Your Daily Phil: Nearly half of U.K. Jews avoid wearing Jewish symbols + More on the Israel ‘distancing’ debate
Good Thursday morning!
Nearly half of Jews in the United Kingdom avoid wearing Jewish symbols in public, up from 37% in 2016. And nearly a quarter of British people overall believe “Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews.”
Those figures come from a pair of just-released annual surveys by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), the U.K.’s leading watchdog against antisemitism. The studies, which were conducted last year by YouGov and King’s College London, surveyed the U.K.’s Jews and overall population, respectively. The surveys polled, respectively, 1,678 British Jews and 1,790 British people overall, and have a margin of error of roughly 3%.
The general U.K. survey presented 12 antisemitic statements — six involving classic antisemitic stereotypes and six concerning Israel —and asked respondents how many they agreed with. The numbers were virtually the same as in last year’s survey: 55% of respondents agreed with none of the statements, 25% agreed with one or two, and 11% agreed with four or more.
The classic stereotype that elicited the highest level of agreement — 11% of respondents — was “Jewish people chase money more than other people do.” The Israel stereotypes garnered higher levels of agreement. Some 24% of respondents endorsed equating Israel and the Nazis, while 15% said “Israel can get away with anything because its supporters control the media” and 14% said “Israel and its supporters are a bad influence on our democracy.” And 12% said they aren’t comfortable “spending time with people who openly support Israel.”
The survey of Jews found that a record 46% “try not to show visible signs of my Judaism when I go out.” In addition, 38% of Jews said they’d considered leaving the U.K. in the past two years due to antisemitism, down from 45% last year.
Of those who considered leaving, 39% cited the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza as one of their top two reasons. In addition, 79% of Jewish respondents said anti-Israel demonstrations during the conflict led them “to feel intimidated as a Jew,” and 87% said “media bias against Israel fuels persecution of Jews in Britain.” In addition, although the Labour Party is no longer led by Jeremy Corbyn, a harsh critic of Israel, 81% of British Jews still think the party is too tolerant of antisemitism — by far the highest figure for any political party.
“Britain cannot be content when almost half of a long-established minority community avoids disclosing identifying signs in public, or when a broad majority considers one of the two major political parties to be too tolerant of racism,” CAA CEO Gideon Falter said in a statement.
The survey of Jews was conducted partly through survey links sent via Jewish organizations, so the study said “it is reasonable to assume that British Jews who are not involved in the Jewish community might be under-represented, though the survey does include significant numbers of such respondents.”
New podcast hopes to remove stigma from Jewish infertility
For decades, Jews across the United States have fixated on Jewish population numbers, closely tracking marriage and fertility rates. But for a segment of Jews, “the journey to create those families can be fraught,” says Elana Frank, founder and CEO of The Jewish Fertility Foundation. The foundation has two goals: to guide Jews experiencing infertility through the often tortuous process on the road to having a child, and to raise awareness of infertility in the Jewish community, eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz reports.
The stats: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12% of women ages 15-44 in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. The rate is higher among Jewish women, JFF claims, as many may place a greater focus on their education or career, marry later or face genetic issues.
Destigmatizing infertility: “Because family is so central to Jewish life, many women (and men) experience tremendous stress and pressure when the path to parenthood is not so simple,” Frank told eJP. “Infertility remains taboo, something that, in many communities, is not talked about or openly acknowledged. When people dealing with infertility experience the Jewish community as steeped in pressure and cloaked in shame, the community can become something to avoid, a point of stress and anxiety, and not a refuge or place for connection and support.”
Broadcasting fertility journeys: Now, JFF is doubling down on raising awareness of infertility in the Jewish community, launching “Be Fruitful & Multiplying,” a podcast that aims to broaden access to stories about fertility in the Jewish community and remove the stigma surrounding it. The podcast features doctors, attorneys, rabbis, therapists and professionals in the field, as well as people around the world who are on their own fertility journeys. The first episode featured actress and comedian Rain Pryor, the daughter of comedian Richard Pryor, discussing her struggles with infertility and how women, particularly Black women, are often overlooked in fertility healthcare.
SYMPTOM OF INDIFFERENCE
Which American Jews are most distant from Israel?
“Surveys asking American Jews how they relate to the Jewish state have led commentators to draw starkly different conclusions about the meaning of responses — and their longer-term implications,” writes Jack Wertheimer, professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
The ‘distancing’ debate: “In the ‘distancing’ debate, as it sometimes is called, some observers see worrisome evidence of a drift away from Israel. Others see no such movement and claim that when the chips are down, American Jews will rally in support of Israel as they have done over the past 73 years. And then there are those who celebrate and magnify evidence of alienation or indifference because they would like American Jews to achieve independence from what they regard as an unhealthy identification with the Jewish state and Zionism.”
Surveys say: “These debates have been fueled by a considerable body of evidence from national and local surveys pointing to declining feelings of connection to Israel among significant populations of American Jews. For example, the two national studies conducted by the Pew Research Center found that on the question of how emotionally attached Jews feel to Israel, those who answered ‘very’ or ‘somewhat,’ declined from 69% in 2013 to 58% in 2020, notwithstanding the slight jump in the number who ever visited Israel, from 43% in 2013 to 46% by 2020.”
Most attached and least attached: “But while political identity is important, it is not the primary driver of distancing among average American Jews. Simply stated, American Jews who have the most distant or tenuous connection to Israel also are the least involved in all aspects of Jewish life. No matter how you cut it, those Jews who are more attached to Israel are also more engaged with being Jewish. The comparisons between the most attached and least attached tell the same story, time and time again.”
Confronting racism in Jewish spaces: When camp isn’t a bubble
“People who know day camp know better than anyone else that camp is not actually a bubble. Every day, campers and staff carry invisible backpacks filled with knowledge, experiences and feelings from the world outside,” write Jared Jackson and Jenni Zeftel, respectively, founder and executive director of Jews in ALL Hues and director of day camp and strategic programs at Foundation for Jewish Camp, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Racism is real: “That’s why Jewish day camp professionals were some of the first in the field to recognize that racism is real and present in Jewish settings and doesn’t just vanish when people enter our gate. That it weakens Jewish impact, whether it’s talked about or not. And that without exercising muscles to confront it regularly, our ability to deliver on our organizational missions and to truly live our stated values will be severely hindered.”
Aligned values: “In 2019, with generous funding from UJA-Federation of New York, Foundation for Jewish Camp set out on a partnership with Jews in ALL Hues, an education and advocacy organization that supports Jews of Color and multi-heritage Jews, to bring new tools and lenses to six New York-area day camps eager to confront racism in their communities… What we’ve learned is that organizational values matter, but they must also be aligned with the personal values of organizational leadership. The sets of values don’t have to be the same, but they have to be explored alongside one another for this work to be meaningful.”
Sanctions Sinking Russian Finance: Western nations’ sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine could succeed in crippling the country’s economy, Elliot Smith writes at CNBC. The G-7 (Group of Seven) major economies have imposed unprecedented punitive sanctions against the Central Bank of Russia along with widespread measures by the West against the country’s oligarchs and officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Swedish economist and former Atlantic Council senior fellow Anders Åslund tweeted on Wednesday that the western sanctions effectively ‘took down Russian finances in one day…The situation is likely to become worse than in 1998 because now there is no positive end. All Russia’s capital markets appear to be wiped out & they are unlikely to return with anything less than profound reforms.’” [CNBC]
Helping Humans: Brandon Stanton, the creator of popular street photography and interview publication Humans of New York, has been using his fame to uplift people through storytelling, Lisa Miller writes in New York magazine. With nearly 30 million followers on Facebook and Instagram combined, his HONY stories now often include an ask for readers to help the subjects of his work: “Through GoFundMe campaigns attached to certain posts, Stanton has raised nearly $8 million over the past 18 months for, among others, a retired burlesque dancer ($2.7 million), the immigrant owners of an organic bakery with a chronically ill child ($1.2 million), a man blinded by a screwdriver in a subway attack ($677,000), and a woman undergoing breast-cancer treatment who was behind on her rent ($498,000).” [NYMag]
Word on the Street
The building in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, where the local Hillel operated for almost 25 years was destroyed by Russian troops on Wednesday. No Hillel students or employees were injured in a day that saw more than 20 Kharkiv residents killed and more than 100 injured…
Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American who has previously assisted Syrian and Afghan refugees, has teamed up with the Joint Distribution Committee to evacuate Ukrainian children via Romania. “There is a JDC team of 12 people on the ground. I’ve been asked to bring 400 people in total, 200 children and the rest are teachers and relatives,” Kahana told Britain’s Jewish News…
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is providing $1 million in emergency grants to longtime foundation partners who are on the front lines assisting refugees from Ukraine…
U.K.-based Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman’s and Petr Aven’s shares in LetterOne, an international investment business, have been frozen, after they were hit with E.U. sanctions. Both are co-founders and trustees of the Genesis Philanthropy Group…
Park East Synagogue in Manhattan posted an announcement on the Yeshiva University rabbinic jobs site for a successor for its rabbi, Arthur Schneier, 91…
In a report issued on Wednesday, Israel’s Justice Ministry said “[e]gregious irregularities were found in the administration of the Jewish National Fund between 2014 and 2017”…
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany allocated $720 million in funds to more than 300 social-welfare organizations to support home care and supportive services for frail and vulnerable Holocaust survivors. This allocation includes $47 million in support for such agencies in Ukraine…
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded more than $483 million in new grant commitments during the 2021 fiscal year, the largest single year of grantmaking in the foundation’s 91-year history…
Craig Newmark Philanthropies announced a $2.95 million grant to the Bob Woodruff Foundation to help strengthen its Got Your 6 Network of nonprofit organizations that provide services to veterans…
The SocialGood App, which gives users cryptocurrency rewards for shopping, has raised $14.2 million in Series A funding from a venture capital firm…
Pic of the Day
A group of 140 children and accompanying emissaries from Chabad’s Alumim orphanage in Zhitomir, Ukraine, crossed successfully into Romania on Tuesday night.
Australian property developer, colloquially known as “High-Rise Harry,” builder of more than 75,000 residential units, Harry Triguboff …
Former justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, Dalia Dorner… Professor emeritus at Princeton, author of 27 books and the editor emeritus of Dissent magazine, Michael Laban Walzer… Researcher in Yiddish language at Sweden’s Lund University’s Centre for Languages and Literature, Henrik Lewis-Guttermann… Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, Ron Chernow… President of CBS News until last year, Susan Zirinsky… Retired chief investment officer of Neuberger Berman, past president of AIPAC, Michael Kassen… Fashion designer and founder of an eponymous publicly traded company, Steve Madden… NPR personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show “This American Life,” Ira Glass… Former director of policy for New York State, David Yassky… Former MLB pitcher, then a pitching coach, his 557 appearances rank second in career games pitched by a Jewish pitcher, Scott David Radinsky… Co-founder and co-president of Clarity Capital and co-founder and trustee of the Natan Fund, David Steinhardt… SVP and general counsel at Eli Lilly and Company, Anat Hakim… Founder of Bunk1 and a co-owner of the Miami Marlins, Ari Jack Ackerman… Assistant professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine focused on autism-related genetics, Brett S. Abrahams… Israeli screenwriter, Efrat Abramov… British rabbi who has run for mayor of London (2016) and mayor of Manchester (2017), Shneur Zalman Odze… Assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and an adjunct professor of law at NYU, Danielle R. Sassoon… Communications manager for Uber, Freddi Goldstein… Member of AJR, an indie pop multi-instrumentalist trio, together with his two brothers, Ryan Metzger…
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