Your Daily Phil: Remembering Robert Beren + Israel on Campus Coalition confab in D.C.

Good Thursday morning!

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report from this year’s Israel on Campus Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., and feature an opinion piece from Shoshannah D. Frydman. Also in this newsletter: Jonathan BrentJosephine Sittenfeld and Philip Sherman. We’ll start with Jewish groups remembering businessman and philanthropist Robert Beren.

Robert Beren, a prolific philanthropist, oil magnate and Republican donor who funded Jewish schools, yeshivas, agencies and synagogues in the United States and Israel, died on Wednesday, reports eJewishPhilantropy’s Haley Cohen. He was 97.

Beren’s grandson Jonah Platt reflected on Wednesday afternoon on his grandfather’s “tremendous” impact, telling eJP, “He instilled in all of us such a sense of responsibility to the Jewish community, to give back always and to always put an emphasis on philanthropy and education and Jewish values.”

Family, Platt said, was central to his grandfather’s values. “He really set the tone, the way he revered his family and those who came before him so much. So we try with everything we do to honor him and his legacy.”

The Robert M. Beren Academy, a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school in Houston; Yeshiva University; the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, whose campus is named for Beren; and the Ohr Torah Stone network in Israel, including its Robert M. Beren Machanaim Yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Migdal Oz, are among the numerous beneficiaries of Beren’s charitable giving, many of which bear his name or those of his family members.

“The worldwide Jewish community mourns the loss of a true champion, Robert M. Beren, a man of unwavering principles, of a dedication to the Jewish people, and of extraordinary generosity,” Rabbi Kenneth Brander, the leader of the Ohr Torah Stone network, said in a statement to eJP. “Mr. Beren was more than just a philanthropic donor — he was an involved partner whose strategic insights guided our growth, and he will be missed.”

Beren is survived by daughters Nancy Beren, an active member of Jewish organizations in Houston; Julie Platt, board chair of Jewish Federations of North America; Amy Bressman; former president of UJA-Federation of New York; and son Adam Beren, a former president of the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation, member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and founder of the Combat Antisemitism Movement. His grandchildren, in addition to Jonah Platt, include actors Ben and Henry Platt, Hollywood writer Theodore Bressman, Sophie Beren, Irene Beren Jefferson and Punchbowl co-founder Jake Sherman (by marriage).

Read the full story here.

Zionist enterprise

Students watch a panel at the Israel on Campus Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., in August 2023. (Haley Cohen/eJewishPhilanthropy)

Speaking before 400 college students at the Israel on Campus Coalition’s second annual leadership summit this week in Washington, D.C., Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog issued an urgent plea for more foot soldiers in the fight against antisemitism and anti-Zionism on college campuses, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen from the event.

A who’s who: The three-day conference, held at the Capital Hilton, was the largest pro-Israel student conference held this year and brought together an array of speakers from across the political spectrum including former Trump White House Mideast advisor Jason Greenblatt, a Republican; Maryland Del. Joe Vogel, a Democrat who is running for a House seat; Arizona state Rep. Alma Hernandez, a Democrat; and Herzog. The National Leadership Summit (NLS) theme was “Many Voices, One Vision.”

Part of a group: “There are tangible, specific goals we are trying to achieve with the conference,” Jacob Baime, ICC CEO, told eJP. “We want students to leave feeling equipped to elect pro-Israel student government officials, to build strong and diverse coalitions on campuses and to respond effectively to anti-Israel activity.” Baime continued: “The bigger picture is about a network. If you are a student who is at the front lines of these fights that anti-Israel activists are pitching on campus, it can feel isolating. It’s powerful for pro-Israel students to feel they are part of a national network.”

Read the full story here.

Teach them early

Teens as partners in combating intimate partner violence

Getty Images

“As stay-at-home orders and COVID descended upon the world, the field of domestic violence entered a state of crisis… Shalom Task Force feared for the worst for the survivors and implemented innovative ways to provide services to victims. We were also challenged to continue our prevention and awareness work under these new conditions. Central to this challenge was to find ways to continue to engage youth as we looked to find meaningful and effective ways to provide IPV prevention during this strange time,” writes Shoshannah D. Frydman, CEO of Shalom Task Force, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Time is now: “We saw this as a crucial opportunity to launch the Purple Fellowship because purple is the IPV awareness color. The Purple Fellowship is a yearlong educational experience that equips juniors at Jewish day school students, nationally, with the skills, knowledge and real-life experience to become leaders in their schools and communities through the lens of gender violence and Jewish values. This fellowship builds a sense of Jewish community, fosters talent through its leadership development model and empowers youth and their communities to create safety and communal support.”

Hope for the future: “We are often asked how we can stay optimistic and manage the vicarious trauma of working in the field of abuse — it is because our work is grounded in hope. We remain hopeful when we meet with thousands of Jewish youth and see their passion to change the future as they wear purple kippot, start Purple DV Activism Clubs and enjoy purple donuts to raise awareness. By partnering with teens, we can create a safer and more supportive Jewish community.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

The One Who Does Not Know How to Ask: In Harvard Business Review, Rae Ringel offers suggestions for how to make requests — not demands — in a way that will get results, with no ill will. “If there was ever a time when leaders could simply issue commands and consider them done, now is most certainly not that time. We live in a world of flattened organizational structures, cross-functional teams, and workplace cultures that value collaboration, autonomy, and sensitivity… I think of requests as anything you’d like someone to do, but you don’t have the managerial authority to assign them to do… As it turns out, there’s an art to the request. Those who haven’t mastered this art are likely to find their entreaties met with what I call the ‘non-response response’: I’ll look into that. I’ll try. Great idea. Let’s put a pin in it.” [HarvardBusinessReview]

The Salad Days of Summer: With images and prose, photographer and former camp counselor Josephine Sittenfeld presents an ode to summer camp in The New York Times. “In 1999, after my freshman year in college, I was a counselor at a camp in central Vermont. It changed my life. For the next eight summers I kept going back. Camp was where I found my professional calling: Teaching kids to mold clay flowers by hand made me realize I wanted to spend the rest of my life making and teaching art. It was also where I came to understand core values…  I found my people. It’s where I fell in love for the first time, with a soulful, charming boy who worked slinging oatmeal and scrubbing pots in the camp’s kitchen. It’s where I learned how to exist in community with others… I took photos of the campers and my fellow counselors with a Yashica twin lens reflex camera on medium format film. Slowly. Lovingly…  I photographed Hallie before the dance. Maddie outside the shower house. Molly mending her broken flip-flop. Julia by the smoldering Cabin 5 firepit. Manny lying down in the infirmary.” [NYTimes]

Around the Web

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, created by Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, laid off nearly 50 members of its education team as part of a broad restructuring of the foundation…

Athletes from the Kansas State University and University of Arizona men’s basketball teams landed today for a 10-day visit to Israel and the United Arab Emirates in a trip sponsored by the nonprofit Athletes for Israel

Jonathan Brent, executive director and CEO of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, gave a wide-ranging interview to the Jewish News Syndicate about his organization’s globe-spanning activities…

The Fed, a British foundation, received a grant of more than $300,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for its My Voice education program to record and publish the life stories of Holocaust survivors

Robbie Robertson, guitarist and songwriter for The Band, who never met his Jewish father, died last week at 80…

Philip Sherman, a cantor and actor, as well as one of New York’s most prolific mohels, died last week at 67…

Pic of the Day

Courtesy/Israel Defense Forces

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi (center), IDF Spokesperson Dan Hagari (bottom left) and head of the IDF Manpower Directorate Yaniv Assur (fourth from right) meet today with the heads of Israel’s youth movements at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

The IDF said the “uncommon” meeting was arranged in light of the “complex challenges that the IDF and Israeli society is facing in recent months,” specifically around the issue of military service, as growing numbers of reservists have announced they would no longer report for volunteer duty in response to the government’s judicial overhaul. “I too was in a youth movement, and those eight years have stayed with me. It is a world of values, rooted in camaraderie between friends,” Halevi said during the meeting.


Courtesy/Rabbi Jack Moline

Conservative rabbi who served as president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rabbi Jack Moline

CEO at Royal Health Services in Beverly Hills, Robert N. Feldman… Professor of biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shimon Schuldiner… Founder and principal of Clipper Equity, David Bistricer… Former governor of the South African Reserve Bank, the first woman to hold that position, Gill Marcus… Retired co-leader of the securities litigation practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, he is the co-president of NYC’s Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Joseph S. Allerhand… Certified registered nurse anesthetist for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Edward Salkind… Author, media consultant and former film critic for The New York Post and The New York Daily News, Jami Bernard… Former director of the Jewish Museum of Vienna, Austria, she was a founder of the German language magazine Nu devoted to Jewish politics and culture, Danielle Spera… Member of the California state Senate, Steven Mitchell Glazer… Chief rabbi in the Har Nof neighborhood in Jerusalem and a leader of the Shas party, Rabbi David Yosef… Former member of Congress, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Andy Levin… Professor of physics and astronomy at Tel Aviv University, Yaron Oz … Tech entrepreneur, he served as a Washington State senator until earlier this year, Reuven Michael Carlyle… Former member of the Florida state Senate, Jeremy Ring… Deputy attorney general of Israel, Sharon Afek… Regional chief technology officer in the South Texas office of Technologent, Jason P. Reyes… Senior director of the NYC-based Tikvah Fund, Eytan Sosnovich… Head of social media and influencer marketing at Eventbrite, Sophie Vershbow… VP of commodities compliance at Citibank, Jacob Cohen