Your Daily Phil: Kfir Gavrieli’s social impact shoes + ADL’s Greenblatt on state of antisemitism
Good Thursday morning!
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt joined Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast” hosts Jarrod Bernstein and Rich Goldberg this week to discuss antisemitism, online hate and the ADL’s new report on antisemitic incidents in 2020.
The JCC Association of North America and the BBYO Center for Adolescent Wellness announced yesterday that they will work together, with the backing of the Jim Joseph Foundation, to assess the ability of five Jewish Community Centers to support the needs of the youth they serve.
IsraAID, Israel’s non-governmental humanitarian aid agency, will dispatch medical equipment and supplies, including oxygen concentrators, to India as the country faces a surge in COVID-19 infections. IsraAID will also launch self-care programs for first responders and work on data management and logistical problems.
The Washington National Cathedral announced yesterdaythat it has added a carving of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel to its Human Rights Porch, which honors such figures as Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. Wiesel is the first modern Jewish figure featured in the Cathedral.
A shoe company with Jewish soul
Even the best-laid business plans can change. Take Kfir Gavrieli, who was born in Israel and grew up in Southern California seemingly destined to enter the family business selling plastics, metals and sign supplies. He was so certain of that career path that he received a master’s degree in materials science and engineering from Stanford University, where he had studied as an undergraduate. In 2006, he entered Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where he became interested in retail and social entrepreneurship. Now, instead of selling vinyl and acrylic, he sells leather, in the form of ballet flats. The shoes are called “Tieks,” which is the Hebrew word for “bag,” because they fold up and fit into a purse. Since launching Tieks in 2010, Gavrieli has worked to make social impact a part of the business, including microlending, mask-making and $5,000 grants for several nonprofits that support Black women and girls. “We’re more than just a shoe company. Look at the conversations that happen on our Facebook page. Our customers connect on the deepest level,” Gavrieli told eJewishPhilanthropy.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Helen Chernikoff: Did you always know you would go into business?
Kfir Gavrieli: I grew up in a family business, but I was in business school at Stanford, and if your visions of what you think you will do don’t change when you’re at the heart of Silicon Valley, then you might not be getting the most out of the experience. I ended up living with people who were on the absolute cutting-edge of the retail industry. What I learned wasn’t in the classroom, it was some guys selling pants out of the garage.
HC: How did you arrive at this product and business model?
KG: We got to be pioneers and create changes in the industry. The first thing we did differently was the design of the shoe — that it’s foldable. The original idea was a foldable flip-flop, and over time it evolved to the product we sell today. We thought about doing a foldable sneaker and a foldable sandal, and we decided the ballet slipper would be the best product. I lived in China for a year to go through hundreds and hundreds of prototypes. The second [thing] was helping to create the direct-to-consumer channel. Bonobos was the first direct-to-consumer fashion company, and that was very inspiring. Now, when you’re a new brand, it’s a no-brainer to launch online. We had to create innovative ways to bring people to our website. We did lots of testing on various social media platforms.
Outcomes, not only outputs, define success
“A distinguished Midwest university has a tremendous social media presence with thousands of followers on social media. They put out frequent content with well-aligned photos capturing the algorithms’ attention. So what?” writes Dr. Eric Lankin in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Incomplete reporting: “Who knows if all this effort is working? Who knows if the social media department is doing a good job? In logic model terms, these large numbers of followers on social media are defined as outputs, no different than the number of individuals participating in a program and yes, that is one measure of success.”
What’s the change?: “However, if education is defined as ‘changed behavior,’ how do we measure educational success? What do we know about changed behavior if the only information we have is outputs, the number of followers or participants?”
Expanding our reach to engage Jewish teens
“When it comes to effectively engaging Jewish teens, we know that talented youth professionals are critical to success,” write Debra Sagan Massey, Sarina Gerson and Leah Finkelman in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Rethinking past practices: “Our three communities in San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston are part of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative — which in total includes ten teen engagement initiatives across the country — and for years we have embraced the importance of professional development for the individuals who work with teens. But the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent impact on all Jewish youth professionals, as well as on the traditional methods of gathering, networking, and field-building, required us to rethink how to approach this communal priority.”
A new design: “After the collaborative’s significant investment in professional development over eight years, we decided to open the doors wide and imagine new platforms that could meet the professional development needs of youth professionals serving our Jewish teens across the country.”
Wrong Direction: This past year marked a sharp shift in philanthropy’s focus from people to advocacy and organizing, writes Elise Westhoff in USA Today. The national conversation focused on racial injustice and economic inequality has put pressure on philanthropists to change their missions in ways that could cause certain groups and causes to be overlooked, she suggests, citing the announcement by the head of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that all future grants will serve “social justice,” not its traditional mission of the arts and humanities. “While it’s inevitable that some philanthropy will fund policy and advocacy efforts, if that’s all our industry does, then we’ll ignore a huge swath of worthy projects and people in need,” Westhoff concludes. [USAToday]
Both/And: In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Cathy Choi and Trent Stamp exhort philanthropists to stop running after silver bullets and acknowledge that big, messy problems require complex solutions. They cite their experience at the Eisner Foundation, which decided to stop funding separate charities for children and older adults in favor of an intergenerational focus. “Changing the focus of The Eisner Foundation allowed us to address at least two — and sometimes three or four — problems simultaneously,” Choi and Stamp conclude. “We believe this change has made us smarter and stronger and allowed us to be a more informed and more strategic grant maker.” [SSIR]
Self Made: Mandy Van Deven interviews Leticia Peguer, CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, in Inside Philanthropy, focusing on how she succeeded in connecting staff, boards and communities. As a woman of color working in big foundations, Peguer was a pioneer, and needed to learn how to feel confident in her identity, Van Deven writes. Peguer has also honed her ability to pick her battles: “Leaders have to struggle against the tendencies in our souls to fix everything. I’m very comfortable in my leadership to be like, ‘Can I get you some help?’” [InsidePhilanthropy]
Why Give: In HistPhil, Benjamin Soskis reviews Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, with the aim of explaining the motivations behind the family’s embrace of philanthropy. The Sacklers didn’t need to launder their reputation because for decades they managed to hide their connection to their business, Soskis writes. Instead, they used philanthropy to buy status and membership in high society, and now some recipients of their largesse are disavowing them even as the family will probably to avoid legal consequences. “It’s striking to consider that, given the likely outcomes of the lawsuits targeting Purdue and the Sackler family, the most satisfyingly punitive measures taken in response to Sackler venality have occurred not in the legal but in the philanthropic realm,” Soskis concludes. [HistPhil]
Word on the Street
Hebrew University of Jerusalem has appointed Professor Mona Khoury-Kassabri vice president for strategy and diversity, making her the first-ever Arab woman to serve as a vice president at the school… Genesis Philanthropy Group has announced three new partners for its U.K. portfolio… The now-closed Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito, Calif., has gifted the school’s remaining assets to Brandeis Marin school in San Rafael and Contra Costa Jewish Day School in Lafayette… Teach Coalition, a project of the Orthodox Union that lobbies the government to support non-public schools, has created a hotline to answer questions about government funding from yeshiva and day school educators in New Jersey and New York… Go Give One, a global campaign to inspire 50 million people around the world to make small donations to push for equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations, was launched yesterday by the WHO Foundation, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others… The Virtual 30th Silicon Valley Jewish Film Festival opens May 19…
Pic of the Day
Toyota subsidiary Hino Motors Co. and the Israeli startup REE Automotive announced yesterday they will jointly develop electric commercial vehicles.
Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, he is the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight and author of many books including “Predictably Irrational,” Dan Ariely…
Nobel Prize-winning economist and professor at MIT, Peter Diamond… U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan)… Award-winning broadcast journalist, now SVP of communications at University of Maryland Global Campus, Michael Freedman… Comedian, actor, writer, producer and director, Jerry Seinfeld… London-born highly acclaimed actor, Sir Daniel Day-Lewis… Sportscaster and play-by-play announcer for the New York Mets, Gary Cohen… Co-founder and first CEO of Netflix, Marc Bernays Randolph… Israeli diplomat who served most recently as Israel’s Ambassador to Latvia, Lironne Bar-Sade… New York City Comptroller since 2014, now a candidate for mayor of NYC, Scott M. Stringer… CEO and chairman of 20th Century Fox until its acquisition by Disney, she now leads the Los Angeles office of Sister Pictures, Stacey Snider… Political director at AIPAC, Rob Bassin… NYC-based award-winning artist who works with sound, kinetics, optics, magnetism and other materials, Julianne Swartz… Film and television actor, Paul Adelstein… Stand-up comedian, actor and occasional chazzan, Modi Rosenfeld… Member of the Knesset since 2013 as part of the Meretz party, Tamar “Tami” Zandberg… Israeli model and actress, Bar Paly… SVP of government affairs at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Anne Brachman… Director of state political affairs for Teach Coalition, Daniel Mitzner… Baseball pitcher for Team Israel at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Jonathan de Marte… Commercial, industrial and residential real estate developer in the Mid-Atlantic region, Samuel A. Neuberger…