Your Daily Phil: Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker joins the ADL + Israeli Orthodox rabbis visit U.S. colleagues

Good Tuesday morning! 

In mid-January, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker captured national attention for calmly navigating an 11-hour hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Now, the rabbi is bringing his harrowing experience full circle by joining the Anti-Defamation League as a special advisor on security, a paid position to improve the ADL’s outreach and community education initiatives.

“It really says a lot about Rabbi Charlie that he wants to do this,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, told eJewishPhilanthropy. “It would be very easy for him to simply retreat to congregational life; it would be very easy for him just to write a book. But…Rabbi Charlie is saying ‘no, I need to do more.’”

Alongside helping the ADL communicate security best practices, Cytron-Walker will also be working to support Jewish communities as they recover from deadly and traumatizing attacks. Greenblatt pointed to the outpouring of solidarity from Muslim and Christian leaders after the hostage situation as the kind of community-building he hopes Cytron-Walker will facilitate. Much of that support was due to relationships that the rabbi built during interfaith work in Texas, Greenblatt said.

“It’s not just about vigilance before an incident happens, it’s also about resilience after an incident happens,” Greenblatt said. “To be really honest with you, you can never build walls that are high enough. You need not just security, but solidarity. And solidarity means having connections to the [broader] community before there is an incident.”

Greenblatt hopes that Cytron-Walker will be able to use the ADL’s network of partnerships with organizations like Hillel International to reach more people than he would be able to on his own.

“This is a man of tremendous courage, who endured the kind of really brutal situation which no one should have to experience,” Greenblatt said. “We can learn a lot from him about the security issues and how to build confidence in a community, but at the same time, I think he can learn from us in using our platform to make sure his message reaches the largest number of people possible.”

Read the full story here.


A conference seeks to define and explore Israel education

Gary Perlmutter / EyeEm

What is Israel education? Should it focus on Jewish power? Should it highlight Israel’s diversity? How should it overlap, if at all, with Israel advocacy? And how should it deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Those were some of the questions debated at a panel on the first day of a virtual conference held by the Center for Israel Education (CIE), reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.

Who’s who: The conference, which began Sunday and ends on Tuesday, drew 57 attendees, all of whom teach about Israel or are otherwise connected to the field. The panel featured Tal Grinfas-David, CIE’s vice president of outreach and pre-collegiate school management initiatives; Noga Cohavi, the head of the Israeli Education Ministry’s Jewish Peoplehood Program; and Aaron Bregman, a former Jewish history teacher at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md., who now works for the American Jewish Committee. It was moderated by CIE President Kenneth Stein. 

Creating a curriculum: Grinfas-David said some Jewish schools place ahavat Yisrael, or love of Israel, as one of their guiding values without creating a curriculum around the concept. She said that may lead teachers to focus exclusively on positive aspects of Israel’s history, and in turn lead students to feel after graduation as if they were told an incomplete story. “When you get graduates who come and say, ‘You lied to me,’ or ‘You didn’t tell me,’ it’s because teachers with good intentions have been trying to imbue students with a connection and a love to Israel that is devoid of content or of anything negative, [as if to say] ‘Shh, you can’t say anything negative about Israel because then the students won’t love it.’”

Read the full story here.


Woven together: Lessons from bringing Israeli rabbis to the U.S.

Rabbi Yonah Berman.

“Is it really necessary? Is it worth the cost? The time? The effort?… As the directors of Rikmah, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s Beit Midrash for Rabbinic Leadership in Israel, we have spent countless hours educating Israeli rabbis during weekly cohort meetings and summer chaplaincy intensives. We recently oversaw our third cohort’s visit to the United States. Having now brought together 40 rabbis through this program, we are confident that the answer to the above questions is a resounding ‘yes,’” writes Rabbi Yonah Berman with Rabbanit Yafit Clymer and Rabbi Ilay Ofran, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Observing American rabbis in action: “In meeting with their American colleagues, Israeli rabbis begin to reflect on the opportunities they have to lead their own communities in different and more exciting ways. In fact, the very realization that synagogues, schools, Hillels and camps are at the heart of American Jewish communal life, is in itself a ‘chiddush’ (or innovative notion) for many Israelis, and one that they only realize as they spend time in the Diaspora. As Israelis watch their American counterparts in action, they see the power they have to better organize and convene individuals back at home, uniting people around shared values, celebrations and opportunities for activism and growth. This experience is particularly powerful as they witness their Orthodox colleagues, be they from Chabad, YCT, Maharat, YU or other institutions, who are challenged every day to take Jewish tradition, learning and ritual and apply them to the modern American scene.”

Including women: “The past few decades have witnessed an explosion of women’s study of Talmud and halacha, in Israel, the U.S., and beyond. These individuals have taken on roles in communities, schools and other Jewish institutions, where their voices provide Torah leadership, knowledge and wisdom. As we built our third cohort, we were privileged to partner with Maharat, and we included female participants for the first time. Our learning has been greatly enhanced by the presence of women and men together, delving deeper into questions of rabbinic identity, inclusion and the structures of communal leadership. All of our participants gain from being in a mixed group, enhancing each others’ experiences, challenging each others’ assumptions and more accurately mirroring their own communal realities.”

Read the full piece here.


A BDS initiative Jewish institutions and investors must fight


“In May 2022, Morningstar, one of the world’s largest investment research firms, publicly released a report responding to years of criticism that it enabled BDS and promised some mild reforms. There is an understandable desire from some in the pro-Israel community to accept the report as a victory and move on. Others have asked Morningstar to voluntarily adopt more substantial changes. While I understand these approaches, both are far too nice,” writes Scott Shay, chairman and co-founder of Signature Bank, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Unknowing participation: “The report clearly shows that Morningstar has a de facto boycott of Israel despite its official rejection of BDS. If Morningstar is allowed to maintain this de facto boycott of Israel, while adding some polite words that this is not its official policy, this sets a dangerous precedent in the fight against BDS. Pro-Israel individuals and foundations should cease using Morningstar for their investment portfolios, otherwise they are participating in a boycott of Israel that they do not intend and allowing Morningstar to continue with its pretense that it does not support BDS.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Fortunes from Fossil Fuels: At least a dozen major Jewish family dynasties made their fortunes in the oil and gas industry, Asaf Shalev writes in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, investigating how those families support environmental causes: “In some cases, the heirs appear to feel a responsibility to address the impact of fossil fuel emissions on the planets, while for others, it’s hard to tell. None appear to be outright climate change deniers…Jeannie Blaustein, writing on behalf of the trustees of The Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation, said her concern over the climate crisis does not stem from feelings of guilt. ‘The origins of our family’s wealth sensitize us to these issues, but I strongly believe — and I think other trustees would agree with me — that we would have the exact same commitment without any personal relationship to the oil industry,’ she wrote. She also said she doesn’t see her philanthropy as a rejection of her ancestors’ legacy. ‘Our commitment to climate change is a continuation of the lived values of our parents and grandparents, values born not out of guilt or shame, but out of respect for the dignity of human beings,’ she wrote.” [JTA]

Getting Over Employee Turnover: Turnover might not be evidence of a problematic organizational culture, writesShaby T. Rosales in NonProfitPRO: “Turnover is usually regarded as a problem to be fixed, and the conventional response to a high turnover rate is a retention strategy. It makes sense — up to a point… but there’s a bigger picture to consider. Organizations that become proficient at adapting to change will always come out on top. Turnover will always be a factor, and it may be a growing aspect of the new normal, due to circumstances beyond our control…There’s no need to panic about the occasional, inevitable disruption of your roster. No matter how well you pay or how valued you make your team feel — nothing lasts forever. Someone will move away for law school or to volunteer abroad. Someone else might change careers or simply take time off work. Making peace with turnover allows organizations to remain alert to a world of possibilities. Talent surrounds us. Look around, and you just might find a valuable new teammate with critical skills learned at another organization or a professional network you weren’t previously plugged into.” [NonProfitPRO]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

A study conducted by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors found that the global challenges of 2020 and 2021 led more than one-third of philanthropies surveyed to accelerate their spending and several more to consider revising their philanthropic timelines….

Crisis pregnancy centers hold a five-to-one funding advantage over abortion funds and clinics nationwide, according to a study released by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation announced a $4 million commitment to Communities First, Inc. to purchase and redevelop the now-shuttered Baker College campus in Flint, Mich.…

The USA Basketball Foundation received a $3.5 million gift from the Tull Family Foundation of Pittsburgh in support of youth and sport development programs…

Bob Rafelson, the Oscar-nominated director best known for producing “Easy Rider” and “The Last Picture Show,” and creator of the Monkees, died at age 89…

Pic of the Day

Dario Belingheri/Getty Images

Caroline Baur of Switzerland, center, and Team Roland Cogeas Edelweiss/Israel-Premier Tech during the team presentation Monday prior to the first stage of the Tour de France Femmes 2022, from Meaux to Provins, France.


Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Actress and filmmaker, Hallie Meyers-Shyer… 

Advertising and documentary filmmaker, Elliott Erwitt… Retired member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Sally Oppenheim-Barnes… Former mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman… Former administrator at the University of Illinois and the University of Houston, chancellor of the California State University system and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, Barry Munitz… Author, podcaster, columnist and rabbi, Shammai Engelmayer… Former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Richard Stark… Sports columnist, author, television and radio personality, Paul Finebaum… President and chief medical officer at Laguna Health, Dr. Alan H. Spiro… Film and television director, she is best known for her work on the Showtime drama series “Homeland,” Lesli Linka Glatter… Venture capitalist, he is a brother-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, James W. Breyer… Actor, comedian and producer, Jeremy Samuel Piven… Former correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for “Nightline” and co-anchor the weekend edition of “Good Morning America,” Daniel B. “Dan” Harris… Founder and chairman of the D.C.-based consulting firm Stonington Global, Nicholas Muzin… Actress best known for her role in the “Spider-Man” trilogy, Mageina Tovah Begtrup… Managing partner of the D.C. office of ColdSpark, Nachama Soloveichik… Israeli-born classical music composer, Gilad Hochman… Israeli-born R&B singer and songwriter, Hila Bronstein… Former associate director at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Lauren Garfield-Herrin… Member of the comedy quartet The Try Guys, Zachary Andrew “Zach” Kornfeld… Analyst at D.C.-based Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Drew Gerber… Former running back for the NFL’s Chicago Bears, not an MOT, Tarik Cohen… Pitcher on the Israeli Women’s National Softball Team, Tamara “T” Statman Schoen… Political correspondent at Israel’s Walla News, Tal Shalev… Texas-based editor at Sports Illustrated, Tomer Barazani

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