Your Daily Phil: Netanyahu to meet U.S. Jewish leaders + The 12 steps to atonement
Good Friday morning!
Ed. note: In observance of Yom Kippur, the next Your Daily Phil will arrive on Wednesday, Sept. 27. Shabbat shalom and gmar hatima tova!
In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we travel with an Israeli nonprofit bringing wheelchair users to the Western Wall before Yom Kippur and look at how 12-step recovery programs overlap with the Ten Days of Repentance. We also feature opinion pieces from Amy Rosenblatt Lui, Tamar Kosky Lazarus and Erica Brown. We’ll start with a preview of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with American Jewish leaders in New York later today after his address to the United Nations General Assembly.
For less-distracted reading over the weekend, browse this week’s edition of The Weekly Print, a curated print-friendly PDF featuring a selection of recent Jewish Insider, eJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: Erdogan meets with Jewish leaders, amid warming relations with Israel; Biden, Netanyahu play nice in New York, ‘even with our differences’; UPenn president declines to intervene in antisemitic conference on campus. Print the latest edition here.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fresh off his address to the U.N. General Assembly, meets with American Jewish leaders this afternoon in New York, he will face a group sharply divided over his government’s efforts to weaken Israel’s judiciary. That divide was on vivid display on the streets of Manhattan yesterday, where dueling rallies over Israel’s judicial overhaul measures — a larger one protesting it and a smaller one supporting it — took place outside Netanyahu’s hotel last night, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen. (There was also a far, far smaller demonstration by anti-Zionist Neturei Karta members nearby.)
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, who participated in the “Protest for Israel’s Democracy” outside Netanyahu’s hotel, told eJP that he will attend the meeting with the Israeli premier. In February, Jacobs was also the first Diaspora leader to speak at a protest against the government’s judicial overhaul in Tel Aviv. (Two months later, Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, was the first Diaspora leader to address an anti-overhaul protest in English. She too will attend today’s meeting with Netanyahu.)
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, also confirmed to eJP he will be in attendance at today’s meeting. Klein and ZOA participated in the rally across the street in support of Netanyahu, dubbed “We Stand with Israel and its Democratically Elected Government.”
In addition to URJ, NCJW and ZOA, eJP confirmed that representatives from Jewish Federations of North America, American Jewish Committee, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Anti-Defamation League, Orthodox Union, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Jewish National Fund, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, World Jewish Congress, Jewish Agency for Israel, Young Israel, Hadassah and Agudath Israel would be in attendance. Leaders from the local Persian, Syrian and Bukharian communities were also invited and confirmed attendance. At least one representative from UJA-Federation of New York was also expected.
It is not yet clear whether the meeting will be more of a conversation or an address by Netanyahu to the leaders. Israeli officials described it as a “briefing for Jewish organizations,” though in the past such events have included more open discussions.
The CEO of the USCJ, Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, told eJP that he hoped to encourage the Israeli premier to put on hold his government’s plans to further reshape the country’s balances of power and start a process of finding compromise. He also said he would stress U.S. Jews’ commitment to Israel even if they “may oppose or protest some of his policies” and that they “do so out of love and support for the State of Israel.” At the same time, Blumenthal said he planned to discuss his concerns “about Israel’s character as a strong and democratic state that is committed to individual rights and religious pluralism.”
In addition, Blumenthal said he took issue with Netanyahu’s handling of his meeting with Elon Musk. “The prime minister’s remarks in his meeting with Elon Musk did not go far enough in condemning the ways antisemitism is permitted and boosted by Twitter/X. Moreover, he needed to condemn specifically Musk’s ‘blame the victim’ strategy in threatening to sue the ADL,” he said.
Klein, on the other hand, said he planned to encourage Netanyahu to stay the course on his government’s plans to weaken the judiciary and to continue building settlements in the West Bank, which he referred to by its biblical name. “I’m urging him to stay strong and not stop building on Judea and Samaria, Jews have every right to live there, [and] to stay strong on judicial reform,” Klein told eJP.
Follow our sister publication Jewish Insider for coverage on Netanyahu’s speech at the General Assembly, which is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. ET.
Making holiness accessible
Israeli nonprofit offers wheelchair users a chance to visit Jerusalem’s Old City before Yom Kippur
Chava Mizrachi, 72, has a passion for travel and, together with her friend Shoshi Zanker — both of whom use wheelchairs — has traveled far and wide on private group tours for people with disabilities to Dubai, and Holland, to the fjords of Norway, to Greece and France. But it had been 30 years since she had been able to make the short trip from her home in Rishon LeZion outside Tel Aviv to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem because of the logistical complications of transportation and parking that it would involve, even with the assistance of her children. But after three decades, Mizrachi was able to do just that, going to the holy site, along with her friend Zanker, as part of an annual Selichot tour run by Israel’s Yad Sarah charity just before Yom Kippur, reports Judith Sudilovsky for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Make it accessible: In 2016, Yad Sarah launched its Mangishei Derech initiative (“making the way accessible,” in Hebrew) that sought to bring more travel opportunities to wheelchair users in coordination with volunteer tour guides, not only to the Old City but other popular tourist destinations in Israel. “Yad Sarah’s organized Nechonit trips are a way for us to provide access to meaningful experiences and connect people facing similar challenges, creating an environment of inclusion, unity, and dignity,” Moshe Cohen, Yad Sarah CEO, said in a statement. “Particularly during the High Holy Days, all individuals should have access to the sites and experiences related to the holiest time in the Jewish calendar.”
A chance to travel again: For Rahel Feldman, 82, a former educator, the Selichot trip came just shortly after spending four months in rehabilitation following a leg amputation. A lover of travel and nature, Feldman said she traveled widely in Israel and abroad before losing her leg. “I have climbed Machu Picchu and I have trekked; I have seen blossoms in the field in Israel. I have gone to cities abroad. There is not one place in Israel that I have not visited. Today I can’t say that I have missed out on seeing things I wanted to see,” she told eJP. “These trips with Yad Sarah give me back a small bit of the memory of what it was like to travel. I loved coming to the Western Wall on the eve of Yom Kippur when I could walk. So being here during Selichot, to be able to listen to the blowing of the shofar near the Kotel is a celebration.”
Read the full report here.
How Jewish recovery groups incorporate the 12 steps into the High Holy Days
For Jews in recovery from alcohol and drugs, the High Holy Days carry extra weight. Twelve-step programs, used in self-help groups and most recovery organizations, involve taking inventory of mistakes, making amends and growing closer to a higher power. All of these are also themes of the Ten Days of Repentance, which fall between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This year, many Jewish recovery institutions are running programs that link the 12 steps to teshuvah — the Hebrew word for repentance or return, reports Jay Deitcher for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Repentance as a solution: The correlation between the 12 steps and teshuvah was much of the reason Beit T’Shuvah, which is both a Los Angeles treatment center and a congregation, was created, Adam Siegel, who serves as director of spiritual care and programming for both, told eJP. The concept of repentance/return is not just the theme of the High Holy Days. It’s the center’s and congregation’s focus the entire year. Every week, members of the community meet for a “teshuvah group,” where they view “teshuvah as spiritual solution rather than teshuvah as punishment,” Siegel said.
A time to change: “One of the blessings of both recovery and the holiday season is that every day we get to choose how we want to live,” Ilan Glazer, the founder of Our Jewish Recovery, told eJP. For many addicts, there is a feeling of learned helplessness, a belief that you are caught in cycles you will never escape, so why try? But 12-step programs offer hope that you can break the chains of addiction with the help of a higher power and others in recovery. “Rosh Hashanah is… about change,” said Joshua Scroggins, who identified as “an extremely grateful member of” Beit T’Shuvah, a Los Angeles 12-step based community, during a High Holy Day drasha last year. “And what are we doing here if not to change?”
Read the full report here.
Collaboration in the Caribbean
Giving better to build climate resilience
“Many aid organizations and communities are struggling to adapt to the increasing pace of climate disasters. Often, new emergencies strike before communities have recovered from the last one. For funders, it’s no longer just a question of giving more. It’s a matter of giving better,” write the Beverly Foundation’s Amy Rosenblatt Lui and IsraAid’s Tamar Kosky Lazarus in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Small individually, mighty together: “When Hurricane Maria hit Dominica six years ago, no one on the small Caribbean island was left unaffected. The Category 5 storm destroyed homes and took down electricity and telephone lines. Flooded roads left entire communities cut off. It was erev Yom Kippur when the Beverly Foundation and IsraAid agreed to launch an emergency response. … The partnership that began that holiday evening redefined for us what the relationship between donors and aid groups can look like. It helped us realize that it’s not just the big players that can make a difference. With the right partner and the right working relationships, small family foundations and NGOs together have the ability to make an incredible difference for communities.”
Permission to innovate: “This partnership has been marked by an approach rooted in trust-based philanthropy practiced by the foundation, which includes a multiyear, unrestricted grant, with an understanding that finding real solutions, especially in an age of mounting climate crises, requires the ability to try new things, fail and try again.”
Teamwork makes the dream work: “Usually, donors give money and organizations do the work, but this is a shared vision together with the Dominicans. We didn’t make the decisions by ourselves — we made them together with our local partners. The trust relationship extends beyond just donor and grantee to the community as well. It’s about all three coming together to work through the stages of disaster relief.”
Read the full piece here.
The Torah of leadership
Healing leadership: Thoughts on Parshat Ha’azinu
“We usually think of leaders as ambitious drivers — people who stand in the front of the room, take charge, and direct others towards a particular goal. If they are kind and respectful, they engage followers with that kindness and respect; if not, their service can be fueled by the need for dominance and authority,” writes Erica Brown, vice provost for values and leadership at Yeshiva University and director of its Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks-Herenstein Center, in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy, “The Torah of Leadership.”
A different way: “In this week’s Torah reading, however, we find a remarkable description of God that challenges this paradigm: ‘See, then, that I, I am the One. There is no god beside Me. I deal death and give life; I wounded, and I will heal. None can deliver from My hand’ (Deuteronomy 32:27). God’s singularity, tied in to life and healing, models a different leadership modality: that of Healer.”
Acknowledge your own hurts: “Leaders should not only heal the wounds of others, but also find ways to name and integrate their own wounds into their leadership. The theologian Henri Nouwen acknowledges as much in his book, The Wounded Healer: ‘Our service will not be perceived as authentic unless it comes from a heart wounded by the suffering about which we speak.’ … Recognizing our own wounds opens pathways of empathy for the wounds of others.”
Read the full piece here.
Starting Young: In Heritage Florida Jewish News, Larry Luxner profiles a Jewish teenager who created an international network of giving circles. “In mid-2021, as the COVID pandemic raged, high school student Lily Messing noticed that the social ills plaguing her native Tucson, Arizona — including domestic violence, drug abuse and homelessness — all seemed to be getting worse… Lily, 17, established 100+ Teens Who Care, a nonprofit network of ‘giving circles’ comprised of like-minded high school students who collectively select and donate to a specific local charity. Her first chapter, in Tucson, started out with 100 members and now boasts at least 220 teens. While Lily’s project began in Arizona, her impact has expanded across the United States and internationally, with 23 chapters now operating in places ranging from Idaho to Islamabad, Pakistan. ‘I began the organization because I felt like teens really wanted to make a difference but lacked the coordination and opportunity to do so,’ Lily said. ‘I wanted to give them an outlet to make meaningful change in our community.’” [HeritageFloridaJewishNews]
Transparency Talk: A total of 129 funders and 431 news organizations responded to a survey on the increasing role of grantmaking in the news media landscape, the results of which were published in a report by Media Impact Funders. “Newspaper publishers historically maintained firewalls between newsrooms and advertisers to protect editorial independence. Commercial, for-profit newsrooms were further insulated by having so many different advertisers that no one source of funding could have undue influence. As most nonprofit news operations are relatively small, and philanthropic giving is a major revenue source, the ethics of this emerging landscape is critical.” [MediaImpactFunders]
Money in the Middle: The U.K.-based think tank Rogare is examining ethical and regulatory questions related to “disintermediated giving” methods, Andy Ricketts reports for ThirdSector. “Ian MacQuillin, director of Rogare, said: ‘Each of the types of disintermediation described in our typology raises questions about its practices, ethics, regulation and accountability. For example, at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, money was transferred to individual Ukrainians via Airbnb bookings. While some celebrated this as “democratisation” of philanthropy, others pointed out that this could ramp up inflation by flooding a wartime economy with cash, making a bad situation worse.’” [ThirdSector]
Around the Web
The University of Pennsylvania is facing growing pressure to call off a Palestinian literary festival, which includes speakers who have been widely condemned as antisemitic, that is scheduled to begin today. Four attorneys from the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law sent a letter calling for the administration to intervene and several prominent trustees and alumni of the university have also joined an open letter signed by more than 2,300 graduates criticizing the event. The university’s president denied a request from the Anti-Defamation League to take action…
Vibe Israel, a pro-Israel advocacy group that has brought nearly 50,000 “influencers” to Israel, told members that it was halting its operations due to a change in Israel’s “atmosphere” under the current government…
Glenda Bernhardtwas hired as the new CEO of the Greensboro, N.C., Jewish Federation. Bernhardt succeeds Marilyn Forman Chandler, who has served in the role for 36 years…
A number of Jewish human rights and humanitarian aid organizations, including IsraAid and the Pardes Institute, signed a petition saying they will not use the Charidy crowdfunding platform until the company removes a fundraiser for an Israeli man, Amiram Ben Uliel, who was convicted of murdering three members of the Palestinian Dawabsheh family, including an 18-month-old baby. The campaign has already raised some $400,000…
Michael BloombergtoldThe New York Times that when he dies, control of his multi-billion-dollar company, Bloomberg L.P., will go to his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, which will have to sell it within five years. “At 81 years old, common sense says I should have succession plans,” he said…
The Orthodox Unionlaunched its latest OU Impact Accelerator cohort of six nonprofits that are dedicated to “transforming the North American Jewish communal landscape in groundbreaking ways,” including financial literacy programs, an initiative to teach women technology skills and mental health support programs…
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $200 million toward medical supplies and contraception to save the lives of mothers and children during childbirth…
The Boston Museum of Scienceis looking to build a memorial statue to honor Leonard Nimoy, who made famous the hand gesture made by Jewish priests with his “Vulcan salute” on “Star Trek”…
B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rightsis calling for the Quebec province to add a Holocaust curriculum in its elementary schools after Ontario did the same…
Pic of the Day
Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces’ Armored Corps hold torches during a memorial ceremony last night marking the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War at the Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun, outside Jerusalem.
President of Israel since 2021, Isaac “Bougie” Herzog…
FRIDAY: Brooklyn resident, Jay Kanter… Former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for 16 years, now a consultant at the L.A.-based Diane and Guilford Glazer Philanthropies, John Fishel… Professor of journalism at Columbia University and a former reporter for The New York Times, Ari L. Goldman… Former publisher of The New York Times, Arthur Ochs “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr.… Chief political analyst at CNN, Gloria Borger… Clarinetist who performs klezmer, jazz, classical music and avant-garde improvisation, David Krakauer… Former U.S. ambassador to Romania, Adrian Zuckerman… Nobel Prize laureate in 2011, astrophysicist and professor of physics at UC-Berkeley, Saul Perlmutter… Director of development at the Los Angeles Conservancy, Elizabeth “Liz” Leshin… Editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg… Former member of the Knesset for Likud, Osnat Hila Mark… Founder and CEO of Terravet Real Estate Solutions, Daniel Eisenstadt… Founder and CEO at P3 Media, he has won three Emmys, a Peabody Award and a Polk Award, Adam Ciralsky… Arlington, Va., resident, Karen Elyse Simpson… Writer-at-large for The New York Times, she is the author of Chasing Hillary, Amy Chozick… Actress best known for her role as Quinn Perkins in the ABC political drama series “Scandal,” Katie Lowes… Hungarian politician who once served as a member of the European Parliament, Csanád Szegedi… Deputy editor of Tablet magazine and host of “Unorthodox,” Stephanie Taylor Butnick… Entertainment reporter, fashion designer and entrepreneur, Baruch Yehudah Shemtov… Partner at Winning Tuesday, Jared Sichel… Associate director for combating antisemitism at AJC Global, Alyssa Weiner Sandler… Senior writer for the Jewish Federations of North America and deli historian, he is the author of Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli, Ted Merwin…
SATURDAY: Vice chairman of the board of Chanel, Arie L. Kopelman… Sarasota Jewish Federation executive, Richard Bergman… Former CEO of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris… President at Trendlines America, Mark J. Dollinger, Ph.D…. Co-chairman and COO of Chesapeake Realty Partners, he is also a founding partner of Boulder Ventures, Josh E. Fidler… Senior analyst at AIPAC, Colin M. Winston, Ph.D…. Partner at Steptoe & Johnson, Darryl Nirenberg… Business manager for Los Angeles Cardiovascular Medical Group, she is also a past president of Sinai Temple, Angela Maddahi… Former vice chair of The Jewish Federations of North America, she is the president-elect of the Birmingham (Ala.) Jewish Federation, Sheryl W. Kimerling… Israeli-American venture capitalist and head of Zeev Ventures, Oren Zeev… Co-owner of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, Todd M. Ricketts… Former U.S. ambassador to the E.U., now president and COO at the Business Roundtable, Ambassador Kristen Silverberg… VP of external affairs at Whistleblower Aid, Naomi Seligman… Executive director of the Foundation at Alpha Epsilon Pi, Jay S. Feldman… Author of two best-selling books and co-founder of the non-profit Sefaria, Joshua Foer… Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington bureau reporter for The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt… Director of product content operations focused on Generative AI at Meta / Facebook, Gabriella Schwarz… VP of sales at Idomoo Personalized Video, Abby Glassberg… Saber fencer, this year he became the first-ever American to claim gold in saber at the World Fencing Championships, Eli Dershwitz… Record-setting powerlifter, Naomi Chaya Kutin… Deputy director-general for Latin America at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jonathan Peled… Founder and director of the Lerhaus Institute of Jewish Studies, Rabbi Seth Frisch…
SUNDAY: Author of 26 books, best known for the semi-autobiographical novel I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Joanne Greenberg… Retired Israeli diplomat who served as Israel’s ambassador to Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Rafael Eldad… Former CEO of American Media, David Pecker… Feature writer for Sports Illustrated for 27 years, he is a 2015 inductee into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Franz Lidz… Attorney and former judge advocate, Michael Alan Weiss… Founder, chairman and CEO of Hilco Global, Jeffrey Hecktman… Public safety success manager at FirstNet by AT&T, William Gross… President of Princeton University since 2013, in his mid-40s he discovered that his mother was Jewish, Christopher L. Eisgruber… Co-founder and principal at D.C.-based PRG Hospitality, Alan Popovsky… EVP of governmental affairs at the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, Chanina Sperlin… Economist, best-selling author and a great-granddaughter of former British Chief Rabbi Joseph Hertz, Noreena Hertz… Screenwriter, television producer, comic book writer and novelist, Marc Guggenheim… Israeli television host, actress and model, Yael Goldman-Pfeffer… Yale Law graduate and senior policy manager at Amazon, Jessica Schumer… Former White House reporter at The Associated Press, Alexandra Jaffe… Actor, singer and songwriter, Ben Platt…