Your Daily Phil: Jewish orgs’ billboard campaigns + A conference of JCC execs

Good Monday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil,we look at why Jewish groups are using billboards to spread their messages, and feature an op-ed by FJC’s Jenni Zeftel on day camps and the pandemic. Also in this newsletter: Dick Weiland, Michael Kay and Pablo Picasso. We’ll start with a conference of JCC executives in Atlanta.

More than 150 CEOs and other senior officers from upwards of 100 JCCs nationwide are gathering in Atlanta for the JCC Association of North America’s annual executives’ conference, called Mifgash, Hebrew for “meeting.” At the conference, which began yesterday and concludes on Wednesday, participants will hear from leaders at major corporations about how to better recruit and retain staff and discuss their business models.

JCCs have a total workforce of more than 30,000 — ranging from the community centers’ gyms to their Hebrew classes and early childhood centers. When JCCs were forced to abruptly close their doors nearly three years ago in the face of skyrocketing COVID infections, it was a major blow to the network, whose revenues are tied to in-person programming. Some 70% of JCCs had to lay off workers or reduce their hours or salaries during the pandemic, impacting more than 10,000 people.

Now, the focus of the conference is bulking up the JCCs’ staffs and keeping those who already work for the centers. To that end, participants will hear from Rob Carter, a Coca-Cola talent acquisition professional, as well as David Teplinsky, senior director of talent solutions for LinkedIn. Also speaking at the conference are CEOs Gali Cooks of Leading Edge, Meredith Jacobs of Jewish Women International and Jakir Manela of Hazon-Pearlstone.

Difficulties with staff retention and recruitment are not unique to JCCs. Jewish day schoolscamps and other workplaces have faced similar issues recently.

“We’ve all been living through a significant rupture in the labor market these past few years,” Doron Krakow, CEO of the JCC Association, told eJewishPhilanthropy. “JCCs are concerned with having adequate staff and are committed to elevating the talent and capacity of the staff, and particularly concerned with retaining leadership talent.”

Regarding COVID, Krakow said that “we are out of the dark but not out of the woods,” and that at this point, CEOs know what to expect of the virus’ vicissitudes. Meanwhile, Krakow told eJP that JCCs benefited from increased philanthropic support and as a whole are at “roughly 90%” of what the size of the field was before COVID, with gaps remaining largely in the areas of fitness centers and membership. The JCC Association’s 2022 budget was $16.2 million.

“I think it would be naive or overly simplistic to say we’re past it,” he told eJP regarding COVID. “What I believe we are is past the point of likely being surprised by its implications.”

on display

Why these Jewish organizations are investing in billboards to fight antisemitism

A billboard put up in Atlanta recently by the nonprofit Jewbelong, part of a national campaign.

Ten days before Jan. 27 — International Holocaust Remembrance Day — the British nonprofit Campaign Against Antisemitism launched an initiative to raise awareness of new statistics from the government showing that Jewish people are, on average, 500% more likely than any other faith group to be the victims of hate crimes in England and Wales. Thanks to a donation of space from an outdoor media company, the faces of rank-and-file members of the U.K.’s Jewish community are now appearing on large and hard-to-ignore billboards in places such as Leicester Square, London’s iconic cultural hub, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Wide reach: The average billboard in the United States is 14 feet high and 48 feet wide and provides a message or advertisement with 672 square feet of space. Now, with antisemitism at historic levels in the country, the use of billboards to share Jewish messages — independent of the algorithmic targeting that has come to characterize social media advertising — is increasing. Organizations that put them up say the billboards have the potential to reach people across demographics in the fight against antisemitism.

Messages on display: In December, billboards were part of the Shine A Light campaign’s 50-state media push to promote messages of tolerance and awareness of antisemitism. That same month, after some local antisemitic vandalism, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Outfront Media put up billboards featuring Jewish sayings, with the intent of countering the hate. The federation billboards’ messages include, “A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness,” “The highest form of wisdom is kindness” and “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” On Jan. 18, the CAA campaign went up. And pink billboards erected by a group called JewBelong, featuring quippy messages such as, “Can a billboard end antisemitism? No. But you’re not a billboard,” continue to pop up, currently appearing in 22 cities across the country.

Meeting commuters: “Billboards are awareness and awareness starts conversations,” said JewBelong co-founder Archie Gottesman. “Antisemitism is a difficult, unpleasant subject that needs to be spoken about.” Billboards are efficient, she added, because the electronic information people consume is usually siloed — with most media consumers only engaging with messaging they find agreeable. But outdoor advertising is an exception. “Everyone is commuting to work or in a car moving from one place to another and will see outdoor advertising,” she said. “It’s better to spread a very wide net to talk about antisemitism.”

Read the full story here.

notes on camp

Jewish day camps: the entry into lifelong joyful Judaism

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) speaks during annual Jerusalem Post conference at Gotham Hall.

“It was the fifth day of camp. Shabbat was approaching and the kids and the staff were raucously singing and dancing in the shaded amphitheater, accompanied by acoustic guitar on the stage. There was one parent there — the Shabbat Queen for the day. She couldn’t help but get swept up in the moment, joyfully clapping along and explaining her amazement to the camp’s director that in just five days, it was clear her son had found a space where he could grow, be comfortable in his Judaism and have fun. That trifecta was something the family had never experienced before,” Jenni Zeftel, director of day camp initiatives at the Foundation for Jewish Camp and a former JCC day camp director, writes in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A time of complex choices: “I was that camp director. And in that moment, I truly recognized the role of Jewish day camp for young kids and their families. And in December, at our biennial conference, Leaders Assembly, I had the great privilege of addressing more than 100 day camp professionals and lay leaders,  representing 160 day camps and approximately 90,000 campers and staff. Over the past several years, the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges have forced all camp professionals to make complex and difficult decisions. Across the board, they have worked tirelessly to gather the information needed to weigh all the options and make decisions that are best for their communities, campers, families and staff.”

Can’t stop, won’t stop: “In 2020, the 100-plus day camps that decided to open paved the way for the field in understanding what running a camp in the time of COVID could look like.  Day camp professionals met the moment bravely and strategically, learning to operate in new ways that prioritized in-person connection and safety. Day camp leaders never slowed down, and the data from the 2022 day camp satisfaction insights survey shows that their efforts had a great impact. Of 3,500 parent survey respondents, 68% indicated that their camper spent five or more weeks at Jewish day camp, and 86% were either satisfied or extremely satisfied with their child’s experience there.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Dayan’s Directive: Jewish Insider’s Ruth Marks Eglash interviews Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum, ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “Recalling his first day on the job in August 2021, the former envoy said he noticed a quote on the wall in the Museum of Art that quickly became his modus operandi. The quote, which Dayan later had etched onto a wall in his office, comes from the last will and testament of a Jewish painter who perished in the Warsaw Ghetto. ‘As I stand on the border between life and death, certain that I will not remain alive, I wish to take leave from my friends and my works…. My works I bequeath to the Jewish museum to be built after the war…,’ read Gela Seksztajn’s words, written in August 1942. She is believed to have died the following year, but no official records of her death exist. ‘When I saw that, I understood she was speaking to me and she was speaking about Yad Vashem – even though she did not know there would be a Yad Vashem – and in that moment I realized the responsibility that lies on our shoulders,’ said Dayan.” [JI]

Out of the Habit: 
Joanne Florino, writing in The National Review, explores why philanthropy from middle-class donors is declining. “One culprit is a slide in religious giving, with 46 percent of households giving to religious causes in 2004 but just 29 percent doing so in 2018. As more and more Americans stray from membership in religious denominations, overall charitable contributions decline. There is also a youth problem. Collectively, we are doing a poor job inculcating a culture of philanthropy in the next generation. Research has found that young people tend to donate and volunteer less than previous generations. Growing up Catholic, I recall the mite boxes where we deposited our pennies during Lent and then returned the boxes at Easter. Those types of lived generosity experiences are becoming less and less common in our families. Now is not a time when people have ample discretionary income to spend on charity. And once you fall out of the giving habit, it can be hard to get back into it.” [NationalReview]

All the News That’s Fit for Digital Ads:
 Nonprofit news organizations originally funded by a mix of philanthropy and foundational giving are turning to digital advertising as a source of sustainable income, Mark Stenberg reports in AdWeek. “For local nonprofit newsrooms specifically, advertising now makes up 29% of their average annual revenue. These firms say the growth of nonprofit advertising gives marketers access to targeted, diverse audiences in premium environments — an offering made more valuable as evolving privacy regulations reshape the digital marketing landscape… As a rule of thumb, larger nonprofits rely less on digital advertising because they can more easily cultivate philanthropic gifts and donations, while smaller, local nonprofits rely more heavily on it. Since 2017, the number of local nonprofit newsrooms has exploded, growing as a percentage of the total nonprofit field from 25% to 40% in 2021, according to The Institute for Nonprofit News. This change in the composition of the sector has spurred its gravitation toward digital advertising. But the gospel of revenue diversification has found adherents in nonprofits of all sizes, which has led larger organizations to invest more heavily in their digital advertising businesses as well.” [AdWeek]

Around the Web

The National Council of Jewish Women has raised $1 million for access to abortion care via the National Abortion Federation…

Descendants of a Jewish couple who fled the Nazis are suing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which operates the New York City museum of the same name, for a Pablo Picasso painting sold by the couple under duress that the Guggenheim now owns. The heirs are demanding either the return of the painting or its estimated value of $100 million to $200 million…

Cincinnati philanthropist and lobbyist Dick Weiland, an activist who was heavily involved in the civil rights movement and guided millions of dollars in state funding toward Cincinnati’s Jewish community, died at 93. He also established an endowment through the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati to combat antisemitism…

Michael Kay, the former CEO of Omni International Hotels and past board chair of both the Jewish Community Legacy Project and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, died at 83. Kay served on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and co-chaired the creation of its strategic plan. He was also on the board of Repair the World…

Pic of the Day

Jewish professionals from six North American Jewish organizations pose in Rwanda during a five-day study trip organized by Olam and Repair the World that concluded yesterday.


LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 17: Moderator Mark Boal attends “An Evening With Costas-Gavras” during the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on June 17, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/WireImage)

Journalist, screenwriter and film producer, in 2009 he wrote and produced “The Hurt Locker” for which he won two Academy Awards including for Best Picture, Mark Boal… 

Real estate developer and former minority owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, Bruce Ratner… Professor of biological chemistry at Weizmann Institute of Science, David Wallach… Educational consultant, trade association and non-profit executive, Peter D. Rosenstein… Manager of Innovative Strategies LLLP, he is a board member of the Baltimore-based Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Howard K. Cohen… U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)… Israeli archaeologist and professor at the University of Haifa, Estee Dvorjetski… Former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa… Former vice chairman at Citigroup, he was a 2021 candidate for mayor of NYC, Ray McGuire… Broadway theater owner, operator, producer and presenter and president of the Nederlander Organization, James L. Nederlander… Former president and CEO of Staples Inc., she serves on the boards of three public companies (CBRE, CarMax and Henry Schein), Shira Goodman… CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Jeremy J. Fingerman… Executive editor of The Recount, co-author of Game Change and Double Down: Game Change 2012, John Heilemann… Palm Beach, Fla., resident, formerly of Greenwich, Conn., Hilary Bangash Cohen… Film director, comic book artist and musician, S. Craig Zahler… Fourth Rebbe of the Pittsburgh Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Meshulam Eliezer Leifer… Creator and host of Jew in the City, Allison F. Josephs… Strategic communications consultant, Arielle Poleg… CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri… Manhasset, N.Y., native who competed for Israel in figure skating, she was the 2014 Israeli national champion, Danielle Montalbano… Professional soccer player who plays as a defender for DC United, he also played on the United States men’s national soccer team, Steven Mitchell Birnbaum… NYC native who competed for Israel in pairs figure skating, she and her partner won silver medals in the 2008 and 2009 Israeli championships, Hayley Anne Sacks