Your Daily Phil: JFNA raises $388m in ‘historic’ campaign

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the U.S. Jewish community’s rare consensus regarding Israel’s war against Hamas and preview the upcoming Variety“Hollywood and Antisemitism Summit, which begins today. We feature an opinion piece from Mark Charendoff about how North American Jews can support Israel’s military campaign. Also in this newsletter: Ronen and Orna Neutra, Beth Mayerowitz and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. We’ll start with the Jewish Federations of North America’s fundraising campaign for Israel.

The Jewish Federations of North America has raised $388 million toward its $500 million emergency campaign for Israel in the wake of Hamas’ deadly rampage and ensuing war, the organization announced on Tuesday, report eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen and Judah Ari Gross.

“Amid the horrors of what is happening in Israel, our community is rising up to be a pillar of support in a way I have never seen in my adult life,” JFNA Chair Julie Platt said in a statement. “From every corner of North America, from every Federation community, we are astonished by the generosity and speed with which people are stepping up to support Israel in her hour of need, whether supporting emergency workers and trauma counselors, hospitals, displaced families, or victims of terror.”

The $500 million campaign represents an unprecedented philanthropic mobilization effort in terms of its scale. In an average year, American Jewish groups donate roughly $2 billion to Israeli nonprofits, meaning this campaign — coming on top of existing donations — represents a 25% increase in just a few days. This comes at a time when American Jewish giving to Israel has been on the decline.

“It’s a large goal,” Eric Fingerhut, JFNA president and CEO, toldeJP. “One of the largest in our history. While no guarantees, we have already seen evidence of the very strong desire of our communities to step up and assist our brothers and sisters in Israel.”

The fund will go to “immediate, urgent needs as well as rebuilding and rehabilitation needs,” Fingerhut said.

Of the $388 million raised so far, $10 million has already been distributed to a variety of emergency relief and support efforts in Israel, including direct assistance of victims of the Oct. 7 massacres, volunteer mobilization groups, emergency services, hospitals and mental health services.

The announcement came alongside the “Unity in Crisis” event at the Sixth & I synagogue in Washington, D.C., which was attended by Jewish leaders and a bipartisan group of politicians. The event was hosted by a number of large Jewish organizations, including JFNA, as well as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, American Jewish Committee, American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Anti-Defamation League, among others. (For more information about the event, see the coverage by eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.)

Read the full report here.


Supporters of Israel hold a protest at Washington Square Park in New York City on Oct. 17, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images))

The outpouring of grief and mourning with Israel — and wall-to-wall show of solidarity for its countermeasures — in the week and a half since the Hamas terrorist attacks that killed more than 1,400 Israelis represents a new moment in American Jewish history, community leaders and scholars of Jewish history tell Gabby Deutch and Haley Cohen for eJewishPhilanthropy‘s sister publication Jewish Insider. The loudest anti-Zionist voices have been pushed further to the margins as American Jews across the religious and political spectrums have joined together in a rarely seen unified voice.

Across the board: “I think the Jewish community has been much more wall-to-wall than I’ve ever seen around this, and not just in the sense of the political and behavioral responses, but in the emotional response, which is, in many ways, very inspiring,” said Yehuda Kurtzer, the president of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. “The Jewish people is in mourning, and the geography is not a huge factor in terms of that mourning.”

At the fringes: Most of the responses attacking Israel have not come from within the mainstream Jewish community, but a small but vocal minority professing to speak for American Jews — primarily espoused by the far-left groups Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow — have asserted that Israel provoked the attack and that Israel is not blameless in the deaths of the 1,400 Israelis. “It seemed to me that this represented a move further to the left on IfNotNow’s part,” said David Myers, the director of UCLA’s Luskin Center for History and Policy and a past board president of New Israel Fund, a liberal Israeli civil society organization, who called the anti-Zionist Jewish groups “outliers” in their response to the Hamas attacks.

Read the full report hereand sign up forJewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


Variety to host Hollywood and Antisemitism Summit amid war in Israel

The famed Hollywood sign is viewed on Sept. 25, 2023 in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A group of Jewish actors, writers, directors, producers and other industry professionals will gather in Hollywood today for Variety’s “Hollywood and Antisemitism Summit”, to address the issue of Jewish representation and how to topple anti-Jewish hate, Dea Lawrence, Variety’s chief operating and marketing officer, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz ahead of the event.

Security concerns: “The purpose of the summit is to examine the scourge of antisemitism and how Hollywood can work to combat it through inclusive storytelling, thought leadership and advocacy,” Lawrence told eJP. Representatives from Jewish philanthropic or nonprofit organizations, such as the Anti-Defamation League, USC Shoah Foundation, Holocaust Museum LA and American Jewish Committee are expected to attend. For security reasons, eJP has been asked to withhold the event’s location and program details until after the summit concludes on Wednesday night.

Now more than ever: Variety has also partnered with The Margaret and Daniel Loeb Foundation and Shine A Light on the summit. “One of the calls to action is for the Hollywood philanthropic community to also see this as a pressing issue and to donate to the many incredible organizations that are on the front lines of this fight every single day,” Lawrence added. “With the tragic terrorist attack that occurred on Oct. 7, we now see this as more relevant than ever. We are offering a platform for some of the most important people in Hollywood to come and speak about an issue that is tragically top of mind now for all individuals around the world.” In addition to the summit, Variety published a series of essays on the topic of antisemitism on its website.


How can I help to destroy Hamas today?

An Israeli army soldier sits in the hatch of a Puma armored personnel carrier in a column with other vehicles near the Gaza border in southern Israel on October 14, 2023. (Aris Mssinis/AFP via Getty Images)

“I was gratified to see that Americans are firmly behind Israel right now, but this will not be a quick war. While author Dara Horn reminds us [in her book of the same name] that ‘people love dead Jews,’ the images of Jewish fatalities will fade and screens will feature dead Gazans, many of them civilians — not because they will be targeted, but because civilians inadvertently die in wars,” writes Mark Charendoff, president of Maimonides Fund, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Israel allies, assemble: “President Joe Biden’s speech demonstrated his strong resolve and should earn our loyalty and appreciation, [yet] that resolve will be challenged as time goes on and as the American public grows weary of yet another Middle Eastern war that they don’t understand. And that’s where we come in: North American Jewry must be laser-focused (sorry Marjorie Taylor Greene) on helping Israel to defeat Hamas.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

A Harrowing Tale: Neomit Dekel-Chen, a 63-year-old resident of Kibbutz Nir Oz, details her terrifying abduction from her home by Hamas terrorists and her ultimate escape in an account adapted for English-language audiences by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Even though I didn’t know if there was anywhere to return to, I kept telling myself I had to reach my children and see what had happened to them. … I crept for two hours through the fields and I finally managed to reach my kibbutz. I searched for a place that wasn’t on fire. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore. On the way I saw ruin everywhere, massive destruction. There are no words to describe the pogrom… I reached my daughter’s house, which wasn’t burned. I pounded on the door but they wouldn’t open it. I shouted: ‘Ofir, it’s Ima,’ and still they didn’t open because they thought it was terrorists. Finally, they opened the door and I fell onto the mattress in the room. I was bleeding everywhere. And from that moment I’m just waiting to hear something about my son who is still missing.” [JTA]

A Teachable Moment: In The New York Times, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that universities need to focus more on teaching ethics and morals in the wake of the responses to the terror attacks in Israel. “Ethics are rarely either/or. It is possible to condemn the barbarism of Hamas and condemn the endless Israeli occupation of the West Bank. So, too, is it possible to condemn the treatment of women and the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Arab lands and the attempt by right-wing Israeli politicians to neuter Israel’s Supreme Court. But without the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and to recognize the fallacies of moral equivalence, students won’t be able to marshal the nuanced reasoning and a careful assessment of responsibility required in times like these. We in the academy need to look more deeply at how it is possible that so many undergraduates, graduate students, law students and faculty at our nation’s finest colleges and universities could have such moral blinders.” [NYTimes]

Around the Web

President Joe Biden touched down in Israel this morning. He will meet with Israeli politicians, nonprofit leaders and survivors of the Oct. 7 massacres and their families…

Keren Schem, the mother of Mia Schem, who appeared in a hostage video published by the Hamas terror group, “[begged] the world to return my baby to me” at a press conference yesterday…

U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt and Israel’s Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism Michal Cotler-Wunsh issued a joint statement condemning a rise in antisemitic rhetoric and attacks on Jews around the world following the Oct. 7 attacks…

The families of Nepali nationals — foreign workers and students — who were murdered in the Oct. 7 attacks are mourning their loved ones from afar. At least 10 were killed, four were injured and one remains missing…

The World Zionist Organization launched a new initiative to connect Jews from abroad who have homes in Israel with Israelis displaced by the fighting…

The New York Times profiled Yeshiva University’s men’s soccer team, which has been having one of its best seasons and is now rocked by the terror attacks and war in Israel…

Beth Mayerowitz was appointed the Jewish Theological Seminary’s new chief communications officer…

Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, told the institution that he will reconsider his giving to the school if it doesn’t address antisemitism on campus. Businessman and philanthropist David Magerman is also dropping his support for his alma mater…

The Jewish Foundation for Education of Women distributed two grants totaling more than $180,000 to fund research regarding the experiences of Jewish college students with financial needs…

Two foundations — the Novo Nordisk Foundation and Lilly Endowment — have significantly increased their grant-making as the pharmaceutical companies that fund them, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, have seen a surge in sales of their weight-loss drugs…

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to protect the British Jewish community, which has experienced a significant rise in antisemitic attacks since Oct. 7…

As-yet-unidentified assailants firebombed the Kahal Adass Jisroel synagogue in Berlin yesterday morning. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz denounced the attack, saying “we will never accept when attacks are carried out against Jewish institutions”…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Michael Priest/FIDF

Ronen and Orna Neutra speak about their son, Omer, a lone soldier in the Israel Defense Forces who was taken hostage by Hamas during the terror group’s attacks last Saturday, at a fundraising gala for the Friends of the IDF last night in New York City’s Chelsea Piers.

More than 900 people attended the event, which was scheduled before the Oct. 7 attacks occurred but took place in their shadow. “The brutal, barbaric acts of hatred committed against Israeli civilians are unthinkable, and IDF soldiers are facing an unprecedented and harrowing conflict, making our support for them more vital than ever before,” FIDF CEO Steve Weil said at the event. 


Krista Kennell/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

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