Your Daily Phil: Sharon Nazarian on educating against hate + The evolving role of cantors

Good Thursday morning!

When major disasters occur around the globe, a fundraising appeal for humanitarian relief from The Jewish Federations of North America usually isn’t far behind. Federations mobilized to help after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the Nepal earthquake of 2015 and the devastating COVID-19 surge last year in India, to name a few. Federations allocated millions of dollars to those causes, generally routed through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

But as of now, it’s unclear whether yesterday’s earthquake in eastern Afghanistan will join that list. The issue isn’t the magnitude of the quake, which occurred on the border with Pakistan and killed more than 1,000 people. Rather, organizational staff told eJewishPhilanthropy, it’s unclear as yet whether American Jewish dollars will be able to make their way to a remote corner of an unstable country. 

A JDC spokesperson told eJP that the organization needs a day or two to obtain more information about the situation, what the needs are and how it can help before committing to a response, such as a fundraising campaign.

“We join with many others in mourning the loss of life in Afghanistan,” Avital Sandler Loeff, JDC’s executive director for disaster relief and international development, told eJP. “And while we are not responding at this time, we continue to monitor needs through our partners on the ground. In places where there are operational challenges, it’s always critical to work through a trusted local partner who can ensure a quick and effective response.”

JFNA struck a similar tone, noting its past disaster relief efforts and telling eJP in a statement, “Our hearts go out to the victims of the earthquake in Afghanistan, and we are monitoring the crisis together with our partners as it evolves.” A statement from UJA-Federation of New York said only, “We’re not proactively raising funds right now.”

Dyonna Ginsburg, CEO of Olam, a network of Jewish global service organizations, told eJP that deciding whether to intervene in a crisis is “far from simple.” She said groups need to consider their staff’s safety, whether they can work with the local government (which, in this case, is the Taliban) and “whether they have the capacity and ability to not just provide immediate relief, but also be on the ground and support long-term recovery efforts.”

At least one Jewish group is sending help. Yotam Polizer, CEO of IsraAID, the Israeli humanitarian relief group, told eJP the group is sending medical supplies. “We have good partners on the ground that we’ve been in touch with for a long time,” he said.

After the United States withdrew from Afghanistan last year and the Taliban took over, some Jewish groups, including federations, helped resettle Afghan refugees. One Jewish organization’s spokesperson was initially confused yesterday as to why eJP was inquiring about Afghan refugee resettlement now.

There is also recent precedent for American Jewish disaster aid following an Afghan earthquake. In 2015, when a quake struck a different part of the country near Pakistan and India, JDC sent out a press release the same day announcing grants for relief.


Sharon Nazarian on leaving the ADL after five years advocating internationally against hate

Courtesy of Sharon Nazarian

Less than a month after the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, Sharon Nazarian decided to step away from running her family’s foundation for work that felt more urgent: heading the Anti-Defamation League’s international arm. On July 1, she will leave her post to return to the foundation, and discussed the job and her decision to depart with eJewishPhilanthropy’s Ben Sales.

Going global: Along with worldwide education against hate, Nazarian told eJP she stressed “the internationalization of white supremacy. We have to look at these threats not purely within our own borders but really [as] a global threat.” Another focus, she said, was Iran, which she called “an engine of antisemitic Holocaust denial rhetoric… The reach of Iran is vast and so our research also has to encompass not only what Iran does internally, domestically, what it does in the region, but what it does globally.”

A different perspective: “The narrative or discourse [on antisemitism] in America today, within the broader Jewish community, is very much one led and felt by the non-immigrant Jewish community,” Nazarian, who was born in Iran, told eJP. “But I think Jewish immigrants who’ve chosen to come to America bring a perspective that’s highly valuable and it’s a shame that we don’t have a stronger voice.”

Read the full interview here.


The trip was short. The work is long: High notes from Cantors Assembly trip to Israel

Courtesy of the Cantor’s Assembly

“Last Monday, eJewishPhilanthropy featured an opinion piece by Idan Roll, Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs. Roll suggested that we are due for a paradigm shift in the realm of Israel-Diaspora relations. That same week, I traveled with a delegation of 11 leaders from the Cantors Assembly (CA) to Israel, where our docket included a meeting with Deputy Minister Roll. This mission itself, with a spotlight on cantors, represented a paradigm shift that we believe will be key to alliances between the two largest Jewish populaces in the world,” writes Cantor Rabbi Hillary Chorny, cantor at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles, in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Evolving role of cantors: “Throughout the 75-year history of the Cantors Assembly, we have no formal history as an organization of engaging with political affairs in Israel. As with so many aspects of the cantorate today, the shape of our role in the Jewish landscape is evolving. We are full clergy, full stop. Our membership comprises 600-plus cantors, identifying as male and female, impacting thousands upon thousands of Jewish lives through ritual and educational engagement. Israel is a source of pride, strength and inspiration for CA members, and our current leadership was more driven than ever to be involved in Israel conversations.”

Our Israeli partners: “Close to a year ago, our leadership reached out to the leadership of Masorti Israel and Mercaz Olami to ask how and when we, as cantors, might visit as a delegation of passionate, educated Zionists. Our primary goals were education and solidarity, demonstrating our continued commitment to the thriving of the State of Israel in all its diversity… When piloting this program, the Cantors Assembly considered what might be their criteria for building the delegation. One factor was language: Hazzan Luis Cattan, president of the assembly, requested that we stretch to do all our business in Hebrew. There are doors that open wider when we yield to the native language of the environment we enter, particularly in the realm of politics.”

Hebrew only: “From the start of our interactions on Monday, we conducted our meetings in Hebrew. Whether we were listening to Tammy Gottlieb, vice president of communications for the Masorti Movement, Israel, describe the retzef yahadut (spectrum of Judaism); or whether huddled in conversation with MK Mansour Abbas of the Ra’am Islamic party, Hebrew was a device for egalitarian conversation, yielding our own eloquence for the sake of the comfort and freedom of expression for our hosts. We therefore experienced a version of each meeting without the gloss of translation, raw and challenging, and utterly worth the effort.”

Read the whole piece here.


Increasing your impact by blurring the lines between investing and philanthropy

Sorrasak Jar Tinyo

“When we got married nearly 30 years ago, we developed a ‘separation of labor’ in our approach to financial management. Gary focused on venture capital as managing director of Lauder Partners LLC, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. Laura focused on philanthropy, becoming deeply involved in areas where she had expertise and passion, mostly focused on issues that involved our two children: preschool, teacher training and expanding educational equity for underserved populations. During this time, Gary strived to maximize the financial return on his investments (ROI); Laura aimed to maximize the social return on her investments (SROI). While we both dabbled in each other’s lanes, for the most part, we focused on our own chosen paths as they reflected our individual strengths. We’d often joke that Gary made the money and Laura gave it away — and Laura was faster!” write Laura and Gary Lauder in an opinion piece for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Financial and social returns: “Over the years, Gary realized that investments with the potential for financial gains and positive social impact excited him the most. In turn, Laura gained an appreciation for social impact investments that integrated clever financial models as they were more scalable than traditional philanthropy, where dollars can only be granted once. Together, we reasoned that we could dramatically improve impact if we blurred the lines between ROI and SROI. That is, we could maximize both a financial return and a social return.”

Sharing: “Emboldened by the success of these endeavors, we began sharing the crystallization of our thinking with our kids, friends, fellow investors and philanthropists. We found that others were excited to learn more about the opportunity to increase their impact by blurring the lines between investing in financial returns and social impact returns. They encouraged us to document our journey so others could benefit from it.”

Read the whole piece here.

Worthy Reads

Demanding Action Against Antisemitism: The Church of England recently apologized for anti-Jewish laws from 800 years ago, but an apology without action is performative, Gloria Tessler writes in The Jewish Chronicle: “We need dynamic change in society to overturn generations of anti-Jewish thinking. If we can listen to each other and appreciate each other’s gifts… do we even need an official apology? For some people, an apology has a powerful symbolism. But the real question is: how do we, ourselves, respond to it? Do I — or you for that matter — have the right to forgive the murder of our co-religionists over hundreds of years of religious bigotry, or during the more recent Nazi era? No confession of guilt, however well-meaning, how formally dressed up or steeped in genuine spiritual humility, will overturn the racism in society, nor the antisemitism which arguably still simmers within the body politic of the Labour Party. It is as though the urge to say sorry is part of a deeper malaise in society itself — the urge to absolve oneself from any guilt while doing nothing to make genuine reparations.” [TheJC]

Professionals Want Purpose: 
While many are referring to this time as “The Great Resignation,” maybe it would be more accurate to call it “The Great Reflection,” which has prompted people to seek out more meaningful employment, Jackie Wiles writes for Gartner, a consulting firm. Asked about whether this values-based approach to job seeking might go away as the pandemic becomes less of a factor in economic decisions, Gartner’s chief of research, Chris Howard, said it was “doubtful”: “Psychology, neuroscience and biology are all domains with empirical data that demonstrate the foundational changes in human behavior the pandemic has caused. Work needs to catch up — and we honor our employees as people by changing with them. Leaders of all types of organizations, including public sector and higher education, also are engaged in reflection about their future and purpose. They are forming board-level strategies that incorporate the ‘voice of society’ along with the voices of customers, shareholders and employees. There is a growing recognition that enterprises exist within society and bear responsibility for the outcomes they produce, good and bad. And this type of sustainable business mindset — in which organizations shift from a mindset of ‘doing less harm’ to ‘doing more good’ — is increasingly a dimension of valuation for investors, so it cannot be ignored.” [Gartner]

Community Comms

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Word on the Street

Shari Merrill will join Hillel International as chief operating officer, effective later this summer. She is currently the chief impact officer at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington…

Daniel Zelman has been named board chair of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland for the 2022-2025 term…

Filmmaker and artist Eva Lanska premiered a documentary short film created in support of Manna, the U.K. branch of Meir Panim, an Israel-based assistance network for the needy, at a gala fundraising event held Monday in London. The event raised more than $300,000 for the charity…

The Academies at Gerrard Berman Day School in Oakland, N.J., will close this fall due to declining enrollment and diminishing donations and grants…

The Association of Jewish Libraries will hold ?its first in-person conference since 2019 next week at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia…

Sandy Koufax, the Hall-of-Fame pitcher who sat out a World Series game on Yom Kippur, was honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles…

The Swedish government announced that it will appoint a special investigator to analyze obstacles, difficulties and opportunities for Jewish life in Sweden, and to make proposals for a national strategy to strengthen Jewish life there…

Pic of the Day

Chatchawan Luangruangtip/Ronen Peled Hadad/Aranen Creative Productions via

A five-story, $7 million Jewish community center opened on Tuesday in Bangkok, Thailand. The 30,000-square-foot building, a former hotel, is the new home of Chabad-Lubavitch of Bangkok.


Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Lincoln Center

Real estate developer and co-founder of Tishman Speyer, Jerry Speyer

Professor emeritus of medicine and health care policy at Harvard, Dr. Samuel O. Thier… Consultant at Citizenship Education Clearing House, Marvin Beckerman… Associate justice of the supreme court of the United States, Justice Clarence Thomas… Senior advisor at Eurasia Group, author of 20 books on foreign affairs, global politics and travel, Robert D. Kaplan… Novelist and journalist, Roy Hoffman… Los Angeles-based activist, restaurateur and breast cancer fundraiser, Lilly Tartikoff Karatz… Klezmer expert, violinist, composer, filmmaker, writer, photographer and playwright, Yale Strom… Co-founder of the Center for Contemporary Political Art, Robin Strongin… President of the Harrington Discovery Institute at Case Western Reserve University, Jonathan Solomon Stamler… Sports memorabilia marketer, in 2009 his firm sold all of the seats, signs and lockers from the old Yankee Stadium, Brandon Steiner… Former member of the Pennsylvania state Senate, now chair of the Jewish Labor Committee, Daylin Leach… Associate editor at the New Jersey Jewish StandardLawrence Yudelson… Former teacher at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, N.J., Stephanie Z. Bonder… Israeli-American professor, journalist and filmmaker, Boaz Dvir… Film and television actress, her Hebrew name is Bat-Sheva, Selma Blair Beitner… EVP and general manager of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, Howie Roseman… President of D1 Capital Partners and former deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, Jeremy Katz… Founder of Innovation Africa, Sivan Borowich-Ya’ari… Actress and comedian, best known for playing Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on the CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” Melissa Rauch… Actress, singer and model, Marielle Jaffe… Former executive assistant to the director of international affairs at Jerusalem’s City of David, Gila Bublick… Ethiopian-born Israeli model who won the title of Miss Israel in 2013, Yityish Aynaw… Director of major gifts at OneTable, Ely Benhamo… Business development and marketing official at Indagare, Josh Lauder

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