Your Daily Phil: Jewish Future Pledge hits $2.4 billion + Antisemitism from A to Z
Good Wednesday morning!
In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new volume of essays about antisemitism and feature an opinion piece by Rabbi Benji Levy on self-improvement.Also in this newsletter: Hilla Shapira, Eric Goldstein and Sam Marks. We’ll start with a new milestone by the Jewish Future Pledge.
This week, the Jewish Future Pledge announced it reached 25,000 pledges from an alliance of philanthropic family foundations, individuals and families promising to give what is now a combined total of $2.4 billion to a variety of Jewish and Israeli causes, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.
Only an estimated 11% of donations from major Jewish donors go to Jewish causes, according to a 2017 study. Since it launched three years ago, the Jewish Future Pledge has been working to increase that number by encouraging Jews of all backgrounds to commit to designate, at their death, at least half of the money earmarked for charity in their estates to support Jewish and Israel-related causes.
As the number of pledges was continuing to climb on Tuesday, JFP’s president, Hadara Ishak, told eJP that current events contributed to the sudden increase.
Ishak pointed to skyrocketing rates of antisemitism around the U.S., coupled with the High Holy Day season. “People are thinking about their values and getting inspired by the meaning of tzedakah,” Ishak said. “It takes time for something like this to generate.”
Ishak said JFP is seeing pledges from “Jews from all walks of life and all around the country, some with large means and some more moderate.” Most people hear about the pledge through word of mouth, particularly through JFP’s partnerships with federations, she said.
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, was the 25,000th person to take the pledge on Tuesday.
An antisemitism encyclopedia for the masses
A new book on antisemitism has something for everyone — or at least that’s the hope of the editors of the new anthology that delves into the history of the world’s oldest hatred across millennia, on every continent and in all fields of study and culture. With 40 short essays on antisemitism on topics ranging from Argentina to anti-Zionism to art, the volume attempts to offer the final, irrefutable word on a problem that has become deeply segmented and politicized, reports Gabby Deutch for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publicationJewish Insider.
Unfortunately timely: The idea for the book, The Routledge History of Antisemitism, came about more than five years ago, when antisemitism “was becoming a highly political topic,” said Mark Weitzman, chief operating officer of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, who co-edited the book with Robert Williams and James Wald. In the years since, the politicization of antisemitism has only gotten worse. At the same time, people are more likely to point it out only when antisemitism is espoused by a political opponent. “If you can say, ‘I’m on the right and antisemitism is only on the left,’ or ‘I’m a Christian and antisemitism is only in Islam,’” Weitzman said, “it becomes easier to just put it in a box, wrap it up and put it on the side, and say, ‘That’s it. It’s not applicable.’”
Not soon enough: The book’s study of antisemitism reaches deep into the 21st century: One chapter examines antisemitism on social media, and another looks at the antisemitic conspiracy theories that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The only regret I think that we have is that it couldn’t have gotten out a year or two earlier,” said Weitzman, “as things were heating up even more.”
NEW YEAR, BETTER YOU
40 days to better habits
“As I delved into the concept of habits, I couldn’t help but wonder: Are we truly the sum total of our actions? Could the mitzvot, the good deeds we are commanded to perform, possibly serve as the building blocks of habits?” writes Rabbi Benji Levy, co-founder of Israel Impact Partners, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
A season of change: “Within the realm of mitzvot lies a treasure trove of insights on how to lead a more meaningful and impactful life. As I pondered this, I began contemplating the positive habits I aspired to cultivate and the negative patterns I yearned to shed. It became clear that the Jewish New Year held the potential to be the launchpad for my pursuit of incorporating [James Clear’s book] Atomic Habits into my own life.”
Give a Little Bit: While America’s wealthiest people also rank among the nation’s biggest philanthropists, the members of the 2023 Forbes 400 list have collectively given less than 6% of their combined net worth to philanthropic causes, Phoebe Lui writes for Forbes. Only 11 out of America’s 400 richest people have given away more than 20% of their net worth, per Forbes’ estimates. For the fourth year in a row, George Soros is listed as the biggest giver of all as measured by percentage of fortune given away in his lifetime; Warren Buffet is the biggest philanthropist in dollar terms. “To see how philanthropic each Forbes 400 member has been, Forbes dug into their known charitable giving and assigned each a philanthropy score, ranging from 1 to 5. … To calculate the scores, we added the value of each billionaire’s out-the-door lifetime giving estimate to their 2023 Forbes 400 net worth, then divided their lifetime giving by that sum. Each score corresponds to a range of giving as a percentage of a person’s net worth. We once again counted only out-the-door giving, rather than cash sitting in billionaires’ private foundations or tax-advantaged donor-advised funds that may not have made it to those in need.” [Forbes]
More Than Just a Game: About 1 in 4 adults in the United States has a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participating in adaptive sports — competitive or recreational sports for people with disabilities — offers athletes not only physical health benefits but mental health benefits as well, writes Yesica Balderrama for The Chronicle of Philanthropy. At the same time, “the equipment needed to compete as athletes or for noncompetitors to stay active often costs thousands of dollars. For instance, running prosthetics can cost $15,000. [Rudy Garcia-Tolson, a five-time Paralympic swimming medalist,] says participating in adaptive sports — competitive or recreational sports for people with disabilities — has made a huge difference in his life, helping boost his spirits. ‘The top benefit is for my mental head space and how confident I am,’ he said.”[ChronicleofPhilanthropy]
Around the Web
A new survey by the Jewish Funders Network’s National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty found that poor and working-class Jews are underrepresented in popular culture, with only three of the 85 films about Jewish themes produced since 2008 depicting Jewish poverty, despite the fact that 20% of the Jewish community is experiencing poverty…
Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, was ranked sixth on the Nonprofit Power 100 of “notable nonprofit leaders” by City & State New York and NYN Media…
The Jewish Federation of Edmonton, Canada, is joining a growing call of Jewish groups across North America to remove monuments in their city honoring Ukrainians who joined the Nazis during World War II…
In New York’s City Limits news publication, Sam Marks, the CEO of the charitable giving organization FJC, described how philanthropy can spur the public sector to act…
Schechter Manhattan, an elementary and middle school, will close at the end of the year due to declining enrollment…
The Anti-Defamation League has joined a chorus of Israeli officials and organizations condemning a recent case of Orthodox Jews spitting on Christians in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Five of them have since been arrested.) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also criticized the attack; the minister responsible for the police said it’s “ugly,” but not criminal behavior…
Alfred E. Mann Charities, established by the Jewish philanthropist of the same name, donated $25 million to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles…
Pic of the Day
New Yorkers brave the weather to visit The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life’s “Lavender Diaspora” sukkah in Brooklyn, N.Y., last Friday (when the city was hit by heavy rain and flash flooding).
The sukkah, which was funded in part by UJA-Federation of New York, was created by Israeli textile artist Hilla Shapira.
Senior director of people and culture at Leading Edge HQ following 11 years at Hillel International, Sara Stesis Singla…
Former lieutenant governor of Maryland for eight years after 20 years in the Maryland Senate, Melvin A. “Mickey” Steinberg… Senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, his father served as a rabbi in Brooklyn for 35 years, Judge Robert David Sack… Executive editor of the Los Angeles Times until 2020 after a long journalism career, Norman Pearlstine… Publisher of lifestyle magazines including Wine Spectator and Cigar Aficionado, Marvin R. Shanken… Chairman of the executive committee at the University of Haifa, he was Israel’s negotiator in the Middle East peace process during the term of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dov Weissglass… Actor and past president of the Screen Actors Guild, Alan Rosenberg… President of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Steven A. Rakitt… Retired deputy chief of staff for U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Nathan Steven Bergerbest… Director of the Israeli Government Press Office, Nitzan Chen… Canadian businessman, producer and impresario, Aubrey Dan… Actor, director, screenwriter and producer, Liev Schreiber… Actor and voice actor, Abraham Benrubi… Meteorologist at New York City’s WABC-TV, Lee Goldberg… Film, television and stage actress, Alicia Silverstone… Former MLB pitcher, he is now the director of international scouting for the Lotte Giants in the Korea Baseball Organization, Ryan Sadowski… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Ron Katz… Policy and legislative analyst at AIPAC, Gefen G. Kabik… Gun violence prevention advocate and political advisor, Matt Deitsch…