Your Daily Phil: New grant aims to keep teenaged campers coming back + The Instagram community around infertility
Good Thursday morning!
Today is Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, honored with an official state ceremony and the cessation of all activity for two minutes while a siren sounds throughout the country.
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) was named to The Nonprofit Times’ annual list of top 50 nonprofits for which to work, which the publication compiles with Best Companies Group, an employee survey firm. The nonprofits on the list scored highest relative to those who didn’t place in such categories as work environment, leadership and planning and pay and benefits. IFCJ is in thirty-seventh place; the United States Tennis Association Mid-Atlantic Session tops the list.
Two members of a new program that trains aspiring Jewish politicians how to run for office have declared candidacies, Dana Steiner, director of the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS Incubator, told eJewishPhilanthropy. Brandon Cory Goldberg is running for a city council seat in Atlanta, and Peter Fishkind is running for North Hempstead Town Council on Long Island. The 18 members of the first class are learning from experts in political marketing, fundraising, organizing and media.
Touro University Nevada, a member of the global Jewish Touro higher education system, has received a grant from the state of Qatar to support its work on autism, along with five other American nonprofits, including the Dan Marino Foundation. Touro in Nevada, which includes a medical school, received a $3 million endowment gift that will support its Center for Autism & Developmental Disabilities through 2027. Children in Qatar have a higher rate of autism than the worldwide average.
The Winkler Lowy’s first major gift is a ‘creative’ camp grant
The Winkler Lowy Foundation’s first major gift is likely the first of its kind — a grant program at Camp Ramah in California that aims to keep campers coming back through age 16. Founded in 2019, the foundation is the creation of Janine Winkler Lowy and her four children — all of whom attended the camp until they went to college and worked as counselors, and one of whom recently married a fellow camper. “We’re not bricks-and-mortar people,” Winkler Lowy told eJewishPhilanthropy in her first interview about her philanthropy. “My philosophy is Jewish education. Camp is Jewish life, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and to me, that’s Jewish education.”
Key moments: Those high school summers are pivotal, said Rabbi Joe Menashe, executive director of Ramah in California, which is located in Ojai, about 80 miles north of Los Angeles. Those summers are both when Jewish teens are being pulled in other directions — jobs, school — and when psychologically, they are starting to decide who they will be as adults, Menashe said, citing research showing that Jewish summer camp is a powerful predictor of Jewish identity as an adult. “So much pressure is on them to start to build a resume and have other experiences,” Menashe said. “But also that’s when they’re clarifying their values, taking on an independent ownership of their Jewish identity.”
Free agents: The “Masah Incentive Grant” is separate from the camp’s financial aid process, although it is not available to families whose income and assets exceed certain limits. It consists of a set of escalating amounts — $360, $500 and $720 — that the camper will receive after pledging to commit to returning each summer through age 16, and completing an application. “It forces the kids to think,” Winkler Lowy said. “And it gives them agency.” The foundation has committed to spending up to $404,000 on the program over three years, depending on how many children sign up, and for how many years.
The Instagram community connecting Jewish women experiencing infertility
When Aimee Friedman Baron experienced a series of second-trimester miscarriages several years ago, she quit her job as a pediatrician. “I could not keep taking care of other people’s healthy babies while struggling to have my own, even though I had three kids at home. It was just too painful,” she said. She ultimately gave birth to twins, but recovering from the trauma of infertility took time. Her journey led her to create I Was Supposed to Have a Baby, a nonprofit and online community geared toward Jewish women experiencing infertility. Baron spoke with Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch about how IWSTHAB was born, and how it has grown up in the two years since its founding.
Influencer status: The organization runs virtual support groups and offers one-on-one support sessions, and in February, it was an organizer of the First Annual Jewish Fertility Summit. But the main way IWSTHAB reaches people is on Instagram, where it has amassed 8,800 followers — Jewish and not — who gather virtually to be around other women (and the occasional man) who understand the invisible agony of infertility and miscarriage. IWSTHAB’s posts are warm and supportive, sometimes highlighting one woman’s experience and other times featuring an inspirational quote or graphic. Baron answers every single message that comes through the account.
Online interaction: The real community-building takes place in the comments of the posts, or in responses that Baron receives to open-ended prompts she posts on the page’s Instagram story. One recent prompt asked, “What worked and what didn’t this holiday season?” Some comments came from Christian women reflecting on Easter and Christmas, but most were from Jewish women, writing about the difficulty of being joyous or hosting large family gatherings during Passover. “I was with my in-laws pretending all the time I was happy and nothing was going on,” read one comment that Baron reposted to the account’s followers. “But inside me I was devastated.’ I got another negative [pregnancy test] the first day of chol hamoed [the intermediate days of Passover]. And being with my pregnant sisters-in-law made it harder.”
Can Mussar help us repair the world?
“Revolution is complex and not for the fainthearted. Most of us are not meant to be Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, yet the fate of the world rests upon the work of each and every one of us and the perfection of our individual path,” writes Rabbi Lori Shapiro in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Spiritual accounting: “While tikkun olam in modern parlance is outward-facing — calling us into the streets and the world — Mussar faces inward. Beginning in our homes, Mussar spotlights individual behaviors, their impacts and interdependence with one another, and the impact on family and community. Mussar views the perfection of our moral character as a formula to help heal the world.”
Removing impediments: “As we look outward at a broken world, Mussar invites us to consider the origins and nature of creation and its personal connection with each of us as partners with creation toward a moral good. Indeed, Mussar propels us to go beyond just “praying with our feet” and asks that we connect each footstep with our unique “soulprint” as a continuation of the origins and course of creation.”
Jewish education can restore and rejuvenate our world
In remarks delivered at The Jewish Education Project’s recent annual event, David Bryfman asked, “Is this a moment in time equivalent to the destruction of the Second Temple, awaiting new visionary models of Jewish learning to emerge as they did in Yavneh?”
Built for the moment: “When I first began working at The Jewish Education Project, I told Bob Sherman, my predecessor and mentor, ‘In 5 years’ time 50% of our work will be online.’ I was wrong… until I was right. But it wasn’t 50%, it was 100%, and no one predicted that it would be a pandemic being the catalyst for such change.”
Sacred work: “Amidst all of the amazing things that we do, we should never forget the why. We do all of this sacred work to ensure that every Jewish child has the possibility to thrive as a Jew and in the world today. We do our work so that every Jewish child can become the best version of themselves.”
Respectful Attention: Claudia Cummings, president and CEO of the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, shares in a blog post on the website of the Center for Effective Philanthropy that she believes most people are good, even at a time when the United States is divided. The extreme viewpoints on either end of the spectrum on any issue hold little value, she acknowledges, but education, conversation and mutual reflection are essential when engaging with everyone else: “Winning hearts and minds is much more achievable when approached with respect rather than derision.” [CEP]
Civil Religion: The United States is becoming a more secular society as millennials and Generation Z increasingly decline to affiliate with a house of worship, writes Bryan Walsh in Axios. The trend has major significance for social cohesion, because politics is starting to supply the kind of meaning that traditional religion has helped people find in their lives. “Just because conventional religious practice is on the decline doesn’t mean Americans will have no need to fill what the journalist Murtaza Hussain calls the country’s ‘God-shaped hole,’ Walsh concludes. [Axios]
Taking Action: Noor Al-Sibai reports in Inside Philanthropy on the philanthropic response to the Atlanta massacre that killed eight people, six of them Asian women. Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) has called for stronger bonds between AAPI communities and the nonprofit sector; a group of Asian-American business leaders have committed $10 million to efforts including the reporting of hate crime, and the Ford Foundation — along with the Groundswell Fund, Unbound Philanthropy and others — has become a backer of the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund’s Anti-Racism Response Network. “As Americans, we must reckon with our past in order to transcend it,” wrote Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. “Ours is a past that includes Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment, xenophobia directed at South Asian and Muslim communities after 9/11, and too many other instances to name.” [InsidePhilanthropy]
Higher Education: In The New York Times, Steve Lohr profiles a nonprofit, Social Finance, which makes it easier for unemployed or underemployed workers to receive job training by paying their fees. Funded by $40 million in annual donations, Social Finance’s model is receiving more interest from philanthropists and policymakers now that the pandemic has put so many people out of work, and accelerated automation. “There is emerging evidence that these kinds of programs are a very effective and exciting part of workforce development,” said Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard. [NYT]
Fellowship: Nominate a Jewish professional for Hadar’s Jewish Wisdom Fellowship. Deadline is April 14.
Apply! The Jewish Council of the Emirates Community Centre seeks a Dubai-based Executive Director.
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Word on the Street
According to a newly released report from the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University, the number of violent incidents toward Jews across some 40 countries dropped last year, from 456 to 371, roughly the same levels the researchers reported from 2016 to 2018… Grenada’s new Jewish center will house a synagogue, a mikvah and a kosher cafeteria for hundreds of Jewish medical students… Beginning in January, the Ford Foundation’s Building Institutions and Networks initiative will disburse an additional $1 billion in five-year grants to organizations led by people of color and women… PND by Candid poses 11 questions you should always ask a recruiter…
Pic of the Day
The names of 22 Nazi murder sites are engraved on the floor of the Hall of Remembrance, the first commemoration site established at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial.
Filmmaker, she co-wrote “The Tribe” that explored American Jewish identity through the history of the Barbie Doll, Tiffany Shlain…
Comedian Shecky Greene (born Fred Sheldon Greenfield)… Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine, Seymour Myron “Sy” Hersh… French actor Jean Benguigui… Political fundraiser, Joy Silverman… Bassist for the rock band Grand Funk Railroad, Melvin George “Mel” Schacher… Longtime college and NBA basketball coach, Larry Shyatt… Russian-born businessman who emigrated to Israel in 1972 and President of the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities of Russia, Arcadi Gaydamak… Member of the National Assembly of Quebec, David Birnbaum… Leading UK pensions expert and a member of the House of Lords, Baroness Rosalind Miriam Altmann… President of Wesleyan University, Michael S. Roth… Member of Knesset for the Likud party, David Bitan… Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, Judge Jonathan Biran… Financial advisor in the Cedarhurst, New York office of Citigroup Global Markets, Jeffrey Kramer… Executive director of American Jewish Congress, Joel M. Rubin… Political director for NBC News and moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd… Professional baseball pitcher and coach, Matt Ford… Israeli actor and TV host, Ofer Shechter… NYC-based head of investor relations for the Israeli Ministry of Finance, Jason Reinin… Television personality and entertainer, Richard Rubin… Deputy business editor of The Washington Post, Zachary A. Goldfarb… Lead vocalist and guitarist of the indie rock band Vampire Weekend, Ezra Michael Koenig… Associate at Talpion LP, Daniel E. Smith… Film, television and voice actress, Shelby Young… Associate professor of pediatric anesthesia and intensive care at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Albert Gyllencreutz Castellheim…