Your Daily Phil: Jewish groups scramble to offer critical aid after Morocco quake

Good Tuesday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the opening of Yachad‘s new kosher food stand at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, which is staffed by people with disabilities, and feature an opinion piece from Abby Levine. Also in this newsletter: Harold Israel, Dr. Miriam Adelson and Emma Igual. We’ll start with ongoing relief efforts by Jewish nonprofits in Morocco.

The hundreds of thousands of people living in the area around the epicenter of Friday night’s earthquake in central Morocco, even those whose homes are still standing, require “the most basic of the basic” supplies due to the devastation caused by the 6.8-magnitude tremors, Israel Sabag, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s country director, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross last night.

“You can start with water, with generators, with lights, with first aid, with bandages, with food. It’s the most basic of the basic. And the number [of people] is huge. And the need is huge,” Sabag said, speaking over the phone from Marrakech, where he has been operating since soon after the quake.

Even as aftershocks have died down, Sabag said the overwhelming feeling in Marrakech is one of lasting terror. “Unfortunately, the people stay in fear,” he said. “People believe that [an earthquake] will happen again, so people are sleeping at night in the street, especially people whose houses were damaged. They’re afraid that even if [a small earthquake hits], their houses will fall. I keep hearing the Arabic word for fear. This is what people are repeating all the time, this feeling of fear.”

A number of Jewish organizations have arrived in Morocco in recent days to assist in the relief effort, with some groups like United Hatzalah focusing on search-and-rescue, while others, like JDC and IsraAid primarily distributing humanitarian aid and assessing the communities’ needs for further help. The Israeli government, which immediately offered assistance, has not yet sent an official aid delegation as Morocco has not approved the request, nor has it accepted aid offers from a number of other foreign countries.

Ethan Schwartz, who is part of IsraAid’s mission to Morocco, said his team has been traveling around the affected area, distributing aid and working to local partner organizations to assess the immediate and longer-term needs of the communities. “We are hearing a lot of needs. Of course, shelter is a big one because so many people lost their homes or their homes were damaged,” Schwartz told eJP. “There are even whole villages that are no longer habitable.”

Schwartz said IsraAid is currently relying on its existing emergency fund, but is also “fundraising actively” in order to pay for its mission to Morocco. “It’s really the way that philanthropists can make a difference in an emergency,” he said.

A JDC spokesperson said the organization’s relief efforts are primarily being funded by Jewish Federations of North America, which launched an earthquake relief fund on Monday. (Individual federations have launched similar initiatives as well.)

Read the full story here.

kosher kickoff

Yachad's Kosher Grill, which is staffed by people with disabilities, opened at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Sept. 10, 2023.
Yachad’s Kosher Grill, which is staffed by people with disabilities, opened at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Sept. 10, 2023. (Courtesy/Adam Neuman)

As Baltimore Ravens fans returned to M&T Bank Stadium to watch the team pull off a 25-9 win over the Houston Texans in the season opener on Sunday afternoon, kosher diners had an extra reason to cheer. Yachad’s Kosher Grill, staffed by people with disabilities, opened its first stand at the Ravens stadium on Sunday. Yachad, part of the Orthodox Union (OU), is an organization that works with Jewish individuals with developmental disabilities and their families by promoting communal participation, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Boosting opportunities: Throughout the football season, the grill will serve deli wraps including pastrami, corned beef and turkey, in addition to sushi, hot dogs and an assortment of cold beer. The stand will be open for all Ravens home games this year, except for Sept. 24, Yom Kippur. “Yachad’s Kosher Grill is staffed by our participants to foster workplace skills and community involvement,” the organization said in its announcement. “You know Yachad is all about boosting educational, employment and relationship opportunities for individuals with unique needs and this is a touchdown for Baltimore.”

A win-win: Adam Neuman, chief of staff to the president of the Ravens, Sashi Brown, told eJP on Monday that Yachad’s Kosher Grill opening was a “tremendous success.” Neuman said that there are two factors that made Ravens stadium the right place for Yachad to open their first kosher grill. “We have a robust Jewish community very connected to the Ravens,” Neuman said. “And one of our slogans is ‘Be More for All,’ a play on ‘Baltimore.’ We are committed to diversity and amplifying voices. Together we can ‘Be More for Baltimore.’”

Read the full report here.

Holding conflict and contradiction

From avoidance to engagement: What I learned by bringing American Jewish social justice leaders to Israel

Participants in the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable’s ‘Changemakers to Changemakers’ trip to Israel and the West Bank in 2022. (Courtesy)

“We don’t have all the answers for how to navigate the myriad ways in which Israel, democracy, and Jewish and Palestinian self-determination show up in social justice movements, but we had a hypothesis: One way through the messiness is, in Bryan Stevenson’s words, to get proximate to the real-life people and issues on the ground. And that is exactly what we did,” writes Abby Levine, executive director of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Elu v’elu: “Showcasing dozens of Israeli and Palestinian changemakers over the course of the trip, giving them the opportunity to share their personal stories about why and how they do the work, let participants see the fullness of the prevailing (and sometimes conflicting) narratives. … Holding multiple and sometimes contradictory perspectives necessitates ‘both/and’ thinking – elu v’elu – which is central to Jewish tradition and part of the recipe for improving the situation in the region and in our own communities.”

Co-opting is not cool: “In one conversation on the trip, a Palestinian leader was asked what she would say to Jewish social justice leaders facing coalitions where they are sometimes excluded or marginalized because of their relationships with Israel. ‘When people in the U.S. put their own ideologies onto my life, they are using me,’ she replied. The debate about BDS or Zionism in the U.S. centers the feelings of Americans as opposed to the realities of Palestinian or Israeli people. The debates end up being about our context and our politics, not about what will actually improve lives on the ground.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Let’s Look at the Data: In the Shalom Hartman Institute’s journal, Sources, Joshua Ladon stresses the need for research in the field of Jewish education and considers three scholarly works published this past year on the subject. “Given the significant philanthropic support for Jewish education and engagement initiatives, and the way such initiatives are so often anticipated as panaceas for all sorts of Jewish communal ills, it may come as a surprise to learn that at best, one or two books about Jewish education are published each year, and of these, very few reflect empirical research… Instead, most Jewish educational research takes the form of ‘program evaluations’ commissioned and funded by philanthropic organizations as a means of evaluating the success of their investments, and such reports often remain in the private hands of educational institutions and their philanthropic supporters… Program evaluation does little to flesh out the intricacies and nuances of educational practice, and if we rely on it exclusively, we risk seeing Jewish education more as an assembly line than as a complex process of acculturating, constructing, and inviting participants into an ever-expanding Jewish conversation.” [Sources]

At Peace With Losing Control: In The New York Times, Christopher Maag profiles Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York who has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. This is the same disease that killed his father and uncle and for which he’s raised millions of dollars to combat since 2005 with his foundation, Target ALS. “Once, and it wasn’t so long ago, Dan Doctoroff had more power to decide what got built in New York City than anyone since Robert Moses. Now he is diagnosed with A.L.S., a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s that attacks the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, causing patients to lose control of their voluntary muscles. A.L.S. turns the body into a prison. Only the eyes and brain remain mostly unaffected. Death comes by lung failure and suffocation, usually within three to five years of diagnosis… With A.L.S., there’s no time to worry about time. He flies to Puerto Rico, Knoxville, Detroit and Provence with family or friends from high school. He rides his Vespa to meet his rich friends. He delivers his Target ALS pitch, wins a handshake and a promise for $200,000 or a million. He’s still on the board at Bloomberg Philanthropies and the University of Chicago, still gets dragooned into helping the mayor and the governor plan New York’s future. For a normal person, this is a busy career in full bloom. For Mr. Doctoroff, it is retirement.” [NYTimes]

Around the Web

Attorney Harold Israelwas elected the new board chair of the Spertus Institute. Israel has been a Spertus trustee since 2014 and has served as vice chair for the past year…

Philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelsonsaid she had “reservations over the scope and pace of the current judicial reform,” but stressed that “we must stick by our country and community, regardless of what unfolds” during a speech at the graduation ceremony of the Adelson School of Medicine at Ariel University in the West Bank on Sunday…

The Blavatnik Family Foundationdonated $40 million to Yale University‘s innovation fund, which will increase the number of research grants available to staff and support scientific research at the institution…

A group of 51 prominent Jewish Israelis, some secular and some religious, signed a new manifesto that is meant to clarify the core foundations of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic country…

The Israel-based Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education, in collaboration with Jewtina y Co. and JCC Global, has published two new issues of its journal, Peoplehood Papers, one focused on Latin America and another on the relations between Jewish peoplehood education and Israel education…

The San Diego Union Tribuneprofiled the Leichtag Commons, a site created by the Leichtag Foundation that is used for a variety of Jewish and local nonprofits, holding it up as an example of financial sustainability…

Two synagogues in the United States were targeted with bomb threats over the weekend, joining dozens of others that have received fake calls since mid-July…

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennettwon another defamation lawsuit (his second with a third likely on the way) against someone who spread falsehoods about him and and his family — in this case, Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, who said Bennett’s mother wasn’t Jewish — as part of a concerted effort that he says is meant to “clean the internet” of vitriol and lies. Bennett has promised to donate the money he receives in damages, $10,500-$21,000 in this case, to charities benefiting families of fallen soldiers and victims of terror and “other worthy causes”…

Emma Igual, a Jewish aid worker, was killed along with a Canadian colleague near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, likely by Russian artillery fire, at 32…

Leni Reiss, the longtime editor of the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, died last week at 84…

Eva Fahidi, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, writer and dancer, died yesterday at 97…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Sharon Avraham

Jewish Israeli, Arab Israeli and Palestinian development teams work together on a project to help people with disabilities in their communities last weekend in the Bedouin town of Arara in the Negev desert. It is part of an initiative known as “Making Peace” by the Tikkun Olam Makers organization, which is supported by USAID.


Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Actress, director and singer, she starred in the 2022 Peacock miniseries “Angelyne,” Emmanuelle Grey “Emmy” Rossum… 

2020 Nobel Prize laureate in medicine, Harvey James Alter… Chairman at Waxman Strategies, he served for 20 terms through 2015 as a Democratic congressman from Los Angeles, Henry Waxman… 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, University of Chicago behavioral economist, Richard H. Thaler… Director of intergovernmental affairs in the Obama White House, he was previously lieutenant governor of Kentucky and mayor of Louisville, Jerry Abramson… President of Israel21c, she is also a former president of AIPAC, Amy Rothschild Friedkin… Former US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, he was governor of Kansas and a U.S. senator, Sam Brownback… Miami-based chairman of American Principles Super PAC, Eytan Laor… SVP of government and public affairs at CVS Health, Melissa Schulman… Internet entrepreneur and a pioneer of VoIP telephony, Jeff Pulver… Attorney specializing in the recovery of looted artworks during the Holocaust and featured in the 2015 film “Woman in Gold,” E. Randol (Randy) Schoenberg… Paralegal at The St. Joe Company, Sherri Jankowski… Senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Max A. Boot… Deputy chief advocacy officer at the Credit Union National Association, Jason Stverak… Israeli singer, songwriter and musician, he has performed around the world, Idan Raichel… Founder of the Loewy Law Firm in Austin, Texas, Adam Loewy… Venture capitalist and one of the co-founders of Palantir Technologies, Joseph Todd “Joe” Lonsdale… AIPAC’s area director for Philadelphia and South Jersey, Kelly Lauren Stein… Former advisor to the prime minister of Israel for foreign affairs and world communities, Sara Greenberg… Manager of operations communications at American Airlines, Ethan Klapper… National political correspondent at Politico and the author of The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power, Ben Schreckinger… Senior product manager at Amazon, Natalie Raps Farren… Film and television actress, Molly Tarlov

BIRTHWEEK: Media and foreign affairs advisor to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Betty Ilovici (was yesterday)…