Your Daily Phil: Jewish groups hail Israel’s entry to Visa Waiver Program + Elana Broitman to depart JFNA

Good Thursday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a bipartisan proposal in the House to increase funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program and Elana Broitman‘s departure from Jewish Federations of North America. We feature an opinion piece from Jenna Friedman about the need for long-term youth directors at synagogues. Also in this newsletter: Maytal Kowalski, Jacob Solomon and Michael Bloomberg. We’ll start with Jewish groups hailing Israel’s admission into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

Israeli citizens looking to visit the U.S. for family celebrations, for vacations or for short-term programs would first have to endure a lengthy and costly visa process — and still face the possibility of rejection.

But no more. On Wednesday, Israel became the 41st country to enter the coveted U.S. Visa Waiver Program. By the end of November, Israelis will be able to travel to the U.S. for fewer than three months without a visa, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Dozens of American Jewish groups and leaders hailed Israel’s entry into the program and said the move would benefit both countries, though some organizations and politicians also expressed concern about the implementation, saying Israel may continue discriminating against different groups of Americans traveling to the country.

The leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — the group’s chair, Harriet Schleifer, and its CEO, William Daroff — commended the decision in a statement on Wednesday, calling the move, which they said will “bring tangible benefits to both American and Israeli citizens,” a “long overdue” step.

Daniel Elbaum, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel North America, told eJP that his organization “applauds the decision which we believe will strengthen ties between Israelis and Americans,” while also praising former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, who, Elbaum said, “worked tirelessly to make this happen.”

Read the full report here.

Personnel changes


Elana Broitman is stepping down as the Jewish Federation of North America’s chief lobbyist in Washington for a position in the private sector. It is not immediately clear who will succeed her at JFNA when she steps down from her role as senior vice president for public affairs in the middle of next week, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.Off for opportunity: Broitman, who has led JFNA’s public affairs work for the past three years, told eJP that she was taking a position as a lobbyist at the Roosevelt Group, a private government relations firm, working in the fields of defense and technology. She said she was leaving JFNA “because of an opportunity, not because of anything negative.” Broitman said JFNA did “amazing work, and I loved working in the Jewish community. It is so meaningful.” She added that she “definitely plan[s] to stay engaged” with the Jewish community.

Best wishes: Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of JFNA, praised Broitman and included among the organization’s policy wins under her tenure “over tripling the size of the nonprofit security grant program, boosting funding for Holocaust survivors by 70%, and leading on our incredible work combatting BDS in firms such as Morningstar.” He added: “We wish Elana the best in her next position and know we will continue to have in her an advocate and ally in our work.”

money matters

House boosts proposed NSGP allocation by an additional $20 million

Police take security measures after a gunman held hostages at Beth Israel Congregation Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15, 2022.
Police take security measures after a gunman held hostages at Beth Israel Congregation Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15, 2022. (Charles C. Peebles/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The House moved on Wednesday to add an additional $20 million to its proposal for 2024 funding for nonprofit security grants, bringing its total proposed allocation to $335 million, $30 million above current levels, reports Marc Rod for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Back and forth: The increased House allocation will likely aid efforts to secure a year-over-year funding increase in final negotiations between the House and the Senate; the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a cut of more than $18 million to the underfunded program in its homeland appropriations proposal, for a funding level of $286.7 million. “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their place of worship. But there is a clear gap in need and what funds exist for this essential program,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who proposed the increase with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), said in a statement.

Required funding: The House vote was met with praise from Jewish community advocates, who’ve been urging lawmakers to increase funding for the program despite overall budget cuts across many areas of the federal government. “As we just saw at the start of the High Holiday season, the onslaught of threats and assaults on the Jewish community continues relentlessly,” said Karen Paikin Barall, associate vice president of public affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America.

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.

Long-term thinking

The case for retaining synagogue youth directors

Two preteen girls in costumes: the one on the left is dressed in a hot dog suit and the one on the right is dressed as a mad scientist in a disheveled lab coat and bowtie.
Erica and Megan O’Donnell at their first teen event at Temple Shir Tikva in 2017. (Courtesy/Jenna Friedman)

“Youth directors are not just the people who take your kids to trampoline parks. They are the thread through transitions, the bulwark of engagement and retention and the builders of Jewish futures. … And if you think a youth director can do a lot in two years, think of how much they can do in six,” writes Jenna Friedman, currently in her seventh year as youth director at a temple in Wayland, Mass., in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

An investment mindset: “As a long-term youth director, I am in the minority; the average shelf-life of a youth director tends to be two to four years. Many institutions and young professionals view the youth director position as an entry-level gig or a career stepping stone, which can often leave the position feeling like a revolving door. … ?As a result of the pandemic, many synagogues are not rehiring full-time youth professionals. Those who are not cutting roles and redistributing responsibilities entirely are recruiting part-time staff. I think that we should seriously reconsider where we dedicate our resources.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Ancient Faith, Modern Temple: In his Wall Street Journal review of Israeli-American architect Anat Geva’s new book The Architecture of Modern American Synagogues, 1950s-1960s, Daniel Akst highlights key developments that influenced the iconic midcentury synagogue in both form and function. “Open land and belief in progress made modernism appealing to all faiths, giving rise to new religious structures so unusual, in the words of historian Jay M. Price, ‘that congregants were not sure if they were in a church or a space station.’ … Given the short span of years since the concentration camps, the postwar eruption of these daring structures was a testament to Jewish vitality and a stunning retort to the murderers.” [WSJ]

New Members of the Tribe: In the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Asaf Elia-Shalev accompanies a Christian congregation led by Richard Cortes from Show Low, Ariz., as it undergoes a rare mass conversion to Judaism. “Last month, Cortes and 20 of his followers converted to Judaism. Dozens of others in his community are considering doing the same. Their mass conversion is an event with few precedents in Jewish history and a seemingly unlikely outcome for a group of people who live hours away from any Jewish community. The presence in Phoenix of a [Conservative] rabbi with an open mind and unusual point of view and the shifting of Jewish life online because of the pandemic opened doors that might otherwise have been closed… In converting, he hoped to demonstrate the sincerity of his transformation, mark a clean break with past worship and usher in a new and final phase in his dramatic spiritual journey. ‘This day is about righting a wrong and holding our hands with our new brothers and sisters,’ Cortes said. ‘We are so excited to be a part of the Jewish community, and to prove ourselves to the Jewish community that we are legitimate.’” [JTA]

Pivoting to Real Estate: In Philanthropy News Digest, Aaron Kaufman, the executive director of Penn State Hillel, describes how his organization worked with developers to use its existing real estate holdings to get a new building at no additional costs. “Having grown dramatically in both size and impact in recent years, our organization initiated a search for land for a new Jewish student center… We are now part of a 12-story, 500,000-square-foot project including apartments for more than 800 students, 30,000 square feet of commercial retail, parking for 300 vehicles, and 18,000 square feet for Hillel. And in selling our land to the developer, we were able to cover the vast majority of the construction costs of our space. In leveraging an existing asset — the land — we required no additional financing, which further reduced overall project costs. Because we are part of a commercial condominium, we have limited our financial exposure for everything — from major capital repairs to shoveling the sidewalks.” [PhilanthropyNewsDigest]

Around the Web

Sixty-three Ethiopians eligible for Israeli citizenship have been stuck in Addis Ababa for weeks, awaiting security approvals by local authorities before they can immigrate to Israel. The Ethiopian government says it is checking that none of them took part in the country’s 2021 civil war. Until then, the Jewish Agency for Israel is putting them up in a local hotel…

A new survey by Edelman Data & Intelligence and Independent Sector found that 52% of Americans say they have a high degree of trust in nonprofits, but the number dropped by four percentage points from the previous year, the largest decrease among all institutions surveyed, beating out the federal government, news media and big businesses…

Maytal Kowalski was appointed executive director of Partners for Progressive Israel, beginning next Monday. Kowalski, who was recently fired from Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, also serves as a board member of the New Israel Fund of Canada and JSpaceCanada

Jacob Solomon announced his plans to retire as president and CEO of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, effective June 30, 2024, after 32 years in his current position and more than four decades at the organization…

In Forbes, Alexander Puutio examined how CEOs of for-profit companies are “[e]mbedding philanthropy into the core” of their business strategies…

Moshe Buchman and Bari Erber joined the board of directors of Chai Lifeline, a support network for children, families and communities impacted by medical crises and trauma…

Fifteen students from the University of Maryland spent Yom Kippur visiting Jewish inmates at one of three prisons as part of a social justice initiative by the university’s Hillel

The small South Pacific island state of Niue is offering people the chance to sponsor one-square-kilometer sections of its marine sanctuary, Niue Moana Mahu Marine Protected Area, for a one-time fee of $148…

Michael Bloomberg pledged an additional $500 million (after committing the same amount in 2019) toward his Beyond Carbon campaign, which is meant to push the U.S. to use clean energy sources…

Pic of the Day

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal, stand with United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollak, United Hatzalah President Eli Beer and United Hatzalah Vice President Michael Brown, as well as 10 major supporters of the organization from around the world, at an event at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.
Courtesy/United Hatzalah

United Hatzalah marked its 18th anniversary with an event at the residence of Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem yesterday. The president and his wife, Michal, (front row center) stand with United Hatzalah CEO Eli Pollak, United Hatzalah President Eli Beer and United Hatzalah Vice President Michael Brown, as well as 10 major supporters of the organization from around the world, who received awards from the group.


Daniel Braverman #87 of the Toronto Argonauts runs with the ball during a CFL game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field on September 6, 2021 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Former NFL, XFL and CFL wide receiver and kick returner, Daniel Braverman

International Emmy Award-winning Scottish television producer, Sir Jeremy Israel Isaacs… Former governor of Vermont, the first Jewish woman elected to govern any state, she was also the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, Madeleine May Kunin… Physician and theoretical biologist, he was a 1987 MacArthur Fellow, Stuart Kauffman… Former president of Warner Home Video, Warren Lieberfarb… French businessman who, with his brother, own the controlling interest in the House of Chanel and several prominent vineyards, Alain Wertheimer… Real estate agent in New York’s Hudson Valley, Jerry Weiss… Teaneck, N.J.-based real estate attorney, Gary E. Miller… U.S. senator (R-LA), Bill Cassidy… Pediatrician and author of the book Winning A Debate with An Israel Hater, Dr. Michael Harris… Bestselling author of more than 20 books and magazine journalist, Ben Greenman… Area director for San Diego and Orange counties for AIPAC, Elliott Nahmias… Winner of four Olympic gold medals for the USA in swimming in 2000 and 2004, Leonid “Lenny” Krayzelburg… News editor and correspondent at Voice of America, Michael Lipin… Israeli Ironman triathlete, Nina Pekerman… SVP at the Katz Watson Group, Lauren France… Marketing manager at the Anti-Defamation League, Samantha Collidge… Regional director for the OU’s Teach Coalition, Hadassa Levenson… Chief of staff at Tel Aviv-based iAngels, Ayelet Cohen… Head of strategic communications for Tel Aviv’s Number 10 Strategies and former political correspondent for The Times of Israel, Raoul Wootliff… 2023 graduate of Yale Law School and author of a coming-of-age novel set in the Modern Orthodox community, David Hopen