Your Daily Phil: Mural celebrating L.A. Jews unveiled + Humans of the Holocaust

Good Tuesday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on an offbeat Holocaust remembrance photography exhibition heading to Dachau. Also in this newsletter: Elliot Karp, Rabbi Carrie Vogel and Tony Blinken. We’ll start with the unveiling of a mural highlighting Los Angeles’ Jewish community.

Footprints in the desert; pomegranates and safflowers; a parent and child; Los Angeles County landmarks in silhouette; and a woman lighting Shabbat candles, against a backdrop of various hues of blue. The flames of the candle spell out “L’Dor Va’Dor” in Hebrew letters (“From generation to generation”), to acknowledge the impact of various generations of Jewish Angelenos. These and other images constitute “The Common Thread,” a blue-toned mural designed by Iranian-Jewish muralist and native Angeleno Cloe Hakakian that integrates Jewish tradition, Jewish history and the Jewish present in Los Angeles, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther Kustanowitz from Sunday’s unveiling event.

The wall-sized mural in the heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood is the first in the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations’ LA vs. Hate’s project “Summer of Solidarity,” an initiative that celebrates diversity in the city and comes at a time of rising antisemitism in Los Angeles and the nation. It was commissioned during Jewish American Heritage Month in May, and was unveiled on Sunday at a press conference and block party at the corner of Glenville and Pico, held in partnership with the Los Angeles chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Under a scorching mid-afternoon sun, both Jewish and civic community leaders shared words of encouragement for the community and awe for the mural, which measures 328 inches wide by 189 inches high and is protected against fading and defacement by MuralColors’ Preservation Coatings, all environmentally safe materials designed to remove any tagging or overpainting. 

Hakakian told the crowd that the artwork was “a direct product of the thoughts, feelings and emotions of individuals within the Los Angeles Jewish community…I hope that this mural shows the community that they are not alone and further even to those not in the community I hope that this mural can spark a conversation and inspire a positive change.”

The federation’s president and CEO, Rabbi Noah Farkas, told eJP that the event advanced the federation’s growing partnership with other organizations. “We’ve lived in a world of Jewish competition for a long time, and the ADL and the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles are pioneering a new cooperative stance. This mural and LA vs. Hate is a perfect example of the synergies.”

Read the full story here.

Never forget

Dugo Litner poses for a photograph in the ‘Humans of the Holocaust’ series. (Erez Kaganovitz)

A photography exhibition aimed at educating young people about the Holocaust will open in  Dachau, Germany, next week, a 10-minute drive from the site of the city’s Nazi concentration camp, the creator told eJewishPhilanthropy‘s Judah Ari Gross.

Offbeat remembrance: “Humans of the Holocaust,” which was inspired by the popular photography blog “Humans of New York,” showcases Holocaust survivors living in Israel and, in some cases, their families in often colorful and unexpected ways. In one, Dugo Litner, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, holds a gold balloon emblazoned with a Jewish star and the word “Jude” (Jew). “Dugo told me the only thing that allowed him to survive Auschwitz was his sense of humor,” the creator of the project, Erez Kaganovitz told eJP.

Get them interested: Kaganovitz, who once worked as an Israeli parliamentary aide, said he was inspired to develop his Holocaust survivor project after seeing statistics from the Claims Conference, which found that roughly two-thirds of millennials had not heard of Auschwitz and that half could not name a concentration camp or ghetto. “It made me very angry,” Kaganovitz said. But then he realized that even he, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, had never been particularly interested in the Holocaust. “On Yom HaShoah (Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day) I never turned on the television. If I didn’t care, why should they?”

Going to Germany: Last year, Kaganovitz displayed his exhibition in the embassy of the German state of Bavaria. Through that event, he was connected to a local group, Foundation for International Youth Exchange Bavaria, which agreed to bring his exhibition to Dachau. The photography exhibit will be on display at the Max Mannheimer Study Center in Dachau from June 14 through the end of July. Members of the local Jewish community and Holocaust survivors will attend the opening ceremony. In addition to displaying the photographs, Kaganovitz will lead workshops and other activities for the local community. From August, Kaganovitz will take his exhibit on the road, showing it at “middle, secondary and vocational schools, youth education centers, and various public places,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Worthy Reads

Juking the Stats for Nonprofits: In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, researcher Jennifer Mayo looks into the ways that charities try to improve their scores from external rating groups and the effects it has on donations. “I analyzed data drawn from Charity Navigator’s ratings for roughly 9,000 charities from 2002 to 2019. Charity Navigator awards charities a rating of zero to four stars, with just under half of all organizations earning its highest rating. I found that donors do reward charities for improving their rating, as long as they wind up with one of its two highest ratings… I learned that, relative to that world, the existence of ratings appears to induce charities to change their behavior by just enough to earn themselves a higher rating… However, by reviewing the 990 form that charities must file with the Internal Revenue Service every year that details their expenditures, I’ve found that some charities are a little sneaky… While leadership and culture should be harder to game, I believe it’s possible that charities will see measuring impact as another opportunity to distort their activities toward things that are easier to measure or that will help improve their rating.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

A Barbie Girl in a Jewish World: In The Times of Israel, Cathryn Prince explores the Jewish history of the Barbie doll, ahead of the release of the film inspired by the toy. “Dressed in a zebra-striped swimsuit, the doll debuted at the American Toy Fair on March 9, 1959 — a time when American Jews, facing rampant discrimination, were wrestling with questions about assimilation. In many ways, [Barbie creator Ruth] Handler channeled her own ambivalence into Barbie, for the doll became as much a symbol of all-American, perky whiteness as it did of female empowerment. ‘Ruth Handler is to dolls as Ralph Lifshitz is to Americana clothing and Irving Berlin is to Christmas carols. Whether they were conscious of it or not, they all had ambivalent relationships to the idea of the white picket fence America — but they also helped create the image of the white picket fence America,’ said Emily Tamkin, author of Bad Jews: A History of American Jewish Politics and Identities.” [TOI]

Around the Web

Some 200 people registered for the SRE (safety, respect, equity) Network’s “Building Our Future Together” conference in New York, which is being held today and tomorrow…

Elliot Karp has been named the next chief development officer for the World Union for Progressive Judaism

The Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE) launched its inaugural two-year Applied Research Fellowship with three fellows: Esther Friedman, Talia Hurwich and Tal Vaizman. The fellows will perform research and develop projects to address “real-world problems in Jewish education and communal life”…

The Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta announced it made $323,700 in grant allocations to 20 organizations focused on promoting “gender equality in the Jewish community.” This includes a large grant to Jewish Family & Career Services in Atlanta, as well as smaller one-year “impact grants” to groups in Israel supporting women’s religious, reproductive and educational rights…

Pam Estadt and Ira Lubert donated $25 million to the nonprofit Project HOME to fund a new effort to address the opioid epidemic among people experiencing homelessness…

Rabbi Carrie Vogel was named the next director of undergraduate initiatives at the American Jewish University

An Oklahoma state board approved an online Catholic school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, to become the first state-funded religious charter school in the United States – provided it survives inevitable legal challenges…

The Stead Family Foundation donated $12.5 million to Interfaith America over the next 10 years…

Secretary of State Tony Blinken addressed AIPAC’s Policy Summit in Washington yesterday, telling members of the organization that he was focused on advancing Saudi-Israel normalization ahead of a visit to the kingdom later this week…

Pic of the Day

Omer Kaplan/Nefesh B’Nefesh

Seven women who plan to make aliyah pose for a photograph at Nefesh B’Nefesh’s “Homecoming Barbecue” in Englewood, N.J., yesterday. The event celebrates those who are about to move to Israel. This year’s event was attended by Israeli Immigration and Absorption Minister Ofir Sofer; the office’s director-general, Avichai Kahana; Minister in the Labor Ministry Rabbi Yoav Ben-Tzur; and the co-founder and executive director of Nefesh B’Nefesh, Rabbi Yehoshua Fass.


Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Hudson River Park

Comedian, political critic, musician and author, Sandra Bernhard… 

U.S. District Court Judge since 1994, on senior status since 2005, serving in the Eastern District of New York, Frederic Block… Rabbi emeritus of Beth Abraham Synagogue in Dayton, Ohio, Rabbi Samuel B. Press… Real estate entrepreneur, member of the Pritzker family and executive chairman of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Thomas Pritzker… U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)… Diplomat who has served as Israel’s ambassador to South Sudan and then Egypt, Haim Koren… Four-time Tony Award winner, he is an actor, playwright and screenwriter, Harvey Fierstein… Radio news personality, known as “Lisa G,” Lisa Glasberg… Past chair of the board of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools and President at Micah Philanthropies, Ann Baidack Pava… CEO of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Steve Koonin… Israeli conductor and musician, Nir Brand… Former majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives and now managing director and vice chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company, Eric Cantor… Partner in the strategic communications division of Finsbury Glover Hering (FGS Global), Jonathan Kopp… Best-selling author, journalist and television personality, Anna Benjamin David… Chairman of Israeli fintech The Floor, he is the only child of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Elisha Wiesel… Hedge fund manager and founder of Saba Capital Management, Boaz Weinstein… Producer of 11 network television programs, Jennie Snyder Urman… 2019 Trump impeachment witness, he was director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, Lt. Colonel (retired) Alexander Semyon Vindman… and his twin brother, Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, also a former NSC staffer… Political strategist, Michael L. Goldfarb… Senior reporter at ABC News, Katherine B. Faulders… Director at Finsbury Glover Hering, Anna Epstein… White House staffer, Jordan Finkelstein… Communications manager at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Allie Freedman