Your Daily Phil: LA teens practice philanthropy + The role of local federations in Jewish ed

Good Tuesday morning!

Ed. note: In observance of Yom Kippur, the next Your Daily Phil will arrive on Thursday. Gmar hatima tova!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we look at a new program in L.A. creating teen philanthropists, and feature op-eds by the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge’s Sharon Freundel on politics and education, and by JFN’s Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu on combating climate change. Also in this newsletter: The Associated’s Marc Terrill, Orlando Bravo, The Jewish Museum’s Claudia Gould and Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose. We’ll start with new leadership at AJC, and a truce at Y.U.

Former Rep. Ted Deutch is officially the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, taking over the leadership of one of the largest Jewish organizations in the country after David Harris served in the post for more than three decades.

Deutch, who represented a heavily Jewish area in South Florida in Congress for more than a decade, was known on Capitol Hill as a leading pro-Israel voice and for his condemnations of antisemitism from the House floor — including of some of his Democratic colleagues. Fighting antisemitism across the ideological spectrum was one of the priorities he outlined for AJC — which in 2020 had a budget of roughly $50 million — along with supporting Israel, expanding the scope of the Abraham Accords and confronting Iran.

Another of his domestic priorities, he explained to eJewishPhilanthropy, is promoting Jewish unity and peoplehood. “One of our major challenges is to not allow the divisive nature of debate in our society to divide the Jewish community,” he told eJP. “In the U.S., we need to make sure that there are sufficient entry points for all Jews to feel welcome and to advocate for one another, regardless of their denomination, heritage, level of observance or whatever identity they bring with them.”

His time in Congress, Deutch added, showed that such collaboration is possible. “I established relationships with colleagues from across the country whose life experiences are radically different from mine and found ways to work with them to advance our common interests,” he told eJP.

As the legal battle continues between Yeshiva University and the Y.U. Pride Alliance, an LGBTQ+ student group at the school, the student group will continue to be supported by Jewish Queer Youth, a New York-based organization that focuses on supporting LGBTQ+ Orthodox Jews. This year, JQY plans to give the Pride Alliance approximately $18,000 in funding, and has also provided it with mentorship, logistical support and space at WeWork for meetings and events. JQY has a total annual budget of $1.2 million.

JQY remains the Pride Alliance’s main source of support after a truce of sorts was declared on Friday in the court battle over whether Y.U. must recognize the Pride Alliance. A judge froze an order requiring the school to officially recognize the group until all appeals to the case are exhausted. Now, student activities at Y.U. — which had been suspended as Y.U. appealed that ruling — will resume after Sukkot.

When Y.U. suspended all student activities last month to avoid recognizing the Pride Alliance, JQY offered to fund the school’s student groups in its stead. JQY says three groups took up the offer, and that it is providing a total of $1,600 to those groups while the suspension continues. In addition, a psychologist who joined JQY’s staff in August is prioritizing appointments with students at Y.U.

“I was expecting us to get more joke applications than we did, but I think people took it seriously,” Rachael Fried, JQY’s executive director, told eJewishPhilanthropy. “Our path moving forward is just supporting the students as much as we can. Honestly, the situation really escalated and our job at JQY is to take, in general, a difficult situation and do our best to make [it] even just a little bit better, especially [for] people who are marginalized.”

Neither the university nor the Pride Alliance responded to questions, but both directed eJP to statements late last month endorsing the stay of the court ruling. Y.U.’s statement said the stay means the school will “be able to conduct its appeals without being forced to violate its religious identity.” The Pride Alliance’s statement, first reported by the Y.U. Commentator, said, “we do not want Y.U. to punish our fellow [students] by ending all student activities while it circumvents its responsibilities.”


A Los Angeles program is turning Jewish teens into philanthropists


Sadie, 15, and eight of her peers sat in a classroom at Congregation Ner Tamid in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., making a weighty decision: All of their favorite candies were present, but which candy was the best? They broke up into smaller groups to discuss. “It was not a majority vote, but we were having conversations about it, which I felt was really cool,” Sadie told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Defining consensus: While that day’s debate was about candy bars, it was a prelude to the real work in the months ahead: identifying local causes and using Jewish values to make an impact. The nine adolescents were participating in the first session of LAunchpad, a new teen philanthropy program in which Los Angeles-area Jewish teens collectively decide where to allocate thousands of dollars.

Changemaker training: The program’s full name is LAunchpad: The Los Angeles Synagogue Incubator for Youth Philanthropy. It is an initiative of Honeycomb, the teen philanthropy arm of the Jewish Funders Network, and hopes to engage cohorts of teens to explore their community’s hyperlocal needs, strengthen leadership skills and learn to become changemakers.

New year, new program: Three L.A.-area Conservative synagogues  — Adat Ari El in Valley Village, Congregation Ner Tamid in the South Bay and Sinai Temple in Beverly Hills — and one Reconstructionist congregation, University Synagogue of Irvine — are beginning the new Jewish year by launching this effort, hoping it will yield positive results for Jewish philanthropy in the future, as well as more immediate local impact.

Read the full story here.


Who, indeed? A call for strong Jewish education


“Tip O’Neill, former speaker of the House of Representatives, is purported to have said, ‘All politics is local.’ Wendy Rosov, in a piece in this publication, postulated that the same dynamic holds true in Jewish education,” writes Sharon Freundel, managing director of the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Yes, and: “Politics functions more intimately on the local level; however, communities need support from the federal government for things such as emergency management, Medicare and transportation infrastructures. The same concept of local/national collaborations applies when providing quality Jewish education to day schools, supplemental schools and camps.”

The importance of local support: “The difference between a city with a strong bureau/board/center/department of Jewish education and one without, is palpable, articulated so well by Rosov in her article. To expand on what she observed, when JEIC seeks to bring high-quality professional development — that is, training and/or coaching that is in-depth, focused, personalized and ongoing — to a community, we have been considerably more successful in places where the local federation has a strong educational focus. The schools in those communities have benefited significantly from the support of the local federation. We mourn the loss of so many of those departments and of JESNA itself,” a reference to the Jewish Education Service of North America, which shuttered in 2013.

Read the full piece here.


Helping Jewish funders step up on climate change

Artur Debat

“The ‘Unetanah Tokef’ poem, famously adapted by Leonard Cohen in his song ‘Who by Fire,’ is one of the most moving and haunting parts of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur liturgy,” writes Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, executive vice president of Jewish Funders Network, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

We are all impacted: “Once a hypothetical thing to worry about, climate change has become impossible to ignore, and while its effects are not shared equally, it impacts all of us. I feel it even in my comfortable suburban neighborhood in New Jersey, where each year we have to prepare for stronger and stronger storms that disrupt our power, flood our basements and sometimes kill with falling trees and flash floods.”

Action plans: “I’m proud that my organization, the Jewish Funders Network, is one of 20 founding members of the newly launched Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition. Not only are we recognizing that climate change is a matter of moral urgency, but each member has committed to developing and implementing a climate action plan for our organizations. For many members of the coalition, these action plans will focus on reducing the organization’s carbon footprint – and that will certainly be part of JFN’s as well. We’re already greening our annual international conference, including drastically limiting the use of paper, encouraging participants to purchase carbon offsets for their travel, minimizing food waste, offering more plant-based options and limiting the use of plastic.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Shul Dues Blues: Between 2001 and 2020, Chabad went from 346 to 1,036 synagogues in the United States, and part of the reason is likely the lack of “pay-to-pray,” Mendel Super writes for Chabad[dot]org. Some outside the Hasidic movement feel that Chabad’s model should be more widely embraced. “‘Judaism used to be a given, synagogues had a captive audience,’ Keith Krivitzky, a Jewish nonprofit consultant and former CEO of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, N.J., tells Chabad[dot]org. In that environment, he explains, the traditional membership-based model worked. Today, however, ‘affiliation isn’t a given, people can choose anything as consumers.’ Especially for infrequent attendees, ‘why pay for the service you go to twice a year?’” [Chabad]

Porch Pitch: 
By hosting parties at supporters’ homes, nonprofits create “meaningful, high-touch” moments with donors and potential supporters, Rasheeda Childress writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “[Nonprofit consultant Gail] Perry says porch parties work well as door-opening events because the guests are friends of the homeowner, so it feels more intimate and allows staff to get meaningful, high-touch moments. These include chances to get a warm introduction from the host, chat in small groups, and learn about the personal interests of the potential donor. This is especially important if donors have the potential to make a big gift. She noted that at one porch party in Atlanta, a homeowner scored the CEO of a major airline as an attendee, putting the nonprofit on his radar.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Community Comms

In the wake of last year’s Israel-Hamas conflict, Jews around the world experienced a surge in antisemitism online, in the streets, at work, and on campus. Last Hanukkah, Shine A Light coordinated a broad campaign to show that strategic focus, investment, and community buy-in can effect real change.

We return this year with an opportunity for communities across North America to engage with present and future allies and raise awareness of increasing antisemitism.Apply for a microgrant today.

Be featured: Email us to inform the eJP readership of your upcoming event, job opening, or other communication.

Word on the Street

Marc Terrill, president of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimoreannounced he will be stepping down in June 2024…

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has removed the Sackler name from the museum’s Kensington property. The museum said in a statement that it had “mutually agreed” with the Sackler family that the name would be removed. “We have no current plans to rename the spaces,” the statement added. The Sackler family has faced multiple lawsuits regarding overprescription of addictive pharmaceutical drugs, including OxyContin…

The Bravo Family Foundation announced a $10 million commitment from co-founder and private equity investor Orlando Bravo to bolster support for Hurricane Fiona relief efforts across Puerto Rico…

Penn Medicine announced a $50 million gift from alum Stewart Colton and his wife, Judy, to expand the reach and capabilities of the Colton Center for Autoimmunity at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded grants totaling nearly $128 million to support the development of and access to maternal vaccines for Group B Streptococcus and Respiratory Syncytial Virus, two of the leading causes of death for newborns and young infants in lower-income countries…

Claudia Gould, director of New York City’s Jewish Museum, will leave the museum in June 2023…

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose is retiring from his rabbinic position at Congregation B’nai Amoona in St. Louis to become the CEO of the Mandel JCC in Cleveland. He will begin a planned sabbatical following Yom Kippur and assume his new position in early 2023…

Pic of the Day

Office of the Chief Rabbi of Poland

Ukrainian Jewish refugees gathered at an American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee-led concert at the JCC Warsaw to welcome the Jewish new year, one of numerous activities organized by the group for the High Holidays. The concert featured Canadian musician Yuri Vedenyapin, who teaches Jewish studies and Eastern European music at McGill University, one of seven volunteers sent by the Jewish Federations of North America to Poland during the High Holidays.


NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 06: Actress Alicia Silverstone is seen arriving to the Christian Siriano Fall Winter 2020 NYFW at Spring Studios on February 06, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

Film, television and stage actress, Alicia Silverstone

Youngest member ever elected to the Los Angeles City Council at 22, she served as chair of the 1984 Democratic National Convention, Rosalind Wiener “Roz” Wyman… Former lieutenant governor of Maryland from 1987 to 1995 after 20 years in the Maryland Senate, Melvin A. “Mickey” Steinberg… Senior judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, his father served as a rabbi in Brooklyn for 35 years, Judge Robert David Sack… Former executive editor of the Los Angeles TimesNorman Pearlstine… Publisher of lifestyle magazines including Wine Spectator and Cigar AficionadoMarvin R. Shanken… La Jolla resident, Adam M. Curtis… Chairman of the executive committee at the University of Haifa, he was Israel’s negotiator in the Middle East peace process during the term of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Dov Weissglass… Actor and past president of the Screen Actors Guild, Alan Rosenberg… President of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Steven A. Rakitt… Retired deputy chief of staff for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Nathan Steven Bergerbest… Director of the Israeli Government Press Office, Nitzan Chen… Canadian businessman, producer, impresario and philanthropist, Aubrey Dan… Actor, director, screenwriter and producer, Liev Schreiber… Meteorologist at New York City’s WABC-TV, Lee Goldberg… Former MLB pitcher, he is now the director of international scouting for the Lotte Giants in the Korea Baseball Organization, Ryan Sadowski… Member of the Knesset for the Yesh Atid party, Ron Katz… Senior director of executive programs at Leading Edge HQ following 11 years at Hillel International, Sara Stesis Singla… Policy and legislative analyst at AIPAC, Gefen G. Kabik