Your Daily Phil: MAZON’s growing national network + What it’s like to receive a grant from MacKenzie Scott

Good Tuesday morning!

The Wexner Foundation, in partnership with UJA-Federation of NY, has created a Jews of Color cohort for its Wexner Heritage Program, a two-year fellowship that uses Jewish text learning, networking and access to experts to develop lay leaders, the new cohort’s coordinator, Tonda Case, told eJewishPhilanthropy.

“This program is for Jews of Color who have not had access to the breadth of Jewish education and who are hungry to be of service in their communities and in the organizations that excite them,” Case said.

Case realized leadership development was her calling as an advisor at Amazon, where she worked in human resources, recruitment strategies and diversity, equity and inclusion policy in its fulfillment center division.

She went on to do similar work at DIMENSIONS Inc., the Boston-based nonprofit consulting firm supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation and other Jewish funders that works frequently in the Jewish world. An alumna of Bend the Arc’s Selah Leadership Program, Case is active in two Oakland, Calif. synagogues.

She will be moving to the New York area this summer and mentioned her national network of Jews of Color as one of the significant assets she brings to the job. The foundation will accept nominations for the 20-person cohort starting in the fall, and expects to start classes in August 2022.

“As part of our overall effort to promote racial equity and inclusion in the New York Jewish community, this cohort is an important step in working to ensure diverse representation across our communal lay leadership tables,” said UJA-Fed NY CEO Eric Goldstein, in a statement.


MAZON is growing a national network of grassroots anti-hunger groups


MAZON, the Jewish anti-hunger organization, will disburse $2.5 million to 52 local organizations across the country and in Israel that are the latest beneficiaries of its emerging advocacy fund, Mia Hubbard, MAZON’s vice president of programs, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Where advocacy meets service: Many of the groups, such as the Little Rock-based Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Operation Food Search in St. Louis and the Native Food and the Native Food and Nutrition Resource Alliance in Los Alamos, N.M., are small charities that assist individuals dealing with food scarcity. MAZON’s funding supports both that work and efforts by these groups to advocate on behalf of federal food programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Other beneficiaries focus more on advocacy and less on service delivery. “We are helping to seed and grow and support anti-hunger advocacy,” Hubbard said. “We’re sharpening that connection between direct service and working upstream on these issues.”

A time of famine: MAZON was conceived in 1985 by Moment Magazine publisher Leonard Fein, who felt compelled by the famine in Ethiopia to start an organization that would rejuvenate the Jewish custom of using happy occasions as a chance to give to the hungry and needy. Today, the organization operates a “Simchas” program whose participants donate 3% of the cost of their celebration to MAZON, which donates the money to grantees or uses it for other purposes, such as the creation of educational materials.  

Sharpening the strategy: MAZON created the emerging advocacy fund in 2017 after a review of its grant-making revealed that it would benefit from a more strategic focus, Hubbard said. A period of study and reflection revealed that the states with the biggest food security problems were also the ones with the most political resistance to federal food aid. MAZON decided to focus its grants on helping grassroots groups build support for SNAP and similar programs. In Louisiana, MAZON funds both Feeding Louisiana, which advocates on behalf of food banks and does education on the roots of hunger, and the Louisiana Budget Project, said Korey Patty, executive director of Feeding Louisiana. “MAZON was a real catalyst,” Patty said.

Read the full story here.

The Chosen

How HIAS and Repair the World’s mission meshes with MacKenzie Scott’s vision


“When MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett announced their third round of multi-billion-dollar giving to organizations that engage in community-driven work to make a change, we were proud to be among those entrusted with significant, transformational gifts,” write Melanie Nezer of HIAS and Cindy Greenberg of Repair the World in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Timing helps: “The timing of these gifts in June also happens to coincide with the anniversary of the tragedy of the S.S. St. Louis, when in 1939 the United States turned away a ship of 900 Jewish refugees from Europe who were sent back to their deaths; the official designation of Juneteenth as a U.S. federal holiday, recognizing the continued fight for equity and justice in our country; and the celebration of Pride month, a moment to look at how far we have come and how far we have still to go in the fight for equality and acceptance.”

Unrestricted support: “These grants also arrive at a moment when hatred and discrimination, including antisemitism, are increasing at an alarming rate. And yet, in these generous gifts, we see hope for a better future. The investment in groups that share a vision of a more just world through unrestricted dollars minimizes administrative hoops for grantees. It frees us up to do the vital work to bring about our ideas for change. We hope others will follow their lead.”

Broad support: “Our inclusion in the list of Scott and Jewett’s grantees shows that our work resonates powerfully in non-Jewish philanthropic circles. But it has been the Jewish support for HIAS and Repair the World that has allowed us to innovate and grow to become leaders in our focus areas and attract support beyond the Jewish world.”

Read the full piece here.


A human issue


“What is your solution to the climate crisis?,” asks Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff, a faculty member at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Belief in science: “That is my question to everyone who was disappointed with President Biden’s revocation of the Keystone XL pipeline permit last week. I pose the same question to those who object to Biden’s commitment to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030. Do you believe the science that tells us that climate change already causes colossal damage to human lives and stands to cause infinitely more in the coming decades? If you deny the science, then I have little more to say to you. We live in different realities. But if you acknowledge the science — and more and more Americans are coming to believe the evidence appearing before their very eyes — there can be only one response. This catastrophe needs a solution. It will be complicated from the perspective of economics, technology, international relations, and politics. But we need a solution. No ethical society, religious or secular, could claim otherwise.”

Sakana (danger): “Jewish law has a label for this kind of lethality. We call it sakana, danger, and it is absolutely forbidden to subject ourselves or others to it. Maimonides, the great 12th-century jurist, writes that ‘one who leaves a dangerous obstacle and does not remove it, negates a positive commandment, and violates the negative commandment: ‘Do not cause blood to be spilled.’ Further details about these laws are fleshed out over the centuries. It is especially bad to cause danger to others, notes one rabbi. The obligation to remove dangers applies both to individuals and to the community, writes another, even if they did not cause the danger themselves.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Prayerful Protest: When Native Americans gather to protest pipelines being laid across their traditional homelands, elders lead public religious ceremonies that feature prayers and songs, which means the laws cited to quell these gatherings might infringe on the protesters’ right to religious freedom, writes Rosalyn R. LaPier in The Conversation. More than 30 states have passed anti-protesting laws in recent years that increase fees and jail time for those convicted, and that concern advocates for First Amendment rights of religious freedom, speech and assembly. “Some Indigenous people go to environmental protests to participate in a communal religious ritual,” states LaPier. [Conversation]

New Address: Writing in Inside Philanthropy, Mike Scutari offers a primer on the saga of Nikole Hannah-Jones, the journalist whose leadership of The New York Times’ 1619 Project caused the name donor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism school to campaign against a plan to hire her for a tenured position. Scutari explains the process by which Hannah-Jones mustered other donors to her defense, including MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation, and how they helped her create a new and bigger opportunity: the founding of a new journalism center at Howard University. While the two scenarios shouldn’t be conflated or equated, Scutari said, they do have something in common: “The fact that private funders played such an important role in both the developments at UNC and at Howard says a lot about how large philanthropy looms at universities these days,” he concludes. [InsidePhilanthropy]

Bad Climate: In a review of How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, a new book by billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, Daniel X. Matz, writing on the PhilanTopic website, praises Gates as an adroit explainer of the world’s biggest problems, from polio to COVID-19 to global warming. It’s too late to stop global warming, according to Gates, but he offers credible reasons to hope that the planet can avoid a climate crisis in 2050 by lowering what Gates calls the “Green Premium” — the cost to consumers and countries of making environmentally sound decisions. “Gates is notably unpolitical here,” Matz notes, “perhaps that is because he knows that some among his audience would sooner throw his book into the fire than align themselves with their cultural foes.” [PhilanTopic]

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Word on the Street

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee will not host a policy conference in 2022, the second consecutive year it has made the decision citing COVID-19 pandemic concerns… Einstein Healthcare Network launched a new program called the Jewish Health Resource Center that combines Jewish-focused initiatives across fields dedicated to serving its patients… Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools’ YOU Lead programwith support from the Azrieli Foundation, has been adapted to advance leadership in day schools… Blue Avocado, an online magazine designed to provide practical, tactical tips and tools to nonprofit leaders, has released the “Practical Guide to How Nonprofits Can Create Equity in Organizations and Community”… Honeycomb has released an online curriculum for local Jewish youth philanthropy programs… Israeli legislators are proposing to raise the retirement age for women in Israel from 62 to 65, according to the draft of the Economic Arrangements bill to be introduced to the Knesset… Moric Bistricer, a Holocaust survivor and founder of Clipper Equity, died at age 101…

Pic of the Day

JCC Association of North America

Participants in the JCC Association of North America’s solidarity seminar in Israel posed for a group photo on Monday on the original site of Kibbutz Beerot Yitzhak, which was damaged during  the 1948 War of Independence and abandoned afterwards.



One of the highest box-office grossing actors ever, his maternal grandmother was Anna Lifschutz, a Jewish immigrant from Minsk, he is best known as the title character in the Indiana Jones film series, Harrison Ford

Former teacher for 27 years in the Los Angeles United School District and president of the San Fernando Valley Council of Na’amat USA, Zita Gluskin… Scottsdale, Arizona resident and retired teacher, Howie K. Kipnes… Clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Michael W. Cohen, MD… Ridgefield, Connecticut resident, Louis Panzer… Lecturer on the federal budget process following 37 years at various federal agencies, Johnny Cahn… Co-host of “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN since 2001 with Michael Wilbon, Anthony Irwin “Tony” Kornheiser… Commentator and author of crime and suspense novels, Andrew Klavan… Manager of regulatory and legislative affairs at PJM Interconnection, Stuart Widom… Country music artist, Victoria Lynn Shaw… Television executive and producer, she was the president of HBO’s network’s entertainment division until 2008, Carolyn Strauss… Film director and screenwriter, Shari Springer Berman… Television writer, David X. Cohen… Chief legal officer at Aledade, Ilona Cohen… Owner of the D.C. area franchises of SafeSplash Swim Schools, Jennifer Rebecca Goodman Lilintahl… Founder of Omanut Collective, Sarah Persitz… Director of development at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County (FL), Yishai Mizrahi… Creator, writer and producer of the TV show “Casual,” Alexander “Zander” Sutton Lehmann… Aspen-based neuro linguistic programming coach, she is also the CEO and founder of entertainment agency Art of Air, Ariana Gradow… Managing parter at Surround Ventures, Jared Kash… Television and film actor, Wyatt Jess Oleff... Principal at venture capital firm Arc Ventures and co-founder of Kohlmann & Co AG, Eric A. Kohlmann

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