Your Daily Phil: Planning for end of life + Peoplehood in practice
Good Wednesday morning!
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), the incoming CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), gave a biting critique of the Congress he’s about to leave in an appearance on Tuesday at AJC’s Global Forum in New York City.
In a short Q-and-A with journalist Abigail Pogrebin at the conference’s closing plenary, the South Florida Democrat didn’t sound upset to be leaving the halls of power in Washington, where he’s been an outspoken supporter of Israel in his party. Deutch takes the helm of AJC on Oct. 1 after more than 12 years in the House. He succeeds longtime CEO David Harris.
“I’m leaving a place that is, suffice to say, not the best functioning institution in the world at the moment, where there’s great vitriol and members attacking members, and partisanship, and it’s really challenging,” Deutch said. “Then this opportunity came along to be in a place where there’s this remarkable group of lay leaders and activists who all want the same thing, which is to work together to strengthen the Jewish community and advance Israel’s place in the world and defend democratic values.”
Deutch has not been shy about condemning fellow Democrats for what he sees as their failure to sufficiently combat antisemitism. One personal moment of optimism, he said, came last September when he accused Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) of antisemitism after she called Israel an apartheid state and opposed supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.
Pogrebin played a clip of that speech at the conference. “The response from my colleagues was incredible,” Deutch said. “People were so grateful because they don’t want to be associated with the far-left anti-Israel views.”
As he pivots to advocating for Israel at AJC, Deutch said, “Too often we’re engaged in this battle on the terms that the anti-Israel crowd wants to engage in.” Deutch touted Israeli efforts to combat climate change and food insecurity, and added, “There is a very positive story for Israel happening right now.”
Later in the plenary, AJC presented an award to two campus Hillel chapters: Indiana University Hillel, for its student task force on antisemitism that provided mezuzot — sans parchment — to non-Jews who want to support the Jewish community; and Hillels of Ukraine, for their sacrifices and resilience amid Russia’s invasion.
Two groups join together to move end-of-life issues onto the Jewish communal agenda
When it comes to the difficult conversations surrounding death and dying, Jewish tradition can offer wisdom and guidance, though such discussions are often pushed out of view. Now, the joining of two groups working on planning for medical treatment and other end-of-life issues, all through a Jewish lens, could thrust these topics into the Jewish public square in a new way, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.
Shared purpose to honor advance care planning: The two organizations that are allying are What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life, and the Shomer Collective. Both organizations center on applying Jewish wisdom to improve end-of-life experiences. What Matters, founded in 2015 as an initiative of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, enables individuals to engage in advance care planning —or planning for medical care decisions in the event that the person in question can’t make their own decisions — infused with Jewish wisdom. Shomer Collective, a startup founded by members of the Natan Fund, launched in 2020 with a mission to improve end-of-life experiences for individuals and their families, inspired by Jewish wisdom, values and practices, by curating content and resources and building a diverse network of organizational partners.
Creating a culture change: “Death is scary,” Levav said. “It’s the one thing we can’t teach about from our own experience. There are so many unknowns…too many people and families in our Jewish communities end up in crisis at the end of life because of our inability [or] hesitation [or] fear in talking about how we want to live in the face of mortality,” she said. “Shomer’s work in culture change aims to bring the conversation about death and dying back into the Jewish communal square, to reduce the fear by making conversations about mortality part of everyday living.”
Peoplehood in practice
“In settings where ‘Jewish peoplehood’ is taught and modeled, attention is turning away from rigid definitions and fixed frameworks toward an emphasis on putting peoplehood into practice,” write Nila Rosen from Foundation for Jewish Camp, Lisa Armony from the Jewish Federation of Orange County, Ruben Shimonov from Sephardi House and Scott Lasensky from the Meyerhof Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
The art of practice: “The art of practicing Jewish peoplehood requires a new spirit of mutuality and equality in deepening and expanding exchange and immersive experiences. Not only can these strengthen literacy and connectivity — two of the most reliable drivers of Jewish belonging — but they are effective in chipping away at dichotomies that all-too-often stand in the way of Jewish unity.”
Deep dive: “We should also be looking deeper into our own traditions and heritage for authentic models of inclusion and diversity to ensure our Jewish spaces are welcoming. The peoplehood paradigm demands that we strive to be more intentional and creative about how we widen our circles of Jewish engagement.”
The DEI conundrum: “There is an urgency to this challenge, particularly as our community lurches toward a ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ archetype that is often bereft of authentic Jewish terms of reference. Moreover, as our communities emerge from the massive pandemic disruptions and look to rebuild and expand membership and participation, we will need to rely more heavily on the peoplehood paradigm.”
Impact, Amplified: Donors can support their favorite causes with more than just their own money, Drew Lindsay reports in The Chronicle of Philanthropy; they can also mobilize their talents and networks to increase their impact: “Two years ago, Charity:water created a lifetime impact’ measure…to signal the importance of supporters who put their hustle, creativity, and social networks to work for the organization. It’s a tally of the dollars they donate plus the contributions of those they connect to the organization. When individuals bring a new monthly donor to the organization, their impact measure grows with each contribution that person makes. ‘Our hope is that it inspires people to continue and to deepen their engagement with us,’ [Chief Development Officer Ben] Greene says. Since the measure’s debut, the number of Charity:water supporters who have recruited others to join the monthly donor program has grown from 167 to 532. Daniel Olson’s impact measure stands at more than $12,000, only about $800 of which he donated himself.” [ChronicleofPhilanthropy]
This Just In…We’re Stressed: According to Gallup’s new “State of the Global Workplace” report, people around the world are stressed and anxious, but there are measures employers can take to take better care of their employees, Ryan Pendell writes in Harvard Business Review: “In 2020, the world’s employees saw an increase in stress, worry, anger, and sadness. In 2021, worry, anger, and sadness remained above pre-pandemic levels, and stress continued to climb to a new high. Although these emotions don’t normally show up on a spreadsheet, they remain organizational risks. If leaders aren’t paying attention to their employees’ wellbeing, they’re likely to be blindsided by top performer burnout and high quit rates…Gallup research from March 2022 found that fewer than one in four U.S. employees felt strongly that their employer cared about their wellbeing — the lowest percentage in nearly a decade. This is an area in which all companies can grow. Wellbeing can be measured in a scientifically valid way, and it can be correlated with performance outcomes. When leaders have a finger on the pulse of their employees’ wellbeing, they can identify potential hot spots, discover best practices, and validate which initiatives are actually making a difference.” [HBR]
Theory of Time’s Relativity: Whether it’s spending more time with our families or limiting screen or social media time, “the pandemic has shown us how finite our time is,” Rachel Feintzeig writes in The Wall Street Journal. “Meanwhile, many workers, logging on from home or easing into hybrid setups, no longer have their time determined by someone else the way they did when the boss was one cubicle away, five days a week. We’re fumbling toward a new normal, whatever that means, with more autonomy, more flexibility and a perspective shift, too….It can still be hard to know what to say no to and what to prioritize. Procrastination and decision fatigue kick in. Try to imagine what choice you’d approve of in a year or decade, recommends Alan Burdick, the author of a book about the biology and psychology of time. Time is weird, amorphous and elastic, he says, with the ability to speed up or slow down depending on everything from how much we like something to how busy we are. At its core, he says, time is really about memory and what you’ll take with you after the seconds have passed.” [WSJ]
Word on the Street
Joy Sisisky has been appointed CEO of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund in San Francisco, effective July 1. Previously, Sisisky served as the federation’s interim CEO and chief philanthropy officer…
Dr. Yoram Weiss has been named director general of Hadassah Medical Organization. Weiss, an expert in intensive care and anesthesiology, succeeds Zeev Rotstein…
Michael Tichnor has been elected president of the American Jewish Committee. He succeeds Harriet Schleifer, whose three-year term as AJC president ended with the conclusion of this week’s AJC Global Forum…
The New York County Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva University in New York City is legally required to grant the YU Pride Alliance — an on-campus club for LGBTQ students and allies — the same rights as other student groups at the university…
A lawsuit filed by Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor of Boynton Beach, Fla., contends the Florida abortion law that takes effect July 1 prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks violates the religious freedom rights of Jews in addition to the state constitution’s privacy protections…
Yeshiva University will acquire the unabridged version of the Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, a collection of audiovisual interviews comprising eyewitness testimonies of witnesses and survivors of the Holocaust, as well as genocides in Nanjing, Rwanda, Armenia, Guatemala and Cambodia. The archive was established by Steven Spielberg in 1994…
The Canadian Government announced $2.5 million of funding for the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto to support the new Toronto Holocaust Museum…
Israel will compete in next year’s Invictus Games, the sporting event for wounded and sick soldiers founded by Prince Harry. The 2023 games will be held in September in Dusseldorf, Germany…
Heads of major Jewish organizations — The Jewish Agency for Israel, The Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod — delivered a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett calling on the Israeli government to designate those killed in antisemitic incidents outside of Israel as official victims of terror…
Bridges for Peace, a Christian group building relationships between Christians and Jews around the world, has raised over $1 million for Ukrainian rescue efforts…
Pic of the Day
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday in Jerusalem to discuss ways of exporting Israeli natural gas to Europe.
Former speechwriter for Michelle Obama and author of a 2019 book about her rediscovery of Judaism, Sarah Hurwitz(right)…
Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Hédi Fried… Iranian-born British businessman, he was knighted in 1989 and made a life peer in 2004, Baron David Alliance… Former president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, Stuart C. Turgel… Former president of the National Rifle Association, Sandra S. “Sandy” Froman… Ethicist and professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Laurie Zoloth… Internationally recognized authority on Yiddish folk and theater music, Zalmen Mlotek… Currently based in Estonia, VP of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, Alexander Bronstein… President and CEO of the PR firm Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman… Chief rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Schudrich… Israeli Druze politician who serves as a member of the Knesset for Likud, Fateen Mulla… Novelist, screenwriter, teacher and freelance journalist, Jill Eisenstadt… Senior tax manager at Berdon LLP, Reuben Rutman… Los Angeles based attorney, Daniel Brett Lacesa… Regional director of the ADL based in Los Angeles, Jeffrey I. Abrams… Deputy managing editor at The New York Times, Clifford J. Levy… Chief political correspondent for CNN, Dana Bash… Retired news anchor for Israel Public Broadcasting, she is married to Israel’s Justice Minister Gideon Saar, Geula Even-Saar… Ethiopian-born Israeli marathon runner, Zohar Zimro… Senior global affairs analyst at CNN, Bianna Golodryga… Co-founder of Evergreen Strategy Group, Daniel Baum Schwerin… Director of corporate communications and public affairs at Google, Rebecca Michelle Ginsberg Rutkoff… Global director at Birthright Israel Excel, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani… Diversity recruiter at The Carlyle Group, Victoria Edelman Klapper… Foreign affairs producer at the “PBS NewsHour,” Ali S. Weinberg Rogin… Analyst at Blackstone, Elli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter… Joel Winton…
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