Your Daily Phil: OurCrowd’s $200m health fund + JFNA scales up interfaith initiative
Good Tuesday morning!
In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on a new $200 million investment from Jon Medved’s OurCrowd in global health equity and feature an op-ed by JFNA’s Dani Kupfer on helping interfaith couples explore Judaism. Also in this newsletter: Bill Clinton; philanthropists Shahid and Ann Margaret Khan and the Walton family; and Jewish communal professionals Karen Wolk Feinstein, Cantor Rebecca Joy Fletcher and Rachel Ralston. We’ll start with the scene at a black-tie gala last night in Manhattan featuring Robert Kraft, Henry Kissinger and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Dignitaries, religious leaders and corporate executives gathered at the five-star Pierre Hotel in midtown Manhattan last night for the annual gala of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Rabbi Arthur Schneier half a century ago to promote human rights and interfaith tolerance.
The black-tie gala was the group’s first one held in-person since 2019, and the first since Schneier, the senior rabbi of Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue, a prominent Modern Orthodox synagogue known for hosting world leaders, attracted attention nearly a year ago for abruptly firing his assistant rabbi, Benjamin Goldschmidt, who has since started a new synagogue called The Altneu.
Any drama was absent last night, when Schneier’s group honored New England Patriots owner and philanthropist Robert Kraft, as well as outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Jean-Paul Agon, chairman of the L’Oréal Group. The dinner, like many other high-profile events this week, was held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, and was closed to press, though a livestream was available.
Following operatic renditions of the Italian and U.S. national anthems, speakers praised the work of the foundation as well as Schneier, 92, and his six-decade career.
Kraft, who along with Agon received the Appeal of Conscience Award, said his life was guided by the (phonetic) “four f’s”: “family, faith, football and philanthropy.” Kraft spoke about his support nearly two decades ago for same-sex marriage, as well as his more recent support for criminal justice reform, access to health care and combating antisemitism.
“As I’ve grown older, the ability to impact my community, particularly where there are areas of inequities and injustices, has become more important to me,” Kraft said. “Now, when I wake up each morning, my focus has moved from what it’s going to do with my businesses to how I can use the platform and resources available to me to fight the inequities and injustices I see in the world.”
Draghi, who resigned in July and will leave office following the Italian elections on Sunday, received the World Statesman Award. He was introduced by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 99, who spoke from his seat, and said Draghi was selected because the Italian president “could be sure that whatever proposals Prime Minister Draghi would make to him would be based on an analysis of the common good and of the national purpose.”
When Draghi took the podium, he defended international cooperation in the face of militarism, polarization and autocracy. “We must be clear and vocal about the founding values of our societies,” he said. “I’m referring to our belief in democracy and the rule of law, respect for human rights and commitment to global solidarity… When we draw a red line, we must enforce it. When we make a pledge, we must honor it.”
OurCrowd launches $200 million health-focused impact investing fund
OurCrowd, the Jerusalem-based emerging startup investment firm, is launching a $200 million impact investment fund devoted to advancing global health equity, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.
Partnership: The fund, announced Monday at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York City, is OurCrowd’s largest single impact investment project to date. It’s being organized in conjunction with the WHO Foundation, which directs philanthropic dollars to help achieve the goals of the World Health Organization.
Breakthrough tech: The fund is “focusing on breakthrough technologies that are not only going to provide new products and services in therapeutics diagnostics, vaccines, digital health, all of the classic things, but also addressing underlying causes that affect health,” Jon Medved, OurCrowd’s founder and CEO, told eJP. “We’re dealing with a crisis in health, in climate, in food and many of the solutions are going to come from startup companies.”
A-list meeting: Impact investing was a theme that appeared throughout the first morning of the two-day Clinton Global Initiative Meeting, which is also taking place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Huge banners at the conference urged attendees — among them prime ministers, corporate executives and heads of large nonprofits — to “commit to action.” Global health equity was among the challenges that former President Bill Clinton outlined in his opening speech, alongside climate change and continued recovery from the pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic ripped the cover off a lot of long-standing health inequities across borders,” Clinton said.
How to help interfaith couples Embark on their exploration of Judaism
“Josh and Katherine met on a geology study trip in Switzerland while attending college at the University of Pennsylvania… Josh grew up in a vibrant and progressive Reform Jewish family and attended a Jewish elementary and middle school. Katherine, on the other hand, grew up in Hong Kong and did not have a lot of exposure to Judaism,” writes Dani Kupfer, the national product manager for exploring Judaism at the Jewish Federations of North America, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Transformative experience: “The two fell in love hiking in the Alps and got married under a chuppah last month. Along the way, Katherine grew to admire the values that Josh inherited growing up in a Jewish family and an extended Jewish community. They decided to explore Judaism together through the Center for Exploring Judaism at Central Synagogue in New York City, where they lived. They studied the tenets of Judaism as part of a group cohort comprised primarily of other young interfaith couples. It was a transformative experience, establishing a foundation for Jewish learning and a sense of community upon which they plan to build their lives and raise their kids.”
Embark: “Today, Josh’s mother, venture philanthropist Laura Lauder, is helping other interfaith couples navigate their paths to exploring Judaism. Inspired by the power and efficacy of Central Synagogue’s program, Laura approached the Jewish Federations of North America about scaling the program nationally. After a year of thoughtful planning, Embark, an initiative sponsored by the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund in partnership with JFNA, launched in Miami on Sept. 13.”
Restoring Healthcare Faith: Karen Wolk Feinstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, recently addressed the need for “activist philanthropy” and efforts to reduce medical errors, Daniel Bates writes in Pittsburgh Business Times: “‘In health care, you have many times more deaths, but somehow people have no clear visuals, no faces to connect to the ‘crashes,’ often no media coverage of even sentinel events. They can’t imagine that medical error could affect them… There’s a numbness that shocks me. But I think there may be something else at work. We need to have faith in our doctors and our medical systems. I think people need and want to believe that they will be safe, that their doctor has a lot of magical wisdom that will keep them well. Safety in medical care becomes a kind of faith – don’t ask questions, don’t challenge any advice, intervention or bad outcome – because you want to believe that, when you go for help, you’ll get healed and not hurt. However, things may be changing. The pandemic has also demonstrated a surprising new lack of trust in our health systems, national health authorities and even the advice of personal physicians.’” [PittsburghBusinessTimes]
Legal Largesse: Due to the increased number of immigrants seeking court permission to avoid deportation, Los Angeles foundations have joined with local governments to direct millions of dollars to pay for lawyers to represent the immigrants, Alex Daniels writes in The Chronicle of Philanthropy: “Philanthropy was also willing to quickly provide cash with fewer restrictions than those imposed by local governments to groups that train and hire lawyers. The early success of the foundation-supported effort, say nonprofit and government officials, helped unlock larger, sustained contributions from the city and county of Los Angeles… In addition to the legal representation paid for by the county, defendants and their families can receive wraparound services, like mental-health treatment, child care, and the provision of basic necessities that foundation-supported nonprofits provide.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]
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Word on the Street
The Jewish Federation of New Mexico has nearly run out of money and staff, and all of its programs have been suspended or are being handed over to other community entities, according to interviews and court records…
The Jewish People Policy Institute, a Jerusalem-based think tank, released the “2022 Annual Assessment of the Situation and Dynamics of the Jewish People.” The report noted that the success of Israel’s high-tech sector has created a class of wealthy Israelis whose numbers have increased significantly. “Although Israeli philanthropy is trending upward to a degree, it is still far from the desirable levels,” the report said. “The flourishing of high-tech constitutes an opportunity for Israelis to step up their support of the development of Israeli society… and it will embody a unifying Jewish value for Israel and the Diaspora”…
Sefaria published the first-ever digital English translation of the Mishneh Torah, side by side with other Jewish texts. The Mishneh Torah, authored by Maimonides in the 12th century, consists of 14 books and is a major code of Jewish law…
A survey commissioned by Masa Israel Journey, an umbrella organization for young adult long-term programs in Israel, found that American Jews between the ages of 20 and 45 who participated in programs in Israel lasting at least four months were more likely to be engaged with Israel and Judaism after they return. That held true as well for participants who came to Israel without prior involvement in Jewish communal institutions like day school or camp.
The survey was conducted between August and October 2021 and reached 2,433 respondents through alumni lists and a survey panel provider. The margin of error was 2%.
Shahid and Ann Margaret Khan and their children, Tony and Shanna, donated $15 million to support the integrated-oncology program at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital and establish three endowed faculty chairs…
Builders Initiative, the philanthropic arm of the impact investment platform founded by Walton Family Foundation board member Lukas Walton and his wife, Samantha, announced the near-complete transition of its reported $1 billion endowment into mission-related investments and collaborations with nonprofits, businesses and other changemakers…
Cantor Rebecca Joy Fletcher has joined Coastal Roots Farm as its first director of Jewish life…
Rachel Ralston was named program officer at the Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust. Ralston was previously executive director of San Francisco Hillel…
Pic of the Day
Nine Israel Defense Forces (IDF) combat officers completed a special visit to U.S. Jewish communities last week in Birthright Israel’s program, Reverse Mifgash – IDF Officers Mission, which aims to familiarize Israeli soldiers with American Jewry. This was the third delegation sent to the U.S. since the program launched in 2019. Above, the IDF officers during their visit to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
Author, television personality and philanthropist, Candy Spelling…
Florida real estate developer of Aventura and Turnberry Isle Resort, Donald Soffer… Wealth management advisor, he won four Super Bowls with the Steelers during his 8-year career as a tight end, C. Randy Grossman… Dean of the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Rabbi Ahron Lopiansky… Senior chairman of Goldman Sachs since 2019, prior to which he served as CEO there for 13 years, Lloyd Blankfein… Co-founder of Broadcom and owner of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, Henry Samueli… Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, Yosef Elron… Insurance agent in Tulsa, Okla., Lawrence M. Schreier… Real estate developer, sports agent and boxing promoter, Marc Roberts… Former rabbi of Congregation Beit Torat Chaim of Jakarta, Indonesia, Rabbi Tovia Singer… Assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Texas, he was the goalkeeper for the U.S. field hockey team at the 1984 Summer Olympics, Randolph B. “Randy” Lipscher… Attorney, author and legal analyst on NBC, Lisa Bloom… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, Keren Barak… Founder of PFAP Consulting and special advisor for the Efrat Development Foundation, Melissa Jane Kronfeld…. Republican policy director at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, James Mazol… Senior reporter at Bloomberg LP, Drew Singer… Senior associate at Blue Laurel Advisors in Israel, Emily Grunewald… Director of membership for the Sacramento-based California Solar & Storage Association, Carter Lavin… Director of digital strategy and executive communications at Sony Music Entertainment, Alison Bogdonoff… Senior manager of brand marketing at Sakara Life, Zoe Plotsky… Manhattan resident, Isabel Eliana Tsesarsky… Lauren Ackerman…
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