Your Daily Phil: JFN, impala launch partnership + A rebuttal to the CUNY chancellor

Good Monday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we spotlight a new partnership between the Jewish Funders Network and impala to allow foundations and nonprofits easier access to data, and feature op-eds from Gil TroyAvi D. Gordon and Ilana Fodiman-Silverman. Also in today’s newsletterRobert AsherJennifer LightmanIzzy Tapoohi and Shlomo Perel. We start with coverage of today’s cornerstone-laying at Sheba Medical Center.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yitshak Kreiss, director general of Sheba Medical Center, laid the cornerstone this morning for the new Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba Medical Center, which will be built adjacent to the existing hospital in Ramat Gan. The event was attended by Acting Health Minister Yoav Ben-Tzur, Minister of Housing and Construction Yitzhak Goldknopf and Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov, among other officials.

In addition to new medical technologies that will be integrated into the treatment regimen, the hospital will highlight unique early genetic testing, detection and treatment of rare diseases.

Raya Geller, a 15-year-old cancer patient from the Golan Heights, welled up with tears as she delivered an emotional speech describing how the hospital had become her “second home” over the past year. Speaking about the breaking points she personally encountered during her battle with cancer, Geller said that “at Safra, one doesn’t give up,” describing the support, strength and sensitivity she received from the medical teams who “don’t let any child break.”

Netanyahu then addressed Geller directly, saying, “I want to say to Raya, not to stop believing. There is even proof that faith helps healing, faith in yourself and your family and in the doctors and the wonderful medical teams that are dedicated to your recovery. Don’t stop believing.” 

“And today there is an additional reason to believe because here we are inaugurating a very big effort to give hope and faith and medicine to children like you and many other children at this special hospital that we are founding here today,” Netanyahu added.

“The new futuristic Safra Children’s Hospital will feature so many new and unique divisions, unlike anything you have ever seen, from a new Children’s Burn Unit and an Eating Disorders Division, as well as a division dedicated to special treatments for youngsters with genetic diseases,” Kreiss said at the event. “More importantly, we are a hospital of peace and a beacon of hope not just for the children of Israel but also for the children of the region, including youngsters from the Palestinian Authority, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, whom we are already treating. This is the DNA of Sheba.”

During the event, held on Tu B’Shevat, a tree was planted to mark the inauguration of the new hospital, with messages hung on the tree chosen by children and medical staff from the hospital.


Anna Paulina Luna appears on a panel discussion during a taping of “Candace” Hosted By Candace Owens on January 4, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Shahar Brukner was a student at the Harvard Kennedy School, getting his master’s degree in public policy analysis, when he started his own nonprofit, a fellowship that aimed to bring financial resources to Israeli students studying in the U.S. But in order to do that, Brukner had to raise the money. “Right from the beginning, there’s so many difficulties that fundraisers face in this world around basic questions,” Brukner told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Melissa Weiss. “Like, ‘What funders care about what I’m doing? How could I get to know about them? How can I connect with them? Are there any other nonprofits that are doing what I’m doing? Maybe I can collaborate with them?’ Answering these questions took a lot of time. It was extremely hard and [there was] nothing [in terms of] really centralized data in one place.”

Coming together: Brukner, alongside co-founders Simon Dickson, a HKS classmate, and Tom Huberman, an alum of the IDF’s elite 8200 intelligence unit, set out to create a solution. What resulted was impala, a platform that serves as a database for publicly available data on foundations and nonprofits — some 2 million of them. The platform scrapes details from the IRS 990 forms — mandatory paperwork for U.S.-based nonprofits — as well as the websites and annual reports of nonprofits and foundations. Impala came out of “the idea of creating a network platform for the nonprofit sector — one place where every nonprofit and every foundation and every funder can get the information that they need to understand [what] this sector looks like,” Brukner explained. 

Increased visibility: The platform will launch its partnership with the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) in a Zoom event on Wednesday. Brukner had shown JFN leadership an early demonstration of how impala works, and, he said, “it was clear” from the initial conversations that there existed the potential for collaboration. When it launches this week, more than 20,000 entities — all JFN members and their grantees, both Jewish and non-Jewish — will receive free access to impala’s premium edition for two years. Support for the project came from the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Glazer Foundation, the DARE Foundation and the Jewish Funders Network’s board chair, Marcia Riklis, who collectively are providing $525,000 over two years. “With impala, we finally have visibility into the entire Jewish philanthropic sector and can better understand JFN’s place in it, reveal opportunities for collaboration and unite everyone — Jewish foundations and nonprofits — in one place,” Riklis said in a statement.

Read the full story here.

tough conversations

Birthright Israel’s education committee: Still updating after all these years

Courtesy of Birthright Israel

“As one of the greatest Jewish educational interventions since the day school, the summer camp, the Zionist movement, the yeshiva and the Talmud itself, Taglit-Birthright Israel is often targeted,” writes Gil Troy, a professor of North American history at McGill University, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Frat party?: “Critics stereotype Birthright’s Israel trips as the Jewish world’s big, fat, mindless, propagandistic frat party. But the caricatures clash: faultfinders have to choose between bashing Birthright Israel as a mindless romp or as serious indoctrination. Beyond their inconsistencies, these crude cartoons insult over 800,000 overwhelmingly satisfied Birthright alumni, treating them as patsies in either scenario. They also disrespect the thousands of top-notch educators who have made Birthright Israel’s educational vision thoughtful, subtle, contextualized, person-centered and genuine.”

Model of constructive identity-building: “I admit. I am biased. I have chaired Birthright Israel’s education committee as a lay leader since 2010. From that vantage point, I have been honored to participate in many of the most pressing debates shaping Birthright Israel’s curriculum, while watching the program evolve educationally to meet our participants’ changing needs. As one of the bright spots in the Jewish world, running a nonpartisan, inspiring Israel program people are happy to join, Birthright Israel offers a model of constructive identity-building and Israel-associating, that transcends the politics and passing headaches of any particular moment.”

Tackling the hard stuff: “Thanks to Birthright Israel’s current educational leaders, who have continuously updated the project’s philosophy and approach … I have been lucky to work with my own dream team of educators over the years… Perhaps most surprising is that, during this highly polarized era, we have tackled all kinds of explosive issues, while keeping it civil. We have debated how to teach about Israel’s tensions with its neighbors and its broader geopolitical place in the world. We have addressed the challenges of how to engage Israeli Arabs within our various program offerings, and complement such initiatives with rigorous staff-training protocols. We have grappled with pedagogies regarding how to experience Shabbat, Israeli politics, the Holocaust, Jewish values, or social diversity to young adults, many of whom keep growing – as studies show – less Jewishly-literate and more Jewishly-distant.”

Read the full piece here.


Kingsborough Community College

“Antisemitism is rearing its ugly head at the City University of New York. Jewish students at the 25 colleges that make up the CUNY system have repeatedly experienced harassment and discrimination as a result of their faith, including Zionism,” writes Avi D. Gordon, executive director of Alums for Campus Fairness, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Words are not enough: “Public outcry has reached a fever pitch. Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez is feeling the pressure and finally saying the right things. But his words are not enough. To combat the antisemitism epidemic, CUNY must take meaningful action to treat the disease itself, not just the symptoms.”

IHRA standard: “Chancellor Matos Rodríguez clearly got the message. Based on his change in attitude and media blitz over the last few months, he at least recognizes that he has a public relations problem on his hands. But beyond platitudes and a token investment in programming, there is not much to be excited about. CUNY has not changed a single policy. The chancellor announced a new reporting tool for antisemitic incidents, but will not define antisemitism. He still refuses to adopt the internationally recognized definition, as countless other colleges and universities have done. Alums for Campus Fairness has engaged with schools around the country on this specific issue. Dozens of campuses have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance standard. CUNY has not.”

Read the full piece here.

the almond tree

“As humans, we make great use of the natural resources that surround us. A tree can offer its fruit to eat, leaves for shade and limbs to build, and yet it also presents an opportunity to behold vivid hues and bold strokes, beautiful blossoms and formidable vistas that enliven the human experience,” writes Ilana Fodiman-Silverman, director of Moed, a community organization in Zichron Yaakov, Israel, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy

Not just sustenance: “The Torah describes the first trees which sprouted up in the Garden of Eden from the vantage of the human observer. Genesis 2:9 reads: ‘And from the ground, God caused every tree to grow that was nehmad (pleasing) to the sight and tov (good) for eating.’ These trees are presented with both visual and gastronomic benefits. Eating is tov (good), a word that appears repeatedly as God pronounces satisfaction at the end of the days of creation. In contrast, the visual sensation is labeled nehmad

Spiritual significance: “The almond tree holds particular prominence in the Tanach and beyond as a symbol of spiritual significance… The almond branch also plays a role in one of Van Gogh’s most celebrated paintings….”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Vouching for Philanthropy: The Achisomoch Aid Society is “the biggest Jewish charity you’ve never heard of,” writes Simon Rocker in The Jewish Chronicle; the organization brought in 50 million GBP in 2022, and distributes donations to thousands of British charities: “Last year, it was the vehicle for more than £25 million given to Jewish schools, yeshivot and other educational institutions; £7.5 million for the relief of poverty and a further £6 million for religious services. Its largest single beneficiary over the year was the Hasmonean Schools Trust with nearly £1.3 million. In the early days, Achisomoch was purely a charity voucher company — users would pay in an amount and get a charity cheque book with the tax relief added, minus an administration fee of five per cent. They could then distribute the vouchers to their charities of choice. Although vouchers remain popular, much of the operation is now online with users making donations through a digital account. Achisomoch has some 4,000 charities on its books, processes around a quarter of a million transactions a year and has a growing client base of 3,000 individual givers and organisations. While most of the money goes to Jewish causes, there are also donations to some of the larger national charities. Through its app, givers are able to donate via their smartphone.” [TheJC]

Around the Web

YIVOannounced the initiation of an eight-year project to digitize its Jewish labor and political archive. The project will make available its collections documenting Jewish political, labor and social movements in the United States and Europe from 1870 to 1992… 

Israel “Izzy” Tapoohi, president and CEO of the Birthright Israel Foundation, is stepping down at the end of 2023…

MollyBeth Rushfield has been named the inaugural recipient of the Avi West Jewish Education Award. The award honors the memory of the Washington-D.C.-based community educator and supports the professional development for an exemplary Jewish educator…

The late entrepreneur and investor Jay Kahngave a $100 million unrestricted gift to the San Diego Foundation. The bequest surprised the foundation’s leadership because they never cultivated Kahn as a donor…

The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation received a bequest from the late Peter Buck of his 50% ownership of the Subway restaurant chain…  

Stacey Stewart has been named as the next CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Stewart had served as president and CEO of March of Dimes since 2017…

Jennifer Lightman joined Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona as vice president of marketing and communications. She was previously director of communications and special projects for Perelman Jewish Day School in Philadelphia…

Chicago communal leader Robert “Bob” Asherdied at 94…

Shlomo Perel, a Holocaust survivor who inspired the film “Europa Europa,” died at 98…

Pic of the Day

The Edith and Carl Marks JCH of Bensonhurst, in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York, hosted a job fair for more than 300 Ukrainian refugees who are new to the Brooklyn community.


NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 18: Dr. Neri Oxman, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, MIT, speaks at The 2017 Concordia Annual Summit at Grand Hyatt New York on September 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

Professor at MIT, she is the co-trustee of the Pershing Square Foundation, Neri Oxman… 

Israeli pediatric endocrinologist, winner of the 2009 Israel Prize, in 1966 he described the type of dwarfism later called Laron syndrome in his name, Dr. Zvi Laron… Advertising entrepreneur, part owner of MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks and the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, William Levine… Member of the New Jersey Senate for 17 years including 10 years as Senate majority leader, Loretta Weinberg… Rosalyn Kaplan… Cantor of Congregation Hugat Haverim in Glendale, Calif., Harvey Lee Block… Longtime syndicated columnist for the Washington Post for 43 years, Richard Martin Cohen… Louisiana commissioner of administration after previously serving as lieutenant governor of Louisiana, Jay Dardenne… Professor concurrently at both Harvard and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Michael Pollan… Chair of the Board of UJA-Federation of New York and a part owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, David Lewis Moore… Los Angeles attorney specializing in criminal and civil appeals, Paul Kujawsky… Former longtime foreign correspondent for NPR in many capitals including Jerusalem, author of the NYT-bestseller The Geography of BlissEric Weiner… Special events producer at Ballas Bloom Consulting, Jacquelyn Ballas Bloom… Television and film actress, writer and producer, Naomi Grossman… Rabbi and author of eight books, Danya Ruttenberg… Israeli-French singer-songwriter whose hit single “New Soul” was used by Apple in a 2008 advertising campaign for its MacBook Air, Yael Naim… Equestrian show jumper who competes for Israel, Danielle “Dani” Goldstein-Waldman… AIPAC’s Mid-Atlantic regional political director, Stephen Knable… Investigative journalist Steven I. Weiss… Deputy division director, public diplomacy and international relations at the Israeli Ministry of Health, Adam Cutler… Member of the Australian parliament, Joshua Solomon Burns… MBA candidate at Columbia Business School, Yadin Koschitzky