Your Daily Phil: Jewish groups condemn Babyn Yar strike + Issuing bonds for Israeli philanthropy

Good Wednesday morning!

A chorus of Jewish figures and groups denounced a Russian strike on a TV tower in Kyiv on Tuesday that also hit a memorial to Babyn Yar, which commemorates the Nazi massacre of tens of thousands of Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust. The strike killed five people.

“[That] Putin seeks to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent,” Natan Sharansky, the prominent former refusenik and chairman of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, said in a statement. “It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kyiv by bombing the site of the Babyn Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacres.”

Sharansky and others noted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated goal of “denazifying” Ukraine with the invasion, and Holocaust memorial organizations, including Yad Vashem and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, condemned the attack. “Everyone who is watching this, who has any sense of history, can’t help but remember that the last time Kyiv was shelled like this, and there were tanks in Kyiv, it was Nazis, and now it’s the Russians, who were supposed to be anti-Nazi,” Izabella Tabarovsky, a senior program associate with the Kennan Institute who has written about the Holocaust in the Soviet Union, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“To the world: what is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, wrote on Twitter. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also condemned the attack in a tweet, pledging Israeli assistance to repair the site when possible. “We call for the site to be respected and protected,” he wrote. The extent of damage to the site was unclear; a spokesperson for the memorial said. Photographs from the site indicate that the monument remained untouched, while several buildings in the center’s cemetery were damaged.

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis condemned “this appalling war” and said in a tweet, “That yet more innocent blood has been spilled at Babyn Yar, where tens of thousands lost their lives during the Holocaust is an unspeakable tragedy.” In a statement, The Jewish Federations of North America also directed its words at “the relentless Russian government attacks.”

“Today’s bombing of the Babyn Yar Memorial is a stark reminder that among those suffering are Holocaust survivors who have lived through the horror of war before,” the statement said. “As we embrace the Ukrainian people in their hour of need, we must also continue to honor and protect the memory of the 33,771 people murdered by the Nazis at Babyn Yar over two days in 1941. We pray that all Jewish communities and other civilians in the region remain safe.”


Israel’s free loan association hopes a $15 million bond will change Israeli philanthropy


When you read the words “asset-backed securitization,” your mind probably conjures a cacophonous Wall Street firm, not a decades-old Israeli charity. But it’s a type of investment process that, while born in the world of finance, may have begun to change the face of philanthropy in Israel, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales

Low-interest loans: The change is taking place at Ogen Group, previously the Israel Free Loan Association, a Jerusalem-based nonprofit that offers interest-free and low-interest loans to individuals, nonprofits, and small businesses. Now, it has effectively sold about $15.5 million worth of those low-interest loans by issuing a bond (the asset-backed securitization) to a group of Israeli institutional investors — including a leading bank and Israel’s national lottery. By taking on the debt, those investors have allowed Ogen to loan out another $15.5 million. 

Accessing funds: Ogen hopes the bond will become a model that will allow Israelis in need to access the large pools of money held by banks and pension funds. “How do we bring big money from pension funds, from insurance companies?” Ogen CEO Sagi Balasha told eJewishPhilanthropy. “There is tons of money there and those billions and billions and billions are invested in things that do not necessarily help low-income people.”

Prioritizing ethics: Institutional investors worldwide are paying increasing attention to ethical investments. Ogen pitched this bond as a way to fulfill ethical commitments while investing in low-risk debt. Ogen has promised to cover the first 15% of potential defaults on the loans — which, it says, is much higher than its historical default rate of less than 1%. “We didn’t feel like we were taking on an extra risk or doing something we wouldn’t do otherwise,” said Hanoch Rappaport, CEO of the Hebrew University Employees Provident Fund. “The opportunity to take part in something that has a positive impact on society was appealing.”

Read the full story here.


Moving towards a universal gap year: A response to ‘Can a year in Israel transform your teen?’

Young Judaea

“We affirm Gil Troy and Natan Sharansky’s strong statements about the importance of a gap-year experience and their vision of an expansion into a ‘universal gap year.’ As we at Young Judaea celebrate our 70th year as one of the largest non-Orthodox gap-year providers, we aim to suggest some pragmatic solutions and relevant success stories towards the vision of making a large-scale expansion for the Israel gap-year market a reality,” write Rabbi Adam Drucker, director of education for Young Judaea Israel, and Cantor Adina Frydman, CEO of Young Judaea Global, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Life-changing journey: “The article posits that one of the challenges to a universal gap year is the quality or content of the programs in that they lack the ‘resume-building appeal,’ rather than acknowledging their value in providing a life-changing journey of self-actualization and growth. The market is looking for value-added programs, not just a college year in Israel. A gap year in Israel provides much more than a resume-building opportunity with the chance to develop soft skills.”

A rite of passage: “For gap years to become universal and culturally normative for all Jewish teens graduating high school, there needs to be a grassroots groundswell. Families that are currently sending teens on a gap year need to become the top promoters of the idea, as do the teens themselves. There is nothing more powerful than peer-to-peer recruitment. In addition, past participants of gap-year programs, in particular influencers such as rabbis, educators and podcasters, must tell their story to inspire others. Another possibility is talking about the 13th year as the true year of graduation, opposed to the 12th grade year. The gap year ought to be seen as the culmination of one’s schooling and a rite of passage to university. And finally, exposure to the thousands of non-Orthodox Israelis who are participating in a gap-year program in Israel, could further accelerate the normalization of a gap year in North America.”

Read the full piece here.


Expanding professional development through hybrid learning: A case study

Patrick Buck/Unsplash

“For anyone working in the youth-serving space, the writing has long been on the wall. Our youth are struggling. Although the surgeon general only recently declared a youth mental health crisis, those working with youth over the last decade have watched as we inched closer to the current reality. Educators and youth professionals find themselves on the front lines,” write Rebecca Ruberg, Jonathan Fass and Amanda Winer, respectively the teen engagement consultant, managing director of educational technology and strategy, and director of research and evaluation at The Jewish Education Project, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Youth Mental Health First Aid: “Since 2016, The Jewish Education Project has trained over 300 Jewish professionals in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). YMHFA, an evidence-based training program through the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, equips adults with the tools to respond to Jewish teens in need of support. Yet, after each training, educators requested more. In considering how best to respond we asked ourselves: What is the key content? What is the best modality? Should learning be individualized or communal? Asynchronous or synchronous?”

Certificate program: “After a year of content development, we chose to develop the Youth Mental Health and Wellness Certificate Program. This three-month learning journey combines an asynchronous eight-hour eCourse and three synchronous cohort sessions. The asynchronous portions allow the learners to develop their skills, knowledge and abilities in ways that cannot be adequately explored during the program’s synchronous gatherings. Differentiated instruction is provided through readings, multimedia content, individualized activities and formative assessments. Participants can return to core course material as needed and choose to extend their learning with optional course materials. By coupling the asynchronous portions (the ‘eCourse’) with synchronous sessions, the Certificate Program affords learners additional opportunities to practice and apply content, while developing an ongoing network of colleagues with whom to work through challenges, share best practices and build pathways for continued support.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Trends for 2022: Writing in NonProfitPRO, Amanda L. Cole asked eight experts from nonprofit organizations, agencies and technology providers for their predictions of 2022’s top nonprofit trends across nine categories: Big Ideas; Fundraising; Direct Marketing; Technology; Giving and Donor Relations; Leadership Strategies; Board Development; Peer-to-Peer; and Mission Awareness. The trends named include leading with empathy while championing an inclusive culture, using technology, leaning on social media followers and increasing donor privacy: “‘I expect to see nonprofits adapt ways they reach and connect with donors,’ said Chris Himes, CEO, Classy. ‘There will be more focus on letting donors choose how and where their information is shared, and how they like to be engaged with as a result, which is really a form of donor empowerment. Personalization will be critical to build relationships that result in loyal donor bases. Nonprofit interactions with supporters will need to be tailored according to their stage of life, intent, and preferences for communication. There’s a lot a nonprofit can learn from looking within their specific donor base.’” [NonProfitPRO]

Philanthropic Rescue: Grant-makers must respond to the immediate humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by providing much-needed rapid-response funds to help those on the ground, to combat misinformation, support independent journalism, bolster peace efforts and more, Alexandra I. Toma writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “The tragic and unnecessary war in Ukraine is unlikely to end anytime soon — and philanthropy has no excuse for sitting on the sidelines. Funds should be directed toward immediate humanitarian needs while also supporting organizations that are charting a more inclusive, equitable, and just path forward. We all need to learn to talk about peace in a way that’s empowering, inspiring, and radically feminist. For those grant makers who aren’t yet in the peace game, this is your chance. We have an opportunity to change history’s trajectory and prevent another devastating war.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy

Spiritual Housing: IKAR, a large Jewish congregation in Los Angeles, is co-sponsoring legislation introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks that would reduce residential parking requirements for newly built religious institutions to allow for the construction of housing, Alejandra Molina reports in Religion News Service. “IKAR, which has congregated in rented space, bought a piece of land about five years ago to build a synagogue and community center. They decided to also add 55 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly unhoused senior citizens. Parking requirements for IKAR would amount to two layers of underground parking, which is incredibly expensive, she said. IKAR is sponsoring Wicks’ legislation… ‘As we began the process of thinking about what does it mean for us to have a home in Los Angeles, and to live out our values in the process of having a home, it means creating homes for other people because that is the greatest need right now,’ [Brooke Wirtschafter, IKAR’s director of community organizing] added.” [RNS]

Kandinsky Returned: “Bild mit Häusern (Painting with Houses),” a work by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky sold under duress during World War II, was returned to its former Jewish owners’ descendants, NPR’s Vanessa Romo reports. “‘As a city, we bear a great responsibility for dealing with the indescribable suffering and injustice inflicted on the Jewish population in the Second World War,’ Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Touria Meliani said in a statement. ‘To the extent that anything can be restored, we as a society have a moral duty to act accordingly. This certainly applies to the many works of art that were in the possession of Jewish citizens and were looted by Nazis or were otherwise lost to the owners.’” [NPR]

Community Comms

Excel: Applications now being accepted for Spertus Institute’s accelerated Master’s program for Jewish communal executives. Complete your degree in 18 months.

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Word on the Street

Roman Abramovich’s plan to shift the “stewardship and care” of his Premier League football club Chelsea to the club’s foundation in the face of potential sanctions related to Russia has resulted in the foundation’s trustees reporting the move to the Charity Commision, the British government agency that oversees charities. The commission has indicated it is seeking further information from both the club and the foundation…

Lily Rabinoff-Goldman has been named president and CEO of JCC Greater Boston, effective July 1…

Alisha Pedowitz is the new director of teen education at Moving Traditions; she was formerly the group’s California director… 

Beryl Elia Bessemer will become director of individual giving and online revenue at 70 Faces Media; she was previously its online fundraising and engagement manager…

Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels has been selected as chair of the Israel Democracy Institute’s International Advisory Council… 

America’s top 30 peer-to-peer fundraising programs collectively increased fundraising revenue 3.5% in 2021, according to a study released Tuesday by the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum… 

Connie and Steve Balmer are providing $425 million to the University of Oregon to establish a new institute focused on children’s behavioral and mental health. ??The university’s board of trustees is reviewing a purchase agreement for the former Concordia University campus in northeast Portland for the future institute’s home…

Yale University announced a $250 million commitment to create endowment funds to support its schools of medicine, nursing and public health…

Pic of the Day


The Jewish Federations of North America’s National Young Leadership Cabinet delegation to The Jewish Agency Board of Governors’ meeting in Jerusalem met on Monday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.



Israeli physician, she is also a television and radio newscaster, Dr. Hila Chaya Korach… 

Restaurateur, lawyer and former owner of Braniff International Airlines, Jeffrey Chodorow… Comedian, actress and writer, part of the original cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” Laraine Newman… Former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold… Anesthesiologist in Skokie, Ill., Dr. Samuel M. Parnass… Member of the Knesset for the Blue and White alliance, now serving as Israel’s deputy minister of defense, Alon Natan Schuster… First Soviet-born individual to become a member of the New York State Assembly, Alec Brook-Krasny… Recently retired global government relations manager for Ford Motor Company, Mitch Bainwol… Author and reporter for The New York TimesKatherine Rosman… Executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, she is a board member of the Washington JCRC, Daphne Lazar-Price… Editor and director of communications at Twin Cities, Minnesota’s TC JewfolkLonny Goldsmith… Israeli hip-hop singer and rapper better known as Mooki, Daniel Neyburger… Culture reporter for The New York TimesDavid L. Itzkoff… Former member of the Knesset for the Kadima party, Yuval Zellner… Director of marketing at Window Nation, Eric Goldscher… Staff director of the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, Yuri Beckelman… Senior producer at Film45, Sally Rosen… Executive operations at Bonobos, Kaylee Berger Porco… Project manager at Halo Development, Donni Lurman

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