Your Daily Phil: Oregon Jewish federations’ farewell to fossil fuels

Good Friday morning.

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 eJewishPhilanthropy, Jewish Insider and The Circuit stories, including: Honoring survivors who gave testimonies, Steven Spielberg warns Jews again have to fight for ‘the very right to be Jewish’; Joe Lieberman, Conn. senator and first Jewish VP nominee, dead at 82; Traditionally quiet campuses now face widespread anti-Israel activityPrint the latest edition here.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on a British Jewish family’s decision to cut ties with a university over antisemitism, and feature an opinion piece by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso about the continued importance of congregational rabbis and another by Steven Windmeuller about threats to the historical “contract” between Jews and America. Also in this newsletter: Theresa Serber MalkielJoe Lieberman and Alan Solow. We’ll start with two Jewish federations in Oregon divesting their investment portfolios of fossil fuels. Shabbat shalom!

Two Jewish federations in Oregon — one in Portland and the other in Eugene — are the first in the country to remove fossil fuels, the main drivers of climate change, from their investment portfolios. Leaders of the federations cite Jewish values in making the move, an initiative backed by the Dayenu environmental nonprofit, which was announced on Wednesday, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen.

“Taking action on climate change — the existential threat of our time — is an important way we ensure Jewish life and culture can thrive l’dor vador, from generation to generation,” the leaders wrote in a statement. 

Representatives from both organizations also noted that the decision was a financial one as well. “In addition to being the main driver of the climate crisis, fossil fuels are a declining industry and have underperformed the rest of the market over the past decade,” Hank Kaplan, a board member at the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, said in a statement.

The votes to divest were supported by Dayenu, a group that mobilizes Jewish support for climate crisis action. Withdrawing funds from the leading drivers of climate change is just one step toward aiding the crisis. But Rabbi Jacob Siegel, the group’s climate finance adviser, emphasized that the financial arena is “a key area in systemic solutions.”  

The same week that the two Jewish federations in Oregon voted to divest, the state legislature passed a bill to direct the state’s pension fund to pull $1 billion invested in coal. While more than a third of the 1,600 institutions that have made similar commitments to divest from fossil fuels are faith-based, only a handful come from the American Jewish community. 

Martha MacRitchie, chair of the Jewish Federation of Lane County, which includes the city of Eugene, expressed hope that other federations nationwide will follow suit and “are concerned about the accelerating impacts of the climate crisis on Jewish life.”

In December 2022, Dayenu published a report, a snapshot of Jewish communal investments, which highlighted a $3 billion opportunity to move institutions’ investments out of fossil fuels and into clean energy solutions. The report offered a six-step road map and resources for Jewish institutions. “The idea wasn’t to invoke shame or guilt, but rather a positive sense of opportunity,” Siegel told eJP. 

“Climate is being increasingly added to the list [of priorities] because federations are seeing it as a Jewish issue,” Siegel said. “I think it’s growing as people recognize the urgency of the climate crisis in this crucial window of time.”

Read the full report here.


British Jewish family dissociates from university that honored activist who accused Israel of harvesting Palestinian organs

King's Walk on Newcastle University's campus.
King’s Walk on Newcastle University’s campus.

Members of a British Jewish family removed their name from an endowed chair at Newcastle University in northwest England after the school awarded an honorary degree to an activist who repeatedly compared Israel to Nazi Germany and accused the country of harvesting the organs of Palestinian children, both of which are widely considered to be antisemitic tropes, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

A racist anti-racist activist: The family of David Goldman, who endowed a chair and professorship in his honor shortly after he died in 1999, quickly wrote to the university to lodge a complaint on the grounds that the remarks made by Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, a prominent British activist on issues related to inequality’s remark, were antisemitic, making it farcical to give her an honorary degree for her work combating racism. “It is simply impossible to honor someone for anti-racist activism, while – at the very same time – they spread racist views. As the university has acknowledged, antisemitism is a form of racism,” wrote Goldman’s wife, Cynthia Goldman, in a letter to the university’s vice chancellor, Chris Day.

‘What the situation calls for’: While several donors have halted their partnerships with American universities over the administration’s response to antisemitism, the Goldman family appears to be the first to do so in Europe since Oct. 7. “We are not particularly brave. It’s just what the situation calls for,” Goldman’s son, Daniel Goldman, told eJP.

Read the full report here.


In defense of the congregational rabbinate

Illustrative. Rabbi Penina Alexander, left, and her husband Rabbi Aaron Alexander, right, prepare for the brit milah of their 8-day-old son officiated by mohelet April Rubin at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, 2016.

“Recent articles about the state of synagogues in the United States describe an impending crisis: Fewer American Jews are studying for the rabbinate; and among those who do, fewer want to serve congregations… After 50 years as a rabbi — 39 as a congregational rabbi — I want to celebrate the gifts of the congregational rabbinate and call attention to what would be lost in its absence,” writes Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, senior rabbi emerita of Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis and a contributor to the Clergy Leadership Incubator Synagogue Innovation Blog, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy. 

Building intergenerational community: “Congregational rabbis walk through the life cycle with families, know generational joys and sorrows and help people, with whom they celebrate and mourn, sanctify the everyday. Congregational rabbis nourish souls and accompany us through the seasons of life. Congregations, unlike associations of like-minded individuals, are heterogeneous communities that connect to the larger community in which they reside. Rabbis who lead them do more than create powerful moments — they create enduring relationships.”

Not easy, but worth it: “It is difficult to be a congregational rabbi — to be the bridge, the ‘and,’ that connects a diverse population. There are constant demands and often conflicting expectations. The role requires challenging people and serving them at the same time. Congregational rabbis must educate, inspire and provide moral leadership, all while ensuring that the congregation is well-run and financially sustainable. The communities they create, the relationships they foster, the conversations they enable and the grace they experience make this rabbinic calling a sacred honor and privilege.”

Read the full piece here.


Revisiting ‘the Jewish Contract with America’

Illustration by Vladystock/Getty Images

“More than once, I have had occasion to write elsewhere about ‘the Jewish Contract with America.’ In these earlier essays, I describe the elements that defined American exceptionalism and the Jewish contractual response, and the value-added of such a unique connection between our community and this nation,” writes Steven Windmeuller, professor emeritus of Jewish communal studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Shifting ground: “Today, however, I am compelled to write about the challenges or threats to the historic and special arrangement that Jews have distinctively enjoyed and benefited from in connection with the American story… Politics and society as they exist today are identified as a failed proposition, and the fact that Jews thrived and benefitted within the context of the post-Second World War American liberal culture is seen as an indictment. In an environment of political division and economic uncertainty, social media is accelerating the dissemination of antisemitic tropes and beliefs that further feed and support the negative notion of Jewish ‘control’ and cultural dominance. For the first time, Jews are experiencing a concerted effort, simultaneously from both poles of the political spectrum, to undo and marginalize their political access and influence and thus alter their American contract.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

At Students’ Expense: In Inside Philanthropy, Connie Matthiessen reports on a coalition of funders — including Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies — seeking to deescalate the impact of today’s culture wars in American public schools. “The Education Future Fund recently went public with a new website and an official name, but the funders driving the coalition have been working together for some time. The seven philanthropies teamed up as education culture wars erupted in school districts across the country during and in the wake of the pandemic. The conflicts were ignited by mask mandates and school closures, but morphed and spread as conservative groups hammered educators, administrators, school librarians and school boards about how history is taught, the books on library shelves and the rights of transgender students, among other issues… [Ohio State University political scientist Vladimir] Kogan looked at data from 500 school districts that had culture war conflicts between 2010 and 2018 and found a statistically significant decline in math scores in schools that had such conflicts compared to schools that did not. ‘Too much attention, time and money is being devoted on political battles that rile up adults,’ Kogan wrote in the draft of his forthcoming book No Adult Left Behind. ‘School children pay the price in the form of a worse education.’ In an increasingly polarized political atmosphere and with a presidential election on the horizon, we’re likely to see debates over the direction of education continue to flare. The coalition of funders backing the Education Future Fund don’t think it’s an option for philanthropy to stay on the sidelines.” [InsidePhilanthropy]

Jewish Girl Power: In Teen Vogue, Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt examines the history of the Jewish immigrant behind International Women’s Day: Theresa Serber Malkiel. “In 1891, her family fled Russian antisemitism and arrived on the shores of New York. Here, a 17-year-old Malkiel found work as a cloak-maker on the Lower East Side. Within a year, Malkiel quickly got involved in socialist circles, joining the Russian Workingmen’s Club, and in 1894, she worked to unionize her workplace… As an activist, Malkiel began to write about the hypocrisy she saw within the ranks of her party — she saw activists waxing poetic about workers’ rights, but women’s rights were dismissed. ‘In the heat of the battle for human freedom, the proletarians seem to forget that the woman question is nothing more or less than a question of human rights,’ she wrote in her essay, ‘Where do we stand on the woman question?’ in 1909. ‘We are told very often to keep quiet about our rights and await the social millennium. Safe advice, rather, for the men.’ Later that year, as head of the Socialist Party’s National Woman’s Committee, Malkiel established National Woman’s Day, held in February — largely seen as the precursor to International Women’s Day, now held on March 8th” [TeenVogue]

Around the Web

Jewish Insider, the sister publication of eJewishPhilanthropyinterviews friends, colleagues and acquaintances of Sen. Joe Lieberman, who died Wednesday…

Some 300 Jewish communal leaders, led by former Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Chair Alan Solowsent a letter to President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) affirming their support for the politicians’ more critical rhetoric regarding Israel…

The Baltimore Banner offers recommendations for how to help those affected by the collapse of the city’s Francis Scott Key Bridge

A new survey by Google[dot]org about nonprofits’ use of artificial intelligence found that more than half of respondents, 58%, said that at least some members of their organization use generative AI, while 12% said most members of their group use it…

Joshua Kushner and Karlie Kloss are reviving Life magazine, following a deal between Kushner and Barry Diller’s IAC Inc. holding company…

The Barstool Sports media company and its founder, Dave Portnoyare matching the $750,000 raised by fans of the site for a $1.5 million donation to the family of New York Police Department officer Jonathan Diller, who was shot dead earlier this week…

Apollo Opportunity Foundation, the grantmaking arm of Marc Rowan’s Apollo Global Managementis donating $2 million over the next two years to Girls Who Invest, which advances women and non-binary people in the investment management industry…

Atlanta’s Marcus Jewish Community Center surpassed its $36 million capital campaign goal, raising $36.4 million, which it says will allow it to upgrade its facilities and improve programming; roughly a third of the money is coming from a $12 million donation by the Marcus Family Foundation

A new eight-part series, “We Were the Lucky Ones,” based on a novel of the same name that tracks a Polish Jewish family through the Holocaust, premiered on Hulu yesterday…

Pic of the Day

Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.
Lameck Ododo/IsraAid

IsraAid celebrated World Water Day last week with a ribbon cutting ceremony in Turkana County, northwest Kenya, where control of a new borehole was handed over to the local community. Over the past year, IsraAid has drilled three new boreholes in the county, rehabilitated 14 more and restored access to safe water for over 64,000 people in the local Turkana community as part of the organization’s drought recovery programs. 

The ceremony was held in partnership with the Kakuma Town Water & Sewage Company and Turkana County government. (Read eJewishPhilanthropy’s report from when the efforts began here.)


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Chris Ungar/Zuffa LLC

Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor, Ariel Zev “Ari” Emanuel… 

FRIDAY: Chemist, professor at both Hebrew University and UCLA, winner of the 1974 Israel Prize, Raphael David Levine… Organizer of annual morning minyan services since 1983 for runners in the NYC Marathon, Peter Berkowsky… Attorney, NYT best-selling author, sports agent, Ronald M. Shapiro… Houston-based labor law, employment law and personal injury attorney, Carol Cohen Nelkin… Orthopedic surgeon, he is a former professional boxer, Harold “Hackie” Stuart Reitman, MD… University of Chicago professor and winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for economics, Roger Myerson… Computer scientist and founder of D. E. Shaw & Co., David Elliot Shaw… Economist and chairman of consulting firm Roubini Macro Associates and professor emeritus at NYU, Nouriel Roubini… Miami businesswoman, JoAnne Papir… Co-founder and co-CEO of Cerberus Capital Management, Stephen Andrew Feinberg… U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)… Director of the Mossad, David “Dadi” Barnea… French film director and writer, best known for his 2011 film “The Artist” which won five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Michel Hazanavicius… Deputy chief of staff at The Rockefeller Foundation and adjunct fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Eric Pelofsky… Founder of Leopard Strategies, Liz Jaff… Former assistant U.S. attorney and kosher MRE connoisseur, now a candidate for attorney general of Missouri, Will Scharf… Communications director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, David A. Bergstein… Senior associate at Strategy&, Annie Rosen Pai… Director of business development at Logical Buildings, Alexander Zafran

SATURDAY: Partner of Rose Associates, Elihu Rose… Professor of international trade at Harvard and winner of the Israel Prize in 1991, Elhanan Helpman… Cherry Hill, N.J., resident, Zelda Greenberg… Film and television director, Michael Stephen Lehmann… Comedian, actor, television personality, screenwriter, author and musician, Paul Reiser… Host of Public Radio Exchange’s “The World,” Marco Werman… District attorney of Philadelphia since 2017, he was previously a civil liberties attorney and sued the Philadelphia Police Department 75 times, Larry Krasner… U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria under Presidents Obama and Trump, he is the immediate past-president of the American Foreign Service Association, Eric Seth Rubin… Actor, known for his role as Steve Sanders on the television series “Beverly Hills, 90210,” Ian Ziering… Owner and founder of DC area’s Ark Contracting, Noah Blumberg… Actress, director, producer and ballerina, Juliet Landau… Former U.S. special representative for international negotiations in the Trump administration, now at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jason Dov Greenblatt… Regional director in the Washington office at AJC: Global Jewish Advocacy, Alan Ronkin… Associate dean of students at Bard College, Danna Harman… Tel Aviv-born actress, Mili Avital… Mexican-American chef, she won a James Beard Award for her PBS television series “Pati’s Mexican Table,” Patricia “Pati” Jinich… Former treasurer of Oakland County, Mich., Andy Meisner… Iranian-born LA-based retired actress, Bahar Soomekh… Communications consultant, Gabriela Schneider… Jerusalem-born documentary photographer for the Associated Press, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography in 2007, Oded Balilty… Detroit-area Jewish leader and founder at Multifaith Life, Alicia Chandler… Best-selling author of The Oracle of Stamboul and The Last Watchman of Old CairoMichael David Lukas… Former senior adviser to then-Ambassador David Friedman at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Aryeh Lightstone… Author, composer and playwright, market development director of Sh’ma JournalRobert J. Saferstein… Innovation lead at Avoq, Zach Silber… Senior reporter at the Huffington PostJessica Schulberg… Third baseman for MLB’s Houston Astros, Alex Bregman… JD candidate at NYU Law, Leora Einleger

SUNDAY: Music producer, band leader of the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert… NYT best-selling novelist, poet and social activist, Marge Piercy… Democratic congressman from Massachusetts for 32 years, Barnett “Barney” Frank… U.S. senator (D-VT) for 48 years until last year, Patrick Leahy… Former syndicated talk radio host under the name Michael Savage, he is also a best-selling author and nutritionist under his real name, Michael Alan Weiner… U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-ME)… Comedian, actor and professional poker player, Gabe Kaplan… Retired professor of special education at Long Island University, Joel E. Mittler… Emmy Award-winning actress, known for her role in the sitcom “Cheers” for 11 seasons, Rhea Jo Perlman… Russian ice dancing coach and former competitive ice dancer, now living in Stamford, Conn., Natalia Dubova… Chairman of Apple, Inc. since 2011 and CEO of Calico (an Alphabet R&D biotech venture), Arthur D. Levinson… New Jersey attorney, Steven L. Sacks-Wilner… Scottsdale, Ariz., resident, David L. Freedman… Chairman of Danaher Corporation, Steven M. Rales… Israeli singer and songwriter, Ehud Banai… Former vice-chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, David Breakstone, Ph.D… Author and advertising executive, Joseph Alden Reiman… President at the Detroit-based Nemer Property Group, Larry Nemer… Rabbi of Kehillas Ohr Somayach and lecturer at Ohr Somayach Yeshiva in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz… Show jumping equestrian and 10-time American Grand Prix Association Rider of the Year, she is a 2009 inductee into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Margie Goldstein-Engle… Founding director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and current Los Angeles director of American Jewish Committee, Richard Hirschhaut … Emmy Award-winning writer and producer (“24,” “Homeland” and “Tyrant”), Howard Gordon… Consultant for synagogues, Judah E. Isaacs… Two-term mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn., he is now a special representative for broadband in the U.S. Commerce Department, Andy Berke… Chief economic correspondent for Politico and co-author of its “Morning Money” column, Ben White… Rabbi of the Ashkenazi Jewish community of Turkey, Menachem Mendel Chitrik… Chief legal correspondent at MSNBC, Ari Naftali Melber… Footballer for Beitar Jerusalem, Tal Ben Haim… Internet entrepreneur who is the co-founder and former CMO of Tinder, Justin Mateen… British-French journalist, author of This Is London and Fragile EmpireBen Judah… A 2010 contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” she went on to join the IDF, Esther Petrack… Senior agency lead at Google, Howie Keenan… John Jacobson…