Your Daily Phil: New study on philanthropy exclusive to women and girls in Israel

Good Wednesday morning!

The Wayfarer Foundation is offering a $100,000 challenge grant to support the University of Haifa’s Laboratory for Religious Studies, which will host scholars and students interested in exploring different faiths as they manifest in the life of Israel’s third-largest city, known for its ethnic and religious diversity, a spokesman told eJewishPhilanthropy.

The matching grant comes after the foundation made a $50,000 grant to the university in June, announced by Steve Sarowitz, a board member and the founder of Paylocity, the human services and payroll company. Sarowitz is a member of the Baha’i faith, which is headquartered in Haifa in the Baha’i World Center. About 40% of the University of Haifa’s undergraduate population is Arab.

The university and the foundation envision the laboratory as the first iteration of a larger center for religious studies where scholars will conduct research, promote dialogue and engage with the public. Sarowitz, University of Haifa President Ron Robin, Rabbi Na’ama Dafni-Kellen, Archbishop Yousef Matta and Muslim leader Mu’ad Odeh will participate in an interfaith panel, “Mobilizing Change Through Inter-Religious Collaboration” on Dec. 2.


Women and girls’ causes in Israel receive .9% of philanthropic funding


What is widely believed to be the first-ever study of philanthropic support for women and girls in Israel has found that groups exclusively serving that demographic receive less than 1% of all funds, and the majority of what is given goes to three legacy organizations whose mission is to serve women only indirectly by focusing on children’s issues. Because Israeli society is so diverse, many women and girls have needs that are specific to their religious or ethnic group and are not being met by the legacy groups, Kylie Eisman-Lifschitz, who initiated the study, told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Capacity constraints: “What you see is a proliferation of nonprofits that have arisen to address these issues, and they’re all very underfunded,” she said. A 2018 report commissioned by the Dafna Fund, an Israeli feminist grant-maker, and the National Council of Jewish Women documented more than 100 Israeli organizations devoted exclusively to advancing women’s status or promoting gender equality by working on issues such as political representation, the wage gap, religious freedom and gender-based violence.

Research inspired by experience: Eisman-Lifschitz is the founder and principal of Workwell, a management consulting firm, and the board chair of Mavoi Satum, a women’s rights organization. It was her experience with Mavoi Satum that led her to realize the extent to which funding is limited for Israeli nonprofits that focus on women’s and girls’ issues. The study, sponsored by Workwell, was done in partnership with independent researchers and with Hebrew University’s Institute for the Study of Civil Society and Philanthropy in Israel. It analyzes publicly available budget data of nonprofits available through Guidestar and the Israeli charities bureau, known as the Registrar of Non-Profits.

A dearth of data: “I joined the research as we wanted to study in-depth the situation of giving with a gender lens in Israel. While there are studies about it in other countries, this issue has never been studied in Israel before,” said Professor Michal Almog Bar, head of the institute. Because the three legacy organizations — Emunah, a women’s Zionist organization; Na’amat, which has its roots in the Zionist Labor movement; and WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) — receive 86% of philanthropic funding, very little is left over for other groups, which have average annual budgets of NIS 2 million, or about $600,000.

Read more here.


Augmented reality: Elevating our stories, augmenting our lives

JArts Gallery

“My husband, Mike, likes to tell people that the first time I watched the ‘Facing the Flag’ vignette in the JArts Gallery augmented reality app there was a tear in my eye. This is notable because I am not one to cry, so even was surprised by how much this piece, that brought 1930s Germany into my living room, moved me,” writes Laura Conrad Mandel, executive director of Boston’s Jewish Arts Collaborative, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Background: “Early in the pandemic, Mike and I were lamenting the fact that Hanukkah 2020 would not be the same without the annual JArts gathering at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. For six years, this event had brought thousands of us together for Hanukkah, featuring art talks and performances throughout the galleries, a community candle lighting of a custom-commissioned art Hanukkiah, and an experimental virtual reality art installation. So, in thinking about how we could bring a bit of that evening’s magical feeling into our own home, we knew this was the moment to merge all our learnings from years of experimenting with virtual reality with our vision for using augmented reality, the ability to digitally overlay images onto our physical space. By adding these virtual elements, we can trick our brains into feeling more physically connected to an otherwise flat image.”

Read the full piece here.


What do you do when things stop working?


“I call myself an accidental Jewish professional. I volunteered at an organization, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and fell into a job there while still in college. Graduating in the middle of a financial crisis, I jumped at a full-time offer at the organization. It was there that my love of the Jewish nonprofit sector bloomed. It was also there where I learned that my organizational skills, quick turnaround time and trusty highlighters were a perfect fit for a career in operations,” writes Marisa Diehl, senior communications associate at Leading Edge, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

New job: “Such was the case three years ago when I was lucky enough to join the staff of Leading Edge, an organization with a mission I hold dear… But soon after I joined the team, things started to change. Suddenly I couldn’t remember things with the same clarity. Typos and missed details crept into my work. I had to reread instructions over and over before understanding what to do. Some people may not see this as a big deal, if that’s been their past experience, but that was never me before… Color-coded files, the ability to anticipate the needs of my team, these were not just things I happened to be good at, but things that made up the entire basis of my work identity. And now they weren’t working. I now needed to work twice as hard to do things that were half as efficient.”

Deepening problems: “But it didn’t stop there. I was getting sick. A lot. And each time, it would take me much longer to bounce back. I went to general physicians and specialists. Each gave me a different diagnosis and spun me into a tornado of unanswered questions. Enter the flaming dumpster of a year: 2020. Along with the small stressor of a global pandemic, I noticed even more cognitive issues. It was when I lost vision in my left eye that I realized something was seriously wrong. After about two years of searching for answers, I finally received a more certain diagnosis: Relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.”

Asking for help: “I needed to adapt, but had no idea where to start. I was overwhelmed, exhausted and terrified of losing my job… I am not one to ask for help; I’m the one folks go to when they need help. But my supervisor, who during this entire ordeal had been patient, empathetic and kind, went above and beyond to help me navigate this seemingly impossible terrain and pushed me to take care of myself.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Back On Track: In The New York Times, Robin Pogrebin reports that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has secured the lead donation — of $125 million, from trustee Oscar L. Tang and his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang — that will enable it to rebuild its wing for contemporary art, delayed since 2017 due to financial problems. Oscar L. Tang, the museum’s first Asian-American trustee, says that the new wing will house Leonard A. Lauder’s gift of Cubist paintings, drawings and sculptures, in addition to a more inclusive modern collection. “The Met has a special opportunity to be much more global in the context of Modern and contemporary,” Tang said. “In the art field, there has been insufficient focus on this. We wanted to help the museum move in that direction, beyond the Western canon.” [NYTimes]

A New Pair Of Shoes: The National Museum of American Jewish History, which emerged from bankruptcy in mid-September, is now able to purchase its building, clear its construction debt and create an eight-figure endowment thanks to a gift from shoe mogul Stuart Weitzman, writes Stephan Salisbury in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The museum will now be named the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History after the entrepreneur, who is from Massachusetts and was attracted to the museum because of his interest in George Washington’s letter to the Jewish community of Newport, R.I., which the museum featured in a 2012 exhibition. The museum’s CEO, Misha Galperin, who first shared the news in an eJewishPhilanthropy post, could not disclose the amount of the gift but said it is “very significant and it deserves the name of … the museum. It really ensures our future.” [PhillyInquirer]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Joy Sisisky has been named interim CEO of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund while the organization continues its search for a replacement for current CEO Danny Grossman, who will step down on Dec. 31… Tel Aviv has been ranked the most expensive city in the world, according to The Economist… The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment announced 84 grants totaling more than $82 million in support of theological schools across the United States and Canada… A new report from Fidelity Charitable finds 59% of Americans say they would rather have a donation made on their behalf to their favorite charity than receive a gift for themselves this year… Charities that provide holiday gifts to kids are facing purchasing challenges resulting from global supply chain bottlenecks… Applications are open for the next cohort of the UpStart Venture Accelerator

Pic of the Day

Shavei Israel

Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel designed and produced hundreds of dreidels with Mandarin lettering for the Jews of Kaifeng, China. The dreidels are believed to be the first ones made incorporating Chinese characters.


Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Emmy Award-winning stand-up comedian, Sarah Silverman… 
Retired judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, now of counsel at Elliott Greenleaf, Bruce William Kauffman… Chairman and former CEO of Marvel Entertainment, Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter… NYC-based real estate investor, he owned the New York Post and is a noted car collector, Peter Kalikow… Executive producer of over 200 shows, David E. Salzman… Singer-songwriter, actress and producer, Bette Midler… Comedian and actor, best known for his starring role in the animated sitcom “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,” Jonathan Katz… Director of Yashrut, Rabbi Daniel Landes… British playwright, director and scriptwriter, Stephen Poliakoff… U.S. senator (R-FL), Rick Scott… Chair of the board of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Isaac “Ike” Fisher… Judge of the U.S. District Court of Oregon, Michael H. Simon… U.S. senator (D-MI), Gary Peters… CEO of Oracle Corporation, Safra A. Catz… Exec. VP of Howard County (Md.) Jewish Federation, immediate past president of The Good People Fund, rabbi of Temple Shalom Myrtle Beach (S.C.), and founder of, Rabbi Gordon Fuller… Professor in the department of mathematics and physics at the University of Cambridge, Raymond E. Goldstein… Assistant vice chancellor for communications at the University of Pittsburgh, David Seldin… CEO at My Pest Pros, Brett Lieberman… Rabbi of Shaarei Tefillah Congregation in Toronto, Rafi Lipner… Principal in the media and communications practice at The Raben Group, Yochi J. Dreazen… Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning director and actor, Akiva Schaffer… Former chief communications officer at Oath, Natalie Ravitz… Senior national political columnist at the National JournalJosh Kraushaar… English teacher at Jerusalem’s Keshet Talpaz public elementary school, Shira Sacks… Principal at Magen Strategies, David Milstein… Becky Weissman…
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