Your Daily Phil: Reactions to the Jerusalem attack + CUNY’s chancellor on fighting antisemitism
Good Monday morning.
In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on reactions to the terror attack near a Jerusalem synagogue on Friday night, and feature op-eds by CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodriguez on fighting antisemitism and by Yaara Segal on Holocaust education in the UAE. Also in this newsletter: Warren Eisenberg, Leonard Feinstein, Julie Peyton, Arthur and Diane Abbey, Ross Beroff and Avi Poster. We’ll start with news of another attack on a synagogue in New Jersey in which there were no injuries.
Jewish security officials are investigating an attack on a New Jersey synagogue early yesterday morning in which no one was hurt.
According to a police report, a man wearing a black ski mask approached Temple Ner Tamid, a Reform congregation in Bloomfield, N.J., a little after 3 a.m. Sunday morning and threw a Molotov cocktail at the front door. The fire went out upon impact, the bottle broke and there was no damage to the building.
An email from synagogue leadership to the congregation on Sunday morning said all synagogue activities had been canceled for the day, and that police would be guarding the synagogue 24 hours a day for the coming week. Police are also searching for the perpetrator, who was still at large as of Sunday night. The police department in nearby Livingston, N.J., said it was also increasing patrols of synagogues.
There is no known threat to the area’s Jewish institutions, according to an email update sent Sunday by Tim Torell, director of Jewish community security for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey. A joint statement by local Jewish federations, security agencies and branches of the American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League asked “that all communities remain vigilant.”
The incident comes less than three months after the FBI warned of “credible information of a broad threat to synagogues in NJ” on Nov. 3, and later arrested a man in connection with the threat. About two weeks later, two men were arrested at New York City’s Penn Station on a Saturday morning after allegedly plotting to attack a synagogue.
“I want to reassure all New Jerseyans — especially our friends and neighbors of the Black community and the Jewish faith — that law enforcement continues to take the appropriate steps to increase our presence around sensitive places so that everyone in our state can worship, love, and live without fear of violence or threat,” New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a statement, referring to the synagogue incident as well as a Saturday attack on members of a church in Monmouth County.
Jewish orgs stress Holocaust commemoration in condemning Jerusalem attack
Jewish organizations expressed their outrage following the attack near a synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday night, tying it to that day’s observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.
A deadly attack: The shooting outside a synagogue in Neve Yaakov, a Jewish neighborhood in northeast Jerusalem, killed seven civilians and was the deadliest terror attack in the city since 2008. The victims ranged from a 14-year-old boy to a married couple to a gabbai, or sexton, of another synagogue who was on his way to a Torah class. The attack came one day after an Israel Defense Forces operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, targeting an Islamic Jihad cell, killed seven militants and two civilians. Islamic Jihad responded by firing rockets at Israel, and Israel responded with airstrikes. On Saturday, a 13-year-old Palestinian shot and injured two Israelis, a father and son, near Jerusalem’s Old City. On Saturday night, a guard at the Israeli West Bank settlement of Kedumim killed an armed Palestinian who was approaching the settlement with a gun.
‘A stark reminder’: The leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations called the Friday night attack “heinous,” as did the American Jewish Committee. “Our hearts are heavy with grief,” the Conference of Presidents statement said. “This act of terrorism, particularly egregious on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a stark reminder that the threat of violence and hatred towards Jewish communities remains all too real.”
‘Appalling crimes’: In his statement, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “These casualties of these appalling crimes included elderly people, married couples and innocent passersby. As we continue to witness the intentional escalation of violence and terror in Israel, ADL remains committed to the security of the Jewish state, fighting hate and extremism in all forms, and working for a future of peace.”
Holocaust education begins in the Arab world
“As an Israeli Jew, the recent news coming from the United Arab Emirates felt more significant and personal than ever before; in a statement published earlier this month, the UAE made a historic announcement that the country will begin implementing Holocaust education as part of its curriculum for primary and secondary schools,” Yaara Segal, a former senior advisor to Israel’s ambassador in the UAE, writes in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Positive changes: “This much-welcomed change in the Middle East toward Jews and the Holocaust arises from different developments in the Arab world. A major role in this shift is attributed to the Abraham Accords, the peace agreements signed in 2020 between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, which continue to prosper and create a positive dynamic across the region. Other recent milestones include the opening of the first Holocaust memorial exhibition in the Arab world in Dubai, hosting the first official International Holocaust Remembrance Day event to be held in the Gulf in Abu Dhabi last year and the visit to Yad Vashem in Israel by the UAE’s foreign minister on the second anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords. All highlight the UAE’s genuine commitment to honor Jewish heritage and the country’s essential role as a regional leader in promoting peace, tolerance and inclusion for all peoples.”
Timing is everything: “As inspiring as this news is, its timing couldn’t be more relevant, as we witness increasing antisemitism in several Western countries, including the United States, where levels of Holocaust awareness and education among millennials and Gen Z are on the decline. Adding another layer to this, we must take into account the harsh reality of the fact that this generation is likely to be the last to meet and speak with our beloved survivors. As this crucial connection to the Holocaust fades, our duty to protect and share their stories grows.”
Confronting and reporting hate on campuses and beyond
“New York City joined a disturbing national trend in 2022: the rise of antisemitic crimes. According to the New York Police Department, antisemitic crimes across the five boroughs jumped by 125% since last year. These increases are leaving communities and New Yorkers rattled, including our own at the City University of New York (CUNY). With antisemitic attacks and speech on the rise around our country, our cities and our campuses, colleges and universities have a unique obligation to tackle the hate head-on,” writes Félix Matos Rodriguez, CUNY chancellor, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.
Partnering for safety: “CUNY has a rich and storied history of partnership with and service to Jewish New Yorkers, which once earned the City College of New York the moniker ‘The Jewish Harvard.’ Today we have Jewish studies programs at City College, the Graduate Center, Hunter College and Queens College, to name a few, and a growing partnership with Hillel International. This year we look forward to working with Hillel’s Campus Climate Initiative, which works with over 40 colleges and universities to end antisemitism and build safe learning environments where all students can thrive — regardless of their race or religion. While we celebrate this, we also recognize that more needs to be done locally and globally to combat antisemitism and bigotry in all forms.”
Observe and report: “Last month, we launched a university-wide reporting portal that provides employees, students, visitors and the public with a uniform mechanism to report instances of hate speech, violence, discrimination and retaliation. This portal sends a direct notice of the report to both the president or dean and the chief diversity officer of the college or colleges mentioned in that report. This tool provides our university system with the opportunity to conduct detailed analysis to identify trends and patterns to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion programming. We want to know about all forms of hate, including antisemitism, happening at CUNY so we can best tackle this national problem on our campuses and in our system.”
SGOTUS Speaks: Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch traveled with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff to Germany and Poland, where he reflected on his efforts to combat antisemitism in the U.S. on a national level. “Over the past several months, Emhoff has emerged as a visible advocate for the Jewish community and a figurehead in the national fight against antisemitism. Attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in the U.S., as well as online hate directed at members of the Jewish community, have recently increased to levels not seen in decades… But while in Poland, Emhoff was careful to only characterize his role as that of a listener, maybe even a catalyst or a cheerleader, but certainly not that of a policymaker. Instead, he offered a window into his approach to the issue, articulating a big-tent vision for combating antisemitism that requires building a broad base of support across party lines while avoiding some of the more contentious questions around antisemitism, like the place of anti-Zionism or Islamist extremism.” [JI]
Bed, Bath and Bankruptcy: Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein founded the company that would become Bed Bath & Beyond in 1971, and by 2019, they were forced off the board. At the time, the company was worth $2.3 billion; now it is worth less than $300 million and preparing for bankruptcy, Suzanne Kapner writes in an interview with the co-founders in The Wall Street Journal: “They now spend most of their time and considerable wealth on philanthropy and art. They are benefactors of New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art. Mr. Eisenberg is on the board of the ‘I Have a Dream’ Foundation, which mentors underprivileged children from kindergarten through college. Mr. Feinstein founded the New York-based Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, which studies potential treatments for lupus, cancer and arthritis among other work… The company operated on a shoestring budget. It used cardboard boxes as waste baskets. Post-it Notes were considered too expensive. Both men still use scrap paper. ‘I’ve got scrap paper on my desk now,’ Mr. Feinstein said. ‘I’ve got it in my apartment,’ Mr. Eisenberg said. Mr. Feinstein added: ‘Whenever I have paper, I turn it over and use the other side.’… The frugality extended to marketing. Bed Bath & Beyond didn’t run sales and it didn’t spend a lot of money on advertising. To drum up business, it used a less-expensive alternative — a coupon offering 20% off any item, which became a signature part of the company’s brand identity. ‘We used to say, The rule at this company is you never say no to a customer,’ Mr. Eisenberg said.’” [WSJ]
Sweet Charity?: While some recent acts of philanthropy by billionaires have been criticized, Rebecca Richards writes in a Washington Examiner opinion piece that broader cynicism about the field will negatively affect it as a whole: “[In Defence of Philanthropy author and sociologist Beth] Breeze identifies three critiques about giving: the academic, the insider, and the populist. The academic critique calls giving undemocratic because there is limited public oversight of philanthropy but extensive tax benefits. The insider critique argues that giving is misdirected; it should be targeting social justice rather than the interests of a self-selecting elite. The populist critique suspects nefarious motives behind philanthropy and that giving is really taking in disguise. Is giving categorically undemocratic? Or can philanthropy serve as a source of outside accountability that is necessary in a democracy? Philanthropy operates within rules, including tax laws, that were determined by the public. Breeze warns against comparing ‘an idealized version of democracy with the messy reality of philanthropy.’ Instead, philanthropy and democracy should be seen as dynamic concepts. Philanthropy can change, and has changed, as needed to improve the process of democracy. They may be uneasy allies, but they are far from mortal enemies.” [WashingtonExaminer]
Around the Web
Last week, The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which opened in 1993, raised nearly $1.5 million at its 30th anniversary dinner, which was held in South Florida. More than 600 guests attended. The museum’s national patron and regional ambassador, Julie Peyton, received the National Leadership Award…
Birthright Israel has closed its summer registration period early, citing full trips and financial constraints due to its decline in fundraising, which was spurred in part by cuts the Adelson family made to its annual donation to the group…
Arthur and Diane Abbeygifted $10 million to New York Law School to support scholarships and programs focused on diversity, equity and inclusion and supporting the community’s most vulnerable members. The gift, which is one of the largest in the school’s history, brings the couple’s total donations to the school to $17 million. The school will rename its main academic building in their honor…
Ross Beroff is joining the American Jewish World Service as board liaison. He was previously development manager for Encounter…
Nashville Jewish community leader and social justice activist Avi Posterdied at 77…
Pic of the Day
Letters spelling out #WeRemember were displayed on the steps of the Reichstag building in Berlin last week, part of the World Jewish Congress’ campaign in observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
CEO of Jewish National Fund, Russell F. Robinson, pictured here with Amar’e Stoudemire, turns 67…
Chairman of The Cordish Companies, David S. Cordish turns 83… Teacher and national community leader, holder of a Ph.D. in modern Jewish history from New York University, Judith Friedman Rosen turns 71… Upton, Wyo., resident, Heather Graf… VP of corporate engagement at the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation in New Hyde Park, N.Y., Linda Scacco… Former member of the California State Senate, Jeffrey Earle Stone turns 67… Philadelphia area psychologist, Dr. Rachel Ginzberg… Managing partner of lobbying and law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Richard B. Benenson… Director of public relations for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Zalman Shmotkin turns 54… Associate professor in the electrical engineering department at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Guy Gilboa turns 52… Publicist, manager and socialite, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Grubman turns 52… Special projects editor at The Week Junior, Bari Nan Cohen Rothchild… President of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Council, Evan M. Glass turns 46… Dallas resident, Gisele Rogers… Executive director of Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Joshua M. Kram… Former member of Congress (R-NY), he was a candidate for governor of New York in 2022, Lee Zeldin turns 43… White House correspondent for CBS Radio News, Steven Portnoy… Israeli actor, director, writer and television presenter, he is known for starring in “Shtisel, Out in the Dark” and as the host of the popular reality TV show, “The Voice Israel,” Michael Aloni turns 39… CEO at Harvesting Media, Eli Langer… Media professional and communications strategist, Alyona Minkovski turns 37… Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives since 2019, he is the eldest son of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Matthew S. Blumenthal turns 37… Partner in Avalanche VC, Eric Scott Lavin… Deputy National Security Advisor to VPOTUS Kamala Harris, Rebecca Friedman Lissner turns 36… Sports Illustrated swimsuit model since 2013, Kate Lynne Bock turns 35… Project leader at Boston Consulting Group, Max Delahanty… Professional ice hockey defenseman, he played on Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics and is currently playing with EHC Red Bull München, Jonathon Blum turns 34… VP at Blue Wolf Capital Partners, Jared Isenstein… Ice hockey forward for four seasons at Northeastern University and then played in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Chelsey Goldberg turns 30… Marketing manager at Resorts World Bimini, Alexa Smith…