Your Daily Phil: Leichtag Foundation looks back + Yair Lapid meets U.S. Jewish leaders

Good Friday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we profile the California-based Leichtag Foundation and report on the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews’ construction of bomb shelters in northern Israel. We also feature op-eds from Gillian Howell and Erica Brown. We’ll start with Yair Lapid’s recent visit to the United States over Passover.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid met with top American Jewish leaders in New York on Monday night to garner their support in the fight against the government’s proposed judicial overhaul and to urge them to maintain their connection with Israel despite current tensions, Lapid’s office told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The gathering was organized by the Jewish Federations of North America and was attended by leaders of the country’s top Jewish organizations, across denominations and political affiliations. Lapid told attendees that the proposed changes to Israel’s judiciary presented “a threat to the democratic nature of Israel,” his spokesman told eJP. At the same time, the opposition leader told “the heads of the organizations not to give up on the connection with Israel just because of the current government,” his office said in a statement.

The meeting, which was held in the offices of the UJA-Federation of New York, was attended by senior representatives from the Jewish Federations of North America, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Hillel International, Orthodox Union, National Council of Jewish Women, Reconstructing Judaism, Zioness, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, Jewish Agency for Israel, Israel Policy Forum and National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, according to JFNA.

During the meeting, JFNA Board Chair Julie Platt – whose organization previously criticized the government’s proposal to allow the Knesset to overrule the Supreme Court with a 61-vote majority – stressed the need for compromise. “We in the Jewish Federation system have expressed our opinions where we felt it necessary to do so, as have other organizations represented here this evening,” Platt said. “But above all, together with so many other organizations in this meeting, we have expressed our strongest possible encouragement that every party must do its utmost to seek and find compromise.”

Lapid’s visit was criticized by Am Echad, which is affiliated with Agudath Israel of America. In a statement, Am Echad said Lapid was exaggerating the ramifications of the proposed judicial reform and claimed he was encouraging antisemitism. “It is disingenuous of you to accuse the government of undermining Israeli democracy and calling on American Jews to get up in arms to protect Israel from its own leadership,” the group said. “When you go back to Israel, we in the Diaspora will face the potential consequences of even more antisemitism, powered by your words.”

Read the full story here.

Scaling down, ramping up

Charlene Seidle addresses a gathering during the Leichtag Commons 10th anniversary celebration on February 5, 2023. (Melissa Jacobs/Leichtag Foundation)

Until Dec. 20, 2012, the 67.5-acre Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, Calif., was known as one of the world’s leading producers of poinsettias. But for the past decade, it’s been a producer of Jewish expression, creativity and care for the earth. The ranch, now known as Leichtag Commons, has provided an opportunity to physically realize the strategic areas that the Leichtag Foundation had been supporting since 2007. The commons is home to Coastal Roots Farm — which, over the past decade, has become a go-to destination in the San Diego area for kids’ activities, Sukkot celebrations and a food forest festival — and a coworking space called The Hive, which serves about 25 nonprofits, as well as Impact Cubed, a consulting and advisory outfit meant to eventually supplant the Leichtag Foundation, which is on track to scale down its operations in the coming years, reports Esther D. Kustanowitz for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A foundational transition: The foundation’s late founders, Lee and Toni Leichtag, were children of immigrants, raised in poverty with minimal formal education. When the Leichtags’ company hit it big in the pharmaceutical industry as the first producers of generic Ritalin, they launched their private foundation in 2007, Charlene Seidle, who has served as executive vice president of the organization since 2008, told eJP. The Leichtag board had originally planned to spend the foundation’s millions by 2025, but now plans to “transition from its current form to a more sustainable model that encompasses several different organizations and initiatives supported by the community,” Seidle said, instead of a traditional “sunset.” Leichtag’s leadership is therefore now looking at current projects’ metrics and milestones, to assess which ones are moving toward independent sustainability and which ones require a bit more investment.

Letting grow and letting go: Coastal Roots Farm, for example, once entirely funded by Leichtag, is now only receiving a third of their budget as Leichtag funding. The expectation is that the farm will need less and less over the next two years, as they move toward self-sustainability. “We obviously have a responsibility to the donors who bear the name, whose resources made this possible. So we’re very much in the midst of figuring out the ways that the property can continue for decades to come,” Seidle said.

Read the full story here.

Defending Israel

IFCJ puts up bomb shelters in northern Israel amid heightened security tensions

A bomb shelter that was recently built in northern Israel by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. (Eran Boker/IFCJ)

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews will install nine new public bomb shelters in northern Israel next week as part of a larger effort to shore up the country’s physical defenses in light of growing threats from Lebanon and Syria, the organization said this week, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross reports.

A pressing need: Until now, IFCJ has focused primarily on building and renovating bomb shelters in southern Israel, closer to the Gaza Strip, in line with security assessments from the Israel Defense Forces’ Home Front Command. In recent years, which have seen multiple flare-ups on Israel’s northern borders, the military and the Defense Ministry have begun reinforcing those areas as well, which for years have lacked the bomb shelters necessary to properly defend residents from rocket attacks, according to State Comptroller reports.

Recent rockets: Next week, IFCJ will install six new shelters in communities in the Mateh Asher region of the western Galilee and three new shelters in the town of Yesud HaMa’ala in the eastern Galilee’s Hula Valley, the organization said. Last week, residents of the Mateh Asher region were forced to rush to existing bomb shelters as 34 rockets were fired at them in an attack attributed to the Hamas terror group in Lebanon. Israeli air defenses remained on high alert this week ahead of the last Friday of Ramadan, which has historically been a period of increased security tensions for Israel and which Iran marks as “Quds Day” with anti-Israel activities.

Demonstrating support: “Strengthening the protection of Israel and her people during emergencies is one of the main missions of the Fellowship,” said Yael Eckstein, president of IFCJ. “These shelters not only provide this protection but also represent the decades of support and love of our hundreds of thousands of donors around the world in making this happen.”

Read the full article here.

The Torah of leadership


“A new museum just opened up in Brooklyn, curated by a licensed psychologist. The Museum of Failure is a collection of projects and products from around the world that flopped. It’s easy to ask, ‘What were they thinking?’ with hindsight. It’s harder to recognize that some failures turn into innovations,” writes Erica Brown, vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University, in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy, “The Torah of Leadership.”

The giving has to hurt to be meaningful: “In the ancient world, failure was often acknowledged and atoned for with the giving of a sacrifice. A sacrifice could not reset or erase a mistake but created a ritualized break from it that required a significant loss or renunciation from the giver, let alone the animal. When we use the word sacrifice today, we usually mean that someone is ready to give up something of personal importance for a belief or an ideal or to achieve a particular result. On some level, the giving has to hurt to be meaningful.”

Read the full piece here.

Forward-thinking donors

Sorrasak Jar Tinyo

“With the majority of 2023 still ahead of us, I’m pleased to share good news for private foundations and their prospective grantees,” writes Gillian Howell, head of client advisory solutions for Foundation Source, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Foundations are optimistic: “Our latest client survey, to which 215 private foundations responded in late December 2022 and early January 2023, reveals a strong sense of optimism for the future, including foundations’ intent to maintain or increase their level of giving in 2023 and to better understand succession [and] how to transfer the leadership of their foundations to the next generation of their families and boards.”

Long-term thinking: “Given the 2022 market downturn and today’s continued economic challenges, this feedback is encouraging. Rather than reacting to short-term dynamics, foundation donors are positively focused on the long term to build deep-rooted philanthropic legacies, collaborate and innovate their giving.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Spreading the Wealth: In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, six philanthropists explain how they approach the topic of pluralistic philanthropy. “Philanthropy plays an essential role in shaping the marketplace of ideas. The reasons a foundation supports a particular issue or cause often influences how a foundation distributes its funds. And these differences reflect the diverse sensibilities, beliefs, and values that make up America’s pluralistic society. During these turbulent times, diversity in philanthropic giving can help shape and inform discussions about the most important issues of the day. It is through this diversity that philanthropy can proffer, study, and test a multiplicity of ideas and approaches to confront society’s greatest challenges. To do this well, philanthropy can — and should — become skilled at effectively engaging in disagreements on approaches or even outcomes. This is because, as stark and rancorous as our social divisions may be, to best serve society we must commit to productive, not destructive, negotiation.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Breaking Through Burnout: For the Philanthropy Europe Association, Liubov Rainchuk, the deputy director of the Zagoriy Foundation, suggests ways in which nonprofit leaders can avoid burnout among their staffs. “It probably goes without saying that staff fatigue in charitable foundations is a severe problem for the non-profit sector, as it can lead to a decrease in efficiency and negatively affect the sustainability of processes. In addition, exhaustion can affect the relationship between the foundation and its beneficiaries, as employees suffering from exhaustion may feel unable to help and lose motivation. It is common practice in the charitable sector to work with limited resources, both financial and human, which can lead to overwork. The lack of sufficient funding for the organisation’s programs and assistance to beneficiaries is always at the forefront, and the establishment of work with the staff receives insufficient attention. Instead, non-profits should commit to giving employees the tools to monitor their health and prevent and combat exhaustion. Group work with a psychologist or trainings have an educational function, provide practical tools for work and debunk myths about the weakness of those who seek professional help from a psychologist.” [PhilanthropyEurope]

Around the Web

The humanitarian fund of the Kibbutz Ha’artzi Hashomer Hatzair movement opened a community center and kindergarten in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The center provides free meals, subsidized education and daycare and activism training based on the kibbutz movement’s many decades of experience…

Adrian Maydanich, a 17-year-old student at Beth Tfiloh Congregation and Community School in Baltimore, and son of immigrants from Lviv and Kyiv, Ukraine, raised over $22,000 to help Ukrainian Jews celebrate Passover…

A new study from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy finds that Americans have a broadly favorable impression of charitable giving and nonprofit organizations, but many know relatively little about how philanthropy functions, its impact on their lives or how its current controversies could shape the future…

The families of Leonard A. and Ronald S. Lauder committed $200 million to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation to accelerate the discovery and development of drugs to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease…

The Wonderful Company launched its first-ever corporate social responsibility website, highlighting co-founders Lynda and Stewart Resnick‘s philanthropic approach of place-based giving. To date, the Resnicks, through their foundation and The Wonderful Company, have invested more than $2.6 billion in philanthropy…

Citadel founder and CEO Kenneth Griffin gave $300 million to Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences to support a wide range of teaching, research and other programs, including financial aid. Griffin has been a longtime supporter of his alma mater and has now given a total of more than $500 million, according to the university…

Columbia University announced a $21 million gift from the Bezos Family Foundation to launch a research-to-practice center dedicated to prenatal care and the health of new parents and infants…

The Home Depot Foundation pledged to invest $10 million in community service projects during 2023. Since 2011, the foundation has partnered with more than 10,000 nonprofit organizations…

The Yale School of Management announced a $20 million gift from an anonymous donor to establish the Swensen Asset Management Institute

The Walton Family Foundation is launching a two-year pilot connection hub for Arkansas nonprofits working in the areas of early-childhood health and education, food insecurity and economic stability. The hub will assist the state’s nonprofits apply for federal funds that have previously gone untapped…

According to Montreal-based McGill University, its research program with the Tehran University branch of McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies is currently inactive…

The Pew Research Center launched a new website for global religion data…

Megan Roth Abraham, chief advancement officer at JCC Chicago, has returned to the Goldie B. Wolfe Miller Women Leaders in Real Estate Initiative as the organization’s first CEO…

Rabbi Aaron Bisno, theFrances F. & David R. Levin rabbinic scholar at Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, launched the Center for Interfaith Collaboration. Bisno envisions the center will reach diverse religious denominations throughout Pittsburgh with programs “about issues related to the intersection of faith and wisdom and modern society”…

Cartoonist Al Jaffee died at 102. Jaffee was a regular contributor to the satirical Mad magazine for 65 years and is its longest-running contributor…

Charlotte, N.C., philanthropist Leon Levine, founder ofFamily Dollar Stores, died at 85. Levine and his wife, Sandra, were founders of the Sandra & Leon Levine Jewish Community Center

Meir Shalev, a popular Israeli writer and newspaper columnist, died at 74…

Mimi Sheraton, the first female restaurant critic at The New York Times, died at 97. Sheraton was the author of The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World

Martin Singerman, longtime publisher of the New York Post, died at 96…

Pic of the Day

David Berding/Getty Images

Maryland Terrapins star guard Abby Meyers, who is now heading to the WNBA, dribbles the ball upcourt against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the second half of the semifinals of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament at Target Center on March 4, in Minneapolis. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins 89-84.

Meyers was selected by the Dallas Wings in the first round of the WNBA Draft on Monday night.



Emmy Award-winning actress, Sarah Michelle Gellar Prinze

FRIDAY: Anne Monk… Former Securities and Exchange Commissioner, Elisse B. Walter… Israeli news editor and analyst, Chemi Shalev… Media executive, she and her family are majority owners of Viacom and CBS through Paramount Global, Shari Redstone… Co-founder, co-chairman and co-CEO at Canyon Partners, LLC, Mitchell Julis… Film, television and theater producer, his credits include the widely acclaimed 2016 film “La La Land,” Marc Platt… Birmingham, Ala.-based post-denominational rabbi, known on social media as “Deep South Rabbi,” Barry Altmark… Founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and author of nine books about makeup and beauty, Bobbi Brown… Border czar for the first few months of the Biden administration, she is the former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Roberta S. Jacobson… Bench coach for the Oakland Athletics, he was also bench coach for Team Israel at the World Baseball Classic last month, Brad Ausmus… Los Angeles-based freelance editor and writer, Robin Heinz Bratslavsky… VP of newsgathering for CNN’s Washington bureau, Adam Levine… Journalist, professor and author of four books, Sasha Issenberg… Co-founder and president of Statt, an AI/ML enterprise software platform, Steve Glickman… Principal at Bnei Akiva Schools of Toronto, Hillel David Rapp… Founder and CEO of Charity Bids, Israel “Yummy” Schachter… Award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer, Rachel Swirsky… Co-founder and co-CEO of BurnAlong, a Tivity Health company, Daniel Freedman… Classical cellist, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 2022, Alisa Weilerstein… Former professional baseball first baseman who played in the MLB, Japanese and Mexican leagues, Joshua S. Whitesell… Documentary filmmaker, Nicholas Ma… Washington-based technology policy reporter at Axios, Ashley Gold… Isaac Hasson… Graphic designer, Casey Tepper… Yitzchak Tendler… Jon Fine… Moriah Elbaz…

SATURDAY: Psychiatrist, entrepreneur, movie producer and philanthropist, Dr. Henry George Jarecki… Professor of law and public policy at Duke University since 1971, Joel L. Fleishman… Former U.S. solicitor general, now a professor at Harvard Law School, Charles Fried… Senior advisor at Covington & Burling, he was a 15-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Howard Lawrence Berman… Duke University professor, physician, biochemist and Nobel Prize laureate in 2012, Robert Lefkowitz… Retired U.S. Army chaplain who attained the rank of lieutenant colonel, Rabbi Alan Sherman… Professor of German and comparative literature at New York University, Avital Ronell… Former city controller of Philadelphia for 12 years, following 16 years as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Alan Butkovitz… CEO of DMB Strategic, David Brand… Founder and director of the graduate school in the decorative arts at Bard College in Dutchess County, N.Y., Susan Weber… Deputy counsel at the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, Deborah R. Liebman… Former executive director at American Press Institute, he is the author of ten books, including three novels, Tom Rosenstiel… Rebbe of the Boyan Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer… Former deputy secretary of the Treasury following four years as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Sarah Bloom Raskin… Managing partner, CEO and chief investment officer of Hudson Bay Capital Management, Sander R. Gerber… CEO of the New Israel Fund since 2009, prior to that he was the executive director of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Daniel Sokatch… Cheryl Myra Cohn… Senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and founder of the Truman National Security Project, Rachel Kleinfeld, Ph.D…. Head coach of the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos basketball program, Joe Pasternack… CEO of the American Fintech Council, Y. Phillip Goldfeder… Actor, comedian, writer, producer and director, Seth Rogen… Co-founder and co-CEO of theSkimm, Carly Zakin… Research manager at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, David May… Director of grants and operations at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Kristin McCarthy… Founder and managing partner of Neue Urban, Zach Ehrlich… Social entrepreneur, environmental activist and human rights activist, Erin Schrode… Moshe Lehrer…

SUNDAY: Chasidic singer Mordechai Werdyger, known by his stage name Mordechai Ben David… Olympic track-and-field athlete, and survivor of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, Esther Roth-Shachamorov… Actress and movie producer, Ellen Barkin… Chairman and CEO of private equity fund manager Jordan/Zalaznick Advisers, David Wayne Zalaznick… Physician and venture capitalist focused on biotechnology and life-sciences industries, Lindsay Rosenwald… Professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, Aaron Louis Friedberg, Ph.D…. Filmmaker Stephen Kessler… Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School since 2016 and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf… Secretary of State of the United States, Antony John (“Tony”) Blinken… Television producer and writer, he co-created and produced “Will & Grace” and “Boston Common,” David Sanford Kohan… Los Angeles pharmacist, Jeffrey D. Marcus… Former mayor of Hoboken, N.J., Dawn Zimmer… Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S., now Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, Ron Dermer… Member of the House of Commons of Canada since 2015, she represents the riding of Toronto-Danforth, Julie Dabrusin… Celebrity plastic surgeon, he is active on social media as “Dr. Miami,” Michael Salzhauer, M.D…. Board member of Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco, Ellen K. Finestone… Founder and president of Glass Ceiling Strategies, Alex Glass… Founder of Jewish Fashion Council and journalist at Fabologie, Adi Heyman… Attorney who has served as a law clerk to three Maryland judges, now an MBA student at Temple University, Geoff Middleberg… Senior product manager at Duolingo, Uriel Kejsefman… Singer, pianist, and composer, he is best known as half of the folk-rock duo, the Portnoy Brothers, Mendy Portnoy… Principal at Helena Special Investments and interim CFO at Aether, Matthew Saunders… Director of partnerships at Grow Progress, Adam Gotbaum… First baseman in the Chicago Cubs organization, he played for Team Israel in last month’s World Baseball Classic, Matthew Jared Mervis… Josh Goldstein… Sarah Wolfson…