Your Daily Phil: Jewish groups mobilize in wake of Ukraine flooding

Good Friday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the policy priorities of New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty for the coming months, and feature an op-ed from Erica Brown. We’ll start by looking at the humanitarian efforts by Jewish groups in the wake of the Nova Kakhovka dam burst.

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: New mural celebrating city’s Jewish community unveiled in Los Angeles; Inside Israel’s Cinderella story at the youth World Cup; Phoenix congressional candidate Raquel Terán faces scrutiny for voting record on antisemitism; and Rhode Island Democrat looks to parlay high-profile connections towards a seat in Congress. Print the latest edition here.

Jewish groups in the Ukrainian city of Kherson are scrambling to help members of the local community, including their own staff members, whose homes are being flooded following the destruction of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River earlier this week, representatives from the organizations told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, the dam burst, sending torrents of water downstream, quickly flooding the cities and towns along the banks of the Dnipro River, including Kherson, some 35 miles away. “The situation in Kherson is really bad. In some cases, aid needs to be brought to be people by boats. We’re lucky to have local NGOs to help us with last-mile deliveries,” Anna Pantiukhova, from the Kyiv office of IsraAid, told eJP. “You cannot walk, you have to float.”

Inna Vdovichenko, the external relations director for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Ukraine, said the team in Kherson quickly mobilized, getting whatever equipment they could out of harm’s way to ensure that the organization would be able to continue providing aid to its 382 clients in Kherson and the surrounding area – mostly the elderly and people with physical or mental disabilities through its Hesed social welfare program – and to the community in general.

At the same time, other Hesed staff and volunteers made contact with the Kherson office’s clients, seeing if any of them needed help, even preparing to evacuate some of them, booking hotel rooms and buses. While some of JDC’s clients had considered leaving their homes when the dam first broke, they ultimately decided to stay, Vdovichenko said.

At least 80 members of the Jewish community of Kherson have decided to leave Ukraine, at least temporarily, in light of the dam break, according to Rabbi Mayer Stambler, the co-director of the Chabad of Poland, whose community is taking in those evacuees. “We are finding them places to stay, getting them food, whatever they might need,” Stambler told eJP.

Read the full story here.

Policy plans

Over 350 elected officials, dignitaries and community leaders attend the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty’s annual legislative breakfast on June 4, 2023. (Courtesy)

New York’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture to expand access to kosher and halal foods in light of the White House’s recently released strategy to combat antisemitism, the organization’s CEO, David Greenfield, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Kosher food pantries: The White House’s national antisemitism strategy, which was released last month, includes a call for the USDA by 2024 to “ensure equal access to all USDA feeding programs for USDA customers with religious dietary needs.” Greenfield said the Met Council, as the organization is more commonly known, has already met with the USDA on this issue, speaking with representatives from the office on Tuesday. “We’re very interested in making sure that the USDA has the ability and the resources to really lean in and to make sure that pantries across the country have kosher and halal food,” he said.

A new focus: On Sunday, the organization hosted its annual “legislative breakfast,” bringing together some 350 elected officials, dignitaries and community leaders. Following the event, Greenfield told eJP that the breakfast’s attendance list demonstrated the new direction that Met Council has taken in recent years, focusing more on lobbying and policy and not only providing assistance directly to the city’s economically disadvantaged. “We had the Senate majority leader, the House minority leader, the governor of New York, the mayor of New York, the attorney general of New York, the comptroller of New York, and another 58 or so elected officials, including a half a dozen members of Congress. And the reason for that is because we work hard at these relationships,” Greenfield said.

Read the full story here.

The Torah of leadership

Leadership and diversity: Thoughts on Parshat Shelah


“Diversity increases awareness of different pockets of society, sensitivity to other ways of looking at the same scenario or set of facts, and pressure-tests assumptions and judgments,” 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.”

No leadership monopoly: “‘Every team must be made up of people with different roles, strengths, temperaments and perspectives,’ writes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in his essay ‘The Counterpoint of Leadership.’ ‘They must always be open to criticism and they must always be on the alert against groupthink. The glory of Judaism is its insistence that only in heaven is there one commanding Voice. Down here on earth no individual may ever hold a monopoly of leadership.’”

Team-think: “Diversity in teams has many positive dimensions, but it’s not always easy to create or navigate. In his book The Wisdom of Teams, Jon Katzenbach writes, ‘Teams do not seek consensus; they seek the best answer.’ If there is too much consensus, then diversity fails in its value.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Be Smart About Artificial Intelligence: In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Rasheeda Childress explores the prospects and possible pitfalls for nonprofits using AI-powered tools like ChatGPT. “While new and exciting, the technology is not a panacea. The information the tool provides is based on what it’s learned by perusing the internet. So sometimes the content it produces is wrong, biased, or inappropriate, experts say. Because of this, it’s crucial for nonprofits jumping into A.I. to think carefully about how they are using this technology so it doesn’t violate laws, ethical principles, or the faith of a charity’s constituents… [Jeffrey Tenenbaum, a nonprofit lawyer,] says organizations need policies to address multiple aspects of A.I. at their nonprofit… Even if organizations don’t have a policy yet, [Rodger Devine, president-elect of APRA, a group dedicated to prospect research,] says the most important thing at this point is to be aware of the problems and talk through where the concerns are. Some of the concerns may sound scary, but he thinks the technology is super important for nonprofits. Says Devine: ‘My advice is to stay informed and to keep asking questions and sharing useful tools with your colleagues to help advance literacy and discussion around this rapidly evolving space.’” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

From Bassinets to Wheelchairs: In Jewish News Service, Judith Segaloff profiles the work of Yad Sarah, an Israeli nonprofit that loans medical equipment to Israelis for free. “When Vivien Steinberg made aliyah in 2017, she was 83 years young and used a wheelchair and a walker. Her doctor suggested she get a cushion to better support her chair. ‘Call Yad Sarah’ was the physician’s suggestion…Rabbi Uri Lupolianski, founder of Yad Sarah (and mayor of Jerusalem from 2003 to 2008), was inspired to start the organization in 1976 when, as a young father, he decided to pass along a nebulizer he had used for his baby to a neighbor who needed it… On Thursday, the organization released figures that show its home hospitalization equipment lending operations save the country’s healthcare system more than 5.5 billion shekels ($1.5 billion) each year.” [JNS]

Around the Web

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyenannounced it was co-financing a new exhibit at Yad Vashem on Jewish life in Europe before the Holocaust…

Oshrit Cowan will serve as the next executive director of Shaare Zedek UK, which fundraises for Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, succeeding Simi Ben Hur, who has served in the role for a decade…

The New York City Police Department reported that there have been 100 anti-Jewish hate crimes in the city since the start of the year, a significant decrease from the same period in 2022…

More than 150,000 people marched yesterday in the 25th annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade

EF Education First terminated its agreement to purchase American Jewish University’s Familian Campus in Los Angeles in light of local opposition, leaving the fate of the campus unclear…

Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli spoke with the heads of a number of American Jewish organizations in Washington, D.C., yesterday, after being forced to reorganize the meeting when the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington reportedly decided not to host the gathering because of protests against the Israeli government’s proposed judicial overhaul…

New York City educators and parents launched a petition in protest of a decision to open public schools on the final two days of Passover…

After a stunning run, Team Israel lost to Uruguay 1-0 yesterday in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup semifinal. Uruguay will face Italy in the finals…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Hebrew University of Jerusalem

A researcher plays a replica of a flute that was made from the wing bones of waterfowl in the Hula Valley of northern Israel 12,000 years ago. Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Centre de Recherche Français à Jérusalem, the University of Vienna and the University of Barcelona, Spain, determined that the flutes make sounds – which can be heard here – similar to the calls of the Eurasian Sparrowhawk and the Common Kestrel, leading them to conclude that they were likely used by hunter-gatherers to attract and trap the birds. Though the researchers said the flutes may have also “served different social-cultural-symbolic functions for the hunter-gatherers.”


Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for HBO

Jerusalem-born Academy Award-winning actress, producer and director, Natalie Portman

FRIDAY: Former executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Walter J. Levy… Journalist for 30 years at CBS who then became the founding director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, now a fellow at GWU, Marvin Kalb… Retired Israeli diplomat who served as ambassador to Italy and France and World Chairman of Keren Hayesod, Aviezer “Avi” Pazner… Author, lecturer and social activist, Letty Cottin Pogrebin… Co-founder of Saatchi & Saatchi, Charles Saatchi… Diplomat and Shakespeare historian, Kenneth Adelman… Founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network and chairman of Southworth Development, Joseph Deitch… Professional mediator and longtime syndicated advice columnist, Wendy J. Belzberg… Israel’s former minister of defense and deputy prime minister, Benny Gantz… Canadian journalist,  film producer and television personality, Steven Hillel Paikin… Producer, director, playwright and screenwriter, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin… Former lead singer of the Israeli pop rock band Mashina, Yuval Banay… CEO of Jewish Women’s International, Meredith Jacobs… Managing director at Major, Lindsey & Africa, Craig Appelbaum… EVP of Jewish Funders Network, Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu… Screenwriter, director and producer, Hayden Schlossberg… Founder and CEO of Delve LLC, previously a Bush 43 White House Jewish liaison, Jeff Berkowitz… Co-founder of Swish Beverages, David Oliver Cohen… Producer, writer and director, Rafi Fine… Multimedia artist known for her work in photography, makeup, hairstyling and textile crafts, Anna Marie Tendler… Founder and chairman of Israel Tech Challenge, Raphael Ouzan… Director of the Yale Journalism Initiative, Haley Cohen Gilliland… Deputy assistant secretary for strategic communications at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Jeff Solnet… Ice hockey player for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and best-selling author of children’s books, Zachary Martin Hyman… Founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies, Daniel Fine… Future congresswoman from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Emilia Levy…

SATURDAY: Author of award-winning books about her experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, Aranka Davidowitz Siegal… Emmy Award-winning TV journalist and author, Jeff Greenfield… Physical therapist at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Andrea Sachs… Cathy Farbstein Miller… Senior director of communications for Encore[dot]org, Stefanie Weiss… Former attorney general and then governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer… Director of business development at Evergreen Benefits Group, Avi H. Goldfeder… Blogger and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, Neil Steinberg.. Film, television and stage actress, Gina Gershon… Actress and sister of comedian Sarah Silverman, Laura Silverman… Israeli film and TV actress, Avital Abergel… Veteran of 9 NFL seasons as an offensive tackle, Mike Rosenthal… Director of strategic partnerships at the Birthright Israel Foundation and director of community education at NYC’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Rabbi Daniel Kraus… Professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, Yascha Mounk… Anchorman at Israel’s Channel 13 News, Matan Hodorov… Publisher of The New York Sun, Dovid Efune… CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, Tyler Gregory… Singer, composer and entertainer, Simcha Leiner… Belgian singer and songwriter, known as “Blanche,” Ellie Blanche Delvaux… CEO of Encounter, Yona Shem-Tov

SUNDAY: Heir to the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, minister in two British governments under Prime Ministers Major and Thatcher, Sir Timothy Alan Davan Sainsbury… Executive director of NYC-based government watchdog Citizens Union, Elisabeth A. “Betsy” Gotbaum… Columbus, Ohio-based retail mogul and philanthropist, chairman of American Eagle Outfitters, Value City Department Stores, DSW and others, Jay Schottenstein… Member of the Knesset for the Agudat Yisrael faction of the United Torah Judaism party, Meir Porush… Owner of MLB’s New York Mets, Steven A. Cohen… Past president and national board member of AIPAC, he is a senior advisor to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Lee Rosenberg… Member of the Knesset for the Shas party, now serving as a minister in the Ministry of Labor, Yoav Ben-Tzur… New Windsor, N.Y., attorney, Barry Wolf Friedman… Political activist and former Illinois state representative, Lauren Beth Gash… Partner in the D.C. office of world-wide consulting firm, Brunswick Group, Michael J. Schoenfeld… President of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami… Deputy director of the CIA and actor with a cameo appearance in “Game of Thrones,” David S. Cohen… President and executive director of the New York Jewish Agenda, former White House Jewish liaison, Matt Nosanchuk… Founder of Shabbat[dot]com, Rabbi Benzion Zvi Klatzko… Dean of TheYeshiva[dot]net and noted speaker, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (YY) Jacobson… Budget director at the City Council of the District of Columbia, Jennifer Budoff… Israeli businesswoman and philanthropist, Nicol Raidman… Director of communications and programming at Academic Engagement Network, Raeefa Shams… Actor, performance artist and filmmaker, Shia LaBeouf… Olympic medalist in canoe slalom, Jessica Esther “Jess” Fox… Israeli attorney and CEO of Dualis Social Venture Fund, Dana Naor… Jennifer Rubin…