Your Daily Phil: New security pact for N.Y. rabbis + Bill Clinton joins Israeli entrepreneur on climate fund

Good Thursday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on the launch of a new climate-focused investment fund by Israeli tech entrepreneur Ziv Aviram and former President Bill Clinton, as well as a meeting between American Jewish leaders and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We also feature opinion pieces from the Jim Joseph Foundation and Bruce Powell. We’ll start with a new partnership between Jewish security organizations and New York rabbis.

The New York Board of Rabbis, an interdenominational umbrella group, signed a memorandum of understanding with the national Community Security Service and the city-focused Community Security Initiative on Wednesday to improve communication between the rabbis’ congregations and the organizations, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

This partnership comes as CSS looks to expand its connections with other Jewish groups. Earlier this month, the security organization signed a similar MOU with the Orthodox Union. It is in talks with the Reform and Conservative movements as well.

“Today, we are living in a new era of antisemitism and threat environment, which behooves us to do everything possible to forge real interorganizational connections that have a direct impact on our safety outcomes,” Evan R. Bernstein, national director and CEO of CSS, said in a statement. “Each of our organizations holds a unique responsibility under the security umbrella, and by linking up with the New York Board of Rabbis, we are able to reach even more communities and help lower the vulnerability we see firsthand.”

As part of the agreement, the leadership of the three organizations agreed to hold quarterly meetings. CSS will also create customized training programs for NYBR clergy and leaders. In addition, CSI will assist in tracking threats to NYBR-affiliated communities and assessing their physical security arrangements.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of NYBR, said in a statement that the MOU showed “that hate mongers will not stop us from being proud Jews, but bring us even closer to one another.”

New York City has seen a marked rise in antisemitic incidents in recent years. The Anti-Defamation League recorded a 39% rise in antisemitic events overall — vandalism, harassment and assaults — from 2021 to 2022 and a 41% jump in assaults specifically.

Read the full report here.

An environmental concern

Israeli tech entrepreneur Ziv Aviram shakes hands with former President Bill Clinton after announcing the formation of a joint climate change fund at the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 18, 2023.
Israeli tech entrepreneur Ziv Aviram shakes hands with former President Bill Clinton after announcing the formation of a joint climate change fund at the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 18, 2023. (Juliana Thomas/Clinton Foundation)

Israeli billionaire tech entrepreneur Ziv Aviram is teaming up with former President Bill Clinton to launch a climate initiative with startup capital of roughly $1 billion. The fund was announced Monday at the Clinton Global Initiative conference, held annually in Manhattan to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

Eye to the future: Aviram is the co-founder of Mobileye, an autonomous vehicle firm acquired by Intel in 2017, and co-CEO of OrCam, an artificial intelligence device manufacturer for the visually impaired. In 2021, together with his wife and four children, he founded the Aviram Foundation to support entrepreneurs making social change in Israel and the Middle East. “Let’s ensure a better future for us and for all future generations,” Aviram said on Monday at the conference. “After all, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Good investment: “Climate change is an existential threat that grows more urgent with every passing day — but the good news is that we already know how to address it,” Clinton, who will serve as chair of the advisory board, said in a statement. “By investing in innovation and working together across every sector of society to change the ways we produce and consume energy, we can prevent the worst impacts of climate change, create millions of good jobs, and preserve our planet for future generations.” Both the Aviram Foundation and Clinton Foundation said they would use the profits from the fund toward further philanthropy.

Read the full report here.

Talking Turkey

Erdogan meets with Jewish leaders, amid improving relations with Israel

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2023 in New York City.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2023 in New York City. (Adam Gray/Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a private discussion with approximately 30 American Jewish leaders yesterday in New York City’s Turkish House, across the street from U.N. headquarters, highlighting his growing ties with Israel and denouncing antisemitism, participants who were present at the conversation told Matthew Kassel from eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Respectful and cordial: During the meeting, the Turkish leader fielded questions on a range of topics, participants said, including renewed ties between Turkey and Israel, rising antisemitism, Holocaust education, Russia’s war in Ukraine and Iranian nuclear capabilities. “I’ve been attending these meetings for about 20 years since he’s been president, and I would say this is the most cordial meeting that I remember,” Abe Foxman, the former longtime director of the Anti-Defamation League who was among the participants who met with Erdogan, said in an interview with JI. “The rhetoric on both sides was respectful.”

Some tension though: William Daroff, the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said the Jewish leaders who attended the meeting “pledged to welcome” Erdogan’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem “and to work to ensure the relationship” between Turkey and Israel “continues to improve and flourish.” There were some points of tension, according to participants who asked to remain anonymous to discuss more sensitive elements of the conversation, specifically referring to concerns over Israeli hostages held by Hamas, which has maintained a presence in Turkey.

Read the full report hereand sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.

Bigger Faster Stronger

Branch out: The benefits of regional staff and centers

Rabbi Avi Strausberg, Hadar Institute's director of national learning initiatives, at Hadar's DC yom iyyun (day of Torah learning).
Rabbi Avi Strausberg, Hadar Institute’s director of national learning initiatives, at Hadar’s DC yom iyyun (day of Torah learning). (Courtesy/Hadar Institute)

“Over the last few years, many grantee-partners of the Jim Joseph Foundation have created or expanded regional operations. The impetus or approach varied from one organization to the next, but in each case they and the foundation recognized the potential benefits of a regional structure. When we asked grantee-partners to share their rationale for using or expanding their regional structure, as well any challenges they experienced in the process and positive outcomes they have observed since making the shift, several themes emerged,” the Jim Joseph Foundation shares in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Design to meet demand: “When the Hadar Institute opens a new regional office, it’s because there is both broader demand for its style and approach to learning and a critical mass of people asking Hadar to invest in their city, says Hadar President and CEO Rabbi Elie Kaunfer. … One of the challenges of regional expansion is that Hadar initially sends a small team, often only one person, and they end up being a mini-start up in the context of a larger organization. ‘That is why we look for candidates with entrepreneurial energy,’ says Rabbi Kaunfer. ‘Our directors are educators-slash-rabbis, which allows for learning to happen throughout the year.’”

Collaborate, but also divide and conquer: “‘We’ve learned from our peers and seen over the past year that the regional model strengthens consistency across our programming, fosters increased collaboration across communities in the same region, and provides more opportunities for staff and fellows to come together to learn and connect,’ says Repair the World Chief Strategy Officer Kate O’Bannon. ‘The added support also frees up local leadership to focus on the service and Jewish learning programming, since much of the fundraising responsibility and some relationship building has been transferred to the regional team.’”

Read the full piece here.

A philanthropic philosophy

We are what we believe

Dr. Bruce Powell (center), dean of the School for Jewish Education and Leadership at American Jewish University, receives the inaugural Marvin I. Schotland Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. Schotland (second from right), the longtime president and CEO of The Foundation, retired at the end of 2022. Pictured with Powell and Schotland are (from left): Evan Schlessinger, Foundation board chair; Daniella Kahen, trustee; and Rabbi Aaron Lerner, Foundation president and chief executive officer.
Dr. Bruce Powell (center), dean of the School for Jewish Education and Leadership at American Jewish University, receives the inaugural Marvin I. Schotland Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. Schotland (second from right), the longtime president and CEO of The Foundation, retired at the end of 2022. Pictured with Powell and Schotland are (from left): Evan Schlessinger, Foundation board chair; Daniella Kahen, trustee; and Rabbi Aaron Lerner, Foundation president and chief executive officer. (Keats Elliot Photography)

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) recently presented the inaugural Marvin Schotland Leadership Award, which includes a $50,000 donor-advised fund (DAF), to Bruce Powell, dean of the School for Jewish Education and Leadership at American Jewish University. Powell shares his philanthropic philosophy and Schotland’s role in shaping it in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

A personal model: “I learned from Marvin that philanthropy was the actualization of Jewish justice in our world. Debby’s and my charitable philosophy evolved from that; and unbeknownst to him, Marvin became my philanthropic rebbe.”

Giving through donor-advised funds: “It occurred to me that our DAF at the Jewish Community Foundation is akin to a philanthropic paint brush: a tool that brings into focus our vision for justice through thoughtful and strategic giving … The Torah teaches us, ‘Tzedek tzedek tirdof’ — ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue.’ The Preamble to our American Constitution implores us to ‘establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare.’ Debby and I cannot imagine a better way to fulfill both of these Torah and American ideals than through our DAF at The Foundation, which has now been strengthened by this incredible gift.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Easing Minds Impacts Funding: In Inside Philanthropy, Wendy Paris profiles Focusing Philanthropy, a “venture-capital-firm-inflected non-profit” pitching itself as a credible source of well-vetted giving opportunities supporting impactful, scalable initiatives. “Donors ask themselves a series of questions about the impact of their dollars, consciously or not. These questions include things like: ‘How confident am I that this organization can deploy my dollars effectively?’ Or ‘How will I know what happened?’ Many donors are paralyzed by these questions. They give less than they otherwise would or default to a familiar slate of ‘safe’ recipients… Focusing Philanthropy attempts to answer these questions, improving donors’ giving experience and expanding the range of organizations they support.” [InsidePhilanthropy]

A Standard Measurement Tool: At the Reuters IMPACT Summit last week, billionaire environmentalist Andre Hoffmann called for the creation and adoption of a common accounting system that corporations could use to meaningfully gauge their social and environmental impact, Simon Jessop reports for Reuters. “Getting there would likely require a reassessment of the role of a company and the fiduciary duty of board directors, [Hoffman] added, saying fiduciary duty should not just be about maximising returns but also ‘contributing to society in a positive manner.’ Currently natural capital such as water and clean air is treated as free, which is a ‘basic flaw in the system,’ Hoffmann said. Failure to protect nature could result in annual global losses of $2.7 trillion a year by 2030 if ecological tipping points were reached, according to a World Bank report in 2021.” [Reuters]

Around the Web

OneTable broke its record of most people hosted at Shabbat dinners last weekend, with 7,000 diners at nearly 700 meals across the country on Sept. 15, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. The previous record was 5,100 people at 630 dinners set in December 2022…

Businessman and philanthropist Howard Buffet, the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffet, is willing to increase his personal financial support for Ukraine in the event that American public interest in the conflict wanes in the year ahead…

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer was named director of virtual content and programs at the Reconstructionist movement’s RitualWell, which offers online resources for “original, progressive Jewish rituals”…

The Ballmer Group, which is funded by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, committed $175 million to the StriveTogether nonprofit to improve the economic mobility of 4 million young people, particularly those from communities of color. StriveTogether’s president and CEO called the commitment a “game-changing investment” for the organization…

The Together Plan, a British-Belarusian nonprofit, is creating a new memorial in the Belarusian town of Brest in what was once a Jewish cemetery but was demolished to make a sports field. The memorial will make use of hundreds of fragments of headstones that have been recovered…

Stan Polovets, an oil industry executive and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, is being accused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in a new lawsuit. Polovets has denied the allegations…

Nonprofit groups from across the political spectrum are pushing back against a move by House GOP members to more closely regulate political activities by organizations with nonprofit status…

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism…

Representatives from the Philadelphia Jewish community traveled to the commonwealth’s capital last week to lobby lawmakers to increase Pennsylvania’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program…

Carole Rothman, the president and artistic director of the nonprofit Second Stage Theater in New York, will step down from her position after 45 years with the organization…

The family of Hedwig Stern, a Jewish art collector who survived the Holocaust, is suing New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for allegedly selling a van Gogh painting — now estimated to be worth some $70 million — that was looted from Stern as he fled the Nazis and covering up the sale…

Am Echad, a pro-Israel advocacy organization affiliated with Agudath Israel of America, denounced recent protests in New York against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying they could “undermine the Israeli efforts against the Iranian nuclear threat”…

The Eisner Foundation, created by former chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company Michael Eisner, announced nearly $1.5 million in grants to a number of groups in Southern California…

Harold Berger, a former judge and significant donor in the Philadelphia area, died last month at 98… 

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Save a Child’s Heart

Shahad, an 18-year-old woman from Gaza, lies in bed recovering last week after a rare pacemaker implant procedure at the Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital in the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, outside of Tel Aviv. Dr. Michael Geist, director of the Electrophysiology and Pacemakers Unit; Dr. Alona Raucher Sternfeld, head of the hospital’s pediatric cardiology team; and Shahad’s mother stand over her.

Shahad, whose last name was not provided, required the pacemaker as she was born with a hole in her heart. But this was complicated by the fact that she also had an abnormal configuration of blood vessels and did not have a major vein connecting her lower body to her heart, which required the device to be implanted through her neck — a procedure that has never been performed in Israel before. Funding for the procedure was provided by the Save a Child’s Heart nonprofit.

After she recuperated, Shahad was recently released and returned home to Gaza.


Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

Chair of the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Cheryl Fishbein

One of the highest-grossing Hollywood box office producers of all time, plus the producer of many commercially successful TV shows, Jerry Bruckheimer… President of JDC, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Mark B. Sisisky… Professor at Harvard Law School, Cass Sunstein… and his wife, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, he serves as minister of national infrastructure, energy and water, Israel Katz… Immediate past international president of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, now chair of the board of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Debbi Kaner Goldich… Owner of Total Wine & More, the largest alcohol retailer in the U.S., he is now a member of the House of Representatives (D-MD) and a 2024 candidate for U.S. Senate, David Trone… Professor of political science at Tel Aviv University and professor emeritus at Georgetown, Yossi Shain… One-half the renowned film-making team of the Coen Brothers, Ethan Jesse Coen… Attorney, author of seven books and conservative talk show host, Mark R. Levin… Retired managing director of equity trading at Goldman Sachs, Andrew Berman… Co-founder of the private investment firm Centerbridge Partners, Jeffrey Aronson… Russian businessman who fell out of favor with President Putin, now living in Israel, Leonid Nevzlin… 2015 Covenant Award recipient, author of a series of courses for the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, Sandra Lilienthal… Director of the Board of Jewish Education Chicago-JTeach, Alissa C. Zuchman, Ph.D…. Janet Bunting… Senior partner at polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Anna Greenberg, Ph.D…. Emmy Award-winning talk show host, actress and producer, Ricki Lake… Guitarist and music producer in Israel, Nachman Fahrner… Managing editor of the New York Jewish Week, Lisa Keys… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates, from District 16 in Montgomery County, Marc Alan Korman… Associate professor of radiology at Duke, he is an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, Dr. Benjamin M. Wildman-Tobriner… Former program director for strategic engagement at B’nai B’rith International, now at Meridian International Center, Sienna Girgenti… COO of TAMID Group, Nathan Gilson… Teaching fellow at Harvard College and the Harvard Kennedy School, Mia Appelbaum… Member of the Michigan House of Representatives, Noah Jeremy Arbit… Rap musician, known professionally as Token, Benjamin David Goldberg… Senior director at FTI Consulting, Scott Frankel