Your Daily Phil: Schumer calls for $1b in federal nonprofit security grants

Good Tuesday morning.

In today’s edition of Your Daily Phil, we report on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for $1 billion in funding for the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program and Brandeis University’s decision to ban Students for Justice in Palestine from campus. We feature opinion pieces from Jerry Isaak-Shapiro and Jen Schiffer. Also in this newsletter: Alex SorosLt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz and Jenessa Schwartz. We’ll start with Jewish leaders responding to the death of a Jewish man following an altercation with a pro-Palestinian protester outside Los Angeles.

Jewish groups are reeling from the death of Paul Kessler, 69, who suffered a fatal head wound after being allegedly struck by a pro-Palestinian protester with a megaphone outside Los Angeles on Sunday and succumbed to his injuries yesterday, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Judah Ari Gross.

“We are devastated to learn of the tragic death of an elderly Jewish man who was struck in the head by a megaphone wielded by a pro-Palestinian protestor in Westlake Village,” the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles said in a statement. “Our hearts are with the family of the victim. While we wait for more information from our law enforcement partners, we remind you that this is the fourth major antisemitic crime committed in Los Angeles this year alone.”

On Sunday, Kessler was part of a pro-Israel protest in Thousand Oaks, Calif., which was held alongside a pro-Palestinian demonstration. Witnesses told police that at some point “Kessler was involved in a physical altercation” with the pro-Palestinian protesters, in which he fell back and hit his head on the ground. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, where he was pronounced dead yesterday.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said it was investigating his death as a homicide caused by a blunt force head injury and a possible hate crime.

Rabbi Michael Barclay, spiritual leader of the nearby Temple Ner Simcha, said he’d spoken with police and called for people to allow law enforcement to investigate Kessler’s death without jumping to conclusions.

“Ventura County Sheriff and [Thousand] Oaks Police have integrity, and are being cautious and careful before making accusations,” Barclay wrote on X. “We need to do the same; and not let this become a spark that starts an inferno. May Paul’s memory be a blessing and his family comforted among the mourners of Zion.”

In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League said it was “heartbroken” to hear that Kessler had died and called for “law enforcement to launch a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible and what was the motivation for this tragic and senseless death.”

Doron Almog, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, called for Kessler’s death to be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Authorities must ensure that such aggressions are not repeated.”

Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said in a statement that Kessler was killed “because he was a Jew… This is what happens when protesters glorify Hamas and call to ‘globalize the intifada.’ They don’t love Palestinians, they hate Jews.”


Rabbi Dina Brawer, executive director of the U.K.-based World Jewish Relief’s American branch, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2023.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Oct. 31, 2023. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Amid a surge of antisemitism in the U.S., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is calling for a major increase in federal support for nonprofit security needs that would more than triple the current funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Schumer is requesting $1 billion in funding for the program, which in 2023 gave out $305 million in grants. “Schumer’s focus here, front of mind, is JCCs, shuls and schools, along with senior centers,” Angelo Roefaro, Schumer’s press secretary, told Gabby Deutch for eJewishPhilanthropy’s sister publication Jewish Insider.

Rising need: Following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel and the ensuing war between Israel and Hamas, law enforcement and Jewish communities in the U.S. and around the world have reported a major increase in antisemitic threats, vandalism and violence. President Joe Biden requested an additional $200 million for NSGP in his administration’s emergency supplemental funding request, which is currently stalled amid opposition from House Republicans.

More than requested: Schumer is the first senator to request such a drastic increase in funding. His demand is larger, even, than Jewish advocacy organizations, which have championed the program for years, have requested. It’s not clear whether the $1 billion sought by Schumer would be part of the emergency supplemental bill sent by the president, or whether it would be in stand-alone legislation.

Read the full report here and sign up for Jewish Insider’s Daily Kickoff here.


Brandeis becomes first private university to ban Students for Justice in Palestine on campus

American politician Dianne Feinstein, her arms outstretched in celebration, in her office after she was elected mayor of San Francisco, at San Francisco City Hall in San Francisco, California, circa 1978.
Courtesy/Brandeis University

Brandeis University on Monday became the first private university to ban the campus chapter of National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Haley Cohen for Jewish Insider.

Crossing the line: SJP’s open support for Hamas, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization, was the driving factor in the decision, according to a source familiar with Brandeis’ plans. The source noted that the National SJP has called on its chapters to engage in conduct that supports Hamas in its call for the violent elimination of Israel and the Jewish people.

Genuine threat: “This decision was not made lightly, as Brandeis is dedicated to upholding free speech principles, which have been codified in Brandeis’ Principles of Free Speech and Free Expression,” reads the letter that was sent to SJP on Monday informing the group that it had been banned. “However, those Principles note that ‘The freedom to debate and discuss ideas does not mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish, or however they wish,’ and that, ‘…the university may restrict expression…that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment…or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the university.’”

Read the full report here.

Dear Former University Donors

There’s something else you can do with those dollars

Irvine Hebrew Day School/Facebook

“In the wake of Hamas’ barbaric attack on Oct. 7, Jewish megadonors — some of whom have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of already well-funded universities — have expressed their frustrations about what they perceive as morally indefensible responses by student organizations, teaching staff and university leaders. … For those principled donors who have had it with adding to endowments the size of medium-size countries, there is an alternative for your tzedakah where the impact of those dollars would be truly transformative. It would change lives, it would change institutions — it would change a people,” writes Jerry Isaak-Shapiro, head of school at Irvine Hebrew Day School,  in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Wishful thinking: “[H]eads of school will often recount — wistfully, not angrily or cynically — a successful solicitation of a ‘megadonor’ for their school. They came away with a commitment for $18,000, or $36,000, or even a six-figure gift, all very serious numbers for any of our schools. Knowing the donor and the field, however, they also share the denouement of the story: that the same donor was recently honored for a $10 million gift to his alma mater. At that point, most of us indulge in a fantasy of what our schools could do with that kind of money.”

Communal impact potential: “A significant endowment, responsibly managed, would mean not sweating payroll. It would allow for state-of-the-art science labs and dramatic arts and music and field trips in addition to meaningful Tanach classes and Hebrew immersion and Jewish philosophy. It would mean trips to Israel accessible to all of our students. It would mean paying serious wages for talented staff and faculty, who wouldn’t have to jettison their commitment to the Jewish people in exchange for being able to purchase a first home or afford having a second child.”

Read the full piece here.

Where to begin

Making this a teachable moment even for our youngest community members

Preschool students Shaina and Zeke, both 3, proudly hold the tzedakah jar for their friends to add their Shabbat donations. Funds were donated to the Israel Emergency Fund – UJA Federation of New York. Courtesy/The Community Synagogue

“There are plenty of resources on the internet about how to talk to children about the conflict in Israel, but these resources mainly focus on children from elementary through high school-age kids,” writes Jen Schiffer, early childhood center director and board member of the Jewish Early Childhood Association, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Balancing act: “As a Jewish preschool teaching a Jewish curriculum to Jewish children, we know we can’t ignore the proverbial elephant in the room — but where to begin? We don’t talk about Hamas, or the war, or the extent of the violence that is going on in Israel and in Gaza. … In this unprecedented moment in their lives and ours, there are meaningful, age-appropriate lessons we can impart.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Rights and Responsibilities: In an opinion piece in The Atlantic, Princeton professor Michael Walzer challenges the axiom prevalent in some circles today that any act committed by Hamas against Israel is justifiable as rightful resistance. “Framed this way, the issue is simple: Oppressed people have a right to resist; the Palestinians have a right to struggle against the Israeli occupation. But rights come with obligations. What are the obligations of the oppressed and, most immediately, of those who act in their name? … [T]o cast Hamas solely as an agent of resistance is to overlook a lot. It is a government that has failed its people. It is also a movement for Palestinian national liberation with a significant, but probably minority, following in Gaza and considerable influence throughout the Arab world. It is, finally, a movement that has chosen terror as its means of struggle—not as a last resort but as a matter of policy from its beginning. What are the obligations of a movement like that? I should say right now: Its first obligation is to reject terrorism. … There are people on the ground in the West Bank committed to nonviolent resistance and to constructive work … but Hamas does not look at them as allies. Nor does it regard Palestinians in and around the Palestinian Authority who support the idea of two states as allies. It is committed to a revolutionary, totalizing politics. … [T]he defenders of terrorism are the betrayers first of the oppressed and then of the rest of us.” [TheAtlantic]

Shaky System: The Child Care Stabilization Grant, the last-man-standing from a group of pandemic-related child-care subsidy programs, expired Sept. 30. An opinion piece in the Washington Post spotlights the impact and emerging needs. “Census data suggest that, as things are, the child-care industry nationwide has been operating in the red for two straight years. Now, as programs still stressed by the pandemic lose a major source of public funds, many programs around the country are considering closure. When these businesses do shut down, they can send shock waves throughout their local economies. The shuttered child-care business sheds jobs; parents who relied on that business lose care arrangements for their kids, which in turn disrupts parents’ ability to work; and the employers of those parents must then scramble to adjust for lost workforce hours.While each of those can feel like an individual misfortune, they are all part of a larger system of how our country cares for our young while adults work — or fails to do so. And the ripple effects can be enormous.” [WashingtonPost]

Around the Web

Israelis are organizing memorial events across the country to mark 30 days since the Oct. 7 attacks, including moments of silence and the release of 242 balloons in honor of the number of hostages being held by Hamas…

The Jewish Federations of North America and Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are organizing a “March for Israel” in Washington, D.C., next Tuesday afternoon…

In order to address the staffing shortages on Israeli farms caused by the ongoing war in Gaza, Birthright Israel is offering alumni free accommodations in exchange for helping with harvests (participants must pay for their own flights and travel insurance)…

Open Society Foundations chair Alex Soros met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Ukraine to discuss the country’s needs in light of the ongoing war with Russia…

Hillel International, the Anti-Defamation League, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm created a new legal hotline for college students in light of rising antisemitism at universities dubbed the Campus Antisemitism Legal Line

European rabbis met with Pope Francis in Rome yesterday to discuss the war in Israel and rising antisemitism around the world. During the meeting, they presented the pope with a letter from the families of the 242 hostages in Gaza, requesting his help in securing their release…

The commander of the German Air Force, Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartzarrived in Israel today to meet with his Israeli counterpart to discuss the war in Gaza and express support, as well as to donate blood at Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv…

Antisemitism envoys from two dozen countries signed a joint statement calling for their governments to protect their Jewish communities…

An Indiana woman who said she thought she was attacking an “Israel school” drove her car into a building used by the Black Hebrew Israelites

Robert and Trudy Gottesman donated $9.8 million to create the Sala Elbaum Pediatric Research Scholars Program at New York University Langone Health

The Republican Jewish Coalition elected new members to its board of directors: Michael Bogachek, Allan Polunsky, Susan Schneider, Irit Tratt, Barbara Feingold and Jay Zeidman…

Deborah and Peter Weinberg donated $6.5 million to support the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center at Columbia University’s medical school…

The coworking space provider, WeWork, which was co-founded by Israeli entrepreneur Adam Neumannhas filed for bankruptcy…

Irwin and Joan Jacobs pledged $10 million to Cornell University’s Center for Precision Nutrition and Health

An Israeli Border Police officer who was killed in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem yesterday was identified as 20-year-old Elisheva Rose Ida Lubin, originally from Atlanta, who made aliyah in 2021…

Jenessa Schwartz, a teacher at a Bay Area Jewish day school, died last week of cancer at 41…

Pic of the Day

Over 50,000 people attend the traditional Birkat Kohanim (Priestly Blessing) at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City today, during Chol Hamoed (the intermediary days) of Sukkot.
Courtesy/UJA-Federation of New York/X

Thousands of people gather for the “United for Israel” rally in New York City last night, marking 30 days since the Oct. 7 attacks.

The event was organized by UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, along with a large number of co-sponsors. Speakers included national and local politicians, actors Debra Messing and Brett Gelman and relatives of hostages.


Annie Liebovitz smiles

Project executive for the Jewish Funders Network’s National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty and CEO emerita at Swipe Out Hunger, Rachel Sumekh

Neuropsychiatrist, a 1944 graduate of Yeshivah of Flatbush and 2000 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, Eric Kandel… Former U.S. senator from Minnesota, Rudy Boschwitz… MIT professor in electrical engineering and computer science, Barbara Liskov… Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, he was the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Donald Kohn… University professor at Harvard, expert on Shakespeare, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Stephen Greenblatt… Founding president of Santa Monica, Calif., synagogue, Kehilat Maarav, and senior partner in the West Los Angeles law firm of Selvin & Weiner, Beryl Weiner… Entrepreneur, bar owner and television personality, Jonathan “Jon” Peter Taffer… Constituent affairs representative and community liaison for Congressman Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Laurie Tobias Cohen… Volunteer coordinator for the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Marcy Meyers… Chairman and CEO of luxury apparel company Canada Goose, Dani Reiss… European casino owner, art collector and CEO of Vestar Group, Leon Tsoukernik… Deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Aryeh Yitzhak King… EVP of communications at NBC Universal, Jennifer B. Friedman… Reporter for Sportico focused on the business of college sports, Daniel Libit… Baseball outfielder, he won two minor league batting titles, Brian Horwitz… Consultant for family foundations, he holds two graduate degrees in nursing, Avi Zenilman… National political reporter at PoliticoElena Schneider... Founder and CEO of Count Me In, Shane Feldman… Co-founder and CEO at Moneta Labs Limited, Tomer Aharonovitch… Vice president of financial resource development at the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Greater Toledo, Michael R. Holub… AIPAC Northeast regional deputy director, Alexa Silverman