Your Daily Phil: JFNA sets priorities for 2024 + Covenant Foundation presents educator award

Good Wednesday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the annual Covenant Foundation Award and feature op-eds from Daniel Olson and Shlomi Ravid. Also in this newsletter: Daniel Rosenthal, Ed Sheeran and Jack Waksal. We’ll start with the Jewish Federations of North America’s priorities for next year.

The Jewish Federations of North America’s Board of Trustees on Monday approved the organization’s “core priorities” for the coming fiscal year, chiefly Ukrainian aid, improved security for Jewish communities and efforts to more broadly combat antisemitism, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Most of these are the same priorities as in the current fiscal year. “I’m not a believer that we need to do all new things when some of the things that we are already doing are extremely important,” the group’s board chair, Julie Platt, told eJP.

The approvals were finalized on Monday after a two-day meeting of the Board of Trustees, JFNA said.

In addition to those “core” issues, the trustees listed three lesser priorities for the 2024 fiscal year: strengthening Israeli civil society and Jewish pluralism in Israel; building new strategies for JFNA’s Israel Educational Travel Alliance, which was created during the COVID-19 pandemic and is still sorting out its long-term goals; and expanding the organization’s JEDI (Jewish Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) initiative.

At the meeting, the board also approved five chair positions. J. David Heller, currently the emergency campaign chair, will now serve as the national campaign chair and will lead a committee to assess the needs of the Jewish community in Ukraine; Iris Kraemer as the national women’s philanthropy chair; Danielle Gross and Brett Tanzman as the national young leadership cabinet co-chairs; and Dena Boronkay Rashes as the lay leadership development chair.

Read the full story here.

And the winner is

Courtesy/Covenant Foundation

The Jewish education-focused Covenant Foundation awarded its annual prize this week, along with $50,000 each, to three educators: Rabbi Tamara R. Cohen, Allison Cook and Nicole Nash. The award honors “three exemplary Jewish educators who are each meeting a complex moment in Jewish communal history with a powerful blend of courage, commitment, and compassion,” according to the foundation, which is a program of the Crown Family Philanthropies, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

More money: In addition to the cash prize that each awardee receives personally, each of the institutions where they work was also given $10,000, the foundation said. The cash prizes awarded to the recipients and their institutions this year are significantly higher than in the past. In previous years, recipients received $36,000 and their institutions $5,000. The increase is meant to “signify an ongoing and steadfast commitment on the part of the Foundation to elevate the work of Jewish educators and highlight their invaluable contributions to the community and field,” the foundation said.

Inclusion and pedagogy: Two of the winners – Cohen and Nash – were particularly praised for their commitments to “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” while Cook was hailed for her impact on the educational practice of hundreds of educators and the learning of thousands of students around the country,” the foundation said. “Allison, Tamara and Nicole are each deeply engaged in creating new contexts for learning for people of diverse backgrounds and identities,” Deborah S. Meyer, the chair of the Covenant Foundation board of directors said in a statement. “These educational leaders are in relationship with teachers and students and families, welcoming, respecting, and inspiring them in a deeply Jewish way.”

Read the full story here.

Preparing for summer

Summer camp as a catalyst for thoughtful experiential Israel education


“Three camp counselors stood at the front of our seminar room at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and asked a pair of questions. ‘What do you love about camp?’ and ‘What would you change about camp?’” writes Daniel Olson, director of strategic initiatives and research at the National Ramah Commission, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Answers: “In response to the first, we heard many enthusiastic answers: Camp builds up my confidence; it makes me feel surprised by what I can accomplish; it challenges me creatively; it allows me to be the first Jewish educator in the lives of my young campers; it provides a Jewish experience that feels fun and spirited with people my age… In response to the second, we heard thoughtful critiques and suggestions for improving camp culture, maximizing leadership opportunities for young staff, raising salaries and other concrete recommendations.”

Core commitment: “These three counselors then asked a third simple, yet profound, question: ‘Even after offering these suggestions for improvement, do you still love camp?’ All hands shot up. This strategically designed activity demonstrated powerfully how each of us can hold multiple emotions, even negative ones, while maintaining a core, positive commitment to an institution.”

Read the full piece here.

70 faces of Zionism

Towards an old/new Zionist paradigm


“Zionism, as a central component of 20th-century peoplehood, has evolved through its history to address new challenges from within and from without. The current judicial crisis shaking both Israel and the Jewish people requires that it embraces an old-new paradigm of pluralistic Zionism. This change may not resolve the crisis, but it can provide a first step in addressing it,” Shlomi Ravid, founding director of the Israel-based Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Historical background: “Zionism in its formative pre-state form was pluralistic. Its followers embraced diverse visions for the Zionist enterprise: political Zionism (Herzl), cultural Zionism (Ahad Ha’am), religious Zionism (Rav Kook), socialist Zionism (Sirkin), etc. Those visions, though at times yielding bitter ideological disagreements on goals and means, all shared a deep commitment to the success of the enterprise.”

Statehood: “With the establishment of the state, Zionism evolved. Its focus shifted to justifying the right of the Jews to a state and to ensuring the state’s success and well-being. It became monolithic and the mandate for determining the ideological direction was transferred to the Israeli electorate and its elected government. Positions of dissent (from both the right and the left) were not viewed as legitimate alternative expressions of Zionism but rather as opposition to Zionism itself.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Ripped From the Headlines: In eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider, executive editor Melissa Weiss interviews senior correspondent Ruth Marks Eglash, about her forthcoming novel, Parallel Lines, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the city of Jerusalem and the communities found in both. “Ruth Marks Eglash’s eldest children were teenagers during the wave of violence in late 2015 and early 2016 that saw dozens of Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists. The longtime journalist, who was used to writing about the attacks for an adult audience, found herself having to explain the violence to her three children, the youngest of whom was 12 at the time… The questions inspired Eglash, to take off her reporting hat and approach a new way of writing, one that hews closely to her instincts as a journalist used to bringing nuance and context to complex situations. Parallel Lines traces the journeys of three fictional teenage girls — one from a secular Jewish family, one from an observant Jewish family and one Muslim — amid the uptick in violence that kept Jerusalem on edge for six months.” [JewishInsider]

L’Dor Va’Dor, But Not in a Good Way: In The Washington Post, Rachel Zimmerman explores the notion of intergenerational trauma, how it passes down the line and what can be done to prevent it. “The idea that trauma can be transmitted across generations — originating with long-dead relatives and passed down to future great-grandchildren — can be a difficult concept to grasp. But with regular news of mass shootings, covid deaths, police killings and climate disasters, a growing number of therapists and their patients, particularly among the millennial and Gen Z cohorts, are turning their attention to the far-reaching impact of trauma, past and present… The medical community has taken note. In April, more than 100 psychiatrists, psychologists, medical residents and other physicians gathered virtually for a Boston Medical Center “Grand Rounds” education event focused on intergenerational trauma… The good news, experts say, is just as trauma can be passed through generations, so can resilience. But tapping into that resilience often requires a deeper understanding of the original source of the trauma and the routes of transmission through families and society.” [WashPost]

Around the Web

UJA-Federation of New York hired Daniel Rosenthal, a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly from Queens, to serve as its next vice president for government relations. He will succeed Louisa Chafee, who is moving to lead New York City’s Independent Budget Office

Twitter is a-titter after online sleuths corrected a tweet claiming that crooner Ed Sheeran had garnered the attendance record at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey earlier this week, noting that in fact the honor goes to a 2012 celebration of Talmud, known as Siyum HaShas, which marks the completion of the seven-and-a-half year cycle of Daf Yomi

A new study funded by the Jewish Federations of North America found that older American Jews, ages 55-74, are not currently engaged with the Jewish community but are interested in connecting with it…

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change hired Sarah Teichman to serve in the newly created position of director of global philanthropy partners. Teichman previously served as the vice president for international strategy and advancement at Hillel International

The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation yesterday – by a wide margin – mandating the Biden administration to appoint a special envoy to advance the Abraham Accords

Stanford University is forming a committee to “assess and enhance Jewish life” on campus, following a number of incidents over the past academic year, including a dispute over religious accommodation during the High Holidays and recent cases of antisemitic vandalism…

A pro-Palestinian activist, Waseem Awawdeh, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for attacking a Jewish man, Joey Borgen, along with four other assailants at a pro-Israel rally in New York in May 2021…

Israel allocated NIS 75 million ($20.8 million) in the coming budget toward establishing five new tech innovation hubs in the country’s geographic and socioeconomic periphery…

Hadara Ishak has assumed the role of president of both the Jewish Future Pledge and the Jewish Youth Pledge, which encourage Jews to leave a portion of their estate to Jewish and Israeli causes, in addition to her position as chief operating officer of the former. Debbie Campbell will also join the two initiatives as chief marketing officer…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Robert Tanen

Standing with members of his family, Jack Waksal, 99, points to his name on the donor wall of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., earlier this week, after he made a donation of upwards of $50,000 to the institution. According to the museum, Waksal, a Holocaust survivor from Jedlinsk, Poland, was inspired to make the donation after the museum reunited him with his long-lost friend, Sam Ron, a fellow Holocaust survivor, whom he hadn’t seen since the pair were imprisoned together at the Pionki labor camp.


Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Businessman and philanthropist, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017 for services to philanthropy, Sir Leonard “Len” Blavatnik

Retired Soviet nuclear scientist, now writing from Skokie on Jewish intellectual spirituality, Vladimir Minkov, Ph.D…. Member of Knesset for 15 years and twice Israel’s minister of finance, he is the son-in-law of former Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol, Avraham “Beiga” Shochat… Retired U.S. district judge for the District of Maryland, Marvin Joseph Garbis… Dr. Beryl Geber… Joanna Lerner… Senior fellow at Project HOPE, Gail R. Wilensky Ph.D…. 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump… Former French diplomat and advisor to former French Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy, Jean-David Levitte… Television sportscaster and journalist, Len Berman… Editor of Liberties, Leon Wieseltier… Chairman and chief investment officer of Duquesne Family Office, Stanley Druckenmiller… Co-founder of Virunga Mountain Spirits, William Benjamin (“Bill”) Wasserman… President of Blue Diamond HR LLC, Michelle “Shel” Grossman… President of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., Maud S. Mandel… VP of global media partnerships at Meta/Facebook, Campbell Brown… Singer-songwriter with nine studio albums, Joshua Radin… Co-founder of Kelp, Daniel M. Gaynor… Australian author, philanthropist and businesswoman, Kathryn Eisman… NYC-based businessman, Pavel Khodorkovsky… Former deputy assistant secretary at HUD and then senior advisor at OMB, Paige Esterkin Bronitsky… Director of public affairs at San Francisco’s District Attorney’s office, Lilly Rapson… Actor, Daryl Sabara… and his fraternal twin brother, also an actor, Evan Sabara… Senior copywriter at OnMessage, Julia Cohen… Associate attorney at Phillips Whisnant Gazin Gorczyca & Curtin, Jacob Ellenhorn… Vienna-based European editor for Moment Magazine and the author of The Vienna Briefing, Liam Hoare