Your Daily Phil: Remembering Jersey City victims + JDC’s priorities

Good Friday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on a commemoration of the 2019 Jersey City shooting at a kosher supermarket and feature a column by Y.U.’s Erica Brown on the weekly Torah portion. Also in this newsletter: Agudath Israel’s Rabbi Abba Cohen, JFNA’s Elana Broitman and Tom Tugend. We’ll start by taking a look at the JDC’s board meeting this week.

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 JI and eJP stories, including: National strategy and campus antisemitism feature at White House roundtable; The Pennsylvania Democrat hoping to succeed Summer Lee in the Statehouse; Jared Moskowitz eyes Foreign Affairs, Judiciary committees; At J Street confab, attendees grapple with what it means to be ‘pro-Israel’; A small rabbinical school that caters to Deaf students is growing, with help from a Jewish coworking space; A Jewish-funded mobile clinic in Ukraine will focus on women’s health; and PJ Library launches fellowship for artists in bid to attract adolescent readers.Print the latest edition here.

Last December, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee was coming off a year in which it spent well over $300 million on activities in more than 70 countries — everything from medical care in North Africa to food aid in Latin America.

It still does those things. But like many Jewish organizations, it added a huge line item to its budget this year — aid to Ukraine. Between this year and 2023, JDC expects to spend $109 million on Ukraine aid, and the crisis was a headline issue at the organization’s board meeting this week in New York City.

The Ukraine spending has given JDC its biggest annual budget ever next year — nearly $407 million, an increase of more than $10 million over 2022 (though the budget is not bigger when taking inflation into account).

“There are 69 other [countries we serve] besides Ukraine, and the need of Jews around the world is no less now than it was before the war in Ukraine,” Ariel Zwang, JDC’s CEO, told eJewishPhilanthropy, adding that the needs of other vulnerable Jewish populations may have increased “because of COVID, inflation, exchange rate fluctuations — these are all things that continue to affect poor Jews around the world, they’re just not in the paper every day.”

But Ukraine remains a focus. The group is gearing up to aid thousands of Jews in the country who may be exposed to the cold weather, given the damage to power grids from Russia’s invasion. JDC will be providing $14 million for everything from funding for clothes to shipments of wood or coal for those who need to generate their own heat.

When the weather warms up, Zwang said, JDC will explore helping to repair structures in parts of Ukraine that are safe from the fighting. “God willing, there will be an environment where there will be some rebuilding, and we’ll pilot things like replacing windows,” she said.

Even programs outside of Ukraine are still related to it. The grounds of Szarvas, a JDC-supported Jewish camp in Hungary that had its first summer in person since 2019 this year, can also serve refugees, Zwang said. And JDC will be directing funds toward Jewish communities in other parts of Europe, which have taken in a total of 10,000 Jewish refugees.

JDC isn’t asking those refugees how long they plan to stay. “We don’t really focus so much on, ‘Eventually you’ll go back,’” she said. “Because regardless, people need help right now in living.”

in memoriam

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin speaks at a commemoration of the 2019 Jersey City shooting at a kosher supermarket.
New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin speaks at a commemoration of the 2019 Jersey City shooting at a kosher supermarket.

More than 100 people gathered at the steps of City Hall in Jersey City on a chilly Thursday evening to pay tribute to the four victims of the shooting at a kosher supermarket three years ago. But along with serving as a memorial to the fallen, the event functioned as a warning that, when it comes to threats against Jews, matters do not seem to have improved,” eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales reports.

In their words: “I have the privilege of welcoming you to Jersey City City Hall today, unfortunately not under the best of circumstances,” said Mayor Steven Fulop, who is Jewish, though it was unclear if he was referring to the 2019 shooting or the rising numbers of antisemitic incidents since. Speaking later in the evening, state Attorney General Matt Platkin said, “I continue to see that fear in communities across our state, because the reality is, hate hasn’t gone away in the three years since that awful day.”

Remembering the victims: Speakers throughout the night honored the victims by name: Mindy Ferencz, Moshe Deutsch, Douglas Miguel Rodriguez and Detective Joseph Seals. “Together, we must find the courage, through enduring pain, to end the twin evils of gun violence and bigotry,” Murphy said, and invoked the upcoming holiday of Hanukkah in her “hope for the future that light will always overcome darkness.”

Out of the spotlight: One group that didn’t have representation at the podium was the Haredi community of Jersey City, which was targeted in the attack, though some of its members stood on the steps next to the speakers. Chesky Deutsch, who lived in the Jersey City community at the time of the shooting, told eJP that community members are generally reluctant to speak at public events such as these. “It was a beautiful and appropriate event,” Deutsch told eJP. “The reality is that the community here specifically — the Orthodox, Haredi community — wishes to be just by themselves. For good or for bad, they’re not here to be in the public sphere.”

Read the full story here.

unpacking ndaa

What’s next for Jewish community priorities that didn’t make it into the NDAA?

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 08: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The House’s passage, by a wide margin, of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act yesterday advanced several key domestic and foreign national security policy priorities for advocates in the Jewish community. But other provisions that Jewish groups had supported were left on the cutting-room floor amid negotiations between legislators in the House and Senate, Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod reports.

Not included: One major priority that was excluded from the bill was the Pray Safe Act, a bipartisan bill aimed at establishing a centralized resource for nonprofits to find information on security best practices and grant opportunities. “The decision regarding the PSA was made at the leadership level and apparently wasn’t tied to the substance of the bill itself,” Rabbi Abba Cohen, vice president of government affairs for Agudath Israel, told JI. “The PSA was paired with an unrelated provision, and the two were supposed to move together. Once the unrelated provision was blocked by leadership, the PSA fell with it.”

Convoluted Congress: Elana Broitman, senior vice president of public affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America, emphasized that she does not see Congress’ failure to include the legislation in the NDAA as an indication of a lack of commitment to protecting the Jewish community. “I don’t know that it’s a comment about exactly the time that we’re in, rather a comment on the convoluted methods of congressional activities in the waning days of a Congress, when everything is slammed together,” Broitman told JI.

Read the full story here.

the torah of leadership


“In one of the most tender scenes in all of Genesis, Jacob and Esau reunite. Much has happened in the intervening years since they lived under the same roof as brothers. Jacob left his parents’ home alone and as a fugitive from his raging brother. He returned with a large retinue of wives, children and sheep. Esau left for Mount Seir to become a nation of his own. When the two lock eyes, the Torah invites us into this exchange of high emotion: ‘Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him and, falling on his neck, he kissed him; and they wept’ (Gen. 33:4),” writes Erica Brown in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Gift rapt: “After they separated and Esau surveyed Jacob’s household and the many gifts Jacob brought for him, Esau sought clarification, ‘What do you mean by all this company which I have met?’ He [Jacob] answered, ‘To gain my lord’s favor’” (Gen. 33:8). Jacob was so nervous about this meeting that he tried to mollify Esau with presents. Jacob may have tried with these gifts to compensate Esau for stealing his birthright. Jacob may have tried to impress upon Esau that he was a changed man, a man of wealth and stability.”

There must be 50 ways to leave your brother(’s presents): “But Esau was interested in his brother, not his brother’s offerings. “Esau said, ‘I have enough (yesh li rav), my brother; let what you have remain yours” (Gen. 33:9). Yesh li rav can also be translated as “I have a great deal,” as if Esau was stating that he, too, had accumulated wealth since the two met. He no longer needed the largesse of an inheritance. Jacob was insistent, “But Jacob said, ‘No, I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, and you have received me favorably. Please accept my present which has been brought to you, for God has favored me and I have plenty.’ And when he urged him, he accepted” (Gen. 33:10-11). The face of a potential murderer had softened, for Jacob, into an image of God. Esau understood that rejecting Jacob’s gifts was a way of rejecting him. Accepting these gifts was an acknowledgment that time had changed these brothers.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Local Leaders with Muscle: Funding grassroots activists is the key to making progress with human rights issues, Regan Ralph writes in Inside Philanthropy. “Local activists know how to make change that truly matters. Communities from the Andes to Zanzibar have adopted human rights ideas and norms to advance their causes. But they aren’t tangled up in arcane legal arguments; they’re rooted in ideas that inspire and frameworks that offer accountability. Local advocates, using the language and tools of human rights, have changed people’s lives in tangible ways and built popular support for systemic change as a result…Second, local activists have shown the power of alliances and movements — both within their countries and across national borders. Through collaboration, they’ve built constituencies that in turn build political power. With so much going wrong in the world — volatile and divisive politics, war, hunger, a flailing global economy, climate change — the temptation is to look for strong leaders with the muscle to implement solutions. For donors — and voters — this temptation can translate into top-down decision-making that negates the vision and potential of local leaders. The desire for quick wins is understandable but wrong-headed.” [InsidePhilanthropy]

Matching Grants, Building Schools: 
In Durham, N.C., a park has been proposed to honor Julius Rosenwald for being chief benefactor of 800 schools for Black children across North Carolina. A former Rosenwald school, now called the Russell School and preserved by the church next door, may become one of half a dozen sites in a proposed Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park, Yonat Shimron reports in Religion News Service. “Rosenwald was 49 when he met [Booker T.] Washington, then principal of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute, now a university. Rosenwald had read Washington’s autobiography, ‘Up From Slavery,’ and it had made an impression. The two met in a Chicago restaurant and Washington invited Rosenwald to travel to Tuskegee to see his school. There the two came up with the idea of building schools for Black children through a system of matching grants. Rosenwald would contribute cash (typically $300 per school, sometimes more). The Black community contributed an equal amount in cash, labor, materials, land or a combination thereof. Local and state governments also contributed about a third of the cost.” [RNS]

Around the Web

The Cleveland Jewish Newshonored the Yanowitz family with the 18 Difference Makers Generation Award, for the family’s multigenerational commitment to philanthropy and Jewish community…

The top Google search terms in Israel this year included World Cup, Queen Elizabeth, the reality TV show “Big Brother,” the Ukraine-Russia War, Israeli election results and COVID tests, The Jerusalem Postreported

A congressional investigation found that Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder was key to a toxic workplace culture in the team’s front office and attempted to cover up his wrongdoing…

Tom Tugend, a longtime Jewish journalist who escaped the Nazis to fight in World War II and Israel’s War of Independence, died at 97

Pic of the Day

Thirty deaf and hearing-impaired Israelis celebrated their bar- and bat-mitzvahs on Wednesday at the Western Wall as part of Young Israel’s Judaic Heritage Program for the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired.


SOUTHLAKE, TX – JANUARY 17: Rabbi Charlie Citron-Walker talks to reporters outside of Whites Chapel United Methodist Church following a special service on January 17, 2022 in Southlake, Texas. (Photo by Emil Lippe/Getty Images)

Former rabbi of Temple Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, he was held hostage in the synagogue in January 2022 and then rescued, Charlie Cytron-Walker celebrates his birthday on Saturday… 

FRIDAY: Recently retired diplomat who served as Israel’s ambassador to Russia, China and the U.K., Zvi Heifetz… Founder of CaregiversDirect and Beverly Hills Egg Donation, and a past president of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, Lisa Greer… Former senior White House aide and deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the Clinton and Obama administrations, now CEO of the Brunswick Group, Neal S. Wolin… EVP of Sterling Equities and former COO of the New York Mets, Jeffrey Scott Wilpon… General counsel to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Daniel “Dan” Greenberg… Israel’s Minister of Justice until a new government is formed, Gideon Sa’ar… U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)… Singer-songwriter, music producer and founder of StaeFit workout apparel, Stacey Liane Levy Jackson… U.S. State Department official while her nomination is still pending Senate confirmation to be assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Tamara Cofman Wittes… Singer-songwriter and son of Bob Dylan, he rose to fame as the lead singer and primary songwriter for the rock band the Wallflowers, Jakob Dylan… Senior rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg… Managing director at Finsbury/FGS Global and a board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Eric Wachter… Actor, comedian and musician, best known for his role as Howard Wolowitz in the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Simon Helberg… Staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s juvenile rights practice, Daniella Esther Rohr Adelsberg… Digital director for the R Street Institute, Shoshana Weissmann… Israeli fashion model Dorit Revelis

SATURDAY: Baltimore-based dairy cattle dealer, Abraham Gutman… Founder of the Texas Jewish Historical Society, he served as rabbi (now emeritus) of Congregation B’nai Israel in Galveston, Texas, James Lee Kessler… Board director at Perella Weinberg Partners, Ivan Seidenberg… Owner of Judaica House and Cool Kippahs, Reuben Nayowitz… Progressive political activist, Margery Tabankin… Founding rabbi of Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Md., Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt… Founder and CEO at Seppy’s Kosher Baked Goods in Pueblo, Colo., Elishevah Sepulveda… Real estate entrepreneur in Palm Beach, Fla., Jeff Greene… U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)… New York real estate investor and developer, Joseph Chetrit… Senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum and former deputy special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism at the State Department, Ellie Cohanim… Head of Bloomberg Beta, a venture fund backed by Bloomberg L.P., Roy Bahat… Actress known for her roles in HBO’s “Entourage” and CBS’s “The Mentalist,” Emmanuelle Chriqui… Managing director for private-equity firm TPG, Marc Mezvinsky… General partner at Andreessen Horowitz, David A. Ulevitch… Screenwriter, best known for co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel and Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Nicole Perlman… Former managing editor for CNN Business, Alex Koppelman… Co-founder of single-origin spice company Burlap & Barrel, Ethan Frisch… Disability rights activist who co-founded the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, he is a Ph.D. candidate in health policy at Harvard, Ari Daniel Ne’eman… R&B, jazz and soul singer and songwriter, she performs as “Mishéll,” Irina Rosenfeld… Senior manager of corporate communications at Capital One, Mitchell Rubenstein… Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Metairie, La., Philip Kaplan… Co-founder at Dojo, helping companies design healthier workplaces, Daniel Goldstern… Actress, musician, model and talk show host, Rachel Trachtenburg

SUNDAY: The first-ever U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry… Lumber and wood products executive in Bethany, Conn., Stuart Paley… University professor of Jewish history and Jewish thought at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter… Professor of international economics at Princeton University, Gene Grossman… Senior attorney in the environmental and natural resources division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Perry Rosen… Speech language pathologist in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Joanne Ring… Best-selling author, Ayelet Waldman… Partner in Pomerantz LLP where he leads the corporate governance litigation practice, Gustavo F. Bruckner… Former member of the Knesset for the Labor party and then the Independence party, Einat Wilf… Senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, Shira Efron, Ph.D…. Israeli poet and founder of the cultural group Ars Poetica, Adi Keissar… Hasidic rapper from Boston, known as Nosson, Nathan Isaac Zand… Director of public affairs and marketing at Englewood (NJ) Hospital and Medical Center, Michael Chananie… CEO at D.C.-based Brown Strategy Group, Josh Brown… Personal trainer at F45 Training, Kelly Cohen… Reporter at Politico who covers the U.S. Senate, Marianne LeVine… Director of alternative investments at CAIS, Judah Schulman… Senior editor at Apple News, Gideon Resnick