Your Daily Phil: Most U.S. Jews plan to give to war-related causes

Good Monday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on how Jewish nonprofits are preparing for Giving Tuesday, and feature opinion pieces from Rabbi Eve Rudin Kleinman and Phil Jacobs. Also in this newsletter: James SoreneMolugata Tsagai and Eric SalamaWe’ll start with the results of two polls commissioned by the Jewish Federations of North America.

Most American Jews plan to donate money to benefit Israelis affected by the ongoing war in Israel, according to a survey commissioned by the Jewish Federations of North America, which was shared exclusively with eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

The poll found that of the 57% of American Jews who said they “probably will” or “definitely will” give to a cause related to the war, 78% said they would specifically give to organizations supporting Israelis and 12% said they would give to support both Israelis and Palestinians. Most said they would donate more than they did in response to other disasters, according to the survey, which was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group from Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

The pollsters questioned 2,199 Jewish Americans and 1,578 non-Jewish Americans for the survey, parts of which JFNA released earlier this month. When asked which causes would be “most meaningful” to support, most respondents — 62% of Jews and 55% of the general population — said emergency medical services and health care. In addition, 45% of Jewish respondents said providing supplies to Israeli troops; 41% said supporting the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Fund for the Victims of Terror; 34% said providing the basic needs for frontline communities; and 28% said providing trauma relief and psychosocial support.

Last week, JFNA commissioned another poll, this one about the Nov. 14 March for Israel in Washington, D.C., which found that a large majority of the American Jewish respondents — 87% — said they had been aware of the event, nearly twice as many as said that they were aware of pro-Israel rallies in their area (46%). While almost 90% of the Jewish respondents said they had heard about the March for Israel, a far smaller number said that they participated in it, either in-person (11%) or virtually by watching the livestream (10%).

Almost all of the people who said they attended the rally in-person or watched it online (99%) said they did so to “show support for the release of the hostages.” The other main reasons among Jewish respondents were: desire to show the U.S. government that we won’t be silent (84%); support U.S. military aid to Israel (79%); and concerns of rising antisemitism in the U.S. (74%).

Asked how they felt participating in the rally, the most common responses were: passion (47%), empowerment (47%), comfort (45%), enthusiasm (42%) and sympathy (40%). The least common responses were loneliness and hatred, each of which got less than 1%.

“There is an intense desire in the Jewish community to take action, and we’re hearing that both directly from our communities and seeing it in this data highlighting people’s desire to give, their desire to show up for rallies in their hometowns and in Washington, DC, and their desire to advocate on behalf of Israel,” Mimi Kravetz, JFNA’s chief impact and growth officer, said in a statement to eJP. “For a community overwhelmed by rising antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment, it’s gratifying to see how our federations’ actions serve to unify our people, and that feels incredibly important during this fraught moment.”

Read the full report here.

THAT TIME OF YEAR

Why some Jewish nonprofits stick with Giving Tuesday and others have given it up

FANDSrabutan/Getty Images

Created as a socially conscious response to the economic overconsumption of Black Friday (and Cyber Monday), Giving Tuesday was born at the 92nd Street Y in New York in 2012 to nurture “radical generosity” — a day when making purchases takes a back seat and giving to causes that do good for the world comes to the fore. This year, Giving Tuesday solicitations from nonprofits are inundating people’s mailboxes as usual, trying to boost donor levels from the past year, with added concern about how best to support crises in Israel (mostly) and Ukraine (still) along with all the other causes that they raise funds for in less tumultuous times, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Can’t be skipped: “The market is so flooded that it is very hard for any organization to be seen on this day,” Rachel Canar, executive director of Nature Israel: The American Friends of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, told eJP. “I received more than 100 emails on that day alone last year. So it has become something of a nuisance and I can’t say that I love it. But I don’t feel that it can be skipped. We have to be there along with everyone else.”

Wednesday instead: World Jewish Relief USA also decided not to compete with the deluge of Giving Tuesday, and is launching an online appeal named Warming Wednesday, which focuses on Ukraine’s most vulnerable people, including seniors, about to face their second bitterly cold winter since the Russian invasion began in 2022. “By landing the day after, we won’t detract from other organizations appealing for needs in Israel,” Rabbi Dina Brawer, executive director of WJR-USA, told eJP.

Read the full report here.

‘DON’T LET HITLER WIN’

At this inflection point for Jewish identity formation, we must resist defaulting to an old mindset

Student at Irvine Hebrew Day School, Oct. 13, 2023. Irvine Hebrew Day School/Facebook

“One of my fears post-Oct. 7 is that Jewish education is going to return to the mindset of the ’70s and ’80s, one which was based on a scarcity-focused, guilt-ridden and fearful worldview: The Holocaust happened, so you must be Jewish. If you aren’t actively Jewish, you’ll finish what Hitler started. Don’t let Hitler win,” writes Rabbi Eve Rudin Kleinman, director of education, youth and families at Larchmont Temple in Westchester, N.Y., in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Product of the times: “This approach was reactionary to and typical for the time in which we lived. In the Cold War period, ours was a world of diametrically opposed goods and evils… Over the years, however, supplemental Jewish education evolved beyond a simple yes-no proposition. Our demographics changed. Judaism became extremely voluntary. Being engaged in and belonging to the Jewish community in North America meant many more things than just simple synagogue membership and participation. Our approach to engendering Jewish identity is nuanced, because that identity is recognized as a shifting and multifaceted thing as well as part of a ‘broader self concept.’”

An approach for today: “Even while facing the black-and-white, yes-no identity that today’s antisemitism has thrust upon us, some of our learners simply will not buy into the proposition ‘Jews are the victims when it comes to the Oct. 7 attacks, ergo be Jewish because we can’t let Hamas win.’ If we use the old paradigm, the simplistic yes-no and good vs. evil entry point into Jewish identity that was used in previous generations, we will lose young people in the process. What is the alternative?”

Read the full piece here.

MIND THE MESSENGER

Who we choose to speak for us impacts our message

Pastor John Hagee at the March for Israel at the National Mall in Washington on Nov. 14. Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

“[The] marches of my young adulthood felt differently to me than the March for Israel on Nov. 14, which I attended with my students from Baltimore’s Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community High School,” writes former investigative journalist and newspaper editor Phil Jacobs in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

What gives: “For instance, why on Earth was Pastor John Hagee up on that stage? Of course, it had a great deal to do with his organization Christians United For Israel, which sends millions of dollars to the Holy Land and is close to the Netanyahu government. But Hagee is a man who once said that God sent Hitler to carry out the Holocaust. He called Hitler a ‘half-breed Jew.’ Hagee believes the evangelical Christian mantra that Jesus can only ‘return’ if Israel is a secure nation, and that proselytizing to Jews is the core of his mission on this earth — so why was he on the stage?”

One nation, one heart: “Even though I am not a particularly religious person, I do think we missed an opportunity while, gathered together in the hundreds of thousands, we were applauding the likes of media stars and Pastor Hagee. The opportunity to pray together, to recite Tehillim or whatever words of personal prayer individuals might have had, would have been a beautiful, unmistakable signal. It would have been as if we were all at Sinai: no political bases to cover, no questionable guest speakers, just the Jewish people, nearly 300,000 strong in prayer, asking Hashem to save our hostages, protect the IDF, destroy our enemies and end this endless spiral of death…”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

A Bar Too Low: In an opinion piece in Haaretz, Maya Lecker calls out observers focusing on seemingly friendly interactions between Hamas soldiers and Israeli hostages as they are being released, or on the hostages’ accounts of decent treatment by their captors in subsequent interviews. “[M]any pro-Palestinian influencers and social media users – most of them from outside Israel and Palestine – find the nightly hand-overs of hostages to be heartwarming public displays of humanity and morality by Hamas militants. The way they put their arm over nine-year-old Ohad Munder, who was held hostage for 50 days, whose uncle was murdered by their comrades and whose grandfather is still held in Gaza — it’s endearing, right? Maya Regev, who was taken from the Nova rave after Hamas terrorists shot her in the leg, blankly smiles at the gunmen as she is put into a Red Cross vehicle — that’s described as a childish crush. The gunman says ‘Bye Maya,’ and she replies, ‘Shukran.’ The commenters are in awe. It’s so moving, isn’t it? So much of the conversation about the October 7 Hamas massacre and subsequent Israeli relentless bombing of the Gaza Strip focuses on ‘context.’ And context is important. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not begin on October 7, that’s true… But if context is not just an empty word meant to strip Palestinians of all agency, we must admit that applauding Hamas gunmen for giving high-fives to their captives on camera, after killing their family members — in some cases in front of their eyes — sets a very low bar for humanity.” [Haaretz]

We’ve Lost That Giving Feeling: The Los Angeles Times’ editorial board calls on Americans to get back the tradition of giving to charity. “While philanthropy among wealthy people has strengthened, with overall dollar donations at record highs, the percentage of Americans who give has fallen precipitously this century. The numbers are particularly low among young adults, says Una Osili, an expert on philanthropy at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The percentage of donors naturally fell off during the Great Recession, she said… It’s not all bad news. Despite the long decline, Americans are the most generous people in the world, according to the Philanthropy Roundtable, giving more per capita than people in any other country… If we want good works to survive, we’ll need to change some of our own habits — starting with giving before the seasonal shopping begins in earnest. One way to do that is to make it part of the Thanksgiving tradition… Perhaps next Thanksgiving, a box for cash donations could accompany the appetizers so that older people can begin modeling charity in a visible way to even the very youngest members of their family.” [LATimes]

Around the Web

Fifty-nine hostages – 40 Israelis and 19 foreign nationals — have been released from Hamas captivity since Friday, with at least another 10 slated to be freed later today as part of an agreement between Israel and Hamas. The deal stipulates that for every one Israeli hostage released, three Palestinian prisoners be set free, and requires both sides to abide by a temporary cessation of hostilities, as well as increased humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip… 

Elma Avraham, 84, who was released from Hamas captivity yesterday, is in serious condition at Beersheva’s Soroka Medical Center after being denied her medication during her more than seven weeks in captivity…

President Joe Biden spoke to the family of Abigail Idan, 4, an Israeli-American dual national whose mother and father were murdered in front of her before she was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Idan was released yesterday as part of the ongoing hostage release deal…

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan signaled that the Red Cross will soon be allowed to visit the remaining hostages in Hamas captivity…

Elon Musk visited Kfar Aza, one of the Israeli communities close to the Gaza border that was devastated in the Oct . 7 attacks, as part of a visit to the country, in which he is meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog

James Sorene, the uncle of a survivor of the Oct. 7 massacre at the Nova music festival and cousin of a victim, has pledged to run at least six miles every day to raise money for the Magen David Adom medical service until all of the hostages are released by Hamas. “I might be running for a very long time,” he told the U.K.’s Jewish News

Dani Dayan, chairman of Yad Vashemwants to expand the institution’s purview to include combating modern antisemitism…

Jewish groups have asked for clarification after Pope Francis referred to the Israel-Hamas war as “terrorism,” which Noemi Di Segni, the president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Italy, said sounded like he was equating Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre with “those who are defending themselves and defending an entire country”…

Eric Salama resigned as chairman of Comic Relief in protest of a statement signed by the group that accused Israel of intentionally bombing Palestinian civilians, which Salama said he thought “was profoundly wrong and which I could not live with”…

The Associated Press profiled the concerns of European Jews amid rising antisemitism on the continent in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks…

The British government has pledged $8.85 million to charities combating antisemitism in the United Kingdom…

Pro-Palestinian protesters set off smoke bombs, spilled red paint and put fake-blood-covered effigies of babies outside the Los Angeles home of AIPAC President Michael Tuchin on Thanksgiving Day…

On the other side of the country, a group of pro-Palestinian protesters vandalized a New York City Library building named after the philanthropist Stephen A. Schwarzman

Three students of Palestinian descent were shot in Burlington, Vt., on Saturday in what police suspect may have been a hate crime. A suspect, Jason Eaton, has been arrested…

The Department of Education opened a probe into accusations of antisemitism against Columbia University earlier this month, some four years after the complaint in question was filed…

The Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford, Conn., added four new members to its board of trustees: Jill Dulitsky, Joshua R. Feldman, Bradley Hoffman and Jerry Rosenstock

Israeli Interior Minister Moshe Arbel granted permanent residency to an Eritrean national, Molugata Tsagai, in appreciation for his saving the life of an Israeli military officer who was shot on Oct. 7…

Warren Buffett donated stock valued at $866.4 million to his family foundation and those set up by his three children last week. Buffett also announced that when he died the bulk of his fortune would go to a charitable trust, which will be run by his children…

The Israeli Finance Ministry has approved an additional $17 million in funding for public diplomacy efforts, or hasbara, in light of the ongoing war against Hamas…

New York City’s Altneu Synagogue launched a new matchmaking initiative to “bring in more light and more love and to bring people joy” in response to the Oct. 7 attacks, according to Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, who founded the synagogue with her husband, Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt

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.
Photo by Risztian Elek/SOPA Images/Lightrocket via Getty Images

Protesters holding banners, Israeli flags and placards march through central London yesterday as part of a march against antisemitism. An estimated 100,000 people took part in the demonstration amid rising antisemitism in the United Kingdom and across the world since the Oct. 7 attacks.

Birthdays

Annie Liebovitz smiles
Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

Founding partner of TPG Capital (formerly Texas Pacific Group) and its Asian affiliate, Newbridge Capital, he is a co-majority owner of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, David Bonderman

Attorney, insurance executive and real estate investor, Brian J. Strum… Literary journalist, literary critic and author of six books, Ronald Rosenbaum… Principal at ESL Catalyst, Lawrence Greenberg… Economist and university professor at Northwestern University, Charles Frederick Manski… Treasurer of JCC MetroWest in West Orange, N.J., and director-at-large of the JCC Association of North America, Joyce Goldstein… Former collegiate (Harvard) and professional (Maccabi Tel Aviv) basketball player, he then practiced corporate law at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in NYC, Louis Grant Silver… Founder, chairman, and CEO of Starwood Capital Group, Barry Stuart Sternlicht… CEO of website and blog Time4Coffee, she was previously a television journalist like her father, Ted Koppel, Andrea Koppel… Mayor of Englewood, N.J., and an immigration attorney, Michael Jay Wildes… Film director, producer, writer, dancer, author and choreographer, Adam Michael Shankman… Executive chairman of Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada’s oldest corporation (chartered in 1670) and owner of Saks, Richard Alan Baker… Film and television actor, known for his 95 episodes as Michael Vaughn on ABC’s “Alias,” Michael S. Vartan… 1996 graduate of the University of Maryland Dental School, he worked for the U.S. Navy for three years and now practices in Stevenson, Md., Joshua P. Weintraub, DDS… Co-host of seasons two through nine of “Dancing with the Stars” and then a correspondent for “Entertainment Tonight,” Samantha Harris Shapiro… Former NFL player who appeared in 147 games over ten seasons for the 49ers, Lions and Cowboys, Kyle Kosier… Israeli model and beauty pageant winner, she represented Israel in the 2005 Miss Universe pageant, Elena Ralph… Executive director for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, Joel Braunold… Multilingual singer, songwriter and actress, she is the national anthem singer for the NHL’s New York Islanders, Nicole Raviv… DJ Levy… Jewish educator and Los Angeles community activist, Linda Fife…