Your Daily Phil: JFNA poll finds 70% of U.S. Jews feel less safe
Good Friday morning.
In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a new survey by the Israel Democracy Institute and last night’s World Jewish Congress gala. We feature opinion pieces from Gidi Greenstein and Rabbi Avi Killip. Also in this newsletter: Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Fred Guttenberg and Jim Calhoun. We’ll start with a recent poll by the Jewish Federations of North America.
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: National Library of Israel launches ‘unprecedented’ effort to collect everything it can about Oct. 7 attacks; South African Jews sound the alarm as government reaches out to Hamas; Israel grapples with country’s biggest internal displacement in history; The retired Navy admiral making the case for Israel in the White House briefing room. Print the latest edition here.
More than two-thirds of American Jews — 70% — feel less safe than they did before the Israel-Hamas war and none feel safer, a poll released Thursday by the Jewish Federations of North America found, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.
Seventy-two percent of American Jews polled said that they thought antisemitism was increasing in their own community — in contrast to the 32% of respondents who said so from the general population. For the first time in years, respondents noted that they view antisemitism as more widespread than discrimination against other minorities. Nearly a third of those surveyed said there had been some violence or hate against Jews in their community – using words such as “tense,” “uncomfortable” and “scary” to describe their broader communities.
The findings also indicate that support for military aid to Israel is largely popular, with 59% of the general population supporting it, echoed by 87% of U.S. Jews.
The results were released days before tens of thousands of Israel supporters are expected to turn out for what is being dubbed as the March for Israel, which will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, just over five weeks after Hamas’ deadly rampage in Israel and while some 240 Israelis are still held captive in Gaza.
“We believe that knowledge is an important prerequisite to action, which is why this data is so powerful as our community mobilizes to march on Washington,” Mimi Kravetz, JFNA’s chief impact and growth officer, said in a briefing on Thursday.
ON THE SCENE
World Jewish Congress gala honors former Canadian PM for Israel advocacy, combating antisemitism
Marking 85 years since Kristallnacht and amid an ongoing surge of antisemitism worldwide in the wake of Israel’s war with Hamas, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder told some 250 attendees at the organization’s gala dinner last night that Jews today are “not alone,” reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen exclusively from the event.
Friends matter: The event, held at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, recognized Brian Mulroney, former prime minister of Canada, for his advocacy work for Israel and opposition to antisemitism.“His fight against antisemitism is a most articulate and enduring passion,” Lauder said while presenting Mulroney with WJC’s top honor, the Theodor Herzl Award. “None of us could imagine that Israel would be attacked, not just by Hamas but by the rest of the world. It makes our friends that much more important.”
New poll finds most Israelis support hostage talks; Arab Israelis increasingly identify with state
A new survey by the Israel Democracy Institute found that there is a growing support for the government to immediately enter negotiations to secure the release of the 241 hostages in Hamas custody, with 38% saying Israel should do so while continuing to fight in Gaza and 21% saying the talks should go forward even if it requires a ceasefire. This is up from 28% and 17%, respectively, after the first week of the war, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.
Shared society: The survey found that Arab Israelis are increasingly identifying with the State of Israel, with 70% saying they “feel part of the State of Israel and its problems,” compared to 48% who said so in June 2023. This represents the highest percentage since the think tank began asking the question 20 years ago. For the survey, pollsters interviewed 606 people (502 Hebrew-speaking Israelis, 104 Arabic-speaking Israelis) this week.
Civil groups on top: Israelis gave high scores to the relief efforts by nonprofits, with 59% of respondents giving “good” or “excellent” scores to large established organizations and 81% giving “good” or “excellent” scores to newly formed civic groups.
Take it public: A large majority of Israelis — 85% — said they supported turning the nonprofit ZAKA emergency service, which played a key role in collecting the bodies and other remains of the victims of the Oct. 7 attacks, into a public service, which would be funded and supported by the state.
PIVOT, PROCEED OR POSTPONE
U.S. Jewish community navigates how to host events post-Oct. 7
To proceed, or to postpone? That’s the delicate dilemma Jewish nonprofits have been navigating, post-Oct.7, as they consider the events they had planned before the shattering attacks. A month after the terrorists’ rampage — amid the fundraising campaigns, the organizational statements, solidarity rallies, community briefings and the calls for unity — most groups have fine-tuned some programming, either tonally or content-wise, but the prevailing desire to be together drove most to move ahead, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.
Balancing act: “How is it possible to promote a gala to a community whose inboxes are flooded daily with updates from Israel, requests for donations and supplies, and much-needed opportunities to connect with others to address these ongoing, traumatic circumstances?” Amy Schulman, director of development at Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, told eJP asked. “By reminding ourselves how our essential Jewish organizations impact the lives of our constituents and the greater Jewish community, we can continue the important work of honoring our values and accomplishing our goals,” she added.
Come together: “When so much of the American Jewish world is focused on the situation in Israel and the subsequent rise in antisemitism, the kosher BBQ festival and other communal events feel like a glimmer of the achdut (unity) which our Israeli friends and colleagues have shared,” Rabba Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez, director of family education and engagement at the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, told eJP.
American Jewry: Time to Think Big
Since Oct. 7, the organizing principle for American Jewish leadership has been one of ‘emergency response.’ That response has focused on important needs such as supporting the evacuees, the wounded and abducted; fighting the surge of antisemitism on campuses and in the media and public sphere; lobbying to ensure financial and political support for Israel; and campaigning to bring the kidnapped civilians home. In all these areas, American Jewry has stepped up in remarkable ways,” writes Gidi Grinstein, founder and president of the Reut Group, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Looking ahead: “But no sprint can last forever. We must now transition into an endurance run, understanding that a new normal may take years to set in. … Unprecedented sums of money will need to be raised and disbursed; security needs will mount; the surge of protests against Israel, which are often intertwined with antisemitism, will continue; and the political environment will be toxic and volatile. This analysis, conservative in its assessment of the challenges to face American Jewry, might lend itself to a mindset of defensive, resource-saving retreat — but such an approach would ignore the opportunity presented by the crisis: to stand tall; consolidate; go long; go wide; and go for the moonshot. … Each of these pillars deserves its own article, but the overarching message should be clear: Even as American Jewry supports Israel, they should also envision and work to realize their own greatness.”
TALMUD FOR OUR TIMES
The cry of the mothers
“In her recent essay in The New York Times, Israeli mother Rachel Goldberg took my breath away,” writes Rabbi Avi Killip, executive vice president of the Hadar Institute, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Her hope: “She writes: ‘Every single person in Gaza has a mother, or had a mother at some point. And I would say this, then, as mother to other mothers: If you see Hersh, please help him. I think about it a lot. I really think I would help your son, if he was in front of me, injured, near me.’ … This is a remarkable thing to say about the place where her own son is held in enemy hands. Yet this is the image she returns to as the days turn to weeks. In a seemingly hopeless situation, she reaches for this: there are mothers on the other side of this war, too. The ability to see and feel as a mother makes this moment particularly painful; it also forces us, allows us, to hold onto our humanity.”
Lesson for leadership: “I pray with all my heart that Rachel’s son is returned to her. I pray with that same heart that no more children are killed. To be a Jewish leader at this moment, especially a religious leader, is going to require drawing on everything we have available. I don’t know how we will find our way to safety and security for all our children. Motherhood and ancient wisdom do not alone provide military and political strategy. But they force our hearts to remain open. And as painful as that is, it is better than the alternative.”
He’s Worried: In eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider, Tori Bergel interviews gun control activist Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was murdered in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who has increasingly found himself at odds with those he once saw as allies. “I see not just what’s happening in the U.S., but across the globe, and I’m worried about Israel’s future security, but as a U.S. citizen, I am truly worried about the level of discourse, the way we talk to one another, and the amped-up rhetoric and hate that comes from it. I’m worried about the incitement to violence on college campuses and in communities. I worry that a Jewish man was killed [earlier this week] in California, and how that might drive more Jewish people to feel this need to defend themselves, and that’s only going to bring more violence. I’m worried.” [JewishInsider]
Every Parent’s Nightmare: In Jewish Insider, Tamara Zieve profiles the 40 babies and children being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza. “Kfir Bibas is the youngest of the hostages. The red-headed baby, now a familiar face in many households across Israel, was nine months old when he was kidnapped from his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz, along with his four-year-old brother Ariel, and their parents Shiri and Yarden… Kfir only recently started eating solids, still heavily reliant on formula. Shiri’s cousin, Yifat Zailer, is concerned for his well-being. ‘I truly think that he probably is not receiving it there. So I hope he is being nourished enough. I don’t know,’ Zailer tells Jewish Insider during an interview this week. She also wonders how his energetic four-year-old brother is holding up, and in what conditions. Ariel loves tractors and nature. He is a ‘show stopper,’ Zailer says. And he can’t sit still for five minutes. ‘Every tree, every chair, every table he can climb on, he will be the first one to do it. Which you know, makes you think, “Now what’s going on with him?”’” [JewishInsider]
Deja Vu: The Oct. 7 massacres in southern Israel and the world’s response are touching a nerve for Holocaust survivors, reports Jewish Telegraphic Agency editor Philissa Cramer. “‘I couldn’t believe it,’ Maud, who lives in the United States, said in a testimony shared this week by March of the Living, a group that takes groups to visit concentration camp sites in Europe. ‘I’ve had sleepless nights since and it just brought back so many memories. It is so visual of what I saw as a child. … I have a hard time coping with what I read and what I hear and what I see on TV. I can’t come to terms with it. It’s so hard.’ … ‘It started with words and continued with actions,’ Nate, from Canada, said about his experience as a child in Poland, where he survived Auschwitz but most of his family members did not. ‘I am devastated to see how Jews are being attacked today. Jews are not safe. I saw where antisemitism can lead to and I am very concerned.’ In a sign of how significantly the current climate is affecting survivors, the March of the Living communicated late Wednesday, after some testimonies had already been published, that the survivors did not want to have their full names or pictures published. Many have long been public speakers sharing their stories, but at the current moment, the organization said, they were concerned that exposing themselves would risk their personal security.” [JTA]
Around the Web
A group of Wall Street and Hollywood billionaires — collectively worth nearly $500 billion — have been discussing a plan to spend as much as $50 million on a media campaign to convince Americans that Hamas is indeed a terrorist organization…
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul named Dr. Ruth Westheimer, former Haganah sniper and longtime sex therapist, the state’s “loneliness ambassador.” Westheimer, who had lobbied Hochul for the role, said she was “deeply honored” and that she had “promised the governor that I will work day and night to help New Yorkers feel less lonely!”…
The Israeli government has amended its policies and will allow direct donations to state services, a move hailed by some as a way to ensure Israelis get the assistance they need and condemned by others as opening the door to improper influence campaigns…
Shots were fired at two Jewish schools in Montreal yesterday. These attacks came after Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Jewish federation and a synagogue in the city…
Yeshiva University men’s basketball coach Elliot Steinmetz recounted a recent meeting with retired University of Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun who told the YU players that they must “stay strong and stay resolved, just like Israel and the Israel Defense Forces should in wiping out Hamas”…
Harvard University President Claudine Gay announced a number of new initiatives to combat antisemitism on campus…
The Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning Hamas and calling for the immediate release of Israeli hostages…
In The Free Press, Bari Weiss argued against seeing the world through the lens of “the powerless (good) and the powerful (bad)”…
The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California and Jewish leaders from across the state met with Gov. Gavin Newsom to discuss rising antisemitism in recent weeks. “He committed to working with us to help address issues on campuses and throughout society,” JPAC said…
Forbes magazine investigated former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s struggles with his philanthropic fund, Schmidt Futures…
Members of a Los Angeles synagogue, Adat Ari El, which rents space to a charter school, have expressed concerns about the school after two first-grade teachers taught their classes about the “genocide of Palestine” and one of them complained about the Israeli flags that the synagogue flies…
Ra’anana Meridor, a former Hebrew University professor and matriarch of an influential right-wing Israeli family, died yesterday at 100…
Pic of the Day
An Israeli soldier pauses at a storage site in Tkuma, Israel, where hundreds of vehicles destroyed during the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks have been relocated. Police, forensic teams and ZAKA volunteers are continuing to identify the cars and any remnants of bodies; according to Jewish law, all parts of a human being, including blood or body parts must be buried.
Executive director of the Ruderman Family Foundation, Shira Menashe Ruderman…
FRIDAY: Manager of the Decatur, Ga.-based Connect Hearing, Murray Kurtzberg… Former NBA player in the 1960s who became a lawyer and then a New York State judge, Barry D. Kramer… One of the four deans of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, N.J., one of the largest yeshivas in the world with more than 7,500 students, Rabbi Yerucham Olshin… Professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, he is a cofounder of the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society, Oliver B. Pollak, Ph.D.… Former CNN news anchor whose first day on the job was September 11, 2001, Aaron Brown… Former executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, Raphael J. Sonenshein, Ph.D.… Journalist at Holaro and The Muck-Rake, after 30 years at CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Howard L. Rosenberg… Chief administrative officer at the Legacy Heritage Fund, Elaine Weitzman… ESPN’s longest-tenured SportsCenter anchor, Linda Cohn… Rabbi at Temple Beth Kodesh in Boynton Beach, Fla., Michael C. Simon… Bar-Ilan University Professor and social historian, Adam Ferziger… Senior rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, Ken Chasen… Former MLB right-fielder for 14 seasons, he founded Greenfly, a software firm for sports and entertainment organizations, Shawn Green… National security editor at the Washington Post, Benjamin Pauker… Co-founder in 2004 of Yelp, where he remains the CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman… Chief investigative reporter at ABC News, Josh Margolin… Official on the public health team at Bloomberg Philanthropies, Jean B. Weinberg… YouTube personality, Josh Peck… Actress and producer, Zoey Francis Chaya Thompson Deutch…
SATURDAY: Retired psychiatric nurse now living in Surprise, Ariz., Shula Kantor... Retired television and radio sports broadcaster, Warner Wolf… Former Democratic U.S. senator from California for 24 years, Barbara Levy Boxer… Author, best known for her 1993 autobiographical memoir Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen… Television personality (former host of “Double Dare”), known professionally as Marc Summers, Marc Berkowitz… Founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman… Founder and president of the D.C.-based Plurus Strategies, he served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the DOE during the Clinton administration, David Leiter… President at American Built-in Closets in South Florida, Perry Birman… Aish HaTorah teacher in Los Angeles, author and co-founder of a gourmet kosher cooking website, Emuna Braverman… Talk show host and president and founder of Talkline Communications, Zev Brenner… Founder of N.Y.C.-based alternative investment firm Portage Partners, Michael Leffell… Professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Steven M. Nadler… Former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, he served as a counsel for the Democrats during the first Trump impeachment, Amb. Norman Eisen… Venture capitalist and physicist, Yuri Milner… Founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based IKAR, Melissa Balaban… Israel’s commissioner of police, Kobi Shabtai… Emmy Award- and People’s Choice Award-winning television producer, Jason Nidorf “Max” Mutchnick… Former member of the Knesset for the Likud party, she was previously a television anchor, Orly Levy-Abekasis… Tel Aviv-born actor and screenwriter, he is best known for his roles in “The Young and the Restless” and “NCIS,” Eyal Podell… Defender for the LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer, Daniel Steres… Finance director at the campaign for U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8), Shelly Tsirulik… Survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, he has become an advocate against gun violence, Cameron Kasky…
SUNDAY: Co-founder and dean of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky… Professor emerita of history at Columbia University and expert on Japan, Carol Gluck… Author and senior fellow at USC’s Annenberg School, Morley Winograd… Accountant in Phoenix, Ariz., Steven M. Scheiner, CPA… Recent board member of the New York State Thruway Authority and former state senator, he is a descendant of Rabbi Shmuel Salant, the former Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Stephen M. Saland… Sportscaster for “Thursday Night Football” on Prime Video, after more than 50 years at NBC and ABC, Al Michaels… U.S. senator (D-RI), Jack Reed… Attorney in Brooklyn, Bernard C. Wachsman… Member of the New York State Assembly since 2006, her district includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Linda B. Rosenthal… Author of young-adult fiction and winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman… Author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Naomi Rebekah Wolf… University of Chicago professor, he won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics, Michael Kremer… Mayor of Oakland, Calif., until earlier this year, Elizabeth Beckman “Libby” Schaaf… Rabbi of the Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest, Róbert Frölich… Partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, Sanford E. (Sandy) Perl… White House chief of staff since earlier this year, Jeffrey Zients… British journalist and political correspondent for BBC News, Joanne “Jo” Coburn… SVP and general manager of MLB’s Minnesota Twins, Thad Levine… Member of the Knesset until 2019 for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Robert Ilatov… Restaurant critic and food writer for the Boston Globe, Devra First… Israeli fashion model and actress, Nina Brosh… Former member of the Knesset for the United Torah Judaism party, Eliyahu Hasid… Campus support director at Hillel International, Aviva Zucker Snyder… Actress best known for her roles on “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful,” Kelly Kruger… Partnerships at Mayfair, Dave Weinberg… Assistant professor of Jewish studies at Oberlin College, Matthew D. Berkman, Ph.D.… Director of strategic talent initiatives at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Spencer F. Lucker… N.J.-based primary care physician known as Doctor Mike, Mikhail Varshavski, DO… Activist in the fight against antisemitism on college campuses throughout the U.S., Adela Cojab…