Your Daily Phil: Remembering Harlene Winnick Appelman, z”l + Involving grandparents in the b’nai mitzvah journey

Good Friday morning! 

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we talk to the Jewish Grandparents Network about reinventing the role of grandparents in b’nai mitzvah ceremonies. Below, we honor the memory of Harlene Winnick Appelman.

Harlene Winnick Appelman, a renowned and respected voice in the Jewish professional world who helmed The Covenant Foundation from 2005 to 2021, died on Thursday at 75. During her time at the foundation, she spotlighted Jewish educators with bold and innovative ideas through Ignition grants, the Pomegranate Prize and Sight Line. Before leading the foundation, she herself was one of the Foundation’s three inaugural Covenant Award recipients. She was a family educator in Detroit and a founding faculty member at the Whizin Institute.

After news of Appelman’s death hit social media, Jewish educators and professionals reacted with sadness at the loss and gratitude for the support Appelman had given them over the decades.

“Harlene understood the importance of supporting the work of Jewish disability educators, when so many others thought of ‘Jewish education’ and ‘disability inclusion’ to be two disparate ideas,” Meredith Englander Polsky, co-founder of Matan and a Covenant Award recipient told eJP. “Through grants and individual professional awards, she elevated the field by making people take notice.” Englander Polsky added that Harlene created a “family culture” at The Covenant Foundation. “Each grant recipient felt valued and respected; there was a sense of belonging that is rare in the grantor/grantee relationship. I think she saw that potential in Jewish education at large — a place where each individual could be valued and respected, knowing that that is where they truly belong.”

Wendy Rosov, founder and principal of Rosov Consulting and a longtime friend of Appelman’s, called her “critical, caring and creative,” and a “gadol,” a luminary within the Jewish world, remembering her as a “colleague, mentor and friend.”

“Harlene had an uncanny knack for spotting talent, supporting talent and growing it,” Rosov told eJewishPhilanthropy. “She was a champion of the underdog, the ones who never would have been found or seen. She was fiercely loyal to everyone she worked with, constantly creating and expanding her thoughts and perspectives,” Rosov added. “She was predictably unpredictable  — you never knew what she’d come up with next.”

“Heartbroken doesn’t begin to describe it,” Rabbi Eve Posen of Congregation Neveh Shalom in Portland, Ore., wrote on Facebook. “Growing up in Michigan, Harlene directly guided my Jewish upbringing, creating programs that are a huge part of my childhood… This work was what inspired my career path. I wanted to BE Harlene.”


Reimagining the b’nai mitzvah role for grandparents


As young people approach b’nai mitzvah age, grandparents can provide an increased sense of connection to family and Jewish tradition, according to a new report from The Jewish Grandparents Network (JGN). The report, “Reimagining the Role of Grandparents in Their Grandchildren’s B-Mitzvah Experience,” is based on findings from a two-afternoon virtual symposium in May, in which Jewish leaders, educators, ritualists, grandparents and teens from across the country gathered to think expansively on the subject. The report builds on a first-of-its-kind 2019 national study by JGN, which “identified the important roles that grandparents play in their grandkids’ lives, and the commitment that they have, to their grandkids being involved in Jewish life, being connected to Jewish traditions and Jewish customs and values,” JGN co-founder and CEO David Raphael — a grandfather of two — told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz

Areas of connection: The report identified four key areas in which grandparents (or other close elders) can play a significant role with the grandchild in the b’nai mitzvah experience: family legacy, family values, study and Jewish text, and travel and outings. Terry Kaye, JGN’s associate director and director of creative partnerships (and “Gran” to five grandchildren), told eJP that JGN content — accessible to all regardless of Jewish background — provides concrete ideas or rituals in which grandparents can become more involved, whether it’s ritual performance or working together on a course of study, or a project like making a tallit together and sharing it on the day of the b’nai mitzvah experience.

Stepping back and reconsidering: “In the lives of our families, there are some key liminal moments that provide amazing opportunities to bring together the intergenerational family,” Raphael said. “It’s a liminal moment, not just for the bar mitzvah kid but for the grandparents… So we wanted to think about how to get past the American Jewish b-mitzvah paradigm — put on a tallis, read the Haftorah, throw candies and have a party,” and rethink grandparents’ involvement. “We kind of took a step back from just saying, ‘OK, let’s think about bar mitzvahs as we’ve known them,’ and said, ‘OK, what do we know about coming-of-age rituals? And what makes coming-of-age ceremonies, and what makes rituals meaningful?’” 

Read the full story here.


What are we supposed to do now?

Kate Hiscock

“It’s August of 2022. Camp educators are wrapping up a summer filled with COVID-19 tracing and staffing shortages. Hillel educators are trying to prepare for another year with college students who have missed the crucial opportunities to grow and stretch their wings that high school generally provides. Religious school educators are trying to find the appropriate balance between the content they want students to learn and the social and emotional support that students desperately need. Day school and early childhood educators are trying to help children who have missed crucial building blocks develop their social and motor skills. Organizational educators are trying to figure out the best way to support all of these other kinds of educators, through learning opportunities and professional development and perhaps most importantly, just being a space to listen and commiserate,” writes Rabbi Carrie Vogel, a rabbi and Jewish educator at Kehillat Israel in Los Angeles, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

COVID school year #4: “And, we are entering the fourth school year in a row that will be marked by an unrelenting amount of COVID-related testing, research, discussions and of course, COVID itself. Much has been written about how depleted teachers and educators are, from the mental bandwidth it takes to keep assessing new situations and adjusting programming to running programs with 60-75% of the staff we actually need. But each time I read one of these articles I find myself shrugging my shoulders and thinking, ‘OK, well what are we supposed to do about it?’… In part, what we are supposed to do, is to simply continue doing what we have always done.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

French Gates Open on Philanthropy: Melinda French Gates is sharing her philanthropy expertise to make it more inclusive and accessible to everyone with a new class on impactful giving on online learning platform, MasterClass, Moira Forbes writes in Forbes. “Challenging the perception that philanthropy should be relegated to billionaires with big checkbooks, French Gates offers members a roadmap on how anyone can be a giver and make an impact, regardless of their resources. ‘We all have something to give back, and I think people often don’t think about those other pieces beyond the money,’ says French Gates. From donating time, giving money, or leveraging an area of expertise, French Gates draws on lessons from her personal philanthropic journey to equip viewers with the tools to begin giving. Class chapters dive into the everyday application of giving and offer best practices on everything from identifying actionable goals to accurately measuring progress and leveraging your voice for the greater good… ‘People are seeking community right now. We’re seeking ways to come together to create change in our communities, in our countries, and in our world. Philanthropy and giving back are an unbelievably great way to do that,’ says French Gates.” [Forbes]

Workplace Detox: As the Great Resignation continues, there are calls for systemic change to address toxic behavior in workplaces. But one easy adjustment to professional conduct is to “eliminate passive aggression and lack of clarity around direction,” Avi Olitzky writes in MinnPost. “Superiors can address this by no longer scheduling meetings with direct-reports or subordinates without sharing the content or context of the meeting ahead of time. In addition, when those same employees inquire about a meeting, responses that dismiss or avoid the inquiry worsen the toxicity. By sharing the content and context of an upcoming meeting in advance, it assuages the natural concerns and anxiety of workers within a hierarchical workplace. In a world that often lacks positive reinforcement, we have been trained to expect ‘summons to the principal’s office’ as consequence for bad action. And if the employee indeed has reason to worry, then the supervisor should be tactfully straightforward about it.” [MinnPost]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Businessman and J.K. Rowling’s agent Neil Blair will take over as chairman of the British Friends of United Hatzalahnext month…

The city of Milan, Italy, has been named an honorary member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation in recognition of its residents’ efforts to help rescue Jews from Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust…

The San Francisco Unified School District is facing legal scrutiny after its Aug. 9 decision to close schools for two Muslim religious holidays…

The Clinton Health Access Initiative announced a $25 million commitment from the Bill & Melinda Gates and ELMA foundations to help nine governments build comprehensive medical oxygen ecosystems…

Rolf Eden, a German-Jewish impresario and nightclub owner, died at 92. Eden served in the Palmach force, which served as the basis for the Israel Defense Forces, as a member of its convoys that attempted to reach besieged Jerusalem during Israel’s War for Independence…

Pic of the Day

PETER KOHALMI/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian refugees relax in a newly opened kosher camp on the southern shore of Lake Balaton in Balatonoszod, Hungary. The camp, which is run by the Chabad movement, is the only one serving observant Ukrainian Jews who have fled the country in the six months since the Russian invasion began.


Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

Co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin celebrates his birthday Sunday…

FRIDAY: One of the first venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, he was an early investor in Intel, Apple Computer, Scientific Data Systems and Teledyne, Arthur Rock… Ventura County, Calif., resident, Jerry Epstein… Past member of both houses of the South Dakota legislature, Stanford “Stan” M. Adelstein… Retired as president of Ono Academic College in Israel, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev… 42nd president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton… Retired reading teacher for the New York City Department of Education, Miriam Baum Benkoe… Actor and director, Adam Arkin… Gavriel Benavraham… Managing partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, Mark C. Rifkin… Co-founder of Apollo Global Management, Marc J. Rowan… Former chairman of the FCC, now a managing director at the Carlyle Group, Julius Genachowski… Executive editor of The New York TimesJoseph Kahn… Partner and talent agent at William Morris Endeavor, Dan Aloni… Former member of Knesset, he is the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Omri Sharon… Executive administrator of Ventura, Calif., accounting firm, Morgan, Daggett & Wotman, Carolynn Wotman… Actress and producer, best known for her starring role as deputy chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on the TNT crime drama “The Closer,” Kyra Sedgwick… District attorney of Queens, Melinda R. Katz… Founder and CEO of New York City-based government advocacy firm The Friedlander Group, Ezra Friedlander… Private equity financier and a founding partner of Searchlight Capital Partners, Eric Louis Zinterhofer… Contributing editor for The Daily Beast and the author of three books, Molly Jong-Fast… Businessman and investor, Brett Icahn… Managing partner of Handmade Capital, Ross Hinkle… Rapper, singer and songwriter, Steven Adam Markowitz… Chair of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, Yehuda L. Neuberger… Digital marketing and PR consultant in Tel Aviv, Cassandra Federbusz

SATURDAY: Laguna Hills, Calif., resident, Phoebe Bryan… Director of the National Economic Council during the Trump administration, Larry Kudlow… Former Kansas secretary of labor, Lana Goodman Gordon… Chair of the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., Steven H. Klinghoffer… Former mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the owner of minor league baseball’s Winnipeg Goldeyes, Samuel Michael “Sam” Katz… Managing director of equity derivatives at Rice Financial Products, Jay A. Knopf… U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL-10)… Wilmington, Del., resident and former national campaign chair for The Jewish Federations of North America, Suzanne Barton Grant… Vice chairman and president of strategic growth at Mastercard, Ambassador Michael Froman… U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)… Moroccan-born billionaire, he is the founder and controlling shareholder of the Altice Group, he acquired Sotheby’s during 2019, Patrick Drahi… Executive director of A Wider Bridge, Ethan Felson… Israeli writer known for his short stories and graphic novels, Etgar Keret… Film director and screenwriter, Mark Levin… Former British ambassador to Israel, now the CEO for NHSX, Matthew Gould… Ethiopian-born, former member of the Knesset for Kulanu, Asher Fentahun Seyoum… Director of communications at the Center for Democracy & Technology, Ari Goldberg… Executive director of Lisa Stone Pritzker’s LSP Family Foundation, Abigail Michelson Porth… Former federation executive, president & CEO at Hillside Santa Barbara, Michael S. Rassler… Deputy director and one of the founders of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, Karen Brunwasser… Co-founder of Boundless Israel, Rachel Lea Fish…. Partner in the Iowa office of Cornerstone Government Affairs and foundation president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, David Ryan Adelman… Canadian television and film actress, Meghan Ory… Real estate agent, author and television personality, Josh Flagg… Triathlete and beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Israel 2019, Sella Sharlin

SUNDAY: Retired owner of Effective Strategy Consultants, Boynton Beach resident, Irwin Wecker… U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the Seventh Circuit (with chambers in Chicago), Judge Ilana Kara Diamond Rovner… President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, L. Rafael Reif… Israeli-born pawnbroker and star of the reality television series “Beverly Hills Pawn”, Yossi Dina… Businessman and prominent collector of modern and contemporary art, Mitchell Rales… U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)… Israeli physician who was a member of the Knesset, he now serves as mayor of Ashdod, Dr. Yehiel Lasri… Co-founder of BlueLine Grid, a former member of the Los Angeles City Council, Jack Weiss… Director of school strategy and policy for the UJA-Federation of New York, Chavie N. Kahn… Global head of public affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Ken Mehlman… MLB pitcher for nine teams in a long career from 2000 to 2015, he was the winning starting pitcher in three of Team Israel’s first four games in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Jason Marquis… President at Bold Decision, Adam Rosenblatt… Missions manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Erica N. Miller… Assistant editor at Simon & Schuster, Tzippy Baitch… Lynn Sharon… James Barton…

Email to have your birthday included.