Your Daily Phil: Jewish community responds to Maui fires + The summer of Golda

Good Friday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on an operation to rescue Israelis and Ethiopians eligible for Israeli citizenship from the ongoing fighting in Ethiopia’s Amhara region and a new educational program about Golda Meir as part of the release of a biopic about the former Israeli prime minister. We also feature an opinion piece from Erica Brown. We’ll start with the Jewish community’s response to the deadly wildfires on Hawaii’s island of Maui.

For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: Robert Beren, donor to Orthodox causes and head of prominent philanthropic family, dies at 97; AIPAC steps up efforts to oust anti-Israel lawmakers; In Houston, a far-left insurgent challenges a Democratic incumbent on Israel; Nikki Haley tries to straddle the GOP’s establishment-MAGA divide on foreign policy. Print the latest edition here.

With deadly wildfires still blazing across the Hawaiian island of Maui on Thursday, the two rabbis on the island stepped up relief efforts for the 11,000 residents — including some of their own congregants — who have been evacuated from their homes, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

“We’re looking for supplies for all residents of Maui, not just Jewish ones because [of] the Jewish value of helping all during time of emergency,” Rabbi Raanan Mallek, who leads The Jewish Congregation of Maui, told eJP in a phone conversation on Thursday afternoon from Maui. At least 55 people have reportedly been killed in the fires.

Several members of Mallek’s congregation have lost their homes to the inferno, brought on by strong winds from Hurricane Dora. A congregation board member’s restaurant, The Kula Lodge, has been severely scorched, Mallek said.

Also on Hawaii’s second-largest island is Chabad of Maui, led by Rabbi Mendy Krasnjansky. The Chabad center was in the evacuation zone, about two miles from the fire line. Volunteers have been told to be ready to rescue the building’s Torahs if necessary.

Jewish Federations of North America launched a Hawaii Wildfire Fund on Friday to purchase “toiletries, first-aid kits, non-perishable foods, baby supplies and more” for those affected by the fires, the organization said.

“Obviously, it’s a very trying time for the community,” Krasnjansky wrote in an email to eJP on Thursday afternoon. “We have been fielding calls nonstop since the crisis started. Krasnjansky called the outpouring of people reaching out from across the globe to contribute “overwhelming and inspiring.”

Read the full story here.

Israel’s Iron Lady

Golda Meir speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem in 1976. (William KAREL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Move over, Barbie: It’s the summer of Golda! The Golda Summer Project running through August, leading up to the U.S. premiere of the biopic “Golda,” aims to teach participants worldwide about former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Role model: Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), a co-sponsor of GSP, echoed the sentiment that Meir’s influence is global. “Golda has impacted all of us,” Katz told eJP. “Under Golda’s leadership, women’s organizations in Israel were really brought to the table,” she continued. Katz said Meir, who grew up in Milwaukee, is a role model for women of all ages. “She’s someone who holds up as an incredible leader, and we don’t always see women in such prominent roles. We haven’t had someone in the United States at that level yet.”

Golda’s Torah: GSP is a collaboration among more than 15 Jewish and Israeli organizations, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, the iCenter for Israel Education and the Embassy of Israel in the United States, as well as the Golda Meir House Museum in Denver, the Golda Meir Institute for Leadership in Tel Aviv and Mean Streets Management. The project includes “Golda Parsha Sheets,” tying the Torah portion to Israeli history and Meir’s impact during the 1960s and ’70s.

Read the full story here.

Rescue mission

Israel, Jewish Agency rescue Israelis, immigrants-to-be from war-torn region of Ethiopia

Israelis and Ethiopians eligible for Israeli citizenship wave on board a plane taking them out of Ethiopia’s war-torn Amhara region on August 10, 2023. (Courtesy/Israeli Government Press Office)

The Israeli government, working with the Jewish Agency for Israel, on Thursday rescued more than 200 Israeli citizens and members of the local Jewish community waiting to immigrate to Israel who were trapped in Ethiopia’s Amhara region due to ongoing clashes between a local militia and government forces. They were flown to the capital of Addis Ababa, where some will stay for the time being while others will continue on to Israel, officials told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Dedicated to the cause: In light of this, the Israeli government and Jewish Agency began preparing to extract the approximately 140 Israeli citizens in Amhara, most of them in and around Gondar and others in the city of Bahir Dar, as well as the approximately 60 people eligible for Israeli citizenship. “We initiated this rescue operation as part of our shared commitment and strong dedication to our people. We won’t break our promise; we won’t abandon any Jew who needs our help on the ground,” Jewish Agency Chairman Doron Almog said in a statement.

Left behind: Surafel Alamo, the head of the Struggle for Ethiopian Aliyah, criticized the government for leaving behind thousands of Ethiopians in Gondar with family members in Israel — but are not recognized by the government as eligible for Israeli citizenship — who have been waiting for years to immigrate. “In light of the war in Ethiopia and the immediate threat to life it represented, the Israeli government worked to save the lives of Israeli citizens who were stuck in the area of the battles and along the way continued to abandon the lives of those in the waiting camp in Gondar,” Alamo said.

Read the full story here.

The Torah of Leadership

The false prophet: Thoughts on Parshat Re’eh


“‘I ain’t no false prophet – I just know what I know/ I go where only the lonely can go,’ sings Bob Dylan in his song ‘False Prophet.’ A false prophet makes claims to have secret knowledge that others cannot access. The false prophet uses this information to persuade followers to a particular agenda. Dylan warns against making him into this kind of person: ‘What are you lookin’ at – there’s nothing to see/ Just a cool breeze encircling me.’ A false prophet can only exert the authority others give him. Look elsewhere, Dylan asks,” writes Erica Brown, vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University and director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center, in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy, “The Torah of Leadership.”

Don’t follow the leader: “It is for this reason that our Torah reading, Re’eh, does not caution people not to become false prophets but instead tells potential followers not to listen to such inauthentic leaders. The false prophet is nothing without followers. Do not give him — or her — that power… If a false prophet is so problematic, why are we drawn to them? In a universe of uncertainty, moral opacity and political confusion, we want someone to tell us that all will be fine, that we are wonderful and that there is one right answer. We want clarity and certainty in our leaders. But truly great leaders will never offer that.”

Not all doom and gloom: “Throughout Jewish history, we have had examples of charismatic figures who tried to lead others astray, from Bar Kokhba to Shabbetai Zvi to Jacob Frank… Today we have modern-day prognosticators who make their own predictions about the future fate of the Jewish people. They are often doom-sayers. The 20th-century thinker Simon Rawidowicz, in his famous essay, “Israel: The Ever-Dying People,” writes that we have viewed ourselves and others have said of us that we are “constantly on the verge of ceasing to be, of disappearing.” And yet, here we are still, alive and flourishing.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Everybody Needs Somebody: In The Wall Street Journal, psychologist Susan Pinker looks at new research showing that interpersonal relationships were a key factor in survival rates of victims of the Holocaust. “Testimony from Holocaust survivors has long suggested that loners were among the first to die in the Nazi concentration camps. In contrast, having a family member, friend, neighbor or colleague in the camp promoted survival. Even the act of sharing something small with another person, like a bit of food or a newspaper, could help… The researchers found that 10% of the deportees arrived in Auschwitz knowing a fellow prisoner, whether as a prewar neighbor in Prague, a fellow community member in the Theresienstadt ghetto, as workers in the same labor camp prior to Auschwitz, or as inmates on the same transport to the concentration camp. Only 6% of Auschwitz-Birkenau inmates survived. But any one of these social ties increased an inmate’s odds of survival by a third.” [WSJ]

Around the Web

The American Jewish Committee released the “structure, direction and priorities” of the task force, which it announced in June, that will work to implement the White House’s strategy to combat antisemitism…  

Tara Levine, a former consultant and top executive at several international firms, has been named president of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism

Cleveland will soon be home to four new branches of the Hatzalah emergency response organization…

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation gave a three-year $9.5 million grant to Jewish Federations of North America to “build out a comprehensive talent strategy “…

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit against the district’s Department of Corrections for allegedly unlawfully denying kosher meals to Jewish inmates…

The Supreme Court has halted an agreement with the Sackler family, which was meant to protect it from opioid-related lawsuits in exchange for a $6 billion settlement…

A Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver employee, Maytal Kowalski, was fired after publicly denouncing the organization’s CEO for failing to take what she considered to be a firmer stance on the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul. The federation said Kowalski was dismissed for speaking in an “unprofessional” manner, not for her politics…

Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger announced more than $2.84 million in partnership grants to anti-hunger organizations across the United States…

The Heckscher Foundation for Children issued a $400,000 grant to the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island to encourage underprivileged youth to consider working in the offshore wind energy industry…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Inbar Shlomit Rubin/KKL-JNF

Some 30 flamingos was in the water of northern Israel’s Agamon Hula yesterday, marking the start of this year’s migratory season.

“Though it’s still August and summer in Israel, the first migratory birds have already started arriving at Agamon Hula! In addition to flamingos, we also began to see herons of various species, hummingbirds, egrets, and more,” said KKL-JNF field manager Inbar Shlomit Rubin, who photographed the birds.


Courtesy/Harvard News Office

Professor of government at Harvard University, he was the director of the Harvard Center for Jewish Studies, Eric M. Nelson, celebrates his birthday on Sunday…

FRIDAY: Longtime Democratic Party activist in NY’s Orange and Rockland Counties, Doris Feder … Architect best known for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., Peter Eisenman… Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, she also served as Brooklyn DA and NYC comptroller, Elizabeth Holtzman… Principal of Investors Research Group based in Los Angeles, Jacob S. Segal… Former SVP for international affairs at the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Lois Weinsaft… Philanthropist and co-founder of The Carlyle Group, he serves as chairman of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, David Rubenstein… Former U.S. trade representative, she retired in 2021 as the chair of the international trade group at WilmerHale, Ambassador Charlene Barshefsky… Senior counsel for benefits and employment at the D.C.-based law firm of Keightley & Ashner, Linda E. Rosenzweig… Lenore Solomon… Artistic director and choreographer of an eponymous dance company based in Union, N.J., Carolyn Dorfman… CEO, chairman and major shareholder of the Russian gas company Novatek, Leonid Mikhelson… Former member of the Massachusetts Senate, he is the founder of Cape Air, Daniel A. “Dan” Wolf… Publisher of Yated Ne’eman weekly English-language Haredi newspaper, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz… Member of Knesset for the Likud party and minister of regional cooperation, David “Dudi” Amsalem… Co-founder and partner of MizMaa Ventures and wine columnist for Jewish Insider, Isaac “Yitz” Applbaum… Former chief of Israel’s Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman… Chairman at Duty Free Americas, Simon Falic… Political, cultural and social science commentator for The New York Times, David Brooks… Director of strategic development at Javelin, Ilana Marcus Drimmer… MLB pitcher for seven teams, he has also been the pitching coach for Team Israel, Andrew Lorraine… NFL offensive lineman for four seasons, he is now the managing partner of Oakland-based North Venture Partners, Alex Bernstein… Co-founder and CEO of Israeli interactive video firm Eko, Yoni Bloch… Chief investment officer of Toronto-based investment firm Murchinson, Marc Bistricer… NFL punter for seven seasons with the Jaguars and Bears, he is now a broker in the Jacksonville office of Merrill Lynch, Adam Podlesh… Ukrainian-born and San Francisco-raised journalist and copywriter, Yelena Shuster… General surgery resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Sara Ginzberg, M.D…. Daniel Weitz…

SATURDAY: Hungarian-American investor, philanthropist and political activist, George Soros (born György Schwartz)… Retired Beverly Hills attorney, Sheldon Stanford Ellis… Television writer, best known as the creator of the CBS primetime soap opera/drama series “Dallas” and “Knots Landing,” David Jacobs… Emmy Award-winning television screenwriter, television producer and author, Gail Parent… NYC-born historian and author, he held academic positions in the U.K. and Australia and served as president of the Jewish Historical Society of England, William Rubinstein… Attorney in Ontario, Canada, who served as president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Lester Scheininger… U.S. diplomat, Karyn Allison Posner-Mullen… Interim operations manager at Houston’s Congregation Emanu El, Fredi Bleeker Franks… Sales manager of Illi Commercial Real Estate in Encino, CA, Stuart Steinberg… Israel’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Albania, Noah Gal Gendler… Former member of Knesset from the Yesh Atid party, Haim Yellin… Founding editor of The Times of Israel, David Horovitz… Senior rabbi at Brookline’s Temple Beth Zion, Claudia Kreiman… Chief strategy officer at NYC’s Educational Alliance, Anya Hoerburger… Chief marketing officer at Cross Campus, Jay Chernikoff… Co-founder at Understory, David Fine… CEO and co-founder of Forsight, Ariel Applbaum

SUNDAY: Former member of the New York State Assembly for 24 years, she is now the county clerk of Queens County, Audrey I. Pheffer… Retired CPA and senior executive in Los Angeles, Morton Algaze… Treasury secretary of the United States, Janet Yellen… Beverly Hills resident, Ruth Fay Kellerman… Documentary still photographer of the American and international Jewish communities since 1970, Robert Cumins… VP and chief of staff at the Aspen Institute, James M. Spiegelman… Film producer, writer and director, Susan Landau Finch… Founder of the Council of Orthodox Jewish Organizations of Manhattan, Michael Landau… Co-chairman of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group, Michael De Luca… Storyteller, producer and writer, Jeffrey Mark “Slash” Coleman… Former editor-in-chief at Los Angeles Magazine, Maer Roshan… Founder and managing director at Beacon Global Strategies, Jeremy B. Bash… President of Accessibility Partners and the founder of a non-profit Support the Girls, Dana Marlowe… Three-time Olympian water polo player, now associate head coach at Pepperdine, Merrill Moses… Professor of law at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, Joshua Michael Blackman… Deputy counsel, global head contracts & litigation for Tower Research Capital, LLC, Matthew Weiss… London hub editor for the Washington Post, Sara Sorcher… Israeli Olympic long-distance runner, Maor Tiyouri… Associate at Fried Frank, Nathan Jablow… Account supervisor for crisis communications at Edelman, Jodie Michelle Singer… Corporate director of development and analytics at Azul Hospitality Group, Adam Dahan… Founder and managing partner of Israel-based AlignUp, David Angel… Elaine Hall… Jonathan Gerber…