Your Daily Phil: Previewing the Jewish Funders Network convention in Tel Aviv

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: Study: Jewish college students feel they must hide support for Israel; their non-Jewish peers agree; Is Politico rebelling against Axel Springer’s Israel policy?; Israeli communities devastated on Oct. 7 draw thousands seeking to bear witness, support victims; Ohio Senate primary a clash between two different GOP foreign policy visionsPrint the latest edition here.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on new grant allocations by Jewish Federations of North America to organizations helping Holocaust survivors and other older adults with a history of trauma, and feature an opinion piece by Dvir Cahana on flipping the script for rabbi-rebbetzin power couples. Also in this issue: Berkeley professor Ron HassnerSarah Norton and Tim Carney. We’ll start with the upcoming Jewish Funders Network’s international convention, which kicks off on Sunday. Shabbat shalom!

Hundreds of Jewish donors and their staffs will convene in Tel Aviv on Sunday for the Jewish Funders Network’s four-day international convention, where they will hear from “regular Israelis” — not the normal roster of top-level officials — in order to better understand the country’s needs following the Oct. 7 terror attacks and more than five months of war, JFN CEO Andrés Spokoiny told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross ahead of the conference.

“There are not many keynote speakers. The heroes [we will be hearing from] are regular Israelis, people who from their niche or from their own place did amazing things. That’s the idea in general,” Spokoiny said. This includes a number of Oct. 7 survivors, Israeli soldiers and civic leaders.

Six hundred people are registered for the gathering, “with a wait list of around 100 people,” Spokoiny told eJP. Some of them will come to Israel after a visit to Poland and Ukraine as part of a joint program between JFN and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. This year’s conference will include fewer presentations and speakers from nonprofits and organizations than in the past, and more time for dialogue among funders, he said. 

“Funders wanted to spend more time talking to one another, less time hearing from speakers. That is something that clearly came out of previous conferences, that funders really enjoyed that,” he said. “The situation that we are living in is so unprecedented and so unsettling that people really need to brainstorm together on how to work and how to address the issues — what we need to do differently as a community.”

The focus of this year’s conference is on Israel and the role that philanthropy can play in the aftermath of Oct. 7 and amid the ongoing political turmoil that the country has faced in recent years. “It’s a historical moment, and we needed to devote time [to it],” Spokoiny said. 

Though that is the primary topic, it is not the sole one. The conference will also include sessions on combating antisemitism, how to take advantage of the current rise in interest in Jewish identity and about the “homelessness of liberal Jews,” Spokoiny said. 

The conference will seek to strike a balance between two different moods, he said. “One is more subdued and solemn. The other is hopeful: How can we use this as an opportunity to be better, to do better, to come out stronger?”

The gathering will feature a handful of plenary sessions, alongside a larger number of discussions and workshops mostly led by assorted Jewish foundations and funds. Tuesday will be devoted solely to site visits, with attendees choosing between traveling to southern Israel, northern Israel, Jerusalem, Haredi communities or sites in Tel Aviv.

The conference is chaired by Leora Propper, head of the Propper Family Foundation, and Stephen Bronfman, co-chair of the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation and executive chairman of the Claridge Inc. investment firm. According to Spokoiny, the gathering has gone through multiple iterations since JFN first started organizing it last year.

“We had one plan before the balagan [mess] of the [Israeli government’s] judicial reform, and then we had to change that, and then we had to change the plan again after Oct. 7, and then we needed to change it again because the needs from October were different from the needs in December, which are different from the needs of today,” he said.

“We’re excited and exhausted,” Spokoiny added.


JFNA to distribute $6.9 million in grants in 2024 to groups caring for for survivors of the Holocaust, other traumas

Holocaust survivors and other elderly Israelis attend a dance therapy class at an activity center in Brosh, near the Gaza border, as part of a program run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, in an undated photograph.

The Jewish Federations of North America’s Center on Holocaust Survivor Care and Institute on Aging and Trauma will distribute $6.9 million in 2024 in grants to organizations the provide services to tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors and other older adults with a history of trauma, its managing director told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross. This represents the largest amount the center has ever allocated in a single year, according to Shelley Rood Wernick, a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, who leads the center.

More need, more to give: “We’re very, very glad to be able to award these grants,” she told eJP. “It’s our largest allocation because: A, Demand is very high, and B, We have more money now than we’ve ever had before. Congress allocated $8.5 million towards this program in this last year, and so that — combined with the philanthropic fund — enabled us to have more money [to distribute].” The $6.9 million in 2024 will be distributed to three main types of organizations: direct-service providers, approximately 30 of them, mostly Jewish family services; eight Jewish federations that will, in turn, issue their own grants to local organizations; and three national networks, the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies, Habitat for Humanity International and KAVOD.

Existential fears: Rood Wernick noted that the past two years have been particularly difficult for many Holocaust survivors, making these allocations all the more needed. “Current events right now are incredibly difficult for Holocaust survivors and other older people, especially in the Jewish community,” she said. “The war in Ukraine, the war in Israel, the attacks in Israel bring up memories for Holocaust survivors that are difficult and are causing people to be afraid, once again, for their own safety and afraid for the future of the Jewish community.”

Read the full report here.


Reconsidering the rabbi-rebbetzin leadership dynamic

Pop star Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, pictured after the Chiefs won Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas on Feb. 11, 2024. Screenshot via BlueEyedCowGurl63/TikTok

“No matter what your relationship is to football or pop music, you likely have at least some peripheral awareness of the evolving romance between mega-pop star Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs tight end and 2024 Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce,” writes rabbinical student Dvir Cahana in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Flipping the script: “Though a Super Bowl championship is nothing to sniff at, let’s face it: Taylor Swift is certainly the much more prominent public figure in their relationship. This dynamic speaks to an evolving broader cultural conversation about gender roles in marriage and competitive careers among couples.”

Sharing success: “As a rabbi-in-training who is sussing out the job market — I graduate from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in June — I constantly receive feedback from communities with their own predisposed notions of what the rabbi-rebbetzin partnership should look like. It’s true that when applying for rabbinic positions, many view the role of rabbi as the man who is traditionally at the front of the room with his loyal wife pulling strings behind the scenes, but my wife, Shalhevet Cahana, has already been serving as a visible leader in her world for the better part of a decade and I love it… The experiences of ambitious couples everywhere remind us that love, when intertwined with ambition, can elevate both partners, creating a symphony of success that resonates far beyond personal achievement.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

That Gnawing Feeling: In Britain’s Jewish News, Josh Glancy reacts to “The Zone of Interest” director Jonathan Glazer’s remarks at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. “I take his point that the legacy of the Holocaust does not and should not give Israel a free pass. But I also think it’s reductive and simplistic to claim that the current war is simply a product of the occupation, when it is undeniably being fought in response to a vast and unjustifiable crime. In a way though, I’m less interested in debating the rights and wrongs of Glazer’s muddled cri de coeur… [and] more interested in Glazer’s motivations for making the speech. Sincere, authentic feeling is I’m sure one of them. But the tension and weight of not coming out against Israel must have been gnawing away at him too. I work at a centrist newspaper and have mostly politically moderate friends. Imagine working in the arts, where almost everyone around you is fiercely condemning Israel daily, where your friends begin to demand — subtly and not so subtly — that you say something. How tempting it must be. Just a few words of condemnation. What a small price to pay for admittance into the ranks of the righteous… I envy Glazer in a way, much as I envy those who never falter or concede an inch in their support for Israel. And yet I will not follow Glazer, because I cannot share his apparent certainty. I still see two sides to this. I still support my people’s right to defend themselves, even if I sometimes baulk at the manner of that defence. And if this makes me repellent to some, then that is the price I will pay.” [JewishNews]

Desperate Times: Political science professor Ron Hassner is holding a one-man sit-in in his one-room office on UC Berkeley’s campus until the university administration responds to the rising tide of Jew-hatred at school, he tells Julia Steinberg in The Free Press. “‘I’m a scholar. I don’t believe in activism,’ Hassner tells me when I get there, pacing alongside the twin-size mattress leaning against his bookshelf… At 53, Hassner marched in his first protest only earlier this month — something of a miracle by Berkeley standards — when he joined a San Francisco march against antisemitism. ‘I don’t know how to do any of this,’ he says. ‘I don’t have a rulebook that I’m following.’ All he knew, when he announced on March 7 that he would be shacking up in his office, was that something had to be done… [H]e has a few demands — he calls them ‘requests’ — of the administration. ‘My first request at university: please find a permanent way to keep Sather Gate open [this central feature on campus has been partially blocked by protesters for a month]. My second request to the university is that if a speaker is shouted out, and has to leave campus without giving their talk, no matter if they’re Palestinian or Israeli, no matter if they are right wing or left wing, that they receive an apology from the university and that they be invited back. And my third request was that the university provide Islamophobia and antisemitism training to staff. These are my requests, and they strike me as reasonable.’” [FreePress]

Returning to Life: In an interview with Josh Feldman in the Jewish Journal, Dr. Efrat Bron-Harlev, director of Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel, talks about working with child hostages freed from Gaza since Oct. 7. “‘[When they arrived, it] was amazing to see that they were not crying; they were not laughing. They were hardly talking. They said, “Okay,” and “Where are we going?” [They] asked very minor questions, but you could not see any emotion in them. It was like shadows of children, shadows of people, and not people. It was very tough. You don’t expect that kind of first impression. I expected them to cry or be very anxious, but it was like nothing … a blank person… The next morning, they started waking up, opening the doors, and stepping outside of the room very carefully. We even heard some of the children asking, “May we step outside of the room?” Imagine that, they don’t even understand that they can do whatever they want now. “Can I open the cupboard drawer?” Questions that you just don’t believe. By the second day, they were inviting friends, playing in the play areas according to their ages, sitting in the different seating corners we made, drinking coffee and hot chocolate. We heard the normal voices of children: laughing, shouting, getting mad, getting happy. Just returning back to their childhood.” [JewishJournal]

Around the Web

Pro-Israel Jewish groups distanced themselves from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and his calls for new Israeli elections…

The Union for Reform Judaism hired Sarah Norton as assistant vice president to lead a new effort to “reach new people and launch them on a pathway to deeper and wider engagement in the Jewish community”…

Auschwitz: Not Long Ago, Not Far Away” — a traveling exhibition about the Nazi death camp — opens today at Saunders Castle at Park Plaza in Boston as part of an international tour…

Inside Philanthropy profiles Binaifer Nowrojee, the new president of Open Society Foundations

The Charles E. Kaufman Foundation donated a total of $1.8 million in grants for “innovative, interdisciplinary scientific research” at six Pennsylvania universities

The Wall Street Journal spotlights the army service of Israel’s Aramean Christian community

A new survey by Altrata, London-based research group, found that ultra-high-net-worth individuals — who have $30 million or more — gave $190 billion to philanthropy in 2022, an increase of almost 25% from 2018…

Jewish Insider interviews Tim Carney about what steps Israel takes to make the country more family friendly…

Michael and Eugenia Brin donated $27.2 million to the University of Maryland’s department of mathematics to endow an eponymous research center and a mathematics chair, and to create a mathematics camp for talented high school students in the state…

Delta will resume its direct flights between New York’s JFK airport and Tel Aviv beginning June 7…

A new report by Sea Change Strategies found that mid-level donors, those who give $1,000 to $10,000 annually, are more loyal than major ones, which one of its authors said “makes them worth investing in”…

The New York Times Sarah Wildman reflects on the anniversary of the death of her teenage daughter from brain cancer…

Ira M. Millstein, a corporate lawyer who helped get Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the federal bench, died on Wednesday at 97…

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.
Courtesy/Yad Sarah

Yad Sarah founder Uri Lupolianski poses with the organization’s new home hospital van at a dedication ceremony on Thursday. It was purchased using funds from 18,000 members of Daily Giving, a nonprofit that collects small daily donations from many funders and distributes them to Jewish nonprofits around the world. The newest addition to Yad Sarah’s fleet of vans will enable the organization to deliver additional home hospitalization units – including beds, wheelchairs and oxygen concentrators – to reduce hospital stays and support individuals recovering at home.

“We are grateful to our over 18,000 Daily Givers and look forward to seeing the positive impact this new home hospital van makes for the people of Israel,” Dr. Jonathan Donath, co-founder and president of Daily Giving, said at the event.


Annie Liebovitz smiles
Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Media Access Awards

President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in 2005 he enlisted in the IDF, Jay Ruderman, celebrates his birthday on Saturday… 

FRIDAY: Theoretical chemist and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry, Martin Karplus… Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award-winning actor, Judd Hirsch… UCLA professor, biochemist and biophysicist, David S. Eisenberg… First-ever NYC public advocate starting in 1994, he is an author of 23 books, Mark J. Green… British businessman, former chairman of retail conglomerate Arcadia Group, Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green… Managing member at Buena Vista Fund Management in San Francisco, Robert Mendel Rosner… Animator and director of numerous episodes of “The Simpsons,” David Silverman… Real estate agent at Signature Realty Associates in the Tampa and Florida Gulf Coast market, Ze’ev (Wolf) Bar-El… Real estate investor, Steve Witkoff… Los Angeles-based writer, director and producer, Andrea Blaugrund Nevins… Freelance writer and consultant, Bathsheva Gladstone… AVP of JFNA’s LiveSecure program, Debra Barton Grant… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, currently serving as speaker of the Knesset, Amir Ohana… Retired MLB infielder, he now owns Loma Brewing, a brew pub in Los Gatos, Calif., he was Team Israel’s batting coach in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Kevin Youkilis… Global business editor for Defense OneMarcus Weisgerber… Psychotherapist based in Raleigh, N.C., Mindy Beth Reinstein Brodsky… Born in Jerusalem, she is a member of the New York State Assembly for the northeast portions of Queens, Nily Rozic… Rapper, comedian and actor, better known by his stage name Lil Dicky, David Andrew Burd… Board chair at the African Middle Eastern Leadership (AMEL) Project and executive director of the 30 Birds Foundation, Justin Hefter… Co-founder of Punchbowl NewsRachel Schindler… and Rachel’s twin brother, college admissions consultant and SAT/ACT tutor, Max J. Schindler… Zach Shartiag… Professional wrestler, Maxwell Jacob Friedman

SATURDAY: Former CEO and chairman of Citigroup, Sanford I. “Sandy” Weill… Dean emeritus and founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance, Rabbi Marvin Hier… NYC tax attorney and litigator, he served as a tax assistant to the solicitor general of the U.S., Stuart A. Smith… Actress and film director, she was married to Leonard Nimoy from 1989 until his death in 2015, Susan Linda Bay Nimoy… Computer scientist and author of multiple textbooks, he is a professor emeritus at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Andrew S. Tanenbaum… Israeli singer, the original singer of “Jerusalem of Gold,” Shulamit “Shuli” Natan… Film, stage and television actor and singer, Victor Garber… Customer service associate at Jewish Free Loan Association of Los Angeles, Judy Karta… Mathematician, technology innovator (with 260 patents) and founder of four technology companies, he is the creator of the first camera phone, Philippe Kahn… Peabody Award and Emmy Award-winning NPR journalist since 1977, now a host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday,” Scott Simon… Retired VP of external affairs and government relations at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Amy Reich Kaplan… Film producer, production designer and adjunct faculty member at Chicago’s Columbia College, Gail Sonnenfeld… Adjunct professor at both George Washington University Law School and Stanford In Washington, Andrew D. Eskin… U.S. deputy secretary of transportation, Polly Ellen Trottenberg… VP for talent, booking at Disney / ABC Television Group, Eric Avram… Actor and comedian, best known for playing the role of writer Frank Rossitano on the NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” Judah Friedlander… Senior producer of “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” at MSNBC, Amy Shuster… Head of the financial services practice at the BGR Group, Andy Lewin… Former speechwriter for President Joe Biden at The White House, now a partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive, Jeff Nussbaum… Co-founder of Chochmat Nashim, Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll… Former president and managing director at SKDKnickerbocker Digital, Jason Rosenbaum… Winemaker at Covenant Wines and Hajdu Wines, Jonathan Hajdu… Retired soccer player in the Israeli Premier League who is now the first team manager of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Yoav Ziv… Detroit-based founder and managing partner of Ludlow Ventures, Jonathon Triest… Public policy director at Meta / Facebook’s Israel office, Jordana Cutler… Managing director at Finsbury Glover Hering (now, FGS Global), Adam Blickstein… Director of global corporate partnerships at Global Citizen, Alexandra Stabler… Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at The New York TimesBrian M. Rosenthal… Director in the New York office of the Jewish National Fund, Sarah Azizi… First baseman for MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates, Ryan John “Rowdy” Tellez… Former senior legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, now an associate in the Philadelphia office of Morgan Lewis, Nathan Bennett… Jackie Stern… Jeremy Levin…

SUNDAY: Washington columnist for The Dallas Morning NewsCarl Leubsdorf… Retail and real estate executive, CEO of Wilherst Developers and trustee of publicly traded Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust, Mark K. Rosenfeld… Oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Fort Wayne, Ind., Michael Iczkovitz… Susan Schwartz Sklarin… USDOJ official for 20 years, he has also served as a defense attorney, author of a NYT bestseller about his time working on the Mueller Investigation, Andrew Weissmann… Founder, president and CEO of Laurel Strategies, Alan H. H. Fleischmann… Director of legislative affairs at B’nai B’rith International since 2003, Eric A. Fusfield… Member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, she served on the board of the San Francisco JCRC, Myrna Elizabeth Melgar… Lead field/floor reporter for CBS Sports football and basketball broadcasts, Tracy Wolfson… CEO and president at Las Vegas-based Gold Coast Promotions, Richard Metzler… Hasidic singer, entertainer and composer, Lipa Schmeltzer… Television writer and producer, Andrew Goldberg… Actor, music producer and stand-up comedian, best known as Gustavo Rocque on the Nickelodeon television series “Big Time Rush,” Stephen Kramer Glickman… Musician and digital strategy executive, Rick Sorkin… Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit since 2019, Judge Robert Joshua Luck… Digital reporter and producer for ABC News including “World News Tonight With David Muir,” Emily Claire Friedman Cohen… Associate professor at GW University in the School of Media and Public Affairs, Ethan Porter… Senior grants officer at the Open Society Foundations, Jackie Fishman… Senior director and general manager at Uber Eats, Annaliese Rosenthal… Los Angeles-based tech journalist and founder of the TechSesh blog, Jessica Elizabeth Naziri… Account executive at Winjit, Zachary Silver… Director of e-commerce strategy at TAGeX Brands, Zach Sherman