Your Daily Phil: Milken school on track to buy AJU’s Familian Campus

Good Friday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on Conservative teens’ choices for gap-year programs after the halting of Nativ and the election of Annie Sandler as the next president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution CommitteeWe feature an opinion piece by Rabbi Daniel A. Weiner about nurturing the value of Jewish peoplehood among other Jewish ideals. Also in this issue: Ellen BraitmanWalter Bingham and Mark Gardner. We’ll start with the impending sale of the American Jewish University’s Familian Campus to the Milken Community School.

For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: New Rosov Consulting study examines ‘texture’ of diverse Jewish families; Assassinated Hamas leader Saleh Al-Arouri was key conduit between Hamas, Iran; Washington Post under fire for repeated anti-Israel bias, systemic sloppiness in Middle East coverage; Lihi Lapid: ‘I expect all women to support all women.’ Print the latest edition here.

More than two years after American Jewish University put its 22-acre Familian campus in Bel Air, Calif., up for sale — and more than six months after a deal with an education company abruptly fell through — the university has all but inked a new deal. The nearby Milken Community School, which serves grades 6-12, agreed to purchase the campus, representatives of the two institutions told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz

The deal serves the needs of Milken’s growing student body and allows AJU to ease some of its financial strain while continuing its robust programming, officials said.

The purchase, which was first reported last week by the Jewish Journal, will add 22 acres to the 6.5 existing acres of the community school, which has recently seen its enrollment grow “substantially,” Sarah Shulkind, Milken’s head of school, told eJP. Over the past three years, the number of students has grown from 670 students to 770 students, a 15% increase. This includes a new sixth grade class that was added during the pandemic. 

Shulkind said that both Milken and AJU had agreed not to discuss the terms of the deal, including the purchase price and the exact timeline for finalizing the agreement, although she and AJU President Jeffrey Herbst both estimated that the tentative agreement would be finalized in the next few months. 

Herbst told eJP that there is still some real estate due diligence to be done on the Milken side as well as some transitional issues that have to be addressed. He doesn’t anticipate that AJU programming will be impacted. Even if AJU needs additional room for events after Milken moves in, “we anticipate being able to rent space across Los Angeles,” the university’s president said. This will also enable AJU to be in more places as the Jewish population density changes, he added. 

Since the campus was put up for sale, community members have expressed concern about the potential erasure of donors who had invested in AJU and had parts of campus dedicated in their names. Shulkind said Milken “intends to honor the funders who made [AJU] happen,” many of whom overlap with Milken’s own supporters.

“This campus was built with Jewish philanthropic dollars,” Shulkind said. “We will do our best to honor those names and their legacy.” 

Shulkind told eJP that she sees the agreement as “a success for Milken and the Jewish community as a whole.” 

“The idea is to be able to serve the community in ways that we haven’t before,” she said. “Right now the agreement is with AJU specifically, but also other organizations that share a purpose and vision for what L.A. looks like in the future.”

Read the full report here.

PROGRAM SEARCH

As Nativ goes on hiatus, Conservative teens lack clear Israel gap-year alternatives

Participants on Nativ’s 2022 gap-year program. Courtesy/Nativ/Facebook

High school seniors affiliated with the Conservative synagogues, schools or camps planning to defer college for a year to participate in Nativ, the movement’s Israel gap-year program, are scrambling for alternatives following the announcement that the program has been put on an indefinite hiatus beginning this fall. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement’s congregational arm — while “committed to educational experiences in Israel,” according to its CEO — has offered little guidance for students searching for a suitable replacement, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Existing issues: Nativ has typically enrolled upwards of 80 teens annually since the program began 43 years ago — and while participants during the Second Intifada came home early, canceling the program is unprecedented. But this year, enrollment plummeted to fewer than 20 students (some briefly left after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack but returned). However, the cancellation does not appear to be related to Israel’s ongoing war with Gaza but to existing financial and recruitment troubles. 

Pipeline problems: Eitan Gutin, former director of lifelong learning at Tifereth Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., and a 1995 participant of Nativ, said the announcement is “sad and the wrong decision for the movement.” “If it were only Nativ it would be one thing. Since the pandemic, programs have been disappearing for our middle schoolers and teens,” he told eJP. “I’m sure there are financial reasons behind it but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating as a parent. Every time the movement cuts a program, it’s one less pathway to building the future leadership of the movement. As someone who cares about the Conservative movement, that concerns me on a macro level.” 

Read the full report here.

NEW ROLES

Annie Sandler tapped as next president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

Annie Sandler (right) stands with Israel President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal, who holds a ‘Hibuki’ doll, which is used to treat trauma in children, at the President’s Residence in November 2023.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Board of Directors unanimously elected Annie Sandler, its current vice president, to serve as the organization’s next president at a meeting last month, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Particularly needed: “I am honored to be trusted to lead this incredible organization during this tumultuous time in the world — a time when it is needed more than ever!” Sandler said in a statement. “I am excited to continue working closely with the JDC’s professional leadership and my board colleagues to further the organization’s exceptional work in creating a Jewish future that is strong and resilient for our children, grandchildren and all who follow in our footsteps.”

Philanthropic bona fides: Sandler serves on the board of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Commission to Combat Antisemitism and was the founder and president of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, as well as having deep ties to the Jewish Federations of North American and her local Jewish community of Tidewater, Va. “We are fortunate to have someone as passionate as Annie to take the role of JDC President. Her love of our global work, her leadership in so many roles over the years, her time in the field — all are truly extraordinary!” JDC CEO Ariel Zwang said in a statement.

PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

Generation gap

Juanmonino/Getty Images

“I learned to love being Jewish amidst the sun-dappled hills of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains at the Reform movement’s Camp Swig. The worship was inspiring and accessible as we prayed in God’s gorgeous outdoor shul to the grooving tunes of late-’70s Jewish folk rock-inflected guitar. But perhaps the most impactful and enduring parts of camp were the educational experiences, immersive and interactive psycho-dramas that recreated key historical moments… In retrospect, it was a benign yet powerful indoctrination, binding Jewish values like tikkun olam (repairing the world), b’tzelem Elohim (sanctity of the individual) and pikuach nefesh (saving a life) to the liberal ideals of the mid-20th century — ideals that secured our place in an increasingly open and accepting America,” writes Rabbi Daniel A. Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Seattle in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Moment for reflection: “Half a century later, as the seeds of social justice continue to take root in successive generations of young Jews and the portfolio of progressive causes tied to timeless texts has only expanded, we find ourselves at a crossroads. The events of Oct. 7 have already proven to be an inflection point that will indelibly mark and change our people; but perhaps the greatest challenge will be their effect on the relationship between American Jews and Israel, and specifically the dramatic disconnect between so many — too many — Jewish young adults and the Jewish state.” 

More to being Jewish: “In many ways, we failed our young people in teaching them too much about the conscience of the prophets and too little about the passion of the priesthood. We rooted the majority of their Jewish identities in the universal call of social justice and put less emphasis on balancing it with a particular pride in and obligation toward Jewish peoplehood. This is a painful admission for me, for it reveals an even deeper challenge.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Takeaways to Leave Behind: In Foreign Policy, Daniel Byman analyzes six conclusions that Israeli officials are — wrongly, in his view — drawing from Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. “[C]onflicts test the adaptability and learning capabilities of institutions: Good security establishments improve after a conflict, while bad ones make the same mistakes again and again… In December, I took part in a trip to Israel — organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies — where we met with a range of security and political officials, all of whom cited lessons from Oct. 7 to explain what Israel should, and should not, do next. Let’s consider six I heard during my visit that seem logical on the surface but do not hold up under close scrutiny. As my assessment of these six supposed lessons suggests, the answer is not a need to radically change course, but rather an unsatisfying ‘do better.’” [FP]

A Dark Timeline: In the Jewish Review of Books, Shai Secunda interviews Israeli American novelist Ruby Namdar about how different trauma responses have shaped the identities of, and relationships between, American and Israeli Jewry. “There were two massive migration waves of Jews out of Eastern European trauma. One went to America, the other to Palestine. And the way these two collectives dealt with their trauma was very different. We see this difference now. It’s fascinating how a collective mind reforms itself, reinvents itself. That’s why I feel it’s such a novelistic moment: a collective self-reinvention in order to dissociate from the trauma.” [JRB]

Funding Gap: Appeals to fund humanitarian aid in regions affected by armed conflict and climate disasters are falling short of meeting current needs, let alone anticipated future ones, reports Fred Harter for The Guardian. “The human cost of the funding gap is laid out in a recent UN report. The number of people receiving food in Afghanistan dropped from 13 million to 3 million between May and November, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) 600,000 malnourished children are not receiving proper treatment. Last year, unpredictable funding brought conflict-ridden Somalia to the brink of famine. Even though aid agencies had been sounding the alarm for more than a year, they only got the funds they needed to prevent a disaster at the last minute. By then, more than 43,000 people had already starved to death. The WFP, meanwhile, has slashed rations for millions of crisis-stricken people in Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, the DRC, Haiti and elsewhere. ‘Across every country we work in, we’re making more and more difficult choices about the programmes we stop or don’t start, about the people we do or don’t serve,’ says Ciarán Donnelly, the senior vice-president of crisis response and recovery at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an agency that helps refugees.” [TheGuardian]

Around the Web

Hersch and Avril Klaff donated $5 million to the Chicago Jewish Community Center’s Camp Chi to improve its facilities. The 600-acre campus in Lake Delton, Wis., will be named the Klaff Family Campus…

Elon Musk is planning to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp later this month during the European Jewish Association’s annual conference in Krakow, Poland…

Ellen Braitman, a journalist and the head of Bloomberg LP’s News Innovation Lab in the Americas, was unanimously elected by the board of directors of the Hebrew Free Loan Society to serve as its next chair. Her term begins in June…

The promotional materials for Anthony Hopkins’ upcoming film “One Life,” about a British man who saved hundreds of Jewish children before the Holocaust, will be reworked after they were criticized for mentioning neither Jews nor the Holocaust…

Walter Bingham, the world’s oldest working journalist and a Kindertransport survivorcelebrated his 100th birthday yesterday…

Israel Bonds sold more than $2.7 billion in bonds during 2023, a record-breaking total in the organization’s 72-year history, more than double its average annual sales. Of the $2.7 billion, more than $2.3 billion came from the United States, roughly half of it from states, local governments and other financial institutions…

Operation Israel, which has been providing supplies, medical equipment and protective gear to Israel, has donated over $7 million worth of equipment to the Israel Defense Forces since Oct. 7…

Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent profiled La Salle University professor Robert Vogel, who is working with Israeli nonprofit Debate for Peace to develop a program to help Israeli Jewish and Arab high school students discuss and process their experiences during the Israel-Hamas war…

In The New York Times, novelist Temim Fruchter wrote about her experiences leaving Orthodox Judaism while remaining deeply connected to Jewish texts, her family and “Orthodox deep cuts”…

Gabe FriedmanJewish Telegraph Agency’s features and global editor, is moving into a new role at JTA parent company 70 Faces Media as director of editorial experiences…

The Forward hired Denver-based investigative reporter Susan Greene to cover the Israel-Hamas war…

The Wexner Foundation, in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundationlaunched the eighth class of its Wexner Field Fellowship yesterday, with participants hailing from across the United States and from a variety of organizations…

Leading Edge also announced the fourth cohort of senior executives leading Jewish nonprofits who are taking parts in its Leading Executives program…

Entertainment industry insiders anticipate controversy at Sunday’s Golden Globe awards over some attendees’ decisions to wear — or not wear — yellow ribbons in solidarity with the hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7…

Mark Gardner, CEO of the British Community Security Trustpenned an opinion piece in The Jewish Chronicle reflecting on the antisemitism facing British Jewry, which he described as concerning but said that it is also “bringing a steely determination to stand up and be counted”…

Hate crimes surged in several large U.S. cities last year, particularly Houston, San Diego and Chicago, which saw increases of 193%, 47% and 43%, respectively. A portion of this jump is tied to antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes following the Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel…

Jeffrey Hobgood pleaded guilty to sending violent threats to the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte last year. He will be sentenced in May…

Turning Point USA fired one of its representatives who wrote online that the “Zionist Jews controlling our planet are all pedophiles”… 

UJA Federation of Greater Toronto filed a lawsuit against a transportation company that was hired to provide buses for a rally in Ottawa last month but failed to do so and didn’t return the money. The federation is accusing the firm of “refusing to provide services to Jews”…

OpenAI, in partnership with former Google CEO Eric Schmidtlaunched a $10 million initiative to support research toward the alignment and safety of artificial intelligence systems, including grants of up to $2 million to academic labs, nonprofits and researchers, as well as $150,000 fellowships for graduate students…

Latter-day Saint Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsrecently donated an undisclosed sum to the Jacksonville, Fla.-based LJD Jewish Family & Community Services to provide some 80 local households with housing assistance…

Sidney M. Wolfe, a physician and consumer advocate who fought to reduce drug prices, died on Monday at 86…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Hannaton Mechina

Yael Leisorek, 18, plays with 4-year-old Adam Hevroni on Kibbutz Hannaton in northern Israel last month. Leisorek is a participant in the pluralistic kibbutz’s pre-army preparatory program, or mechina, whose members have been helping local families with parents who have been drafted into the reserves.

“I am volunteering with an amazing family — two little girls, ages 1 1/2 and 4 1/2, whose father is in the reserves and whose mother is working,” Leisorek said. “The few hours that I can play with one or both of the girls give their mother some precious time that is hard to find normally and which is even more challenging to find in this insane reality of war.”

Birthdays

Annie Liebovitz smiles
Rob Latour/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images

One of the heirs to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, Anthony Pritzker, celebrates his birthday on Sunday… 

FRIDAY: Author of four novels including Mitzvah Man and five collections of short fiction including Minyan: Ten Interwoven StoriesJohn Jacob Clayton… Former member of the Knesset for the Likud party and former speaker of the Knesset, Dan Tichon… Sports journalist, author and former ombudsman for ESPN, Robert Lipsyte… NBA superfan who attends over 100 basketball games nationally each season, James F. Goldstein… Former member of the Knesset for the National Religious Party, Eliyahu Gabai… Former Philadelphia mayor for eight years, and then another 8 years as Pennsylvania’s governor, currently a special counsel at Ballard Spahr, Ed Rendell… Retired attorney from Latham & Watkins, Paul Israel Meyer… San Diego-based attorney, she served as a member of Congress and as chief of staff for California Gov. Gray Davis, Lynn Alice Schenk… Former attorney general of the U.K, now London co-managing partner and chair of the European and Asian litigation practice at Debevoise & Plimpton, Lord Peter Goldsmith… CEO of Legacy Interactive / Legacy Games, Ariella Lehrer, Ph.D…. Founder and principal of D.C.-based Mager & Associates, Mimi Mager… Retired chairman of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeYisrael), Daniel “Danny” Atar… Journalist John F. Solomon… Actress and television personality, Heather Paige Kent Dubrow… Partner of both the law firm Galper & Goldberg PLLC and the PR firm Trident DMG, Joshua P. Galper… Professional poker player, Michael Mizrach… Producer of in-arena promotions and productions at Madison Square Garden, she also runs Alsall Studio, Alexandra Lauren Sall… Tennis player ranked No. 1 in Israel for most of 2022, Yishai Oliel

SATURDAY: Retired EVP and senior counsel of the Trump Organization, George H. Ross… Professor of chemistry (now emeritus) at the University of Chicago since 1957, he is a member of the Board of Governors at Tel Aviv University, Stuart A. Rice… Canadian businessman and philanthropist, Seymour Schulich… Co-founder of private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Henry R. Kravis… Chairman, president and CEO of Phibro Animal Health Corporation, Jack C. Bendheim… Yiddish-language author, journalist, playwright and lyricist, Boris Sandler… Attorney general of Oregon, Ellen Rosenblum… Interim provost and dean at Tennessee State University, he retired as a major in the IDF, Michael Harris… Retired television executive and political commentator, Mark E. Hyman… Consultant, writer, reporter and editor, Jodi Lynn Jacobson… Member of the Ukrainian Parliament and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Oleksandr Feldman… Daniel G. Slatopolsky… Founder of Pure California Beverages, Sarah Beth Rena Conner… Member of the Knesset for the Religious Zionist Party, Michal Miriam Waldiger… Actor, painter and fashion designer, he is the nephew of fashion designer, Ralph Lauren, Greg Lauren… Author of 13 spy fiction novels and four non-fiction books, Alex Berenson… President and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, he is the majority owner of the Phoenix Suns of the NBA and Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA, Mat Ishbia… Founder and CEO at GTTFP Holdings and Jewish dating sites, Harei At and Jedding, Eli Ostreicher… Investigative reporter at WCCO/CBS in Minneapolis, Jonah P. Kaplan… Director of community engagement at CAMERA, Aviva Slomich Rosenschein… Philanthropic advisor at the Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond, Sarah Arenstein Levy… One of the youngest to ever sign a Major League Soccer contract at age 15, he is now a senior associate at Acacia Research, Zachary “Zach” Pfeffer… Value accelerator lead at Goldman Sachs Growth, Anna Phillips… Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Aiden Pink

 SUNDAY: U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Michigan since 1994, he assumed senior status five months ago, Judge Paul D. Borman… Pulitzer Prize-winning sports reporter, columnist and writer, Ira Berkow… Co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jann Wenner… Scottsdale, Ariz. resident, Bruce Robert Dorfman… Retired president of the University of South Florida System, Judy Genshaft… Senior U.S. District Court judge in Miami, Joan A. Lenard… Former Israeli minister of Jerusalem affairs, he also served as chief rabbi of the IDF until 2016, Rafael “Rafi” Peretz… TV news broadcaster, Katie Couric… Former CEO of Glencore, Ivan Glasenberg… Dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Beverly Hills, starting in 2011 he assumed control of his family’s nationwide real estate operations, Dr. Ezra Kest… Documentary filmmaker with a focus on social justice and Jewish history, Roberta Grossman… U.S. senator (R-SD), John Thune… U.S. senator (R-KY), Rand Paul… Managing director and senior relationship manager at Bank of America, Zoya Raynes… Television and film actress, Lauren Cohan… Executive director of Keep Our Republic and author of Paths of the RighteousAri Mittleman… Concord, N.H.-based public affairs consultant, Holly Shulman… Assistant director at Hillel of Stanford University, Jeremy Ragent… Music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Lahav Shani… Drummer and founding member of The Groggers, a pop punk band from Queens, Nechemia “Chemy” Soibelman… Reporter on Haredi and Knesset affairs for Walla NewsYaki Adamker… Author of five books and host of the history podcast “Noble Blood,” Dana Schwartz… National chair of Israel Policy Forum Atid and senior account executive at Vizio, Jonathan Kamel… Baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, the first Israeli player ever drafted by an MLB team, his great-uncle is Haim Saban, Dean Kremer