent that they had feared when it started. Hans Dekker, president of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, said he doesn’t see any major changes on the horizon that will stanch the flow of funds, and Linda M. Czipo, CEO of the state’s Center for Non-Profits, noted that virtual events had proved themselves successful fundraisers. “Nonprofits stepped up in a big way,” said Czipo. “Nonprofits are known for pivoting. And that’s certainly what they did.” [ROINJ]
Use Your Imagination. Take part in an online workshop for Jewish educators on imagination in education and leadership. December 6 presented by Spertus Institute.
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Word on the Street
The Richard King Mellon Foundation announced a $100 million commitment, the largest gift for a single project in the foundation’s history, to the University of Pittsburgh to establish an anchor bioresearch and development facility on Hazelwood Green, a former industrial site near downtown Pittsburgh… The Ford Foundation is providing a five-year, $25 million grant to women-led global networks calling on governments to invest in protections for 2.1 billion informal workers as a central component of economic recovery plans… The University of Notre Dame received a $50 million gift to support undergraduate financial aid, the largest of its kind in the school’s history…
Pic of the Day
LABA East Bay, a Jewish cultural center that’s part of the JCC East Bay in Berkeley, Calif., held its first in-person event since the pandemic, a presentation inspired by Jewish texts held outdoors and in adherence to social distancing and masking guidelines.
Israeli cantor and actor, known for his Broadway performance as Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables,” David “Dudu” Fisher…
Roberta “Bobbie” Goldstein… Israeli theoretical physicist and later president of the Weizmann Institute, Haim Harari… Potomac, Md., resident, Richard Gorman… National director of major gifts for the American Committee for the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Paul Jeser… Lecturer at Boston University School of Law, Eric D. Roiter… Atlanta resident, Lynda Wolfe… Professor of immunology at Columbia University, Walter Ian Lipkin… Former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and a luxury handbag designer, Lana J. Marks… Author and singer-songwriter, Barry Louis Polisar… Longtime former play-by-play sportscaster for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, Marc Zumoff… Former mayor of Dallas, Laura Miller… SVP and general counsel of HSP Group and ARF Financial, Robert Bruce Lapidus… Moroccan-born member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Yaakov Margi… NYC-based public relations specialist, writer, activist and performer, Shira Dicker… Washington correspondent for The New York Times covering health policy, Sheryl Gay Stolberg… Attorney and philanthropist, Laurie Luskin… Rabbi of Burbank Temple Emanu El in Burbank, Calif., and national coordinator of Rabbis Without Borders, Tsafreer “Tsafi” Lev… Member of the Knesset for the New Hope party, Michal Shir… Real estate agent at Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties in the Catskills, Talia Fadis… Israeli singer-songwriter and music producer, Elisha Banai…
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