Your Daily Phil: Shine A Light campaign ramps up ahead of Hanukkah

Good Friday morning!

In today’s Your Daily Phil, we report on a growing national campaign to fight antisemitism, and feature a column by Y.U.’s Erica Brown on the weekly Torah portion. Also in this newsletter: Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, MacKenzie Scott and Alexander Kaye. We’ll start with a dispatch from the JCRC of New York’s gala last night.

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 Jewish InsidereJewishPhilanthropy and The Circuit stories, including: Kevin Warren’s big tent; Ned Price leans into his Jewish values; Katie Hobbs warns of ‘toxic’ political climate as she prepares to lead Arizona; Arab fashion struts into Saudi Arabia; This Berlin-based group is reexamining Jewish texts through art; University of Haifa awards honorary doctorates to Bill Clinton and John Sexton; and Jewish camps, challenged by inflation and staffing shortages, hope to get back to normalPrint the latest edition here.

The mission of the Jewish Community Relations Council, by definition, is expansive. It’s tasked with connecting between dozens of local Jewish groups, and represents the mainstream Jewish community in meetings with government officials and faith leaders. Its president, Bennett Golub, joked at its gala last night that if you had to give the JCRC’s elevator pitch, “you kind of hope you’re in a really high building.”

Yet the event — JCRC of New York’s annual benefit, held at the Harmonie Club next to Central Park in Manhattan — had a mood that at times felt intimate, despite the roster of local public figures that showed up and the big names — including both of New York’s senators — who sent greetings via video.

The list of officials who showed up in person included Israeli Consul General Asaf Zamir, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and Eva Wyner, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s deputy director of Jewish affairs.

After 90 minutes of cocktails and finger food that included — appropriately for New York City — mini deli sandwiches, the attendees crowded into rows of seats to hear the awardees talk, more than anything else, about their own families.

“There’s nothing more special than being able to work with your son, or father,” said affordable housing developer Hal Fetner, who along with his son Alex won the L’dor V’dor Community Builder Award, paraphrasing a letter he’d received from a friend. “Alex and I getting the opportunity to work with each other has been beyond anything that I ever could have expected.”

Alongside the Fetners, JCRC-NY Treasurer Michael P. Lustig won the organization’s Leadership Award. Lustig, alongside thanking his own family at length, and his parents, who were present, encouraged the attendees to use their spare time productively. Now retired from a career on Wall Street, most of it spent at BlackRock, Lustig listed among his current pursuits teaching at New York University’s business school, leading guided tours around New York City and impact investing.

“I’d like to encourage everyone here in this room tonight to make the extra effort,” he said. “Volunteer to do something beyond what you otherwise would have done. Join a committee or a board, get involved in something you find impactful.”

Although JCRC serves, to some extent, as the public face of the institutional Jewish community, there was relatively scant discussion of current events. One exception was the final honoree, Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff, a prominent activist for inclusion in the city, who received the Bridge to Justice Award. He too spoke about his family, listing several of his relatives who had come to the gala, but beforehand, Rabbi Michael Miller, the former JCRC CEO, called him his “brother from another mother.”

Referring to reports that Jews have taken off their kippahs out of fear of antisemitism, DeGraff, who is Black, said, “I understand what it is to live with fear. I understand what it is to live with faith. But God’s people, the people who are here tonight, when we leave here, we have to say that this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”

dispel the dark

Rabbi Noah Farkas, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and L.A. Mayor Karen Bass (both seated, right and center) were among the leaders at Thursday’s Shine A Light program.

An ad on “Saturday Night Live.” A rally in Times Square. A local campaign in Billings, Mont. A new version of a classic song, courtesy of iconic Israeli singer David Broza. They’re all elements of Shine A Light, a convening platform for companies, nonprofit organizations, communities, elected officials and others to unite in amplifying awareness of antisemitism in all its forms. The campaign began earlier this year, is ramping up this week as Hanukkah begins, and runs through December 26, the holiday’s final day, reports eJewishPhilanthropy’s Esther D. Kustanowitz.

Partners: Shine A Light was spearheaded last year by the Kirsh Foundation, and is encouraging its coalition of North American Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and corporate partners to proclaim allyship with Jewish people, as well as with anyone who is targeted on the basis of their identity. It includes programs ranging from interfaith panel discussions and Shabbat programming to public menorah lightings, rallies, ad campaigns, the arts and social media posts.

Rising hate: According to a 2021 study by the American Jewish Committee, one out of four American Jews had been targeted by antisemitism over the previous year, and nearly four in ten reported changing their behavior for fear of being identified as Jewish. The Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit of antisemitism tallied a record 2,717 incidents across the United States in 2021.

Who’s funding it: Shine A Light’s annual budget of $3-4 million is funded by foundations including: the Adnim Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Jeffrey M. Talpins Foundation, The Kirsh Foundation and the The Paul E. Singer Foundation, as well as the UJA-Federation of New York. Some additional partners allocate their own internal resources and budget to create Shine A Light programs, while others apply for funding from a microgrant pool of $500,000, with individual grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

Read the full story here.

the torah of leadership

Wait for it: Parshat Vayeshev


“Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, was thrown into prison for a crime he never committed. We know as readers that he will find a way out of confinement and grow in his leadership as a result. Joseph got out of a pit; he will get out of jail, too,” writes Erica Brown in her weekly column for eJewishPhilanthropy.

Asking a favor: “Yet, despite Joseph’s suffering — or because of it — his struggle in prison sensitized him to the suffering of others. He noticed two other courtiers in prison who were deeply troubled: ‘He asked Pharaoh’s courtiers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, saying, “Why do you appear downcast today?” and they said to him, “We had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” So Joseph said to them, “Surely God can interpret! Tell me [your dreams]”’ (Gen. 40:7-8). In the past, having dreams and sharing them got Joseph in trouble; now, interpreting dreams would save Joseph and get him promoted… After giving one courtier an unhappy interpretation and the other a joyous one, Joseph was hoping that some future reciprocal kindness would be thrown his way. He then unburdened himself. ‘Think of me when all is well with you again, and do me the kindness of mentioning me to Pharaoh, so as to free me from this place. For in truth, I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews; nor have I done anything here that they should have put me in the dungeon.’ (Gen. 40:14-15).”

A moment like this: “The moment did arrive, but so often in life, after a climb out of difficulty, the newly liberated erase their past: ‘Yet the chief cupbearer did not think of Joseph; he forgot him’ (Gen. 40:23). Joseph wasn’t even a thought. Rashi explains that, ‘Because Joseph had placed his trust in him that he would remember him, he was doomed to remain in prison for two years.’ Hanging on to hope for two long years, Joseph could not see any other way out. Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra defines ‘remember’ in this verse as ‘mention,’ citing many Biblical prooftexts to support this reading: ‘He did not verbally mention him to Pharaoh.’… Joseph thought the solution lay in human intervention, but found himself disappointed and on the brink of despair. Only God and time would come to Joseph’s rescue.”

Read the full piece here.

Worthy Reads

Can We Talk?: In the Harvard Business Review, Sarah Gershman and Casey Mank discuss when to give colleagues written feedback instead of having a face-to-face conversation. “Give written feedback when… You have enough time to do it right. We often resort to giving written feedback when we feel like we don’t have time for a conversation. It can be tempting to dash off a quick email and check it off your list. This is a mistake. In the hustle of busy work life, it’s easy to forget that written communication is permanent. Take an extra minute to read over written feedback and make sure that you’re happy with it being reviewed carefully and saved as a record of the interaction. Taking time to read over your written feedback also gives you a chance to do a ‘tone check.’ Even if you write your feedback in a neutral or positive tone, readers tend to read the worst possible tone into text. This is partly because positive body language and warm vocal intonations do not come through in writing. Therefore, when you deliver written feedback, make sure to include clear and unmissable signposts of warmth, encouragement, or gratitude.” [HBR]

Around the Web

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is opening an investigation into U.C. Berkeley’s law school, following a complaint over a pledge by nine student groups not to host Zionist speakers on campus…

Jewish and pro-Israel leaders met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi yesterday in Washington…

Foundation Source released a survey of foundation giving in 2020 and 2021 that found that causes in California received 10,000 grants collectively worth nearly $233 million, the highest of any state. New York came in second…

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott published a sortable database of her giving…

Alexander Kaye, a professor at Brandeis University, has been named the next director of the university’s Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, succeeding longtime professor Jonathan D. Sarna

The New Israel Fund raised more than $600,000 from 2,500 donors in its second annual crowdfunding campaign…

Melvin Cohen, a former two-time mayor of London’s heavily Jewish Barnet borough, died on Tuesday…

Pic of the Day

Two flamingos share an intimate moment at Lake Hula in northern Israel. While the country’s flamingo season is ending, 200 flamingos remain at the lake and may stay for the duration of winter.


CANNES, FRANCE – MAY 15: Steven Spielberg appears on stage during the Opening Ceremony of the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 15, 2013 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Co-founder of DreamWorks Studios, Academy Award-winning director of “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” plus many other box-office record setters, Steven Spielberg celebrates his birthday on Sunday…

FRIDAY: Israeli-American pianist and distinguished professor of music at Indiana University, Menahem Pressler… CBS News journalist, she has reported for CBS’s “60 Minutes” since 1991, Lesley Stahl… Numismatist specializing in ancient Jewish and Biblical coins and their archaeology, David Bruce Hendin… British chemist and research professor at the University of Nottingham, Sir Martyn Poliakoff… Attorney, professor and author, she was the first woman to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review, Susan Estrich… Litigator in Denver, Craig Silverman… Novelist, journalist and lecturer, Allen Kurzweil… President and co-founder of The New Agenda, Amy Siskind… CEO of financial advisory at Lazard, Peter R. Orszag… Astrophysicist and professor at Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute, he was a winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, Adam Guy Riess… Deputy national director of AIPAC’s synagogue initiative, Rabbi Eric Stark… Director of public affairs at Charles Schwab, Adam Bromberg… Director of internal controls and governance at Paxos, Melissa Wisner… Chief of staff for U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Matthew Bennett Klapper… Middle East analyst at Christians United For Israel, Kasim Hafeez… Founder of Punchbowl News, Jake Sherman… Actress, Amanda Setton… Congressional reporter at Bloomberg GovernmentZachary C. Cohen… Consultant at the Ignyte Group, Drew Liquerman… Director of lifelong learning Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, N.Y., Rabbi Shara Siegfeld

SATURDAY: Lifelong advocate on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers for the International Rescue Committee and KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), Sheppie Glass Abramowitz… and Sheppie’s son, president of Freedom House, Michael J. Abramowitz… Retired Washington attorney and vice chair of The American Jewish International Relations Institute, Stuart Sloame… Former CEO of multiple companies including the San Francisco 49ers and FAO Schwarz, Peter L. Harris… VP of strategic planning and marketing at Queens-based NewInteractions, Paulette Mandelbaum… Professor of Jewish history, culture and society at Columbia University, Elisheva Carlebach Jofen… Retired chair of the Physician Assistant studies program at Rutgers, Dr. Jill A. Reichman… Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Danny Ayalon… Former chairman and CEO of HBO for 28 years, he now heads Eden Productions, Richard Plepler… Founder and CEO of LionTree LLC, an independent investment and merchant banking firm located in NYC, Aryeh B. Bourkoff… Israeli soccer goalkeeper, now on the coaching staff for the national team, Nir Davidovich… CEO of the New Legacy Group of Companies and founder of Project Sunshine, Joseph Weilgus… Co-director of the Civic Signals project at the National Conference on Citizenship, Eli Pariser… Associate editor of Commentary and author of Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of AmericaNoah C. Rothman… Director of foundation partnerships at the UJA-Federation of New York, Julia Sobel… National correspondent for Vanity Fair and author of the 2018 book Born TrumpEmily Jane Fox… Consultant at Boston Consulting Group, Daniel Ensign… Actor, singer-songwriter and musician, Nat Wolff

SUNDAY: Founder of supply chain firm HAVI, Theodore F. Perlman… Winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Medicine, former director at NIH and the National Cancer Institute, Harold Eliot Varmus… Office manager in the D.C. office of Kator, Parks, Weiser & Wright, Ramona Cohen… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2009 (R-FL), William Joseph (Bill) Posey… Former CFO of the Pentagon, presently a senior fellow at CNA, Dov S. Zakheim… Film critic, historian and author of 14 books on cinema, Leonard Maltin… Winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics, professor at both Stanford and Harvard, Alvin Eliot Roth… Network engineer sometimes called “the mother of the Internet” for her inventions of the spanning-tree protocol (STP) and the TRILL protocol, Radia Joy Perlman… Television writer, producer and director, Joel Surnow… Labor leader, attorney and educator, she is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten… Founder and chief executive of Third Point LLC, Daniel S. Loeb… Retired editor of The Jewish ChronicleStephen Pollard… Member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Gael Grunewald… Director of development at American Friends of ALYN Hospital, Erica Skolnick… Partner at the communications firm 30 Point Strategies, Noam Neusner… Motivational speaker, author and teacher, Brad Cohen… Congressman-elect (D-FL), Jared Moskowitz… Director of policy for New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul, Micah Lasher… Manager of public policy and government relations for Wing Australia at Google, Jesse Suskin… Senior producer at CNN’s State of the Union, Rachel Streitfeld… Winner of four straight NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championships while at UCLA, now a VP of business development at Brainard Strategy, Jillian Amaris Kraus… AVP of civic affairs at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Marc Ashed… Eliezer H. (Elie) Peltz… Project manager at the Brussels-based Buildings Performance Institute Europe, Jessica Glicker… Senior associate at Dataminr, Emily Cooper