Your Daily Phil: Leading Edge’s latest survey + News on BDS at the GA
Good Tuesday morning!
Hello from the Hilton in downtown Chicago, where eJewishPhilanthropy is on the ground, bringing you inside this year’s Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly. In today’s Your Daily Phil, we look at Leading Edge’s latest survey of the Jewish nonprofit world, and feature an op-ed from jMUSE’s Michael S. Glickman on innovation at Jewish museums. Also in this newsletter: Robert Kraft, Beth Kean, the ADL’s Seth Brysk, Alyssa Hartstein, Shirley Baskin Familian and Barbara Himmelrich. We’ll start with a recap of Monday, the GA’s only full day.
The day before Israelis were scheduled to begin voting, Israeli President Isaac Herzog had a message for American Jewish leaders: Respect the result, no matter what.
Herzog’s remarks regarding Israel’s election today came at the opening of the only full day of the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly yesterday in Chicago. Appearing via video from Israel, Herzog called Israel’s fifth election since 2019, which promises to be close, “evidence of a vibrant and dynamic democracy.”
“I know the frequency of elections in Israel is somewhat unnerving, and I’m aware of the questions posed in many Jewish communities around the world about the outcome of the elections,” he said, perhaps an allusion to condemnations of Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right politician likely to become a government minister if Benjamin Netanyahu leads the next government.
“The results may or may not be to your liking, but the vote of the Israeli people should be respected,” he added. Acknowledging “gaps between Israel and Jewish communities abroad,” he said, “The firm, vital connection between the State of Israel and North American Jewry will not, and should not, be compromised, whatever the results.”
Later in the plenary, a panel on viewpoint diversity, moderated by Rabbi David Wolpe, featured speakers who all agreed that free speech is a paramount value, a broad scope of ideas should be able to be aired in the public square and that people have to defend others’ right to express ideas they disagree with, even if they’re hateful or discriminatory.
The panel featured columnist Jamie Kirchick; Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union; and Eboo Patel, an interfaith activist. Of the three, Kirchick was the only one to insist that certain ideas, such as Holocaust denial, should be over a red line.
Patel said, “I’m not buying a brownie from the KKK bake sale, I’m talking to everybody else and I admire people who will cross that line.” Strossen said, “I really, really admire and try to emulate those who do reach out, even to those with the most hateful, repugnant ideas, because I think that is the only hope for redeeming that person.” Earlier in the panel, she defended the prerogative of Jewish organizations to host speakers who have views on transgender rights that may be hurtful to some children.
A later session surveyed the work of several Jewish organizations in Ukraine and nearby countries. In total, since the start of Russia’s invasion, more than 70,000 Ukrainians have come to Israel, of whom 13,500 have made aliyah, while nearly 30,000 have since left. The numbers from Russia are even larger: More than 140,000 Russians have come to Israel, of whom 28,780 have made aliyah. More than 60,000 have since left.
Now, the organizations said their focus will be on sustaining the Jews who have remained in Ukraine through a winter when temperatures are sure to drop while energy is likely to be in short supply. Organizations are providing generators, sleeping bags, heaters and other supplies to make sure elderly and vulnerable people don’t freeze. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will be dedicating $10 million to helping people through the winter — 10 times its normal allocation.
“Typical winter temperatures in Ukraine are below zero,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “And if you don’t have heat, which we are bringing in, how will you live? We don’t talk about winter relief anymore, we talk about winter survival.”
A coalition of Jewish organizations has come to an agreement with the financial firm Morningstar, which had been accused of supporting the movement to boycott Israel by displaying an anti-Israel bias in how it evaluates environmental, social and governance-oriented investments. In June, Morningstar agreed to change its practices by rejecting the BDS movement, changing its evaluation system and eliminating “biased terminology.”
In the agreement with Jewish groups, announced on Monday at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly, the firm will ensure that business activity in Israel and the West Bank, including activity related to Israeli defense against terrorism, will not be automatically considered a human rights concern, and will use geographical descriptors like “West Bank” as opposed to “occupied territory.” It will also cease relying on sources such as the United Nations Human Rights Council, and will commit to anti-bias and antisemitism training for its staff.
Overworked, underpaid and loving it: What this year’s Leading Edge survey shows about the Jewish nonprofit sector
Jewish nonprofit employees feel they make too little money. They say their organizations need more people to do the needed work. And they believe in the work and want to keep doing it. Those are a few of the key takeaways from Leading Edge’s annual survey of more than 12,000 employees at 257 Jewish nonprofits, which was published today, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.
Believing and leaving: The survey found that employees largely believe in the missions of their organizations and understand how they contribute to those goals. Most of them want to keep working at Jewish nonprofits for at least two years. More than two-thirds — 69% — would call their organization a “great place to work.” But at the same time, that number is 14 percentage points lower than the average across companies in the United States, and is five percentage points lower than last year. One-third of employees surveyed have been with their organization for less than two years, and nearly a third plan to leave their organizations within two years.
Working for purpose: “We have people who are incredibly proud, incredibly committed to the Jewish people, making the world a better place; they’ve also made a decision like, ‘You know what? I want to work on something that’s meaningful, that has purpose, I’m not as profit-driven as a for-profit thing,’” Gali Cooks, the president and CEO of Leading Edge, told eJP. “Where we get mucked up is how we actually create the institutions and the different systems, practices, policies that enable people to actually do their work.”
Money matters: Some of the lowest scores on the survey related to salary. Only 42% of respondents believe their salary is fair relative to similar roles at their organization, identical to the 2021 figure and 17 percentage points below the U.S. average. And 58% believe their benefits meet their needs. Cooks said greater transparency and clarity around how salaries are determined could go a long way to making employees more satisfied with their pay. Only 39% of respondents understand how salaries and raises are determined at their organization.
The state of innovation at Jewish museums
“In 2020, the philanthropic arts and culture resource jMUSE launched a new study focusing on the ways in which Jewish museums can serve as the backbone of Jewish cultural engagement in their American communities. The study produced a deeper understanding of not only the state of the field, but also the power and potential of Jewish museums in offering diverse, secular, culturally rich but low-barrier opportunities for Jewish people to connect with American Jewish history and experience,” founder and CEO of jMUSE Michael S. Glickman writes in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Pandemic-paused programs: “However, taking a closer look at Jewish museums across the country also revealed a level of stagnation and complacency that was then exacerbated by the pandemic. Simply put, Jewish museums have not prioritized, cultivated or invested in innovation. This was true even in the wake of COVID-19, when many scrambled to launch even the most basic online programming efforts. In too many instances, the prospect of leveraging new and innovative ideas remains a forsaken opportunity.”
Responding and innovating: “Even as many museums and cultural centers have struggled in recent years, the foresight of certain funders has powered advancements in the field. Responding to the needs of our time, Jewish philanthropy is at its best when it invests in those institutions and individuals with the capacity to lead and innovate.”
Geffen Gives Greatly: Entertainment magnate and American philanthropist David Geffen has distributed $1.2 billion over the past 25 years to museums, theaters, concert halls, universities and medical centers, and has pledged to give away his $7.7 billion fortune. Now, culture and education leaders are trying to build and seeking his help, Adam Nagourney writes in The New York Times. “Associates said that Geffen’s background in business and culture, and particularly music, drives his philanthropic choices. ‘He comes from the music business,’ said David Bohnett, another philanthropist based in New York and Los Angeles. ‘You grow up around music, you grow up around entertainment, it just seems logical that you are going to put your name on theaters and music halls and museums.’ Some say it helps explain his hands-off approach to the projects he supports. ‘He’s made a career out of respecting artists and understanding what artists need,’ said Henry Timms, the president of Lincoln Center. ‘And I think that’s the same context for this — he’s not assuming he can do this job better than the architects.’” [NYTimes]
The Unkindest Cuts: Managers who make budgetary cuts to save money — often damaging their organization’s ability to bring in major and planned gifts in the process — may need help understanding how those gifts work, Richard Perry writes in NonProfitPRO. “Major and planned gifts are the end game in a carefully managed donor acquisition and cultivation pipeline. The reason an organization acquires a donor — usually at a loss — is because that donor can then be cultivated via a direct marketing program and eventually moved into a high-touch major gifts program where the ROI is substantially better and the net revenue contribution to the organization is greater. Major gifts fundraising is not some isolated activity. It is part of a carefully managed, strategic fundraising plan. And, yes, donors will move from one media strategy (direct mail, for example) to major gifts and that will change the numbers. But isn’t that what you are trying to do? You are trying to migrate the donors up in their giving level. Many managers and leaders do not understand this.” [NonProfitPRO]
Word on the Street
New England Patriots owner and CEO Robert Kraftwill be honored tonight in New York City with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Leadership Award…
California Gov. Gavin Newsom named nine new members, including Holocaust Museum LA CEO Beth Kean and ADL Central Pacific Regional Director Seth Brysk, to the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education…
Alyssa Hartstein is now assistant program director for talent at the JCC Association of North America. She was formerly a diversity, equity and inclusion analyst at American Express…
Philanthropist and artist Shirley Baskin Familian, a co-founder of KCET (then known as Community Television of Southern California), died at 101…
Barbara Himmelrich, a former board chair of The Associated, Baltimore’s Jewish federation, and supporter of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, died at 91…
Pic of the Day
Israeli President Isaac Herzog visits Israel’s Central Election Board in Jerusalem today as Israelis go to the polls.
Canadian real estate developer and philanthropist who made aliyah in 2015, Sylvan Adams…
French economic and social theorist, he is the author of The Economic History of the Jewish People, Jacques Attali… Rabbi-in-residence of Baltimore’s 1,300-member Beth Tfiloh Congregation after more than 44 years as senior rabbi, Mitchell Wohlberg… Country singer, songwriter, novelist and humorist, Richard Samet “Kinky” Friedman… Pioneering investor in the personal computing industry, founder of Lotus and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mitch Kapor… Founding rabbi, now emeritus, at Beit T’Shuvah, a nonprofit Jewish addiction treatment center and synagogue community in Los Angeles, Mark Borovitz… Retired management analyst at the U.S. Department of Energy, Les Novitsky… Serial entrepreneur, Warren B. Kanders… Special assistant to the city comptroller of New York, Pinchus Hikind… President of an eponymous auctioneering firm specializing in the appraisal and sale of antique Judaica, Jonathan Greenstein… Managing director for national affairs at AIPAC, Elliot Brandt… Actress, best known for her roles on “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” Alla Korot… Principal at Calabasas, Calif.-based CRC-Commercial Realty Consultants, he is a vice chair of the real estate and construction division of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, Brian Weisberg… Israeli director, screenwriter and actress, Dikla Elkaslassy… Former member of the Knesset, she is the first Ethiopian-born woman to hold a Knesset seat and the first to serve as a government minister, Pnina Tamano-Shata… Associate in the DC office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Clare F. Steinberg… Israeli video blogger, journalist and business executive, Idan Matalon… AIPAC’s director of Westchester County (N.Y.) and nearby Riverdale, Annie Peck Watman… Reporter for CNN, Marshall J. Cohen… Law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Mitchell Caminer… Pitcher for Team Israel, he became an Israeli citizen in 2018, Gabe Cramer… Senior associate at Trepwise, Derek Brody… Actor since childhood, Max Burkholder…
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