Your Daily Phil: JFNA tops $500m goal for Israel emergency fund

Good Friday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a Holocaust education play, a new effort by the Anti-Defamation League to pressure university presidents to probe an anti-Israel college group and the fanfare-less opening of the National Library of Israel. We feature opinion pieces in honor of National Civics Day by Hillary Gardenswartz and Zohar Raviv. We’ll start with the Jewish Federations of North America surpassing of its $500 million fundraising goal for Israel. Shabbat shalom!

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 InsidereJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: Post-Oct. 7, Jewish life on campus requires extra security to keep students safe; Inside the kibbutz where Hamas massacred more than 100 Israelis; DeSantis crackdown on pro-Hamas rallies could be model for elected officials; Noam Peri’s life-or-death mission to Washington. Print the latest edition here.

The Jewish Federations of North America has raised nearly $554 million for its emergency campaign for Israel in the wake of Hamas’ massacre and ensuing war, surpassing its initial goal of $500 million, the organization announced on Thursday, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Rebecca Caspi, director of JFNA’s Israel office, told eJP that the organization has no new goal in mind as it continues to encourage donors to continue giving.

“We haven’t set a new goal because the needs just keep growing so we’re just going to keep raising money,” Caspi said. 

The organization has so far allocated more than $111 million, with more than a quarter of it — $30 million — going to the Jewish Agency for Israel, with most of those funds going toward its Victims of Terror Fund, which has issued an unprecedented number of grants in recent weeks. A Jewish Agency spokesperson told eJP that the fund has already provided NIS 4,000 ($980) grants to 2,780 people and is preparing to issue more than 1,400 more. (Prior to the Oct. 7 attacks, the fund had issued roughly 9,000 grants in its 20-year history.)

The other primary recipients of the JFNA grants have been: regional councils and municipalities in southern Israel, which received a total of $9.5 million; the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which received $6.4 million; Brothers and Sisters for Israel — an offshoot of the Brothers in Arms protest movement, which has since pivoted to focus on disaster relief — which received $4.1 million; the Magen David Adom ambulance service, which received $3.4 million; and the Israel Trauma Coalition, which received $3.4 million.

Longtime Jewish communal figures Jeffrey Schoenfeld and Stephen Hoffman are leading JFNA’s allocation committee, and will work with representatives of Jewish federations from across North America and with other philanthropic organizations with deep ties to Israel.

Caspi said the allocation committee, working with her office and with specific Jewish federations that have long-standing relationships with affected Israeli communities and relevant organizations, is seeking to be both “efficient and effective.”

The goal, she said, is to find “the places where federations are best positioned to make the greatest impact. That’s where our team is most deeply engaged now.”

Read the full report here.


Almanya Narula, Nyani Totty and Sheer Aviram appear in the Holocaust play “Survivors,” in an undated photograph.

Actor Almanya Narula is Sikh and identifies as culturally Indian; she was raised in Bangkok and Mumbai, a product of displacement and in a family of refugees seeking sanctuary during the partition between Pakistan and India. In Mumbai, a millennia-old symbol for protection and peace was a big part of her childhood — only as a teenager did she discover that the interlocking lines of the swastika were not so benign, she told the audience after a September performance of the play “Survivors,” which features six diverse millennial actors playing multiple roles and telling the stories of 10 Holocaust survivors, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Names not numbers: “When young people learn about the Holocaust, the best way to get through is sharing personal stories,” Holocaust Museum LA CEO Beth Keane told eJP in September. “It’s hard to comprehend what ‘six million people’ means, but telling a story resonates and makes the history more relatable; humanizes it and it becomes real.” Keane added that the mission of “Survivors” is in line with how the museum teaches history through artifacts, sharing personal histories through objects.

More relevant than ever: After the Oct. 7 massacre in southern Israel, Kout said she and the rest of the team were stunned by the brutality and understood it only made their work more important. “It’s this strange feeling of being in the past and present with the same thing happening again. It has not been easy to do the play,” Kout said, adding that after watching news all day, the content of the play “hasn’t allowed us any kind of escape.” However, she said, after each performance “I feel much better — like everyone’s doing their part and maybe my part is just to be educating [about the Holocaust].”

Read the full report here.


ADL, Brandeis Center send letter to university presidents calling on them to investigate SJP’s terrorism ties

Students from Brooklyn College and supporters hold signs during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the entrance of the campus. The pro-Palestinian student organization Students for Justice In Palestine held protests in colleges across the nation on Oct. 12.

A letter to nearly 200 university presidents that claims Students for Justice in Palestine “provides vocal and potentially material support to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” was sent on Thursday, demanding that schools investigate the campus group. The call comes amid a rise of antisemitic incidents on U.S. campuses — and a 388% spike nationwide — following the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Crossing the line: “At the ADL we track extremism and we have been very alarmed by the intensification of SJP’s activities, by the threatening nature of their rhetoric,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s CEO, told eJP. “I have specifically called out SJP publicly on many occasions. The nature of their language is incitement to violence.” Greenblatt said there appears “to be a basis for material support for a Foreign Terrorist Organization.”

Include Jews: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) departments on campuses, designed to address inequities against historically marginalized groups, have come under fire for overlooking the anxieties of Jewish students during a surge of antisemitism over the past two weeks. DEI is “not going to go away,” Greenblatt said, adding that rather than ceasing to legitimize DEI infrastructure,“there is utility to ensuring we create inclusive and welcoming environments but that needs to be inclusive and welcoming for all students, including Jewish students.”

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


After 7 years of building, National Library of Israel to open for researchers with no fanfare

Courtesy/National Library of Israel

After years of planning, fundraising and construction, the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem will partially open, primarily for researchers and with no fanfare, on Sunday in light of the ongoing war with Hamas, but with plans to celebrate the occasion “when the situation has resolved,” a spokesperson for the institution told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

‘Researchers gotta research’: The library, whose cornerstone was laid in 2016, is “not entirely finished” in terms of some of the final details because of the war, Rachel Neiman, an NLI spokesperson, told eJP. As a result, the galleries, visitor center, auditorium and education center will not yet open and will be cordoned off. “But researchers gotta research… The reading halls will be open, the Gershom Scholem research room will be open, the librarians will be there and the service staff will be working,” she said, adding that people should check the library’s website as the situation is constantly changing.

At the right time: In the coming weeks, the library will begin offering tours to researchers, showing them around the new facility. In December, the library also plans to open the galleries and visitor center. The library plans to host an opening gala to celebrate the construction of the new building, though it’s not yet clear when. “We are hoping that at a certain point when the situation has resolved, we will have an opening with our donors,” Neiman said. “The building was so generously funded by our donors, and we really want to be able to thank them.”

Credit where it’s due: “On the day that everything was unfolding, on Oct. 7 — and when I say ‘unfolding,’ I mean as there were rocket sirens going off — our conservation crew didn’t hesitate. They got in their cars and took all the treasures and put them in the safe,” Neiman said. “I want to give them credit because it was heroic. Those are the treasures of the Jewish people.”

Learning beyond the classroom

Making a bet on civics in camps

Smiling children standing together outside in the summer
FatCamera/Getty Images

“‘The bidding will open at $10. Do I have $10 for Freedom of Speech?’ … This exercise, a Values Auction, allowed for the campers and staff to think about how much they were willing to put their (fake) money where their values are, especially stacked up against other values they might think are just as important, while doing so in a context where those decisions were measured against people with whom they shared a community. What might the outcome of this auction say about themselves, the values and ideas they hold dear and the community they have built?” writes Hillary Gardenswartz, director of student experiences at the nonpartisan organization Civic Spirit, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Shaking things up: “The 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress shows a decline in civic knowledge for the very first time since 1998. This reality underscores why civics education at a place like camp is so important. Camp provides an environment for kids to explore and test the boundaries of their identities with trusted friends in a safe space. The pressure of school is off, and learning new skills and ideas can take place in an experiential manner that has staying power long after the summer is over. The application of what it means to be a good citizen and upstanding member of a community is tested on a daily basis at camp in a different way than it is back at home, where campers are often given more responsibility and leadership roles.”

Read the full piece here.???


After 7 years of building, National Library of Israel to open for researchers with no fanfare

Bust of George Washington on the campus of George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Bust of George Washington on the campus of George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Photo by Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

“‘May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants; while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.’” These words from George Washington to the Jewish community of Newport, R.I., in 1790 have particular resonance today, writes Zohar Raviv, Taglit-Birthright Israel’s international vice president for educational strategy, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A glaring discrepancy: “The atrocities committed by the Hamas terrorists in Israel were met with unequivocal condemnation and support for the Jewish state by President Joe Biden and scores of state, city and community leaders across the U.S. and the free world. Shamefully, quite a few presidents and key administrators of prestigious U.S. universities and colleges have opted to either comfortably mumble their way through or outright trample all over Washington’s pledge. … These so-called leaders of higher education institutions, whose shields and banners proudly feature ‘truth,’ ‘ethics,’ ‘knowledge’ and ‘freedom,’ have been either turning a blind eye or actively walking a path that reeks of moral decay, faltering rhetoric, cheap populism and the exertion of no ethical authority whatsoever.”

The big picture: “The crippled state of moral integrity within key U.S. campuses should not be seen as a threat to the Jewish community alone: it is a threat to the U.S. and the free world, which has entrusted such institutions with a mandate to be the bastions of its moral resilience and social progress.” 

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Sorrow on Top of Sorrow: Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch speaks to members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community, which today marks five years since the deadly Tree of Life shooting. “Five years ago, an armed white nationalist walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue that was just starting its Saturday morning Shabbat service and began shooting. Eleven people were killed in the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue, the most deadly antisemitic act in American history. Today, members of the Jewish community in the tight-knit Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill will gather to commemorate that horrible day and the lives lost. This anniversary, already a difficult day for a grieving community, comes less than three weeks after Hamas’ deadly terrorist attacks in Israel that have deeply affected Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. ‘There’s deep sadness about what we saw in Israel, and I think deep sadness at what is happening in response,’ said Maggie Feinstein, director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership, a community-building organization created after the shooting. ‘I think the community unfortunately knows what it’s like to come together in moments of horror and sadness, and I think it’s done that. I wish we didn’t have to again. I wish we didn’t have to be practiced at it.’” [JewishInsider]

Fake News Factory: Why are online trolls and pundits in India disseminating content — of grim beheadings, faked funerals, destruction of mosques and more — which they falsely present as footage from the conflict between Hamas and Israel? (The beheading was in Mexico, the faux funeral in Jordan, and the mosque in Syria was destroyed by ISIS.)  These individuals share a domestic agenda, reports The Atlantic, and the pain or confusion caused by their videos among people elsewhere who are following the war is just a byproduct. “Hindu nationalists have sought to use the October 7 attack on Israel to further their own domestic ideological ends. They point to the violence in Israel to emphasize the menace of Islamic terrorism, a theme they believe will play in their favor in national elections next year. … To an inflamed and polarized conflict in the Middle East, the Hindu-right media ecosystem contributes mislabeled videos and fake stories, further muddying the distinctions between true events and motivated falsehoods.” [TheAtlantic]

Invest in Innovation: Despite the scope of philanthropic giving in America, longtime societal problems remain intractable because there isn’t enough money going into innovative efforts to solve them effectively, writes Shelley R. Sylva, head of U.S. Corporate Citizenship at TD Bank, in an opinion piece for Kiplinger. “Instead, philanthropy has become too cautious of a discipline, with fewer big funders and corporate groups willing to use their dollars to fund the research, new approaches and innovative models that are so desperately needed. Big-dollar philanthropy — whether private funds or corporate dollars — has become investmentlike in its approach. In order to receive sizable grants or donations, nonprofits need to check boxes that supposedly meet certain standards of due diligence. Some funders may not even consider a nonprofit if they haven’t already reached a certain level of funding, don’t have a specific GuideStar rating or can’t provide a decade’s worth of tax filings. … [S]maller and younger nonprofits struggle to get the attention of major funders and are often left out in the cold. Likewise, larger nonprofits also live and die by their funding and don’t have the liberty of experimentation or failure. It’s a model that incentivizes stagnation and brings to mind the old adage about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” [Kiplinger]

Around the Web

In some much-needed good news, Noa Hanuka, a Jewish Agency for Israel employee from Kibbutz Mefalsim near the Gaza border, whose husband Noam was seriously injured in the Oct. 7 attacks, gave birth to their son last week. Hanuka told visiting American Jewish leaders on Oct. 9 that she did not want to go into labor before her husband regained consciousness. A few days later, her husband awoke, and a few days after that she had the baby. The brit milah ceremony was held on Wednesday…

The White House decried recent acts of antisemitism on college campuses as “grotesque” and called for $200 million in additional funding for the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program, but Jewish leaders are calling for the administration to do more to combat antisemitism…

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is launching a new program, the Campus Impact Network,  to support Jewish college students across the city amid rising antisemitism at universities… 

A new Israeli government office tasked with reconstruction efforts has begun drawing up plans to rehabilitate the 45 southern Israeli communities that have been most damaged by the ongoing war with Hamas…

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was awarded a grant of $224,007 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through Save America’s Treasures. Save America’s Treasures grants are intended to help preserve and conserve nationally significant collections that help tell a more complete story of America and its people…

More than 125,000 Israelis have been displaced by the war against Hamas in Gaza and increasing attacks by Hezbollah in Lebanon…

United Hatzalah held a virtual fundraiser last night to support its ongoing rescue efforts in Israel, with speakers including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Israeli Minister Nir Barkat. A UH spokesperson told eJP that roughly $1 million was raised at the event…

Tripadvisor co-founder Steve Kaufer is involved in a new startup, Give Freely, which allows online shoppers to make donations to charities for free, using the commissions that retailers normally pay to websites that direct customers to their stores…

The New York Times found that Adidas was aware that Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, harbored antisemitic beliefs and an affinity for Nazism years before it came out to the public…

Top Israeli rabbis issued a letter denouncing recent attacks in Jerusalem against Arab residents and workers, saying it was “expressly forbidden by our holy Torah’s path”…

Dallas philanthropist Lyda Hill is funding the production of a new television series on CBS that is meant to encourage teenage girls to enter STEM fields…

Ben Birnberg, a trailblazing British civil rights attorney, died this week at 93…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Moishe House Ramat Gan RSJ community

In Ramat Gan, Israel, the Moishe House Ramat Gan RSJ community rallied to support Lone Soldiers. What began as a day of fundraising and supply collection on Oct. 10 expanded to two additional of service and 15,000 shekels ($3,700 USD) in donations collected. Donations came in from as far away as Moishe Houses in Russia and Georgia, enabling the purchase of essential clothing, food and medical supplies for Lone Soldiers actively serving in the war against Hamas.


Presley Ann/Getty Images for TCM)

Academy Award-winning actor, who played Yoni Netanyahu in the 1976 film “Victory at Entebbe,” Richard Dreyfuss, celebrates his birthday on Sunday…… 

FRIDAY: Pacific Palisades, Calif., resident, Gordon Gerson… Senior U.S. District judge in Maine, he was born in a refugee camp following WWII, Judge George Z. Singal… Rabbi emeritus at Miami Beach’s Temple Beth Sholom, Gary Glickstein… Author, actress and comedian, Fran Lebowitz… SVP at MarketVision Research, Joel M. Schindler… CEO of Jewish Creativity International, Robert Goldfarb… Co-chair of a task force at the Bipartisan Policy Center, he is a former U.S. ambassador to Finland and Turkey, Eric Steven Edelman… Television writer, director and producer, best known as the co-creator of the 122 episodes of “The Nanny,” Peter Marc Jacobson… Senior advisor and fellow at the Soufan Group following 31 years at the Congressional Research Service, Dr. Kenneth Katzman… Co-owner of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and English soccer club Manchester United, Bryan Glazer… New York State senator from Manhattan, Brad Hoylman-Sigal… Creator and editor of the Drudge ReportMatt Drudge… Hasidic cantor and singer known by his first and middle names, Shlomo Simcha Sufrin… Partner of the Los Angeles office of HR&A Advisors, Andrea Batista Schlesinger… Sportscaster for CBS Sports, Adam Zucker… Television meteorologist, currently working for The Weather Channel, Stephanie Abrams… Israel’s minister of environmental protection, Idit Silman… Chair of the Open Society Foundations, Alexander F.G. Soros… Israeli actress best known for playing Eve in the Netflix series “Lucifer,” Inbar Lavi… Senior director of U.S. government relations at the ONE Campaign, Elizabeth (Liz) Leibowitz… Executive producer of online content at WTSP in St. Petersburg, Fla., Theresa Collington… Senior manager of social media and content marketing at Marriott International, Stephanie Arbetter… Commercial lead at Red Balloon Security, Andrew J. Taub… Co-founder of NYC-based Arch Labs, Ryan Eisenman

SATURDAY: Redondo Beach resident, Larry Berlin… Rabbi of the Moscow Choral Synagogue, Adolf Shayevich… Spiritual leader of the Village of New Square (Rockland County, N.Y.) and Hasidic rebbe of Skverer Hasidism worldwide, Rabbi Dovid Twersky… Former member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, she also served as minister of aliyah and integration, Sofa Landver… Anthropology professor at NYU, she won a 1994 MacArthur genius fellowship, Faye Ginsburg… Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Hamden, Conn., Benjamin Edidin Scolnic, Ph.D.… Billionaire philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates… Four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and assistant secretary for health, Rachel Leland Levine… Former member of the Knesset for Likud, he currently serves as mayor of Beit She’an, Jackie Levy… Manager of MLB’s San Francisco Giants since earlier this week, he has been named Manager of the Year three times, Bob Melvin… Executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass in Lexington, Ky., Mindy Haas… Actress and investor, she is also an owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, Jami Gertz… Owner of a Chick-fil-A franchise in the Houston area, he was a collegiate and an NFL football coach, Tony Levine .. Film and television director, producer, screenwriter and actor, Jacob “Jake” Kasdan… Israeli singer in the Mizrahi style, Yaakov (Kobi) Peretz… Member of the California State Assembly, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party until 2019, Oren Hazan… Scottsdale, Ariz., attorney, he was a Republican member of the Arizona House of Representatives, Adam Kwasman… President at Aurora Health Network, Elliot Schwab… Senior manager at Point32Health, Avital “Tali” Warburg Goldstein

 SUNDAY: Haifa-born director and screenwriter of animated and live-action films including “The Lord of the Rings,” Ralph Bakshi… Dean emeritus of the Yale School of Management, he has served in the Nixon, Ford, Carter and Clinton administrations, Jeffrey E. Garten… CEO of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of its namesake foreign policy magazine, The National InterestDimitri Simes… Director of the social justice organizing program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Mordechai E. Liebling… Pulitzer Prize-winning author and editor of The New Yorker since 1998, David Remnick… Bernard Greenberg… Rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom in Phoenix, Dana Evan Kaplan… Author, satirist and public speaker, Evan Sayet… Classical pianist, Susan Merdinger… Sports agent who has negotiated over $7 billion of player contracts, Drew Rosenhaus… Actor who appeared in 612 episodes of daytime soap opera “As the World Turns,” his mother, Rina Plotnik, served in the Israeli army, Grayson McCouch… Screenwriter and film director based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Andrea Dorfman… Mathematician, cryptologist and computer scientist, Daniel J. Bernstein… Emmy Award-winning television producer, writer and actor, best known for NBC’s “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” Michael Schur… VP for strategic communications and business development at Anchorage-based Northern Compass Group, Rachel Barinbaum… President and founder of Leigh Aubrey Communications, Leigh Shirvan Helfenbein… Senior marketing manager at Audible, Samantha Zeldin… Regional communications director at The White House, Seth Schuster… Ph.D. candidate in Russian and East European history at Harvard, Leora Eisenberg… Booking producer at NBC Universal, David Siegel