Your Daily Phil: Musk threatens to sue ADL + Philanthropic social media app roars to life

Good Tuesday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we speak with the founder of Roar Social, which seeks to combine social media with philanthropic activism, and feature an opinion piece from Aaron Greenberg about Jewish day camps. Also in this newsletter: Taylor Swift, John Stemen and Ihor Kolomoisky. We’ll start with Elon Musk threatening to sue the Anti-Defamation League.

Elon Musk is threatening to sue the Anti-Defamation League for defamation, saying the organization is “trying to kill” his social media platform, X, previously known as Twitter, by accusing it and him of antisemitism, which he said caused a major drop in advertising revenues, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

In a series of tweets, Musk said the ADL applied pressure on companies to not advertise on the social media platform. “Our US advertising revenue is still down 60%, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL (that’s what advertisers tell us), so they almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter!” Musk wrote in a post. Separately, he said the ADL was responsible for $22 billion in damages — half of what the company was worth when he purchased it.

“To clear our platform’s name on the matter of anti-Semitism [sic], it looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League … oh the irony!” Musk said, adding that while he’s “pro free speech,” he’s against antisemitism “of any kind.”

In response to Musk’s threats, the ADL told eJP: “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on legal threats.”

However, a spokesperson for the organization added that a recent campaign on X by “antisemites, white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other trolls” to “#BanTheADL” followed the organization’s participation in last month’s 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, as well as a meeting between ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt and X’s CEO, Linda Yaccarino, last week, both of which the organization said must have “upset these hateful groups.”

“Such insidious efforts don’t daunt us,” the ADL said. “Instead, they drive us to be unflinching in our commitment to fight hate in all its forms and ensure the safety of Jewish communities and other marginalized groups.”

The organization has not publicly accused Musk of being an antisemite; it has criticized him personally for permitting Ye back onto the site after the rapper, previously known as Kanye West, was banned for posting explicitly antisemitic content. In November, the organization called for advertisers to “pause Twitter spending” because of a significant increase in the amount of antisemitic and racist content on the platform since Musk took control of the company last year.

X is already suing another hate speech watchdog, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which it also accuses of hurting its ad revenue by documenting a rise in bigoted content on the platform.

Read the full story here.

Giving the Lion’s Share

Robert Weiss, CEO of Roar Social. (Courtesy)

When Robert Weiss was growing up in Scarsdale, N.Y., he was obsessed with technology and computer coding, and was determined to someday use tech as a tool to tap into the altruism that he believes is “hardwired into humanity.” Today, the former journalist and tech entrepreneur is the founder and CEO of Roar Social, a recently launched attempt to cultivate philanthropic activism in the next generation through content creation and sharing, gamification and fun, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Hacking your brain: On Roar Social, the “likes” that users’ content receives turns into “gives,” a process Roar Social calls “gamifying giving” — embedding a reward system that provides the dopamine boost from knowing that content is resonating with peers and beyond, as well as a philanthropic high as content earns visibility — and dollars — for the causes they support most. And it’s not just for TikTok stars or celebrities; any user can use their social capital and authenticity to make a positive impact on the world through philanthropy.

Internet for good: “I think that social media has not lived up to the promise of what social media can be,” he said. “I think you can build a very successful for-profit business and do the right thing and make a difference all at the same time. Legacy social media companies have embraced profits solely at the expense and peril of our society. I was not thinking about launching another social media network, but wanting to use technology to make a difference and to democratize philanthropy…Social media became the vessel whereby I get to deliver this tool to hopefully democratize philanthropy,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Don’t blame me

‘Look What You Made Me Do’ — Change my bat mitzvah date

Taylor Swift performs onstage during the her Eras Tour at Foro Sol in Mexico City on August 24, 2023. (Hector Vivas/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

Eleven-year-old Orlie Solzman was at Jewish overnight camp when Taylor Swift made a decision that would change her life. The pop star announced in August that she plans to add four additional North American stops to her already massive Eras Tour, including three shows in Orlie’s hometown of Indianapolis. This would be welcome news for most middle school girls to receive in a letter from home. Except Swift’s Indianapolis shows — Nov. 1-3, 2024 — fell on Orlie’s bat mitzvah weekend. “As soon as we heard the dates, my husband’s first reaction was, ‘We’re going to have to change her bat mitzvah,’” Orlie’s mother, Andrea Solzman, told Gabby Deutch for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Eras Tour-ah: Swift’s effect on the local economy — and psyche — of each city she visits is indisputable. (Illinois’ governor has said Swift helped the state break tourism revenue records.) The downstream impacts of Swift’s tour on the Jewish community and Jewish events are similarly stark. Families living in the cities she will visit next fall must decide whether to move lifecycle events including bar mitzvahs and weddings. Rabbis are considering how to incorporate Swift into their teachings, and many are cheekily planning to invite her to synagogue events such as Shabbat dinners or Sukkot gatherings.

Tough decisions: In Jacksonville, Fla., a rabbi reported that her Torah study class emptied out the weekend Swift performed in Tampa, the only Florida location. One woman confided that she nearly skipped her best friend’s wedding, where she signed the ketubah, to see Swift. Dalilah Bernier, a Jewish professional in Milwaukee, joined the frenzied masses trying to buy tickets for Swift’s Chicago shows but struck out. So she agreed to staff Hillel Milwaukee’s Birthright Israel trip in June; it would be her last assignment before starting a new job. But then, through a stroke of luck, she was able to land two face-value tickets to see Swift in Chicago. Bye-bye, Birthright.

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

not just sleepaway

Jewish day camps work. Are they in your investment portfolio?

Camp director Sara Sideman speaks from a bimah, a raised platform, at JCC Camps in Medford, N.J., in the summer of 2023. (Courtesy)

“Another camp summer has just come to a close, offering everyone a chance to reflect on the many successes that we had and to begin thinking ahead to 2024, writes Aaron Greenberg, CEO of Jewish Day Camp Network,” in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy

Not just money makers: “Using day camps to engage with Jewish families is an effective short- and long-term strategy for Jewish communities. For decades, Jewish day camps have generated millions in revenue, which often helped support the budgets of their parent agencies… But what some may not have realized is that taking revenues out while not prioritizing investment into talent, program and facility was limiting the potential to accomplish even more. Fortunately, we are seeing this pattern shift and that is purely because people are coming to the realization that day camps work as a robust product line in their own right.”

Give more, get more: “Foundations and donors have taken notice and are rapidly coming on board. Jewish day camps have found a partner for these capital investments in a number of places, including for the past three years, JCamp 180, part of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which has allocated over $1.75 million to Jewish day camp capital improvements for 98 projects… The formula is relatively simple and people are catching on — the more you invest in these core and essential programs, the greater the returns appear… If it were only about the money then it’s good, but because it is about building community — it is spectacular.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

The Bat Mitzvah Dress She Never Had: In The New Yorker, Emma Allen interviews Amanda Stern, the author behind the novel-turned-Netflix-film, You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, about her own trials and tribulations around the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony. “The 2005 young-adult novel ‘You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah,’ by Fiona Rosenbloom, a pen name of Amanda Stern, recounts the falling-out of two best friends, Stacy Friedman and Lydia Katz, over an unworthy boy, and Stacy’s quest to perform three mitzvahs before her bat mitzvah in order to make things right. It was updated and adapted (more texting, wokeness, lip filler) into a new Adam Sandler movie featuring his two daughters. The other day, Stern stopped by Bloomingdale’s to shop for the perfect bat-mitzvah dress for the bat mitzvah she never had… ‘I’m Generation X,’ she said. ‘When I was growing up, the bat mitzvahs didn’t have themes. The theme for the bat mitzvah was bat mitzvah. The biggest thing was what we were going to wear.’” [NewYorker]

Around the Web

Over 120 Holocaust researchers and scholars have come to the defense of Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan, whom Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kisch is reportedly looking to remove from his position and replace with a Likud party ally. The U.S. State Department has also indicated support for Dayan, with its special envoy for Holocaust issues, Ambassador Ellen Germain, and its special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, stressing the need for the institution’s “independence”…

Singer Ishay Ribo became the first Israeli to headline a concert at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night, performing before an estimated 15,000 people at the New York City venue…

The New York Times is catching flak for an opinion piece about how Yiddish is having a “moment,” which claimed that Hebrew is seen by “some” as representing “far-right Israeli militarism.” In addition to perturbing the State of Israel, which called the article “fakakta,” some Yiddish speakers have also criticized the piece for ignoring the role of Haredi Jews in the language’s resurgence…

Club Z, a youth group for Zionist teenagers, hired Batsheva Frankel as director of education…

John Stemen, the former director of security at Hillel International and an NCIS investigator, was hired as CEO of the Zeta Beta Tau Foundation, which supports the eponymous Jewish fraternity…

The Plaza Jewish Community Chapel became the first funeral chapel in New York City to receive credentials from Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Elders (SAGE), proving its ability to “provide services to LGBTQ+ older adults and their families”…

A massive brawl broke out in south Tel Aviv over the weekend between supporters and opponents of the Eritrean regime during an event organized by the Eritrean Embassy, sending dozens of people to the hospital. HIAS Israel condemned the violence and criticized Israel for its policies toward asylum seekers, as well as the police for permitting the event to go on despite warnings that it could lead to riots…

The famed Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo reopened last week following a major restoration of the more than 1,200-year-old building. The opening ceremony was attended by top Egyptian officials, including the country’s prime minister, but not by any local Jews (not that many remain in the country following a mass exodus after Israel’s founding)…

Liz Offen was promoted to national director of strategic partnerships for Yachad, the Orthodox Union’s program that works with people with disabilities and their families…

The American Jewish Committee is calling for St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery in Philadelphia to remove a monument dedicated to Ukrainian Nazi collaborators, saying that the organization “trust[s] our Ukrainian friends and colleagues recognize that this cannot remain”…

The Holocaust Survivor Foundation USA hailed an announcement by the auction house Christie’s that it would not hold a second auction of jewelry from the estate of Heidi Horten, whose fortune partially came from her husband, Helmut, seizing businesses that Jews were forced to relinquish…

Ihor Kolomoisky, a Jewish-Ukrainian businessman and major funder of Chabad and other Jewish initiatives in Ukraine, was arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering in Ukraine…

Investor and philanthropist David Och is deeply mired in a bitter fight with the company he founded and lost, Sculptor Capital Management, accusing it of poor management, while the firm is accusing him of sabotaging its efforts to enrich himself at the expense of public shareholders…

Nearly 21,000 Israelis have applied for Portuguese citizenship as of last year under a 2015 law that offers it to the descendants of Jews expelled from the country during the Inquisition…

Marc Becker, a top Hollywood marketing executive, died last week at 37…

David Rowland, an attorney who helped recover hundreds of artwork looted by the Nazis from Jews, died last month at 67…

Mark Lehman, the former general counsel, executive vice president and a director of the Bear Stearns investment bank and a fundraiser for the American Jewish Committee and the United Jewish Appeal, died last Sunday at 72…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Western Wall Heritage Foundation

Over 30,000 people attend a “Selichot” service at the Western Wall last Thursday night. The Selichot service is a litany of penitential and supplicant prayers that are said each night ahead of the High Holidays (for the entire month before Rosh Hashanah for most Sephardi Jews and for several days before for most Ashkenazi Jews).


Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Author, educator, and activist, Jonathan Kozol

Member of Knesset for 25 years and a law professor at Reichman University in Herzliya, Amnon Rubinstein… Front end web developer, Catherine Nelson… Rabbi emeritus of Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, N.J., and Rosh Yeshiva of the Torah Academy of Bergen County, Rabbi Yosef Adler… Judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, JoAnne Fishman Kloppenburg… COO of The New York Public Library, she has been married to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) since 1980, Iris Weinshall… Principal at Watershed Associates, Stuart Shlossman… Heidi Beth Massey… New York-based real estate developer, Jacob Frydman… Chief judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, for the Southern District of Florida, Laurel Myerson Isicoff… Russian investigative journalist, Yevgenia Albats… Member of the Knesset until five weeks ago, she is the first woman in the IDF promoted to major general (the IDF’s second highest rank), Orna Barbivai… Canadian lawyer and investor, he is a past chairman of Cirque du Soleil, Mitch Garber… Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and a senior editor at Reason magazine, Jacob Z. Sullum… Entrepreneur and investor, he is the chairman of education technology platform Mentored, Eric Aroesty… Supreme Court and USDOJ editor for USA Today, Holly Rosenkrantz… Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Ari Devon Sandel… Member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Yulia Malinovsky… Staffing analyst at Apex Global Solutions, Jeremy C. Frankel… Voice actor for English versions of anime, animation and video games, Maxwell Braden Mittelman… Director in the D.C. office of Baron Public Affairs LLC, Jeremy Furchtgott… Anthony (Tony) Klor… Shoshanna Liebman… National director of Israel Policy Forum’s Atid young professionals network, Shanie Reichman