Your Daily Phil: Secure Community Network updates its reopening guidance + Sarah Eisenman to JFNA

Good Monday morning!

Non-profits that employ over 500 people might be eligible for the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, one of its major sources of COVID-19 relief, for the first time, according to an analysis by the National Council of Nonprofits of the new bill, passed on Saturday by the House of Representatives.

The program provides access to loans —many of them forgivable —to cover payroll costs like sick leave. Making larger organizations eligible for it has been a goal of the Orthodox Union and Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). The bill could still face further changes in the Senate.

Sarah Eisenman, the creator of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Entwine program, which focuses on leadership development and includes a global service component, is leaving the organization for JFNA, according to an internal memo from JFNA Chief of Staff Shira Hutt, shared on Friday. Eisenman will be the organization’s first chief community and Jewish life officer, leading a new department that Hutt said is an evolution of its Education and Engagement department.

JFNA’s Community and Jewish Life department will manage a new partnership with Genesis Philanthropy Group, announced in December, to serve Russian-speaking Jews, in addition to the Pandemic Emergency Coalition.

Eisenman had been a candidate for the CEO job at the JDC, but withdrew her name from consideration in August. 


A Jewish community security agency is updating its reopening guidance

Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Zone 4

In the early days of the pandemic, the Jewish community’s official safety initiative — the Secure Community Network (SCN) — formed the Resumption of Operations and Organizational Reopening Working Group to create guidance about how to open again, because at the time nobody knew how long the newly introduced lockdowns would last. Now that vaccines are becoming increasingly available and society broadly is starting to ponder a restart of public life, SCN will release a new version next month, CEO Michael Masters told eJewishPhilanthropy’s Helen Chernikoff.

Background: Created in 2004, SCN operated for most of its history as a small, independent organization sponsored by Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Security expert Paul Goldenberg was hired, and he ran the group and advised Jewish organizations on safety until his retirement in 2017, when Masters, who had been an advisor, was tapped to map the Jewish community with the goal of broadening access to security professionals and resources. A U.S. Marine veteran who holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, Masters came to SCN from The Soufan Center, a security advisory firm. 

Threat level: The last violent assaults on identifiably Jewish places — synagogues in Pittsburgh in 2018 and Poway, Calif., in 2019; a kosher grocery in Jersey City, N.J. in 2019 and a Hanukkah gathering Monsey, N.Y. weeks later — happened before the pandemic, which has been a period of relative quiet, said Naureen Chowdhury Fink, executive director of The Soufan Center. Reopening, she added, could reverse that trend, which is a function of empty houses of worship and the fact that the general decrease in public activity made it harder to prepare and execute attacks. 

Doorstops: In the past year, about 15,000 people received SCN instruction, such as Countering Active Threats and Situational Awareness — most of it online. Masters said he was pleasantly surprised by the value of virtual workshops given his own preference for in-person training. As an example, he cited the “badass bubbies” — two older women who are members of a Conservative synagogue in the Washington, D.C., area that had partially reopened. They were assigned to monitor the door on Shabbat late last year after taking SCN’s “Situational Awareness” training, which helped them notice an unfamiliar man who was carrying a cane, but not using it. They locked the doors and called the police, later learning that the cane contained a sword and that the man had been trying to enter several houses of worship, Masters said.

Read the full article here.


Is it possible to be even more exhausted?


As we approach the end of COVID-19’s first year, some of us face exhaustion, others face fatigue, and far too many face sadness. Dr. Betsy Stone writes in an opinion piece about all three emotions.

Grief: The level of fatigue, verging on despair, is rising. We begin to see a possible end with the vaccine rollout, but we don’t feel much better. As a rabbi said to me last week, “I’m just sad. Sad all the time.” He didn’t know if it was the spate of funerals, the illnesses of congregants, the upcoming year anniversary of COVID or simply the depth of his fatigue that was making him sad — and frankly, it doesn’t matter. We’re sad. Knowing that we’re sad is sufficient.

Decisions: Some of our exhaustion is decision fatigue. While we can see the possibility of increased interactions with others, every single behavior demands consideration and decisions. Do I see my vaccinated friends in my home? In a restaurant? Do I attend a meeting? Is it safer to travel by car, by plane? Vaccines open us to huge numbers of decisions with very little guidance. And these decisions have to be made over and over again.

Read the full piece here.


Inclusion in our community

Courtesy Keshet

“Camp is where I learned that an ideal Jewish community is one where people are accepted for who they are while respecting their differences,” Jennifer Phillips writes in an opinion piece on inclusion at camp and in synagogue. 

Beginnings: [Camp] was a place that allowed me to be who I truly was. I can remember, as a camper, the feeling of being accepted, which gave me the ability to look at others and learn acceptance, empathy, and cooperation.

Need: It’s really not so different from how many people feel about their synagogue. The Torah states that each of us is created B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of god, and describes the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah welcoming strangers to their home. Yet, there are Jews with physical, developmental, emotional, cognitive and other disabilities who do not have the opportunities to participate in the richness of Jewish life.

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Only Connect: Foundation grantees shouldn’t let the primacy of COVID-19-related needs deter them from cultivating vibrant relationships with their donors, even if their organizations have a different mission. Most foundations are more likely to take a “both/and” approach than to abandon past efforts, writes fundraising consultant Elizabeth Palla in Philanthropy Daily. Palla urges grantees to remember her mantra: “People give to people, and foundations are people, too.” [PhilanthropyDaily]

Unbroken Circle: Worldwide, women are more likely to give to charity more, and more often, than men of equal means, report Charles Sellen, a global philanthropy fellow at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at the University of Indiana, and Tessa Skidmire, a doctoral student at the school, in The Conversation. About 51% of single women give, compared with 41% of single men, and women also show a preference for collective giving, dominating giving circles, a growing form of philanthropy whose practitioners’ top three causes are human services, education and women and girls. [TheConversation]

High Profile: Alexander Klyachin, the owner of Russia’s largest international chain of hotels, this month started a stint leading the board of one of Russian Jewry’s most visible institutions, the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. Klyachin’s decision to participate signals a new level of comfort with Jewish visibility in Russia, the country’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, told JTA. [JTA]

ASAP Please: The race for the COVID-19 vaccine is an obvious example of the need to facilitate scientific collaboration, reports Paul Karon in InsidePhilanthropy, but some funders are already trying to make science itself more open and transparent. Both the government and private funders like the Gates Foundation have revised their guidelines to make it easier to share data. The proponents of “open science” envision more sharing, even down to the computer code researchers use. [InsidePhilanthropy]

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Word on the Street

Plans for a £35 million “House of One” — a shared faith center that will house a church, synagogue and mosque — have been unveiled in Berlin … Moishe House is opening its sixth location in Los Angeles, the first for Russian-speaking Jews … A new research institute will be established at Goethe University dedicated to the study of modern and contemporary Judaism … Rochel Leah Bernstein has launchedNitzolim, a healing collective for survivors of child sexual abuse … Inc. has published“The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Clubhouse”…

Pic of the Day

Kehilat Shanghai

Kehilat Shanghai held its annual Purim Carnival this past weekend.



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