Your Daily Phil: MacKenzie Scott donates to Repair the World and HIAS + The Orthodox Union raised funds from 2,000 donors to help India


 Good Wednesday morning!

The Orthodox Union’s (OU) two-week emergency campaign in response to India’s COVID-19 surge raised $120,000 from about 2,000 donors in addition to donations in goods such as personal protective equipment, Rabbi Moshe Hauer, the OU’s executive vice-president, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“There was a strong feeling that, thank God, where our communities are concentrated, we had rounded the bend with regards to the pandemic,” Hauer said. “It seemed incongruous that here we were, breathing a sigh of relief, but the pandemic was barrelling down on others.”

Announced on May 25, the campaign was undertaken in cooperation with ACT, a group of Indian venture capital and startup leaders, which set a goal of acquiring and donating 50,000 oxygen concentrators, portable devices that collect oxygen from the air.

Subsequently, the coalition shifted the focus of the campaign to support the donation of oxygen plants, larger systems with the capacity to supply oxygen to bigger spaces, Hauer said. The requested donation amount was $18; the average donation was $60.


MacKenzie Scott donates to Repair the World, HIAS

Photo by Stefano Giovannini / eJP Archives

MacKenzie Scott, known for her record-setting charitable donations, has now become — with her husband, Dan Jewett — a supporter of two American Jewish organizations, Repair the World, a service corps for young people, and HIAS, the immigrant support and advocacy group, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff. 

Signing the pledge: These are Scott’s first gifts to U.S.-based Jewish groups. HIAS CEO Mark Hetfield did not disclose the details of HIAS’ gift, but said it would enable the group to become an emergency responder to refugee crises around the world in addition to a resettlement agency. Scott, the ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, gave almost $6 billion away to nonprofits and charities last year. After their divorce, she signed the Giving Pledge, which commits signatories to giving at least half of their wealth to charity. Repair the World, whose annual budget, according to its most recent tax filing, was $5.9 million, will receive an unrestricted grant of $7 million from Scott and Jewett, CEO Cindy Greenberg told eJP.

Mystery solved: When Greenberg was approached by Scott and Jewett’s representatives, she did not suspect the identity of the donors, she said. She shared with the representatives the organization’s three-year plan and its mission, which is both to make service a defining element of what it means to be Jewish in America and to enact social change. A few weeks after that conversation, about two and a half weeks ago, she got the call letting her know about the gift. “I lost my breath; I made the representative repeat herself,” Greenberg said. “I said, ‘You’re either an angel or a prank caller.’”

Read the full story here.


Charitable giving from foundations rose 17% during the year of the pandemic

Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Charitable giving in the United States rose 3.8% to a record high $471.4 billion in 2020, fueled by an increase in grants by foundations and wealthy individuals who benefited from a soaring stock market, according to estimates from the latest report from Giving USA Foundation and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The increase in foundation giving was reflected in Jewish philanthropy, Jewish Funders Network (JFN) CEO Andres Spokoiny told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Smarter giving: JFN, a service organization for foundations, federations and individuals, reported that 72% of its members gave more in 2020 than in previous years, and 57% of those members plan to maintain those higher giving levels, Spokoiny said. Slightly more than half of the membership started giving in new issue areas during the pandemic, he added. “Not only was more money given, but the giving was smarter and more efficient,” he said. “Funders partnered more and eliminated bureaucratic burdens on grantees.”

Stock market connection: While giving declined as the economy contracted during the Great Recession of 2008 recession, a similar broad decline did not happen in 2020, despite the fact that the country’s gross domestic product shrank by 3.5%. Total giving in 2020 was 2.3% of the $20.9 trillion GDP. However, donations to religious congregations were flat from the prior year. Giving from foundations rose 17% to $88.5 billion between 2019 and 2020, propelling foundations’ share of all giving to a record 19%. “Foundations give out of their assets, and that’s linked with the performance of the financial markets,” Una Osili, associate dean for research at international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, said on a conference call about the report on Tuesday.

Individuals’ share: The largest share of giving consistently comes from individuals, who contributed $324.1 billion, or 68% of the total, in 2020. However, if MacKenzie Scott’s record-setting $5.8 billion in donations are removed from that figure, giving from individuals would have fallen by almost 1%, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. “It was a difficult economic year for many. Overall, giving grew, and those who had the financial resources stepped up, but you need to unpack those numbers and look at the unemployment rate, and the decline in personal consumption,” Osili told eJP. 

Read the full story here.


Jewish activists move their cheese


“Last Thursday just as the Israeli working week was drawing to a close, and everyone was heading off to bed, I took part in a ‘losers’ party’ promoted by JCRIF, the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund. I believe that this was a groundbreaking event in the field of Jewish education,” writes Mickey Katzburg, the director of World Center for Jewish Education (WCJE), in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

The invite: “Two weeks ago, I received an invitation by email to an event that at first glance sounded strange. Rabbi Sara Luria and a group of activists invited all of the ‘tender losers’ to participate in a ‘Reset After Party.’ Despite the fact that I’d never heard of such an event, it was clear to me and the WCJE staff that we should not miss out on such an opportunity, and so we responded that we’d be delighted to attend the online event.”

The event: “That evening, as I logged on to the meeting, my expectations were pretty low. But right away, it was clear this was something out of the ordinary. After a short and unifying session of communal singing, Rabbi Sara opened the session by talking about the existential loneliness and difficulty that people who work in entrepreneurship in the Jewish world have been experiencing. She spoke about the disappointment we were all probably feeling after failing to win the tender. As the session went on, I began to realize that I was partaking in a revolutionary event. The only word to describe this party was groundbreaking!”

Read the full piece here.


Empowering Jews of color in Jewish spaces


“One of the first memories I have of being in a Jewish space took place when my mom brought me to synagogue for the first (and only) time. My mom grew up going to synagogue on holidays when she was a child but hadn’t been back since she was a teenager,” writes Mae Sarah in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Unwelcome: “I was six or seven years old when she took me to a Shabbat service one night at our local synagogue in Oakland. She walked through the doors – my white mom carrying her brown child, as members of the synagogue walked past her. She watched as other new members were greeted at the door and offered food and a place to sit. My mom remembers people looking at the two of us strangely, and asking intrusive questions about our family and my upbringing. She left feeling angry that this space was not the accepting community she had remembered it to be as a child. She also felt uncomfortable, as she realized she’d brought me into a community where I was not welcomed.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

All About Them: The Houston Ballet’s charity ball in March, which featured a disco theme, including a taped remake of the opening scene from “Saturday Night Fever,” and in-person dinner parties with holographic goodie bags, offers a model worth emulating to fundraisers who are looking for ways to make hybrid events truly enjoyable for donors, reports Maria Di Mento in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The event raised $850,000, more than the $500,000 anticipated, said Angie Lane, the organization’s chief development officer, adding that the ballet covered the costs of the private dinner parties and helped their hosts plan them, as well: “We always want to think about it from the guest perspective. Patron experience should always be the guiding light.” [ChroniclePhilanthropy]

? Real Fun: Employers can order workers back to the office, but experts advise managers to make the idea of returning authentically appealing in order to enhance morale and productivity, writes Arianne Cohen in Bloomberg Businessweek. Ideas being implemented include book clubs, redecorating the space and silly awards like “Best Shoes.” “My hypothesis is that the social side of work will become more important,” said Hilla Dotan, an organizational behaviorist at Tel Aviv University. “This is the time to give employees the opportunity to express how they think work should be done, professionally and socially.” [Bloomberg]

One Word: The problem of plastic pollution became even more dire during the COVID-19 crisis, especially in the world’s oceans, which already receive 11 million metric tons of plastic waste every year that kills sea animals, endangers coral reefs and ends up in the bodies of both animals and humans as microplastics, reports Diana Hembree in Inside Philanthropy. The leading philanthropic player is the U.K.-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, whose signature achievement, the New Plastics Economy Global. “We can’t recycle our way out of this problem,” said Rebecca Price-Ruiz, executive director of the Plastic Free Foundation. “To create a world without plastic waste, we need to turn off the tap, not mop the floor.” [InsidePhilanthropy]

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Word on the Street

The San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental Foundation announced the recipients of the 2021 Goldman Environmental Prizes… The Dangoor family has given £1.2 million to help a world-leading biomedical science institute in London reach a wider public audience… The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the advocacy arm of the Jewish federation system in Canada, has created a “Fight It!” campaign to combat rising antisemitism across the country… Case studies and practical guidance for thriving are contained in a new report commissioned by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund on how groups leverage surges in public attention and media coverage of their cause to build lasting organizational growth… The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Truman Library Institute announced a cooperative agreement in which they will work together to increase education and awareness of the history and legacy of President Harry S. Truman’s support for the creation of the State of Israel… Five Israeli companies have been selected to be this year’s World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers, a group of 100 new tech firms that are “are poised to have a significant impact on business and society…”

Pic of the Day


The Tenement Museum on New York’s Lower East Side held a block party on Saturday featuring food and live performances to celebrate their official reopening and a new walking tour, Reclaiming Black Spaces, the museum’s first program exploring the lives of Black New Yorkers.


ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Graduate and later Dean of Yeshiva College, U.S. ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) for President Bill Clinton, and U.S. ambassador to Israel (2001-2005) for President George W Bush, Daniel C. Kurtzer… 
Former Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, in 2015 she became the president of Plaza Health Network, Elaine Bloom… Retired IDF Brigadier-General and a former member of Knesset, Avigdor Kahalani… Professor at Nanjing University and China’s leading professor of Jewish studies, Xu Xin… Chief investigative correspondent at Yahoo! News, Michael Isikoff… UC Berkeley professor and WSJ columnist, Alison Gopnik… Professor of Jewish studies at the University of Freiburg, Gabrielle Oberhänsli-Widmer… Distinguished fellow at Dartmouth College, Shaul Magid… Southern California resident, Roberta Trachten-Zeve… President of GEM Commercial Flooring Company in Overland Park, Kansas, Matthew Elyachar… Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter and author, David A. Vise… Former chair of the Broward County, Florida JCRC, Keith Wasserstrom… Actor, screenwriter, producer and director, Daniel Zelman… Staff writer for the New York Times Magazine and correspondent for Yedioth AhronothRonen Bergman… Managing director and founder of Marathon Strategies, Phil Singer… Geographer and writer, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro… Singer and songwriter, Benjamin Lev Kweller… Pitcher for Team Israel, he is now on the roster of the Tacoma Rainiers in the Seattle Mariners organization, Zachary D. “Zack” Weiss… Director of advancement, campus and community engagement at Artists 4 Israel, Perry Chencin… Catcher on Israel’s National Baseball Team, Tal Erel… Israeli artistic gymnast who won the gold medal at the 2020 European Championships in the floor exercise and who will represent Israel at the upcoming Summer Olympics, Artem Dolgopyat
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