Your Daily Phil: New iCenter program tackles how to teach Israel’s conflicts

Good Tuesday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the launch of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston’s new “Face Jewish Hate” campaign. Also in this newsletter: Josh Harris, Donald Chaiken and Chaim Shmuel Schreiber. We’ll start with the launch of iCenter’s new “Conflicts of Interest” program.

Inevitably, the conversation around Israel always turns to conflict: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel’s myriad domestic conflicts. And yet Israel educators report feeling “fear, angst and anxiety” when teaching about those conflicts and therefore try to avoid discussing them, Alex Harris of Chicago’s iCenter told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

“Educators feared they didn’t have sufficient content knowledge. They worried that they didn’t have the right emotional dispositions to deal with some of these key topics. They worried, ‘How do I, as an educator, come to the students and bring in my own perspectives, but also maintain [a] sort of political neutrality, but also work with identity formation,” Harris told eJP.

To address this, last year the iCenter launched a new initiative to develop a framework to prepare educators to teach their students about these conflicts and conflict in general. This week, the organization is rolling out this new program, which it is calling “Conflicts of Interest.”

To begin developing the Conflicts of Interest program, iCenter first spoke to some 200 educators – day school teachers, Hebrew school teachers, Israel trip organizers, youth group directors – in order to get a lay of the land and understand the educators’ needs. Harris and the other iCenter employees who worked on the project also read through the available resources, including “20 lesson plans, 23 textbooks and resource guides, 18 white papers, 66 books and articles, and 19 curriculum frameworks,” Harris wrote in an opinion piece for eJP last year.

Harris described finding a wealth of information about what to teach, but little help in how to teach it. “In our focus groups, we found that many educators are hesitant to engage with the topic altogether. Some lack the necessary background and/or pedagogical skills to teach about the conflict confidently and competently,” he wrote.

According to iCenter CEO Anne Lanski, the multitiered Conflicts of Interest program is not a specific curriculum – with specific facts, values, messages and narratives – but a broader pedagogical method that individual institutions and teachers can adapt to their own perspectives on the issues of Israel, Zionism and the Palestinians. “Content and knowledge are very important, but… it’s our educational framework that is what makes this uniquely important,” Lanski said.

Read the full story here.

Face Jewish Hate

Courtesy/Gov. Maura Healey

The Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston launched a citywide “Face Jewish Hate” campaign last night, which includes billboards, a website, educational materials and other resources, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

Kraft connections: The campaign is an offshoot of the $25 million national “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” initiative organized by Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, CJP President Marc Baker, Kraft and other representatives from the Jewish community attended the launch event and press conference last night outside Boston’s TD Garden arena.

Mass. antisemitism: The “Face Jewish Hate” initiative follows a recent study by the Anti-Defamation League, which found that a 41% rise in antisemitic incidents in Massachusetts from 2021 to 2022. “I was blessed to grow up in what felt like a post-antisemitic America,” Baker said at the press conference. “If anyone hated me because I was Jewish, to be honest, I didn’t see it and I didn’t feel it. Not so anymore. Here in Massachusetts, my family’s hometown of four generations, we’ve seen a 40% increase in antisemitic incidents, in acts of hatred toward Jewish people. This is simply outrageous.”

Worthy Reads

Rich Organization Problems: In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Sono Motoyama looks at how the Ford Foundation has been helping its grantees restructure when they begin rapidly expanding. “[Victoria Dunning, senior program officer of the Ford Foundation’s $1 billion program, Building Institutions and Networks, or Build], says Ford officials ‘began hearing that some of these organizations had gone from deep pandemic financial uncertainty to budgets that had grown three or more times in record time.’ That is why, when Ford renewed its Build program with another $1 billion in 2021, it added a new advisory program to support grantees that had grown quickly… Philanthropy has a vital role in allowing nonprofits to have a little breathing room to create a sustainable organization, [Shubha Balabaer, director of operations at the nonprofit MediaJustice] says. ‘That’s something where you need the privilege of money.’” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]

Memories of Seltzers Past: In The New York Times, Corey Kilgannon profiles the last “old-school” seltzer distributor in New York, as well as the bubbly beverage’s Jewish history. “A century ago, before it was called sparkling water or club soda, and before it was sold as LaCroix and Spindrift, it was called seltzer. No plastic bottles or aluminum cans magically appeared on grocery shelves. Instead, factories across New York City pumped fizzy water into heavy siphon bottles that were distributed by deliverymen. Nearly all those seltzer men are gone now; one seltzer works remains… New York seltzer, which has become a culinary staple in the city like knishes and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda, has its own history, Mr. Joseph said. Many Eastern European Jews who enjoyed seltzer overseas began making, delivering and selling it in the early 1900s, largely on the Lower East Side. They also sold it from soda fountains — either straight up, as a citrus concoction known as a lime rickey, or with milk and chocolate syrup known as an egg cream. While many Americans switched to soda after World War II, many Jews in the city stuck with seltzer, Mr. Joseph said. At Brooklyn Seltzer Boys, the museum and the factory can merge into one educational experience. Next to the exhibitions, delivery workers back up their trucks into an area to drop off cases of empty bottles and pick up freshly filled ones. Workers buzz around cleaning, refilling and repairing old nozzle tops. There is also a spritzing station where visitors can spray seltzer from a bottle, Three Stooges style.” [NYT]

Best of Friends for Now: In The Wall Street Journal, columnist and professor Walter Russell Mead ponders what the future holds for the American-Israeli alliance. “The most important question facing Israelis today is the future of their relationship with the U.S. There is nothing written in the stars that guarantees its permanence… That relationship survived the fall of the Soviet Union. Washington saw Jerusalem as a necessary partner in containing Iran and, after 9/11, the war on terror. But as the latter recedes into the rear-view mirror and new challenges from Russia and China loom in Ukraine and Taiwan, America’s priorities could change… Navigating an American withdrawal would be challenging but not catastrophic for Israel. Other potential partners are waiting in the wings. Narendra Modi’s India would eagerly embrace a closer technological and military relationship with the Jewish state. China, Russia and even Turkey would see serious benefits in a strategic relationship with Jerusalem.” [WSJ]

Around the Web

Dan Snyderagreed to sell the Washington Commanders NFL team to a group led by Josh Harris for $6 billion…

Philadelphia’s Gratz College named antisemitism scholar Ayal Feinberg as the new director of its Center for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights…

George Soros informed his roughly 400,000 Twitter followers that reports of his death were premature, rebuffing unfounded rumors that he’d suffered a heart attack…

Google co-founder Sergey Brindonated 5.2 million shares of Alphabet Inc. stock, worth roughly $600 million, to an as yet undisclosed charity or fund…

Oxford University announced it will remove the Sackler name from buildings and position titles, joining a number of institutions that have done the same in light of the family’s role in America’s opioid epidemic. The university said the family’s donations will still be “retained by the university for their intended educational purposes”…

The Jerusalem College of Technology-Lev Academic Center, an institution that caters to Israel’s religious population, dedicated its new LevTech Entrepreneurship Center in memory of Chaim Shmuel Schreiber, a Holocaust survivor who fled to the U.K. during the war and went on to develop a number of innovative woodworking processes, and his wife Sara (Weinstock) Schreiber. The dedication followed a donation from the Schreiber Charitable Trust of London

Donald Chaiken, a California-based philanthropist who supported a number of Jewish organizations and causes in the Bay Area, died last week at 86…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Jewish Federations of North America

Workers plant seven trees in Kyiv earlier this month honoring seven countries that have supported Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion, including the U.S. and Israel. A plaque on the Israeli tree notes the contributions of the Jewish Federations of North America and the Israel Trauma Coalition. “Jewish Federations of North America are honored and deeply moved that the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv has recognized our community’s role in supporting the Ukrainian people during the war,” JFNA said in a statement.


Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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