Your Daily Phil: PJ Library’s new fellowship + Reflections on Jewish environmentalism

Good Wednesday morning.

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on a new fellowship to recruit PJ Library artists, and feature an op-ed by Jewish environmental leaders on what they’ve learned during the past seven years. Also in this newsletter: Bill Clinton, NYU’s John Sexton and Rabbi David Mason. We’ll start with news about rising antisemitism and a meeting in Washington, D.C., to address it.

Jewish leaders are gathering at the White House today to discuss antisemitism, and the meeting comes as a fresh batch of data shows antisemitism on the rise in the most Jewish city in the country. A report released by the NYPD on Monday showed that anti-Jewish hate crimes in New York City had more than doubled in November, year over year — the sixth straight month showing an increase in such attacks relative to 2021. It is also occurring amid a stream of antisemitic invective from Kanye West.

“What’s particularly significant about this is it’s coming against the backdrop of the huge public antisemitic outbursts we’ve seen from public figures,” Gideon Taylor, CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, who will not be at the White House meeting, told eJewishPhilanthropy. “What this brought together for me was the top-down antisemitism coming from the Twittersphere, and from social media, and the bottom-up events on the street that are happening. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you’re seeing those two both trending up very dramatically.”

As part of its response to the uptick in attacks, the JCRC is launching a yearlong program called Bridges NY, which will bring together Jewish and non-Jewish rising political and policy leaders in New York to discuss issues and increase cross-cultural understanding. The program will begin in 2023 with a budget in the six figures.

“Bridge-building is for the long haul,” Taylor told eJP. “You can’t see the results of bridge-building sometimes in three months or in six months. It’s something you build over years.”

The meeting in Washington will be chaired by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, and will include representatives from a range of major Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, Hillel International and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Ted Deutch, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, told eJP that he hopes the meeting leads to “a whole-of-government approach to combating antisemitism.” He suggested that such an approach could include strategies from the FBI and Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, State and Education, and mirror the existing plans of European countries and the European Union to safeguard their Jewish communities.

Such a plan could describe “all of the ways that the executive branch in particular can work to take on antisemitism — whether it’s on a college campus, whether it’s online, in the workplace, in government,” said Deutch, a former Democratic congressman from Florida. “Most important is the acknowledgement that this requires a societal approach.”

He added that Jewish groups also need to coordinate on the issue. “There’s no one group in the Jewish community that can solve this on their own,” he said. “It’s a big deal if we can use this moment to have unprecedented collaboration within the Jewish community among the many groups that are doing such important work.”

picture this

A child reading a graphic novel distributed by PJ Library.
A child reading a graphic novel distributed by PJ Library.

PJ Library, with its monthly shipments of free children’s books, has become a household name for Jewish parents across the country. But there’s one demographic the initiative wants to zero in on expanding: middle schoolers. And it’s doing so not by recruiting more readers, but by finding illustrators and graphic novelists who will draw them in, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Jay Deitcher.

Building relationships: The program will launch a new fellowship at the end of next year called the PJ Library Illustrator and Visual Storyteller Fellowship. The cohort of fellows – both established and up-and-coming Jewish illustrators – will meet online and in person, spread over six months, with five-day stays in Israel and Vermont. “Graphic novels are our middle-grade subscribers’ favorite genre,” Catriella Freedman, the director of PJ Library’s Author Stewardship program, told eJewishPhilanthropy. “If we don’t start building our relationships with illustrators and author-illustrators and creatives in general, we’re going to lose out.”

From Israel to Vermont: The fellowship will have a 14-artist cohort that will meet through virtual sessions spread over six months, aimed at building community and inspiring and educating about how to move projects forward, led by illustrators, agents, art directors and researchers. The program is bookended by stays at the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem in November 2023, and the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont in June 2024. The program has received nearly 100 applications so far, ahead of a Dec. 8 deadline.

Read the full story here.

going green

Shmita-scale learning: A seven-year reflection from Jewish environmental leaders

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) speaks during annual Jerusalem Post conference at Gotham Hall.

“At Hazon and Pearlstone, we believe in the centrality of adam and adamah, people and planet. Our mission is to cultivate vibrant Jewish life in deep connection with the earth, catalyzing culture change and systemic change through immersive retreats, Jewish environmental education and climate action,” write Hazon and Pearlstone CEO Jakir Manela; Rabbi Zelig Golden, executive director of Wilderness Torah; and Adam Weisberg, executive director of Urban Adamah in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Crisis on two fronts: “Young Jews tend to care more about climate and sustainability than older generations, and they are also less likely than older generations to affiliate with Jewish institutions. Climate grief and anxiety are now diagnosable mental health crises that impact young people across the Jewish world. For many, what keeps them up at night is not Jewish survival, but human survival. Additionally, the issues of declining Jewish affiliation and the global climate crisis are not unrelated.”

JOFEE break: “Almost 10 years ago, the term JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming, and Environmental Education) was coined by a group of funders. Collectively, the Jim Joseph Foundation, Leichtag Foundation, Morningstar Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies and UJA-Federation of New York invested in the Seeds of Opportunity JOFEE report. They discovered — through robust third-party research — a movement that was making a significant impact across the Jewish world. Since then, the Jim Joseph Foundation’s investments focused on supporting the four largest JOFEE organizations — Hazon, Pearlstone Center, Urban Adamah and Wilderness Torah — and launching the JOFEE Fellowship, to both professionalize and expand career opportunities across the field.”

Being Jewish matters: “Over four years, the JOFEE Fellowship trained more than 60 young adults as educators, placing them at JCCs, federations, summer camps and other Jewish organizations. For fellows, the chance to create change by bridging their environmental concerns with their Jewish identities was a key motivation for joining the program. ‘I was sick of being Jewish for the sake of being Jewish,’ one wrote. ‘I’m here because I think being Jewish really matters in the world.’”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Flexible Sector: Different generations and varied demographics like to engage with nonprofits in disparate ways, and any way people like to engage with philanthropy is the right way, Tracy Vanderneck writes in NonProfitPRO. “Now is the time to leave some of the rigidity of the fundraising process behind. That is not to say we shouldn’t be strategic, organized and professional, but that nonprofits must be willing to incorporate flexibility into their core tenets. We need to engage in metaphorical yoga, if you will; we gain core strength by being flexible and pushing past our comfortable boundaries. Let us create an industry-wide ecosystem that encompasses the issues and problems to be addressed, viable solutions, and how to secure the funding needed to deliver those solutions… The most important aspect of this more evolved sector is the recognition that humans are involved at every stage and are all stakeholders equally crucial to the process. Without equitable human interaction, the industry that provides society’s safety net can end up being as much a part of the problem as it is the solution.” [NonProfitPRO]

Money Means Social Impact: Philanthropy can facilitate social change through advocacy, writes Neha Chollangi in Future of Good. “An example [Karel] Mayrand [CEO of the Foundation of Greater Montreal] says he often uses when talking about philanthropy and advocacy is the one of tobacco control in Canada. During the 1990s, when there was building awareness of tobacco’s negative impacts on people, advocates were calling for a ban on smoking in public and a ban on tobacco ads. And through government-led intervention and public policies, the percentage of Canadians who smoked was nearly cut in half over just a decade. In the 1970s, a number of health agencies joined forces to form The Canadian Council on Smoking and Health (CCSH), which was a key player in lobbying for tobacco control in the country, and was funded by the Cancer Society, the Heart Foundation, and the Canadian Lung Association. ‘Those things were done because there were associations funded by the philanthropic sector that lobbied to get these things done. So there is a history of success with philanthropy using awareness-raising, advocacy, research, all the tools that we have to actually solve an issue,’ says Mayrand. The key takeaway for Mayrand is that success, in this example, translates to less people smoking, and less people dying of smoking-related cancer. ‘Success was not measured in terms of how much money is being spent,’ he says.” [FutureofGood]

Around the Web

German police on Wednesday morning arrested dozens of people connected with an alleged plot by right-wing extremists to overthrow the country’s government…

The Yiddish Book Center recently published its 2022 Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue, Cribside and Other Stories, featuring 14 newly translated poems, short stories and memoirs, all highlighting women’s experiences…

Former President Bill Clinton and New York University President Emeritus John Sexton will receive honorary doctorates from the University of Haifa on Dec. 12. Clinton is being honored for his commitment to the state of Israel and the Clinton Global Initiative’s worldwide work on social and economic sustainability. Sexton is receiving the doctorate for his work expanding NYU’s global presence…

EMC Research released the results of a survey of Jewish people in the San Francisco Bay Area, the first time since 2018 that Bay Area Jews, who number roughly 350,000, have been the subjects of a large-scale survey. The survey was commissioned by the area’s Jewish Community Relations Council…

Rabbi David Mason of London has been named the first executive director of HIAS+JCORE, which was formed earlier this year when the refugee aid group HIAS combined its operations in the United Kingdom with the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, a British group that combats racism and works on refugee aid…

Israel tour organization itrek has added three new board members: Cyril Berdugo, Jim Hirshorn and Katie Paradies.

Pic of the Day

Foundation for Jewish Camp CEO Jeremy Fingerman speaks onstage at FJC’s Leaders Assembly, which concluded yesterday in Atlanta.


NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 02: Jonathan Tisch attends the Hotel Association Of New York City Foundation Trumpets Return Of NYC Hotels & Broadway During Its Annual “Red Carpet Hospitality Gala” at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on May 02, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Ostuni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Chairman of Loews Hotels and co-owner of the NFL’s New York Giants, Jonathan M. Tisch… 

Linguist, social critic, activist and professor emeritus at MIT, Noam Chomsky… Author or editor of 40 books including the New York Times best-selling Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul, Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins… Actor, director and producer, Larry Hankin… Hedge fund manager and co-founder of Taglit-Birthright Israel and the founder of Hebrew language charter schools in NYC, Michael Steinhardt… Professor of mathematics at Princeton University, Nicholas Michael Katz… Novelist, essayist and screenwriter, Susan Isaacs… Former Israeli Foreign Ministry legal advisor and later Israeli ambassador to Canada, now at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Ambassador Alan Baker… Chair emeritus of the Longmeadow, Mass., Democratic Town Committee, Candy Glazer… Director and vice chairman of Simon Property Group, Richard S. Sokolov… Past board chair and president of AIPAC, Lillian Pinkus… U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)… Pamela Decker… Haifa-born composer and professor of music at Harvard, Chaya Czernowin… Former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden… Teacher in the Elko County School District in Nevada, Shawn Welton-Lowe… Provost at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Dr. Jeffrey Kress… Co-Founder of Laurel Strategies, Dafna Tapiero… Director, producer, writer, actor and comedian, Jason Winer… President of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs, Jed Hoyer… Leading actress in multiple television series including “Roswell” and “Unreal,” Shiri Appleby… Managing partner of NYC-based Capitol Consulting, Jeffrey Leb… Co-founder and president at America’s Frontier Fund, Jordan Blashek… Director of recruiting at NYC’s Mission Staffing, Jaime Leiman… Founder of Go Dash Dot, Hannah Fastov… Physician practicing in the U.K., Carine Moezinia… Digital marketing manager at Vida Shoes International, Hannah Vilinsky… VP and head of the startup division at the Israel Innovation Authority, Hanan Brand… Food critic for The New Yorker, Hannah Goldfield… Director of education at Congregation Habonim in New York City, Rina Cohen Schwarz… Jeff Blum… Toby Lerner…