Your Daily Phil: Mosaic United to subsidize Israel trips for 1,200 teens

Good Tuesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on yesterday’s interview with Sharon Nazarian for eJewishPhilanthropy’s “Get Your Phil” interview series and a new Super Bowl ad by Robert KraftFoundation to Combat Antisemitism. We also spotlight the nonprofit run by former hostages working to get the remaining hostages in Gaza released, and feature an opinion piece by Howard L. Goldstein about cultivating the next generation of pro-Israel organizational leaders and donors. Also in this newsletter: Joe Roberts, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Walter Bingham and Lily EbertWe’ll start with Mosaic United expanding its program to subsidize Israel trips for teens from outside the United States.

The Israeli government-backed Mosaic United will nearly quadruple the number of teenagers from outside the U.S. it will help bring to Israel this summer, following a pilot program last year, the organization exclusively told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Mosaic United launched its pilot program last year, offering vouchers worth between $3,000 and $6,000 (depending on need) to subsidize extended trips to Israel to some 350 teenagers from 17 countries last summer, according to Alana Ebin, director of Mosaic United’s Teen Travel Pillar. This program is specifically geared toward teens from outside the U.S.; Mosaic United is continuing its existing partnership with RootOne to help subsidize trips for U.S. teens.

The expanded program is meant to provide vouchers to 1,200 teens from around the world.

Last year, Mosaic United partnered with five groups that were organizing Israel trips: BBYO International, Chabad’s Cteen, NCSY Argentina, HaShomer HaTzair and the JCC Association of North America/Maccabi World Union.

The organizations that participated in the pilot have all expressed an interest in continuing this year as well, according to Ebin. But she stressed that Mosaic United is looking for additional partners. The organization is launching a request-for-proposal process now.

Ebin said that the organization understood that after the Oct. 7 attacks and as anti-Zionism and antisemitism are rising, Jews in general and Jewish teens in particular are reconsidering their connection to the Jewish people, and Mosaic United wanted to be a part of that process.

“I think that people are searching for community and connection,” Ebin said. “We would be remiss if we weren’t part of that exploration.”

Read the full report here.


Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation President Sharon Nazarian told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen that Oct. 7 changed her foundation’s grantmaking priorities as it relates to Israel, from education, arts and public policy to more immediate needs, during yesterday’s episode of eJP’s “Get Your Phil” interview series.

Trauma support: “We knew that this was a seismic change crisis in our community. We knew that we had to show up yet again, like so much of the history between Diaspora Jewry and Israel, we had to show up for [Israel],” Nazarian said. “And so for the first time, we gave to two causes that we had never given before — we specifically targeted trauma and mental health and we gave to hospitals. These were areas we had never supported before.”

Struggling with nuance: The hour-long conversation touched on a variety of issues, including the increase of antisemitism on college campuses, specifically Nazarian’s experience piloting a new course at UCLA, “The Globalization of Antisemitism: A Survey of Transnational Trends,” which she began teaching just three days before Hamas attacked Israel. Nazarian called the course a “wake-up call” about students today. “It was very hard for them to hold the idea of the loss of life on the Palestinian civilian side alongside what had happened on Oct. 7. It was very difficult for them to hold Palestinian victimhood and Jewish victimhood together,” she said.

Watch the full interview here.


Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism to air first Super Bowl ad

American politician Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office after she was elected mayor of San Francisco, at San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco, California, circa 1978.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism will air its first Super Bowl ad on Sunday, featuring Clarence B. Jones, a prominent lawyer and civil rights activist who helped Martin Luther King Jr. draft his “I Have a Dream” speech, the organization has announced. “The work Dr. Jones has done over the course of his entire life and career is the embodiment of FCAS’ mission to build bridges and stand up to Jewish hate and all forms of hate,” said Kraft, the New England Patriots owner, in a statement, reports Matthew Kassel for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Building bridges: The 30-second ad is part of the foundation’s “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” campaign, which seeks to raise awareness around rising antisemitism in the U.S. “With this ad, we hope to continue to spread Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of unity and equality at a time in which the country needs it most and our goal is to reach a wide audience of people and inspire all Americans to stand up together, arm in arm, and fight this horrific rising hate,” Kraft added. The average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad this year is $7 million.

Standing together: Jones, for his part, said in a statement that the civil rights movement “would not have occurred without the unwavering and largely unsung efforts of the Jewish people. With hate on the rise, it is as important as ever that all of us stand together and speak out,” he said.

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


The former hostages using data to help Oct. 7 victims held in Gaza

Xinhua/Bilal Jawich via Getty Images

In the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, many organizations in Israel, the U.S. and beyond have come together to advocate for the release of hostages held in Gaza and support their families. But only one — Hostage Aid Worldwide — is made up of former hostages using their experiences and a data-driven approach to advise the loved ones of those still in captivity and the Western governments trying to bring them home, reports Jewish Insider’s Lahav Harkov.

Been there before: The organization’s president is Nizar Zakka, who was held hostage in Iran for four years, and its board includes Alan Gross, who was wrongfully imprisoned in Cuba for five years; Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad; Sam Goodwin, who was held hostage in Syria; and others. Gross explained that because “Hostage Aid Worldwide was founded by former hostages, we have a perspective about this that other people might not have, of great sensitivity for the hostages and hostage families.”

Not beholden: HAW is 95% funded by its board, though it also accepts donations. “We are independent,” Zakka said of the group’s funding. “We have a free voice to speak on behalf of the hostages and we don’t have to report anything to anyone but ourselves.”

A savvy enemy: Zakka called the mass hostage-taking of Oct. 7 “a new phase, a game-changer” in a global and historical context. “Hostage-takers are operating with an increasingly savvy playbook, with an evermore nuanced understanding of the intricacies of the political landscape within the countries negotiating for their citizens’ release,” HAW’s 2023 report states. “These actors take advantage of the tendencies of politicians within these often democratic nations to score political wins (as opposed to evaluating the longer-term consequences of their negotiation conditions and the impact on the growth of hostage-taking).”

Read the full report here.


A road map for supporting Israel and making a difference

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“As an American Jew observing the Israel-Hamas war from afar, it’s easy to feel a sense of powerlessness. But the truth is, you don’t need to be on the battlefield to make a difference. There are so many ways to give to Israel, and there are myriad Jewish and pro-Israel organizations that you can support. The following is my personal road map for supporting Israel — for making a difference,” writes Howard L. Goldstein, national and international board chairman of Israel Bonds, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Challenge your assumptions: “You don’t need to be wealthy to get involved with a Jewish organization, to become a board member or even to sit next to an Israeli prime minister on a dais at a public event. After all, I came from poverty. I also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I wanted to make things happen. If I can accomplish all of that, then anyone can do it. Again, it’s not about the money. It’s about being involved in something and standing for something. The path to leadership all flows from that desire, intent, commitment and passion.”

Get creative: “On the surface, buying an Israel bond doesn’t constitute a philanthropic donation. It’s an investment. But at this time, when so many people want to give to Israel and give charitably, we also need to reach that audience. How do we do it? It took some creative thinking, and it’s paying off more than ever today.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Get a Boost: In the Wall Street Journal, Anne Marie Chaker explores whether, as companies and organizations continue to make the shift to part- or full-time office life, workplace morale and productivity would benefit from a longtime practice popular in Sweden. “There, work life has long revolved around fika, a once- or twice-a-day ritual in which colleagues put away phones, laptops and any shoptalk to commune over coffee, pastries or other snacks. Swedish employees and their managers say the cultural tradition helps drive employee well-being, productivity and innovation by clearing the mind and fostering togetherness… ‘Fika is where we talk life, we talk everything but work itself,’ said Micael Dahlen, professor of well-being, welfare and happiness at the Stockholm School of Economics… There’s some evidence that communal coffee breaks help boost productivity. In a study of call-center workers at Bank of America, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that teams that scheduled 15-minute breaks together were 18% more communicative with one another through the workday than groups with staggered breaks. Annual turnover, likewise, was 12% among teams that held collective coffee breaks versus 40% among other workers. In all, the teamwork fostered via the breaks led to an estimated $15 million in increased annual productivity, says lead researcher Ben Waber.” [WSJ]

Food for Thought: Food preferences are a contributing factor in global nutrition and environmental crises — and shifting those preferences could have a positive impact, write Lawrence Haddad, Gunhild Stordalen and Dan LeClair in an opinion piece for Devex. “Until now, the predominant focus on food consumption shifts has been on supply-side solutions — improving efficiency, enhancing nutritional value, and increasing the accessibility of specific foods. But are we missing the forest for the trees? Without the buy-in of society … there can be no progress toward or incentives for those who produce healthy foods from sustainable food systems. Without this shift in habits, values, and behaviors, we simply will not be able to move consumption toward healthy and sustainable choices fast enough. This is what is known as food culture. Food culture is all around us. It is subtle but it is there. It drives our morning rituals, our lunch routines, our weekend celebrations. It is made up of the prevailing stories around food within a given society. These stories shape our thinking, values, preferences; what is cool, what is important, what is good and not so good; what is worth protecting, and what is worth striving for… The global community of change-makers must now focus on leveraging this food culture to increase demand for healthy and sustainable preferences in an inclusive way, which respects all cultures.” [Devex]

Around the Web

USA Today spotlights Black-Jewish community partnerships across the United States…

The Reform movement unveiled new logos and branding for its institutions, revamping its image following the Union for Reform Judaism’s 150th anniversary last year…

Joe Roberts is stepping down as chair of the left-leaning JSpaceCanada as he reassesses his “political and personal beliefs” in the wake of Oct. 7 and the response to it from left-wing groups. (Read eJP’s interview with Roberts from November here.) Maytal Kowalski will take over the role in an interim capacity…

Harvard sophomore Isaac R. Ohrenstein interviewed Israeli President Isaac Herzog in the Harvard International Review, discussing the war with Hamas, the potential for Israel to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia and the Israel-Diaspora relationship…

A new Israeli government study found that the Mediterranean Sea is getting warmer, more acidic and more polluted than was predicted by the World Climate Organization

Alongside growing calls to defund the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, Israeli officials — behind closed doors — are asking the U.S. and the U.N. to allow the organization to continue operating in the short-term, though they say it will need to be overhauled when the Israel-Hamas war ends…

Chicago Jewish leaders are criticizing the city’s mayor, Brandon Johnson, for his handling of a recent city council cease-fire resolution, which passed after Johnson cast the deciding vote…

The New York Times profiles the Memorial Scrolls Trust, an organization that sends Torah scrolls that survived the Holocaust to Jewish communities around the world. The trust just marked its 60th anniversary…

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) called for New York State to appoint an independent monitor for antisemitism on City University of New York campuses, after one CUNY school was set to host an event on “Globalizing the Intifada.” Torres told Jewish Insider that the since-canceled event represented “an open invitation to violence against Jews across the globe,” adding, “The self-policing of CUNY will no longer suffice”…

Dr. J. Larry Jameson, the interim president of the University of Pennsylvania, denounced recent cartoons created by a university lecturer that invoked the blood libel as “antisemitic” and “reprehensible”…

The Anti-Defamation League criticized a new ad campaign by the Lincoln Project, which compares Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler

Marlene Glickman, a mainstay of the Buffalo, N.Y., Jewish community, died last month at 87…

Pic of the Day

Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.
Adam Lawrence/March of the Living UK

Two 100-year-old Holocaust survivors — Walter Bingham, who came to the United Kingdom as a boy on the Kindertransport, and Lily Ebert MBE, who survived Auschwitz — meet at Ebert’s London home last week.

Bingham was visiting from Israel to speak at a variety of events for March of the Living UK. Last year, Ebert was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her work in Holocaust education.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW

Professor concurrently at Harvard and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Michael Pollan

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